Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am very grateful to the House for the knowledgeable and detailed debate we have had. It reflects the complexity of the circumstances on the ground—the facts; the assessment of the possible consequences of anything we do; and, indeed, the ethical issues. Winding up for the Official Opposition obviously and rightly leads me to express my conviction that the amendment being considered in the House of

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Commons today in the name of the leader of the Opposition is the right approach. The very stark balance that we have heard in the debate in this House probably suggests that everybody has the same sense of caution before proceeding rapidly. That is not party political; it is just serious people thinking very hard about what we should do.

We are dealing with an appalling crime. It is plain from the undisputed evidence available that a large number of people have been savagely murdered with poison gas—babies, children, women and men, dying in convulsions. Of course, it is true, as colleagues in this House have pointed out, that 100,000 have already died from a variety of causes. But that is not in itself a reason to blunt or dim our revulsion. No tyranny should be able to act with impunity. The Attorney-General is certainly right to say that he has no doubt that this is a war crime—a crime against humanity. Of course, such crimes against civilians can be committed with a wide variety of weapons, not only gas, but it is a war crime.

The United Kingdom claims no special rights in arriving at such a judgment. We are part of an international system. We share our responsibility with others around the world and that is why we helped to seek the weapons inspection by the United Nations. Our special responsibility, if we have one, is to look at ourselves candidly—at whether we are meeting the exacting standards of our own making—before we ask anything of others, especially our exceptional Armed Forces. This House will want to get it right.

The attacks in Ghouta reawaken a horror that has stalked us for well over a century. I believe that it takes a very particular kind of dictator to gas his own people. That poses the question of how we should proceed. For a start, we must proceed with absolute clarity on the facts. Our judgments must be based on the facts. There should be no moves in the dark or with inconclusive information. Many noble Lords rightly start with the fundamental understanding that action has its consequences. Only a liar or a fool will say that they know exactly what those consequences will be. Inaction has consequences that are as profound. Whatever we decide, we should be in no doubt that this dictator and others will conclude that they can use any weapon, however venal, if it carries no consequence for them. If, as in Syria, a tyrannical ruler with a tyrannical army is overstretched militarily, these weapons might become a cheap and deadly alternative to using other kinds of force.

We need a proper sequence to arrive at a decision. The watchwords to guide us towards credible decisions are “proof” and “legitimacy”. In my view, the people of the United Kingdom will accept nothing else. First, the evidence from the United Nations inspectors must be presented and assessed. Ban Ki-Moon is right to demand it. Were proscribed weapons used? What is the compelling evidence that is available about perpetrators? The evidence is plainly growing but it has to be assembled and assessed properly. The Government were at risk of moving well ahead of having the evidence that they would need—that we would all need—to feel that there was a compelling case.

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Secondly, the United Nations must be taken seriously and treated with respect, even if it sometimes disappoints gravely. It must explore all sensible options; many suggestions have been made in this Chamber today. The United Nations, however, cannot be treated as a sideshow.

Thirdly, the legal justifications must be clear. I wish to emphasise what was said by my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith and the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, in their forensic approach—mixing, it is true, both law and doing the right thing but none the less setting out what those criteria should be. It is also clear, and I want to be clear, that in a United Nations context Russia cannot dictate the international decisions in this matter. Of course it is better to approach them diplomatically, but a veto cannot necessarily be the final word in these circumstances.

Fourthly, the strategic aims must be explicit. What intervention is contemplated and what aims will they be said to have served? We need evidence-based decisions in all these areas. I am afraid that the Government have yet to make their case and the House has said that forcefully over the long hours of today. They must go further in what they have to say, and I advise that they do not do it in a rush but that they do it soon, because a febrile atmosphere can be dissipated only by a timely response.

The alternatives must be included in that evaluation—alternatives which have been suggested in this House and elsewhere. The evidence itself does not dictate the options and the judgments that should be reached—judgments on regional balances, consequences for minorities and so on. A wide variety of matters of all kinds must be considered. Evidence will tell us how safe our footing is, but then comes the political judgment of what will make the lot of the Syrian people better and also what is required in our response to war crimes. Those are both responsibilities.

