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3.45 pm

Lord Tunnicliffe: The noble Lord well makes the case for the narrowness of the order. We see this as very particular, early activity focused on an area of public concern; namely, gang crime. We hope that the measure will show its value in those circumstances but also its limitations. We shall extend it by order only when we have experience of how it is working.

Lord Henley: If I have understood it correctly, the difference between what happens at the moment and what the Bill will provide for is that a criminal offence will be created under Clause 64(10) where someone discloses information in contravention of an anonymity order. That will apply to persons aged between 11 and 30 who have killed someone with either a firearm or a knife. As far as I can make out, the only argument that the Government are putting forward is that the measure is targeted on where it is most needed. Again, it seems to us a fairly arbitrary list. As regards being shot with a firearm or being injured with a knife, I am sure that gangs go out with all sorts of other weapons. I mentioned the proverbial baseball bat or crowbar. There is no reason why they could not be used. Put simply, it seems a very arbitrary distinction. I appreciate that the Secretary of State will give himself power to amend the measure-we shall discuss that when we reach the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas-but, for the moment, I find it all rather peculiar. As I said, this is a probing amendment. We shall certainly want to come back to this matter on

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Report. However, at this stage probably the most convenient thing to do is to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 183ZA withdrawn.

Amendments 183ZB to 183ZD not moved.

House resumed.



3.47 pm

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

"First, Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the servicemen killed in Afghanistan in the past few days. They were: Rifleman Daniel Hume, 4th Battalion the Rifles; Private John Brackpool, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, attached to 1st Battalion Welsh Guards; Riflemen Daniel Simpson, Joseph Murphy, James Backhouse and William Aldridge, and Corporal Jonathan Horne, all of 2nd Battalion the Rifles; and Corporal Lee Scott, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment. Three of them were just 18 years of age. It is at times of loss and sadness like these that we become ever more aware of the service and the sacrifice our Armed Forces make for our country. We owe them, and all those who have been killed or wounded in conflict, a huge debt of gratitude.

I want to make a Statement about the conclusions of the G8 meeting, the major economies forum on climate change, and our outreach meetings with African leaders; and I also want to thank Prime Minister Berlusconi for his organisation of the summit. But, first, I will focus on one of the most important challenges considered by the G8. This is a time of great challenge for our Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan. I have written to the chair of the Liaison Committee and placed a copy of the letter in the Libraries of both houses. We are also making time available on Thursday for a debate on Afghanistan. Perhaps I could take this opportunity to update the House on our current strategy and operations in Afghanistan, alongside 40 other nations, and our work with Pakistan.

Eight years ago, after September 11 2001, the case for intervention in Afghanistan was clear: to remove the Taliban regime and deprive al-Qaeda of a safe base for terrorist plots that were a threat to countries across the world. In 2009, the case for our continued involvement is the same-to prevent terrorist attacks here in Britain and across the world by dealing with the threat at its source: that crucible of terror on the border and mountain areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We must not forget that three-quarters of terror plots against the UK have roots in these areas. To succeed, we must succeed in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our strategy, which I set out to the House in April,

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reflects an integrated approach to both countries. If progress in one is to be sustainable, we must have progress in both. Progress requires three things: military action against terrorists and the insurgency; action to build the rule of law; and economic development to give local people a stake in their future.

In the last few months, the Pakistan Government have taken action, launching successful operations to drive out the Pakistani Taliban from the Swat and Buner regions. While the overwhelming majority of the Pakistani people fully support their Government's action, operational success has come at a heavy humanitarian cost, with about 2 million displaced. Since we must ensure that that does not become a pretext for radicalisation, we are helping to lead in providing humanitarian assistance to Pakistan for those internally displaced people, combining our support for Pakistani military action with development assistance and help with reconstruction. In Afghanistan, international forces must take the lead in the front line, because the Afghan army and police are not yet able to maintain control alone. Again, our strategy is to combine coalition military action with civilian support for development and training the Afghan forces to take more control.

