I have always been a convinced and committed European. I have based a lot of my own thinking and work in areas of conflict on the model of conflict resolution that Europe demonstrates. However, those of us who are pro-Europeans must recognise what my noble friend Lord Maclennan said about the inadequacy of European democracy. Many of us wanted to see the development of a Europe of the regions. Instead of that, we have not just a Europe of nation states but a Europe of national Governments, each playing off against the other. We must understand, too, that this inadequacy is not just in its democratic structures but in its failure to deliver on many of the things that could have been delivered in economic terms.

It is not possible to speak about Europe being a massive success these days. The worry is that we are a long way from getting through the problem. There is much talk about networks working together but, when it comes to the possibility of the European network being used in foreign affairs, where have we been in dealing with the Middle East? It is, I regret to say, still impossible to get our German colleagues to say anything that might be viewed as critical of any policy of the Israeli Government. It has proved almost impossible to get clear decisions from all Governments together on any serious foreign policy issue of any contention.

Of course it would be wonderful if we could work together on defence, but what has actually happened? Europe has basked under the umbrella of American protection since the Second World War. Not one of

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the countries, much less our own, is giving the resource necessary for Europe to defend itself. Again, in Germany, it is not yet possible to have a military parade in public, never mind to make commitments to serious overseas engagement. This is the reality of Europe. Unless those of us who are pro-Europe are able to convince the rest of our colleagues in Europe to take seriously what needs to be done on democratisation, on solving the economic problems, on having a common foreign and security policy and on being able to invest enough in defence, our people will not be persuaded that Europe is a viable entity. That would be an ultimate tragedy. That is the network that is closest to where we live.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, mentioned the network of the Commonwealth. Like him, I regret that there was not more focus on it in the gracious Speech. It is another important network for us.

As I said, the noble Lord, Lord Reid, referred to the fifth space that has now opened. There is land, sea, air, space and, now, for the first time, one created by mankind: cyberspace. Much work and investment has gone into it. However, there are two areas which we have yet to address properly. One is international law in cyberspace. The noble Lord, Lord Reid, mentioned the Stuxnet virus. Had there been an equivalent attack by one country on another in any of the other four spaces, it would have been a declaration of war. However, within cyberspace, we are unclear on the rules of international law. Some time soon, we need to be. Otherwise there will be a tragedy of the kind that the noble Lord referred to: there will be some kind of attack without real attribution being clear. This is an area on which I hope my noble friend will be able to tell me the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is focusing some serious international legal attention.

The second area is the psychology of working in cyberspace in war. In the other four spaces, in the main we understand how people function. However, all of us know that when people start sending e-mails to each other, tweeting and texting, they suddenly behave in a different way: less inhibited, less thoughtful and less understanding of the consequences of their actions in many cases. I am yet to see sufficient attention being paid to research in the psychology of cyberwar and cyberterrorism; I declare an interest as someone who has given time academically and in business to this area. I hope that my noble friend will be able to tell me that additional resource will be devoted to research into understanding how people function in this fifth space.

Finally, I turn to the Middle East, which is the issue that frightens me the most. During the last election, people used to say, “I agree with Nick”. In this case, I agree with Paddy, because I am extremely frightened by what is happening in the Middle East. Much of what has been done from outside has created only more trouble. The notion that we are now starting to supply weapons that are massively surplus to any possible requirement in the region because we want to engage in some kind of influence is total foolishness. Again, I come to the network. We will not solve the Israel-Palestine problem by engaging just those two players. It will have to be done regionally. The Arab peace initiative has not had the attention from this

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country, from the United States or from others externally. It has been retabled, and it needs to be responded to. We will never resolve the problems with Cyprus, north and south, unless we understand the need for regional engagement. The more that energy becomes available there, the more it will either become an instrument for co-operation or a basis for new conflicts there.

Syria is no longer only a Syrian problem. I went out to Lebanon a few weeks ago, just to see how things were going, and I came back very fearful because that border is already entirely breached. Hezbollah is attacking back into villages which have its faithful within Syria and which are under attack from others, and atrocities are being committed within Lebanon itself. Jordan is being deeply destabilised by the number of refugees, and now we have attacks in Iraq and Turkey. It is almost already too late. When Russia sets down its requirements, it is also saying to the United States, “Stop acting like a cowboy, prepared to do things without United Nations agreements. This is a line you should not cross”. For that reason, as well as for many others, I desperately hope that when we come to debate the Queen’s Speech next year we will not do so in the context of some kind of catastrophic conflagration that has developed from the situation in the Middle East, because we are perilously close to it.

6.11 pm

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for his trailer for my remarks, and for his support.

The gracious Speech promises to,

“ensure the security, good governance and development of the Overseas Territories”.—[

Official Report

, 8/4/13; col. 3.]

This is sorely needed for the Chagos Islands, the inhabitants of which were exiled from their homeland by the British Government in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I am indebted to our former high commissioner to Mauritius, Mr David Snoxell, for his advice.

It is not as if anyone now thinks this exile was an example of good governance. On 23 April 2009 the then shadow Foreign Minister, Keith Simpson, said:

“There is no doubt that there is a moral imperative”,

and that,

“I suspect … the all-party view”,

is that,

“the rights of the Chagossian people should be recognised, and that there should at the very least be a timetable for the return of those people at least to the outer islands”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 23/4/09; col. 176WH.]

In a letter to a member of the public on 23 March 2010 the shortly to be Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I can assure you that if elected to serve as the next British government we will work to ensure a fair settlement of this long-standing dispute”.

I will briefly remind noble Lords of how this tragic fate overtook the Chagossians. In 1965 our Government detached the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in order to form a separate British Indian Ocean Territory, in defiance of four UN resolutions. They reclassified the inhabitants as contract workers, made the largest, most southerly, island, Diego Garcia, available to the United States for use as a military base, and gradually

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removed the Chagossians from all the islands, eventually depositing them in Mauritius and the Seychelles during 1971 to 1973. Some came to Britain from 2001.

Now, fewer than 700 of the original islanders remain. The United States base on Diego Garcia is 140 miles away from the outer islands, to which some would like to return. When the Government of the United States were asked by our Foreign Office publicly to affirm, as was reported in a WikiLeaks cable from the United States embassy in London, that they required the whole of the British Indian Ocean Territory for defence purposes, they did not do so. The State Department has indicated informally to a member of the Chagos Islands (British Indian Ocean Territory) All-Party Parliamentary Group, of which I also am a member, that if asked it will review the security implications of a limited return. Our Law Lords described official letters that claimed that there was a defence risk as “fanciful” and “highly imaginative”.

In 2014 the agreement with the United States will come up for renewal. I suggest that this gives an excellent opportunity for exploring whether a small number of Chagossian people could return to the outer islands. It would seem to have no security or defence implications for the base on Diego Garcia. I am assured that many will not want to return, but all want their right to do so restored, and some will want only to visit their homeland and come away.

Would this be a burden to the British taxpayer? The Foreign Office set up a feasibility study in 2001, which claimed that resettlement was not feasible and anyway was very expensive. The infeasibility argument has been discredited by one of its own consultants and by others, most recently in a report by Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University. As for the cost, it would be idle to pretend that justice would not carry some. However, the United Kingdom would not have to bear the whole burden of restoring the tiny infrastructure. The European Union high representative has confirmed to Charles Tannock MEP that funds are available. The UNDP may have capacity and it would surely be right for the United States, Mauritius and the Commonwealth to do their bit.

What of the marine protected area, with its full no-take ban on fishing—except, as it happens, around the waters of Diego Garcia, where recreational fishing can be practised—which was hastily declared by David Miliband, as Foreign Secretary, just before the last election? It is unlike most other MPAs, for instance around the Galapagos Islands, where the people who live there help to maintain it.

There is worldwide support for a marine protected area that takes account of the interests of the Chagossians and Mauritius. However, it should have been properly conceived, with a defined role for inhabitants. As it stands, there is only one vessel to patrol the ban over 640,000 square kilometres, and I have seen photographs of very recent substantial illegal fishing operating within the MPA.

The MPA was proclaimed without taking account of the views of the Chagossians, who applied for judicial review in the high court, or of Mauritius, which has brought a case under the Permanent Court of Arbitration

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for breach of the Convention on the Law of the Sea. There is much work to be done to make the MPA what it ought to be so that everyone can wholeheartedly support it.

In the time available I have simply tried to pinpoint the chief aspects of a manifest and agreed injustice of a fundamental kind. This hardly matches the human rights standards of the Commonwealth charter, which we signed only last March. However, it is very good news that the Foreign Secretary has shown indications of a positive attitude to righting these wrongs in his statement following the end of the human rights case in Strasbourg, and that he is reviewing the policy on resettlement. I hope that the Minister can say how the Government will now proceed and when Parliament will be consulted about the review of that policy.

6.18 pm

Lord Cameron of Dillington: My Lords, I am aware that these debates are often used by Members of this House to get some deadly serious issues off their chests, and I am no exception. However, I am also aware that an endless string of deadly serious chest-clearing issues is pretty deadly.

In my intervention, which is addressed to our Department for International Development, I would like to start with a poem—in fact the first and last verses of a poem. It is called “The Seed Shop”, by Muriel Stuart:

“Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand, Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry— Meadows and gardens running through my hand …Here in their safe and simple house of death, Sealed in their shells a million roses leap; Here I can blow a garden with my breath, And in my hand a forest lies asleep”.

I hope noble Lords captured some of the poet’s wonder from that short snippet; I believe that no farmer is immune to it.

I have another quote, this time from Dr Joe DeVries of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. He wrote:

“I can still recall vividly the days of war in Mozambique when we were distributing ‘emergency seed’ to farmers affected by the fighting there. The farmers would line up for hours, often in the rains of the new planting season, some of them clothed in tatters … But the gleam in their eyes when they walked away with the seed packs we were distributing always betrayed them ... For the moment, there was hope. They had seed. They would plant. New hope for better life would sprout along with the green shoots”.

Today things are better, but, to paraphrase Dr DeVries, he still sees that sparkle in the eyes of African farmers when they buy the dramatically improved and high-yielding seed that genuinely can now change lives. Modern biotechnology has enabled the development of crop varieties that can withstand attacks of pests, viruses and even weeds, as well as being nutritionally enhanced with nutrients vital for women and for the proper development of their children.

We in the UK have helped to develop these seeds. The reputation of our research establishments such as Rothamsted, John Innes and James Hutton are second to none. Furthermore, the partnerships of many of our institutions with similar bodies in China, Brazil and throughout Africa are worth millions, not only in

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contracts gained and public/private partnerships, but also in aid and influence, and the UK being a recognisable part of the gleam, just mentioned, in the eyes of smallholder farmers.

I know that the Government are working hard at this agenda and I hope that their soon to be published agritech strategy will help to raise our game even higher in the eyes of the international community, not to mention of the African farmer. However, we must not stop there. The end game of DfID must be to help developing countries become self-sufficient and eventually not need our aid. To quote Justine Greening, we must help,

“create economies that stand on their own two feet”.

Taking that goal to its logical conclusion in Africa, this economic transformation has to start with agriculture. It accounts for 32% of Africa’s GDP and nearly 65% of its employment, and few people now believe that it will be possible to promote prosperity there without a significant focus on agricultural transformation.

This agricultural transformation is not only an economic agenda of huge importance but an agenda of women’s rights. More than two-thirds of all women in Africa are employed in agriculture and they produce nearly 90% of the food. To empower agriculture is to empower women and, with the right training, it enables them to provide for the nutritional needs of their families and earn money to provide education for their children. It is truly a transformational agenda.

However, it would seem that as yet the UK does not get it. President Obama gets it; his Feed the Future programme and last year’s USA-led New Alliance show that. Ireland seems to get it; I was in Dublin last month and heard more than one Cabinet Minister speak up for the transformational ability of agriculture. From my conversations in Brussels with Commissioner Piebalgs, I would say that he, too, seems to get it. However, when did we last hear a DfID Minister or senior official talk about the transformational importance of agriculture? The ONE organisation claims that DfID’s agricultural spend is only 2.18% of its overall ODA. At one point it was as high as 18%. Even if the figure is wrong—I admit that it is hard to trace what is agricultural and what is not—it is certainly one of the lowest percentages of all donor countries.

All that is going to change, is it not? I am an eternal optimist. With the Prime Minister welcoming the IF campaign, which launches on 8 Junes this year, with the Government’s focus on nutrition at this year’s G8—it would be a travesty if we were not to talk about locally grown nutrition—and with the African Union calling for 2014 to be the year of agriculture, this is surely an ideal moment for the UK to commit itself to greatly increased funding to help CAADP and even individual countries to develop and deliver their national agriculture investment plans.

To return to my starting point, this is not only a seed agenda. I wish it were that simple, but there is no such silver bullet. It is, as I said, about women’s rights, including their ability to own land and borrow money. It is about roads, crop storage and markets and market chains. Above all it is about knowledge: knowledge not only about how to plant, fertilise and protect modern seeds and how to enrich and improve the soil,

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but about the benefits of co-operation and how to buy, sell and promote entrepreneurial flair throughout the food chain. An agricultural reformation is not only about growing food; it runs from plough to plate and includes investment in inputs, machinery, storage, processing, transport and retailing, to name but a few. This is an exciting agenda, but above all it is a transformational agenda, and I would hate the UK to get left behind.

6.25 pm

Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, there seems to be a growing interest in the question of whether this country should remain within the European Union, so if noble Lords will forgive me I will confine my remarks to that important issue. In that context I start by welcoming very warmly the Prime Minister’s pledge in the important Bloomberg speech he gave a little while back to provide the people of this country with an “in or out” referendum in 2017. I am also glad that a draft Bill was published today to give effect to this pledge. I gather, incidentally, that it is likely that an amendment may be moved in another place today, regretting the absence of any mention of this in the gracious Speech.

I would not presume—and neither, I am sure, would any noble Lord—to give advice to my right honourable and honourable friends in that place. However, if I may venture a personal opinion, what is needed is a thorough debate about the momentous political and economic issues involved. This will not be assisted by unnecessary and pointless votes. The Prime Minister’s position, as I understand it, is that the EU as presently constituted is not acceptable to the United Kingdom, and perhaps not acceptable on a wider basis. Therefore he will seek to renegotiate the terms of our membership to make it acceptable before holding his promised referendum if he is in a position to do so.

