|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, we support full and proper investigation of mass graves, including around Srebrenica, and call on the local Bosnian authorities to meet their responsibilities in this area, as required under the Dayton peace agreement and reinforced by the Bonn peace implementation council last December. We have contributed £3 million in 1997 to the International Committee of the Red Cross's programme for the former Yugoslavia, which includes tracing and exhumation work. We also support the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, which investigates grave sites.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply on this most serious matter. Is this not the worst example of genocide in Europe since 1945? Will the Government demand a full inquiry to establish the truth of what happened in 1995? Meanwhile, even before that inquiry starts, will they ask the United States forces stationed nearby to supervise the exhumation of the graves?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I turn first to the noble Lord's final point regarding the role that American troops might have in exhumation work. Such a role is not in the SFOR mandate. The mandate is to secure an environment against which the exhumations can take place. British troops are not engaged in the Srebrenica area. However, we understand that the American troops and others have indeed helped with escort duties in relation to the exhumation teams.
The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is quite right. The massacre at Srebrenica was a tragedy. Her Majesty's Government believe that the way to prevent a recurrence lies in the full implementation of the Dayton peace agreement, to which Her Majesty's Government are firmly committed. We are supporting all the work of the International Red Cross and trying to establish what happened to the missing people, and to provide useful evidence in bringing the perpetrators of these dreadful war crimes to justice.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, can the Minister say whether Ms. Louise Arbour, the prosecutor, has resolved the difficulties that she had with the French authorities in getting French servicemen to give evidence before the tribunal?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I regret to say that I do not have detailed information about the French servicemen giving evidence before the tribunal. It is, of course, an important question. I regret that I am unable to answer in detail. Perhaps I may write to the noble Lord.
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, will the noble Baroness bear in mind that no inquiry into this matter is complete without an answer to the question regarding the Dutch troops on site, who appealed for an air strike but never got it?
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that any inquiries into the matter must involve specifically what happened when the Dutch troops on the spot appealed for an air strike and never got it?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I agree that all aspects must be fully investigated. It is our intention during the period of our EU presidency to do everything we can to find out what happened in order to ensure that such dreadful events do not happen again. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, we wish to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice as quickly as possible.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Resolution 827, which was embodied in the Dayton accord, has not been fully carried out? It concerned the apprehension and arrest of war criminals. Does she recognise that, in particular, in view of the recent election in the Republika Srpska of Mr. Dodik as prime minister, there is now a real chance of getting strong help and support from that part of Republika Srpska which he represents, and to which Mrs. Plavsic appointed him, to achieve a successful effort to find and arrest war criminals? Without that, Bosnia's peace will always be much in doubt.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, all parties must agree that peace in Bosnia will depend ultimately on the full implementation of the Dayton peace agreement, as the noble Baroness implied. She is quite right, Her Majesty's Government welcome the recent appointment of the new Republika Srpska government led by Mr. Milorad Dodik. We welcome his stated commitment to the Dayton agreement. On 26th January, the GAC agreed to provide an initial 6 million ecu in financial assistance to the new moderate and pro-Dayton Republika Srpska Government.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, will the Government confirm whether the additional aid which has been requested by the International Criminal Tribunal for the exhumation of the mass graves at Srebrenica will be provided?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we have these matters under constant review. At the moment, there are four sites which are being excavated and I understand that the International Red Cross has said that there are a number of other sites, another six to eight further sites around Srebrenica, that it wishes to investigate over the course of this year. Through the EU we have already this week committed a further 6 million ecu. I am sure that if more money is needed for this important work it will be considered during the course of the presidency.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has invited architect-led design teams to register their interest and is looking for architects with proven ability. As part of the selection process, a short list of three or four will be invited to produce indicative design approaches which will be put on public display. The successful design team will then be selected.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for confirming my understanding of the matter. Can he confirm that, while it is important that the parliament building fully respects the place where it will be sited, there is no particular guidance as to style for any of the architects who might wish to bring forward proposals?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I got into trouble with the Secretary of State for Wales the other day for referring to his area as "the Principality". He told me that I should refer to it as "Wales". So I do not think I am in a strong position to influence the Secretary of State for Wales at the moment.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I will go through the timetable. The closing date for submissions will be 2nd March 1988--I am sorry, 1998. Funny things happen to you when you come into this House! Initial applicants will be sifted by the middle to end of March, 12 panel interviews will be held, which will produce a short list of three or four by mid-April. Those three or four will be invited to produce designs to brief by the end of May. There will be the public exhibition of designs by early June and design teams will be re-interviewed and the winner selected by the end of June.
Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, I am sure we are all agreed that a building of some distinction should be erected on this prominent site. I encourage the Minister to pursue that. Can he tell us whether there are any financial limitations in place on the architects and designers of this important building? If so, what are those financial limitations?
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, does the Minister accept that those of us who wanted to see the parliament built on the Calton Hill site none the less accept that if there is to be a new building, the Holyrood site is excellent? But the building must be sensitive because of Holyrood Palace and because of the incorporation of Queensberry House. Therefore, will the Minister ensure that guidelines to the architects state that they should look at the excellent example of Richmond House in Whitehall, where modern architecture has been combined with sensitivity to the adjacent buildings?
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page