As the House knows, British troops are today involved in a major military operation, "Panther's Claw", fighting to bring security to areas in central Helmand until now beyond the reach of the Afghan Government. American forces are engaged in a similar co-ordinated operation in the south of the province. We are combining our military advance with civilian action. When we go to towns, villages and districts in Helmand, our forces are supported by Afghan army and police who, with our help, can hold the ground we have cleared and prevent the Taliban returning. Our civilian and military stabilisation experts work with Governor Mangal and his district governors to follow up with plans for new roads, clean water, other basic services, and, above all, justice-not the medieval brutality of the Taliban but the rule of law.

Earlier this year, we announced an increase in our numbers for the summer campaign and Afghan election period to around 9,000. Today, the figure on the ground is 9,100, as commanders rotate troops who have been fighting at peak intensity. It is right that those operating in the most arduous conditions are given respite when they need it. We keep our force levels under constant review depending on the operational requirement, and I have been reassured by commanders on the ground and at the top of the armed services that we have the manpower we need for the current operations.

I spoke with President Karzai yesterday. He expressed his condolences at the loss of precious lives in Helmand and I urged him to make available this summer, in addition to the 500 already involved in "Panther's Claw", more Afghan army personnel for operations in Helmand, so that our hard won gains can be fully consolidated. Our troops will continue to face a tough and dangerous battle and we will continue to give their safety the highest priority. Since 2006-07, we have increased funding to the Afghan operation-it is from the Treasury reserve and in addition to the defence

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budget-year on year from £700 million, to £1.5 billion, to £2.6 billion, to over £3 billion this year. That is over and above the defence budget of over £30 billion. The Chancellor has made clear that all urgent operational requirements will be met. In the last two years, we have increased helicopter numbers by 60 per cent and, because we have provided more crews and equipment, we have increased capability by 84 per cent. Since 2006, we have spent over £1 billion in urgent operational requirements for vehicles, including 280 Mastiffs, which offer world-leading protection against mines and roadside bombs. We will go further this year with the deployment of the new Ridgeback vehicles and of Merlin helicopters. We have just agreed a £100 million programme for the upgrading of Chinook helicopters.

As the Chief of the Defence Staff has said:

"The British Armed Forces are better equipped today than they have been at any time in 40 years"-

but we are ever not complacent. Our troops operate in a dynamic, ever changing environment. This Government and our military commanders recognise the need to adapt as conditions develop. Despite the tragic losses of the last two weeks, our commanders assure me that we are having a major impact on the Taliban in central Helmand and that morale is high. But our brave service men and women know that taking the fight to the enemy as they are now doing, to prevent terrorism on the streets of Britain, will inevitably put them in harm's way.

The majority of recent casualties have been sustained, not in direct confrontation with the insurgency, but from improvised explosive devices-and from April we have begun to deploy additional units to tackle this growing threat.

As I made clear in April when I announced for the period of the Afghan elections the temporary uplift to around 9,000 through the summer, we will review that commitment after the Afghan elections, with the advice of our commanders and in discussion with our allies.

And at the same time we will continue to strengthen our approach in the ways set out in our April strategy: by better campaign continuity, further improvements in civilian-military integration, the closest possible co-ordination with American forces, and above all by a gradual shift towards training and mentoring of the Afghan army and police.

At the G8 meeting, all members agreed on the importance of the work now being done in Afghanistan, and I talked directly with President Obama about the challenges we face together.

It has been a very difficult summer, and it is not over yet. But if we are to deny Helmand to the Taliban in the long term, and if we are to defeat this vicious insurgency, and by so doing make Britain and the world a safer place, then we must persist with our operations in Afghanistan.

I am confident that we are right to be in Afghanistan, that we have the strongest possible plan, and we have the resources we need to do the job.