One does not serve as a Minister of the Crown for more than a decade, as I did, without getting to know the realities of the European Union pretty well. In light of that knowledge I do not believe that it will be possible for the Prime Minister to secure the fundamental changes that he seeks. It will certainly not be possible if it is thought that at the end of the day he will, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Harold Wilson, recommend an “in” vote however inconsequential his renegotiation proves to be.

We are severely limited for time in this debate so I cannot touch on all the important issues involved, many of which I sought to address in an article in the Times last week, which some noble Lords may have had time to read. I will therefore focus on what inevitably is the central concern in all this, which is the fundamental change in the European Union following the coming into being of monetary union and the eurozone, with the United Kingdom rightly outside it. It is no use living in the past and deluding ourselves; that was a watershed and a Rubicon. Judged as an economic venture, monetary union is clearly and predictably a disaster, condemning the eurozone to long-term economic underperformance, which of course none of us wishes to see, as it lurches from crisis to crisis—not to mention the political discord that we see today in Europe as a result.

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Of course, it is not an economic venture but a political venture, seen as leading inexorably to the creation of a full-blooded political union and a new superstate, the United States of Europe. This is the only context in which European monetary union can make any sense whatever, and it is not for us. Nor is there any future for a United Kingdom outside the political union, increasingly marginalised but still shackled to it. That, au fond, to use the language of the country in which I live, is why, unless monetary union is abandoned, we must leave the European Union.

Finally, I am puzzled, not upset, that this view is frequently characterised by the media as being rightwing. Of course, it used to be the view of the party opposite, and I have never considered the Labour Party to be a particularly rightwing outfit. My mind at this time goes back to a small private dinner party in Chelsea some 50 years ago, where the guest of honour was the then leader of the Labour Party and leader of the Opposition, Hugh Gaitskell. It was only a very few weeks before his sadly premature death. The discussion turned, not surprisingly, to the then topical question of whether we should join what was then known as the Common Market. I was in favour, but Hugh Gaitskell was passionately against it. His argument was that we should not be part of a European political union, a United States of Europe. At that time, when we had our argument 50 years ago, I insisted that that was not the issue before us and that the European Economic Community, to give it its correct name at that time, was something quite different. That may have been true then, but the issue today, after the watershed and after the Rubicon has been crossed, is clearly that identified by Hugh Gaitskell 50 years ago, and I find myself standing now pretty close to where he stood then.

6.32 pm

Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, nobody disputes that many of the defence procurement overruns in cost and time terms have been a national embarrassment and that substantial improvements and changes are imperative. However, whether a GOCO, a government-owned and private sector-operated solution, is the answer, is highly questionable.

I have nothing against GOCOs in principle. Indeed, when I was a Defence Minister in the 1980s, I was heavily involved in the Bill to contractualise the dockyards, taking it through the Commons. But that was for a specific operation; what we are now talking about is a whole new order of magnitude—£14 billion of procurement with, currently, 16,000 civil servants. What the Government are effectively saying is that we cannot put our own house in order; it is just too big a job for us. That is a very substantial admission of failure.

No other country outsources its defence procurement through a GOCO route. Can you imagine a large plc such as Shell or Tesco or even BAE Systems putting out their purchasing to a third party? Of course, defence procurement is complex, and technological changes are rapid, but with the right systems, disciplines and quality of management, it surely could be substantially improved in-house. Indeed, the MoD is clearly still unsure about the GOCO option itself. We are now

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apparently in what is called the final assessment phase, scheduled to last 12 months, comparing the public sector option, DE&S plus, with the GOCO alternative. Could my noble friend tell us what the plus is, in DE&S plus? What is the change here from the current situation?

According to a recent article in the Financial Times, the US-based contractor, Jacobs Engineering, has been appointed by the MoD’s delivery partner to help to develop the business model for the handover. How was Jacobs selected, and at what cost? Indeed, how many MoD personnel are spending the majority of their time on the GOCO option?

A GOCO option would add a fourth player into this already complex arena. First, we have the customer, our Armed Forces. Secondly, we have a body, let us call it MoD Purchase, which will presumably place the order with the GOCO and, ultimately, check the procurement on completion. Thirdly, there is the GOCO itself, and, fourthly, the defence contractor with which the contract is placed. That is four bodies rather than the current three.

I turn to the GOCO itself. I have a number of questions for my noble friend and I fully understand if he is not able to answer them tonight and has to write to me. How will the GOCO operator be selected? Will overseas countries, particularly American-controlled companies, be considered? Will companies that are already involved with the MoD be considered, and will companies that already work or provide services for defence contractors be eligible? In today’s Financial Times, the chief executive of Babcock has ruled that company out. Perhaps our old friends, G4S, are champing at the bit.

What will the basis of the financial arrangements be between MoD and the GOCO? Will the GOCO receive a block of money and a list of spending requirements and be told to get on with it, or will the arrangement be fee-based, perhaps with an incentive? How many of the 16,000 MoD personnel will the GOCO be required to take on? What about those left? Will the GOCO be free in future to hire and fire as it sees fit? How long will the contract between the MoD and the GOCO operate, and in what circumstances can the operator be terminated? What restrictions will be placed on the GOCO’s freedom to operate—specifically, as between buying off the shelf and sustaining our national strategic capabilities?

How will collaborative programmes with our allies, joint procurement, be handled in the GOCO world? What cognisance will the GOCO take of regional employment issues and the need to encourage SMEs rather than support our major national contractors? What are the attitudes of our allies to our going down the GOCO route? An article in the Financial Times on 7 May headed “MoD outsourcing plan stokes US anxiety” refers to the United States’ concern that shared information between the two forces could be at risk. We are told that the UK and US have agreed to,

“establish a joint, bilateral, inter-agency team to explore”,

the new situation. Could my noble friend confirm this? Is it currently at work?

With regard to single-source contracts, where there is no competition for whatever reason, what would the interface be between the new Single Source Regulations

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Office to be implemented in 2014-15 and the GOCO? Will the GOCO’s remuneration be varied, dependent on whether a particular contract is single source or competed for? As I understand it, to facilitate the original shipbuilding merger between BAE and Vospers, a programme of future naval work was guaranteed. How long does that run on for, and how will it work if the GOCO is established? How will cancellations of major programmes be dealt with between MoD and the GOCO, such as the Nimrod disaster or the carrier aircraft fiasco—initially STOVL, then cats and traps, then back to STOVL? To put it bluntly, who pays? Who picks up the pieces?

On the delicate area of the revolving door, with MoD personnel and members of the Armed Forces being recruited by defence contractors it is already difficult enough to police. What is the future position going to be in the new GOCO world? Will any restrictions be insisted on?

We now come to the very important area of national emergencies and urgent operational requirements. Our defence contractors have a very proud record of responding to our nation’s needs, as we saw in the Falklands, Afghanistan and, more recently, in Libya, with financial considerations being put to one side to be sorted later. Will our Armed Forces and the MoD be free to go direct to defence contractors in such circumstances, or will they have to go through the laborious route of the GOCO?

Finally, given the inevitability of disputes between the MoD and the GOCO, with changes of specification, extras, variations in quantities and so on, will it not be necessary to establish some form of independent arbitration—perhaps an Office of Defence Procurement Arbitration—to handle disputed issues?

Outsourcing MoD activities has provided very lucrative revenue streams for the private sector. A GOCO is a major opportunity for the private sector but, I would suggest, a huge risk for the taxpayer and our Armed Forces. Many questions need to be answered. My noble friend Lord Levene, who was Chief of Defence Procurement and, of course, drove the defence reform agenda, has considerable misgivings—I spoke to him yesterday—and so do I.

6.40 pm

Baroness Cox: My Lords, I wish to offer first-hand accounts of causes of deep concern in three countries I have visited this year. The first concerns Burma where there are welcome reforms but many problems remain, including severe violations of human rights affecting ethnic and religious minorities such as the predominantly Muslim Rohingya, the Christian Kachin and the Buddhist Shan peoples.

The Rohingya people have suffered horrifying waves of violence, displacing at least 130,000, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deaths. Moreover, security forces have often failed to prevent the killing of civilians and destruction of Muslim homes, shops and other property. Those forced to flee to camps are living in conditions of appalling squalor, many dying from disease without medical care. May I ask the Minister what steps Her Majesty’s Government have taken to press the Burmese Government to ensure that security forces act swiftly to protect vulnerable communities, arrest and prosecute

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perpetrators of violence, prevent the spread of anti-Muslim propaganda and hate speech, and end impunity? May I also ask whether Her Majesty’s Government have raised with the Burmese Government the denial of citizenship for the Rohingya people, who, despite living in Burma for generations, exist as a stateless people?

I turn briefly to the plight of the Kachin people. In June 2011, the Burmese Army broke a long-standing ceasefire with Kachin state and fighting continues. I visited Kachin state in February and saw the dire predicament of at least 100,000 people displaced from their homes by military offensives and human rights violations by the Burmese Army, with killing of civilians, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and destruction of villages. At least 66 churches have been destroyed in the past year. May I ask what efforts Her Majesty’s Government are making to press the Burmese Government to end these military offensives and engage in a meaningful peace process with the Kachin and other ethnic nationalities?

Persistent violations of ceasefires also continue in Shan state, where the Burmese army continues to attack Shan people and to commit grave human rights abuses. May I ask whether Her Majesty’s Government will press the Burmese Government to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to all conflict-affected states, and what humanitarian assistance Her Majesty’s Government are providing? As the monsoon season approaches, the current dire humanitarian situation could become catastrophic.

The ethnic national peoples of Burma fear that the warm welcome given by the international community to the reforms will result in massive investment, which the Burmese Government will use for more exploitation of the resource-rich lands of the ethnic national peoples, with further expropriation and displacement. As one of the Shan leaders said to us with deep concern, “When the lights went on in Rangoon, all the world rushed there and no one stopped to see us in the darkness”. Given the decision to lift EU sanctions on Burma, may I ask the Minister what measures the EU, including the United Kingdom, will use to pressure the Burmese Government to stop these human rights violations, ensure genuine constitutional change, which includes a just political settlement for the ethnic nationalities, and bring an end to these decades of war and oppression?

I turn briefly to the new republics of South Sudan and Sudan, having been twice this year to South Sudan and once to the conflict-afflicted areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan. South Sudan needs massive assistance to recover from the war inflicted by the former north, in which 2 million people perished, 4 million were displaced and virtually all the infrastructure was destroyed. I had the privilege of being invited to the Independence Day celebrations in June 2011, where the joy of freedom was tangibly exuberant, alongside the sober challenges confronting the new nation. As President Salva Kiir said, it was not a case of rebuilding, as there was nothing left to rebuild.

The Government and the peoples of South Sudan deserve congratulations on their achievements in the 22 months since independence. Of course, there are massive problems, including inevitable internal conflicts

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in a post-conflict tribal society, with historic tribal tensions exacerbated by unemployment, especially of demobilised soldiers, a generation of children who have not been able to attend school because of constant aerial bombardment, some of the worst health statistics in the world, with only 15% of the population receiving immunisation, and a desperate need for roads in a country which, at independence, had only a few kilometres of tarmac road. The problems are exacerbated by the Republic of Sudan’s aggressive policies, including military offensives into South Sudan and sponsoring South Sudanese insurgents and criminal groups. There is also the problem of continuing violence along the border, especially in the disputed Abyei region.

However, I am delighted to see many signs of progress in South Sudan, including establishment of institutions of civil society, programmes for reconciliation between conflict-prone tribal factions and investment by major international companies. Can the Minister say what specific initiatives Her Majesty’s Government are taking to promote UK investment in South Sudan, as it is essential for the development of this vulnerable new nation trying to develop as a true democracy in a very challenging part of Africa?

Finally, I turn to the Republic of Sudan, still under the rule of General al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, together with two of his senior colleagues, one of whom he has imposed in a ruling position in southern Kordofan. Al-Bashir has declared his intention to turn the Republic of Sudan into a unified Arabic, Islamic nation. He is pursuing his racist policy of ethnically cleansing the African peoples from Blue Nile state and the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan. Earlier this year, I witnessed constant aerial bombardment of innocent civilians, forcing half a million to flee their homes and hide in snake-infested caves, under trees or in river banks. Many have died of starvation as they cannot grow or harvest crops and a quarter of a million have had to flee to overcrowded camps in South Sudan. I and other noble Lords have repeatedly asked what pressure Her Majesty’s Government have put on the Government of Sudan to desist from this aerial bombardment of civilians which has caused such a massive toll of death and injury, and I do so again this evening.

Her Majesty’s Government claim that they wish to continue to “talk” to Khartoum. However, as many of us have emphasised, Khartoum continues to kill while it talks. There are also numerous other causes for concern in Sudan, including expulsion of many NGOs, attacks on Christian churches and schools and serious infringements of fundamental human rights, including freedom of the press. These deserve a separate debate. May I ask the Minister what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to bring an end to this culture of impunity, which allows, inter alia, mass killings and injury on that huge scale? May I also ask whether Her Majesty’s Government might consider assisting indigenous organisations in those conflict-affected areas, especially in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, with the provision of life-saving food and medical supplies for civilians currently dying from starvation and disease? In one village we visited in Blue Nile, 450 people had died

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from starvation and those still alive had had to flee into the bush from aerial bombardment targeting their village. The people of Sudan and South Sudan look to the British Government as having a special responsibility to help, not only because of our historic responsibility but our continuing duty as part of the three-nation group responsible for monitoring and assisting with the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement.

Our friends in Burma, Sudan and South Sudan passionately hope that we will hear more substantive promises from the Minister—if not tonight, in due course—to bring encouragement to people who have suffered too much for too long at the hands of Governments who continue to kill and inflict suffering on so many of their own people in Burma and Sudan with virtual impunity.

6.48 pm

The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, one of the privileges of a debate of this sort in your Lordships’ House is hearing speeches from those with a deep personal knowledge and understanding of places in the world they have visited. The speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, was a good example of that.

I particularly associate myself with the magisterial speech of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, on Sri Lanka, with which the diocese of Ripon and Leeds has connections, through the worldwide church, with the dioceses of Colombo and Kurunagala. Like him, I emphasise the need to work with the people of that land both in securing the peace which has been achieved and in ensuring human rights in that country.

