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Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: My Lords, will my noble friend agree that this subject is of such vital and immediate importance that it does not really lend itself to oral question and answer at Question Time?

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble and learned friend. He is absolutely right. We are not in Bosnia to fight a war. UNPROFOR is not in Bosnia to fight a war. But we cannot impose a peace. UNPROFOR has already been asked to do too much with too little. What we have to do is make sure that UNPROFOR is better able to meet the mandate that it has been given.

Lord Richard: My Lords, while the Minister is absolutely right, and perhaps this is not a suitable subject for a question and answer session, unless it is a very long one, if the role of British forces in Bosnia were to change, either by intent or in fact—in other

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words, if the Government ascribe a new role to them or if in fact they become involved in fighting—will the Minister accept that we should then expect the issue to be dealt with by a recall of Parliament?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am quite certain that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is well aware of this matter. We must see how things go. I shall not speculate. It is dangerous. There are British lives and Bosnian lives at risk. We must do the best that we can. I assure the House that that is exactly what we are engaged in at present.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the attempt to interfere in the complicated civil war in Yugoslavia was doomed from the start? Does she agree that we must now consider the best way to get our troops out safely before any more of them are killed in a hopeless attempt to pacify the area? For any such attempt, at least half a million troops would be required, and when they had left, the sides would begin fighting each other again.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I note the views of the noble Lord. However, there is no single right answer in this difficult situation. I frankly think that the least said the better it is for our troops and for all those in Bosnia who are suffering so terribly at the present time.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that our troops in UNPROFOR have done a remarkable job in preventing the conflict from spreading to Kosovo and Macedonia, let alone Bulgaria, Albania and other parts of the Balkans? Therefore, is it not vital that we continue to keep those borders monitored?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am very much in sympathy with my noble friend's remarks about the role that UNPROFOR has already played. As I said at the beginning, the number of lives saved has improved greatly with UNPROFOR's presence on the ground. There is no doubt that the observers in Macedonia and other bordering nations have helped to prevent the spread of war. However, there may come a time in the future when UNPROFOR cannot carry out its job, or cannot carry it out with less risk than now exists. We shall have to face that situation when it occurs.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, is the Minister aware that one is very conscious that one does not want to say anything that makes things more difficult for the military commanders on the ground and those in the capitals who must take these painful decisions? Does she agree that there will be profound hope in many places that it will prove possible to find an effective means of protecting Gorazde and getting a relief channel through to Sarajevo? Does she further agree that the alternative to UNPROFOR sustaining its credibility is the possibility of much more suffering on the ground inside Bosnia and many more dangers in the region, and indeed more widely than that region altogether?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I understand very well what the noble Lord has just said. Obviously, we are concerned not only with the safety

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and security of the British troops both in Gorazde and in other parts of Bosnia but also with doing all that we can to see that there is an end to this horrific war. We are confident that the appropriate planning is in place to safeguard the security of our troops. I cannot go into any further detail. The noble Lord's first comments were so apt, and I thank him.

Lord Annan: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness will not agree with me, but has not the time come to consider whether to arm the Moslem forces in Bosnia? Does she not agree that there is an unfortunate parallel with our government's policy in the 1930s of non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War? That too seemed incomprehensible when both Hitler and Mussolini were arming General Franco's forces.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Lord, as he supposed. There is no way in which we should be seeking to fuel this war further.

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, is not the Minister aware that there was a three-hour debate in another place only last evening when both the Government and Official Opposition spokesmen were urging the utmost caution against any precipitate military action, as has just been suggested, because of the dangers to which it could lead? Would it not be better if we all waited until the Prime Minister reports on the conference being held this weekend?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord's suggestion is very valuable.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, does not the Minister agree that if there is a major change of circumstance, the point made by my noble friend Lord Richard is one that should commend itself to the House? After all, it is important for the Government to carry the House with them in the policies that they undertake in that area. Does the Minister agree also that talk of withdrawal simply spurs the Karadzic Serbs to further violations? It is extremely important in those circumstances that we must be vigorous in our determination to fulfil the United Nations' mandate by strengthening the position of the forces that are available there. Finally, does the Minister agree that it is a dangerous illusion to imagine that this deteriorating situation can be resolved by air power alone, which seems to be a prevailing view in the United States Congress?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. Should there be a major change of circumstance, my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal and the Leader of the Opposition in this House will no doubt consider whether your Lordships should be recalled. There is already a strengthening of the UNPROFOR forces by some 4,000 troops from Britain. They will ensure that we do whatever is necessary to bring this situation to a state of peace and cease-fire such as we enjoyed for nearly a year, or take whatever action then deemed necessary.

