HL Deb 25 September 1992 vol 539 cc531-96

11.7 a.m.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey) rose—to move, That this House takes note of British support for the United Nations operations in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am sure that we are all looking forward very much to the maiden speech of our new noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees. We shall welcome his contributions in this Chamber and particularly to the debate today.

Two years ago we celebrated the end of the Cold War; but the transition to a new international order has not been easy. Dissent and division, suppressed during the Cold War years, now have come to the surface. That is true in Europe as it is in the developing world. We see that in the former Yugoslavia, in Iraq and Somalia, the three countries on which I will concentrate today. There have been great changes in all three since your Lordships last debated foreign affairs in July.

The essential problem is a resurgence of questions of identity: rampant nationalism in the former Yugoslavia, religious and regional divides in Iraq, and sub-clan anarchy in Somalia. There are no easy solutions, but in all three the UN has a special role to play. I shall take each of those problem areas in turn.

As your Lordships will recall, events have gradually deteriorated in the former Yugoslavia since Croatia and Slovenia unilaterally declared their independence in June last year. Since last November, the United Nations and the European Community have been working closely, the UN leading on peace-keeping, and the EC on peace-making, through the peace conference of my noble friend Lord Carrington. I am sure your Lordships would wish to join me in paying tribute to the work of my noble friend Lord Carrington.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, his work and the work of this conference has been invaluable. It will, I am sure, form the basis of any settlement.

The conference was relaunched and reinforced last month by the London conference. I hope that this debate will support the work which continues now in Geneva under co-chairmen, Mr. Cyrus Vance and the noble Lord, Lord Owen. When he heard that there was to be a debate here today, the noble Lord, Lord Owen, telephoned me to say that he wished he could be with us. Unfortunately he has to be in Zagreb. I am sure all noble Lords will join me in wishing the noble Lord well in this crucial mission.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, the conference is the principal instrument of the international community to help bring an end to the conflict. Its aim is to bring that conflict permanently to an end by negotiating a political settlement. On the ground in the former Yugoslavia there are four other aspects of the international effort.

The first is the deterrent-sanctions. On 25th September 1991, the UN Security Council agreed a ban on all export of armaments to the former Yugoslavia. As the conflict grew worse, it was clear that this was being evaded. On 31st May sanctions were extended to include all trade except for humanitarian purposes. At the same time they were made specific to Serbia and Montenegro. The Belgrade authorities are now being made to see that they can not profit from their war-mongering.

Sanctions must be fully implemented to achieve maximum effect. So, the second area of international activity has been sanctions monitoring. There are ships on the Adriatic deterring trade. In the last month, the governments in Bulgaria and Hungary have asked for the stationing of monitors along their borders to see off sanctions busters, particularly along the Danube. With those extra monitors, and the extra vigilance they bring, the international community will be able to close the net.

The third area of action is peace-keeping. The UN has been in the lead but the EC has played its part through the Monitoring Mission. The Monitoring Mission helped to bring peace to Slovenia. In Croatia, it dovetails with UNPROFOR, deployed after Security Council Resolution 743 of 21st February this year. UNPROFOR consists of some 14,000 people, including, at the UN's request, a British field ambulance unit of some 288 people. Your Lordships will wish to join me in congratulating them on the selfless way in which they have carried out their tasks—always in difficult circumstances, often in dangerous circumstances.

In the past two months peace-keeping has become increasingly supportive of the fourth area of work—humanitarian relief. Here the problems are severe. Britain, both bilaterally and multilaterally through the Community, has responded swiftly. Since September 1991 the European Commission has allocated some £125 million of humanitarian aid to former Yugoslav republics. The British share to date of the EC effort is more than £20 million. A further £90 million has been agreed by the Commission for disbursement this autumn.

In addition, in the past 12 months Britain has given more than £7 million in bilateral humanitarian help to the former Yugoslavia. Yesterday I announced a further £7.5 million in bilateral aid. The vast majority of the medicines now being used in Sarajevo hospitals come from Britain.

Britain is one of the big five contributors to the air-lift to Sarajevo. Until the suspension of the air-bridge after the shooting down of the Italian plane more than 1,000 flights ferried aid from Zagreb to Sarajevo. One in 10 flights was British. We have also contributed 22 trucks with support vehicles,30 drivers and five mechanics—all civilians. Backed up by logistics experts, also British, they are working flat out to keep the life line open from Split to Sarajevo, bravely facing up to the dangers. On each trip a convoy brings in 150 tonnes, tackling tortuous mountain roads and unpredictable weather. I shall see the operation for myself next week in Bosnia and Croatia.

In this humanitarian effort we must tackle the related problems of helping refugees who leave their homes and easing the suffering of those who stay. The international community has discussed this problem exhaustively. On behalf of the Government I attended a conference organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Ogata, in Geneva in July. We agreed that we should aim to keep refugees as close to their homes as possible. A journey over thousands of miles is a difficult step to reverse. If refugees stay close to home there is a greater chance that eventually they will be able to go back home.

Of course, there are exceptions. We saw that nearly two weeks ago when 68 seriously ill people were air-lifted to Britain from the camps in Bosnia. But in the main we try to help to make it possible for people to stay. However, we are acutely aware of the difficulties of getting aid through. That is why we were keen to support the extension of the UN protection force's mandate. UNPROFOR is now authorised to get aid to all the people in Bosnia who need it. British troops will help get the aid through.

We recognise that some of the agencies were at first nervous of UNPROFOR protection. Mrs. Ogata and her staff at UNHCR have performed outstandingly. We have no intention of complicating their already very difficult job. But while UNHCR was distributing the first aid to Gorazde the convoy's route back to Sarajevo was mined. French soldiers cleared the path to allow them successfully to complete their mission. Sadly, the relief agencies have now concluded that they need military help or else their essential work cannot be done.

We consulted closely with military experts to decide what was needed and how best we could contribute. At a special meeting of Ministers in August we decided to offer about 1,800 people to the United Nations. On 14th September the UN accepted the British offer of an armoured infantry battalion. Nobody can have seen the pictures from Bosnia of the sieges of Gorazde and Bihac and Tuzla and deny that civilians are suffering, need help and can get that help only with military assistance.

Yugoslavia is perhaps the most difficult foreign policy challenge we face at the moment. Our response has been carefully considered and I hope that it will prove effective. I can make no prediction over what time-scale matters might improve. But it was clear from the London conference that all parts of the international community are determined to see this through, that there will be no blessing of gains achieved by force and that international law will be upheld.

I now turn to Iraq. Some states still show a willingness to challenge the rule of international law and resort to terrorism. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was the first test of the post-cold war era. Two years ago Parliament was recalled to debate Britain's involvement in the Gulf crisis. There the problem was certainly clearer. Iraq had occupied Kuwait by force. Its aggression had to be reversed. During the following six months the international coalition, with the solid support of Parliament, prepared to do precisely that. The expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait was one of the UN's greatest successes. But other problems remained and recently they have escalated.

Saddam Hussein continues to defy the UN. His Government are failing to meet Iraq's obligations under Resolution 687. He continues to repress his own population in defiance of Resolution 688. With our coalition partners, we are keeping the pressure on Iraq to implement in full the resolutions of the UN Security Council. Where necessary, we do not flinch from backing up diplomatic pressure with action. On 27th August, with our American and French partners, we set up a no fly zone in southern Iraq, south of the 32nd parallel. That was clearly necessary because of the continuing serious humanitarian emergency among the civilian population there. We will continue to operate the no fly zone as long as Saddam's actions oblige us to do so.

The RAF has six tornado aircraft operating over southern Iraq. Their business is to monitor what is happening. We shall not take any further action without going back to the Security Council; but, equally, we shall not hesitate to go back to the Security Council if it becomes clear that Iraq has not stopped its campaign of repression. So far, Iraq has not challenged the imposition of the no fly zone. So far, there have been no incidents, so firm action seems to be getting results. The underlying message is that Iraq, indeed all states, must comply with Security Council resolutions.

Meanwhile, we must not and will not forget the needs of the north and south of Iraq. Since April 1991 Britain has given £52 million in aid to the people of Iraq. The Security Council agreed Resolutions 706 and 712 to allow Iraq to sell its oil in order to pay for the humanitarian needs of its people. Saddam Hussein has callously rejected that mechanism; he shows no concern for the welfare of ordinary Iraqis.

Moreover, winter will soon be upon us and the Iraqi Government have suspended their co-operation—such as it was—with the rehabilitation programme. I am pleased to inform your Lordships that UN planning for a winter emergency programme is well advanced. We expect proposals next week for a programme that will enable basic supplies of food, fuel and medicine to reach the many people in need. I pay tribute to the non-governmental organisations still operating in Iraq, particularly those from Britain.

I should add special appreciation for the exceptional efforts made by my honourable friend from another place, the Member for Devon West and Torridge, Miss Nicholson, who returned on Wednesday from her latest humanitarian mission to the southern marshes, identifying and publicising the key problems. We have already contributed £320,000 for food, clothing and relief items for displaced people in southern Iraq and in camps in south western Iran and are discussing the despatch of a health unit to the Marsh Arabs, which Miss Nicholson is seeking to organise.

In some parts of the world the problem is not states but the lack of a state, the break-down of all civil order. We are seeing that in Somalia. Since the fall of the dictator, Siad Barre, the state has shattered into clan and sub-clan-based fiefdoms, all crammed with arms and all fighting for survival in an extremely precarious environment.

Unlike the former Yugoslavia, there are no generally accepted representatives of the major political interest groups; nor is there a recognisable government. Indeed, there are times when it appears that the only representative of all the Somali people is Ambassador Sahnoun, the UN Secretary-General's excellent Special Representative in Mogadishu. He is working with elders and traditional elements of Somali society to build peace. I have no doubt that we must work under his leadership and respect his advice on the timing of any political initiative. The peace progress will be slow and painful.

Earlier this month the RAF flew our EC Troika of Development Ministers to Somalia. We went to Mogadishu and Hoddur, a small town north-west of Mogadishu. In both we saw the appalling evidence of civil war: not a building intact; no electricity; no supply of clean water, even if there was some water; no drugs; no schools. The country is full of gun-toting teenagers out to prove their manhood.

Amidst that violence and confusion, there is starvation. Skeletal figures make their way towards towns where food may be found. We saw the severe and widespread malnutrition. The state of the children moved me more than anything else—worse than anything I have seen before, worse even than Ethiopia in the mid-1980s. Those were people who had survived the walk. Many thousands had simply died on the way.

A major food delivery programme is underway. It is co-ordinated by the UN. But it could not happen without the efforts of British NGOs, who are doing an outstanding job in Somalia. They are carrying the relief operation. I am sure your Lordships will join me in paying tribute to the UN, NGO and Somali staff who have worked tirelessly in conditions of great personal danger to bring relief and hope to the desperate Somali people.

Even with increasing levels of humanitarian assistance, Somalia remains a long, dark tunnel of despair. It needs to rebuild its shattered infrastructure; to immunise its children; to start health and education services. A start must be made before the rains come, bringing the threat of major cholera and typhoid epidemics.

Jan Eliasson, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has launched a 100-day action plan to accelerate relief efforts and start the rehabilitation process. We shall discuss the plan at a donors conference in mid-October. But it cannot happen without some semblance of law and order. The Somali people's so-called political leaders are unwilling or unable to provide this. They have connived at the looting and murder of their fellow citizens. The international community cannot stand by and let that continue. That is why I believe it was right for the UN Security Council to set aside arguments about non-intervention in the internal affairs of a nation, and to authorise the despatch of UN forces to protect the distribution of relief supplies.

We have a duty to the starving who are suffering so greatly from warlords who have prevented the delivery of tons of food, already stored in Mogadishu. The Government have fully supported UN efforts to reduce the level of violence in Somalia and secure access for humanitarian relief. Ambassador Sahnoun is playing a crucial role in this.

We have already given considerable help. We have been providing emergency help for Somalia since the fall of Siad Barre last year, long before the media found famine in Somalia. Since January 1991. Britain has provided over £31 million in humanitarian help, including our contribution to EC activities and the additional £7.5 million which I announced on 15th September.

We were among the first to give aid. For example, we have provided 29,000 tonnes of food; logistical support, including almost million towards the cost of air-lifts; drugs; shelter materials; seeds and tools; help with the rehabilitation of water supplies. This year we are the third largest bilateral donor to Somalia. Our assistance has been provided through the UN system and through the NGOs. Of course, we also contribute substantial amounts through the European Commission, which has made available more than 200,000 tonnes of food and 15 mecu in non-food aid this year.

The needs in Somalia are enormous. But we have not forgotten the plight of Somalis who fled from the conflict in their country. Almost 700,000 have crossed into Kenya and Ethiopia and are living in refugee camps. Earlier this month, I visited Kenya and Somalia and saw Somalis in camps at Wajir and Mandera on the Kenyan border. The conditions are grim and when the rains come camps will become a sea of mud and sewage. We have provided more than £2 million this year to help cope with the refugee problem. We stand ready to do more.

In all these different crises, everybody is looking to the United Nations. But we risk loading the UN with too heavy a burden; expecting the Security Council to intervene at the drop of a hat, and even, in the case of Somalia, to take over the administration of a country in crisis. The best way of preventing these demands getting out of hand is to prevent those conflicts which give rise to the demands—that is, old-fashioned diplomacy coupled with development assistance. But Britain cannot exercise preventive diplomacy or provide development aid in a vacuum. An international framework is required. The UN will be crucial, but so will the actions of the G7 and others, acting together and sharing the burden in preventing these conflicts. But if a conflict starts, our public rightly expects us to provide resources—diplomatic and aid—as part of a collective effort to bring about a solution. Again, the UN will be vital to this effort. It is important that none of the leading industrial nations shy away from backing the UN in the political and humanitarian task.

In the longer term the international community must provide the assistance required to promote a full, political and economic recovery. The solving of problems with their roots in centuries past is a slow, sometimes very frustrating, business. But if we show patience and imagination, and if all members of the international community continue to respond together to the pressures. then I believe that we have a real chance of tackling the full range of challenges and succeeding. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of British support for the United Nations operations in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia.—(Baroness Chalker of Wallasey.)

11.30 a.m.

Lord Richard

My Lords, perhaps I may start off by saying that we on these Benches are grateful for this opportunity to address the plight of those suffering in these three areas of the world which the noble Baroness has concentrated on; namely, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia. We are also grateful for the opportunity to discuss whether or not the actions taken by the Government so far are appropriate and sufficient.

It is timely that we should consider the plight of others perhaps at a time when our own country is being economically battered and buffeted by recession. Each issue can perhaps illuminate the other. I hope that noble Lords will allow me first to raise the issue of the former Yugoslavia, but I should like to make one general point first before I do that. These three issues and the more general issue raised by the noble Baroness just before she sat down, are not ones on which it is appropriate that we should spend a great deal of time in playing party politics or scoring party points. We on these Benches have our anxieties and it is right that we should express them. But we shall try to do so in a constructive and, I hope, a not unhelpful spirit.

I turn first to Yugoslavia and echo what the noble Baroness had to say in paying tribute to her noble friend Lord Carrington for his efforts in trying to arrive at a diplomatic and political settlement. I hope I shall be able to indicate to your Lordships in a moment that that is an immensely difficult task. I also echo what the noble Baroness said about the efforts being undertaken by Mr. Vance and the noble Lord, Lord Owen, in their attempts now to produce a political settlement.

Apart from certain specific matters which I shall put a little later on, I would have been grateful for some greater indication of the Government's thinking about future developments in Yugoslavia. The noble Baroness gave us a review of what the Government are doing, but perhaps not a clear picture of how they see matters developing in future.

We must forget neither the history nor the ethnic mix of the peoples in the former Yugoslavia. The population was 23.5 million. Of that number,36.3 per cent. were Serbs; 19.8 per cent. were Croats; 8.9 per cent. were Moslems; and Slovenes and Albanians were 7.3 per cent. and 7.7 per cent. respectively. There were also Macedonians, Montenegrins and Hungarians. I am told that only 5.4 per cent. of the population of the former Yugoslavia actually describe themselves as Yugoslays, and they are mainly people in mixed marriages. Serbia had a population of 9.3 million and Croatia 4.6 million.

We must never forget the history as well as the ethnic mix of that part of the world. It was not a united state until the end of the first world war. The new state was proclaimed in December 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and the Slovenes. It was a marriage of convenience rather than a love affair. From the start there was serious tension between the different ethnic groups. The Croats and Slovenes were understandably fearful of Serbian domination. There were continual disputes between the three groups. Those conflicts prompted the Serbian head of state, King Alexander, to dissolve the democratic constitution in 1929. Five years later he was murdered by Croatian fascists during a visit to Marseilles.

I suppose that the conflict between the Serbs and the Croats reached a climax during the second world war. The Nazis invaded Yugoslavia in 1941 and created a puppet state in Croatia with the support of the Croatian fascists, the Ustashe. In turn that state included parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. As far as we can tell, hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Croatian democrats, Jews and gypsies were murdered by the Ustashe. The Ustashe and the Nazis had opposition in the form of the Serbian nationalist Chetniks. The Chetniks and Tito's communist partisans also fought each other with great brutality. I have seen one figure which I find slightly staggering. I have no evidence to refute it. Over 1,700,000 people, which is nearly one tenth of Yugoslavia's population, were killed between 1941 and 1945, most of them by fellow Yugoslays.

It is that cauldron—if I may put it, I hope, in that not too dramatic way—that we are now having to try to deal with. The divisions are deep and of very long standing. Therefore it is hardly surprising that once conflict had broken out between these various factions and different nationalities, that the rival parties feel that it would be very difficult to persuade them that they should put their trust in a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations, the European Community, a combination of both, or indeed anyone else. Each day the conflict continues and it gets worse.

