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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, we target our aid on strengthening human resource development, tackling environmental problems, promoting good government and transportation. Indonesia is still a relatively poor country, with a GNP per head of approximately 730 dollars per annum and with a large population. Its government are pursuing sound economic policies. But we have always made it absolutely clear that we are against repression wherever it occurs.

Although there has been some improvement in human rights in Indonesia, I can tell the noble Lord that not only have I seen the reports that he mentioned but I have made it absolutely clear to Indonesian Ministers, including the Foreign Minister, that we believe that, although the establishment and manning of the National Human Rights Commission are steps in the right direction—as is the recent sentencing of soldiers involved in the Liquica killings and the greater openness for visitors to East Timor—there is considerable scope for further progress. That is why we are pressing them on that issue. The very fact that we have a decent relationship with the government enables us to press all the harder.

Lord Rea: My Lords, does the noble Baroness not agree that any form of aid, apart from perhaps disaster relief, frees funds in the recipient country for purchasing weapons from Britain or anywhere else? Does she not agree with my noble friend that over the past 30 years arms in Indonesia have been used solely for internal repressive purposes or for the illegal invasion and suppression of East Timor and West Irian?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord is not correct in his last statement. Indonesia plays a full part in ASEAN, and it is for those purposes that various countries have supplied equipment to Indonesia. We have made it absolutely clear on every occasion when an application has been made for licences that those licences will be granted only where equipment is being bought for legitimate purposes, and that does not include the repression of Indonesia's own people.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, is it not misleading to refer to the loan as an aid agreement? Is it not better to call it what it is? It is a development agreement which strengthens the ability of UK companies to supply capital goods and related services, and it prohibits the purchase of luxury goods or items for military or

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defence purposes. Does the Minister not agree that any form of leverage for improvement in relation to human rights is not possible as Indonesian government policy excludes expressly foreign debt being tied to non-economic conditionalities?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the concessional loan arrangement is a soft loan and it will be repaid over 25 years. The projects which it will enable to take place will be good for Britain and will concentrate on health, education, transport, water and sanitation and the environment. Therefore, the noble Viscount is absolutely right to say that that concessional loan arrangement is for very important developmental purposes.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, if weapons and arms supplied to Indonesia are not intended to be used for internal repression, will the Minister tell the House against what potential threat it is proposed that they are used?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, it is not for me to second guess Indonesia or any of the other ASEAN countries. But I know from international discussions on the security of the region that countries certainly wish to have the means with which to defend themselves under the UN Charter, and they have every right to do that.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does the Minister not accept that the difficulty in Indonesia is that, with the overall role of the armed forces as regards repression, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to separate what is and what is not used for repression? Does she not agree also that if she is as determined as we know she is to promote human rights, it is sad to be increasing aid at a time when the situation is deteriorating rather than improving?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I hear what the noble Lord says, but looking at the facts of the situation—and I truly mean this—and in response to the questions that I have put to Indonesian Ministers, I believe that, although, as I said in answer to the noble Lord's original Question, there is still some way to go, the very fact that soldiers have quite rightly been sentenced for the Liquica killings—something which could not have happened a few years ago—and the establishment and proper manning of the National Human Rights Commission mean that Indonesia is seeking to do things in a very much better and more acceptable way than in the past. We need to encourage that progress.

Viscount Brentford: My Lords, will my noble friend elucidate further as to whether in her discussions with the Indonesian government she obtained the impression that they were planning to ease repression in East Timor as well as taking the action that they have taken to which she referred in her last answer?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the government of Indonesia know only too well that they must stop the repression of persons. But of course the critical issue in relation to East Timor is the relationship between East Timor, Portugal and the Indonesian

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Government. Until discussions take place to resolve that matter, we know that there will always be room for dispute, which has occasionally in the past spilled over into violence and may sadly do so in the future. But we have made our point and that of all European members absolutely clear.

Rail Users' Consultative Committees

2.55 p.m.

Lord Harris of High Cross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that rail users' consultative committees play an effective role in protecting the interests of passengers.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): My Lords, the Government recognise the valuable role that the rail users' consultative committees play in protecting the interests of passengers. The role of the committees was strengthened by the Railways Act 1993 which widened their powers to comment on levels of service, closure and all aspects of fares.

Lord Harris of High Cross: My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount for that somewhat evasive reply. He is no doubt aware that smoking was banned on the Brighton line in January, 1993, after 150 years of such practices. That was done without any reference whatever to the consultative committee, which was very upset about it. However, is he aware that, within a few weeks of that ban, Sir Bob Reid, the then chairman of British Rail, wrote to Sir Patrick Mayhew saying:


    "We liaise carefully with statutorily constituted representatives of transport users and the respective proportions of smoking and non-smoking accommodation provided in trains has been changed in response to regular consultations with them"?

Does the Minister find that this misrepresentation of the consultative committee's procedures is satisfactory?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, Network SouthEast accepts that problems did occur in informing the TUCCs of the intention to extend the ban. The company tendered a formal apology to the CTCC, which was accepted. Nevertheless, the question of whether or not to ban smoking on trains is properly for the operator and the operator alone.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, is the Minister aware that reports in the press state that the bids for the privatisation of certain sectors of British Rail—notably ScotRail—are to be postponed further? Does he agree that that uncertainty as regards the dates for receiving bids for the privatisation process is causing a deterioration in the standard of service provided by British Rail? Therefore, does he not believe that the rail users' consultative committees have a vital role to play not only as regards the Brighton line but also in overlooking the entire situation of British Rail, which is rapidly deteriorating?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I do not accept that it is deteriorating. We believe firmly that with privatisation we shall see clear increases in the level of

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services being provided. The noble Lord is right to say that the consultative committees play a very strong role in the process. He referred to ScotRail. The consultation with the regional councils and the Scottish Rail Users Consultative Committee on ScotRail's passenger service requirement ends today. The views of the committee have been taken fully into account.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, in the past few weeks there have been two examples of a failure by British Rail to consult the relevant consultative committees: first, on the west coast of Scotland in relation to the sleeper service, and, secondly, the matter now referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. What sanctions are there on British Rail or ScotRail when there is a failure to consult in the manner dictated to them under the various Acts of Parliament?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that it is important that the operators consult properly. As regards ScotRail, the sleeper arrangements are part of the negotiations which have gone forward. It is important to note that the sleeper service has not been included in the draft ScotRail passenger service requirement; that is, the Fort William service. Of course, other sleeper services have been included. As I said, the consultative committees have been consulted on the draft PSRs and that consultation ends today.


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