Finally, we should not downrate the importance of the responsibility to protect. This addition to the 2005 millennium conference at the United Nations in which some of us were involved was a huge advance for the United Nations and I am proud that the United Kingdom was a decisive part-author of that development. The tests of action and of what kinds of action can be taken only when we have taken every sensible rational step to establish the facts and the evidence. That is what we owe our country and the international community.

10.17 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, for that extremely constructive speech, and by saying that this is very much an area in which the Government are looking for the widest possible consensus across the parties. I have spent much of the past two days working within the coalition on making sure that we have an agreed position. Perhaps I can say that one of the many areas in which this is not another Iraq is that we have been going through a very carefully constructed series of discussions and consultations within the Government. As the Opposition Front Bench will also know, there have been a series of discussions with the

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Opposition to try to make sure that everyone is as closely as involved as possible and that the information is exchanged as broadly as possible. Therefore, in all sorts of ways this is not Iraq 2.0.

This has been a take note debate, so of course the first thing I should say is that we will take note of the very many concerned and cautious speeches that we have heard in the course of the past few hours. The mood has been very sober and very concerned, although some noble Lords have perhaps not followed the newspapers as well as they might have. As I will come on to say later, the suggestion that we ought to try the diplomatic track appears to ignore the enormous efforts the Government have been putting in in recent months. As we have heard tonight, the shadow of Iraq falls over all our discussions.

I will stress one obvious thing. One or two noble Lords have talked about a unilateral operation. This would in no sense be a unilateral operation. Indeed, a number of other Governments have asked if they might be included in the operation, and the levels of support are large for some response to this clear breach of international law. The Arab League has condemned it and a number of other Governments have condemned it; the Turks have been very clear and the European Union has been very clear—this is not the sort of position in which we found ourselves in March 2003. We have a much broader coalition and much clearer evidence. Much of that evidence is open evidence. A lot more is in widespread diplomatic telegrams of not particularly high classification. The regime is thought to have used chemical weapons in much smaller quantities on somewhere between 10 and 14 previous occasions. On some of these, there appears to be sufficient evidence to report them to the United Nations.

What was different about this intervention was that it was on a much larger scale. As my noble friend the Leader of the House said in his opening speech, there were attacks on 11 different locations in the Damascus area. That is very hard to cover up. It also suggests that it is unlikely to have been an operation conducted by a junior officer on his own. It was clearly conducted by a large series of simultaneous operations, suggesting a senior command structure, and it was conducted in Damascus, close to the central command structure of the regime. Of course, it is possible that we may discover that President Assad was not previously informed, but this is not a rogue incident that happened in Aleppo, Homs or somewhere else; it happened in 11 different locations in Damascus. That suggests that we have much stronger evidence, not a dodgy dossier of the sort that one or two noble Lords have suggested that this might again be.

The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, asked what chemical was used. All the evidence we have suggests that it was diluted sarin, which is one of the many chemicals banned by the chemical weapons convention, but as she will know, the chemical weapons convention bans the use of all poisonous chemical agents in warfare or conflict of this sort.

There is compelling evidence, and more compelling evidence will be presented as the UN inspectors provide what will be a preliminary report. I again remind

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the House that the inspectors have not been asked to attribute responsibility; they were asked simply to confirm that chemical weapons have been used. The scale of this chemical weapons attack suggests something that is way beyond the capacity of the opposition to have conducted. The projectiles used were those that no one has any evidence that the opposition has access to, and the attacks were made on opposition-controlled areas. Therefore, the very strong probability is that this was an Assad-regime attack and that it was ordered by people relatively high up within the current regime.

On the legality, we have heard a number of very expert speeches, in particular that of the former Attorney-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, who rightly said that we have to include a large number of considerations, including that force should be used only as a last resort. That picks up what the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said about the just war doctrine. There are occasions when one has to use force, but one should be extremely cautious about how one approaches it. That is the approach that the Government are taking.

The noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, suggested that perhaps chemical weapons were all over Syria and might therefore be in the hands of the opposition. We have seen no credible evidence or reporting that any terrorist group in Syria has acquired regime chemical weapons stocks.

