HL Deb 18 April 1994 vol 554 cc19-30
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Viscount Cranborne)

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence. The Statement is as follows:

"My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary reported to the House on 12th April on the circumstances in which NATO aircraft, in order to protect United Nations forces, had carried out close air support attacks on Bosnian Serb forces threatening UN personnel in Gorazde on the two preceding days. Following those attacks, efforts were made to achieve a cease-fire between the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Government forces, as the prelude to a general political settlement. But, by last Thursday, 14th April, the situation on the ground had deteriorated, and a number of serious incidents occurred in and around Sarajevo and in other parts of Northern Bosnia. On Friday afternoon, 15th April, the Bosnian Serbs resumed their shelling of Gorazde. A patrol of British soldiers serving as joint Commission Observers at a Bosnian Army location about three kilometres north of the town became involved in an exchange of fire. One of them, Corporal Fergus Rennie, sustained a gunshot wound as a result of Bosnian Serb fire. A second soldier was less seriously wounded by shrapnel. Corporal Rennie was retrieved by helicopter and brought to Sarajevo, where sadly he subsequently died.

"On Saturday 16th April three Bosnian Serb tanks began firing on the hospital in Gorazde. General Rose called for close air support which was approved by Mr. Akashi. Two Sea Harriers from HMS "Ark Royal" and two American A-10 aircraft were tasked with attacking the tanks. During a reconnaissance run, the Sea Harriers were attacked by a surface-to-air missile which they managed to evade. At 4.45 p.m. local time the Sea Harriers commenced a bombing run. A second surface-to-air missile was fired and hit the lead aircraft, which caught fire. The pilot, Lieutenant Nicholas Richardson, ejected and landed safely.

"In an unrelated incident, late on Saturday night, another British serviceman, Marine Timothy Coates, who was serving on attachment to the UNHCR in Sarajevo, was shot dead by personnel manning a Bosnian Government checkpoint in the city. He was off duty and wearing plain clothes at the time.

"The House will wish to join me in sending condolences to the families of Corporal Rennie and Marine Coates.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Viscount Cranborne:

"Both were brave men serving in Bosnia to try to bring peace to that country.

"As the House will know, yesterday Bosnian Serb forces advanced further on Gorazde, which is now virtually undefended. There are no British military personnel now in the town.

"My Lords, the events of the past few days represent a serious setback for the United Nations' peace-keeping efforts in Bosnia, and will have grim consequences for the people of Gorazde.

"There is a tendency in some quarters to criticise the efforts of the senior UN personnel in Bosnia, including Mr. Akashi and General Rose, for failing to deal with the situation. In my view, such criticism is unjustified. Mr. Akashi, General Rose, and their UN colleagues have achieved as much as was humanly possible given the UN military forces available to them and the mandate under which they operate. They deserve our full support.

"The United Nations' troops in Bosnia are not, and never have been, intended to be a war-fighting force. They were sent to Bosnia for purposes of humanitarian relief and to give time for the peace process to bring results. Some have had quite unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved by the use of air power alone, or by ground forces that are not equipped or organised to operate in a combat role.

"There is a vicious civil war taking place in Bosnia with a total of almost 200,000 heavily armed Bosnian Serb, Croat, and Moslem forces. There are at present some 15,000 UN peace-keeping forces on the ground. The House is well aware that there has been no support from any quarter for deploying the large United Nations' or NATO combat army that would he needed for the UN to be sure of imposing its will on the warring factions. In the absence of such support, it is quite unreasonable to berate the United Nations in Bosnia for having been unable to stop the fighting.

"General Rose did, recently, call for 8,000 troops to assist in his peace-keeping role throughout Bosnia. The United Kingdom took the lead in co-ordinating an international response which pledged those additional troops. I have to inform the House that, of the 8,000 troops pledged, only the battalion group promised by the United Kingdom and 300 others, totalling 1,200, have so far arrived.

"The United Nations will now need to give careful thought to the implications of current events in Gorazde. Both the United Nations and others who call for action must avoid rhetoric and resolutions that cannot be enforced. There must be a proper assessment by the UN of its continuing ability to carry out the mandate, of what it can do to strengthen that ability and the peace process in general, and of the degree of co-operation it can expect from the various Bosnian factions. It must also assess the level of risk to the safety of UNPROFOR troops for whom we all have an abiding responsibility.