I should like to have the Government's comments, and perhaps the noble Baroness can give them when she winds up, as regards today's developments which are reported in the press this morning. As I understand it, President Tudjman of Croatia and President Izetbegovic of Bosnia have now signed a defence pact. If that is so, so much for the rumours that the Serbs and the Croats have come to some private arrangement for the division of Bosnia. So much too for the future of the London agreement for all the optimistic words of the noble Baroness. Perhaps the comments of Mr. Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbian leader, are to be taken as gospel and believed. He is quoted in The Times this morning as saying that if a confederation of all three of the republic nationalities did not materialise, then I think that we should look at a union of Serbian lands". It is all somewhat bleak. I hope that the Government will give us some reaction as to how they see these developments in terms of affecting the position into which British troops are now going to be sent.

That is why we on these Benches say that it is crucial that any United Nations force which is going to Bosnia has a mandate which is clear and unmistakable. I know the Government are conscious of the fact—and I underline it—that we must avoid a situation in which the protection of humanitarian relief efforts becomes translated into a situation in which British troops become actively involved in the lighting although not as a result of any policy decision taken by the Government here. It will not happen that way if it happens at all, but it could happen as a result of a gradual drift into a situation from which it becomes very difficult to extract our soldiers. We on these Benches are conscious of that danger. While we support the UN efforts, and the Government's decision to back those efforts with troops, we look to the Government to avoid that possibility.

The specific points that I should like to raise, having made those more general remarks, relate to two issues. The first is the refugee problem, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, has said something. The second relates to the efficacy of sanctions. Are the Government really satisfied that the sanctions process is now functioning smoothly so far as Yugoslavia is concerned? I am not sure from what the Minister said this morning whether the Government believe that the mandatory economic sanctions imposed on Serbia are now being taken completely seriously. For example, has the flouting of those sanctions by barges on the Danube and along the Macedonian land routes now been stopped?

There have also been some strange reports—I am sure that your Lordships will have seen them—about the extent to which the Department of Trade and Industry has been fully complying with the sanctions resolution. Is there any reason why import-export statistics on the Yugoslav republics should not be made available so that the Opposition and the country at large can keep a watchful eye on the operation of the sanctions? I do not see any reason why not and I should be grateful if the Minister could give us that undertaking.

We are also concerned about the Government's somewhat bleak interpretation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' rulings on refugees from the former Yugoslavia. While I accept the view, reiterated this morning by the Minister. that refugees should be accommodated close to their countries of origin to allow speedy return—that is an unexceptionable proposition to which I am sure that all noble Lords would give general assent—the UNHCR also asked that the restrictive international regulations on asylum be lifted to help in this difficult situation.

The Government's decision to expel 36—I think—Yugoslav asylum seekers, while Germany, Hungary, Austria and the other Yugoslav republics were taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees seemed to run very much counter to international guidelines and showed a lack of humanitarian concern for these suffering people and almost an obsession with preserving our borders intact. Such incidents must not be allowed to recur. I hope that the Government will tell us that they are taking steps to ensure that there is no repetition.

Finally, may I ask the Government to make it perfectly clear that no borders based on ethnic cleansing will be recognised by this country or, in so far as we can achieve it, by the international community as a whole and that the principle of non-recognition of borders that are based upon ethnic cleansing will apply equally to land which has been annexed by force? I think that most noble Lords and, indeed, the country as a whole would find it difficult to understand a situation in which, after the behaviour of the Serbians in the former Yugoslavia in the past few years, the end result was merely a gradual diminution of the level of violence inside the country. Nor would they wish to feel that we might all wake up one day and find that the international community, and especially this country, had recognised the borders of a greater Serbia most, or a large part, of which had been annexed by force and in which there had been great movements of population. As I said at the outset, I hope that the Government will take these comments as constructive. In the main, we support Britain's involvement in the UN initiatives in the former Yugoslavia.

Perhaps I may say a word about Somalia. The civil war there, linked with past under-development and natural disasters in the Horn of Africa, has left an estimated 1.5 million people at immediate risk of death by starvation. It has been estimated that a further 3 million people are in need of food and improved access to health care and clean water. The main way by which food is supplied to the starving in Somalia is through the port of Mogadishu. That is controlled, as the Minister told us, by lawless and independent fighters who, according to some of the non-governmental organisations working there, are not even under clan authority. We desperately need to deploy the UN troops which have been promised in order to try to break the grip of those lawless bands on the distribution of food.

I am concerned that the 3,000 troops which have been promised are arriving only slowly. According to recent reports, only 500 will be in place by the end of this week—all of them Pakistani volunteers. While I applaud the bravery of those individuals who are going there, this case is surely one in which there is safety in numbers. I hope that the Government can tell us when they expect all the 3,000 troops to be in place to protect both the workers and the food supplies to the port.

I am also concerned about the refugee situation in Somalia. Kenya has received 200,000 refugees and Ethiopia 500,000. This is a major burden on those countries. Britain could play a useful part in helping to try to resettle the refugees eventually back into Somalia. Can the Government assure us that they will raise this issue directly with the United Nations and that the refugee problem will receive the resources that it needs?

On a point of timetabling, the Government tell us that they are, of course, concerned about the situation in Somalia and I naturally accept that. Although the decision not to hold a special meeting of the European Community's Development Council before the agreed date of 18th November may be a good piece of bureaucratic timetabling, it seems somewhat tardy given the scale of the problem and the nature of the response that the problem demands. I should have thought that the Minister might reconsider her decision now.

I should like to say a few brief words about Iraq and then deal with the point about the United Nations that the Minister made at the end of her speech. I turn now to the air exclusion zones over northern and southern Iraq. Both were created with the authority of the UN Security Council Resolution 688. We fully support the UN position that the same protection should be offered to Shi'ite Moslems in the south as has been offered in the north. We are satisfied that this limited operation is necessary and that the British role in it of providing aircraft for reconnaissance purposes and tankers for in-flight refuelling is justified. I welcome the news that there have been no reports of violations of the exclusion zones by the Iraqis. So far, so good. I mention this only so that the Government can reiterate their dismissal of it, but I take it that no extra action such as air strikes on ground targets in Iraq is at present being contemplated. I do not believe that any such action should be undertaken unless it has first gone to the Security Council for consideration.

Can the Minister inform the House what action will be taken before winter to provide some aid to the beleaguered Kurds in northern Iraq, who are virtually cut off from vital food, fuel and medical supplies? I gather that UN officials fear a re-run of last year when Kurds crossed into Turkey and Iran and suffered greatly in the mountains. What is the status of the UN Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq, which allowed the UN to bring in kerosene for heating and cooking? Is it still alive and, if not, do the Government intend to try to breathe some new life into it? In default of that, a humanitarian route through Turkey has been suggested by the UN. These are questions of detail, but also of some importance.

I join the Minister in saying that Saddam Hussein must be left in no doubt that UN sanctions and the air exclusion zone will remain in place until he complies with the Security Council resolutions and until he puts an end to his regime's gross violations of human rights. Britain must play its part in ensuring that the international community does not forget the Kurds and the Shi'ite Moslems. I join with the Government in their determination on that point.

If I may say so, I thought that the Minister made an excellent speech until right at the end. When she launched into the United Nations, her voice which had been firm, determined and a clarion call for international action seemed to grow slightly weak and uncertain. All the three instances that we have been talking about—Somalia, Yugoslavia and Iraq—are ones in which the United Nations is very deeply involved.

Last January the Prime Minister chaired a unique meeting of the Security Council itself, it being the month of the British Presidency, at a level—that of heads of government—which the United Nations had not hitherto seen. It urged the Secretary General to be more active and more interventionist, to look at world problems and to make better use of the machinery which the United Nations affords. It asked him to report back with his suggestions to the Security Council. He did so, and the report is stimulating, full of ideas and even a trifle visionary at times in its approach, which is not the case with all United Nations' documents. Certainly it is a good read for those of us who have been involved in international affairs.

The inviolability of Article 2(7) of the charter (the non-intervention part)—in other words, the extent to which the United Nations' international community can interfere in matters which up to now have always been considered the internal affairs of a member state and therefore outwith the possibility of UN intervention—is an issue which is now firmly on the international table.

I am afraid that this week the Foreign Secretary poured cold water on the work carried out by the Secretary General—at least, the temperature of the water seemed fairly cool to me. I do not know whether the Government can persuade us that it was slightly more lukewarm that it appeared to be. But it seemed to be echoed in the last part of the speech today of the noble Baroness. I do not think that this is the time to be quite so cautious and quite so unwelcoming—indeed, almost verging on the unhelpful—so far as concerns the future activities of the United Nations. However one looks at it, the UN is, after all, the great hope for international order and the rule of law. There is no other international institution which has the constitution, the legal authority, the membership or the machinery for trying to pursue those aims. At this stage, I should have thought, especially against the background of the three instances under consideration in this debate, that this was the time for the Government to be more enthusiastic and more supportive of the United Nations than appeared to be the case at the end of the Minister's speech.

11.52 a.m.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Richard, I followed with great sympathy the speech of the noble Baroness until the final paragraphs about the United Nations, to which I hope to refer a little later. We welcome the very informative and sympathetic statement she made about these three desperately difficult problems. We are glad to hear that she will soon be visiting Bosnia. If I may say so, the Minister's speeches in the House are valued all the more for the deep personal commitment she evidently has in tackling these humanitarian problems. In all those three countries innocent people are suffering on a massive scale. In all of them acts of unimaginable brutality are being perpetrated. Moreover, in all of them attacks are made on aid workers; that is, gallant people who are only there to try to help diminish suffering.

Of course, Britain has no specific treaty obligations in any of the three countries; indeed, it can be argued that there is no direct British interest at all. Yet the scale and nature of the suffering are such that there is a universal feeling in the country which is shared entirely on these Benches that Britain cannot honourably stand aside and not do its utmost to help.

All three problems are frustrating and difficult in the extreme. All of them raise difficult questions of intervention: what its nature should be and how far it should go. In Yugoslavia the problem is particularly frustrating inasmuch as the United Nations has the power but cannot deploy it. We are all used to the idea of nuclear fire power being unusable in practice. In the former Yugoslavia the same is true of conventional fire power and to a considerable extent it is also true as regards economic power. I share the doubts expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, about the efficiency and firmness with which the policy of sanctions has been applied by the United Nations.

It was cheering to hear from the noble Baroness that at long last the leaks along the Danube are to be stopped. They should have been stopped years ago; indeed, they could have been stopped long ago. That is a very great weakness in the UN intervention so far. Sanctions inevitably work a little slowly and inevitably they tend to punish the just as well as the unjust. Sometimes they seem merely to reinforce the resolution of the unjust to persist in their misdeeds. But they do have an effect. It is possible that the greatest effect that the sanctions will have will arise if and when the fighting dies down and we come to the question of a settlement: for example, pressing the Serbs to accept a settlement, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, rightly said, must not provide for the sanctification of land won by conquest and as a result of ethnic cleansing. We entirely concur with that view.

It is harder to judge how far intervention by armed force should go. The arguments for caution are very obvious. It was most interesting to hear from the noble Baroness that aid workers and United Nations personnel in Bosnia are no longer taking the line that military intervention will increase the dangers which they already face. I believe I understood correctly what the noble Baroness said on that point. It would have been extremely difficult if those who are already vulnerable in Bosnia were to feel that by intervening militarily the United Nations made their position still more dangerous.

When one thinks of the nature of the terrain, it is hard enough to see the military justification, the military rationale, for basing armed troops and armoured carriers on the convoys. I feel sure that there will be embarrassments and I am afraid that there will be casualties. But the convoys are life savers on a massive scale. They also challenge suffering on a massive scale. The United Nations forces accompany-ing them will be saving life and reducing suffering. They will be operating with the full sanction of international law and at the request of the United Nations. It is hard to see how they could be operating and risking their lives in a better cause. We must hope and pray for their success.

My noble friends and I entirely support the Government in this matter. We insist—and we shall call them to account if necessary—that such troops be trained and equipped as well as they possibly can he and given rules of engagement as precise as such rules can be. Even so, whatever the rules of engagement. we fear that the danger of spreading the conflict beyond the roads, of engaging more and more forces, is a danger which needs to be very carefully guarded against.

In one respect we ask whether intervention could not go further. Surely it is intolerable that Serbian war planes should be used to support operations in Bosnia. That occurred last weekend. It cannot be argued that these aircraft operate without the knowledge and control of Mr. Karadzic. He must be called to account and made to live up to his promises. The United Nations has the power to ground or indeed to destroy the Serbian air force and it should use that power.

If the situation in Bosnia is depressing and frustrating, so it is in Iraq. Against all expectations, Saddam Hussein has not merely survived but has actually regained the initiative in many respects. He treats United Nations' resolutions with complete contempt; he humiliates United Nations' inspectors; he harasses aid workers; his ground forces assault Shia villages in the south from time to time; he is blockading the Kurds in the north and mortaring frontier villages; and he has just had the impudence to restate his territorial claims on Kuwait. Increasingly the moderate Arab governments, those who joined the coalition and fought with the coalition in the Gulf War, are seeing Iraq as a defence against the greater long-term menace of Iran and of Islamic fundamental-ism. This is a factor of growing importance which I think will cause us great difficulties in the future.

I do not wish to involve myself too much in controversy, but it needs to be said that the same view was held by the American Government right up to the outbreak of the Gulf War. They acted on this view and secretly helped Saddam Hussein to a remarkable extent to arm himself with really modern and effective weapons. Nor were the British Government guiltless at this time of the same offence. I saw an interview on 2nd August in the Sunday Telegraph. It was an interview in which Mr. Taylor asked Mr. Alan Clark whether he had tipped off our machine tool manufacturers as to how they should frame their export applications to get round the guidelines for trade with Iraq. Mr. Clark, always famous for candour and courage, replied: Yes, and I did it for two reasons. First, I was Minister for Trade, so it was my job to maximise exports despite guidelines which I regarded as intrusive. Second, Iran was the enemy—still is—and it was clear to me that the interests of the West were well served by Iran and Iraq fighting each other, the longer the better". Many of our difficulties today in Iraq stem from the covert support given to Saddam Hussein by the American and British Governments up to the outbreak of the Gulf War.

Two dangers particularly seem to stand out today. The first is the onset of winter in the Kurdish area in the north. I understand that the United Nations relief co-ordinator, Mr. Fulchieri, recently asked the Iraqi Government to allow United Nations importation of kerosene for cooking and heating in the Kurdish area. I understand that no reply has been given. Perhaps the Minister can correct me if necessary. In addition, the Iraq Government are not only embargoing food entering the Kurdish area but are confiscating United Nations' food designated for the Kurdish people. It is appalling that the Kurds and the United Nations should be beholden to Saddam Hussein in this way; that the United Nations economic blockade of Iraq should be paralleled by the Iraqi blockade of the Kurds.

How are the Kurds going to survive the winter? What is the policy of the Government and of the United Nations on this point? For example, are they trying to establish a new humanitarian lifeline bypassing Baghdad in the north towards Turkey? I should like to ask the noble Baroness that specific question. It seems extremely important and urgent. The second critical danger is the use of ground troops by Saddam Hussein in the north and the south. What is the Government's response here? We warmly support the "no fly" policy of the allies in the north and in the south, and that seems to be working well. But how far are the Government planning to resist ground attacks in the north and the south? What line are they taking with their allies? We are a senior member of the coalition that fought and won the Gulf War, and in our view we should not shirk our responsibilities.

In Somalia the problems of intervention are not quite so difficult, though the humanitarian task is even greater. The protection of aid convoys is more straightforward. We warmly support the tribute paid by the noble Baroness to the work of the agencies in Somalia. The work of the Red Cross and other agencies has been magnificent. We hope that the dispatch of United Nations' forces will enable the food to be spread out towards the villages, discouraging the disastrous congregation of starving people into urban centres.

If I may gently touch on a controversial matter between the parties, this means of course, when we think of Somalia, of the cost of current aid and the cost of recovery, to which the noble Baroness referred and which will be extremely formidable. We urge that there should he no cut but rather an expansion of aid expenditure by this country in the coming years.

Finally, I come to the point on which the noble Lord, Lord Richard, focused—the surprising references to the United Nations at the end of the noble Baroness's speech. She said that the United Nations is doing too much.

Several noble Lords


Lord Mayhew

My Lords, the United Nations is certainly doing more than ever—sometimes with success. I beg the noble Baroness's pardon if I misquoted her. She gave the impression that the task of the United Nations should be more widely shared. Perhaps that is putting it better. But of course the United Nations is playing a more and more prominent part in many parts of the world. The blue beret is proliferating. The United Nations has taken on eight new peacekeeping operations in the past four years compared with 13 in the previous 40 years and many have been, and are being, successful.

On these Benches we warmly support the ambitious proposals of Mr. Boutros Ghali to increase and amplify this function of the United Nations in his report published quite recently called Agenda for Peace. We want to develop a world-wide early warning system that would increase the time and the scope for preventive diplomacy. We want member governments to make specialised peace enforcement units quickly available on a permanent basis to the United Nations. We urge the Government to play a positive part not merely in supporting these things but in supporting the fund raising that will be needed to bring them to success.

In the past the United Nations has been too slow in responding to emergencies. It was too late in its reaction to the famine in Ethiopia and later in the Sudan, and it is too late in Somalia, though it is making up for time now. If it had made a quicker political and diplomatic intervention in the former Yugoslavia our problems there might be less intractable than they are. In spite of many failures the United Nations is now playing an increasingly positive role in an increasing number of the world's trouble spots, and to the extent that Her Majesty's Government assist it in this they will get the support of these Benches.

12.8 p.m.

The Archbishop of York

My Lords, like others who have spoken I welcome this opportunity to debate these vitally important issues. I greatly welcome the opening statement by the noble Baroness. On the whole, I also welcome the support that the Government have given to the United Nations in its attempt to tackle some of these problems. However, I cannot resist expressing a private wish that the list of trouble spots could have included the Sudan, where the all too familiar combination of political, social and religious animosities has for years created just as terrible a picture of human suffering as those which day by day fill our screens from other parts of the world. As has been said, we live in a world where too many problems and too much preventable suffering compete for our attention.

I should like to sympathise with the Government for the difficult position they have found themselves in over sending troops to the former Yugoslavia. It is surely right that we should play our part in trying to bring peace to that tragic part of the world. I would also join with others in underlining the need to be cautious about how far we allow ourselves to become involved in direct military intervention.