Lord Lea of Crondall: Given their very wide spread, it is very likely that to control them in some way you would have to have boots on the ground.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: So far as we know, the weapons are still well controlled by the regime, and one of our expectations is that if there are indications that the regime is losing control of them, the Russians as well as others will be very concerned about that loss of control.

A number of noble Lords have talked about punishment. I regret that one or two of our American allies have used the word “punishment”. The intention is deterrence, not punishment. The intention is a limited and proportionate response that will deter the regime from thinking that it can use chemical weapons again. The risk of inaction, about which my noble friend Lord Ashdown and the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, have also spoken is that if we do nothing the regime is likely to assume that it can use chemical weapons again, and in larger quantities if it wishes. The argument, therefore, for a limited, carefully calibrated and proportionate response is to say, “Thus far and no further”.

Lord Elton: My Lords, can the noble Lord help us? It would be very helpful if he said what sort of form this limited and proportionate intervention might take.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: For very obvious reasons, I am not able to say that. I am privy only to some of the discussions that have taken place on this, but I can assure him that the intervention would not be aimed at command structures. Someone suggested that we want

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to take out the President himself or, indeed, that it would be aimed at chemical weapons stocks. For very obvious reasons—

Lord Cormack: How does my noble friend square the statement that we are not bent on regime change when the Government do not recognise the regime?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, in a limited operation you do not attempt to go for regime change. Perhaps I may go on to my next point. We are of course all concerned to learn the lessons of Iraq. Disastrously, our American allies dismantled the entire structure of the state and the armed forces when they went into Iraq. The reason why we are all attempting to achieve transition in Syria is that we maintain as much as we can of the current state and social structure. We are all aware that to allow the Assad regime to collapse altogether would be to risk chaos following. That is why we have been pursuing, through Geneva I and, we hope, the Geneva II conference, proposals for some form of agreed transition in which—with, we hope, the help of Russia and others—some members of the regime would be removed but which some of the officials within the current regime would help to manage. We are not, therefore, attempting to promote that sort of disastrous regime change.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am somewhat confused because the noble Lord is talking about a strategic strike in which nothing would really happen to change regimes. Now he is talking about what the Government are trying to do to ensure a proper transition. The two things do not really go together and I am slightly alarmed as well as confused.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, there are of course unavoidable links between any military intervention and the much broader issue: how can we help to provide a secure and more stable future for Syria? However, moving on to the second diplomatic track, we have been engaged for the past year in attempting to promote a broader political transition in Syria. That was the purpose of the Geneva I conference and part of the purpose whereby we have been working with the Syrian National Council, now the Syrian national coalition, which would recognise—

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, first, can the Minister tell me, in the event of this strike in some form being made, and there is a repetition of the use of chemical weapons, what do we do then? Clearly the Government must have thought this through. Secondly, can he tell me when the Government in Damascus became the regime? Thirdly, can he explain a little more of what he has just said about the efforts that the Government have been making to achieve regime change? I had not understood that we were in the business of bringing down the regime and replacing it.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, there is a civil war in Syria. So far, 100,000 people have been killed and 2 million people are refugees outside Syria. The

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society and economy of Syria are in the process of being destroyed, which requires the international community to try to resolve the situation.

Lord Winston: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. The whole House has great respect for him but I feel that he has rather missed the mood of the Chamber today. He says that 100,000 people have been killed already. Can he give us the Government’s estimate of how many more people might be killed if we engage in a strike against Syria?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, if we are engaged in a strike on Syria it will be limited and very deliberately targeted, and not intended to cause any significant number of casualties. We are attempting to deter further chemical attacks. We are also attempting to defend the principle of international law. Let me say to those who say that it does not matter how you are killed, by whatever weapons, there are differences. The international community and international law have outlawed weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons have been illegal internationally since 1925. That is a red line and if we do not support the principle that using chemical weapons either against your own people or against members of another state is different, we are simply allowing that major principle of international law to decay. That is the principle with which we are engaged. At the same time, we and others, including the Arab League, the World Muslim Council, the European Union, and many others are working to try to resolve the situation and the conflict in Syria.