"Events in Gorazde represent a serious setback. It is important to remember that over large parts of Bosnia the United Nations has been successful in implementing an effective cease-fire, and the population are able to resume something like normal life. Sarajevo is no longer under artillery attack. Those achievements are indeed creditable. We continue to give our full support to our troops, to other UN troops in the field and to their commanders".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.47 p.m.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement made by his right honourable friend in another place. By any standards, as I think the noble Viscount accepted, it is a sombre Statement. It raises the problem of the credibility of the United Nations as an effective peace-keeping operation; it reports the death of two British soldiers to whose families, like the Government, we extend our condolences and sympathy; and it also conveys a message of some hope which, again, we support— namely, for the success of British and United Nations troops in Central Bosnia and Sarajevo. However, as I see it, the message at present is that the United Nations' credibility is now in doubt. The question that your Lordships will have to discuss, either today or on a future occasion, is: what happens now?

The Statement is absolutely right to state—I shall quote again from the Statement as this is such an important point— Both the United Nations and others who call for action must avoid rhetoric and resolutions that cannot be enforced". If there is a lesson to be learnt from what has happened so far at Gorazde, it is contained in that sentence. The other day when the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, responded to a Private Notice Question—I believe it was from another place—I tried my best to ensure that she told the House in unequivocal terms that the job of the United Nations forces in Bosnia was to protect. UNPROFOR personnel—no more and no less. I hope very much that the noble Viscount will reassure us that that is still the case.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the operation in Sarajevo —where the threat of air strikes was used successfully to ensure a safe haven—has, I am afraid, spilt over elsewhere. That is the difficulty with which the United Nations is faced at the moment. The problem became quite clear when the French Etendard aircraft landed on its carrier with its tail plane practically shot away. We learn again from the Statement that two Sea Harriers were involved in attacking a Bosnian Serb tank which was shelling, or about to shell, the hospital in Gorazde. There may well have been UNPROFOR personnel in the hospital at Gorazde, in which case it was a perfectly respectable—if I may put it in those terms—mission for those Harriers. However, the Serbs obviously did not think so. They obviously thought—as they have thought since Sarajevo—that NATO forces and NATO air strikes were being used to stop the Bosnian Serbs from doing what they wanted to do in what the noble Viscount quite rightly described as a vicious civil war.

What happens now? It seems to me that we cannot give up the humanitarian role and I hope that the Government will press the United Nations to continue the humanitarian role that we have played to date. We need a new UN mandate for the forces in Bosnia to specify precisely, and without any doubt at all, what they are there to do. It is not just a matter of declaring safe havens because, as the noble Viscount quite properly pointed out, there is no point in declaring safe havens if one does not have the resources or the political will to defend them. As the noble Viscount quite properly pointed out, there is no political will in the United States of America, or indeed, I believe, in this country, or in any other member country of NATO, to provide the forces that would be required to defend those safe havens. Therefore there is no point in having any new UN mandate which declares safe havens and then for the UN just to huff and puff as in Gorazde.

I wish to refer to two further points in the form of questions. First, is it not the case that what we can, and indeed must, do is to help those who will undoubtedly suffer, and suffer grievously, from this civil war, in so far as we reasonably can? Secondly, must we not make sure that in the future—I talk to the longer term future rather than to the short-term future at Gorazde—the United Nations has the ability, or the philosophy, to act in a sensible way (whatever that may be) and to define what is a sensible way for it to act in situations of this nature? We cannot allow the United Nations to be humiliated in the way it is being humiliated at the moment at Gorazde. I hope that the noble Viscount will agree with my comments.