Earlier this month I had an opportunity to meet a number of church people from that part of Europe together with some military advisers who had been responsible for peace-keeping operations elsewhere. It was a depressing experience. The overwhelming impression I gained was of the extreme difficulty of dealing with the appalling situation by the use of force, the extreme difficulty of United Nations operations even under the most favourable conditions and the extreme danger of becoming bogged down in a long-term commitment, as in Cyprus, with no end in sight. I believe it right not to be swayed too much by the emotional need to do something dramatic in that part of the world, a need which comes through very strongly because of the media images to which we are all subjected. There is probably little we can do over and above the present attempts to negotiate, maintain essential supplies and prevent the flow of arms into that area. I also believe that we should not act there at the expense of operations in other parts of the world, particularly Africa, where the political gains may be fewer but where is a real possibility of relieving dreadful suffering.

We cannot applaud too much the heroism of individuals and voluntary agencies, many religiously motivated and deeply distressed by the religious dimension to some of these problems. We should give every possible support to those people who go into troublespots to bring help. It seems to me that our duty is not so clear when the issue is whether to put at risk the lives of soldiers in trying to sort out what at present seem to be intractable, insoluble problems. That is why I see it as all the more important that we should be thinking creatively about the future role of the United Nations. Personally, I did not detect that note of coolness in the opening speech of the noble Baroness to which others have referred. I am at least prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

The Archbishop of York

My Lords, this has been an important week from the point of view of the United Nations. Many valuable things have been said at the General Assembly. In particular, I should like to applaud very strongly the Secretary-General's agenda for peace, idealistic though some of it may be. It seems to me that the United Nations is gaining in confidence in its more active role. It is important not to spoil or undermine that confidence by overstretching it in areas where not much can be achieved.

Despite what the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said, I welcome some of what the Foreign Secretary said, particularly as regards the proposal for preventive diplomacy. The need for preventive diplomacy in the Balkans cannot be overstressed. In the consultation to which I referred earlier people were saying that perhaps the situation was slightly easier in Yugoslavia than in some other parts of the Balkans because the deep divisions with which one was dealing were only about 500 years old whereas in other parts of the Balkans they were 1,000 years old. One is conscious of the vested interests that all the Balkan states have in what is happening in neighbouring states. That sets the scene for possible catastrophe.

There is an important difference between preventive diplomacy and conciliation. I believe they need to be distinguished and that both are needed. As I understand it, conciliation is a more neutral, hands-off exercise than diplomacy. It is not about applying pressure but winning understanding, and it can be done only by agencies which can clearly be seen to be totally detached from the issues. I am not sure whether in today's world the United Nations can have that image. It has to be involved in the life of other nations in too many other ways. Therefore, I hope that within the total package of preventive diplomacy there will be space for supporting independent conciliation initiatives. The efforts of the CSCE in this direction are a pointer to what is needed, but again it has the problem of not being fully independent.

The aspect of the Foreign Secretary's support for preventive diplomacy which alarms me is the suggestion that it is desirable because it is cheap. To see it as a cheap alternative to other forms of United Nations activity would, in my view, be a grave mistake. Diplomacy, in contrast to conciliation, has to be backed up by effective force, and that is why the other parts of the Secretary-General's agenda for peace must not be played down. Organisational changes in the United Nations peace-keeping and peace-making operations are essential if it is to be able to respond effectively to today's problems. I hope that the Government will give an enthusiastic welcome to President Bush's call for a rapid deployment force and his offer of logistical back-up. The present complications of getting together a United Nations force and, once formed, enabling it to work together have been crippling. If one is to believe the complaints of those who have been involved at command level, they are almost paralysed in attempting to get anything going and then to work it once it is in place.

We also need to give much more serious thought to the problems of those countries which have conscript armies and the moral questions which inevitably arise where governments commit troops to operations in which their countries' vital interests are not clearly at stake. We are not looking for a new United Nations imperialism, but I believe there is a place for a permanent United Nations volunteer force staffed and paid for by those countries, which begin to look to the United Nations as their future guarantor of security, reducing their military commitments. Slowly and painfully the churches are having to apply the same principles in their ecumenical work.

In order to increase what you do together you have to decrease what you do separately. Surely, that is the direction in which our security policy must move. That too is the logic behind the Secretary-General's plea that United Nations costs should be paid for out of defence budgets rather than foreign office budgets. Better still, perhaps there should be a United Nations budget which would mark a new awareness that in today's world global issues are not marginal to national life but central to it. Idealistic thinking at a time when we have been recalled to consider specific issues may seem out of place, but I believe it is precisely when we are most conscious of the intractability of some of the immediate issues that there needs to be a degree of bold thinking about the future.

12.19 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, my normal preference for speaking briefly in your Lordships' House is fortified by the knowledge that so many noble Lords are waiting to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, who is a great addition to our counsels. I propose to make my speech brief by omitting Somalia, which I think is the least controversial of the issues confronting us, and Iraq because what I might have said has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew. It is an unusual axis in this House and I hope that it will be welcomed.

When we last debated Yugoslavia I was reproved by my noble friend the Minister for implicitly criticising my noble friend Lord Carrington. I explained at the time, I hope successfully, that I had no wish to question his devotion or skill but that I believed that the task which confronted him in acting as an emissary of the European Community was an impossible one. The fact that the situation in Yugoslavia has deteriorated, as was agreed by the noble Baroness and other previous speakers, and that the new Owen-Vance team is facing precisely the same kind of difficulties as confronted the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, seems to me to make the point that I tried to make then.

My point was that the European Community is an impossible device for reaching agreement on an important matter in European politics when national interests and instincts are different. We therefore have a British policy—or what is alleged to be a British policy—which inevitably represents the result of compromises, not all of which are in a direction that we ourselves might have preferred. The conflict in Yugoslavia is not the kind of outburst of primitive hatreds or the wish to excel in weaponry that we see, for instance, in Somalia. It is a new stage in a political struggle whose antecedents were portrayed for the House earlier in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Richard.

We confuse and deceive ourselves—and this point relates to what is much on our consciences; namely, the question of British troops—when we use the words "humanitarian aid" in respect of Yugoslavia. A good word can he over-used and "humanitarian" is a good word. By "humanitarian" we mean, or did mean until very recently, giving succour and help of various material kinds and perhaps moral succour if necessary to people whose lives have been devastated by nature—by hurricanes, earthquakes or floods. But it is very different—here there is a link with Iraq—when the sufferings that we are asked to alleviate are sufferings directly and wilfully created by human beings or human agencies.

It is not that floods have swept away the homes of Croats or Moslems in Bosnia. Those homes have been deliberately destroyed. Therefore, unless we are prepared to accept that this is a political issue and that the situation with which we are dealing in Bosnia is what one could call a civil war—a civil war that is encapsulated in a conflict between warring peoples and warring states—we get nowhere. It seems to me that that fact has been obfuscated in many of the discussions that have gone on at European Community level.

I leave to others the discussion of the military risks involved in intervention. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who will follow the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, no doubt will have a great deal to tell us about that matter. But even considering sanctions, an issue which the noble Lord, Lord Richard, raised, it is quite extraordinary that sanctions that were agreed months ago have taken so long to put into effect and that so many reasons have been given as to why they could not be brought into effect.

The Danube has been mentioned. We have been told that the Danube can be monitored. I understand that we have sent experts from Customs and Excise to help the Romanians monitor the Danube. Those are the kind of jolly chaps from Heathrow who try to stop the extra bottle of booze brought back after your holiday. But monitoring is not what is required. We are told that international law makes it impossible for Romania to block the passage along the Danube of barges containing war materials. I ask my noble friend the Minister whether it is correct that it is not possible even now, under international law, to interfere with transit on the Danube.

Reference was made to the breaking of sanctions on land. One member of the European Community which, for its own political reasons, is closely allied with Serbia—namely, Greece—has provided, many people believe, because of the so-called transit traffic, an excuse for the evasion of sanctions. It seems to me, as has been pointed out, that we also have been very slow in reacting to the consequences of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. When we met in July I referred to the unfortunate action of Germany, again based on the conception of national interest, in bouncing us into premature recognition of Croatia before measures had been taken to ensure the safety of minorities. At the moment we know from our television screens that the process of ethnic cleansing is spreading from Bosnia to Kosovo and that Albanians, who form the majority community, are being expelled from their homes in order to provide more room for Serbs in order to sanctify, if you like, the historic Serbian claim to that province.

We are also worried about the possibility of the involvement of the Republic of Macedonia. There again Greece has prevented action to monitor events in Macedonia, beginning with its recognition so that it could be a member of the United Nations and assisted by the United Nations. Again, there has been intervention by one member of the European Community which is clearly against the general interest of bringing about peace which, in the end, must be the major goal.

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, called attention to the use of air power by Serbia. I should have thought that it was not simply a responsibility of the so-called leader of the Serbs of Bosnia; it is a clear responsibility of the Government in Belgrade. If it is possible—perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, will comment on this point—to have an air exclusion zone in Southern Iraq, which is a very long way from us, why is it not possible to have an air exclusion zone in Bosnia? It is extraordinary. The facts are so appalling that one sometimes just runs away from them. It is appalling to think that for over three weeks it has been impossible to fly into Sarajevo civil relief planes with medicines and food that are urgently needed to prevent starvation and disease. Can we not find a way to do that? That is not to blame the countries who were sending in flights, such as the Italians. The most reverend Primate referred to that matter. To ask pilots to fly unarmed planes through hostile territory is asking rather a lot.

Therefore, surely we ought to forget about Brussels. We must get together with the only countries which have influence and authority in that part of the world; that is, Germany, Russia and France. That would be like trying to avoid the last Sarajevo crisis in 1914. There must be an agreement between the powers whose collective force would be sufficient to make the Serbs think again. To say that we are not going to recognise territory which is taken by force and populated by force, is very good for our international conscience but it is totally impractical to tell the refugees from Bosnia that they should stay as close as possible in order to get home more rapidly. That is to raise hopes which we have no right to raise, when we know perfectly well that their homes have been destroyed or occupied by others and that military forces exist to prevent them from going home.

It is a horrid situation and I would not, therefore, wish to criticise either Her Majesty's Government or the efforts of Mr. Vance and the noble Lord, Lord Owen, or anyone else. However, we must face the fact that the situation in the Balkans is an international conflict and not a case where humanitarian aid is concerned. If we send in military forces we must realise that that is an inevitable part of the problem that will confront them.

12.32 p.m.

Lord Merlyn-Rees

My Lords, it is a privilege to be a Member of this Upper House in general, and I thank the noble Baroness for her words of welcome, as I do the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. In particular, it gives me the opportunity, after a period I did not enjoy in limbo, once again to play a part in bringing the Government to account for their policies, which is the hallmark of our parliamentary system.

On the subject of Somalia, I pay great tribute to the noble Baroness who continues her invaluable work in the Department of Overseas Aid. Her work is recognised in another place as well as this House. With regard to Iraq, I simply point out that the skies may be clear, with the aid of our six Tornados; but the oppression of the Kurds continues unabated—and I hear this week to an increasing extent on the ground. The position of the Kurds should never be forgotten.

I turn to deal with Yugoslavia, or what is left of it, about which I have some knowledge from the last war. It is always dangerous for old soldiers or old airmen to refer back 50 years; but one is on better ground in Yugoslavia because nothing has changed there for such a long time. Our forces were SAS and there was a small Balkan airforce that operated from the east coast of Italy. There was no question of being drawn in to a full-scale war. The Germans and the Italians made the supreme mistake in that respect, as the President of Austria could confirm. It was a bestial war. One story that I heard has been confirmed in writing. When a partisan group in the mountains came across a German patrol and a baby cried, the baby was handed over to have its throat cut to save the lives of the rest of the partisans. That is an experience which most of us, including myself, know little about, but it tells us something about the nature of the ethnic problems of Yugoslavia, which are not new and which, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, pointed out, have been going on for centuries. We should not be drawn in.

I recall that when I was an Army Minister and an RAF Minister, after 1948 the Yugoslavs learnt the hard way that a possible enemy was the Soviet Union, and they reorganised their armed forces to deal with the invasion not from the west but from the east. They organised their forces in small groups in the states and in local areas. That is still the case and gives some explanation for the way in which some armies which are out of control, and deliberately out of control from above, behave. I hold a strong view today that we must not be sucked into a Balkan civil war.

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, dealt with the role of the EC in political matters. The Government have complained about the lack of co-operation from the European Community in economic matters in recent weeks. The situation is the same in regard to Yugoslavia. It was foolish for the Germans and the Italians to press for recognition of Slovenia and Croatia too early. It exacerbated the position in Serbia and Herzegovina, where the Serbs believe that if you grab land it will be recognised at some stage. The Germans and Italians acted atavistically—a throwback to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There is no common European policy on that matter and there cannot be, whatever happens in the long run. We must press for what we know is right.

There has been a report about 1,800 British troops. I point out that in dealing with our armed forces, we may be going the wrong way. In the future we may need more soldiers and sophisticated equipment in the other services. However, we are sending 1,800 people of a regiment that has to be made up from outside because it does not have enough of its own soldiers. Apparently, British commanders hoped that it would be located at Bihac with direct links to Zagreb, where there is already a British communications unit and a field ambulance unit, but somebody decided that that was not to be and now they are to he around Tuzla, which has seen fierce fighting during the past two months. Tuzla is 100 miles from Belgrade. It is a Moslem enclave that is surrounded by Serbian artillery positions, which seems to be a bright place to send the Cheshire regiment troops and the armoured cars that are to build them up to strength. Did the Ministry of Defence play a part in the resolution of the matter? Who was in control? Who was in command? I am worried about the situation.

A more recent report from the French general in charge of the force states that he is unable to give a firm guarantee (which I understand) as to the safety of the troops who will conduct the operations. However, is that guarantee, or lack of guarantee, because it is the nature of the situation, or is it because he has not got the right back-up, the right kind of soldiers, the right kind of troops and the right kind of equipment? The situation must be looked at very carefully.

I welcome the efforts of the United Nations; but in its recent work, since the end of the Cold War, I question whether the preparation and organisation is enough. In doing so, I pick up the point which was made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. Command and control cannot be exercised from New York. What is the role of the military committee that has not operated for 40 years? Where does it operate from? Should there not be a forward UN military headquarters? I had a look at a map this morning. Why not Foggia across the sea? It is flat, it has airfields and you can get there very quickly. Why not have a forward military headquarters not only to state the obvious, which is so often done by military headquarters, but also to enable them to address their minds to any changes that take place in strategy.

We all learn from experience. I certainly was not at Maastricht in 1940, but I served in the Royal Air Force where what happened in Maastricht in 1940 lingered. Brave young men died on 12th May 1940. The Blenheims and the other aircraft—the Fairey Battles—were all wiped out on one day not because of lack of bravery, hut because of lack of control from above. They were sent to do a job that they should not have been sent to do. The command of all this is important. There is a monitoring system with the qualifications that have been made. There is a hospital ambulance unit; but more needs to be done. I have made some inquiries. Where is the petrol and oil to come from? What is the routing for that? Where is the food for our soldiers to come from? It will not just appear from anywhere. They will not live off the land. There is also the question of clothing for the winter because it may be near sunny Italy and the Adriatic coast, but it is extraordinarily cold from November through to March and the normal uniforms that soldiers wear will not be enough. I hope that people in the UN and in the Ministry of Defence have addressed their minds to that. As the most reverend Primate will know, up in Yorkshire we have many factories that could make that kind of clothing.

My memory of Yugoslavia is of a hateful, in the true sense of the term, collection of ethnic and linguistic groups who indulge in civil war perhaps even worse than most civil wars. We must reassess the role of the United Nations. That can be done in the long term for many things, but it must be done in the short term now. Are the troops under their command being given a task that they can do properly? It is a developing situation. I agree with the most reverend Primate that it is time to act quickly now. We have no right to send soldiers and airmen to do a job that we think is all right without making sure that they can carry out their task.

12.42 p.m.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will join me in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, upon his maiden speech. Those of your Lordships who are familiar with the Arthurian legends will know that Merlin was celebrated as an enchanter and a wise man. Those of us who have heard the noble Lord's speech today will agree that he was felicitiously named. He has come to this House after a distinguished career of public service. As he reminded us, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. When he left the services he embarked upon a distinguished political career which culminated in the 1970s when, between 1974 and 1979, he was successively Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Secretary of State at the Home Department. He comes with a distinguished political pedigree. I am sure that your Lordships would wish me to welcome him to this House and to express the hope that we shall listen to him here on many future occasions.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, I find it easy in one special way to follow the noble Lord's speech because I want to support almost everything that he said about the importance and difficulty of using armed force in the way in which it is being used in many cases at the moment. We must think far more profoundly in this country and in the international structure about the implications of using armed force almost, it seems nowadays, as an automatic response to any kind of crisis or instability. I do not think that many people would accuse me of being soft or wet about the uses of military power. The armed force of this country and of other countries is already deployed in all of the three areas that we are discussing today and I have no quarrel with that. I do not criticise the Government; indeed, I support their action.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to raise a more general point about the employment of military force in crises of this kind. The general concept, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, has outlined, is clear. Under Article 2 of the United Nations Charter—I think that it is paragraph 7; perhaps the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—the United Nations is forbidden to intervene in affairs of domestic jurisdiction. That is clearly stated. On the other hand, it is also clearly stated in the charter that that is subordinate to the provisions of Chapter 7 which deals with threats to peace and acts of aggression.

There is no doubt that in Yugoslavia there is a threat to peace. Whether it is a civil war or a war between states is an interesting argument, but whichever it is it is a threat to the peace of Europe. It is possible to argue without too much trouble that there is a threat to the peace in Iraq. There certainly was at the time of the Kuwait war and it is arguable that that still exists. About Somalia I must confess that I have some doubts and this is perhaps where I find the argument becomes most interesting.