The other thing that I have done this afternoon is go with a number of other noble Lords to the Christian Aid presentation in Westminster Hall. In the middle of Christian Aid Week, it is particularly crucial that the Government join millions of our fellow citizens in affirming our desire to see an end to hunger in our world. I welcome the leadership that the Prime Minister has shown to date, particularly in challenging tax evasion, which has a particularly detrimental effect on the poorest countries of the world.

In that context, I remain disturbed by the absence in the gracious Speech of any reference to the target of 0.7% of gross national income being spent on international aid, and I was grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, for her firm statement on the importance of achieving that target for our country. However, we still lack any information on the intention to embed this in law. That commitment represents our concern for the poorest people in our world and is an important part of the determination of the still-wealthy nations to continue their support of those in most need. I associate myself with the words of the noble Lords, Lord Chidgey and Lord McConnell, in wanting to affirm clearly at this point the millennium development goals and the need to move beyond them in seeking to put an end to hunger in our world.

There have been various assurances over the past 12 months that a Bill incorporating the 0.7% commitment is written and ready to be presented to Parliament when the business managers can find time for it. I am aware that a fortnight ago a Bill was lost in the other place under pressure of business after the Government

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had said that it was almost identical to what we would have tabled. I look forward to the Minister’s assurance that not only is it the aim of this Government to ensure that the 0.7% target continues to be met but that the search is still on to find parliamentary time for such a Bill. It may be that the noble Lord who is to reply can table it in this House because the promise is beginning to look somewhat thin unless it is now accompanied by action.

There has been much important debate on the proper objective of aid to other countries, and I welcome the desire to concentrate aid on where it can do most good in appeasing hunger. In particular, it is crucial that aid goes to those Governments who need the administrative power to collect tax and to close those loopholes that enable multinational corporations to send their profits offshore. However, that should not extend to military action, and it would help me greatly if the Minister can commit himself to the OECD requirement that aid is judged as such only when it is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective.

That brings me to the UK’s presidency of the G8. I am encouraged by the commitment in the gracious Speech to “tackle tax evasion” and to “encourage”—although I would have welcomed a stronger word—“greater transparency and accountability”. The key challenge is to ensure that any tax agreement concluded by the G8 benefits poor countries and enables them to access information about company ownership and assets held in tax havens. In particular, can the Minister tell us whether any tax haven has yet signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters? It would be a powerful example of leadership if the UK-linked tax havens were to sign the convention in the lead-up to the G8.

The Government must be aware that the IF campaign’s pressure, to which a number of noble Lords have referred, to end tax-dodging by individuals and major companies has rightly touched a nerve with the public in our country. The Government need to bring a beneficial ownership action plan to the G8 and encourage other countries to do the same, whereby we can know who ultimately benefits from the profits of companies and ensure that taxes are paid in the countries where those profits are made.

Finally, I welcome the commitment to a hunger summit prior to the G8 meeting. This concentrates attention on where it primarily belongs—on the appalling truth that the world has the capacity to grow enough food for its population and yet NGOs, Governments and individuals still need to provide for those who starve. That is the greatest scandal of all in our world economy.

6.55 pm

Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, the gracious Speech includes a defence Bill and I speak to encourage the Minister of Defence to hold the Government’s position on recruitment and training of 16 to 18 year-olds to the Armed Forces, because siren voices are complaining that Army recruitment of under-18s is a waste of money. Other voices say that the Government should reconsider allowing 16 year-olds to enlist.

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Here I should declare my interests. I am a member of the Defence Study Group of your Lordships’ House; I am from Plymouth, the home of the Navy and Marine Commandos, in which my family has served for generations; and I have employed many young people in fish processing units—not the most happy places to be, but useful—while they wait to go into the Army. It used to be a great tradition that they would go off and return within a year or so in uniform, for us all to gaze at them and glory at how much they had changed and improved.

In these difficult years of recession, many young people find it very difficult to find a job at all, and the social cost of the unemployed young is huge—youth on the loose, bored, losing confidence, depressed, prey to gangs in some places and obesity in others, in single-parenthood, dependent on government payouts, and open to temptations of all sorts. This is not the way to start a life and represents money wasted. The earlier that we can offer opportunities to these young people the better. We can give them greater confidence and pride by setting them on the road that perhaps their fathers or mothers took before them to apprenticeships, BTEC qualifications, training, and personal and team success. It may even be that they can learn to drive a tank.

The cost of recruiting these 16 to 18 year-olds is not wasted. In the year 2012-13, the Army identified that just 12% of under-18s leave before completion of their training, as against 14% of those over 18 who do so. It is the youngest entrant soldiers who stay as soldiers for the longest. It is they who become the best NCOs, and they are a great investment for us. This House is witness to the many years served here by our Staff Superintendent, Peter Horsfall. He was a member of the Coldstream Guards at the age of 16. Many of our Doorkeepers have backgrounds as boy soldiers and apprentices, and many of them became NCOs. They tell me that it is the NCOs who actually run the Army.

I turn to my second point, on allowing 16 year-olds to enlist. The Government believe that their policies on under-18s in service are robust and comply with national and international law. They have taken steps to bestow special safeguards on young people below the age of 18, under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. It continues to be the rule that they do not go to the front line to fight until they have reached the age of 18. Of course, a comprehensive welfare system is in place for all service personnel. I hope that the Minister—a soldier himself—will continue to support this Government’s route.

Finally, the voices “against” are against preparing the next generation for circumstances which are not abstract but real. Those same voices would, I suspect, leap to praise the youngster—the 16 year-old—who has performed well during a local crisis such as a flood, a fire or an accident. So often that youngster is a scout or a guide but is also an Army cadet, a Navy cadet, an Air Force cadet, or a boy or girl soldier.

7 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton: My Lords, one of the features of the Queen’s Speech was that it implied that there would be less legislation. I believe that that is

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excellent because—this has nothing to do with party politics—it enables this House to spend more time considering big issues, including monitoring the programmes of government.

The policies and actions of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID are very important in helping the UK’s commercial and industrial interests, as well as ensuring that the UK works with other nations to deal with the global problems of climate change, the threat to the environment, global pandemics, and prospective food and water shortages, some of which were referred to by the retiring Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, and the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey. The role of science in this area of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and defence was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Reid.

I declare interests as a professor, as a director of a small company and as a member of GLOBE, and I want to touch on that. With its limited numbers, further reduced by this Government, could the Foreign Office be more effective in collaborating with other UK, UN and EU organisations? First, I want to compliment the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for its support for and collaboration with NGOs, one of which is GLOBE. This has had the remarkable effect of bringing together Ministers, civil servants, parliamentarians and now UN agencies to achieve, rather unexpectedly, general agreement about national legislation to deal with climate change. There has been some learning in this process but it has been effective, and I believe that there is, as it were, a general moral in that.

However, I should like to introduce a slightly more sour note in commenting that the FCO could be considerably more effective in working with other branches of government to promote UK interests and commercial interests. The United States embassies use US government agencies to promote US business in quite a forward and ruthless way, rather unlike our embassies. This is a point made by Americans and foreigners all around the world. We are very good at some of the broader political issues but, as I see it, often we are not so great at pushing for British interests. The Chancellor increased some funding for this purpose. We had a debate in the House of Lords but I believe that more can be done. One point is that UK government agencies could provide objective information about UK companies and products. Here, I have a vested interest, as I say. However, it is nothing like the kind of information provided by the United States, which has, for example, whole sections in its embassy in Beijing pushing US technology.

Some UK companies felt that there were great opportunities to develop products based on the UK’s success with the Olympic Games and our success in developing east London—something that the British Government wanted to happen. However, the funding being put forward by other countries for similar kinds of urban renewal projects makes it quite difficult for British companies to compete, as has been stated to me.

The United States also uses its technical and commercial colleagues as part of its delegations to meetings of the United Nations technical agencies.

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I used to represent the UK at the World Meteorological Organisation. We had civil servants; the Americans had a whole array of people. Every night, they would ring up the Department of State and would get information back. It was a very different operation. I believe that this is a significant problem and that the Foreign Office should do more in monitoring and promoting the use of the UK delegation to the United Nations, not only to be effective but to promote UK interests. In fact, some of the UK government agencies which are part of these delegations do not take it as seriously as they should. Indeed, a recent chief executive of a UK agency said, “I don’t regard this as part of my job at all”. The job description of the new Foreign Office chief scientific adviser did not even mention the United Nations or the UN agencies, which are enormously important for all these technical issues.

As the Government, through the United Nations department at the Foreign Office, are not able, or choose not to, give sufficient information about what is going on, if you really want to find out what is happening in this whole world of UN agencies and you are no longer an official, you can use, on either your BlackBerry or your iPhone, the extremely effective information provided by IID, an organisation in Canada. From that, for example, we can learn this week about what is happening in the Arctic Council. Last week, we could hear about what was happening in discussions on the Stockholm and other conventions. Surely, if the United Kingdom wants to promote itself as a country which is really on top of the use of the internet and communications, the Foreign Office should be at the forefront of informing at the very least parliamentarians but also, one would hope, the public about what it is doing.

Through a PQ, I had correspondence from the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi. Apparently this year is the International Year of Water Co-operation but no information is to be provided about the UK objectives and there is to be no report on what happens at the United Nations. Yet today I understand that the Prime Minister is talking at the United Nations about the importance of water. Therefore, we really need to do more.

Equally important in the role of UN agencies is their help in developing countries. I am sure that the late Lord Brett, who was a great advocate of the International Labour Organisation, would have been reassured to hear that the ILO played a very positive role in calls for trade union involvement and more consultation following the Dhaka disaster.

I should like to touch on Europe, which the Minister was very enthusiastic about. “Hear, hear” could be heard a lot as she made her speech. The Ministers in BIS are even more positive about the EU, and I particularly commend the enthusiasm of Mr Willetts in promoting the space industry. This involves not only software, in which the UK has often been very strong, but hardware, which leads to jobs. Of course, David Willetts has a constituency with a lot of factories in the space business, but it is a very important aspect.

We need our UK embassies and consulates to inform the rest of the world not only about the UK’s technology but about how we are working with the other countries of Europe. It is very interesting that last week in China

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the French Prime Minister spoke about the excellence of the Airbus. The wings of the Airbus are made in Britain. How often does the British Prime Minister talk about a European project in which the British and French are participating? Then the German Prime Minister might talk about Rolls-Royce, which has factories in Germany. This would be the development of a broader way of working. When you go to embassies and consulates, it is regrettable how little advocacy there is about the important role of the UK in working on the most advanced projects in Europe.

Finally, I should like to say—perhaps uniquely in this afternoon’s debate—that people have been talking about the UK as an important global player with networks and so on. However, surely we should be thinking beyond the framework of World War II and the Cold War. It is extraordinary that this little country, then with 2% of the world’s GDP and a population of 50 million, along with France should still have seats on the United Nations Security Council. Surely one seat should be for Europe with a population of 500 million, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, and the other for India, which is soon to be the country with the largest population. This will not happen immediately but surely there should be the beginnings of a discussion about the future by Parliament, the United Nations associations and other foreign relations. We cannot carry on with this World War II framework.

7.10 pm

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I warmly echo the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, on the right of the Chagossians to return to their homeland, from which they were ejected many years ago in one of the most shameful episodes in British colonial history. I also join her in welcoming the review by the Government of their Chagos policy, which I hope will lead to the removal of this blot on our reputation.

Up to this point the Government have had an excellent record on international development and I am proud, with my noble friend Lady Northover, that we hit the target of 0.7% of GNI this year, as promised in the coalition programme for government. However, as several noble Lords have said, the Bill to enshrine this commitment in law, which is also in the programme, is not in the gracious Speech and it has been reported that the Prime Minister has dropped it entirely. That cannot be because of the pressure of other legislation, so it looks as though the Tories are laying the ground for cuts in spending after 2016 if they get the opportunity. I am sure that Liberal Democrats will note this breach of the coalition agreement.

Another Bill that has disappeared from the list is the one on the standard packaging of cigarettes. This would have been consistent with the proposed European directive to strengthen the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was supported by your Lordships’ European Union Committee and strongly backed by Cancer Research UK but which is desirable independently as a means of deterring people from taking up smoking, as the director of health and well-being at Public Health England has advised. The opposition comes from the tobacco manufacturers and

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from Nigel Farage, who is apparently unconcerned that almost a quarter of a million young people between the ages of 11 and 15 take up smoking each year. One assumes that the Bill was axed in the panic over UKIP’s threat to the Tory vote even before the local elections.

Mr Cameron also pandered to the supposed dislike by the electorate of everything European in September last year by again attempting to placate the UKIPs and Tory crypto UKIPs when he announced during a visit to Brazil, rather than in the Commons, that the UK would opt out of some 130 EU pre-Lisbon justice and policing measures. The coalition agreement committed us to approaching legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis with a view to maximising our country’s security. There is no doubt whatever that European measures on corruption, drugs, pornography, terrorism, illegal migration, cyberattacks, organised crime and racism have enhanced our security, because these offences are all borderless.

Co-operation between law enforcement authorities across Europe is essential for investigations, the exchange of evidence and information and for the recovery of the proceeds of crime. We need institutions such as Europol and Eurojust to manage the links between the 27 member states, and we need the European arrest warrant to ensure that we do not get saddled with all the criminals in Europe. It is the height of folly to jeopardise all this as it is by no means certain that we can walk back into the measures that we like the day after leaving them.

We all agree that the European Union can be improved, but we do not improve our chances of contributing to that discussion by constantly threatening to leave it. What conceivable grounds are there for thinking that other member states would agree to renegotiate membership on more favourable terms for us—a point on which I agree with my noble friend Lord Lawson? There are more likely to be demands from other European countries for the annulment of the extraordinary rights that we already enjoy in the European Union.

Unsurprisingly, the word “Europe” does not appear anywhere in the gracious Speech, but there is no mention of the Commonwealth either, as several noble Lords have remarked. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are both attending the CHOGM in Sri Lanka in November, as are the heads of all the other member states so far except Canada, as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, mentioned. The Australians say that it is better to stay engaged because of the extra leverage that it gives us in the run-up to CHOGM, but how has that been illustrated? Amnesty International describes the systematic attack on dissent, including the impeachment of the chief justice without due process, her replacement by a close associate of President Rajapaksa, the blocking of BBC broadcasts, the arbitrary detention and disappearance of hundreds of government opponents and the targeting and removal of journalists such as the chief editor of the Sunday Leader, Frederica Jansz, after she had been threatened by the Defence Secretary in a foul-mouthed diatribe.

