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Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I read the Written Answer given last night, having managed to obtain a copy of it only 25 minutes ago. Is the Minister aware that prison governors are extremely concerned about the failure to implement all the Learmont recommendations which cost significant sums of money, being aware that if anything goes wrong the Home Secretary will blame them and not himself?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord is being very disingenuous. He will know that my right honourable friend set up the Woodcock and Learmont Reports, which are inextricably linked. Some of the Woodcock Report is subsumed in the Learmont Report, and vice versa. He will also know that my right honourable friend has been most open about progress; he has been given progress reports throughout and that will continue.
With respect, the noble Lord is not in power. Only a government in power have appraise and reappraise value for money and fully appraise these proposals in order to ensure that the balance of expenditure and the effectiveness of what is being done meet with those who have to pay; that is, the taxpayers.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Home Secretary said that expenditure was not to be used as an excuse for failure to implement any of the security recommendations. Is the noble Baroness admitting that my noble friend's allegation is correct and that all the recommendations of Learmont which will cost money have been shelved? Will she circulate a list of recommendations and the amount of money attached to each of them so that we know exactly where the Government stand?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I cannot do that at present because, if he reads the review, the noble Lord will know that some of the recommendations are still being considered because they have cost implications. But money has been spent and money continues to be
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, Her Majesty's Government's long-standing policy is not to reveal their vote in elections for the United Nations Secretary General.
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, this issue threatens to become acrimonious at a particularly sensitive time for the future of the United Nations. What are the criteria by which this Secretary General shall be judged and what is the Government's assessment of his term?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, Dr. Boutros Ghali has held that post at a very crucial and difficult time in the history of the United Nations. There have been excessive expectations of what the United Nations can do. That has led inevitably to disappointment with the results. We are talking here of a very distinguished statesman who has an honourable record but, like most people in this difficult world, he has not achieved all that he hoped to achieve.
As regards the future, we wish to see a more effective and efficient United Nations with real value for money for its services, particularly to the developing countries. That was what formed an important part of the G7 summit at Lyon some weeks ago. That is also what the United Nations Secretary General is working for.
Lord Healey: My Lords, is it not the case that the so-called failures of the Secretary General are due to the fact that permanent members of the Security Council have voted consistently for action without providing the United Nations with the money or the troops to carry that action?
Will the Minister protest to the United States Government because, not content with declaring a trade war against their allies over Libya and Iran, they are now engaged in a McCarthy-type campaign against Dr. Boutros Ghali, who was praised to the skies some months ago by President Clinton for his services to the United Nations and the world? Does the Minister agree that it is particularly inappropriate for the United States Administration to be taking that line at a time when they still owe the United Nations 1,500 million dollars, which they have owed for some years; and when they have still not paid the fine imposed upon them by the international court for breaking the United Nations Charter in their actions against Nicaragua more than 10 years ago? Does the Minister agree with me that it is a scandal that the United States Administration should be sacrificing the United Nations to a sordid political squabble in the United States Congress?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I started off in total sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Healey, when he talked about nations which demand action but do not provide the money and the troops. Of course, he is absolutely right about that.
He is right also to say that the United States owes 1.58 billion dollars of the outstanding arrears of 2.6 billion dollars to the United Nations. But to follow him down the byways of all his questions (plural) will not do much good in this situation. We need to bring some light and sense to this matter. The noble Lord will know from his long experience that when it comes to delving deeper into this question, he will find other Government Ministers and myself in Trappist mode on the subject.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, it is probably because, by convention, the Security Council has always over many years discussed this matter on the margins of the General Assembly, and because there is great sensitivity about the rotation of the Secretary Generalship from time to time. Dr. Boutros Ghali is the first Secretary General from the African continent. Every region has now provided at least one Secretary General. It may be that something can be done in the future, but there is certainly no measure of agreement to do this in any other way at the moment.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, withholding dues from the United Nations is not the way for the United Nations to be able to carry out its tasks. The noble Baroness is right about that. As I said in answer to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, we very much appreciate the contribution that Dr. Boutros Ghali has made and continues to make, particularly in the area of reform. But after many years of studying the difficulty of the reform, I am not surprised that further progress has not yet been made. The crucial point is that most of the members of the United Nations and the G7 countries are absolutely united behind Dr. Boutros Ghali's efforts at reform. We must proceed with that. But he has done a remarkable job at a very difficult time and frequently without the means.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, are the Government aware that there is a great deal of antagonism towards the United Nations exhibited by the people of the United States following what I am sure the Minister will agree is anti-United Nations propaganda in the media of the United States? Will she advise the House whether, in the discussions with the BBC regarding the future of the World Service, broadcasts by the World Service to the people of the United States to give a balanced view of the world situation are on the agenda?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am not responsible for the editorial content of the BBC World Service, much as I often think that I could give the BBC a few good suggestions. I only wish that the Home Service would copy the World Service.
As regards the main part of the noble Lord's question, there is antagonism towards some of the sillier aspects of the activities of the United Nations, but to concentrate all that on the Secretary General, as some in the United States have sought to do, I agree is simply not appropriate. It is important that the United Nations, as an organisation, should learn from its past exploits which have not gone well, and should make sure that it follows good practice. That is exactly what Dr. Boutros Ghali is trying to do, although that may not yet be well understood in the United States.
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