The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, said in her clear and valuable opening speech that the United Nations was right and—I believe that I quote correctly from her remarks—to set aside arguments about nonintervention. Perhaps we need to look at that a little more carefully because it will be difficult to know in the future where we should draw the line. There is a clear but difficult line to be drawn between interference in the internal affairs of nation states under the provisions of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter and the right and duty to carry out military intervention under Chapter 7. In the way in which the world is developing at present we shall have to be much more rigorous in determining the criteria upon which we decide to use armed force.

We are moving into a very important period of transformation and transition of political science and political philosophy. We are moving from the world of the nation state, in which national interests are paramount and always have been, to what I might call, for the sake of shorthand, globalism—the belief that most of the world's problems can and should be handled on a global basis by such organisations as the United Nations. If we are to adjust our national and international policies to that fundamental change in the perception of the way the world is regulated, we must be careful in deciding the criteria upon which the use of armed force depends.

One of the difficulties has been mentioned by the most reverend Primate; namely, the need to avoid emotional reactions to crises and instability of that kind. I wish to make one special case here. We must be careful about the extent to which the media, especially television, begin to control and dictate national and international policies. There are cases of emotive and selective broadcasting and reporting of events by the electronic media which I believe are beginning to have far too much influence upon the decisions that politicians make.

I return to the question of the use of force and the way in which force is used in these international problems. The United Nations Charter, even under Chapter 7, provides only for the use of armed force. It does not lay down, nor was it intended to lay down, any of the basic principles of war, the principles of the use of military force. Those remain unchanged by whatever the United Nations Charter says.

A number of factors, as any student of military history will confirm, have constantly to be borne in mind whenever military force is applied to the solution of a political problem. The first is the aim—clarity of what it is that you are trying to do—and the maintenance of that aim throughout the period of the engagement of troops. Secondly-and this point has already been made by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, with great clarity—there must be what is known in the military jargon as "C3", or command, control and communications: who commands the troops; how are they controlled and what communications are provided to enable that command and control to take place.

So not only have we to ask ourselves what these soldiers are meant to do and who is controlling and commanding them while they do it but what their rules of engagement are. What are they allowed to do, either in self-defence or in other applications of military force? The noble Lord, Lord Richard, made what I think is the crucial point here, which is that unless those vital principles of war, with others, are fully observed throughout the deployment of armed force there will be drift. There has been drift in military operations in South-East Asia, in Korea and in Beirut. Thousands and thousands of troops and thousands of millions of pounds worth of equipment are sucked in because command, control and communications and maintenance of the aim are not clearly held in the minds of those deploying the forces.

Let me refer to the campaign to which the noble Lord referred in Yugoslavia in the Second World War. In that terrible terrain—a nightmare terrain for any military commander—in August 1943 there were 15 divisions of German troops fully deployed attempting to pacify and control the Balkans. They failed: 15 divisions. We are at the moment in the process of arranging reinforcements of the troops in Yugoslavia. If the 6,000 troops which the United Nations has now recommended and endorsed are actually deployed there will be 21,000 United Nations troops in what used to be Yugoslavia. It hardly needs to be said that that will not be enough. There will be a tendency for more and more troops to go in unless a very careful watch is kept upon this. I would only refer your Lordships to the words of General Lewis Mackenzie, who was the United Nations commander in that area until the end of July. In a recent interview in a defence newspaper he said that any attempt to pacify the Balkans by the use of military force, whether United Nations or otherwise, will end in disaster.

I go on briefly to mention Iraq. Again, I think this is a wise operation in which Her Majesty's Government are engaged; and here we have a "no-fly" zone. Perhaps I may digress briefly and say in answer to the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that of course there is no reason why there should not be for any military reason a "no-fly" zone in the Balkans, just as there is in Iraq. In fact it might be even easier to enforce. I do not necessarily endorse it: I say only that there is no reason why it should not be done. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, like many others, will recall that in Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter there is a special requirement on the part of member states of the United Nations to have specific air forces ready to assign to the UN for that purpose.

However, before I leave the subject of Iraq, I add that, although I fully endorse the policy of enforcing the "no-fly" zones in the north and south of Iraq, I hope that the Government will not be seduced by any of the somewhat emotive calls for this to be translated into ground force action against Saddam Hussein's forces either in the north or the south. A "no-fly" zone with reconnaissance aircraft, and indeed combat aircraft if necessary, is one thing: ground attack is another. I hope the Government will resist any calls, however siren-like they may be, to go along that road.

In conclusion, I say this. Having made the point that the use of military force as an arm of diplomacy or politics is an immensely complicated matter, this does not by any means suggest that we should not engage in it. We are moving through a period of immense instability. There is going to be instability based on ethnic rivalries, economic rivalries and religious rivalries. For a very long time the world will be a very dangerous and precarious place. It may be that we as a nation will want to take a full part in dealing with all those matters and, if necessary, dealing with them through means which include the use of armed force. But if we do, as the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, has hinted, we may then have to look again at the provision of our own military forces which seems at the moment not to be consistent with playing a large part in the world scene. It is perhaps no more than an amusing paradox that the Cheshire Regiment, which I gather is about to be deployed in Yugoslavia, would if the original plan for Options for Change had been implemented not even exist today. That is not an important point; it is just a part of the rich tapestry of life in the Ministry of Defence. I should like to reserve some further thoughts on this whole issue of the role that we play in the world and the military implications that flow from it to a later stage in your Lordships' House.

Before I resume my seat I should like to ask just one question of the Minister. It is to do with the arms transfers which still seem to be going on in this embattled area in the Balkans in spite of all the sanctions and the monitoring. I should like to ask her specifically whether the NATO early warning aircraft which are deployed in Yugoslavia have a role to play in this and whether in fact we cannot ensure that those who are maliciously and irresponsibly pouring arms into certain parts of this very troubled area are by one means or another prevented from doing so.

As I said, we have a difficult, precarious and complicated world to face. I believe that in the areas we are discussing today Her Majesty's Government are approaching these problems responsibly and sensibly, but I repeat that if we are to continue to play a major role on the world scene, which seems to be what we are claiming to do at the moment—and I have no quarrel with that because I believe that we should—we must take care that we give our military establishment the resources it will need to do the job.

12.59 p.m.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, having been in and out of Yugoslavia for 60 years and having some knowledge of the lingo, I propose to focus on that problem. May I say that my wife has family links with both sides in the Serbia-Croat conflict, from which the Bosnian war is a spin-off. I may say that we maintain contact with our relatives there by telephone but we have noticed that none of them dares talk about anything except the weather. They will not answer any questions or give us any hint as to what they are feeling.

One ought to begin by praising the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for his work, together with Mr. Vance, and also wishing the best of British luck to the noble Lord, Lord Owen. Blessed are the peacemakers. I must say I was greatly impressed by the opening speech of my noble friend Lady Chalker and I was also deeply impressed by the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Richard. We have spoken in these debates before.

On his point of the Yugoslav ethnic "cauldron", it is worth pointing out something that people forget about Yugoslavia. It is that until the break-up of the communist regime people were getting on very well at street level. There was an enormous degree of intermarriage—that is one reason why my wife's family have links all over the country—with Catholics, Moslems and Orthodox all together in a most extraordinary mixture. At street level it was all perfectly peaceful. As a matter of fact, by East European standards the Yugoslav solution to the problems there was not as bad as it has been commonly made out to be, except by the leaders who are now at war.

I was relieved to hear my noble friend say something to the effect that we must beware the risk of loading the United Nations with tasks beyond its capacity. I have to say that at times the international institutions appear to offer a rather inglorious picture. First, there was a show of European Community unity on foreign policy—which was simply giving way to Germany—for the premature recognition of Croatia. At a stroke this undermined the efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for a political settlement. That was a disastrous blunder by the EC in the face of German pressure. Then there was the premature recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That made the EC and the UN a kind of Balkan laughing stock in the face of the Serbo-Croat deal, concluded not yesterday but months ago, to partition their country if at all possible.

Then at times there is the picture of the sheer shambles of UN monitoring forces and aid escorts, plus the mysterious recall of the Canadian General Mackenzie. I have never understood the reason for that because he was one of the few men who could run the show, what there was of it. Then there was the piteous sight described by more than one newspaper of patrols or groups of soldiers doing their job without even having a common language. There were Ukranians and French side by side with not even an interpreter between them. All this has brought some degree of ridicule to a well meant intervention, and I say "ridicule" deservedly.

Now we have the prospect of British troops going in to safeguard what has been euphemistically called humanitarian aid although, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, implied—and I rather agree with him—it is a form of political pressure to break the various military sieges. I share the alarm that has been expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Beloff, Lord Merlyn-Rees, Lord Chalfont, and others about British military involvement unless everything is crystal clear.

It is something like 16 years since the United Nations sent forces into Cyprus, but that was merely a two-sided conflict. Here there is conflict on many sides, and in very difficult terrain. It is absolutely vital that the rules of engagement are a) clear and b) made very clear to everybody else. Without that, I fear that we are heading for an even more dangerous situation.

I should like to ask my noble friend a few questions about UN activities. How are we getting on with regard to access to Serbian detention centres, and the control of the Serbian artillery? Pledges were given by Karadzic, the Bosnian-Serb leader, at the London conference. I should like to know whether they have proved of any value or are as empty as many of the other pledges about which we have read in the past six months.

A word of caution is necessary with regard to sanctions. The mere bludgeoning of the Serbs, however meritorious it may be in the eyes of the rest of the civilised world, could be counterproductive. The more the Serbs are threatened, the more they will stick together. No matter who their leader is, if they feel threatened they will hang together. That is a serious psychological consequence of what I would call the bludgeoning policy. The civilised world may sympathise with bludgeoning but whether it is prudent is another matter.

The sanctions also have to be realistic. Again, I would underline the questions which have already been asked about sanctions busting which appears to he going on, certainly from Romania and possibly also from Greece, but in particular up the Danube. The other day my family made a telephone call to Belgrade. They said that there was no worry there because the real sanctions busting is across the land border from Romania. But there have been many signs from different quarters that barges laden with fuel have been going up the Danube. From where? They are doubtless from Romania and possibly from Russia. What about blockading the Danube? We have a ship in the Adriatic. Why is it in the Adriatic? Surely it should be in the Black Sea or, if not, a Russian ship should do the same job. It seems to me that the Adriatic is the wrong place in which to have a frigate sitting around.

Inside Serbia of course we should all like to see an effective parliamentary opposition to Milosevic, but I have to tell your Lordships that there is a common proverb in Serbia that two Serbs equal three political parties. They are a most disunited opposition. The present parliamentary opposition there surely has a long way to go to find effective leadership and cohesion. Its strength is largely confined to the middle classes and the intellectuals of Belgrade. On the other hand, Milosevic has certain critical assets. It is no good pretending that he is just a baddie and mentally writing him off. In fact, he has some very strong cards in his hand. The first is that the old Serbian communist party never broke up into two or three as it did in Croatia. So he has intact a communist party machine still operating throughout the hinterland of Serbia and Montenegro. Therefore, he has a solid machine for facing any elections which he chooses to call at any time. He can call an election with the greatest confidence and without worry. In addition, he controls the national TV broadcasts from Belgrade. That in turn has a considerable effect on public opinion in the peasant countryside where he has great support.

There are a few other things which are perhaps not quite so dismal. The first is that in Belgrade itself the daily paper, Borha, which originally was the communist Struggle, has maintained an independent stand, unlike Politika the other paper, with great courage and despite great personal pressure on staff and economic pressure on resources. Those people who work on the Borba deserve whatever support is possible from outside without causing them embarrassment.

I am told that there are plans afoot to establish an independent TV station in Belgrade to cover the countryside and therefore rival the official station. There again, any help or any moral encouragement that can be given to that project will he very worthwhile. On that subject—I warned my noble friend Lady Chalker about this—I am going to ask to what extent the BBC transmissions directly aimed at Serbia and Croatia have been increased. At the time of the Baltic crisis there was a rapid and useful increase in BBC transmissions to that area. Now we need to broadcast full blast to the Serbs. They still listen to the BBC and still trust it. It is important, in the interests of a change of leadership in Belgrade, to put the truth across.

Perhaps the brightest hope in that situation is that interesting character, Mr. Panic. He is a Yugoslav who has very few words of Serbian at his command but lots of American experience as a businessman. He deserves encouragement. According to my information, he is increasingly estranged from Mr. Milosevic. He has made headway in surviving no fewer than two votes of censure in the Skupstina, the parliament, and I understand that his relations with the army are steadily improving. Despite whatever personality problems he may have—he is an excellent man, but we all have our faults—surely he is our best hope of preventing hostilities spreading over into Samsjak and Kosovo, with all the frightening consequences that could result.

There are and can be no winners. However, how realistic is it to talk of non-recognition of borders changed by force? Are we to say, for example, that Serbia and Montenegro, however wicked their leaderships have been, are beyond the pale for the next thousand years? That is not realistic. I do not know how they are to be obliged to disgorge territory. I wonder whether the international community is not making a stick for its own back by saying that there will be no recognition of any kind until all conquered territory is surrendered. That would also have to apply to Croatia and elsewhere.

Generally speaking, a standstill by exhaustion is probably the best hope for a political solution. As I say, there are no winners; they are all losers. Slovenia, which is quiet, has lost its markets in Serbia and Croatia. It does not have alternative new markets in Austria and Hungary. Slovenes are now wondering what it is all about. Croatia's dash for freedom has certainly been more costly than Tudjman ever imagined. The Serbo-Croat deals under the counter about partitioning Bosnia will redound in three or four directions. Serbia and Montenegro are bankrupt and isolated, and Bosnia's Moslems have gained very little from their ill-judged alliance with the Croatian predator beforehand.

It looks as though the eventual international political settlement is going to leave the United Nations and the European Community eating humble pie.

1.12 p.m.

Lord Finsberg

My Lords, I apologise for speaking on the parliamentary day following my maiden speech, even though two months in the real calendar have elapsed. However, I wanted to participate in the debate.

Perhaps I may say first how much I enjoyed the speech of my friend, the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. It was, as usual, full of sound common sense.

I have been much concerned with Yugoslavia because I have had the privilege of leading the United Kingdom delegations to the parliamentary assemblies of both the Western European Union and the Council of Europe since 1987. In the Council of Europe we have tried to see where we were going with the former Yugoslavia.

As your Lordships know, the fundamental basis of the Council of Europe is respect for human rights and for multi-party democracy. We introduced a new concept, of a transitional nature, to see how states managed to comport themselves. We gave guest membership to former Yugoslavia and to the Soviet Union, which has now been taken over by Russia.

At one particular conference we had the Speakers of all the republics of former Yugoslavia sitting in the same room. If I say that the atmosphere was probably worse than that between, say, Mr. Shamir and Yasser Arafat your Lordships will realise how deplorable the situation was more than 15 months ago. The behaviour of former Yugoslavia became so bad that it was clear that its parliament had no control over its armed forces, so we first suspended guest membership and, some five weeks or so ago, withdrew it completely.

One of the other factors in the equation is the Western European Union. I am sad that no mention has been made of it today because it has been playing a major role in the monitoring of sanctions. The organisation has not been playing as great a role as I should have liked, but it is right to point out to your Lordships that more than a year ago your United Kingdom parliamentary delegation—myself, the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, and my colleague from the other place, Peter Hardy—all called for an immediate form of action against former Yugoslavia more than 12 months ago we advocated the shooting down of any Yugoslav plane seen in the air. We were way ahead of the exclusion zone in Iraq.

In my judgment, such action would have achieved two objectives, and I do not change my view. First, it would have saved innumerable civilian casualties. Those who did not follow that line have those deaths on their consciences. Secondly, it would have been a warning to Serbia and Montenegro that there was a determination in the world to stop their brutal behaviour.

Nothing happened. As your Lordships have already heard,30 people were murdered last week by bombing from Serbian aeroplanes. No ground troops would have been needed. I go along with those who are very cautious about involving ground troops in Yugoslavia. One of my German colleagues in the Council of Europe is a great friend of mine. He and I often talk about the number of German divisions which were tied down unsuccessfully in Yugoslavia during the last war. Unless we are prepared to put in a quarter of a million or half a million ground troops, which no sane body would do, ground troops will not solve the problem in former Yugoslavia.

It was as long ago as September 1991 that the presidential committee of the Western European Union called for an effective UN force to secure (the word was carefully chosen) a cease-fire in Yugoslavia. The presidential committee comprises politicians—members of nine national parliaments. We were united then in our view that peace-keeping was not necessarily the answer and that there had to be some form of peace-making. Nothing happened.

Since then we have seen the most murderous abuse of human rights. As many of your Lordships have said, we must not be influenced by what we see in the media. Nonetheless, no one could fail to have been moved by some of the sights we have seen, or by some of the stories which we have heard. I had the privilege of visiting Croatia, leading the Council of Europe monitoring team during the recent elections. At one particular place I spoke to refugees who had been moved, on ethnic grounds. For me it was a very sad moment. Here were people voting for members of a parliament for an area which was no longer under its control. Some of the stories were heart-rending. Of course the Bosnians and Croats are not immune from blame, but on a scale of one to 10 Serbia stands at eight. Let the world not forget that.

I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Carrington for the patience which he must have shown over those frustrating months. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Owen, will show equal patience and may achieve more than it was possible for my noble friend Lord Carrington to achieve at that time.

The London conference came to a variety of decisions and they were marvellous to read. Everybody put their signatures to them, although some probably signed in ink which became invisible in a very short time! Those who lead Serbia, both the legal republic and the Serbian leader in Bosnia, have learnt much. They are true disciples of Dr. Joseph Goebbels. To watch them one would believe they are intending to try to comply with the wishes of the civilised world. Their actions belie everything that they say.

I am sad that one of the greatest failures of the past 18 months has been the CSCE. We had high hopes that that body—its membership included all the nations which started at Helsinki and were responsible for the breakup of the Soviet empire by opening it up to outside inspection of human rights, and so forth—would have some effect. It has had none. I regret that, and I do not know what we can do to give it the kind of moral authority, let alone physical authority, that is needed to do a job of work. It has not saved lives; it has talked and talked and talked. Too much talk and too much thought paralyse action.