If the Commonwealth does have the influence that Australia believes it has, will the Government suggest to Sri Lanka that it issues an open invitation to the UN Special Procedures so that their advice on human rights issues can be considered before the CHOGM?

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How can the Commonwealth encourage Bangladesh to uphold the fundamental values of the recently adopted charter, including democracy, human rights, the rule of law, the separation of powers, freedom of expression, good governance, tolerance, respect and understanding and the role of civil society? In Bangladesh, political objectives are pursued on the streets instead of in Parliament, most recently when Islamist mobs rioted in downtown Dhaka at the beginning of May in support of a 13-point list of demands that included the execution of atheist bloggers, a law against blasphemy and restrictions on women at work. These objectives are clearly incompatible with the Commonwealth charter, but at the same time security forces used disproportionate force against the Islamists, causing many deaths, and the Government closed down two TV channels that were reporting the mayhem.

Previously, huge demonstrations and counter- demonstrations had erupted over the death sentence passed by the war crimes tribunal against a person for offences committed in the liberation war of 1971. Those proceedings were not conducted in accordance with the rule of law and are the source of violent divisions in Bangladeshi society.

There are also gratuitous attacks on members of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly the indigenous inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Government have failed to implement the CHT accord of 1997, promised by Sheikh Hasina within the lifetime of this Parliament, and they no longer recognise the native inhabitants of the CHT as indigenous people. As co-chair of the international CHT Commission, I asked the Government to raise these matters in the Bangladesh universal periodic review, which has just taken place, and I would be grateful if the noble Lord who is to reply can tell me whether they did so.

Pakistan, too, in spite of the successful elections, warrants the attention of the Commonwealth. As the Commons International Development Committee says, it exhibits unstable politics, a large defence budget, historic levels of significant corruption, tax avoidance, and low levels of expenditure on education and health programmes, and its status is that of a middle-income country. Pakistan is the largest recipient of UK aid, but our aims of promoting peace and stability in the border areas, thus creating the conditions for achieving the MDGs there, have already failed. During the election, more than 100 candidates and election workers were murdered by Islamist terrorists. Over recent years there has been a crescendo of murders and massacres of religious minorities throughout Pakistan, which the international community cannot and must not ignore.

My noble friends Lord Ashdown and Lord King of Bridgwater both raised the issue of the global threat of Salafist terrorism against the Shia Muslim communities. This is nowhere more acute than in Pakistan. The movement is alternatively aimed at the creation of a universal caliphate based on a supposed model from the 7th century. Its activities will not be confined to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali or Syria, and we ignore it at our peril. I regret that neither in the gracious Speech nor anywhere else in government policy do we see the prospect of a coherent strategy to combat this ideology.

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7.19 pm

Lord Stirrup: My Lords, the gracious Speech last week set out the Government’s intent to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. These are ambitious aims to encapsulate in such a few words, especially given the kind of international turmoil that we currently see in so many parts of the world. So how are they to be achieved?

The conflict in Syria steals most of the headlines these days, and not without cause. The consequences for the Syrian people are tragic and the stresses on the wider region become ever more worrying, but what can external actors do to help address these issues? The first thing, perhaps, is to ensure that by their actions they do not make the situation even worse. We know little for sure about the Syrian opposition groups. We believe that some of them at least are pursuing an extremist agenda, and the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, has pointed out some of the other concerns about the nature of the conflict. The Assad regime is extremely unsavoury and we would certainly like to see something better in its place, but how content are we that this is actually achievable?

These are not new questions, but there is a natural concern that while we grapple with them, so far unsuccessfully, more people are dying and the humanitarian situation is growing steadily worse. I have sympathy with this concern, but it is important to remember that the issue in Syria is essentially political in nature and that any attempt to address it must itself be at root political. Employing military force in the region without a clear and achievable political objective would be a leap into the unknown and would certainly risk worsening the situation rather than improving it. We most certainly can and should be making every effort to contain the regional impact of the conflict. We see the consequences in Turkey, in Lebanon and, most worryingly of all, in Jordan. Sustaining and increasing our support for the latter country is perhaps one of the most useful things we can do in this crisis, at least in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s second term and a new Secretary of State present yet another window of opportunity for the Middle East peace process. The current regional turmoil makes progress on this issue more rather than less pressing. The experience of many weary years makes us naturally cautious about expecting too much, if anything at all, from the latest efforts in this regard. Nevertheless, unrelenting persistence is one of the most important prerequisites for dealing with the problem. As has been pointed out already, Israeli settlements are certainly a major obstacle, but treating them en masse is likely to make them a showstopper in any negotiations. Some of these settlements would almost certainly remain on the Israeli side of the line under any land swap deal, while others are much more controversial, and it is on these that negotiators should perhaps focus their efforts.

The Palestinians, for their part, will have to acknowledge that there can be no right of return. This presents all sorts of difficulties, but there are no easy parts to this puzzle. This is another issue on which negotiators should perhaps concentrate their efforts to find an acceptable formula. Most important of all, the

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peace process needs to focus on constituents within Israel and the West Bank. The leaders are important, but if they cannot deliver the key elements of their constituencies, they will be unable to make the concessions necessary for progress. It may be unrealistic to expect a resolution of the Palestinian issue in the near term, but just a degree of movement on these key points would go at least some way to relieving the air of stagnation and pessimism that seems so prevalent at the moment.

There are of course a great many other challenges for the UK on the international scene, and numerous potential threats to our interests. Other noble Lords have covered or will cover some of these, and time precludes me from touching on more of them today, but they exist and we must guard against them. If we are to do so, we shall need the appropriate resources, including adequately manned, equipped and trained Armed Forces. The Government’s plans for Future Force 2020 set out how that particular requirement is to be achieved. These plans, while constrained to a greater degree than I believe wise, are at least coherent, but when they were conceived during the strategic defence and security review in 2010, it was made clear that they depended on real-terms increases in the defence budget—and, I stress, in the entire budget, not just in the equipment programme—in each of the years after 2015: that is, beyond the period of the 2010 spending review from financial year 2015-16 onwards.

This is the basis on which the Ministry of Defence has conducted its planning over the past three years, but far from increasing the budget from 2015-16 the Government seem to be about to reduce it further, and the prospect for the succeeding years does not look bright. Some will say that the circumstances have changed and the economy is not where, in 2010, we all hoped it would be by now and therefore we have to tighten our belts further. They would say that defence cannot be protected from this further pressure. That may indeed be the Government’s judgment, but in announcing the outcome of the 2010 review in another place, the Prime Minister himself was clear that the plans for Future Force 2020 depend on the sort of budget increases that I have outlined.

One does not have to be a master logician to work out that the reverse must also be true: that without those rises, the Government’s plans for the Armed Forces will be unachievable. That appears to be the current situation. The Ministry of Defence is working to a plan that is not being funded appropriately and that will therefore fail. I should be grateful if the Minister could say in his winding up how his department intends to square this circle.

Finally, I feel that I, too, must say a word about the Afghan interpreters who contributed so much to our operations in their country and who now face such a fraught future. The Government have so far declined to put in place for them a scheme similar to the one that allowed endangered Iraqi interpreters to settle in the UK. I simply cannot understand this. I accept entirely the desirability of talented Afghans remaining in and contributing to the development of their country, and I welcome the introduction of incentives to persuade them to do so, but if they judge that the risk to themselves and their families outweighs the incentives

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to remain, surely we have a duty to provide them with a viable alternative. It is simply not good enough to say that they can apply for asylum like everybody else; they deserve far better from us than that.

The moral argument for treating these people as a special case is clear, but there is a practical one, too. As the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, noted, we shall certainly need high-quality interpreters in future crises. If we are to persuade people to work for us in such a capacity and in such circumstances, they will need to have some confidence in the long-term prospects for themselves and for their families. We need to be seen as a country that looks after those who serve it. That, I regret to say, is not how we are seen at the moment. The case for a change of course is overwhelming. The Government’s case for their current stance is, to my mind, wholly underwhelming.

7.27 pm

Lord Browne of Ladyton: My Lords, I am pleased once again to follow the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, in a debate in your Lordships’ House because it gives me an opportunity to commend his well-argued and characteristically clearly delivered speech. I sense from the response of noble Lords that the Minister would be well advised to heed the words of the noble and gallant Lord, as indeed I did every day that I was the Secretary of State for Defence when we served together in the MoD. I am also pleased because it gives me an opportunity, which I have not had so far, to congratulate the noble and gallant Lord on his elevation to Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. I remind noble Lords of my entry in the Register ofLords’ Interests, particularly my involvement in organisations associated with non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament issues.

On 6 and 7 May, the two days before the gracious Speech, I attended the ninth annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation in Split at the invitation of NATO and representing the European Leadership Network. There were over 100 participants in this conference, which has a very extensive agenda. Some 20 NATO countries were represented, as were four countries from the Middle East along with Japan, China, India and other nations across the world.

Chatham House rules apply to those discussions so I will not—even if I could in the short time available to me—share with noble Lords all of what was said. However, it was an extensive agenda, covering nuclear, biological, chemical and cyber threats. There was a significant discussion about the defeated ambition to have a conference on a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, and all aspects of proliferation were discussed. Many of the national delegations present had been at the preparatory committee of the NPT review in Geneva and had come from there. It was good to see that the Egyptians were at the conference in Split despite their leaving the NPT review disappointed that no date was fixed for a rearranged conference on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The House will also be aware that the fourth P5 meeting to discuss the P5 obligations under Point 5 of the 64-point plan that came from the NPT review in 2010 and the

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P5 obligations under Article 5 of the NPT took place on the margins of the Geneva discussion, hosted by Russia.

I think there will be agreement on all sides of the House that these are important issues. In almost any hierarchy of threats, these issues would be high in anybody’s priorities and on the list of issues being discussed. As I have said before in your Lordships’ House, when representing a European organisation in that environment, when both the United States and Russia are represented, and if China is also in the room, you have to have pretty sharp elbows as a European to get into the discussion. The scale of their weapons capabilities is such that Europeans, even when aggregated, appear rather small. It was slightly disappointing and worrying that there was no Russian voice in these discussions and at the conference, for the first time to my knowledge.

What was even more disappointing from my perspective was that there was no official United Kingdom voice either. At the NATO discussion on weapons of mass destruction, we appeared to have no point to make. This is not the only recent example of our country not being represented at important discussions relating to the threats and challenges that the world faces. Recently, the Norwegians convened a meeting to discuss the humanitarian effects of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and we did not turn up. On that occasion, I think, it was out of solidarity with our P5 partners, none of which turned up to take part in that discussion, to my disappointment and that of many other countries of the world, and which I am sure your Lordships will share. Although it was no surprise to me, I share the disappointment of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, that these issues did not deserve one line in the gracious Speech.

As will be clear to every noble Lord in this debate in your Lordships’ House today, the range of this debate shows the extensive competition there is for that priority. Almost every noble Lord who has spoken has bemoaned the fact that something was not in the Queen’s Speech. Of course, not everything can be in it, and the range of challenges for priority are very obvious from the nature of this debate. However, it is also obvious that if Europe is to seize the opportunities of the future, it has to deal with the legacies of its past. That has been a significant part of the debate this afternoon and it will be into the evening.

Nowhere is that more evident than in defence and security issues. The blunt truth is that the security policies of the Euro-Atlantic region remain largely on Cold War autopilot, 20 years or more after the end of the Cold War. The Euro-Atlantic region is home to nine of the 14 states in the world that have nuclear weapons on their soil and 95% of the nuclear weapons that exist in the world. However, we seem always to want to talk about the “other”, instead of what is in our own neighbourhood. We are home to large strategic nuclear forces, many—indeed, thousands—of which are ready to be launched in minutes. Thankfully, that does not include the United Kingdom’s forces, but it does include Russian and American forces. Thousands of tactical weapons remain in Europe and a decades-old missile defence debate remains stuck in neutral. New

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security challenges associated with prompt-strike forces, cybersecurity and space remain contentious and inadequately addressed.

This legacy contributes to tensions and mistrust across the Euro-Atlantic region and needlessly drives up the risks and costs of national defence at a time of unprecedented austerity and tight national budgets. We must ask ourselves why, two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and other European nations spend hundreds of billions of dollars, roubles, euros and pounds in response to these tensions while both local and national leaders face a growing list of fiscal demands and unmet needs. This is not just about guns versus butter, although that is a very attractive argument in the current environment. The likelihood of a major war in Europe may have radically reduced since the end of the Cold War but this legacy undermines any effort to build a true Euro-Atlantic partnership to meet the common threats and challenges of the 21st century, which we can all list and which we all know will have to be addressed in a collective and multilateral fashion across the world. The status quo divides our continent and will set Europe and Russia up for a future of failure and irrelevance in the emerging international system if it is not addressed.

Many across the world believe that we need a new approach to defence and security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region. In response to that growing demand, the European Leadership Network, under my chairmanship, the Nuclear Threat Initiative under the chairmanship of Senator Sam Nunn, the Russian International Affairs Council under the chairmanship of Igor Ivanov, the former Russian Defence Minister, and the Munich Security Conference, under the chairmanship of Wolfgang Ischinger, brought together a Track II dialogue to discuss some of these challenges with experts. I was pleased to be able to invite my noble friend Lord West of Spithead, who accepted, and General Sir John McColl, the former DSACEUR, who recently retired and is now the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, to join that significant group of people, including very senior former soldiers from Russia and the United States, to address some of these issues.

I do not have time now to go into the detail, but I have a copy of the report from that dialogue and I commend it to both the House and the Government. It is a comprehensive document that sets out the principles that ought to instruct such a dialogue and a step-by-step approach to take us, over 15 years, away from this difficult set of circumstances that we have got ourselves into by not addressing these challenges. We need political leadership but we will not have it if we do not even recognise this challenge when we set the course for a year’s debates.