I was amazed to hear from a number of people the question: why do we not pay more attention to the diplomatic channel? Why has the Geneva II conference not yet taken place? We had hoped that the second Geneva conference would take place this July, and the Russians did their best to delay it. We hoped then that it would take place in September; we now hope that it may take place in November. The level of diplomatic activity in which Her Majesty’s Government have been engaged in the past few months has been enormous. I was in the Foreign Office yesterday reading transcripts of conversations with heads of government, foreign secretaries and others from 20 or more different Governments, ranging from Japan, to Russia, to Australia and to the United Arab Emirates. We are actively working on the diplomatic track. Unfortunately, we have not found much support from our colleagues in Russia or very much support from the Chinese, although the Chinese Government have condemned officially the use of chemical weapons. The diplomatic track is our preferred option, and we are working on it. The use of force is a last resort to be used only if other methods break down.

Lord Reid of Cardowan: Before the Minister leaves the diplomatic issues, today’s debate is about Syria and the use of chemical weapons. I wonder whether the Minister can enlighten me. It seems to me that today the Government, when talking about Syria and the use of chemical weapons, have concentrated almost exclusively on the question of military force. When the Government have been talking about diplomatic means, they have talked about the transition from civil war to

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a new regime. Perhaps he can tell us a little more about the diplomatic measures that have been taken to address the question of chemical weapons, ratification, signature and mobilising the 189 countries, including Russia and Iran, which are liable to be more sympathetic to that issue than to regime change, into putting pressure on the regime. In short, what diplomatic measures are being taken to address the question of chemical weapons rather than regime change?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we have also been discussing the chemical weapons question with the Russians. To my knowledge, as of late this afternoon they had not accepted that it was the Syrian Government who were responsible for the use of chemical weapons, so there are real problems there.

Lord Reid of Cardowan: Does that mean that the answer to my question is, “None”, and that, for whatever reason, there has been no diplomatic initiative—as suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and me—around the Chemical Weapons Convention and the mobilisation of international opinion to put pressure on the Assad regime to address the question through diplomacy? If there has been, will the Minister tell us about it, as this debate is about chemical weapons rather than regime change?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, there has not been action within the Chemical Weapons Convention. As the noble Lord knows, Syria is not a member of the convention and we did not have the sense that the other members of the P5—the Russians and the Chinese—would support a move down the Chemical Weapons Convention road at this stage. However, I will take the noble Lord’s point back into the discussions that are continuing.

A number of noble Lords mentioned that there might be much to be gained by conversations with Iran. There are contacts with Iran, which helpfully condemned the use of chemical weapons. We all understand that the Iranians suffered very badly from these weapons in the past. However, the Iranian regime is very complex, and dealing with it is very difficult. It will take some time to make much progress in that direction.

I am conscious of the time. I will rapidly talk a little about our humanitarian response. I can confirm that the United Kingdom is providing very substantial humanitarian assistance as far as possible—although this is difficult—both to those displaced within Syria and to the very large number of refugees outside Syria. We expect to maintain and increase that further.

I was struck by the contributions of a number of noble Lords who talked about the growing scepticism about western leadership, and whether we now have to accept that others will help provide leadership in maintaining a stable and lawful international system. That is a much broader question than that of tonight’s debate. It suggests an interesting shift in elite British thinking, and I suspect that we will return to talking about the implications for British foreign policy in future.

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Lord Robertson of Port Ellen: I wonder whether the Minister will enlighten the House. In the light of the fact that in the past few minutes the House of Commons has defeated the Government Motion, what is plan B?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, it is very kind of the noble Lord to ask me to respond three minutes after that happened. I am sure that plan B is to consider the situation. We will continue to discuss with a wide range of international partners the possibilities and implications of these circumstances.