There are now humanitarian convoys which are much spoken about. They were mentioned by my noble friend Lord Beloff, and others. The convoys will try to relieve the suffering of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I ask my noble friend a question. British troops are to help those convoys to pass. What are they supposed to do when they are attacked by a mortar from over a hill? I am told that so far Her Majesty's Government have refused to allocate helicopter gunships to find out where the mortars are coming from and to destroy them. I am also told that, on the contrary, the French will provide helicopters to carry out spotting checks because without them one is fighting blind. I should be unhappy to see British troops put in that position.

A little more than 10 days ago the Western European Union looked again at the question of sanctions. Perhaps I may read to your Lordships its decision. It recommended that we should: Seek United Nations approval to impose a complete and total land, air and sea blockade of Serbia and Montenegro, the cessation of all financial, economic and other international assistance and the exclusion of Serbia and Montenegro from all international organisations until such time as they comply completely with all United Nations resolutions and the decisions of the London Conference". It further recommended that the council: Offer to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to keep WEU forces available to the United Nations under European command and operational control in order to maintain cohesion and to carry out Resolution 770 effectively, and in close co-ordination with the United Nations". As my noble friend Lord Lauderdale said, of course one can bludgeon them and make the Serbs close ranks and decide that they will continue with their uncivilised behaviour for many years. What is the alternative? If we say that by putting pressure on them we may stiffen their resolve are we to put less pressure on them, relieve that pressure, in order to allow them to continue with their murderous activities? If I had to chose I should—

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, perhaps I may clarify my noble friend's point. I was merely saying that we should be rather more subtle about the matter than we have been hitherto.

Lord Finsberg

My Lords, we have been so unsubtle that we have achieved virtually nothing so far. Sanctions have not been at all effective. Greece and Romania have been mentioned but we have not gone far enough with even the subtle sanctions to achieve what needs to be done.

I have mentioned the Western European Union and the Council of Europe. In all this parliamentarians appear to have been ahead of governments. But what will happen when Kosovo erupts? If your Lordships believe that what we have seen on the screens in regard to Bosnia is horrific I must point out that we have seen only a tea party compared with what will happen in Kosovo. Kosovo will not be confined within former Yugoslavia. Albania will be unable to stay out and Greece and Bulgaria will become involved. If Bulgaria becomes involved Russia cannot be far behind because of the friendship that exists. Turkey will also become involved—the list is endless.

For six months I had the opportunity of being President of the Council of Europe. During that time I was visited by the Speakers or their representatives of the Parliaments of Azerbaijan and Armenia—and we know what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh. I persuaded them to agree that if they wished to become members of the Council of Europe they must stop what they are doing and submit to some form of arbitration. They both said "Yes" in front of witnesses. They went away and it was all forgotten. That is the dilemma which the civilised world faces. How do we make people keep their word when they give it solemnly in front of the world's cameras at the Queen Elizabeth Centre? Until we solve that problem we are in for a very rough two or three years at the best.

1.26 p.m.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, that is a major human programme in general, is it not? Our Secretary of State, Mr. Rifkind, was quoted in The Times yesterday as speaking, bitterly of Iran's costly weapons programme". I make no apology for starting a little wide of the Motion before us. I shall circle in towards it but the starting place appears to me to be Iran. Mr. Rifkind went on to say that the Teheran government should explain why they are rearming when there is no likely threat to Iran at the present time or in the foreseeable future. The best one can say to that is, "Well, up to a point, Lord Copper, up to a point". Mr. Rifkind is no doubt hoping to sell British weapons to the Arab Gulf States. Perhaps that is a way of assuring Iran that he will use whatever influence he has to prevent them from using their British-made weapons against Iran.

Nevertheless, Mr. Rifkind will know that, despite the Security Council Permanent Five—that is those with a veto in the Security Council—recently giving a public undertaking to exercise restraint in sending arms to the Middle East, President Bush has recently decided to sell a large number of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Why? It is apparently for electoral reasons; to give employment to his arms industry. Did Mr. Bush discuss that with this country because it is also a member of the UNSC "restraint group"? Probably not.

Mr. Bush has, after all, undertaken to make a balancing provision of presumably similar weapons to Israel, thereby giving yet more employment to his arms industry. If Israel is to be compensated because new weapons have been given to the Saudis, how can the same balance and compensation be denied to Iran? After all, this is an arms race. Well, Mr. Bush did not miss that point, so he ensured that China would meet Iran's balancing needs. He has—yet again in order to give employment to his arms industry at election time—decided to sell a very large number of military aircraft to Taiwan. That is in despite of a specific US undertaking to China not to provide Taiwan with offensive weapons, which these are. It is fairly obvious that that was not discussed with the five permanent members of the Security Council group either, since one of them is China against whom Taiwan wants to use the weapons which Washington is sending them. China has said that it will not abide by the five's intended restraint in those circumstances; that means, in particular, Chinese weapons for Iran. This morning we learnt that India is also selling arms to Iran—submarines. It seems that our Defence Secretary has much to complain about and that most of his complaints should be directed to Washington.

I began with those stories because control of the international arms trade is one of the tasks crying out loudest to the UN for attention. The present violent Middle East export drive now being so energetically conducted by the members of the Security Council endangers one of the operations which we are invited to consider in the Motion before us. It bears directly on Iraq and on actions or threatened actions by various members of the United Nations against Iraq.

One thing that still seems fairly likely is that Iraq will get no arms from the US. One can only say "fairly likely" because it is not long since Washington was bending its public policy and its own domestic law to arm Iran, the Nicaraguan Contras and Iraq itself, as we the British were also doing. No doubt if Iran responds, as it looks like responding, to the steady arming of its local opponents—the Saudis, the Israelis and the Gulf states—there will be another war. This time it could involve Israel's and Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

The present military actions in Iraq are not UN actions, and to bracket them, as the Government's Motion before us does, between the real UN actions in Yugoslavia and Somalia is, I fear, a fairly crude attempt to pull the wool over the public's eyes. The interdiction flights over Iraq and the on-and-off threats coming from Washington of a new air war, are not carried out by the UN but by certain members of it. They are not under UN command.

That must be bothering President Bush. Four days ago he told the United Nations General Assembly that he wished to place vast military resources belonging to the United Sates at the disposal of the UN. He said that he wanted to draw on the United States vast experience of, as he put it, winning wars to support UN peacekeeping. He proposed a more aggressive role for the security council to prevent nuclear and missile proliferation. He proposed also to abandon what he called hand-outs—that is, development aid—to developing countries in favour of policies to promote the private sector and free markets. That presages the end of development aid in favour of help to ideological missionaries. In the decade when the failure of Reaganism and Thatcherism in the United Sates and the United Kingdom has become so clear, that approach does not seem very interesting.

What are all those sayings of the President about? Is this mixed enlightenment and dogma timed for the election or does it represent a real growth and shift in understanding of the world and its future needs? To judge that we must look at what Mr. Bush proposes to do about the existing needs of the UN itself. Is he coming to the help of that extremely overstretched organisation on which the safety of the world depends? He is evidently not doing that. He has not mentioned the Secretary General's recent plea—and how many pleas have successive Secretary Generals not made about this?—to the major military powers of the world that they should provide the standing military forces to the UN which they undertook to provide half a century ago. Has the President at last paid in full the arrears of American subscriptions—now 757 million dollars—which the United States owes?

What has our own Foreign Secretary been saying? He has said things which are more credible and sensible than Mr. Bush from Washington. He was right to point out in and out of season that it is risky to deploy armed forces in war zones without an enemy, without even a defined purpose and without guaranteed funding. However, he was also right in my opinion to agree in the end to run that risk. It will be better if we burn our fingers in the attempt to awaken the west Balkan factions from their dream of open-ended slaughter than if we had never tried.

However, what was alarming was Mr. Hurd's use of the word "imperial". Before he went to New York, he said that he wanted the United Nations to assume imperial roles here and there in the world; and I think he did not repeat it in New York. That is not surprising, for what an ill chosen word it was. Empires were built by force of war, and mostly war against those who had done the imperial countries no harm. That is not what the United Nations is about. In fact, the present massacres in the west Balkans are still due to the breakdown of the prolonged communist dictatorship in Yugoslavia which was imposed on a new unit invented by the imperial powers of 1918 after the old imperial powers—Turkey and Austria—were defeated in the First World War. In the Balkans we now see a multiple legacy of empires.

The Security Council must now act under international law and not invent it as it goes along. Under pressure from the present United States administration and with, I deeply regret to say, the connivance of the British Government, that has not always been the case in the recent past. Let us by all means have a Security Council backed by permanent forces. I believe that this country should start a permanent token unit now and that should have started 30 years ago. Let us never depart an inch from the balanced composition of the Security Council. It must be truly representative of all the kinds of country that there are in the world from time to time and let us avoid imposing settlements which, after the most profound calculation of risk, seem to carry any risk of leading to new massacres in future years.

I conclude by wishing the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, a successful visit to Bosnia and Croatia in which she will he continuing her personal tradition of going and having a look from which the British Parliament has benefited greatly in recent years.

1.38 p.m.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, in her characteristically masterly opening speech the Minister has drawn attention to three countries in this debate which are geographically miles apart and which have very few common denominators but in each there is a tragic situation. I shall bypass Iraq as I have never been in the Middle East.

About Somalia I say only that anybody who has watched Robin Denselow's television accounts from Somalia will have been horrified by what they have seen. I believe that that is a masterpiece of understatement. I know that my noble friend has been there and has seen what is going on there.

Just what help we can give through the United Nations or any other body is difficult for somebody like myself who has never been to Africa to understand, except, one hopes, medical aid. What young and old people need in countries like Somalia is medical aid.

I turn now to Yugoslavia, which the vast majority of people recognised as a lovely country for holidays and tourism, with beautiful scenery and friendly people. Today it is a very different picture. I am sure that the average Yugoslav is still very friendly. If we each met a Yugoslav this afternoon we would probably find that, whether he is a Bosnian, a Serb, a Croat or of any other nationality. Therefore, it is very difficult for the uninitiated completely to understand what is happening.

In a very distinguished maiden speech the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, referred to the remarks of old soldiers and airmen. My national service was very much less distinguished than that of the noble Lord and of most Members of Your Lordships' House. At the end of the war I spent two years in Austria, which is not all that far from the Yugoslav border. At that time Austria was an occupied country controlled by the four powers. I believe I have it right in saying that there was in that country at the time the United Nations relief and rehabilitation agency.

At that time there was enormous poverty in that country. There were not the divisions which there are now in Yugoslavia. There was a very different set-up. One saw the very good work which the United Nations did in Austria and elsewhere in those days. The United Nations is now a much larger organisation made up of countries of all origins. It is now asked to do an extremely difficult job in a country which is not heavily populated but which has communities of different races and characters.

What can we really do? Mention has been made of sending land troops in particular to this country. Having seen the terrain of Yugoslavia on television the deployment of land forces is risky at the very best. The aid which we can give and which we are giving is medical aid. My noble friend the Minister gave some encouraging figures in her speech. I believe that our record in giving medical aid to many countries is an extremely good one, notably to Romania, which is a country that I have visited. We have also given medical aid to other countries which have been devastated by war or by other means.

Therefore I hope that through the United Nations we can continue to give what aid we can to Yugoslavia provided that we can get it through. That is the problem which from the television or the other media we know is the real one.

There is no quick solution for any of the three countries which are the subject of this debate. Many of us who are old enough to have lived through the last war know of the problems in Yugoslavia then. Perhaps we are not entirely surprised that problems have continued to arise. Despite the problems that it has, all we can hope is that the United Nations can continue to assist. Incidentally, mention has been made of the number of refugees which Austria has taken in. That is perfectly true. Austria is very much nearer to Yugoslavia than we are.

Our own record of taking refugees from countries such as Yugoslavia is by no means a bad one. But what has to be recognised here is what real help we can give to refugees who come here whether for a short or longer period of time. With those words I conclude in what is a very sombre debate as regards the solution which, with the best will in the world, is going to be very difficult to find.

1.46 p.m.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, this afternoon we are asked to take note of the British Government's support for the United Nations operations in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia. I find it curious that we are asked to take note of Britain's support for the UN only in what I would describe as certain politically sexy areas. What about Britain's support for the United Nations in other areas of the world? There is a very difficult United Nations operation going on in Kampuchea but we are not asked to consider that. We are asked only to consider those countries which appear on our television screens and are reported in our newspapers. That is a very significant factor.

We need to recognise that since the end of the cold war and with the breaking down of the Berlin Wall we are at the beginning of a new international order. That international order is characterised by increasing unemployment and escalating poverty in large parts of the world and not just within the areas which were formerly the planned economy countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. These conditions also arise in countries in what I would describe as being on our side of the Iron Curtain.

This escalating unemployment and poverty causes the breakdown of civilised society. I mentioned yesterday the effects of unemployment on our own society in the United Kingdom. Today we have to look at the effects of those conditions around the world. As I have said, they cause the breakdown of civilised society, the escalation of anti-social and criminal behaviour and the emergence of violence. It starts with individual acts of violence, with individuals taking to the gun. We can see that taking place in the streets of our own country. In Manchester and Salford the incidence of guns being used by individuals or small gangs is rapidly escalating. From the use of guns by individuals they then go into the hands of gangs and ultimately we see the horrors of effective civil war.

We can see it in the former Soviet Union, in the Iraq-Kuwait conflict and in Eastern Europe. We can see the beginning of it in Germany with the horrific incidents involving the immigrants and the local communities. We also have our own experience of it. I point to the experience of Northern Ireland and to what happened in the early 1980s in Moss Side, Toxteth and Brixton and to more recent experiences in other areas of our society. These problems will not be resolved until people are taken back into employment and their living standards are seen to be rising.

As the so-called victors of the cold war, the United States, Germany, France, Japan, ourselves and the other western powers, have an awesome responsibility to shape a new international order which is a bit different from the one which seems to be emerging now and to ensure that, throughout the world, people are not subjected to mass unemployment and that all people can have a share in the increases in our standards of living.

I could talk for hours on the subject of how we might shape that new international order, on how it might evolve and develop, but the time and the place are not right for that debate. Therefore, I should like to talk about just one element in the conflicts that we are being asked to discuss this afternoon. I refer to the idea of disarming the combatants. One of the factors that is common about these three areas of conflict in different parts of the world is the use of military arms, and especially the use of imported arms. Yes, let us have an arms embargo, but let it not be one-sided. Let us recognise the difficulties that have arisen because of previous actions of governments on one or other side of the divide when they have armed their client factions in the different states. This is one of the causes of the difficulties in Somalia. Different factions in that country are being armed by different political external elements.

Let us look to the United Nations to be even-handed and not to take sides. I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who pointed out that the United Nations has no mandate to interfere militarily in any of these areas because its charter effectively states that national boundaries are sacrosanct. In each of these areas, the United Nations has recognised the state's national boundaries but is talking about involving itself militarily. We need to recognise that there are two things to be learnt from this. One is that the whole structure of the United Nations need to change and evolve. There is a growing awareness that the United Nations needs to become much more "globalistic", if I can put it that way, rather than "nationistic". We need to look at the way in which the United Nations arrives at its decisions, how it involves the people of the world in arriving at those decisions and how it implements those decisions.

One of the difficulties with the subject that we are debating is that it relates to British support for the United Nations position in terms of particular areas of activity rather than to British support for the United Nations. In terms of the conflict in Iraq, I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who pointed out that the military action that is taking place there at the moment with the no-fly zone is not a United Nations operation; it is an operation that is being conducted by the United States and its supporters.

It is very important that we should remember that when the Gulf War finished there was a general agreement that the international community should not pour more arms into that troubled area. There was effectively a tacit understanding and agreement that there should be an arms embargo for the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But what has happened since then? Both Britain and the United States have effectively broken that tacit international agreement. Britain has supplied tanks and Tornadoes. The United States is supplying war planes to Saudi Arabia and continuing to arm Israel. That can only mean trouble.

Finally, I should like to speak a little about Yugoslavia. I was amazed by the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, when he suggested that Russia, Germany and France should be involved in sorting out the Yugoslav problem. I wondered whether he was calling for the German army to go back into Yugoslavia in the way that it did 40 years ago. While I would be appalled at that possibility, one of the interesting things to recognise, as the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, mentioned, is that if people are threatened they will stick together. I can think of no better unifying condition for Yugoslavia than for the German army to go back there and for there to be four or five years of utterly horrendous and bloody conflict and then, following that conflict,40 years of peace in a unitary state of Yugoslavia. I do not think that that is the way that we should go forward, and I was amazed that that seemed to be in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff.

We must think of positive ways in which we can influence the people of Yugoslavia to live at peace with one another. I was interested to hear the comments of, again, the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, when he asked about beaming the BBC World Service into not only Serbia but the whole of Yugoslavia to enable the people of Yugoslavia to know what is happening on a comparatively truthful basis rather than having to rely on the biased reporting of the different communities, with their different television stations, which is what they currently appear to be getting.

I return now to my original point; namely, that the reason for the existence of these conflicts is the breakdown of the old order that has caused mass unemployment and increased poverty. There is an imperative need for the new international order to find ways of resolving those problems of mass unemployment and alleviating poverty to ensure that people can live at peace with one another rather than fighting each other.

2 p.m.

Lord EnnaIs

My Lords, I should like first to pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees and welcome him to the House. We have been colleagues for more than a quarter of a century. He talked about his experience in the Ministry of Defence as Army Minister. It is interesting to note that he followed me into that role and then followed me again when I took over responsibility for immigration and community relations at the Home Office. He has not followed me since; indeed, he has led me. Nevertheless, we have been colleagues over many years and in many situations. I welcome his speech. I was interested to hear my noble friend say that the British Army or the Armed Forces should now consider their training programme so that we may be better equipped and better trained to fulfil our peacekeeping and peace-maintaining role within the United Nations. I shall return to that aspect in a moment.

Secondly, in her absence, I should like to say some friendly words about the noble Baroness. I should point out that. I am not referring to the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, who is at present sitting on the Government Front Bench, although I would like to say some friendly words about her. I am referring to the Minister who is just returning to the Chamber. I admire the sympathetic approach that she adopts in all the debates in this House. I admire her commitment to the humanitarian causes about which she spoke today. I also admire her energy and diligence in travelling the world to find out the facts for herself. I believe that we are privileged to have such a Minister in this Chamber.