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, I, too, wish to thank the noble Viscount for repeating the Statement made by his right honourable friend in another place. I also wish to associate noble Lords on these Benches with the condolences which have been sent to the families of Corporal Rennie and Marine Coates who so sadly and tragically died in pursuit of peace in Gorazde. As the noble Viscount has said, this is indeed a grave setback for the United Nations and for NATO and it is no use pretending otherwise. What has happened is that divided counsels have led to ambiguous policies which have been exploited skilfully and ruthlessly by Serbs and Bosnian Serbs alike.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that safe havens cannot be safe unless there are troops on the ground to make them safe and to protect the people inside them. To declare them without those troops being present is to be misleading, as also is to indulge in the kind of rhetoric which the Statement quite rightly condemned. Nor is it fair to blame General Rose—as some newspapers have—for what has happened. The fact is he was not given the tools to do the job which he was asked to do. As I remember it, he asked for 10,000 men. As I remember it, we managed to recruit a potential 8,000 men, of which he has received 1,200. It is hardly surprising in those circumstances that he was unable to do what was expected of him.

There is, however, in the Statement one extraordinary omission; namely, there is no reference in it whatsoever to Russian involvement. We have said from the beginning that it was a mistake not to consult the Russians about the air strikes in the first place. Although I recognise that formally it was unnecessary for us to do so, what is prudent is not what is always formally necessary. It is surely prudent, given the role they had played at Sarajevo, to involve them in every step of the process where we are dealing with the Serbs or Bosnian Serbs. I hope that we are doing our best to involve them because I do not believe we will achieve the peace we are aiming for unless we have their full co-operation and involvement.

The noble Lord, Lord Williams, spoke about the future and at the moment it looks rather dark. However, I wholly agree with him that we cannot abandon the humanitarian role which we have taken on. It would be unwise to talk of withdrawing sanctions from the Serbs under present circumstances. I hope that that is not on the agenda of the Government.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, first, I wish to thank the noble Lords, Lord Williams and Lord Bonham-Carter, for the condolences which they added to my own to the families of the two servicemen who so tragically lost their lives. The whole House will wish to associate itself with those sentiments. I was also extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for the constructive and knowledgeable way in which he addressed himself to this difficult situation. I agree with him wholly that the question which he put at the centre of the events of the past few days is that of the credibility of the United Nations.

I was also grateful to the noble Lord in that he recognised that the United Nations has achieved a great deal in central Bosnia, and that so far Gorazde is—at any rate geographically—only a small part of the picture. However, we all recognise that a small part can loom rather large in the march of events and can influence those events rather more than any of us would hope.

To answer what the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, implied and the noble Lord, Lord Williams, said rather more explicitly, it is important to realise that anybody who goes to Bosnia—as I did recently—will see the difference between what General Rose spoke of this morning in terms of white vehicles and other vehicles. I think that I am quoting the General accurately when I say that he told the BBC that soldiers do not go to war in white vehicles.

Therefore, it is clear that the United Nations had a mandate not to fight a war but to act, as the noble Lord said, as deliverers of humanitarian aid and, by extension, as facilitators of peace between the two sides —the Moslems and the Bosnian Croats—who wanted peace. Those two sides certainly made it clear to me immediately before Easter that they wanted peace. At the same time, they feared that fighting between them would break out if the United Nations was not there. There is a clear difference between that position and the position of a number of Serbs in Bosnia who clearly have a different agenda, where the United Nations mandate is not appropriate. I hope that the House will bear that distinction in mind in relation to the difficult questions that we have to consider today.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for the questions that he asked at the end of his remarks. Of course the primary purpose of the United Nations' effort, not only of UNPROFOR but the many people working on behalf of the United Nations in delivering humanitarian aid, is to relieve the suffering. Perhaps I may say, not wishing entirely to spare her blushes, that the efforts of my noble friend Lady Chalker in that regard are generally recognised. She tells me that more than 900 convoys have already played their part and that her department is doing its best to make sure that aid is focused and delivered in the most effective way possible.

On the question of whether the United Nations has the ability to act, I have already said, particularly to noble friends in this House, that efforts are being made to address the way in which the United Nations addresses the question of peacekeeping. Consideration is also being given to whether command structures and the way in which the United Nations looks at its peacekeeping operations could be improved. I believe that all of us in this House agree that there is room for improvement in that regard.

In relation to safe havens, the noble Lord knows that there has always been a degree of healthy scepticism on the part of Her Majesty's Government about how effective safe havens would be. That scepticism has, if anything, been increased by the events of the past two days. However, it is clear that there was a desire on the part of the UN that safe havens should be tried. We wanted to make sure that UN solidarity was maintained on that front.

