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I know that there is the emphasis in the Statement on 40 countries being committed to Afghanistan, but I wonder whether, as well as the talks with President Obama, the Prime Minister had talks with any other leaders, European leaders, to see whether we could get
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On non-proliferation, I take a slightly different emphasis from the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, although his words on Iran were valid. We now have in the White House a president who really does seem to be giving a high priority to nuclear disarmament. We have the Prime Minister's own group, on which my noble friend Lady Williams has been serving, looking at the British contribution to the review in 2010. This may be one of those opportunities to make progress in that area.
On the climate change summit, as the Prime Minister described it, it is again a question of whether the high words of summitry tie in with what is actually happening in domestic policy. There is still a worry that that is out of kilter. It is important that we get Brazil, China and India signed up on issues concerning the world economy. I welcome what was just reiterated by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. I refer to the commitment of the Conservatives to development aid. Their commitment to the ring-fencing of development aid is a major step forward in our domestic politics. We now have an opportunity to play a really positive role in Africa and other parts of the world in development with a broad cross-party consensus.
I have to say that, like most other Prime Ministers I have come across, the Prime Minister now always looks more at ease, more comfortable, at international conferences than he does back home, but within the context of these conferences, it seems to have been a worthwhile weekend.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am very grateful to both noble Lords for their positive comments about the Statement and, most importantly, about the conclusions of the G8 summit. As the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said, it is action and not words that we want, so we will have to wait to see what the summit delivers. Those at the summit pushed for an accountability report on overseas development assistance-there was one report before them, and they are expecting another in the autumn. There is much more focus these days on results and outcomes and not just on warm words.
I will deal with overseas development aid up front, because I am very proud of what we in the United Kingdom are doing to ensure that we meet the 0.7 per cent target. As both noble Lords have said, it is very good that all parties at the moment are committed to it. However, just last week, the Guardian canvassed the parliamentary candidates for the Conservative Party for the next election, and while I entirely recognise that Mr Cameron, his colleagues on the Front Bench and all colleagues in this House are very much in favour of ring-fencing development aid, I do not think that quite the same is true for the Conservative Party candidates.
"Our aim is to stop Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for those who plan terrorism that can threaten security in the United Kingdom. We are there to help Afghanistan become an effective state, with a view to transferring responsibility to the Afghan security forces over time, with international forces moving to a training and supporting role".
I think that is clear. The noble Lord is right that the Government have to explain their role, but it is in the interests of all of us in this House to explain better what we are doing in Afghanistan. I hear what noble Lords have said about the need for a debate. That will be taken up by the usual channels.
I welcome the support from Members on both Benches for what we are doing in relation to Iran. The current situation may well involve the need for future sanctions, but it is slightly too early to discuss that need at the moment. The E3+3 has made a clear offer, and we await the response to it. However, I hear what the noble Lord says. If sanctions are needed, we will argue for them, but for the moment we wait for the diplomatic way to take its course.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked about the prospect of an agreement on climate change because of the attitude of the MFA. I do not know what the discussions were in the MFA, but the agreement at the G8 was that there is an awfully long way to go before we hit 2050, and who knows what will happen at Copenhagen? The fact is that it was agreed that temperatures should not exceed an increase of 2 degrees Celsius, that developed nations should cut emissions by 80 per cent before 2050 and that the whole world should cut emissions by 50 per cent. That is the first time there has been any agreement on that, so we should celebrate that. However, I recognise that there is a long way to go before Copenhagen, which is where the agreements must be made. I do not know whether agreements will be made before that date.
The Doha round is extremely important. Indeed, it is the linchpin for ensuring the economic recovery of the world. There is the political will to conclude the Doha round in 2010. I know that we have heard that before, but with President Obama in the White House-even though the Americans have some difficulties-the opportunity must be grasped, and we look forward to further progress on this at Pittsburgh.
The noble Lord asked about financial regulations. I am very proud of what the Prime Minister has done to get this country and the world out of the economic crisis. I recognise that we are heading for a large deficit, as are many countries, but we have a clear strategy for getting out of it. We believe that we must invest and continue to invest to ensure that we get out of the economic crisis in the best way possible.
I hear the doubts expressed by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, about Afghanistan and our strategy there. I am glad he believes that it can be justified. However, I shall take this opportunity to say that we should all take more pride in what our troops are doing in Afghanistan and to express our sadness at the death of our troops. I have read the statements made by the families of the 18 year-olds who were killed over the weekend. Their families are very proud of
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With President Obama giving nuclear disarmament a high priority, I agree that this is an opportunity for the world to grasp and I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, is on the Prime Minister's group.