But, having said that with real sincerity, I cannot say that I share the Minister's view about most of her colleagues in the Government. We must recognise the fact that we are meeting here today only because of the events of last Wednesday, the days that preceded it and the following days. I entirely agree with the points made by most of my noble friends, and by my honourable friends in another place, about the economic situation. I welcomed what was said by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn when he opened yesterday's debate from this side of the House. He said: These are critical times for Europe; in Bosnia and neighbouring regions dreadful crimes are being committed; in Eastern Europe and Russia democracy itself is on trial, and stability is essential; in Somalia and other African countries millions are in the deadly grip of starvation. Those are huge problems". He continued: It is time for inspired leadership to which people everywhere will respond".—[Official Report,24/9/92; col.421.] I have to say that the kind of inspired leadership that we received from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer when tackling the currency problems was very poor. In fact, I feel very deeply that our commitment to Europe, to the ERM and to the whole future of Europe was betrayed in the actions that were taken last week and in the statements that have been made since then. I find that betrayal comparable in my mind—and I am looking back now through my own political history—to Munich. I also thought of the Suez crisis. They are both examples of absolute betrayal of principles previously stated.

Of course, yesterday's debate concentrated on the economic consequences and less on their impact on our wider role in the world. Britain is vigorously agonising over its need to preserve its role in the Security Council as a permanent member. I support that aim. I believe that Britain should continue to be at the heart of the UN as well as at the heart of Europe. However, I must say that we shall be much more likely to be judged by the way in which we behave in Europe, in the UN and in all our situations. I believe that one of my noble friends said that there had been a bit of selection as regards the issues that we were to note today. That is quite right because there are many situations in which I fear Britain is not setting a lead. I feel ashamed that, in relation to Europe, we so quickly cut and ran.

I should like to support the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Richard about the United Nations, especially about An Agenda for Peace which is the document published by Boutros Boutros-Ghali which deals in a very comprehensive way with the new challenges to the UN in the field of preventive diplomacy, of peacemaking, of peacekeeping, and of post-conflict peace building. In his report, Mr. Boutros-Ghali makes many interesting proposals.I shall mention just one at present. He draws attention to the fact that there are financial problems to he faced with peacekeeping. He says: For this reason, I strongly support the proposals in some Member States for their peace-keeping contributions to be financed from defence, rather than from foreign affairs budgets, and I recommend such action to others. I urge the General Assembly to encourage this approach". I believe that that programme put forward by Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali is one that ought to be debated in this House—and, indeed, in another place—because it has so many positive proposals which I hope that we shall all support. I share the views of my noble friend on the Front Bench that the noble Baroness seemed a little lukewarm in what she had to say in that respect. However, having made such kindly comments about her, I hope that she will tell me that I am completely wrong.

As the noble Baroness realises, and as my noble friend Lord Richard said, there is a particular British interest in the matter. Mr. Boutros-Ghali was instructed to produce the report by the summit session of the UN Security Council over which the Prime Minister presided. So he has a sort of maternal or paternal interest, not only in his document but also in the proposals that it makes. I hope that we shall take a very positive position as indeed, in terms of words, did President Bush in his speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly. However, I should add that all of us should beware of promises made in the heat of election campaigns. I suppose that that also applies to election campaigns in most countries.

I turn now to the very disturbing and difficult situation in Bosnia and in the former Yugoslavia. I agree with almost all that has been said in the House today. I find it terrible and tragic. I have had a long link with Yugoslavia. One of my brothers was a liaison officer with the partisans under Tito during the war. At that time I inevitably followed very closely what was going on. I know that he would be as horrified as I am about these events, and particularly about the concept of ethnic cleansing.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions against Serbia, but I believe that there is much evidence that sanctions are being ignored by some countries: by Russia, the Ukraine and Romania. Russian and Ukrainian oil and petrochemicals are apparently still reaching Serbia. These countries are allies of the Serbian Government, fuelling fears that the conflict could escalate and involve neighbouring countries. The noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, rightly pointed out that there are dangers that this conflict could spread. Conflict in Kosovo between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians would almost certainly draw Albania into a war.

Macedonia is another area of tension. There is animosity between the Macedonian Government and Greece. Greece has prevented the EC from recognising Macedonia. There are fears that an independent Macedonia will lay claim to a Greek province of the same name. Macedonia was once part of Bulgaria, which also might be drawn into conflict on the side of Serbia. There are dangers for Hungary as well. We face there some severe problems.

I should like to touch on the refugee problem. At present more than 2,500,000 people have either fled from their homes or been forced from their homes. Many of them have left under extreme duress, as other speakers have said in the course of this debate. Both Serbs and Croats have been accused of using methods reminiscent of the Nazis to drive people from their homes. The whole concept of ethnic cleansing is one that must be disgusting to most of us. In some areas race regulations have been enacted whereby Moslems may not go out in the evening, or may be restricted from visiting certain areas. Other towns have tried to organise population transfers through advertisements and posters. We find all this quite appalling.

I wish that I could feel happier about the way in which our own Government have faced the real problems of the refugees. This was touched on again by my noble friend Lord Richard. About 1,700 people have applied for asylum. He drew attention to the fact that Britain recently deported 36 asylum seekers, claiming that they were travelling via safe third countries. I am deeply disturbed about this, at a time when Germany has accepted well over 200,000 and when Austria and other countries have opened their doors to the terrible problems faced by these people.

I understand what the Minister said. Of course it is better that they should be as near to home as they possibly can be, and you can say that about Germany. But we ought to join together within the European Community to see how we can best work together to solve these problems. We should allow all those escaping from former Yugoslavia at least to apply for political asylum. Visa restrictions and the use of safe third country criteria should not be used to prevent people applying for asylum.

Allowing nationals of former Yugoslavia to enter Britain does not mean concessions to ethnic cleansing policies. The Government should examine ways of sharing responsibility for refugees with other European countries, particularly in looking at the needs of refugees living in unsatisfactory transit camps in former Yugoslavia or in neighbouring countries. When we return, once again we shall have before us the Asylum Bill. It is unhelpful that we are being so negative in our approach to refugees leaving their country. I am not criticising much of the aid programme that has been offered.

I just want to say a brief word about Iraq, including the Kurds. I warmly welcome what the Government have done in relation to the exclusion zone in the south of Iraq, but I want particularly to express my concern about the future of the Kurds in northern Iraq. I recently received a deputation from those representing the Mosul Vilayet Council, the Kurdish tribal leaders, who, together with the political parties, are worried about their future, and particularly, as my noble friend said, about what may happen as winter approaches.

I hope that we can have some reassurances from the Government that our commitment to the Kurds will continue. There is a particular problem that we should look at. I have given my support to plans to exploit Kurdish oil for the benefit of the Kurdish people. At present this would be in conflict with United Nations resolutions, and it seems to me wrong that United Nations resolutions and their interpretation should act against the very people we seek to protect.

Finally, I turn to Somalia. I must be brief because time is short and the issues are profoundly important. We are not talking just about Somalia; we are talking about other parts of the Horn of Africa. We are talking about Ethiopia and the Sudan, which face grave problems because of internal dissent but also because of famine. In Southern Africa there has been the worst drought in living memory; it has devastated crops and affected a further 18 million people. As the Minister knows better than any of us, about 40 million people face grave problems in the future.

The Minister paid tribute to Oxfam and other voluntary organisations. I agree with her tribute to the role of voluntary organisations in bringing relief to starving people. We are talking about Africa at the moment. As she must know, deep concern is felt by those voluntary organisations about what will happen to the aid programme. According to reports, the United Kingdom is in danger of having its aid programme cut as part of the Government's attempts to control spending. I am sure the Minister would like to give some assurances; I hope she can say something about how she sees the aid programme, which is still only half our target of 0.7 per cent. of gross domestic product. No doubt she is aware of the threat that the aid programme will be cut.

As far as Europe is concerned, the Council of Ministers, with Britain as president, has proposed a cut of £195 million to the proposed 1993 EC budget for development and co-operation. That will obviously mean a lower amount than for 1992. At a time when demands are growing, it is absolutely vital that resources should be made more widely available. Although we may have forgotten it during our handling of the sterling crisis, Britain is in the presidential seat and must ensure that Europe, including Britain makes its contribution to the starving people of Africa, not only Somalia. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some assurances when she winds up the debate.

2.16 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I do not normally take part in debates of this nature in your Lordships' House. The only claim I can make is of being rapporteur of the CSCE committee of the North Atlantic Assembly. During the course of that work I have made visits to former Yugoslavia.

I was a little sorry that my noble friend Lord Finsberg expressed some disappointment at the role CSCE was taking in matters of this kind. Perhaps he will agree with me that as NATO refines its role in the changed climate since the collapse of the Eastern European regimes—the re-emergence of the WEU, the Council of Europe and the Community itself all having competing claims to roles in this area—it is perhaps not surprising that there are some conflicts of interest and that the CSCE has yet to put its mark on those events. I think that he would be working towards that end, as indeed l would.

When my noble friend the Minister opened the debate this afternoon she said that nationalism was rampant. Perhaps that is not surprising, in that if you live under an oppressive regime for 40 or 50 years and it collapses very suddenly a vacuum is created into which, I suggest, nationalism is swept. It is a substitute since there are no other institutions. In the wake of that nationalism there come the memories, some real and some imagined, of former glories to be reinstated. Obviously, that means that no cognisance is taken of the fact that the world has moved on in those 40 or 50 years. In some volatile areas such an attempt to relive the past will inevitably lead to conflict. I think that that is part of the problem we now see in former Yugoslavia.

When I was there late last year and early this year I was appalled at the lack of control over the regular and so-called irregular forces that the so-called leaders of the parliaments claimed. It was quite obvious that small groups were indulging in satisfying their own wishes. I am very much in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Richard, who said that Yugoslavia was a marriage of convenience and that the great powers just after the First World War who drew those artificial boundaries should take no credit for it. When one argues with Croatians and Serbs about the rightness of the decision at that time they go back another 50 years; and when one argues on that point they go back another 50 years and another 100 years. It is a nonsense for Serbia to claim that where a Serb lives that is Serbia. It is equally wrong that Serbia should claim land annexed through fighting. One hopes that when some solution is found—what will be the catalyst, I do not know—there will not be another arbitrary drawing of geographical boundaries.

I am particularly concerned this afternoon to draw attention to the position in Kosovo, which we visited earlier this year. Other noble Lords have mentioned it, notably my noble friends Lord Lauderdale and Lord Finsberg. Around 80 per cent. of the people of Kosovo are Albanians, and I was appalled to find that they are subjected to active as well as passive brutality, such as the denial of education for their children, the denial of employment opportunities and the denial of hospital facilities, through the over-policing, military presence and rule of the Serbians. That seems to me to be wrong.

At that time we talked with the principal Albanian leaders, including Mr. Ibrahim Rugova. At that time they declared that they were still in agreement to take part in a renovated Yugoslavia on two conditions: first, that they be considered a nation as opposed to a minority, since they form over 80 per cent. of the population; secondly, that direct Serbian rule over the province of Kosovo, which was imposed by Mr. Milosevic in 1990, be abolished.

Concerning their relationships with Albania itself, Mr. Rugova told us that he would be happy with transparent borders. But since that time the view has changed, probably due to a combination of three factors. First, Serbian rule was tightened. Many of us have seen at first hand evidence of that; it has been portrayed through the media in recent weeks. Secondly, Mr. Rugova's position is probably considerably stronger. He is regarded fairly widely as a moderate and cool-headed leader but he now speaks of inevitable conflict. Then one has to consider Albania's position should they support Kosovo; that is certainly a complicated issue.

Behind the official rhetoric of brotherhood in President Berisha's speeches are the realities. I suggest that the first reality is that Albania simply would not have the means to face a Serbian armed force in any kind of conflict. Secondly, Albania's own preoccupation at present is mainly with the economics of the country. Thirdly—this may seem a little abstract—there is what might be called a "complex of inferiority" of Albanians towards Kosovars, because Albania was isolated for a long time while those in Kosovo did business in Yugoslavia and with Europe and (certainly before Milosevic) they had opportunities to travel and study abroad. There is no clear official support from President Berisha for Kosovo's independence. Tirana's line is that the Kosovars should choose their own way and exercise self-determination. The President added clearly that Albania does not have any intention to change the borders in the area.

tt Bearing those matters in mind, any conflict in Kosovo would almost certainly involve Albania in one way or another. There may be arms smuggling and mercenaries. There would also be a massive refugee problem and an influx into Albania. The latest news from Belgrade that has arrived from my informants in the past few days indicates that some of those who support Mr. Milosevic would like to expel at least half of the Kosovar population to Albania.

If one adds the question of Macedonia and its 20 per cent. of Albanians, Turkish support for the Moslem brothers in Kosovo and Greek/Albanian tensions, one has a recipe for yet another bloody disaster.

It is difficult to know what can be done. One can only commend the efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Cyrus Vance, in the wake of my noble friend Lord Carrington's sterling work over the past 12 months. I should like to reassure the Minister that most noble Lords support what the British Government are doing in support of the efforts of the United Nations and other bodies in that unhappy part of the world.

I conclude on a personal note. I wish my noble friend the Minister good fortune in her tireless travels, endeavouring to bring help and succour to people across the world.

2.27 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I should like to join noble Lords who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, upon his maiden speech. The congratulations are not merely perfunctory and formal: it was a jolly good speech. That is not always the case when one hears those words spoken in public, but on this occasion it is stated with genuine feeling. When we say that we wish to hear a lot more of him, on this occasion we mean it.

I should like to mention Yugoslavia my knowledge of that country is not as recent of that of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I take leave to doubt whether peace-making is a role which can be performed by any military organisation, in contrast to peace-keeping. If the coolness that some noble Lords may have detected on the part of the noble Baroness was due to the fact that she doubted whether the move of the United Nations from peace-keeping into what may be seen as the more positive role of peace-making is fraught with difficulty and danger, and even whether it should be embarked upon at all, then she was entitled to be cool. She says not. In that case I wish that it was. It might have been coolness on account of some reason that I would find less reputable.

Yesterday we discussed the consequences of the breakdown of a mistaken drive for unity by the governments of a group of sovereign nations. That is the link between the debates of yesterday and today. The degree of unity envisaged by Maastricht is total, as was honestly admitted in another place yesterday by one of the chief advocates of Maastricht, Sir Edward Heath. As he agreed, it is a drive towards the establishment of a united states of Europe. Europe is not North America. It does not consist of states but of established nations with their own history, language and culture.

The reason why the peoples of Europe are rebelling against their governments and the reason why our Government dare not test opinion by referendum is that Maastricht has revealed that what was sold to people as a Common Market is much more than that. It is an attempt, seen by its supporters as a very worthy attempt, to diminish the sovereignty of nations and substitute for it subservience to a continental power over whose actions the electorate of each nation would have little or no control. As Conor Cruise O'Brien pointed out percipiently on Channel 4 the other day, there is a great deal of difference between nations and states.

I shall return to the subject of Yugoslavia in a moment, but before I do so perhaps I may say that the United States of America exists because its components are no more than states. The attempt to force Britain to become Arkansas or to persuade France to dwindle into Louisiana is doomed to failure. I shall support Tony Benn's petition for a referendum and help it in any way that I can. I hope that it will be successful and that we shall abandon the meretricious glamour of a non-existent community which exists in the minds of politicians but not in the hearts of people. Europe must return to the common sense of the European Free Trade Association—vox populi, vox dei.

Today we are invited to discuss, among other things, the sad state of Yugoslavia which may be regarded as a failed attempt to form a nation out of a federation of nationalities. As a matter of the head, Yugoslavia had much to commend it, but when the strong central control was removed the heart, which can be malign, reasserted its sway. That is what is happening through that country of many nations.

As has been suggested in the debate, the action of Germany in recognising the break-up of Yugoslavia before it had taken place or immediately that it showed signs of taking place was to say the least unfortunate. The dissolution of a federation once formed is a delicate and dangerous business. That is another reason why we should not form a federation of Europe.

As regards the Serbs, Germany is the enemy. History makes that inevitable and it was short-sighted of the present leadership of Germany not to understand that. Fortunately, this is understood by many Germans today. Here again, there is a gap between the enthusiasm of politicians and the awakening of people to a conviction that they are being led too quickly, too far and perhaps in the wrong direction. Serbia feels itself to be unfairly, wrongly and unreasonably treated by the United Nations.

When we investigate the efficacy of sanctions now being placed upon that country we might examine the purposes of those sanctions. According to my information, they are effective. I have some contacts in Yugoslavia. One hears of people in Belgrade who have to queue up for four days to get a tank or even just a few litres of petrol. Shortages of supplies are being found in many areas such as schools, children's hospitals and so on. So they are beginning to be effective and therefore in examining how to make them even more effective we might begin to ask ourselves what they are for and whether they are working.

I am not at all sure that the control of Belgrade of the forces in different parts of Yugoslavia is as strong as has been suggested. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, also suggested that there is a great deal of independent spite going on, as is not unusual in civil wars, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I was once in the rather pleasant town of Sarajevo having a very interesting time there during the period immediately following the world war. That was a time of hope because the various nations of Yugoslavia seemed to be living together under what was certainly a very heavy government, but nonetheless they appeared to be living in peace with one another. It is a tragedy that sometimes if one takes the lid off a box one exposes not what one necessarily hopes to see but rather what one dreads to see, and I think that that has happened in this case.

As I said, Serbia feels itself to be wrongly and unreasonably treated. I would ask the noble Baroness whether we ought not to ask ourselves to what extent sanctions imposed on Serbia can effectively control what takes place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I rather think that the degree to which that can be effectively done is exaggerated.

What is taking place in Yugoslavia today, and particularly in Bosnia, with appalling results, is a civil war. Alas, it is the case that civil war is invariably atrocious. That is so on both sides, in Bosnia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia. One has great fears that we may not have seen the end of it. As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, has made clear, an alarming situation is beginning to develop in Kosovo. Already in Bosnia enough crimes have been committed on both sides and I share the feeling that we ought to do something urgently to bring this terrible business to an end. What we must be careful of is that we do not become involved in the terrible business ourselves; that is the danger. I think the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, also envisaged that possibility.