7.37 pm

Lord Taverne: My Lords, I want to address the implications of a referendum in 2017, which I do not think have been properly considered very often. I very much agreed with the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Howell when he said that the European Union is, at present, in a state of flux. It faces entirely new circumstances and completely new challenges, but that is not an argument in favour of having a

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referendum in 2017. If the eurozone is to survive, it will need some greater degree of fiscal co-ordination and some initiative for growth. Both of these mean more Europe and yet there has never been greater disillusionment with Brussels throughout Europe than there is at the present time—people want less Europe. How will that be resolved? We will not know by 2017. How large will the eurozone be? It may be smaller but it may be larger. What will its relations be with the outside?

Another thing that will be needed is a banking union. However, Germany and France are very far apart at the moment about what sort of banking union there should be. It is likely to take considerable time and is not something that is likely to be resolved by 2017. The form of any banking union will have very serious implications for the City of London. What sort of Europe is likely to have emerged by 2017? We do not know. If we are going to have a referendum that is meaningful, the choice must be clear, but we will not know what sort of Union we are supposed to vote on—either to leave or to stay in.

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, also said that we should play a leading part in the kind of changes that Europe needs. I completely agree. The noble Lord, Lord Williamson, said that there were many opportunities for us to exploit the need for change that there is in Europe. I entirely agree. But what will be the effect on our influence in Europe in leading these changes if we have a fixed referendum that leads to the possibility—indeed, in many people’s eyes, the likelihood—of an exit?

Many people in Europe look at the polls and the rise of UKIP, this xenophobic, populist party. They hear the speeches of my noble friend Lord Lawson and other Tory grandees, and indeed the statements made by some Cabinet Ministers, and they assume that Britain is likely to exit. What sort of concessions are they likely to make if they think that we are not going to be a member in any case? How will they respond to what in effect is a threat—“If you do not give us what we want, we will walk away”? Fixing a referendum is not likely to enable us to achieve the kind of changes that we want and need, because you can achieve those only if you are inside, if you have a commitment to the Union, not if you are threatening to leave and exercising what will appear to some as a form of blackmail—when we need good will.

My third reason is that the only people likely to benefit from a referendum in 2017 will be the antis, which is not surprising; that is why they are in favour. Suppose the Conservatives win the next election and Mr Cameron starts his negotiation for substantial repatriation of powers backed by the threat of walking away in a referendum, is he likely to achieve these successes? He is extremely unlikely to do so. He may get a few cosmetic concessions, a few sops thrown to him, but I agree with my noble friend Lord Lawson that people will see through that; there will not be any substantial repatriation of powers. If he is still Prime Minister—which would then be somewhat unlikely—what would Mr Cameron do in a referendum if all his negotiations have failed? He could not say, “But we must still say yes”. The Government would be forced to support a no campaign, together with a vitriolic

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anti-European press. One could not guarantee a repetition of 1975, when all three parties were in favour and so was the press.

What happens if Labour wins the election and commits itself to a referendum in 2017, which fortunately so far it has not done? Suppose that Labour, too, feels that it cannot be left out in this competition for the popular vote, would it agree to a referendum? Two years after the election, just at the time when Governments are supremely unpopular, a Labour Government would have a vote, which would be unanimously opposed by an anti-Europe Conservative Party and the press. Again, it is quite likely that the result would be exit.

Who will be the beneficiaries of a referendum that is fixed in 2017? I am not opposed to the idea of a referendum when we know exactly what we are voting for and if it is an absolutely major issue such as whether or not we should join the euro. I am not opposed to a referendum in principle. I am not very keen on it; on the whole I am a supporter of Burke in this matter. Let us assume that there is the likelihood of an exit. What would be the result of that? We would finally have an answer to the problem posed by Dean Acheson when he said:

“Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role”.

We have not yet found a role—I think we have to face that fact—but if we exited from Europe we would have found a role, and what would it be? The sort of influence we would have in the world if we exited from Europe would be that of a less prosperous Norway or Switzerland.

7.44 pm

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I will comment on the EU at the end. First, I will speak on conflict and post-conflict states. I begin by acknowledging the work of our Armed Forces, diplomats, journalists and aid workers in Afghanistan. There have been many casualties among Afghan soldiers and civilians as well as our own soldiers and Marines, but we often forget that our own civilians and aid workers are also working in a dangerous environment. I declare an interest because two members of my family have served in that capacity, while another is currently serving in our Armed Forces.

I completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord King, and others about the translators. I put it to the Minister—when he comes back—that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has a resettlement programme which would exactly fit this group of refugees. I hope that he will give us a reply on that point.

One key aim we have all been fighting for in Afghanistan has been the rights of women. Madonna said recently, when making a generous donation, that she did not want to live in a world where women and girls are treated as they are in Afghanistan. I expect the same could be said by all of us, yet despite what the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said at the beginning, it appears almost inevitable that after we have withdrawn our Armed Forces, we shall gradually downgrade our aid programme, at least from the scale on which it has been operating

At best, we shall see continuity and perhaps a return to true Islamic ideals, which respect the role of women. At worst, we shall see the Taliban exerting increasing pressure and perhaps returning to power.

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I look back at what the aid agencies were saying during the Taliban era after 1996, when any movement of women from their homes was discouraged and education was banned in many areas. I was at that time involved in a clandestine project in Badghis province to support girls’ education in private homes, which was the only way of doing it. At that time the UN and most of the large aid agencies were wary of getting involved at all. Women were discouraged even from working for the United Nations agencies—we forget that.

Of course, the situation has dramatically changed and it seems almost inconceivable that today’s programmes for women can be reversed. We are told that after NATO withdraws, aid through agencies such as our own DfID will continue, but we have to be realistic: less security means less protection for programmes outside the main cities. Every degree of un-Islamic prejudice or extreme interpretation of the Sharia in the madrassahs means less take-up of education and more opportunities for terrorism. Can the Minister assure me that DfID will maintain its support for education and that its programmes in rural areas, including the successful National Solidarity Programme, will continue to have priority and be given adequate support? Knowing that protection will be provided by the Afghan army and police, what arrangements are being made to equip and train Afghan soldiers and men after 2014?

It is not just Afghanistan that will lose international aid but Pakistan, which, besides foreign aid, has received massive US backing for the war against the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. We should recognise, especially this week, that Pakistan has made huge sacrifices and is still at war with terrorism, as are we. Whatever the future make-up of Governments in Kabul and Islamabad, the world will not tolerate the brutality of the Taliban towards young women or men seeking education in either country.

We remember the pleas of the remarkable Malala Yousafzai, the child activist who was the victim of the Taliban. She has been nominated by Desmond Tutu for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Nafisa Shah, a prominent Member of Parliament and chair of the National Commission for Human Development, said recently that no other nation was suffering from terrorism like Pakistan, and yet,

“there seems to be little understanding … from the international community. The world needs to ... support us to promote, expand and strengthen the political and social space for a democratic and progressive civil society”.

It is certainly time to congratulate Pakistan and its new leader. Although the election last weekend saw violent episodes, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, earlier, it at least demonstrated a leap forward in the democratic process following electoral reform and a recent strengthening of the judiciary. I am pleased to say that we have been part of that. DfID, alongside its focus on girls’ education, supported voter mobilisation, with an emphasis on the participation of rural women voters. We are claiming to have helped 100,000 first-time women voters in that election.

I was impressed also by our involvement in helping IDPs—internally displaced persons—in the Khyber region, especially with water and sanitation. This is

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the key frontier area around Peshawar—where we should be working—represented by a famous cricketer whose anti-corruption campaign has won him a lot of votes. Most of the IDPs have fled violence in the tribal areas, but the vast majority of them, 88%, are still living outside any organised camps or UN protection. Foreign investment in Pakistan is draining away and donors are getting tougher. Even our own International Development Committee in its latest report has emphasised corruption and human rights violations and calls for more effective aid through the aid programme and through IMF lending, conditional on better governance. Pakistan is a fragile state, but, for reasons of history and security, we must do our utmost to remain there, both to meet emergency needs and to respond to the pleas of the heroic Malala and many others working for a better future.

Nepal is another Asian post-conflict state still recovering from the bloodshed of only a few years ago before the Maoists entered government. Political stultification has set in and the country is now run by civil servants, for lack of any Ministers, pending elections which are always being postponed. I know that our aid programme is still in place despite delays in the forestry programme, but we cannot consider that Nepal is yet off the danger list.

In Africa, thankfully, May has been a month of positive development. We have to be pleased that the Kenyan elections went well, although while the new president remains on the ICC list, there can be no lasting political stability. Kenya has played a vital role in the quelling of al-Shabaab in Somalia, although that country will take years to rebuild and the diaspora is still cautious.

Sudan and South Sudan, mentioned by my noble friend Lady Cox, are due to reopen oil supplies at any moment following the success of Thabo Mbeki’s high level panel under the auspices, we must remember, of the Ethiopian Government and the African Union. The 50th anniversary of the AU would be a good opportunity to celebrate ultimate reconciliation between the two sides of Sudan, but unfortunate1y, as my noble friend said, the conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei still have to be resolved.

Nearer home, we need to work harder to promote more reconciliation in Europe’s own conflict states, notably between Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vucic visited four Serbian municipalities in northern Kosovo last week and spoke in favour of the recent compromise agreement in Brussels, saying that it was the only way for Serbia to survive. He is right. I firmly believe in gradual enlargement of the EU as a means of preserving peace in Europe.

Once the quarrelling in the Conservative Party is over, I hope that the coalition or whatever Government succeeds it will bring this country back to its senses. We belong in Europe and we have to remain in Europe if we are going to solve any of the problems there or in conflict states all round the globe.

7.54 pm

Lord Freeman: My Lords, I shall speak briefly about a rather narrow but important issue: the expansion of our Reserve Forces. There was reference in the gracious Speech to this, but, so far, the response from

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not only colleagues in both Houses of Parliament but also in the press has been rather muted. I can assure my noble friend on the Front Bench that I am not expecting any reply this evening; I seek simply to place on record my strong support and admiration for what the Minister has achieved already in supporting the Reserve Forces.

My very modest qualification for contributing to this debate is having been the Minister responsible for the Reserve Forces in the United Kingdom and recently, during the past decade, president of the Reserve Forces Association. I commence by paying tribute to the 29 Territorial Army soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan in recent years.

The Government have a very ambitious target—the gracious Speech referred very briefly to this—of increasing the number of the Reserve Forces to 30,000 by 2018 from a current base of about half that, and half that, frankly, is not as well trained as would have been the case 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The challenge is significant and represents the most radical reform over the past 50 years.

The advantage of recruiting men and women into our Reserve Forces is that they often have very special skills; for example, as engineers, doctors, linguists et cetera. There is also greater geographical cover and therefore a relationship between our Armed Forces and the community which is now becoming either limited or non-existent as our Regular Forces fall in number and are concentrated in fewer bases.

According to exchanges that I have had with the Ministry of Defence, a White Paper on precisely how we are going to recruit 30,000 reserves is due very soon. It will set out the challenges. In my judgment, a sensible notice period has to be given to employers, particularly small employers, about when a reservist is likely to be called up. That has been one of the biggest problems that the Territorial Army has faced during the past 20 or 30 years. We also need to increase employer awareness of the requirements. This is particularly important for small firms. If you employ only five or six people, it is extremely important that you know how long the notice period will be before someone is called up, how long they will be away and when they will be back. There must be an opportunity for young men and women who join the reserves as officers to command. During the past 10 or 20 years when we have sent troops to Afghanistan and other theatres of conflict, we have sent regular soldiers and reservist soldiers but not the young officers who need to get experience in command. We need to deploy units of the Reserve Forces together with the Regular Forces so that they can train together in this country and serve together.

A distinguished previous Black Rod in this House and I worked on post-traumatic stress, which is extremely important as other Ministers who have served in the Ministry of Defence know. It affects far too many of our returning regular soldiers. We have to make sure that services are available also for our reservists. It is a hidden and very worrying problem for many in civilian society.

To double the size of our Reserve Forces from about 15,000—I would not claim that all of them were properly or fully trained—to 30,000 by 2018 is a bold

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objective, but I congratulate not only the Minister but the Ministry of Defence and the senior military staff there on making sure that we are going to meet that challenge. I am sure that it will be in the interests of service to the country, and I hope that we will see and debate the White Paper very soon.

8 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury: My Lords, I want to raise an issue on which there is cross-party consensus: the previous Government’s commitment to meet the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid and to legislate on that by 2013. This was taken on by the current Government and included in the coalition agreement. The Minister pointed out in her opening contribution that this year the UK reached that target and was the first G8 country to do so. I welcome that achievement: I am very proud of our country for it.

However, the commitment to legislate on that is missing from the gracious Speech. I have heard the argument that having met the target legislation is not necessary. I cannot put it better than the former International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, who said last March:

“I think it takes it beyond doubt. And also we and the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party all made clear at the time of the general election that we would legislate. It takes it out of politics. On the whole, politicians should do what they say they are going to do”.

UK aid works. Every year, it helps raise more than 3 million people out of poverty and gets millions of children into school. In 2012 alone, it stopped 2.7 million mothers and children going hungry and vaccinated 12 million children against life-threatening diseases. Instead of making the case that that is the right thing to do from the perspectives of both global social justice and long-term national interest, the Prime Minister puts internal party interest above giving leadership on an issue that has multiparty consensus.

As my noble friend Lord McConnell said in his contribution, in recent weeks we have seen a series of off-the-record briefings and ad hoc policy announcements that appear designed to appease those in the Conservative Party opposed to increased aid. We have had from the suggestion that in future UK aid will be used to replace cuts to the defence budget and promote British trade interests to ending our aid programme to South Africa. The latter was originally spun as a decision agreed by the South African Government. That patently was not the case. Again, that is putting media headlines three days ahead of local elections before the needs of South Africa’s poor, our foreign policy interests and our relationship with a country that is central to progress in Africa and the wider world.

The critics of legislation also ignore the fact that making permanent the link between 0.7% and gross national income would ensure that the UK aid contribution will always be related to the health of our economy. In an increasingly interconnected world, the fortunes of people in the UK are linked to those of people in developing countries. The untapped potential of developing nations represents lost customers, trade and ultimately growth for the UK and global economy. Investing in effective development means investing in new markets for UK companies abroad. As UK aid is

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used to lift more people out of poverty and provide developing countries with opportunities to enter international markets, UK companies will have an expanded market as new companies develop and consumers have increased disposable income. The CBI has estimated that the impact of the UK working in new markets in these sectors could lead to a £20 billion boost to the UK economy.