To conclude—

Lord Bilimoria: The Minister started off by saying that this was not Iraq II. He then spoke about the 10 to 14 times that this had happened before. According to the report, it has happened exactly 14 times. The Minister then said that we do not know whether it was a senior or junior officer, and then that it could be, should be, possibly was or must have been a senior officer. The preliminary report talked of a strong possibility. Then came the phrase, “as far as we know”. We have heard from many noble Lords who spoke in the debate on Iraq 10 years ago, when there was a two to one majority against going into Iraq. The Government at the time did not listen. Now the majority is nine or more to one. Why did the Government want to rush in last week with all these uncertainties? That is what we find very difficult to understand.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, briefly, when a clear breach of international law has taken place, there is a very delicate calculation about how rapidly you respond or how long you should wait until the evidence is entirely clear. If you wait too long, it becomes impossible to respond. Of course you do not rush in immediately, but you should, as we have done, at least indicate rapidly that you intend to respond and that you do not intend to let it pass unnoticed.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, forgive me; I know that the Minister wishes to wind up and it is somewhat unfair to put him on the spot. However, to follow up the question from my noble friend Lord Robertson, I realise that the government Motion has only very recently been defeated but I would hope that the Government already had a plan B in mind when they took the substantive Motion to the Commons this afternoon. It is clear that at some point in the very near future the Government will have to come back to the House of Commons to explain what action if any they will now advise to the House of Commons. I therefore ask the Minister and the Leader of the House this: in the vacuum that seems to exist at the moment and the great concern that has been expressed this afternoon, I would hope that when the Prime Minister comes back to the House of Commons to report on his future action, this House also will be recalled so that we, too, can debate the future action.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I note the noble Baroness’s request. Perhaps I may say that, as I understand it, both the amendment and the Motion were defeated in

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the Commons, so we are now perhaps in a state of consensual confusion on this across the parties.

We have before us a range of very serious issues. First, international law and international convention have clearly been broken. Secondly, we have active consultation with a range of Governments around the world about how we contain the increasingly bitter Syrian conflict. I know that my colleagues the Ministers have been discussing with a range of other Governments, including the Russians and the members of the Arab League, how we might now convene the Geneva II conference. It is certainly my hope that we will manage to reconvene the Geneva II conference as soon as possible.

That takes us to the broader issue of the future of the Middle East as a whole and our relations with the Muslim world, a subject that one or two noble Lords have touched on. That is a very broad subject, which we have discussed in this House on one or two occasions this year. We all need to pay very considerable—

Lord Tebbit: Before my noble friend sits down, let me say that I think that it is rather unfair to ask him about what the Government are going to do in consequence of the votes in the other place this evening. However, I think that it was also rather unfair of him not to tell me whether there was a plan for what to do if we did take military action and there was another incident of the use of chemical weapons. Is there a plan for that? Is he privy to it, even if he cannot tell us what it is?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am not privy to the full military plans of the Government, but if I were I would not be able to tell him on the Floor of the House. What I can tell him is that inaction also has consequences. We are talking in particular to the Russian Government, who appear to be concerned as the scale of this chemical weapons attack becomes clearer. We hope that the diplomatic track may become easier as the seriousness of what happened in Damascus on 21 August becomes clearer to a range of other Governments. In all of these the use of force itself is—and I end on this—a last resort. Our preference is always for the diplomatic track. However, we have to bear in mind that international law and international conventions are to be observed and supported.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Forgive me, but I have just been informed by my noble friends that the Prime Minister has in fact reacted in the House of Commons to the defeat of both the government Motion and the amendment laid by my right honourable friend the leader of the Opposition. As we are sitting, I wonder if it might be apposite to call for us to adjourn at pleasure, just for 10 minutes, so that perhaps the Minister or the Leader could report on what the Prime Minister has said in the other place.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I understand that Mr Miliband posed a question to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister as to the impact of both the defeats tonight—each of the Motions was lost. I understand that the challenge was whether my right

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honourable friend the Prime Minister would give an undertaking that he would not override the will of the House, and I believe that he has given that undertaking. There is a rolling

Hansard

, and I suggest that that is something that will be finalised with the

Hansard

tomorrow.