The West is seen as aiding the Moslems. Serbia is undoubtedly aiding the Serbs; but it is a mistake to suppose that Belgrade is in full charge of the forces in Bosnia or that sanctions placed on the latter country can favourably influence what happens in other parts of Yugoslavia. On the contrary, an excellent broadcast by the BBC File on Four from Belgrade last Tuesday evening suggested that the effect of sanctions has been to make the Serbs feel that they are being unreasonably penalised by former friends for something which is outside their control and which was anyway inflicted upon them by our former mutual enemies. I hope that that broadcast is being studied in the Foreign Office.

2.39 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I do not intend to follow the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, save to say that the model of the European Community that he put up and then knocked down is so totally dissimilar from anything that believers in the European ideal have in their minds that it is not really worthy of comment. I wondered whether, later in his speech, he was calling for the reinstitution of Marshal Tito, and precisely what steps he would intend to take to put an end to ethnic cleansing, which certainly has had the support of people in Belgrade.

This has been an interesting debate. I think that the Minister—who is always welcome in this House when she returns from her hectic and tiring journeys—was a little unfairly treated both by my noble friend Lord Mayhew and by the noble Lord leading for the Labour Party; but she is robust enough to stand up to that. Nevertheless, her remarks have opened up an interesting area which has been widely discussed throughout the afternoon—that is, the question of how far the United Nations should be prepared to intervene in a changed situation in the new world.

My attention was drawn to a speech in your Lordships' House on 16th October last year in the defence debate which touched on that subject all that time ago. The speaker said: The world has changed. The nature of war has undoubtedly changed, but human nature has not".—[Official Report,16/10/91; col.1126.1 He then went on to say: What the police force is on the national scene, the Armed Forces are on the international scene. There is as yet no world army so our own Armed Forces have to perform that role … The United Nations is built on the sovereignty of the individual state … But the human individual also has a sovereignty, and that sovereignty needs to be respected. If it is grossly violated in a nation either through the regime's active fault or because it cannot be bothered, then the United Nations should have the authority and the teeth to go in and do something". That was a speech by the late lamented noble and gallant Lord, Lord Cheshire. I thought that this would be an appropriate time for us to recall that gallant and remarkable man who has sadly passed from this Chamber and from this life.

I have some qualms about the way in which intervention by the United Nations should take place. I shall come to that in detail later; but I think we agree in principle on these Benches that the United Nations has to be able to intervene to support human rights and the freedom of individuals. It is not a new proposition from the party of which I am a member. Indeed, I shall quote from another speech of some time ago: If a country has a tyrannical Government and you substitute for it a free Government, you make what I think a very great improvement. This is not a matter only of opinion to be bandied this way or that. I bring it to the test of history. Look abroad over the face of the world, and you will find that few are the nations which have, in recent times at least, established their own liberties without foreign aid. Liberty was established for Spain by England in the Peninsular War. The same was done for Belgium by France and England in 1830. The liberties of Greece and Italy were established by the aid of Foreign arms; in the case of Italy by the arms, first of France and then of Germany … The liberties of the United States themselves were only established, at the date when their emancipation took effect, by the powerful aid they received from foreign arms". That was a speech on intervention in a debate on the Balkans by Mr. Gladstone in May 1877. Plus ca change … But things do change. We have different circumstances existing today in the three places about which we have been talking.

I do not want to dwell too much on Yugoslavia and Bosnia because my noble friend Lord Mayhew has already dealt with that, but I want to reinforce what he said about Lord Carrington. It is widely felt on all sides of the House that he did a good job in extremely difficult circumstances. It may or may not be a comfort to him to know that at our party conference last week a resolution was passed including commendation of the job that he had done. It may come as a slightly greater surprise that the noble Lord's successors were also commended by our party conference. Having had certain negotiating experience with the noble Lord, Lord Owen, nevertheless I hasten to add that he has our very good wishes on this occasion for a successful outcome of his activities.

The United Nations operation is not without its critics in Yugoslavia, as we have heard. There have been problems of lack of co-ordination, which have been mentioned this afternoon. On the other hand, the United Nations has done some things which were absolutely right. It was quite right not to collaborate in the mass deportation of the 30,000 Moslems and Croats in August when the Serbs tried to force the United Nations to do that. We should welcome the United Kingdom's contribution to the UNHCR, WHO and UNICEF. However, I am told that the cost of the necessary winterisation programme is of the order of 7 billion—that is,7,000 million—US dollars. Here the United Nations has to take firm action and take it quickly.

The question of Kosovo is already on the table in your Lordships' House. There is a serious danger of violence spreading. There were reports on Wednesday of Serbs preventing Albanians entering schools in Kosovo. It is not the first time that that has happened, but the action is being reimposed. The dangers of Greece, Bulgaria and other nations becoming involved as a result of the situation in Kosovo is extremely serious, as has already been mentioned.

I spoke to a friend who recently returned from Albania. What he said confirms what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said. The economic situation there is so bad, and getting worse, that people who come from Kosovo are regarded as being extremely well off. How long that will continue one shudders to think.

I turn now to Iraq. In putting my remarks together, I have had considerable assistance from various NGOs which meet through my chairmanship of the Middle East Committee of the Refugee Council. A different situation exists there. I believe that we all agree that the intervention in the form of the No-fly zone is necessary. However, one has to recognise that there is a cost to that as well. The cost has been the refusal of the Iraqi Government to sign the memorandum of understanding. The answer to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is that the memorandum of understanding has not been signed. Therefore the United Nations personnel operating in the south of Iraq and from Baghdad into the Kurdish area in the north are not having their visas renewed. I understand that the number of United Nations guards in the south has now dwindled to 150, and they cannot he replaced as they come to the end of their tour of duty. Therefore we and the Kurds and Shias in the south are paying a price as a result of the protection which is undoubtedly being afforded by the exclusion zone.

In northern Iraq the situation is becoming increasingly difficult. The Kurdish National Assembly and the administration which was elected earlier this year have been somewhat undermined by the lack of international recognition and also by a lack of income. The Kurds were collecting customs dues at the border with Turkey and using that to sustain the administration, but that operation was interrupted in June and July by the fighting which broke out between the Turkish Government and the PKK (the Turkish workers' party) on the Turkish side of the border.

Crisis is looming again with the onset of winter. The harvest this year in that part of Kurdistan was down by 200,000 tonnes. The lack of fuel is making the distribution of food and medical supplies extremely difficult. There is a great need for food, medical supplies and shelter for the coming winter. However, here again there is a snag because it is felt by the NGOs that too much food, dumped randomly in that part of the country, could quite easily lead to failure to plant seeds for the crops for the coming year. There is a need for seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and fuel for tractors and for distribution. It is important that in the medium term we restore the agriculture of that area; it can be a fertile part of the world.

The plans must involve both the international and local NGOs—they have a great deal of local knowledge—and the local Kurdish administration. Unfortunately, the expatriate staff are not likely to be as effective as they were last year as a result of security problems. They are under a severe threat every day of their lives. Again, one must give credit to them not only for the work that they are doing but for the risks to their lives that they are undertaking.

Perhaps I may turn to Somalia, which in human terms is the worst of the problems with which we have been dealing today. I disagree slightly with my noble friend because I believe that we must not forget that we have a special responsibility for Somalia. I shall quote from a fax which I received yesterday from my right honourable friend Sir David Steel. He is in southern Kenya visiting refugee camps. He stated: One man, pathetically but proudly, showed me his British passport issued in 1957 from the Somali protectorate". We have therefore a special responsibility as a result. In a slightly twisted but real way so do the Italians. As we have heard approximately 1.5 million Somalis are in immediate danger of starvation, and about 25 per cent. of the children under the age of five are already dead. The situation is said to be worse than that which existed in Ethiopia in 1984– 85. United Nations activity in the area has been patchy indeed. Nicholas Hinton, the director of Save the Children Fund, has called the United Nations involvement "a shambles". After the cease-fire of March 1992 a United Nations draft resolution referred to a monitoring mechanism being set in place to guarantee the stability of the cease-fire. That would have allowed aid to proceed effectively. Had the opportunity been taken, it may well have been that the problems caused by the drought could well have been overcome. Unfortunately, at that stage the United States insisted on the omission of that provision from the resolution on grounds of cost.

However, the NGOs have been extremely impressed by the new humanitarian affairs ambasiador, Mohammed Sahnoun. My right honourable friend Sir David Steel wrote in his fax that he found the UN HCR to be very impressive on the ground. The death toll before June was too large to count but approximately 60 people died each week in a camp in northern Kenya. During that current week the number was down to 10. There is still a long way to go but there are signs of real improvement. My right honourable friend inspected good food supplies and stated that a new corrugated iron hospital is opening this month to replace the tents. At least some progress is being recorded.

Unfortunately, there appears to have been a certain insensitivity on the part of some of the UN officials in relation to the NGOs. Following Resolution 767, a technical team went to Mogadishu. Its members met the NGOs soon after arrival and had a good informal and frank discussion. It was agreed that until then the United Nations relief effort had been marked by a lack of personnel and resources. Most of the criticism could be justified. The people who gave me the information say that the method of operation was somewhat strange. They moved around in a hired Hercules C 130 and spent only the shortest time in each place. In fact the NGOs wondered whether the report had been written before they arrived.

Before flying back to Nairobi the team met the NGOs again but from the NGOs' point of view that was a waste of time. The team gave no information about their intentions despite the fact that their findings and recommendations would affect not only the programmes of the NGOs but also their safety. Therefore, I fear that there has been a lack of communication between some of the United Nations people and the NGOs. Of course, NGOs have a lot of expertise on the ground as regards how to handle detailed situations and problems, but they do not have the infrastructure which only the United Nations can provide.

As regards troops in Somalia, there seem to be two divergent views. The Government and the United Nations have now reached the position in which they wish to send in more troops. The NGOs largely seem to be opposed to that because they do not believe that you can put in sufficient troops to do the job properly. It is possible to put troops into Mogadishu in order to protect the storage areas there but it is not possible to have a convoy for every single truckload of food which is going to every distant part of the country. Even when the food is delivered into the villages, the chances are that it can be looted.

Again, Nicholas Hinton has said publicly that the only way is to flood the country with food; to put in so much food that it no longer becomes a bargaining counter for the wild men who exist there so that the value of the food on the market is depressed. For example, it is suggested that in January of this year some of the shelling which took place was organised by businessmen who did not wish to see the price of food depreciate. I have no means of proving whether or not that is the case, but it is firmly believed by many of the people working on the ground there.

I understand how difficult it is for governments to convince taxpayers that they should put forward money so that vast amounts of food can be put into a country in the certain knowledge that looters will take the first share of it. But in the long run, that may be cheaper and wiser than trying to send in large numbers of troops who will not succeed in doing the job for which they have been sent. I am agnostic on this point, and I look forward with interest to hearing what the Minister has to say.

As regards the future, the lessons are that the United Nations needs to get on to the scene quickly and needs to be properly funded. The richer part of the world must recognise that prevarication is much more costly in the long run and that the people who suffer as a result of the United Nations not having the equipment, training or people on the ground early enough is the cause of many of the problems which we face today.

I hope that the reports to which the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, referred about reductions of funding that we are prepared to put forward for overseas aid in this country are wrong. I hope also that the proposals to reduce the European Community aid budget by £200 million are wrong. I fear that in the present climate those of us who believe in foreign aid, as the Minister does, may have a fight on our hands to preserve even the present situation, let alone improve it for the future.

2.58 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am privileged in a number of ways to be taking part in this debate: first, of course, because I am the first from this Dispatch Box to congratulate my noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees on his excellent maiden speech. Quite properly, in his speech he drew on his military and ministerial experience but it transcended that. When my noble friend tells the House that we must not be sucked into a civil Balkan war, he says so with a transparent authority which is of enormous benefit to the House. We are extremely pleased to have him with us. I suspect that the Government Benches will be less pleased by his interventions in the future.

I am also privileged to be able to greet my professional colleague the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey. When she joined the House she increased the number of professional market researchers in the Chamber from one to two. It is a pleasure, but not just for that reason, to have her with us. It is a privilege for the House to have someone with her authority dealing with this subject from the Government Front Bench. It is not just that she has established herself over a period of six years in that post, but because of her transparent energy and dedication to overseas development. That is evidenced by the amount of travel that she undertakes in the most difficult areas of the world and also by the fact that from time to time she is able as she was today, to announce additional government funding for overseas development. Whether that is sufficient and meets our obligations is a matter to which I shall be obliged to return.

I am also privileged because it is the first opportunity which I have had to speak in a debate on foreign affairs from this Front Bench. That is partly because my noble friend Lord Judd is in Southern Africa on humanitarian aid business. It is also because, sadly, my noble friend Lady Ewart-Biggs is in hospital, although all her many loving friends in this House will he happy at her marriage last Saturday to Kevin O'Sullivan.

I do not believe that it will be possible for me to attempt to sum up the debate that has taken place today. Perhaps I may take two or three of what seem to be the repeated and significant strands in each of the three areas which we have been debating and then try to draw some common threads and conclusions from them.

First, a general concern was expressed from all sides in this House about the adequacy of the involvement of the European Community in Yugoslavia. I do not believe that we need to go quite as far as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who said that we should forget about Brussels. We have heard of the difficulties which exist in getting together the countries of the European Community. We have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Finsberg and Lord Lucas of the potentiality for rivalry between the Western European Union, the CSCE, the North Atlantic Alliance and all the other regional bodies. That potentiality for rivalry is very great. It does not appear that those bodies have been anything like as successful as we would have wished.

Secondly, well-documented concern has been expressed about the ability of any of us to enforce sanctions in the former Yugoslavia my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Putney doubts whether that would be desirable even if they were to be effective. I believe the general view was that sanctions, particularly those relating to the arms trade, could only be to the benefit of that unhappy part of Europe. We have not yet found the solution to that problem.

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, asked a very pertinent question as to why there has been a three-week gap in the airlift to Sarajevo. I believe that to be a particular issue which deserves a specific answer from the Minister when she replies. In general, there was no flash of inspiration from any speaker as to the solution for the former Yugoslavia. It appears to be a very long haul not only to solve the deadly conflict but, in the longer term, to deal with the problems of refugees, rehabilitation and reconstruction. There are also the problems which will arise if the break up of the former Yugoslavia is to continue. They will include sharing the foreign debts and dividing up the assets of the different parts of Yugoslavia. That is not a very happy prospect.

As regards Iraq there were many well informed speeches which concentrated in particular on the adequacy of the preparations for winter. Clearly, there will be a considerable degree of suffering in both the north and the south of Iraq.

My noble friend Lord Kennet, who probably knows more about the arms trade than anyone else in this House, made excellent points about the mixed motives of so many in the Government in terms of restraining the arms trade. He made a particular point about the inadequacy of the restraint shown by the United States Government over its arms trade with the Middle East as a whole.

I turn to Somalia which is perhaps less important to us in terms of our direct involvement, but which is enormously more important in terms of the misery and horror which the Minister has experienced personally and which we know only at second-hand. The point has been well made by a number of your Lordships that the tragedy in Somalia is only a small part of the tragedy in the Horn of Africa as a whole where 23 million people are at risk of starvation, and of the tragedy in Africa as a whole, and especially in Southern Africa, where the droughts have been so disastrous and where perhaps 40 million people are at grave risk of starvation. Here again, other than in terms of the rather limited involvement which is possible for this country on its own, the news is not good.

I seek to consider the common threads that underlie the situation and the problems of these three countries. Obviously, we on these Benches wish to add our tributes to those which have been paid to the work of the non-governmental organisations in all of these countries. In the absence of and given the delays in providing official relief, the work of the non-governmental organisations, which can get there quickly and provide effective relief on the ground before anybody else, is absolutely invaluable.

The second general thread is the whole issue of the arms trade, to which I have referred. Behind this lies the capability of those who wish to wage war in these areas to do so using weapons which are sold to them by this country, and by other countries in Europe and the developed world. Our participation in this arms trade was revealed clearly by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, when he appositely quoted the words of Alan Clark, which revealed the mixed motives within the Government as between the Department of Trade and Industry on the one hand and those who wish to preserve peace, which I assume to be the role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on the other hand. That lesson needs to be taken very much to heart. We must simply not allow one part of our Government to deplore the arms trade when we are allowing other parts of our Government to encourage it and to encourage British people to make money from it. Again, the words of my noble friend Lord Kennet were entirely apposite in that respect.

Although the problems in Bosnia, Iraq and Somalia are of only a few years' duration—we have had many valuable historical insights into all three—they are nevertheless long-term problems. We must bear in mind the responsibility of this country, the European Community and the United Nations and consider the resources that we are prepared to give in order to solve them. Every pronouncement of the Minister—including her speech today—is welcome, but it is a fact—is it not?—that we are well below the 0.7 per cent. of GNP which is the target for the aid to be given to developing areas. Our lack of success in achieving that target has been more serious during the period that the Minister has been in charge of these matters. We support her and admire her, but we wish that she had greater influence on government policy. We wish her success in the current public expenditure round not only in maintaining but also in increasing the expenditure which, from the speeches of all noble Lords, is clearly necessary in developing countries.

Then, again, as regards the European Community, it is not just a question of the immediate effectiveness of negotiations in London, Geneva or anywhere else. The fact is that, under the UK presidency, the proposed budget for development and co-operation of the European Community for 1993 is lower than that for 1992. That reduction includes humanitarian aid. If I am wrong about that, I shall be glad to be corrected. I recognise that they are only proposals which could yet be changed. But I suggest that in its presidency the UK has a specific responsibility in that respect.

But, above all, as the most reverend Primate reminded us, what we come back to is the importance of the role of the United Nations and its future role. I was very much impressed by an interview given earlier this week by Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary General, in which he referred to the threat of Balkanisation, of the break up of the existing nation states of the world, and the danger that that would present not only for world peace but also for individual liberties and, indeed, for human survival.