I wholly welcome the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Williams. He was kind enough to quote from the Statement about the importance of making sure that the United Nations was able to back up what it said rather than indulging merely in empty rhetoric. I was very grateful that the noble Lord was able to show that his party and all sides of this House support us in that contention. I am sure that it will have been noted well outside the confines of your Lordships' House.

I shall now turn to some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter. I am grateful to him, too, for the tone of his remarks. I am also glad that he accepted that General Rose had done the very best that he could given the limitations of the mandate and the resources at his disposal. That, too, will have been noted more widely than in the confines of your Lordships' House.

I should like to take up the point made by the noble Lord in relation to Russian involvement. I suggest to the noble Lord that Russia. as a Permanent Member of the Security Council, clearly agreed to the Security Council resolutions, just as this country and the United States agreed to those resolutions. Russia was well aware of the chain of command, which was clearly set out with the agreement of the Security Council of the United Nations. I should perhaps add a rider that Russian envoys have been working hard in Bosnia to try to make sure that they provided a degree of access to the Bosnian Serbs. I acknowledge that they have made a good contribution in that regard, which we welcome.

This is a moment of great difficulty. The constructive way in which the Front Benches opposite have responded to the Statement is very much appreciated by Her Majesty's Government. I am grateful for it. It will help us in the difficult days to follow.

4.5 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend give any indication as to when the 6,800 men needed to make up the very sensible request by General Rose for 8,000 men are likely to arrive? Has he any indication of their possible date of arrival and of which countries will provide them?

Secondly, in relation to the tactics employed, would he care to comment on the fact that in the air strikes organised on behalf of the United Nations generally only two aircraft have been involved? Therefore, those aircraft were obviously exposed to counter-attack in a way which was far more damaging than if larger numbers of aircraft had been involved. Why, when air strikes have to take place, are more aircraft not employed so as to have a real effect and to minimise the danger to individual aircraft and their pilots?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. He asked first about the commitment of further troops. My answer must be the same as the answer I gave last time we discussed these matters in your Lordships' House following a Statement. We expect up to 4,000 more troops by the summer. I accept that that is a fairly elastic way of putting it. A number of other countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, have made commitments to send more troops. I do not want in any way to make invidious comparisons, but I hope that your Lordships will accept that a number of the logistic reforms which have taken place in the Ministry of Defence and the Army make it easier for British troops to be deployed rapidly, as they were in this case, than has proved possible for other countries.

So far as concerns the number of aircraft, the objective is very clear from the point of view of aircraft taking part in operations of this kind. That objective was to protect UNPROFOR troops on the ground. It was judged that this was the most effective way of doing so when JCOs were clearly in some degree of danger. The degree of danger was all too clear from the death which occurred as a result of Serb action. These are matters which are properly left to the judgment of commanders on the ground. The chain of command sets that out clearly and that is what commanders on the ground asked for.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, the Minister will be aware that many of us have expressed grave doubts about our continued involvement in Bosnia. He will have noted that some of us were extremely worried when his noble friend Lady Chalker made a Statement to this House about air attacks in the Gorazde area. I agree with him that we should be very careful about rhetoric in this civil war situation. However, I am afraid that the Government have themselves responded to rhetoric. The noble Viscount will understand that at one time the Government were contemplating withdrawing troops from Bosnia. Those who advocated air strikes were derided. But since then the Government have substantially increased the number of troops and agreed to air strikes, which have caused the present problem.

The Foreign Secretary has indicated that that action may be stepped up. I hope that the noble Viscount can give me the assurance that that will not happen. May I also have the assurance that no further British troops will be sent and that consideration will be given to withdrawing all those troops who are already there? Finally, will the Government please recognise that this is a civil war and that they are dealing with people on all sides in Bosnia? They are not Argentinians who invaded British territory; they are not Iraqis who invaded other people's territory. They are people, of whatever kind, who believe that they are defending their own soil. They are therefore committed to defeating any outside intervention which suggests otherwise to them. I ask for a very firm assurance, which will not be watered down or withdrawn, that this country, either through the UN or on its own, will not become involved in any side in the civil war. The British people who are already suffering from the casualties that we have had are entitled to that assurance today.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, as I tried to make clear in my earlier answers this afternoon, the mandate is clear. The noble Lord, Lord Williams, made that point. If the mandate can no longer be sustained by the United Nations, then the future of the UN force must be put into question. I remind the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, of something that I have already said to the House this afternoon, that there are large stretches of Bosnia which are benefiting from the presence of UN peacekeeping forces. Those are the stretches which were previously the subject of vicious warfare between Croats and Bosnian Moslems. The United Nations is doing a fine job there and I am sure that the noble Lord himself would not wish it to cease that task in mid-stride.