I think that it is impossible for the Government to deliver what the noble Baroness is asking for, which is to find out exactly what was said in the Commons and, within a matter of time, report it here. Certainly those who have been using their iPads and the modern technology that that gives, including the Clerk of the Parliaments, have been following proceedings in another place. Our proceedings are here. It is very fair for the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition to ask what next steps may be made. I can only say what the Prime Minister has said currently in another place. Clearly, I suspect that there may be other developments tomorrow. However, that is my understanding as it currently stands—that the Prime Minister will consider the matters as they have developed in the Commons.


Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, perhaps I may press the noble Baroness a little further. I understand that today the State Department said that it was not concerned or would not be deterred in any way in deciding what it was going to do by what this Parliament decided. The consequence of that may well be, therefore, that the United States may take action quite soon. Indeed, there were suggestions that that might happen this weekend. For that reason, and because the House has been recalled—it is more of an emergency for this House because it was not due to sit next week—it would be enormously helpful to know what might happen next and what involvement this House might have in it. That is why I would certainly support the suggestion of my noble friend for at least a short adjournment to see whether there is a plan B and whether the government Front Bench can advise the House on what that plan B is.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Asking us to provide a full sketch of a plan B at 23.00 on a Thursday night is not possible. I am of course not privy to what the Americans may or may not be planning. We all take what is being said on the opposition Benches under consideration, but at the moment we cannot predict what will happen over the next few days.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon: My Lords, I have no wish to make life more difficult for the Government when they are already in a rather difficult position, but I really do think that, given the wisdom we have heard from both the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition and from other speakers, it might be worth while for this House to take a 10-minute break. If there is no news to deliver, that is fine, but a 10-minute break is a sacrifice we could make to our sleep if it would give us some clarification on what should come next. I find it quite difficult to believe that we cannot find some news to deliver to the House in that time.

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: Perhaps I may assist my noble friend because obviously I did not explain myself clearly enough on the first occasion. A short adjournment tonight would achieve no more than I have been able to give the House to assist it with the general statements that have been made by the Prime Minister in another place. My right honourable friend has given an undertaking and no more is being said in another place. Therefore, there is no more to be reported at this stage. This House has made its views very clear and very cogently and another place has done so too. This is a Take Note Motion. The noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition wishes to engage in a requirement that we should make commitments now to recall the House in certain circumstances. I do not postulate on the unknown; I deal with the known. All colleagues know that when I give my word, I keep it. I have listened today and I have taken note. My word is always that this House should have an opportunity to contribute its views. It has done that today. I suggest that we should now conclude our proceedings and continue to consider the result of everything in both Houses today.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: My Lords—

Lord Reid of Cardowan: My Lords—

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords—

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I think it is time to conclude the proceedings. If I could assist the House further, I would do so. I invite the Lord Speaker to conclude our proceedings.

Lord Reid of Cardowan: My Lords, this is a matter of a military operation. It is a matter of potential life and death. It is a matter on which both Houses were recalled. I would like the Government to explain this, but from my reading of it, the House of Commons has

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voted against an in-principle decision to have military action and against a conditional decision to have military action. When the Prime Minister said, “I will act accordingly”, we are surely entitled to know what that means.

We are asking for a 10-minute interval. We are not asking for a plan B or the plans of the US Department of State, but we are asking what the Prime Minister understands of tonight’s vote when he says, “I will act accordingly”. If there is no clarity after 10 minutes, the noble Baroness can tell us that there is no clarity. But it would be difficult to accept the Prime Minister’s statement, assuredly, that he will act accordingly if we are told that he has no idea what that means.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Reid, is inviting me to give this House an opportunity which the House of Commons does not have. That House has accepted the words of the Prime Minister and adjourned. I find it difficult that this House now questions whether the Prime Minister’s words should be examined further by this House at this hour.

If another place has accepted what the Prime Minister has said, short of bringing the Prime Minister here I do not see what further way I can adopt to assist the House. Whereas that may be a novel procedure that this House may wish to adopt in the future—I do not wish to be flippant because this is such a serious matter—much as I do my best to help this House it would be a little unusual if we were to adjourn to interrogate the Prime Minister when his words have been accepted by the leader of the Opposition in another place.

It is time. We have taken note. We have made our views heard very cogently in both Houses. It is time.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 10.53 pm.