Let me turn to other matters raised at the G8 summit. The summit will be remembered as the climate change summit where we achieved real progress towards our goal of reaching a global climate change agreement

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at Copenhagen in December. First the G8 and then the Major Economies Forum concluded that average global temperatures must rise by no more than two degrees Celsius. This is an unprecedented and universal agreement, taking in developed and developing countries alike. It reflects a worldwide consensus unthinkable only a few years ago: that the scientific evidence for climate change is irrefutable and all of us now have a duty to act.

The summit also agreed,


and that, in order to take this forward, G20 Finance Ministers should work on this further-considering the proposals the British Government have set out, including the Mexican green fund, and reporting back at the Pittsburgh summit in September.

For the first time, the G8 countries agreed the goal of reducing their emissions by 80 per cent or more by 2050, as part of a global goal of at least a 50 per cent reduction; and that,

These are the most ambitious targets ever agreed by the G8.

This summit also sent out a second wake-up call on the world economy: strongly reaffirming the commitments made at the G20 in London to take,

pledging "to implement swiftly" these measures, and calling on,

In advance of the next G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in September, the summit laid the foundations for a new "strategy" to,

by acting both "individually and collectively".

We agreed to,

with more bank lending, reform and funding of the international financial institutions, and fast progress on regulation of financial services; and we agreed to do what it takes to make progress on growth, on commodity prices and on trade. And we reaffirmed our commitment to a green recovery by,

On development, we agreed that the global recession is no excuse for abandoning our commitments to the poorest. So we reaffirmed our ambitious pledges to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion, and by $50 billion globally by 2010.

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The G8 agreed a global consensus on maternal and child health "to accelerate progress" on those millennium development goals where historically we have made the least progress to date.

And, in meeting with leading African nations, President Obama, I and other leaders agreed decisive action on food security to avert a hunger emergency, with a $20 billion package of assistance over three years to support the agricultural sector in poorer countries. And I am pleased to say that the United Kingdom will contribute $1.8 billion to this initiative.

The G8 leaders issued a strong statement on non-proliferation. We welcomed President Obama's proposal to hold a conference in America next March, before negotiations on the review of the non-proliferation treaty begin, and the UK Government will be setting out their proposals to prepare for this summit in 2010. We said that if Iran does not respond to the international community's offer of a supervised civil nuclear programme, we will put together a tougher package of sanctions in the autumn. I welcome the solidarity shown by our G8 partners, who agreed that,

and that,

On Burma, we reiterated our support to do all we can to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The G8 also discussed the measures we must take together to address swine flu.

In the coming months there will be crucial summits: on the global economy in Pittsburgh; on climate change at Copenhagen; and on non-proliferation in New York. If these meetings are to secure lasting change, now is the time for global leadership-to build a new strategy to deliver global growth; to face up to our obligations on climate change and poverty; and to face down those who would threaten our global security.

This G8 has laid the foundations for such progress, and once again-within the G8-Britain has played a pivotal leadership role.

I commend this Statement to the House".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.01 pm

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I join the noble Baroness and indeed the Prime Minister in paying tribute to the servicemen killed last week in Afghanistan. I also welcome the progress made at the G8 summit in several important areas. The key now is to turn these G8 statements into practice. Agreement and talk are all very well but action is now needed.

The events last week in Afghanistan must be at the forefront of our minds. All those who serve in that country should know that they have the support and admiration of all sides of the House. Is it not time, therefore, to be absolutely clear about what our mission should be? It must be tightly defined, it must be realistic, and the Government must never lose the opportunity of explaining why they think we are there and what our objectives really are. When does the noble Baroness expect this House to be able to have a further debate on the military consequences of British

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troops in Afghanistan? We must learn the lessons of Iraq and focus predominantly on security and safety, and we must ensure that our troops have the equipment that they vitally need and deserve.

On Iran, we strongly support the Prime Minister's line on non-proliferation. We know of the threat. The Iranians should disarm. We know all too well of the deplorable post-election violence and the unacceptable treatment of our embassy staff in Tehran. Does the noble Baroness agree that we should take a lead in pushing for new EU sanctions that should be adopted if Iran does not enter into meaningful talks?

