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Vienna Document 1994 (Privileges and Immunities) Order 1995

5.32 p.m.

Lord Chesham rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th October be approved [29th Report (1994-95) from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of this order is to confer privileges and immunities on observers, inspectors, evaluators and auxiliary personnel in accordance with the provisions of the 1994 Vienna Document of the Negotiations on Confidence and Security Building Measures. The Vienna Document 1994, which was adopted on 28th November 1994,

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integrates a new set of confidence and security building measures. These build on those adopted in the earlier Vienna Document 1992, which it supersedes and with which your Lordships will be familiar.

Agreement by the 53 states of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to the provisions of the Vienna Document 1994 is a welcome enhancement of military transparency and predictability throughout Europe. It has a particular role to play in reducing the risk of confrontation and tension.

A necessary component in any arms control regime is the ability to monitor compliance with the regime's obligations. In the case of the Vienna Document 1994, this is done by means of observations, evaluations and short-notice on-site challenge inspections carried out by representatives of individual OSCE states. The document requires that those certain persons mentioned previously are granted during their mission privileges and immunities in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The number of missions to the United Kingdom is not very high. We are liable to receive up to three inspections and two evaluation visits a year. Observations are by invitation and are linked to the size of military exercises, demonstrations of new types of military equipment and visits to combat air-bases.

This order is necessary for the United Kingdom to give effect in domestic law to these provisions on privileges and immunities. The order is being made under Section 1(2) of the Arms Control and Disarmament (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1988. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th October be approved [29th Report (1994-95) from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Chesham.)

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, I apologise on behalf of my noble friend Lady Blackstone who, unfortunately, is unable to be present. However, she has authorised me to say that we on these Benches give the order a friendly welcome.

We recognise that the order is in pursuance of other major decisions. The Minister's explanation put some flesh on its bones and explained why it is being put forward and what it is hoped it will achieve. It relates to confidence-building measures during a time of change in regimes throughout Europe and the world, and it is important that everything is done to strengthen the confidence that one nation has in another.

I noted in particular the use of the word "transparency". That is the vogue word used to describe making something clear, seeing clearly and understanding what is going on. Obviously, the purport of the order is to be welcomed and it is in that spirit that we welcome it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-four minutes before six o'clock.

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