International Criminal Court [Lords]

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Mr. Garnier: I have listened with great interest and considerable care. This has been a good debate, and my contributions have added to that. I am grateful for the cameo performance from the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and hope that the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) will have a chance to read his comments. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be asked to campaign in Winchester on the basis of his comments.

As always, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun heightened the level of our discussions, for which I am grateful. However, he persuaded me to fall into error: I mentioned my lack of Greek, when I should have said Latin. I shall read the quote that I was grasping for earlier. I acknowledge that some hon. Members knew that I was wrong but were too polite to intervene to correct me—or procedurally barred from doing so. From my experience working in the Foreign Office for Sir Alastair Goodlad, the former right hon. Member for Eddisbury, and for my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis), who were Ministers there, that the collective knowledge of all things among Foreign Office officials is unbounded.

I should have said,

    ``Equo ne credite, Teucri.

    Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes'',

which, as you will know Mr. Cook, is from book two of Virgil's Aeneid, beginning at line 48. Virgil was advising,

    ``Do not trust the horse, Trojans.

    Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts''.

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun is not, so far as I know, a Greek. He is certainly not a horse. Although he is, I am sure, a keen adherent of new Labour, he is anything but wooden. His mild independence of thought and speech this afternoon has raised him in my estimation, which will probably ruin his career. I am grateful for his contribution. Even if I have not wholly persuaded him of the good sense of the arguments behind our amendments, I may at least have persuaded him that, from time to time, even a Conservative Opposition can come up with ideas worthy of thought.

The Solicitor-General has given his response. The question is one of balance. Either one accepts that discretion should be wholly limited and left in the hands of the court, under the Rome statute, or, as in our view, one has confidence that our own institutions and Executive—both the current and succeeding ones—will behave properly in any given circumstances.

I have no doubt that the current Secretary of State would behave entirely properly if faced with a problem under clause 2 or clause 3. A Conservative Secretary of State would undoubtedly do so. That is not the issue. The issue is whether we have the confidence to vote for, and to celebrate, our own institutions or whether we are timid and feel obliged, despite the arguments that I have put forward—which would allow us to exercise more discretion than the Government apparently want—to exercise our independent decisions only under the perfectly laudable statute of Rome.

The Solicitor-General's reference to Milosevic and Serbia was rather confusing because we are not legislating for Serbia but for the United Kingdom. What is done in Serbia is a matter for its people and Parliament. We should leave Mr. Milosevic in the prison in which he is currently staying, and not allow him to interfere with our decision.

I am sorry to rain on the Government's parade. In a private conversation not long ago, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Leeds, West, said that the Committee was too good-natured. I am about to wreck that by inviting the Committee to express an opinion on the amendments that we have put forward.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 11.

Division No. 2]

AYES
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Day, Mr. Stephen
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl

NOES
Battle, Mr. John
Browne, Mr. Desmond
Cranston, Mr. Ross
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Gapes, Mr. Mike
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr. David
Maclennan, Mr. Robert
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Worthington, Mr. Tony

Question accordingly negatived.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. McNulty.]

Adjourned accordingly at fifteen minutes to Seven o'clock till Thursday 26 April at five minutes to Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cook, Mr. Frank (Chairman)
Battle, Mr.
Blunt, Mr.
Browne, Mr.
Cranston, Mr.
Day, Mr.
Ellman, Mrs.
Gapes, Mr.
Garnier, Mr.
Gillan. Mrs.
Hendrick, Mr.
Howarth, Mr.
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr.
Maclennan, Mr.
McNulty, Mr.
Naysmith, Dr.
Worthington, Mr.

 
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Prepared 24 April 2001