Air strikes took place in support of UNPROFOR troops. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, would be the last to want the safety of United Nations forces, particularly those provided by the British Government, in any way to be undermined. That must be our highest priority. Knowing the noble Lord as I do, I am the first to admit that I did not need to say that. I am also glad that he recognises the difficulties that we have. I am sure he will realise that if it came to withdrawal—and it certainly is not coming to that at the moment—further British troops would need to be committed if a withdrawal were to take place. So even if I were to accede to the noble Lord's proposition that we should withdraw from Bosnia, it would be unwise of me to suggest that no further British troops should be committed under any circumstances, particularly if the safety of our troops already there is at stake.

Lord Carver

My Lords, does the noble Viscount agree that we must not allow recent unfortunate events to blind us to the fact that the highest priority is to try, however hard it is, to reach a general political settlement? While I endorse the call of the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for clarification of the United Nations mandate, does the noble Viscount agree that there is a lot of loose talk about peacekeeping? However, that was not the purpose for which the United Nations was sent there. There is a grave danger in attempting to give a mandate to a force as a peacekeeping force, if there is no agreement between the sides as a basis for that peacekeeping. The danger already exists of the United Nations force ceasing to be impartial and appearing to take sides in the dispute.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and gallant Lord whose knowledge of such matters is considerable. He is right about the nature of the mandate which concentrates on the delivery of humanitarian aid. He is equally right about the importance of a general political settlement which can be policed by United Nations troops. That is a general political settlement which at the moment all too obviously does not obtain.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that perhaps even more attention should be paid to the distinction which he drew between the success of the United Nations in dealing with the quarrels and fighting between the Moslems and the Croats and their apparent failure in Gorazde and eastern Bosnia? Does that not spring from the fact that the former was a case of a genuine civil war, whereas the war in eastern Bosnia is not a civil war? It is a war promoted by an external power. The relation of Dr. Karadzic to Mr. Milosevic of Serbia is not very different, for those who remember 1938, from the relation between Herr Henlein and Herr Hitler. One is an agent of the other, as the Russians have recognised. I have at intervals been urging on your Lordships' House the participation of the Russians as all-important. Have they not recognised the relation by the fact that when the Russian Foreign Minister wishes to try to bring about peace, he goes to Belgrade, he does not go to Pale?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend recognises the important role that is being played by the Russians in the diplomatic initiatives in and around Bosnia. I should be the last to underplay the importance of that role and I am glad that my noble friend also recognises it.

Baroness Williams of Crosby

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, for what he said about the nature of the war in Bosnia. Indeed, part of it is not a civil war but a deliberate attempt to create a greater Serbia. There is more than one safe haven in Bosnia; there are still five safe havens remaining, even if Gorazde falls. I was delighted to hear the noble Viscount's reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. Does the Minister agree that while the safe havens continue theoretically within the area of United Nations supervision, it would be wholly irresponsible for us to withdraw all troops since we have made the names of those safe havens clear?

Does not the collapse of the United Nations position on Gorazde raise the most serious questions on the issue of the continuation of the arms embargo with regard to the Bosnian Government, which is, after all, an internationally recognised government?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, on safe havens, I am sure that the noble Baroness knows that in each of the safe havens apart from Gorazde there are a number of UNPROFOR troops. Apart from those in Sarajevo, none of the troops is British. Nevertheless, as I made clear to your Lordships earlier this afternoon, the first duty of UNPROFOR and of the governments must be to protect those troops and, if necessary, protect them by means of closer air support, if that seems to the commanders on the ground to be militarily the most sensible way of going about it.