The summit focused on the fundamental quartet of trade, the economy, climate change and development. On international development, we on these Benches welcome agreement on the food security plan. This morning, my right honourable friend David Cameron reaffirmed our own commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of gross income to be spent on aid by 2013. It is important to have cross-party and cross-border agreement on an issue that deals with people's lives and welfare. Will the noble Baroness encourage other countries to do more?

Let us also consider the G8 Gleneagles commitments. By 2010, development aid was meant to increase by $50 billion, with $25 billion of that going to Africa. The campaign organisation ONE estimated in May that by the end of this year countries will be on track to meet only around half of their commitments and that there will be an $11 billion shortfall in aid to Africa. What hope is there for the latest G8 summit if there can be no assurance that the Gleneagles commitments are going to be put into effect? Can the noble Baroness tell us what they are doing to honour this country's commitments, always bearing in mind that aid must be effective and promote real wealth creation rather than stifle it?

On climate change, we welcome the fact that all the countries signed up to a 2 degrees target for the first time, along with the G8's 80 per cent goal for industrialised countries. Can the noble Baroness confirm reports that the major economies forum-crucially emerging economies such as China and India-could not agree on the target and that it had to be removed from the final communiqué? If that is the case, what prospect is there of an agreement with these countries before the vital Copenhagen conference in December? Are there not now too many sticking points for us to anticipate a successful solution to that conference?

Perhaps most important was the discussion on the economy. On trade the communiqué says that there needs to be agreement in Doha by the end of 2010. The 2007 G8 spoke of an agreement by the end of 2007, and last year we were told that it would be by the end of 2008. The noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, assured this House last week that,

Is this the positive conclusion that he envisaged? Is it still the case that the only stumbling blocks are now America and India, and if so, can the noble Baroness say what discussions are taking place?

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On the domestic front, the G8 discussed financial regulation, support for business from banks, and the need to get the deficit under control. What can Britain be proud of out of these three things? I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister was not offering advice to others. I do not think that any of us is blind to the failure of banks to lend money to those who need it most, but a long-term recovery also means lowering the deficit. Can the noble Baroness confirm the IMF's finding that this country is heading for the largest budget deficit not only in the G8 but in the entire G20? Is it not the case that we are heading for a deficit of 14 per cent, which is by far the largest figure since the war?

The foundation of a lasting recovery from this vicious recession must be sound banking and sound public finance. Can the noble Baroness assure the House that the Government will acknowledge their mistakes, will finally stop blaming others and take away from the G8 summit the lesson that it is action that this country needs, and not more words?

4.07 pm

Lord McNally: My Lords, until the last few moments when we had the party-political broadcast, I was thinking, "What a measured statement from the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde".

I have been involved in these gatherings since the 1970s, so I have never been overenthusiastic that any one of them would be the decisive major breakthrough. On the other hand, I have not been as cynical as many about them. I think that it is good that our leaders get together and that there is peer pressure and general encouragement to keep moving forward. From what I can see, despite our media's ever-willingness to make snide comments about Italy-often actively encouraged by the Prime Minister of Italy-it seems to have been a well organised and effective conference. However, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, is right that in terms of tying in what is said at international conferences to what is done domestically, we are looking for action not words.

The House earlier associated itself movingly with the losses in Afghanistan and I have no doubt that Ministers responsible feel as strongly as anyone in the House. However, there must be doubts and real concern about whether there is a tie-up between the strategy being expounded and the supply of men and equipment to carry through that strategy. I echo the call from the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that it is time that we had a full debate again in this House on Afghanistan, as I understand that they will in the Commons-not to score party points, but to talk through the issues and to look at whether the kind of commitment that this country is making can be justified and that we can carry the British people with us in it. I worry that if it continues to look like an effort purely by the United States and the United Kingdom, we will lose British public opinion.

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