As for the number of troops that we have in Afghanistan and the need for more, I am confident that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister had discussions with other EU leaders in and around the G8 summit to try to ensure that more troops come from other member states of the European Union and other countries. He continually discusses the issue with his counterparts because Afghanistan is not a matter just for the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a global problem and we need a global solution, and we need as many troops from as many countries there as possible. I am very grateful for the support of both noble Lords.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, from these Benches we would like to express the same pride in the troops who are fighting in Afghanistan and the same sorrow at the deeply regrettable loss of life. My colleagues and I have been pushed by several of those who talk to us to ask why we are in Afghanistan. If the answer is as was given during Question Time-that we are there because we are part of something mandated by the UN-it would be very helpful if that was said more clearly and more regularly. There is a widespread assumption that we are there simply because certain politicians thought that it was a good idea at one stage.
Noble Lords may have had their attention drawn to the new encyclical from Pope Benedict which has come out in just the past week; there was an article by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, about it in the Times this morning. In it the Pope draws attention to the urgent need globally for the UN to be more effective in what it was set up to do, which it has been prevented from doing by certain countries that are rather anxious about what might happen if it really did it properly. From these Benches-I speak for myself and, I suspect, for many of my colleagues as well-we would be delighted if the Government could say a bit more, a bit more frequently, about the way in which what we are doing coheres with a global international strategy, and that is not just something that we, with one or two friends, happen to have dreamt up.
We are grateful also for what we have heard about climate change. As noble Lords will know, several of my noble friends-the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Liverpool, the Bishop of London and others-have spoken on that in recent days. On swine flu, the churches have done a lot of preparation, hoping neither to be alarmist nor retrograde in doing what we are doing but nevertheless making appropriate preparations should there be the kind of national crisis which some have suggested might come.
A couple of other things were said on which I think some clarity would help. It is widely said among various agencies that when the western countries give aid to the third world, quite a lot of it is earmarked for the purchase of goods from our own countries. If that is not so-I see the noble Baroness indicating that perhaps it is not-it might be helpful if we could know what proportion is so earmarked. In the past it has sometimes been the case that aid has been earmarked not least for the purchase of arms, about which many people feel a very bad conscience. It would help if that could be clarified.
Finally, I was expecting to hear something-I may have missed it because the Statement ran by us rather fast-about international debt relief, on which I know the Prime Minister has been very keen in time past. He has spoken movingly and effectively about it at previous summits but I do not think that I heard anything about it today. However, as I and others have said before in your Lordships' House, when the banks and some other large corporations were in difficulty last year we remitted debts on an enormous scale so that people could regroup and get back on track. Many of us have urged for many years that that should be done for third world countries. It has been done with very good effect for some, such as Tanzania, but there are many others, such as the Philippines, where it remains to be done. It seems to me that it is time to do for the very poor what we already, at the drop of a hat, do for the very rich. Perhaps the noble Baroness will enlighten us on what, if anything, the Government propose to do in that regard.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for enabling me again to say that we are in Afghanistan because there is a mandate from the United Nations. I accept that we should be much more up front in saying, "We are there as a part of a coherent global force".
The Pope and the new encyclical were absolutely right to talk about the urgent need for the UN to be more effective. The Government, with the support of the Benches opposite, have been doing all that we can over the past 12 years to ensure that the UN is made more effective. Trying to get so many nations to agree to changes is rather like trying to turn round a tanker; however, slowly but surely, some are being made. But there is a need for further reform and we shall continue to press for it.
I can confidently say that these days the vast majority of, if not all, aid is not linked to trade. That strong link was broken some years ago and I can categorically say that there is no link between aid and arms sales.
I do not think that the summit dealt with debt relief. I recall the big three-pronged agreement on debt relief, aid and trade at Gleneagles. As a global force, the world did a great deal about debt relief at Gleneagles but we have now moved on to other things. That is not to say that to some countries, such as the Philippines, it is not still important, but at the moment our focus is on aid and trade. However, we must not forget debt relief and I can assure the right reverend Prelate that I shall take that issue back to the department.
"You can't send troops into the front line and not be, not be prepared to see it through in terms of the equipment, the resources that they need ... these are things ... discussions that we have continually with the chiefs of staff, with the commanding officers, to make sure that these troops are properly supported ... we owe it to them to do it".
So there is a process. The Chancellor or the Treasury are in discussion with the commanders on the ground. There is a process and I am sure that the Chancellor will adhere to that process to ensure that the troops have the equipment as and when they need it.
Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, following on from the question of my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew, the Prime Minister's Statement made clear that the cost of the Afghan operation is £3 billion a year, which is funded from the contingency fund. Is it not the plan that this should be phased out over two years? Basically, that means that for all other defence expenditure we are facing a cut of £1.5 billion next year and £3 billion the year after.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, this is a very complex subject and I am not entirely sighted on it. I shall come back to the noble Lord, but it is not as simple as he would perhaps say. I do not mean to be rude to the noble Lord but these are very complex issues. I do not think that we will change the way in which the Afghan war is funded in the way he suggests. However, I shall come back to him in writing.
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, further to what the noble Baroness says, it is not at all complicated. The issue is whether or not the funds that are needed to fight the Afghan campaign are to be provided out of the contingency reserve and are additional to the defence budget. Can she confirm that that will still be the case?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Yes, my Lords, as I understand it, that will be the case. The Afghan war is still funded out of the contingency reserve. I again quote the Chancellor when he said that we owe it to them. He said:
I realise that there is a distinction with regard to the contingency reserve. Everyone is shaking their head, but this is what I am assured by my noble friend behind me, and I will come back to noble Lords in writing.
Viscount Slim: My Lords, it is certainly a question of money but it is not just money-it is men and women on the ground. If I heard the Statement by the Prime Minister correctly, he said that he felt that there was sufficient in Afghanistan at the moment. We can say that there are 5,000 troops or forces out in Afghanistan, but that is a paper figure. When you take away those killed, wounded, injured and sick, and those moving to and fro, the number comes down. Also, when a unit or a platoon has been slightly decimated, with five or 10 people killed, we do not have an immediate reinforcement programme that I can see. In most past wars, we have always been able to reinforce a unit quickly, within 24 to 48 hours, and not doing so has a very detrimental effect on the unit. What is the immediate reinforcement programme or system for bolstering a unit that has lost quite heavily?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, it is important to say that morale on the ground is high, but I understand the points made by the noble Viscount. Our response to needs on the ground is swift, and that is demonstrated by the way in which we have just provided 700 extra troops to go to Afghanistan to cover the period of the elections. That is a temporary increase in our number of troops and it is not yet clear what will happen after the elections. That demonstrates that we are able to provide extra troops as and when necessary. I remind your Lordships that we always talk in terms of numbers of troops, but there are many other personnel in Afghanistan, working in development and governance.
Lord Vinson: My Lords, the Minister has been kind enough to repeat a Statement that the Prime Minister made that one cannot send troops, by inference, into war underresourced. Does she not mean, in view of what has happened, that one should not send troops into war underresourced?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: No, my Lords, I absolutely mean that we must not and do not send our troops into war underresourced. Our troops, as the commanders on the ground will tell us, are very well resourced, better resourced now than they have been for many years.
The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, the Statement refers to the $1.6 billion which will be contributed towards the food security plan, a figure much to be welcomed. However, does the noble Baroness agree that in the long run, if these intractable issues of food security, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are to be addressed, it cannot be done just by aid, however generous? Ultimately, it will have to be done by the transfer of suitable technology, particularly in agricultural sciences. This country has a proud record of increased production and still has a reasonably successful science base. The problem is that the priorities are not determined according to the needs of those who need food security. Do we not need to reorganise the determination of how we set our priorities for agricultural research so that we make a lasting contribution to food security?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the noble Earl makes an extremely important point which I shall take back to DfID. In terms of food security, the additional money that is being allocated is, I believe,
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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I think it is the intention of the Canadians to hold a G8 meeting next year when they hold the presidency but, as I understand it, President Sarkozy has suggested that perhaps under his chairmanship the G8 should be in the expanded form of the G14 or the G20.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: I shall speak also to Amendment 185ZG, which relates to the removal of Clause 86(7). When he was responding to the previous amendment, the Minister told us that the provision for anonymity in investigations is narrowly drawn. The provision set out in the Bill may be narrowly drawn, but under subsection (4), it can be widened to any extent, merely by an order passing through this House and the other place to add or omit an offence in the list in subsection (2) or to add, omit or modify a condition to be satisfied in relation to an offence. Under paragraph (a) of subsection (4), it is possible, for example, to omit paragraph (b) of subsection (2), manslaughter, but I do not think that that is the purpose. I think it is to add whatever offence occurs to the Secretary of State at the time. It could be driving without due care or something of that sort.
So far as the conditions are concerned, although we are told that this clause is specifically directed at gangs of young men between the ages of 11 and 30 using specific weapons-firearms or a knife-under paragraph (a) of subsection (4), all those conditions could be modified as the Secretary of State thinks fit. It can be anything. Getting in through a crack-that is to say, by using the most serious offences of murder and manslaughter and limiting it to a particular group-and then expanding it wholesale without anything other than an order being passed through the House is a bad way to legislate. We have often commented on how ineffective orders are as a method of scrutiny and change.
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