There are already 179 nations in the United Nations. Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali raised the prospect that there might be as many as 400 economically crippled mini-states, unless the rights of minorities moved to the top of the international agenda. He gave us a worst-case example of the situation in Africa where there are already 50 states and where there is a possibility at the extreme of 5,000 tribal states—that is, tribal mini-states—each with perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 people. He suggested that that is not a stable situation.

In this matter I am afraid that I disagree with my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Putney who draws the conclusion that we should not be seeking closer co-operation in European economic union. I suggest to him, and to anyone who does not draw that conclusion from the debate that took place in the House yesterday, that our nation states as they are at present are not in a state of equilibrium. They will not necessarily survive in their present form. The threats are that the existing nation states of Europe and other parts of the world will actually break up into small units. Therefore, the importance of co-operation and of joint action will be greater rather than less.

It is a curiosity—is it not'?—that George Orwell's prediction 40 years ago in his book 1984 was that there would be three great superpowers which would combine or split in mutual antagonism as the leaders of those superpowers of Eurasia and Oceania (and whatever the third one was) felt fit. That has not happened. We are seeing the reverse; we are seeing a threat to existing nation states of which the leading example is the original example in the Balkans.

When my noble friend in his excellent opening speech raised the possibility that the Government were being cool about their support for the United Nations in these matters, I sensed some disagreement on the Government Benches. I sensed that they felt that any accusation of coldness towards the United Nations and to United Nations' intervention was unjust. Well, I took the trouble of recording what the Minister said, and no doubt her script will confirm it. She said that, "We risk loading the UN with too heavy a burden".

If there is to be any solution to these desperate problems, we must not reduce the burdens on the United Nations but increase the resources of the United Nations to deal with them.

3.15 p.m.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to seek leave to reply to as many of the points raised by noble Lords as possible. I first give the apologies of the Leader of the House, the Lord Privy Seal, who could not he here for the wind-up speeches. We have had a thoughtful, interesting and, I think, helpful debate in many ways. Many noble Lords have made extremely kind remarks, including the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. When there are two market researchers in the House I hope that we shall base more of our debates on the facts, because once or twice today I have to say that the facts were missing. I am not criticising the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, but I am just making a point.

I turn now to a speech which was not only factual but helpful, thoughtful and a great contribution to our debate, and that was the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. I shall not add to what others have already said, but there are many good things one can say about the noble Lord and on another occasion I might be tempted to go a little further.

I want to concentrate in this reply on the United Nations, about which I was accused of being cool, and Yugoslavia. But before I come to that, let me express my gratitude to the most reverend Primate for coming to my defence against the noble Lord, Lord Richard. Certainly I listened carefully to the history lesson of the noble Lord and to his comments that I had nothing to say about the future. Let me put that right, if that is what he really thought.

The United Nations is in a time of great transition. For all the institutions this is a time of far greater activity than at any time previously in its history, but I regard it as a time of opportunity too. I know that I said that we risk loading the United Nations with too heavy a burden. We must think about what we are putting on the shoulders of the United Nations. That is why I put it in those terms. The Secretary-General's Agenda for Peace is extremely welcome, and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary welcomed it not only for the United Kingdom but in part for the presidency of the European Community.

It was just the sort of paper we were looking for when it was commissioned by that Security Council summit chaired by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in January. The Foreign Secretary's speech to the General Assembly earlier this week offered a particular welcome to the ideas on preventive diplomacy and on peace-keeping. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, was concerned about this too, but I hope that once the general debate in the General Assembly is over we shall be able to press ahead with the detailed examination of the report's proposals in the relevant United Nations bodies. If your Lordships wish it, I shall be happy to engage in discussing it in your Lordships' House.

What my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary warned of in his speech to the General Assembly was this overburdening. The reason he did that is that our commitment is to reform to a more efficient and dynamic United Nations. Our commitment to that is undiminished, and all the ideas we have fed in in different ways are consistent with that. We shall work with the Secretary-General and others to give further substance to that commitment.

It is also welcome that the Secretary-General has had a shake-up at senior levels in the secretariat. More steps may need to be taken to give the United Nations the modern management structures that it needs to cope with all the demands we place upon it. We should also like to see a revived General Assembly, more action-oriented and able to respond to the demands, and less rhetorical, if I may put it that way. It is what this Parliament wants, and I know that it is what the people want.

We welcome the idea commented upon by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, of a United Nations standing force and anything else that increases the ability of the United Nations to respond to threats to international peace and security of this nature. I am not sure whether it would be right to put specific units on permanent standby since the circumstances and requirements of crises differ greatly—even the three crises we have been concentrating upon today.

I believe that there is much to be done and much to be achieved, but if I say again to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that I regard it as a time of opportunity perhaps he will think I am a little warmer now than he thought I was at the beginning of the debate. I am the same person with the same views but just expressed in different words.

I should like to pick up something which the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh, said. I too saw the Oxfam advertisements and their figures. I have to tell the noble Lord that I do not recognise them. I can only assume that they are based upon quite a selective use of figures. As a statistician as well as a market researcher, I have a little to say on this matter.

Perhaps I may tell your Lordships that we have an agreed commitment for development assistance under the 1992 budget. At the beginning of the year it was just over 1.8 becu. The equivalent figure for 1993 is yet to be finalised, but the sum under discussion is about 1.9 becu representing an increase of over 5 per cent.

Since the 1992 figure was agreed commitments have been substantially increased to fund a special food aid programme focused particularly on Africa and humanitarian assistance to Yugoslavia. At this stage it is impossible to say what additional sum will be needed in 1993. Whilst food aid and emergency assistance are funded from the EC budget, development assistance for Africa is funded by the European Development Fund under the Lome Convention. That is set in five-year periods. We would expect to spend more in Africa under the EDF in 1993 than in 1992 and for expenditure to continue rising for the foreseeable future because of the incredible needs of that continent.

I turn briefly to Somalia. As many of your Lordships know, the United Nations Security Council has called upon all the Somali factions to observe the cease fire and co-operate with the Secretary-General's special representative to restore legitimate authority in that country. I fear it is a long way off. Although Ambassador Sahnoun has done very well since he arrived in April, he has responsibility not just for humanitarian affairs but for the political progress which needs to be made. There has been negotiation of a local cease fire in Mogadishu, yet regrettably there are few signs that the major Somali political figures are prepared to resolve their differences around the conference table rather than at the point of a gun. We welcome the United Nations strategy of building up locally from the political and economic situation on the ground.

There has been some criticism and I understand frustration of the UN forces in Somalia. Having discussed that in some detail on Monday of last week with Ambassador Sahnoun, perhaps I may just explain briefly. He is taking the forces into Mogadishu and Somalia as quickly as they can be accommodated, but each group to be deployed has to be negotiated with the people on the ground. The number one priority with regard to the 500 Pakistani troops, all of whom will have arrived by the end of today and will be deployed next week, is their gradual negotiated deployment to the port and airport so that they may be the central points from which food will feed out, but the corridors to all areas, particularly the terrible Hoddur-Berdera-Baidoa triangle, have to be negotiated successively with several groups. That is a very intensive job which must be done properly; otherwise, food will be wasted. Whatever representatives of the NGOs may say, I do not believe that with the loss of crops all over Africa we can afford to waste food. It would be a waste of money and would give false indications for the future.

I turn to Iraq. We are determined to keep up the pressure on Iraq to implement all the relevant UN resolutions. The flagrant defiance of the United Nations' authority by Iraq requires us to continue our action and from time to time—it may be through new Security Council resolutions—to top that up. The no-fly zone seems to be successful at the moment. But let me assure the House that that was there to monitor Iraq's compliance with Security Council Resolution 688 and to deter attacks on the civilian population. There is a fully justified case for it in international law in the case of severe humanitarian need. That certainly exists both in the north and the south.

I can reassure those noble Lords who asked the question that we have no intention—nor do I believe that any of the other allies have the intention—to put in ground troops. We have no hidden agenda. We do not seek to dismember Iraq. We seek to alleviate the situation of the people in Iraq who are being so desperately oppressed.

I shall make one further comment on the Memorandum of Understanding. There has been continual refusal until now but negotiations are taking place in the UN at this very time about whether we shall get an extension of that MoU. If there is no extension of that Understanding we shall need to find another way, maybe through cross-border action, of putting the help into Iraq, into the north and indeed, I hope, the south. The UN representative's report is being studied and recommendations will go to the UN next week to make sure that the "winterisation" can be put into action as quickly as possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, asked me about plans to exploit Kurdish oil. We are trying to respond as helpfully as possible to the requests from the Kurdish people within the terms of the Security Council resolutions. I have met the Iraqi national council members. We are seeking to work toward helping them restore their lives. We shall see whether or not that is possible. For the present I shall say no more.

There is much that one can say on Yugoslavia. I certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Richard, who described it as a cauldron. It is an immensely difficult situation there. The noble Lord referred to the news today that Mr. Tudjman and Mr. Izetbegovic have formed some defence pact. I would regard that as very serious indeed, certainly if there are plans for the further use of force, such as those by Mr. Karadzic of which we have read in the newspapers. I hope that they will desist immediately from all provocative military movements. We have made it quite clear, as have other members of the United Nations, that further violence will increasingly alienate any foreign sympathy which they still enjoy.

But neither of those threats affect the validity of the London Conference undertakings. It is not possible to solve Bosnia's problems by ignoring the views of any of the ethnic communities. We need to have them talking in Geneva. I am glad to say that at the moment there is no indication that the parties do not intend to continue talking.

Let me turn now to some of the other aspects of the situation in Yugoslavia my noble friend Lord Lauderdale asked me a direct question about influencing people in the former Yugoslavia. The BBC services in both Serb and Croat have been increased from 6i hours to 10 hours each week. I know that my noble friend will not consider that to be long enough but it is at least a considerable improvement. There is also a Slovenian service, and an Albanian service will be started quite soon.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, is there any chance of that situation being further extended because it is terribly important?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I hear what my noble friend says and I shall make the point to the Foreign Secretary.

It is important that we are absolutely clear about the work that is being done by various different groups in Yugoslavia. It is quite clear that the Bosnian Serbs, encouraged by the Serbian leadership in Belgrade, precipitated the conflict. That is why we in the international community have condemned the Bosnian Serb air attacks, the existence of the detention camps and the abhorrent policy of ethnic cleansing.

The Bosnian Moslems and the Croats must also bear a measure of responsibility for the tragedy in Bosnia. All three parties have had detention camps and have carried out forcible expulsions. Moreover, UNPROFOR has held the Bosnian presidency and predominantly Moslem forces responsible for the recent deaths of the two French soldiers and so many ordinary Bosnian people.

We have always deplored disregard for humanitarian principles, whoever is responsible for it. That is why we are looking for every way to make sure that Security Council Resolutions 764 and 711 are applied. We remind the parties at every turn that persons who commit or order the commission of grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention are individually responsible. We are taking careful note of what is being done.

A great deal more work than has hit the newspapers in recent weeks has been carried out by a number of the groups mentioned in the debate.I should like to say that the special rapporteur for UNHCR, the distinguished former Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Mazowiecki, has written an excellent report about human rights abuses. The CSCE mission, led by Sir John Thompson, has been very helpful not only in highlighting the appalling conditions but in giving the information that is needed to stop human rights abuses and in seeking to follow up those abuses. The London Conference agreed that the humanitarian issues demanded the unconditional and unilateral release, under international supervision, of all civilians currently detained. The work is being carried through notably by the ICRC but also with the backing of those people in CSCE who have sought to find out the facts of the situation, which are so terrible.

The noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, asked about access to camps. The International Committee of the Red Cross has access to 21 camps. Croatia has recently agreed to establish reception centres for the detainees from Bosnia while the UNHCR seeks to close down the Trnopolje and Manjaca camps. We have not yet made definite progress but a great deal of work is being carried out on that account.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, I also asked whether we have control or supervision of the Serbian artillery.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I was coming to that point a little later on, if my noble friend would allow me.

The important aspect of the situation among the various groups that are trying to help is that there is rarely a consistent response. I am not surprised that my noble friend Lord Finsberg has been frustrated in that some of the ideas that he and fellow parliamentarians have put forward through the WEU Assembly or the Council of Europe have not been followed through.

It is quite clear that ideas have come in from many different areas. Sometimes they have been torpedoed on the ground before they got any distance, but I disagree with my noble friend on one point. I understood him to say that the failure to accept the ideas that came from the WEU Assembly and the Council of Europe parliamentarians meant that the governments were irresponsible. I can assure him that no European government, no government that is involved in trying to find a way to achieve peace in Bosnia, is in any sense ignoring the recommendations that come forward. It is a question of sorting out what can be done. It is the limits of possibility that count in this very difficult time.

I should tell the House that just a week ago the CSCE meeting in Prague made progress on the missions of long duration launched with an advance party to try to establish first presences in Vojvodina and Sandzak and, as my noble friend Lord Lucas will be glad to know, in Kosovo too. CSCE is also working on sanctions monitoring, a subject to which I shall return in a moment. It has a monitoring mission to Skopje. I have already mentioned its Thomson Report.

I now turn to the subject of Kosovo and Albania mentioned by my noble friend Lord Lucas. Certainly, the Government agree about the seriousness of the situation and particularly the grave risk of tension erupting into armed conflict, bringing in neighbouring countries especially Albania. That is why there is a special Kosovo working group in the international conference to bring together the Serbs and the Kosovars to seek to find a political settlement. That will certainly be helped by the CSCE long-term monitoring mission encouraging dialogue and trying to ensure the observance of human rights.

Perhaps I may now respond to the sanction points raised by my noble friend Lord Beloff, by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and many other noble Lords. Certainly we began with one level of sanctions. We have always believed that sanctions would need to be built up, and over the past three months Britain has been in the lead in building up the effectiveness of sanctions. British customs officers went out to examine and recommend many weeks ago. We now have acceptance from the Romanian Government that they can and will stop traffic on the Danube. The customs assistants whom they will use will come from countries with experience of controlling river traffic, particularly Germany and France. The British Customs officers who are going out now will go to Hungary to help that country deal with its land border. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, asked me about figures for imports and exports in the area. I shall write to him about that. I cannot answer that detailed question at this time.

My noble friends Lord Lauderdale and Lord Beloff and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to arms. One of the problems with the Serb heavy weapons is that they were grouped at UN supervised sites around Sarajevo. We are well aware that insufficient progress has been made on this so far. The noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Cyrus Vance have made this a high priority in their work.

I was asked by my noble friend Lord Beloff and by other noble Lords about the cessation of the airlift and the fact that it has not run for three weeks. The airlift to Sarajevo could not run because the Italian airliner was shot down and there are continual threats from hand-held systems, not from other aircraft. The Italian plane was certainly shot down by a hand-held missile launcher. Who held it is not yet clear, but that is certainly true. In this situation, therefore, I cannot see that a no-fly zone would reduce the risk to our aircraft trying to deliver humanitarian goods because there are far too many armaments on the ground. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, suggested in his interesting speech that we might use AWACs and E3 aircraft for tracing the transfer of arms into Bosnia. We do not believe that those arms are being transferred by air. We would know about it if they were. We believe that they are being transferred in other ways and plans are afoot to try to stop that.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness knows that AWACs and the E3 aircraft are capable of detecting movement by ground and by all forms of transport, not only in the air.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I am aware of that. The circumstances, which I shall not describe in detail if the noble Lord will forgive me, indicate that we may have other ways of finding out how the various armaments are getting in. However, I remind your Lordships that there was a great deal of weaponry stored away in the hills long before this conflict ever came into being. That has been the practice, as the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, said, certainly for 50 years and possibly for hundreds of years in the Balkans.

The humanitarian convoys do need protection. We are absolutely certain that troops should not be dragged into a fighting situation. I know that my noble friend Lord Cranbrooke totally agrees with me. Where we deploy the British units has not yet been decided. The United Kingdom force will include in the first six months the 1st Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, some of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, the 9th and 12th Lancers, the 35th Engineer Regiment and the 10th Regiment of the Royal Corps of Transport, together with the 3rd Ordnance Battalion. How we deploy them is something that we must agree between ourselves and the other contributors to UNPROFOR and the UNPROFOR command and control. Certainly we know that French and Canadians have been asked to deploy near their current operations, which are in the United Nations protection areas, but the reconnaissance party which is now in Bosnia, led by a British officer, will decide upon that, together with the chiefs of staff. Certainly he will act as Chief of Staff in overall UNPROFOR command. We expect the British troops to be doing a useful job within 40 days, as a minimum. I suspect that in fact it will be very much sooner.

I have been asked about rules of engagement. They must be got right before our forces go in, and of course that is happening. The United Nations rules of engagement, as the Secretary General said, will allow troops to return fire in self-defence, and in the UNPROFOR context self-defence is deemed to include situations in which armed personnel attempt by force to prevent United Nations troops from carrying out their mandate.

There are many other aspects of the work that we must do in Yugoslavia, together with our allies under United Nations leadership. We will do it in a way which I hope will not be provocative. I have to say to my noble friend Lord Finsberg that we consider the French small helicopter unit is both very vulnerable and also may well he very provocative in certain areas in which it might otherwise have been able to fly. After all, I think we all know that helicopters are very vulnerable to shrapnel, let alone to mortars. Certainly we have to make sure that in any situation where a convoy is being escorted by UNPROFOR troops they are able to defend themselves and are as protected as possible.

Many other aspects of the situation in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, or in even wider areas of the world referred to by your Lordships, I know are of grave concern to us all. Our strategy is to increase the pressure on all parties to talk, to come to the conference table and not to fight.

We wish the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and Mr. Vance every success in their Yugoslav efforts. We wish the United Nations special representative in Somalia, Ambassador Sahnoun, every success in what he is doing there. We also wish every success to members of the United Nations who are active in so many other places, whether in Yugoslavia or in Iraq. We certainly intend to back them to the full. But we intend also to be realistic and to make sure that the new opportunities for the United Nations in the 1990s and beyond the year 2000 are fully realised.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at sixteen minutes before four o'clock, until Monday 19th October.

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