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Mr. Hendrick: I will not be as aggressive in my response to the hon. Gentleman's speech as he was to mine, but although the Americans did eventually broker an agreement at Dayton, they did so only after very many months of violence, attacks on civilians and massacres throughout Bosnia, and with hundreds of thousands of people dead from ethnic cleansing. I would have liked to see the Europeans broker a deal in Europe, but the common foreign and security policy had only just been drafted and the means and capability did not exist. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we should have those means and capability, because that is what Nice is all about?

Mr. Cash: No, I am afraid that I really do not, because the problems of the Balkans have an immensely long history and will not be resolved by trying to stitch up arrangements for the sake of what has been described as a moment of glory. I believe that it was Mr. Poos who, during the Bosnian or Kosovo crisis, said, "This will be the moment of glory for the European Union", or words to that effect. It was a moment of disaster, because the EU does not have the capacity to deal with such a crisis. There are too many national interests at work to be able to create the necessary so-called identity or co-ordination. The hon. Gentleman, in his ideological mind, does not seem to understand that. It is not a workable proposition.

If I may, I shall glance at Edward Gibbon for a moment. In 1787, in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", he wrote about the Balkans in the fourth century AD in a manner that was no different from the commentaries that we would see today. It is a very difficult problem, and it will not be resolved on the back of ideological or wishful thinking. It is a practical problem, which even at this stage has not been resolved properly, and may yet not be resolved. Therefore, I am afraid that I really cannot give any credibility to the hon. Gentleman's remarks.

Roger Casale: The hon. Gentleman and I served together on the European Scrutiny Committee and, with the greatest respect to him, surely what is rubbish is scuppering the opportunity to strengthen European defence co-operation, thereby compromising this country's national defence interests on the specious argument that, by strengthening European defence co-operation, we are

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building some kind of European army. All we are doing is trying to get other European nations to contribute more to actions that are in our national defence interests.

Mr. Cash: First, those contributions are not forthcoming on the scale required and, secondly, those nations simply cannot catch up with the technology, the rocketry, the capacity for heavy-lift aircraft or any of the fundamentals required in modern warfare. Furthermore, they will not catch up for perhaps 15 or 20 years, or more.

Surveillance is also important. Again, I raised that issue with the Prime Minister and the then Foreign Secretary. I asked them about the exchange of confidential defence information between the United States and the United Kingdom. Let us remember that during our involvement in the early part of the Balkan crisis, it was clearly understood that the French had disclosed secrets. The United States is simply not prepared to provide information to the EU that will then be leaked. That is incredibly important—it is not just a semantic argument; it is about the reality of warfare. We cannot have the sort of defence system that is being devised when any of the parties is liable to divulge information, as that completely undermines the trust and confidence of the main ally, which provides all the operational equipment, personnel and the surveillance system itself.

Peter Hain: If there is a crisis in the Balkans, for example, and the US is not willing to provide assistance and NATO is not willing to intervene, do we just turn our backs? Is there not a role for a European capability? Is it not the case that a European security and defence policy provides exactly that capability? What would the hon. Gentleman do?

Mr. Cash: I have raised that very point with the Prime Minister, and the words "where NATO as a whole is not engaged" are the very ones that I used. The Minister will recognise those words, but their use presupposes the involvement of the United States in the reference to NATO, so it is not a credible policy to turn that on its back by asking what we shall do in the EU. The bottom line is that without the involvement of either the US per se—or through article 5, the US and NATO—the EU is capable of producing no such defence capacity. By the way, it is also well understood that, time and again, the British forces are regarded as the linchpin to enable the delivery of a European capacity. So we are in deep territory.

I know that the Minister is extremely intelligent and well versed in such matters—at least, he soon will be. [Laughter.] Therefore, I have great confidence that he will extend his capacity, as Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to a real understanding of the role that he must adopt in relation to the treaty and the defence capacity. We need to get the balance right. The truth is that, under the treaty and under the representative role of the new Secretary-General, Javier Solana, who—I say this with respect, although I wrote an extremely tough article about him in The Times when he was appointed because it struck me as a little odd that the Secretary- General of NATO had campaigned against NATO—

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker, resumed the Chair.

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To report progress and ask leave to sit again.— [Mr. Caplin.]

Committee report progress; to sit again tomorrow.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 55(1) and (4) (Questions on voting of estimates, etc.)



Mr. Paul Boateng accordingly presented a Bill to authorise the use of resources and the issue of sums out of the Consolidated Fund for the service of the year ending on 31st March 2002 and to appropriate the supply authorised in this Session of Parliament: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 7].


Sports Ground and Sporting Events

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Question agreed to.


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [28 June],

Hon. Members: Object.


Motion made,

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Hon. Members: Object.



10.2 pm

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): In my capacity as national patron of the charity RoadPeace, which looks after the families of the victims who die on our roads, it is an honour to present this petition.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

11 Jul 2001 : Column 892

White Waltham Airfield

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Caplin.]

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