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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am not quite sure how many supplementary questions the noble Lord has asked. However, perhaps I may deal first with the very serious allegations of infringements of human rights which the noble Lord has drawn to our attention. We have raised this matter with the Turkish Government and we have no hard evidence of the incidents which the noble Lord related to the House. We have spoken to both the Turks and the KDP about avoiding civilian casualties. The KDP has denied categorically any wrongdoing in Erbil such as that described by the noble Lord.

Further, we understand that Turkey has no wish to challenge Iraq's territorial integrity in the way that the noble Lord suggested and, of course, we too respect Iraq's territorial integrity. I stress to the noble Lord that we have urged Turkey not to exceed measures necessary to protect its own interests. We wish to stress to Turkey, as the EU presidency has done, that the solution to those problems is political and not military. Indeed, on 16th May the presidency called on Turkey to exercise the utmost restraint, to respect human rights, not to endanger the lives of innocent civilians and to withdraw its military forces from Iraqi territory as quickly as possible.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness will be aware that the protection of human rights was one of the central planks of the Mission Statement outlined by the Foreign Secretary--a statement which cost £54,000 to stage. Can the Minister say whether threatening Turkey with talks is a new and dynamic way of dealing with this obviously serious abuse of human rights? Further, is it not high time to talk turkey to Turkey?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am sure that we appreciate the noble Viscount's pun. However, I am sure that we all take very seriously the allegations that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has put before the House. As the noble Viscount rightly pointed

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out, this Government have placed human rights at the heart of our foreign policy. We are reminding Turkey--indeed, we did so even this last week--of the importance of respecting human rights and of avoiding endangering civilians in the region. The Turks have told Her Majesty's Government that the Turkish forces will be scrupulous in their protection of civilians and that there will be full respect for human rights.

The noble Viscount asked whether we would be taking the matter further. I can tell him that we intend to take a fresh look at how agreed principles in international fora can best be used to encourage a productive and constructive response from Turkey. We agree that much more needs to be done and that quicker progress needs to be made to bring Turkish performance closer to what we would regard as European norms. We know this and the Turkish Government recognise our position on the matter.

Lord Rea: My Lords, will the Government take the incidents of human rights violations by Turkey, and the incursions across international frontiers by that country, as a signal for initiating European discussions to prevent arm sales to Turkey? Surely that would be compatible with the Foreign Secretary's position.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the question of arm sales to governments whose record on human rights is not all that it might be is, of course, a matter of great concern to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. As my noble friend knows, the Government have an eight-point guidance memo about such sales of arms, which I am sure will form the basis of decisions as regards arms sales to all countries.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Baroness if I may congratulate her upon her clarity of expression?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords; the noble Lord may certainly do so. I thank him.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the only safe rule is that international frontiers should only be crossed with the approval of the Security Council? Will the noble Baroness take up the matter with the Secretary-General so that proper discussions can be held at the assembly? We should remember the dangerous precedent of the 1930s when previous experience showed that tolerating the crossing of international frontiers was a dangerous and slippery slope which led to vast international conflagration.

As regards the murders in Erbil, is it correct that the United Nations still has personnel in the region? If so, will they be asked to report on the allegations? If there are no UN personnel there, will the international community ask Masood Barzani, the leader of the KDP, whether he will admit the UN rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Monsieur Bacre Waly Ndiawe, so that he can conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the murders?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Lord asks very specific questions about the role

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of the United Nations. I shall be happy to write to him on the specific points that he has raised in the last part of his contribution. On the question of incursions into other territories, I have expressed our concern. However, at the same time, the Government understand Turkey's aim to maintain her own territorial integrity and protect her own legitimate security interests.

Business of the House

11.35 a.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal I beg to move the first Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper.

Under Standing Order 70(1)(a), no Motion to approve an affirmative instrument may be moved in your Lordships' House unless a report on the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has been laid before the House. The joint committee has not yet been appointed so it has been agreed through the usual channels that the standing order should be dispensed with today to allow your Lordships to consider this important Northern Ireland instrument.

Moved, That Standing Order 70 be dispensed with to enable the Motion to approve the draft Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc.) Act 1996 (Revival of Section 3) Order 1997 to be taken this day notwithstanding that no report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments on the draft order has been laid before the House.--(Lord Carter.)

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, this is the first opportunity that I have had publicly to congratulate the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip on his appointment. From this side of the House, we would like to wish him the very best of success. The noble Lord will find that this House is a surprising one, especially when it chooses to disagree with what I am sure the noble Lord would regard as the finest of government policy. As I so recently filled the post of Government Chief Whip, I know to my own cost that that happens from time to time.

As regards the Motion, as it is so early in this parliamentary Session and we are still at that stage of good will and co-operation, I should like to say that we are happy to agree with the Motion. We do not wish that to be seen as a precedent; but it should be seen in the spirit of good will. If in the future it turns out that we are obliged to disagree more often than we agree, I hope that the noble Lord and the Government will look back at this period with some joy in their hearts.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, both noble Lords who have just spoken are absolutely right; this is most certainly an unusual Motion. However, I find it unusual for a different reason than that which has so far been stated. It is the last two lines of the Motion to which I would like to draw your Lordships' attention. Reference to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments is normally made during the

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Minister's opening speech on the order and not in a Motion. Being an oddball myself, I am very pleased to see it where it is today. The joint committee of seven of your Lordships and seven MPs on which I was honoured to serve during the last Parliament, but which is so popular that I would not be surprised to be elbowed off in this Parliament, is a technical but very important part of our legislative process, dealing as it does with the nuts and bolts of Acts of Parliament--some 3,000 of them a year, only a minuscule number of which get to be debated on the Floor of either House.

As the noble Lord the Chief Whip said, the new committee has yet to be appointed so obviously it could not investigate this order for vires or for any other reason as regards its remit. However, I understand that Sir James Nursaw, the committee's legal adviser on affirmative instruments, has reviewed it and found nothing on which he would have liked to advise the committee had it been sitting.

I hope that the very reference to the committee in the Motion of the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal means that the Government will take the committee's work seriously and not regard it as a thundering nuisance as governments have occasionally, and most certainly some Ministers have done, in the past. Indeed, I further hope that the last two lines of the Motion presage good relations between the Government and the committee.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, has explained the circumstances which have required the Government to table the Motion. I believe that the case he made is overwhelming. We certainly support it.

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