I agree with the noble Lord that some of the calls for action from various countries and individuals have been a long way from the reasonable and possible outcome

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to this tragic situation. There can be no military solution to this conflict. There is urgent need for a cease-fire—for a political settlement—and that is why we continue to work to that end.

House of Lords Offices: Select Committee Report

3.33 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move that the Fourth Report from the Select Committee on House of Lords offices be agreed to.

Moved, That the Fourth Report from the Select Committee be agreed to (HL Paper 84).—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Following is the report referred to:


    1. Annual Report and Accounts


    The Committee approved a draft Annual Report and Accounts for the financial year 1994-95. The Report and Accounts will be published and circulated in October.


    2. Bequest


    The Committee agreed that a bequest of £45,000, left by a Mrs. Dearsley for the maintenance of the Palace of Westminster, would be spent on stained glass windows to replace those missing from the openings opposite the bookstall in St. Stephen's Hall.


    3. Changes in the provision of vaccination services


    The Committee agreed that members and staff of the House should be advised to use the vaccination service provided at St. Thomas' Hospital rather than that provided by the Civil Service Occupational Health Service. This would result in savings to the Administration Vote without any loss in the quality of service to the House.


    4. Annunciator in Princes Chamber


    An annunciator will be installed in the Princes Chamber so that the duty whip and other Lords can know how business is progressing in the Chamber.


    5. Handrails in Chamber


    Handrails will be installed in the Chamber to facilitate access for disabled and other persons.


    6. Summer works programme


    The Committee has noted that the relocation of numerous offices during the summer recess, in addition to a heavy parliamentary works programme, will affect adversely those using the House in August and September. Disruption will be kept to a minimum. Details have been circulated.


    7. Painting of the House in session


    The Committee was informed that Mr. Andrew Festing has been commissioned to undertake the painting of the House in session. The work is likely to be completed by early 1997.


    8. Disabled lift in Westminster Hall


    The Committee approved the installation of a lift at the Grand Committee Room staircase in Westminster Hall to improve disabled access.


    9. Refreshment Department Pay


    Following the conclusion of the review of grading in the Refreshment Department, the Committee agreed:


    —the establishment of a fifth House of Lords Catering Grade for Senior Chefs de Partie;


    —the regrading of the following posts:


    Senior Chef de Partie (Larder) Band 10 to CG5


    Chef de Partie (Vegetables) Band 10 to CG4


    Chef de Partie (Vegetables) Band 10 to CG4


    Senior Chef de Partie (Larder) Band 14 to CG5


    Chef de Partie (Larder) Band 10 to CG4


    Senior Chef de Partie (Sauce) Band 10 to CG5


    Senior Chef de Partie (Starters) Band 10 to CG5

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    —the application to junior chef and cook posts of the provisions already agreed for other former industrial staff, namely extra pay points and a simple staff reporting system; reduction in hours of work to 41 gross, 36 net by April 1997; and cash incentives to give up cash and weekly pay;


    —the replacement of current Catering Manager grades by new House of Lords Chef and Catering Manager grades 1-4;


    —the regrading to Grade 7 of the post of Superintendent of the Refreshment Department;


    —the appointment of an additional Executive Officer and Assistant Banqueting Manager; and


    —the appointment of a Manager, Chef and eight other staff to serve the new outlets in the South East Return in March 1996.


    10. Private Bill Fees


    The Committee agreed that with effect from next session the fees payable at first and third readings of private bills should be increased from £2,500 to £3,500; and that other fees should be increased proportionately.


    11. Staff of the House


    The Committee agreed:


    —the extension of the post of Administration Officer to September 1998;


    —the payment of a 22 per cent. share in the salary cost of a new Grade 7 to be appointed in the House of Commons Information Systems Office; and


    —the appointment of an additional Library Clerk.


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