Effective aid, particularly when targeted at fragile and conflict-affected states, can assist in averting security threats and instability. For example, with 43% of the world’s population now under the age of 25 concentrated in some of the world’s poorest nations, well-targeted aid can provide better life chances and opportunities to young people who would otherwise face a future with little or no prospects. This is an important moment. It is time for all of us, Government and Opposition, to come out and be proud of UK aid and what it achieves.

8.05 pm

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, following three decades of conflict and international sanctions, Iraq’s economy is set to become one of the fastest growing in the world over the next 10 years. Its GDP growth for 2013 is forecast for around 14%, largely fuelled by a rapidly developing hydrocarbons sector that already generates around $8 billion a month in oil revenues. On the back of this sizeable wealth stream, Iraq’s import demand is projected to increase by 150% by 2020, with major opportunities in sectors including power generation, infrastructure, healthcare, education, financial and professional services, telecoms, security and defence, IT and beyond. Inevitably, rapid population growth is also anticipated, from maybe 30 million today to maybe 70 million or beyond. These are large numbers for government and the private sector to satisfy demand for investment.

Where is Britain in this? British companies are especially well placed to capitalise on investment opportunities in Iraq given the significant historical and cultural ties that exist between us, as well as the UK’s solid reputation for quality and transparent business practices. UK exports to Iraq totalled £782 million in 2011 and exports of goods increased 40% in 2012 to just over £1 billion. Although commendable, this is minuscule compared with Turkish trade with Iraq, which climbed to $8.3 billion in 2011 from $2.8 billion in 2007 according to Turkish government statistics. Almost 600 Turkish construction companies are working in Iraq according to the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board. Iran’s trade with Iraq is worth more than $10 billion according to the Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce—that is 10 times as much as Britain’s.

Iraq is rebuilding the country from the ground up but there is continuing evidence that Britain is losing out to competitors, especially from the Far East and other European countries. There are many examples: massive contracts to build huge power stations in Basra have gone already to Greek and Turkish companies and recent defence expenditure favoured Russia and the Czech Republic. Iraq is rebuilding her railway system at a cost of more than $60 billion. The world’s first railway engine was invented here in Britain and a UK company, Bombardier, makes high-performance

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trains that are sold all over the world. Yet only this week the Iraqi Government announced that they were importing 10 trains from China.

I must point out that British company BP and Anglo-Dutch company Shell are between them producing more than 70% of federal Iraq’s total income from two giant oil and gas fields at Rumaila and Al Majnoon. Shell has just started a unique $18 billion gas capture programme, the first in the world, which will enable Iraq to fuel all its power stations with gas by the end of the decade. That will provide wealth for the Iraqi economy and jobs for the Iraqi people. It is a fantastic achievement by one British-owned and one partly British-owned company, with subcontractors that in many instances are also British. We should be very proud of their achievements.

Other sectors in Iraq such as construction and infrastructure are wide open to British expertise. Where is agriculture or the many other things we have to offer? With a few exceptions, I am sorry to say that British business is making less impact than we should in the federal Republic of Iraq and even less in areas such as the Kurdish regional government.

Alas, it is not only in Iraq that Britain has failed in the region. At the Opportunity Kuwait conference last week, I was disturbed to hear that Britain had only 2% of all investment in Kuwait by foreign companies, compared with 14% by the Netherlands. High-profile and important British politicians, including our Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and the Lord Mayor of the City of London, have shuttled through Gulf countries lately, aiming not just to sell British goods, such as warplanes, but to attract oil money to help fund pressing UK infrastructure needs.

Our bilateral trade with Gulf countries is estimated by analysts to be worth more than $15 billion annually, but that is still a modest sum given the estimated $2.2 trillion-worth of infrastructure under way in the Arabian peninsular states. We can and must do more. I pay tribute here to the extraordinary skills and sheer hard work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I share its focus on the paramount importance of the development of the free market and the private sector as fundamental to the development of democracy. I am delighted that under the skilful leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, UKTI’s excellence is both more obvious and more effective in the region. UKBA is also working immensely hard.

Indeed, I am proud to be leading a UKTI-IBBC 100-strong mission to Iraq—I should explain that I chair the Iraq Britain Business Council. There, we will be led by a UK Cabinet Minister, the right honourable Member for Havant. We will be focusing on opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises and, in particular, on universities and science—his portfolio.

I believe that the key to success for Britain in Iraq and the region lies in rebuilding confidence. There remains in Britain much hesitancy about Iraq. We should be proud of the important part that we played in freeing the Iraqi people from their decades-long misery, which included institutionalised torture, genocide and slaughter by chemical weapons. We should be very proud of the work of our wonderful Armed Forces.

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In just 10 years, Iraq has made huge strides forward. The recent free and fair local elections, and a growth rate today of well over 10% surely show that Iraq is fast becoming one of the most powerful countries in the region, and also the most stable. It is surely the best financial partner for us all. I believe that confidence-building measures, which I urge the Government to adopt, are the key to opening the door for a truly successful partnership between Iraq and Britain.

8.12 pm

Lord Eames: My Lords, I wish to draw attention to the issue of the United Kingdom’s contribution to international development and, in doing so, to express serious concern to the Government about the absence of any detailed reference to it in the gracious Speech. In so doing, I find myself repeating the concerns already expressed in this debate by, among others, my noble and right reverend friend the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury.

Back in 2010, the Government made a strong and welcome commitment to give priority to international development. This would be achieved, we were told, by protection for the overseas aid budget by pledging to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid from 2013 and, most important of all, by cementing that commitment in legislation. The welcome that such intentions received from many sources indicated, if evidence were required, the widespread willingness to support international aid. That support came from across the political arena, from voluntary aid societies such as Christian Aid, humanitarian aid agencies, the churches and many others.

In this year’s Budget, the United Kingdom finally reached the target of 0.7%. Is it any wonder that there has been genuine and widespread disappointment that a Bill to enshrine that target has been omitted from the Queen’s Speech? Those promises issued in 2010 were one thing. A failure to move ahead on legislation which would have overwhelming support in this House, in the other place and in the country, is difficult to understand.

We are told that there are such economic pressures at present—pressures which were not fully understood in 2010 and which have arisen since—that it is dangerous to translate intentions into law and that 0.7% must remain the aspiration only. In the light of economic recession, such arguments spring easily to our mind, yet the temptation to reallocate resources across the board in times of economic hardship raises serious dangers for such matters as overseas aid.

However, legislation which would allow long-term reassurance—a long-term basis for planning and long-term reassurance for the voluntary sector—is vital. Such legislation would underscore the effectiveness of the United Kingdom’s overseas aid. As we approach the G8 conference in Fermanagh, such legislation would show the world that the United Kingdom can provide global leadership in attempts to reduce world poverty and to reduce the desperate plight of the hungry. Such legislation would demonstrate to the world that Britain had the courage to back up good intentions even in difficult economic situations.

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In the complex tapestry of challenge in our current economic climate, the issue of overseas aid stands high on our list of priorities on moral grounds. One can think of numerous examples where effective aid programmes save lives, lift communities out of poverty and—of equal importance—empower people to take control of their own lives. Hardly a day passes without vivid and tragic evidence in the media of such needs. As one who has often found himself visiting areas of such desperate human need, I have a sense of pride in recognising how much our contribution as a nation has made to the amelioration of such suffering.

Our nation has so often demonstrated that generosity, that compassion, and we have seen ourselves rise steadily in the global estimate of those who are willing to provide aid. Surely, by enshrining those intentions in legislation we would have done much to raise the morale of so many involved.

I remind the House of the words of the Prime Minister when he said,

“We will not balance the books on the backs of the poorest”.

By placing a legal duty on the Government by allocating 0.7% of GNI in years to come, we would become the first country in the world to provide a permanent guarantee to those who need it most that we will live up to promises that we have made.

My final point comes from connections with the ongoing tragic situation in Syria. Words fail us in the face of the relentless suffering of the people of Syria. We commend the strong leadership of the United Nations in the international humanitarian response. We commend the Secretary of State for International Development on her efforts in support of the UN initiative, but we must not forget the ongoing work of humanitarian aid agencies in our country, and their workers who face such danger in Syria and elsewhere at this time. However, there is the question of co-ordination. Is the Minister satisfied that sufficient effort is being made to co-ordinate the efforts of the voluntary agencies involved in the Syrian situation, and co-ordinate them well with those of government and international humanitarian aid at this time?

Overseas aid has long been a sign of our compassion as a people. In a world order where humanitarian need is now the most critical reality, surely we have a moral duty as well as a political duty to give urgent consideration to this question.

8.20 pm

Viscount Eccles: My Lords, having worked in international development for the best working years of my life, I can only admire the admirable simplicity of the approach of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, to this subject. However, as I will demonstrate, I do not think that compassion is enough. I also regret that the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, is not in his place. I worked for an organisation that had equity investments in three seed companies in Africa. It worked very closely with the largest privately owned American seed company. It brought clonal tea to Zimbabwe and Tanzania and bred elite oil palms for the Far East. In fact, it did everything that the noble Lord suggested should be done now, and I was part of the British aid programme at the time.

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International development and aid has in fact always been controversial. It has never been a simple subject. Indeed, if your Lordships were to read the 238 pages of DfID’s annual report—perhaps noble Lords do not read those 238 pages—you may end up, like me, completely confused. I say that advisedly. I am not sure, but I think that DfID is driven by the millennium development goals, yet those are not working. It is true to say that the countries that will be able to achieve the millennium development goals would have achieved them anyway and that those that cannot achieve them would never have done so anyway. There are countries going in and out of the green, amber and red definitions of the millennium goals, which certainly need to be thoroughly revised in 2015.

Our own House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee wrote a very good report about the effectiveness of aid, which noble Lords will no doubt have read. Reading that report, you see that there is deep controversy in the evidence given to that committee about the effectiveness of aid. Whatever might be said about my noble friend Lord Ashcroft’s blogs, he knew and knows about Zimbabwe from when he was young, and about Belize. Those are two quite difficult countries and in his blogs there are very interesting views.

There used to be great debate in this House about development and aid. Lord Balogh and Lord Bauer used to go head to head. Lord Balogh was an adviser on official development assistance, while Lord Bauer would say that economic growth and development were what was needed and that aid interrupted the progress towards economic growth and the elimination or amelioration of poverty. We now have consensus, which the noble Lord, Lord Collins referred to, so we cease to debate the matter as we are all agreed. All that does, if I may say so, is open the door to Mr Nigel Farage—not a very welcome development—because, as he says, if all three Front Benches agree there must be something wrong. On that proposition, I agree with him, even if his attitude to aid is completely mistaken.

I suggest a way of thinking about economic development and international development. There are four strands to it. First, there is economic growth, which leads one on to poverty. I think everybody agrees—the Secretary of State has said it—that economic growth is the most important means of reducing poverty. The House of Lords committee said that economic growth is essential if poverty is to be reduced, which is of course absolutely right. Secondly, the millennium development goals talk about the eradication of poverty but then refer to the eradication of extreme poverty. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that we have poverty in the United Kingdom. Thirdly, we have corruption. Nothing should be done if it leads to corruption and we must do everything to avoid it, but we have corruption here. We have not lost it; there is still some about. Fourthly, there is disaster relief, which I would like to leave out, but of course if Cockermouth gets flooded we give its people relief.

We need economic growth now in the United Kingdom. I have heard economic growth mentioned several times tonight in connection with the eurozone and Europe. We have not eliminated poverty and we never will. We have corruption. The Charity Commission is looking

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at the moment at a charity that appears to have behaved very badly. Is anybody suggesting that we should get rid of the serious fraud squad? We do disaster relief, too, so when thinking about international development we should stop thinking about achieving things and about targets or exits and endings. It is not that at all but a continuous process, which has gone on here and in the whole of the developed world and will go on everywhere else. When it goes on successfully, of course we will build much more interesting relationships of the kind my noble friend Lady Nicholson mentioned with Iraq, because that is all part of how you come out of problems of one sort or another and create positive relationships. We can make sense of the debate about international development only when we realise that none of the four strands which I have mentioned go away. They all persist.

I have quickly to declare an interest. I used to work for a thing that was called the Commonwealth Development Corporation. It was a classic development finance institution. We used to look for economic opportunities, carrying our own technology and management capability with us. We were prepared to lead and to be in consortia. We took risks and went where other people—the pure private sector—were not quite prepared to go. We did things that were quite risky and exciting and on the whole very successful. However, the previous Administration wanted rid of it. They thought that there was no place for such a gap-filling development finance institution, so they tried to sell it to the private sector. They modelled it on that private sector and left it in limbo.

The Secretary of State now says, “We work with the CDC”, although she qualifies that by describing it as the “revitalised” CDC. I wonder what that means and whether my noble friend on the Front Bench will tell us, if not now then later, when we have a Statement on CDC. I hope that we might get a trailer tonight because we still need a classically designed development finance institution that is not aid per se, or a profit maximiser, but a central economic development institution.

8.30 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, I do not share the expertise of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, or the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, on development, so I shall return to mainstream foreign affairs. On them, the gracious Speech is thin. Bizarrely, the European Union is not mentioned, yet it is likely to dominate the debate, at least until the general election as the civil war within the Conservative ranks continues. The unfortunate Prime Minister, like a penguin house keeper in a zoo, keeps feeding fish to the Eurosceptic critics hoping they will be satisfied, but they swallow the fish and will continue to ask for more.

So not turning to Europe, I look elsewhere. Traditionally, these debates turn into somewhat gloomy analyses of wars and rumours of wars, blighted hopes, such as, perhaps, the Arab spring, massacres, floods, tempests and development ending with an appeal that we must do something. There are, of course, many such events and crises in our world today, but temperamentally, as a Welsh nonconformist, I seek signs of hope and improvement since we last had such a debate, and there are indeed such signs of hope: for

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the first time, one civilian Government has followed another in Pakistan; a general election in Kenya ended without tribal massacres; discoveries of natural resources will assist needy Commonwealth countries, such as Ghana and Papua New Guinea and developing countries such as Indonesia; and the PKK has agreed a ceasefire with the Government of Turkey. Major challenges remain, but there are positive developments in Somalia. Last September, the first President was elected since 1991 and elections are planned by 2016. I warmly congratulate the Foreign Secretary on co-hosting the London conference earlier this month and receiving pledges of support, particularly for the security sector. Piracy has more than halved.