As regards the arms embargo, I am sure that the noble Baroness will be aware of Her Majesty's Government's consistent position on it. Of course, circumstances change, and I do not feel that the position is always immutable. I merely remind the noble Baroness from my own experience of what happened in Afghanistan as a result of the uncontrolled irruption of massive quantities of modern weaponry into one society. Even with the withdrawal of the Soviet army they are still fighting. One of the main drivers of that fighting is that the place is flooded with weapons. The effect, as the noble Baroness will readily appreciate, is one that we must bear in mind in Bosnia as well as in other countries.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, perhaps I may ask my noble friend for some clarification. Last Monday, 11th April, my noble friend Lady Chalker replied to a question from the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. The noble Lord asked whether air-to-ground action by NATO was sufficient to deter the Serbs. My noble friend replied: My Lords, I sincerely hope that the Serb authorities will see that NATO and the UN mean business … That advance has to be stopped". —[Official Report, 11/4/94; col. 1288.] Later, I asked: What happens if the Serbs are not deterred? My noble friend replied: I must say to my noble friend that the Serbs have been deterred".—[Official Report, 11/4/94; col. 1290.] My question still applies. What happens if the Serbs continue? As was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, this is an outside attack by Serbia on an internationally recognised state. The United Nations seems to change sides in a quite extraordinary way. It stops the Moslems, the legitimate government, arming themselves. I understand what my noble friend said about Afghanistan; nevertheless, it has prevented that happening. Then, pitiably, the United Nations intervenes. Then my noble friend says that the Serbs have been deterred. And they have not been deterred. This is one of the great mistakes of the 20th century, to put it no higher than that. When Chamberlain said that Hitler had missed the bus, that was a piece of statesmanship compared to what the western world and the United Nations have got into over Bosnia at the moment.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I too have had the advantage of reading the exchanges that were so selectively quoted by my noble friend at the expense of my noble friend Lady Chalker. I say quite simply to my noble friend Lord Onslow that the mandate is clear. The distinctions that have been drawn both by myself and by other noble Lords in this House this afternoon as to the differences between peacekeeping and other operations —between white vehicles and vehicles that are painted other colours for going to war—are distinctions which, together with the mandate, I urge my noble friend to study with care. Otherwise, like everybody else, it would be easy to be confused about the job that we expect our own troops to do. If we make that confusion, we shall raise expectations and certainly indulge in the rhetoric which the noble Lord, Lord Williams, recognised as being extremely dangerous.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, will the Minister agree that there are certain clear principles which should govern the use of armed force in international relations? Among those, I suggest are these two: first, that military forces should have a clear and achievable military aim; and, secondly, that they should be able to achieve that aim only if both the political will and the resources are available. Will he agree that in what now appears to be the disastrous entanglement in Yugoslavia, those principles have been largely ignored? Will he give us an assurance that in any review that there might be of the United Nations mandate the clear military principles governing the use of armed force in international relations are observed? Will he also accept that if they are not observed, the appeals and calls for the withdrawal of our armed forces are bound to increase?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I recognise the justice of both the points that the noble Lord makes. It is important to recognise—as he does by implication —the gap that the Statement identified between rhetoric and the ability to perform. I am delighted that speaking as he does from the Cross-Benches the noble Lord recognises the dangers of that just as Her Majesty's Government do.

Baroness Elles

My Lords, considerable humanitarian aid has been achieved by UNPROFOR. Everybody in this House has admiration for Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose, and his leadership. However, in view of the continued advance of Serbian troops throughout Bosnia Herzegovina, what measures are the Government taking to try to impress on other members of NATO and the UN Security Council the need for sending troops immediately in order to support those troops who are already there? At the moment, it does not seem that those who vote for the resolutions in the UN Security Council are observing their obligations in the UN Charter to supply troops when those resolutions are adopted.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I must say to my noble friend that the case seems, if anything, more urgent now than when your Lordships and I last discussed the matter in this House. The timetable has not changed. The rather vague assertion that 4,000 more troops would be available by the summer still obtains. Nobody would be more delighted than I if that timetable could be speeded up. We will do whatever we can to encourage that. All too often, practicalities get in the way of wishes. If my noble friend can help us in this respect, I should be extremely grateful.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Wakeham)

My Lords, I think that we should move on. Twenty minutes have elapsed.