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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the noble Lord must be patient. The House will know that the Government are undertaking a nuclear review. They have not completed or published their conclusions and it would be premature for me to comment on the matter.
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the Government's record on energy efficiency and the proper use of electricity is lamentable? Do the Government recognised that at every stage of the Electricity Act in your Lordships' House they resisted putting a duty on the distributors of electricity to ensure and promote energy efficiency? If the Government are so keen on energy efficiency and the proper use of electricity, why do they not restore that duty?
Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the Government have established the Energy Savings Trust which is being funded by the electricity generating companies. That will promote energy saving in the private sector and will include options for less energy consumption.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, does the noble Viscount not agree that there has been a very sharp reduction in CO 2 produced by power stations? The increase in such emissions does not emanate from power stations but from motor vehicles. Will the Government
Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, in the climate change programme which was put forward by the Government, we committed ourselves to a longer term strategy of increasing transport fuel duties by at least 5 per cent. per year on average above the rate of inflation. At the last Budget, duties were raised by 8.6 per cent. above the rate of inflation. That indicates the seriousness with which the Government regard the part that transport plays in relation to CO 2 emissions.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the Government of Israel are aware of the European Union's concerns about the situation in the occupied territories, including the situation in relation to settlement building.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. Is it not the case that the declaration demanded a total cessation of work on expanding settlements? Will the presidency of the European Union now inform Israel that further private house building in such places as Maale Adumin, Gush Etzion and Giz'at Ze'ev will provoke financial penalties on Israel's trade with Europe?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the building of settlements in the occupied territories is contrary to international law and is an obstacle in the way of peace. The matter of settlements is one that has been reserved under the declarations of principle of the Oslo Agreement of 1993 until issues relating to permanent status are determined. Nevertheless, the building of those settlements is in breach of international law and we believe that it is contrary to the spirit behind the declarations of principle.
The EU troika of Foreign Ministers will visit Israel next month and that matter will be brought very forcefully to the attention of the Israeli Government. Indeed, in the following month, the Prime Minister of this country is to visit Israel and he too will be bringing forward those matters.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in view of the Minister's very welcome reaffirmation of the Government's view that the settlement policy of the Israeli Government is illegal and contrary to international law, will he join our European partners in trying to persuade the United States Administration to follow the precedent of their predecessors in also declaring illegal the Israeli settlement policy?
Lord Kennet: My Lords, in view of the grievous situation now developing on the West Bank, will the noble Lord say anything about the trend of British arms exports to Israel since their resumption last summer? While one can understand that any equipment which would help the Israeli Government to detect suicide bombers in bus stations is a very good kind of export, what about the more lethal equipment which I presume that we are still sending to Israel?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for reiterating the degree of seriousness in connection with the state of relations in Israel. I am not in a position to give the noble Lord any detailed reply about arms exports other than to say that the normal criteria obviously apply in this case.
Lord Mayhew: My Lords, has it not been clear for many years now that peace in the region will never be possible while the Israelis continue to build settlements in occupied Arab territories? The noble Lord rightly says that the Government have protested often in line with the Security Council and the European Community. But why have they always opposed bringing pressure to bear on the Israeli Government, perhaps along the lines suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I do not think it is true to say that the Government are opposed to bringing pressure to bear on Israel. In the current circumstances, where matters are extremely sensitive, it is our priority and that of our European Union partners to see whether we can proceed with the current negotiations. That is the cardinal principle behind our policy at this time.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, has the European Union noted the watering down of the safeguards against torture in the process of interrogation of terrorist suspects which was announced by the Israeli Justice Minister on 13th November of last year? Have the Government noted also any response from the Israeli authorities to a human rights Middle East report which refers to the use of torture and ill-treatment by Israelis in their interrogation of Palestinians from the occupied territories? Will the European Union consider raising those matters at the Geneva meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am not in a position to answer the detail of the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. But it is a matter which is at the forefront of our concerns; that proper human rights provisions should be observed by the Israelis.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, given that there is now a serious danger that the peace process will stall completely, will the Minister tell the House whether the Government intend to have any discussions with the
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, as I hope I explained earlier, it is a matter of the greatest concern and importance to Her Majesty's Government that the peace process continues. The House may rest assured that we shall not spare any effort to try to ensure that that occurs.
Lord Haskel: My Lords, does the Minister not agree that in spite of the wave of terrorism which is taking place, it is important for both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Administration that the peace negotiations should continue?
The Earl of Carnarvon: My Lords, I beg to present a Petition from Berkshire County Council which prays that this House will urge the Secretary of State for the Environment to reject the final recommendations of the Local Government Commission in so far as they relate to Berkshire. The Petition prays also that this House will vote down any orders placed before it seeking to implement the final recommendations of the Local Government Commission in so far as they relate to Berkshire
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend the law relating to the distribution of the estates of deceased persons and to make provision about the effect of the dissolution or annulment of marriages on wills and appointments of guardians. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
Lord Kilmarnock: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to enable legitimated persons to succeed, and to transmit a right to succeed to dignities and titles of honour; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
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