Nearer home, there are continued improvements in the western Balkans. On 19 April, an accord was signed between Serbia and Kosovo that does not amount to the recognition of Kosovo but in effect concedes legal authority to Pristina over the whole territory, which is a step, although there are continued problems in the Serbian-controlled part north of the River Ibar. This shows the importance of EU membership as a magnet and is—dare I say it?—a triumph for a Member of this House, my noble friend Lady Ashton, and EU diplomacy. Perhaps the Minister will say a little about how Her Majesty’s Government intend to help both parties build on that agreement.

After these signs of hope, I turn to more traditional themes: Israel/Palestine and the Syrian refugee crisis. I have just returned from that area. It is clear that the parties concerned cannot reach agreement on their own, and outside intervention, particularly that of the United States, is needed. The area is known not for any spirit of compromise or for power sharing but for winner takes all, so President Assad and Israel face existential threats, and there is the danger of both conflicts spreading regionally well beyond their borders.

As for the Middle East peace process, having recently visited Israel, I read with approval the excellent article by Sir Tom Phillips, our former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and to Israel, in August’s edition of Prospect. He gave 10 rules for why hopes for peace have grown bleaker in the past six years. However, since then some developments suggest that the prospects are marginally less bleak. As wags might say, “We have reached the last chance yet again”. Senator Kerry has been very active in what might be a pre-negotiation phase. I was delighted that my meetings with Abu Mazen and Tzipi Livni were interrupted by him. Qatar, on behalf of the Arab League, modified the Arab peace initiative to include agreed minor border swaps.

The Palestinian Authority has delayed taking Israel to the International Criminal Court, and although there have been ambiguous signals from Israel on a settlement freeze, on 1 May Prime Minister Netanyahu told senior officials of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Israel needs to reach peace with the Palestinians to avoid becoming a bi-national state. Perhaps he now recognises that he had no answer to the question: “If not two states, then what? What is your plan B?”. Only a two-state solution can be properly sought. Perhaps his rethinking is being sparked by a hard look at demographic trends between the Mediterranean and the Jordan and the increasing international isolation of Israel, shown most markedly

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in the vote at the UN General Assembly last November, with the settlement policy criticised even by the Czech Foreign Minister, who alone of the EU countries supported Israel in that November vote.

Alas, neither side seems ready to educate their constituencies. The Palestinians refuse to abandon the illusion of some vast right of return to Israel proper, and Israel refuses to educate its constituency about the future of Jerusalem. Of course we have to understand Israel’s need for solid security arrangements, for regional recognition of its legitimacy and to avoid silly gestures, such as that by Professor Hawking. If there were to be a sustained international effort, there are at least some limited signs of hope.

On Syria and refugees, we despair at the paralysis at the United Nations, the military stalemate, the danger of the conflict spreading regionally and the continued suffering. Only a political solution can solve the problem, hence the importance of last week’s meeting in Moscow between Senator Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov. The UN and the Arab League envoy, Mr Brahimi, called the decision to seek to convene an international conference before the end of this month,

“the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time”.

I will make three brief observations from my recent visit to Jordan. First, on the scale of the humanitarian disaster, an estimated 4 million refugees will have fled Syria by the end of the year. There are 140,000 refugees in the Za’atri camp, which I visited in Jordan. There has been a failure of the international community to respond adequately, with only about one-third of the sums pledged at Kuwait actually available for the UN to spend on those refugees. Secondly, on the financial and resource pressures on the fragile state of Jordan, at present 10% of the population of Jordan is composed of refugees; by the year end it will be 25%; and by this time next year it is estimated to be 40%.

Finally, there is an apparent lack of planning in the international community for the day after Assad. Any successor Government in Syria will inherit a wasteland for which vast reconstruction resources are needed. I ask the Minister what is being done to encourage the laggards to honour the promises made at Kuwait to pay for the Syrian refugees. What are HMG doing to help Jordan? What lessons have been learnt from reconstruction after the fall of Saddam in Iraq? Given the poor precedent of the international response to the refugee crisis from Syria, what preparations are there to assist the reconstruction of that sad country after the eventual fall of Assad?

8.39 pm

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, I was delighted when the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Swansea, introduced himself as a Welsh nonconformist. It is not often that you find one Welsh nonconformist following another in these debates, but I am delighted to do so.

This year is very special: it is the 20th anniversary of the Maastricht treaty. We have, since 1993, been European citizens, each of us endowed with the rights of free movement, settlement and employment across the Union. Of course, we are anxious, and others even more so, about the lifting of barriers for some European

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Union workers at the beginning of next year. I suggest that we remove all hostility and suspicion and treat them as they are: fellow citizens of the European Union. If we treat them otherwise, we are asking for trouble. Facts must take prominence; scaremongering must be stamped out.

Of course we treat refugees differently; they are not economic migrants. Asylum seekers do not travel to this country to find work. Instead, they petition us for protection from persecution in their own countries. However, this does not always happen. Asylum seekers are not always treated with dignity and the compassion which many of them need. The whole field of immigration in which they find themselves is a minefield. I was trying to understand and plough my way through some of it the other day. It needs simplifying and modifying. Some who submit applications for UK residence have to wait months if not years for an initial decision. One, we know, is still waiting after four and half years. We need to look at the Immigration Rules. They need to be clear and understandable to the main, ordinary user.

At the close of 2012, we saw the effect of this minefield with the backlog of asylum applications, which stood at 28,500. The backlog had peaked in 2000 when 120,400 cases were waiting for their asylum applications to be dealt with. Things have improved, but the present situation remains unacceptable, especially when we consider that many exist on a mere £36.62 per week during this time. If you read some of the newspapers, you would think that they were given a £1 million cheque when they arrive at Dover, but they exist on a meagre pittance. They are barred from seeking work, which is where I will eventually go with this speech. They survive on pitifully low levels of support. They are unable to contribute or integrate. They are in a legal limbo.

It was found that 25% of those who appealed because they had been denied a place in the UK were successful. The primary reason was that Home Office staff were wrongly making negative assessments. That is not to say that the policies are entirely wrong. However, we are told that often the case owners simply do not follow those policies. All employers—case owners, interviewers, interpreters and decision-makers—should be trained to the highest level, mentored and professionally developed. We could have a career structure for immigration officers, who could go from one qualification to another so that we have the best qualified staff possible to deal with these applications in the first instance. If we do not deal with them in the first instance, we are wasting a lot of taxpayers’ money and reducing asylum seekers and their children to massive anxiety.

We do not say that the Home Office is not doing anything right; things have improved in the past year. However, I am simply calling on Her Majesty’s Government to review how Home Office employees are both recruited and trained. This must be improved. A lot of this backlog—I have been to Croydon and seen the queue at six o’clock in the morning—could be removed if these officers were properly trained.

Like many on these Benches and in other parts of the House, I want our immigration department to be the envy of the world: firm yet fair, attracting skilled

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migrants but also sheltering those who are fleeing a well founded fear of persecution. Yes, we crack down on abuse, but we ensure that we meet—and I would like to see us surpass—our human rights obligations and commitments. I was delighted when the Minister for Justice, my colleague the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said that he had no plan whatever to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. We must not withdraw. One of the great sayings that I relish is that of Dr Martin Luther King: that we seek to build,

“a society that can live with its conscience”.

We seek to live in a society that is true to its conscience.

I think most would agree that we should not prevent those who can from contributing to the good of society. It is bizarre to think that today we have a system of work in which only those who are serious about finding employment can claim benefits, so we deny the most needy asylum seekers—many of whom are forced into poverty, poor health and hunger by our own immigration laws—the dignity of paying their own way in life.

We can draw inspiration from the recast reception conditions directive. I suggest that we consider applications for permission to work from those who have waited six months—not 12 months or more, as at present—so that after six months they will be eligible to take a job. The benefit would be enormous in many directions. Our friends in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden all allow them to work in that six-month period. If that is good enough for them, I suggest that we should consider it good enough for ourselves. Those are the obligations and steps that can be taken. However, we also have a moral step to take.

I was looking at the fourth commandment. I do not often look at it. It says that we should care for the stranger within our gates, not only for our families, our manservant and maidservant. We should remember this. It is, after all, a commandment. Finally, therefore, because my time is at an end, I plead with the political parties: do not aim to win easy votes by coming down hard on migrants in a populist way. Let us instead have a sensible, rational discussion, keeping in mind at all times the tremendous contribution that migrants have made to this nation down the centuries and the enormous benefits we harvest today. I suggest that we must care for the stranger within our gates.

8.48 pm

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I have very great sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, has just said. However, in this long debate I believe and hope that I may have found an area which has not yet been covered.

I want to argue that the war on terror, as waged since 2001, has been a costly failure. Afghanistan and Iraq were then already suffering trauma from previous wars and the impact of sanctions. Today they remain dysfunctional states, with high levels of corruption. Despite having major natural resources, it is likely that both countries will need more than one generation to become normal societies. As a side-effect, Pakistan has been partly destabilized, with political assassinations not fully curbed by elements of martial law. This is particularly serious in a country that owns nuclear

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weapons. All three countries are saddled with huge police and military forces for which they have difficulty paying except at the expense of their civilian populations. For example, in Pakistan barely half the children attend primary school. In Iraq the security forces are almost 1 million-strong, which equates to 12% of adult males. This is happening at a time when the Government of Iraq cannot organise sufficient electricity, water or sewers, and while schools and health services are poor.

The war in Syria, where some British volunteers are probably fighting, threatens—as has been mentioned—Iraq and Lebanon, together with Jordan and Turkey. Meanwhile, the virus of terrorism has spread widely to Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Algeria and elsewhere. The extreme jihadi pursuit of aggressive war remains attractive to partially educated young people. However, even graduates, when politically powerless, can be recruited to the ideology of violence. Unstable and despairing people can make good suicide bombers.

I am not alone in thinking that the so-called war on terror has gone badly wrong. Experienced British diplomats such as Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles and Sir Ivor Roberts have expressed strong disquiet. In the United States Mr Robert Grenier, the former CIA chief in Pakistan who was later director of its antiterrorism centre, proposed that the United States should find ways of appealing to the many Muslims who have sympathies with al-Qaeda but who disapprove of its methods. He said that the US would have to open paths to justice for those long denied it, whether in Kashmir, Chechnya or Palestine.

Unethical methods and shortcuts considered expedient largely explain why the West does not hold the high moral ground. Indefinite detention without trial for 10 years or more cannot be justified by law-abiding democracies. Guantanamo Bay remains open despite President Obama’s pledge to close it. We do not know how many other prisoners are detained elsewhere.

I remind Her Majesty’s Government of the case of Mr Shaker Aamer, the former British resident, who has twice been cleared for release but who remains incarcerated and separated from his family, who cannot visit him. In the past, suspects have undoubtedly been transferred to third countries for purposes of torture. Enhanced interrogation by techniques such as waterboarding were approved. If we still condemn what was done by the Gestapo and the KGB—as I hope we do—surely the West has to be clear and open about its treatment of suspects. Do the Government accept the criticisms that have been made of the Gibson inquiry? They should also be warned that many eyes will watch their implementation of the Justice and Security Act.

In recent years a shoot-to-kill policy has been adopted, overturning the previous doctrine of minimum force. So-called targeted drone attacks have killed many innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, as well as some suspected terrorists. Each death or wounding raises up scores of relatives eager for revenge. Warfare by remote control will never win hearts and minds, but it will alienate many. It should at the minimum be controlled by civilians and not intelligence agencies.

Everything I have mentioned, together with the long-standing demonisation of national resistance and liberation movements, should be reconsidered most

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urgently. We should understand how religious beliefs often motivate political behaviour. We should examine the demographics of North Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia. These will guide and govern what is likely to happen in future.

The co-ordinated use of soft power, which has been mentioned already, seems a better strategy, usable alongside or instead of hard power. Joseph Nye defines soft power as the,

“ability to get what you want through attraction rather than through coercion or payments”.

For him, there were three components of such power—culture, where this can attract others; political values, where these are credibly projected; and foreign policies, where they are,

“seen as legitimate and having moral authority”.

During the Cold War, the West by and large had these. I fear, however, that during the war on terror it may have lost them. Robert Pape, Mr B Raman and others have described ways to recover credibility.

Huge sums have been lavished on brutal rulers and on allies who demand far more from us than they can give in return. Further billions have been spent in search of military victory in countries that have then needed complete reconstruction. We must re-examine what we have tried to achieve and the methods that we have condoned for so long. Only after fundamental revision and acknowledgement of policy faults will we be able to face the world with a good conscience. The days of single-power hegemony are over, just as much as those of empire. Hard as it may be, these are the facts that we have to face. They demand the recasting of our foreign, defence and security policies, and our security should rely less on searches and other static protections and far more on good intelligence.

8.56 pm

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, I want to focus on three separate areas in my speech today to show how Her Majesty’s Government are pursuing sensible policies in two of them but are severely lacking in initiative on the third.

The first is Hong Kong, which I visited as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary China Group delegation in February, under the able leadership of my noble friend Lord Wei. Every aspect of our visit was excellently planned, from the detailed FCO briefing before we left to the full programme while we were there. Further credit is due to the Hong Kong Government and the consul-general there, Caroline Wilson, for their superb organisation and interest in hearing our feedback. The British Chamber of Commerce executive director, Christopher Hammerbeck, was a credit to the organisation, and our trade envoy, the noble Lord, Lord Marland, was most helpful.

What we learnt overall was totally contrary to my expectations. I had believed that the dead hand of communism would have stifled enterprise and initiative. After a week, I realised that the opposite is true. The Chinese have skilfully allowed, under the principle of “one country, two systems”, the entrepreneurial spirit to continue. Business is not weighed down by unnecessary regulation, tax rates are low and government finances

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are in good shape, while the focus of the economy has moved away from manufacturing and is now service based.

The UK is making an excellent effort to increase trade. Exports of goods were up by 21% in 2011. Noting the strength of our trade with China, I support the Prime Minister in not needing to apologise for meeting the Dalai Lama. He should note that every US president has met the Tibetan spiritual leader, and this has not affected the USA’s exports to China as a whole, which are up 20% in dollar terms from 2010 to 2012.

The one area that seemed to cause concern to Hong Kong businessmen, as expressed at a fascinating meeting with the Vision 2047 Foundation, was that UK politicians’ visits to China were too often only to sign deals. The feeling was that not enough regular contact was being made outside these events. When I reported this back to the consul-general, her excellent suggestion was that I should express concern to BIS and the FCO, so this is what I am doing.

The second area I wish to discuss is Taiwan. I declare an interest as a member of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, having made visits to Taiwan under its auspices in 2011 and 2012. The country is fascinating as it has made great strides to a two party democratic system. President Ma, who was elected for a second term last year as KMT president, has taken the pragmatic and sensible view that it is better to improve relations with the mainland, which had fallen into a parlous state, through increasing trade links and travel between Taiwan and the mainland. Noble Lords may not know that 1 million out of a population of 23 million work on the mainland. Since 2008, the number of weekly flights between Taiwan and the mainland has increased from zero to 616. There have been 18 cross-strait agreements with the mainland. As a result, the Taiwanese economy showed excellent growth overall during his first term although, like many other countries, it has suffered more in 2011 and 2012.

Although we do not have an ambassador in Taiwan, I was very impressed on both visits with the very good work that our British trade and cultural representative, David Campbell, who has just retired, has done there. He had an excellent finger on the pulse of the political scene, business and cultural opportunities. In 2012, the UK was Taiwan’s second largest trading partner in Europe. An EU-Taiwan economic co-operation agreement would further strengthen the relationship. Can the Government help progress this?

As stated, the Government are in general pursuing the correct policies with regard to Hong Kong and Taiwan. I wish I could say the same about our relationship with Cyprus. I declare an interest as a member of the all-party Northern Cyprus group. The current dispute between Turkish and Greek Cypriots is now more than 40 years old. Over those 40 years, there have been many serious attempts by people of good will from both sides of the island and from outside organisations to bring about a resolution. All those attempts failed and all had one very significant fact in common: as noble Lords might expect, they all used the political machinery of the island as the primary, if not the sole,

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mechanism for negotiation. Perhaps repeated failure of essentially the same process, albeit with different actors, should come as no surprise. However, at some stage, those involved have to address the obvious question of whether it really makes sense to do the same thing over and over again and expect something different to happen. The two communities seem to be resigned to the status quo. Research conducted last July shows that over 70% of both communities now feel that they should assert their own rights, even if it means that members of the other community would be adversely affected. The same survey revealed that only 14% of Turkish Cypriots and 39% of Greek Cypriots would prefer a feasible solution now to an optimal solution sometime in the future.

This is all regrettable but does it really matter? The two sides are de facto separate states. I believe that it is very important to the people of Cyprus, the people of the eastern Mediterranean and to Britain. The eastern Mediterranean is now more troubled and unstable than at any time in the past decade. We have a civil war in Syria, enormous tension between Iran and Israel and unresolved situations in Libya and Egypt. Now, in addition, there are the problems raised by the huge gas finds in Cypriot territorial waters. Exactly who that gas belongs to and in what quantities, how to develop the fields and how to transport the gas are all questions which, if unresolved, are highly likely to add severely to the political tensions. They may also stop the gas fields being developed at all in the foreseeable future.

Last September, Alexander Downer, the UN envoy who has struggled for many years to achieve a settlement, said that the Greek and Turkish sides now had a strong economic reason to agree to a reunification that would reduce the sovereign risk of investing in Cyprus, clear up the problems of investing in property, grow GDP and offer the capacity to service and pay off debt. The British Foreign Secretary made a similar comment when he said last autumn that,

“we have supported the rights of Cyprus to develop resources, but I hope that doing so can somehow be an incentive for a settlement to the problem, rather than a disincentive”.

How the banking crisis among the Greek Cypriot banks will affect the issue is still a matter for conjecture. However, if you are to compare the state of the Turkish economy, which is booming, and the Greek economy, which is in a state of collapse, a neutral observer would say that more Turkish input to the Cyprus economy would be hugely beneficial.

The UN Secretary-General’s report of March last year stated,

“Civil society also has a crucial role to play in building public confidence in the process. Unfortunately, civil society organizations, and women’s groups in particular, remain outside the framework of the negotiations. I therefore call on the sides”—

and indeed the FCO—

“to step up their engagement with civil society and women’s groups, with a view to building public confidence in the benefits of a settlement”.

This view has been repeated by James Ker-Lindsey of the LSE, and was hinted at by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in its report of March of last year. This opinion was strongly expressed by myself and many others in the Moses Room debate on Cyprus on 23 October. However, the Government

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have not seen fit to take this idea seriously. A Written Answer to my noble friend Lord Sharkey last June was vague and woolly. The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, in her wind-up speech to last October’s debate was little better in addressing the issue, and I ask the Minister whether a firmer commitment can be made to work to a settlement by this route. Only such a new approach has a chance of solving the deadlock.

9.05 pm

Lord Sharkey: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Northbrook, and I will follow him in speaking about the situation in Cyprus. I declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, before I do that, I join others in saying how sorry I am that our 0.7% aid commitment was not in the gracious Speech. I have heard it said that this omission resulted from the negative reaction of some Tory MPs. If this is true, it is a pity. If it is not true, it is hard to see why the 0.7% commitment was left out. In either case, I am glad that we are currently on target and that Nick Clegg has confirmed that he remains committed to writing the 0.7% into law.

When I spoke about Cyprus in the debate on the humble Address last year, I was, on the whole, fairly pessimistic about the prospects for reunification, as was the UN’s representative Alexander Downer and most of those involved in the process of negotiation at the time. I pointed out a year ago, as the noble Lord, Lord Northbrook, has done today, that there was a fundamental reason for being pessimistic—namely, that the negotiations over reunification had been going on for around 40 years, using the same methods, often with the same people and always with the same result: failure.

I argued then that some new event, stimulus or approach was needed if any progress were to be made. In the past 12 months there has been no shortage of new events. Most obviously, the economic situation in the south has worsened very dramatically; the region itself has become more and more unstable as the conflict in Syria continues and as the danger of Turkey being drawn into the conflict increases; and Turkey itself has grown in economic strength, regional influence and overall importance.

Furthermore, the existence of huge gas reserves in Cypriot territorial waters now presents itself as a possible way out of the economic difficulties being experienced on both sides of the island. There are the cautious beginnings of a feeling among those involved in the effort to reunify that there may just be, for the first time in many years, a real opportunity to make progress. I would not go so far as to say that there is yet optimism, but the pervading pessimism may have abated a little.

There are some encouraging signs. The election of President Anastasiades, who voted for the Annan plan, is surely encouraging. The realisation that the gas finds may help all Cyprus economically is encouraging. The work being done in this area by the FCO with the two diaspora communities will, I am sure, prove to be helpful if it is developed and continued. In addition, Alexander Downer, the UN’s representative, is back and active on the island—not entirely to everyone’s

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complete satisfaction, of course. Five days ago, the

Cyprus Mail

carried an article by a former Greek Cypriot ambassador, headlined,

“Alexander Downer’s odious transgression”.

I acknowledge of course that the reunification process cannot currently be right at the top of President Anastasiades’s agenda, and I know that the fact that negotiations have not yet recommenced is a source of real frustration to Turkey and to Turkish Cypriots. Turkey’s Foreign Minister was quoted in Today’s Zaman two weeks ago as saying that the Turkish Cypriot side’s call to restart talks should be urgently addressed. By contrast, the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister has recently said that negotiations should wait until October. I think that both points of view are entirely understandable. October is, after all, only four months away, which is not a long time in the context of 40 years of negotiation.

I remain encouraged that President Anastasiades has explicitly restated the high priority that he assigns to the reunification process. The fact is that both sides of the island badly need the gas finds to be exploited, or at least to be recognised as commercially exploitable. The economic difficulties of the south are well known and highly visible, but the north is an economic dependency of Turkey and it needs investment on a large scale if it is to escape poverty, fulfil its citizens’ aspirations and realise its potential. Gas would go a long way to helping this. It is estimated that $3 billion a year could accrue to Cyprus from gas, and this would be on top of the estimated 3% per annum growth in GDP predicted as a consequence of reunification.

The difficulties to overcome are immense. Where the pipeline should come ashore, how supply is to be guaranteed free of interference and how the proceeds are to be managed are just three obvious and fairly difficult questions. None the less, without gas revenue, the economic prospects for both sides are really very bleak indeed and I think that this realisation may have got home or be getting home.

In discussions and critiques of the reunification process, inevitably a lot of attention has been paid to the governing UN resolutions and to the treaty of guarantee signed by the UK, as is quite right. However, I think that in the past the UN resolutions may have been subjected to a very strict reading, which might not have helped creative thinking or discussion.

Much attention has also been paid to the fact that the negotiations must be held by Cypriots for Cypriots. This requirement has been interpreted far too narrowly. It is entirely possible for interested third parties to involve themselves at the invitation of the principals without contravening this rule. This applies to us. All the parties acknowledge our legitimate interests and obligations as the ex-colonial power and treaty guarantor. All parties welcome, at least some of the time, our efforts to help. I know that the FCO is aware of the constant need for tact and delicacy in what is a complex and often passionately contested situation.

I think that now is the time for the UK to increase its involvement in Cyprus. I urge the Government to continue to look for ways of persuading both sides of the island to expand their traditional models of negotiation, as the noble Lord, Lord Northbrook,

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said, to create room for the voices of civil society—and women in particular—and for the business community inside these discussions, and to continue here their valuable dialogue with the diasporas. I also urge the Government to press the case for an early agreement on confidence-building measures. It would be very helpful if the sides could be persuaded of the merits of gradualism and of the defects of “nothing agreed until everything agreed”.

The people of Cyprus need to see progress. For 40 years, there has been essentially none at all. There needs to be something that gives new hope and fresh energy to the popular desire—such as it is—for reunification.

Things have changed significantly in the past 12 months. We may now be looking at the most favourable set of circumstances for successful negotiation for reunification that we have seen or can foresee. It would be an absolute tragedy if negotiations continued to fail. It would be an absolute tragedy if both sides of the island were condemned to poverty because the gas fields could not be exploited as a result of the continued division of the island.

9.14 pm

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick: My Lords, in the seven years that I have been in your Lordships’ House I have missed a gracious Speech on only two occasions, one of which was last week while I was attending the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. I was attending there with two roles in mind: one as the vice chairman of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Civil Society—I was delighted to hear the two references to civil society in Cyprus by the noble Lords, Lord Northbrook and Lord Sharkey—and the other as a director of KPMG, in which I declare an interest and to which I shall refer later.

One thing that was abundantly apparent at the WEF on Africa was that among the thousand leaders who had gathered from politics, business and civil society there was a profound enthusiasm and great new optimism about the state of their countries and their continent. Enormous wealth was on display, not only from political leaders but from business executives who now see much of Africa’s wealth being realised. During the course of the week, Realizing Africa’s Wealth, a new report by the UNDP, was published about building inclusive businesses for shared prosperity. Poverty is being replaced with the language of prosperity. As the report indicates, some of the good news is that remittances at $50 billion a year and foreign direct investment of $58 billion a year is roughly, in total, four times that of foreign aid engagements within the continent. So there is good news to be had despite the continuing gloom of those remaining still desperately poor.

I was fascinated to note that the Prime Minister has broken away from his frustrations over Europe and Bills in the other place while in New York to spend a little time today at the UN, where he is discussing what will be the next sustainable development goals. On the sustainable development goals, which should replace the millennium development goals from 2015, the Prime Minister said, according to the Guardian, which

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is the only serious newspaper to carry a major report on this today, that there will be 10 new objectives, which are all believable, necessary, realisable, we hope, and intellectually defensible. They are obvious issues such as ending extreme poverty, ending hunger, ensuring the provision of safe and sustainable water, school development, empowering girls and women and so on. There is nothing that we would dispute.

However, the Guardian reports that the Prime Minister is busy disputing with the President of Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world which probably will not achieve any one of the major millennium development goals, whether there should be a provision in the new sustainable development goals on removing income inequality. I find that odd. No. 10 says, according to the Guardian, that the Prime Minister wants to keep the focus on measurable concrete actions that are going to help to alleviate poverty and keep the focus on being something that people could judge whether we are delivering. If one thing is abundantly apparent in the new optimism in Africa it is that income disparity is becoming an ugly reality. There are booming numbers of new billionaires and multi-millionaires in Africa’s new wealthy cities who are becoming gated and divided from the poor that they once lived alongside. Those poor remain without water, electricity, social supplies, good hospitalisation, healthcare and adequate work. It is an absolute necessity to close the gap in that income disparity and I am somewhat despaired, if not shocked, at David Cameron’s approach. I hope the Minister will consider taking this aspect back to No 10. It is rather odd to dispute with the president of one of the poorest, most conflict-ridden zones in the world a fundamental principle point on removing income disparity.

Perhaps I may move on to a second area in the few minutes left to me—I declare a specific interest as a director of KPMG International—which is the work that my firm does on behalf of DfID in leading and supporting the work of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact. When the previous Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell, took up office in 2010, he had established by 2011 the Independent Commission on Aid Impact, which reports to the Select Committee in another place. In the course of the exactly two years that ICAI has been in existence, it has published 21 reports of great significance. In fact, at this moment an ICAI commissioner, Mark Foster, formerly head of Accenture, and a group of assessors are in Jordan and the Lebanon looking at the refugee crisis for a report for DfID.

Some of ICAI’s reports have looked at DfID’s approach to anti-corruption, oversight of EU aid to low-income countries, electoral support through the UNDP, engagement with the World Bank, climate change, impacts in Bangladesh, the health sector in Zimbabwe, education programmes in Nigeria and so on. In total, ICAI has made 85 independent recommendations to DfID, of which the department has accepted 70 in full, 11 in part and has rejected only four. In other words, the case is proven that there is a need for an independent body that looks hard at £11.8 billion of public expenditure and comes to a sensible, independent adjudication on value for money and takes an adequate approach to ensure that the public get a sound investment. Indeed, ICAI has just

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published its latest report on the work of UNICEF, in which I am delighted to declare an interest as a vice-president and to mention the UK president, the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, who is in his place.