Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. However, will he accept that it is not a great encouragement to major public debate? Will he further accept that NATO is central to British defence and that enlargement of NATO--thus the transformation of NATO--means the transformation of the context of British defence? Does he agree that a debate about NATO enlargement appears to be under way almost entirely within the United States, and that we ought to have a parallel debate here?
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I accept that NATO is central to many matters relating to this country. We are committed to making as much information available as soon as we can. As I think the noble Lord will agree, the amount that we can say is limited by the fact that much information is classified on security grounds. After the Defence Committee has considered the information that was classified, it will be up to the committee to publish the evidence given to it by the Government and others. Over and above that--there will be a full debate both in this House and in another place before UK ratification occurs.
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that we are in danger of becoming entangled in a whole host, a criss-cross, of conflicting claims and counter-claims of a territorial kind in eastern Europe--first against Romania by Hungary, by Bulgaria and so on, over and over again?
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the case itself for the enlargement of NATO is not widely accepted? Perhaps he can assure the House that we are able to discuss the detail of the subject, about which there is considerable difference of opinion among all parties.
Lord Hoyle: Yes, my Lords, I agree that it is a matter for discussion. At the end of the day there will be a full debate in this House before ratification; indeed, each country will ratify in its own way and debates will take place. There will be an opportunity for all Members to express a view before ratification occurs.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that he has answered the Question in the form in which it was put on the Order Paper? What more can be done? Is that not a matter for congratulation?
Lord Bridges: My Lords, has the Minister studied the debate which occurred during the last Session of Parliament on a Motion by the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, about the ratification of treaties under the Ponsonby rule? It led to some informed discussions between the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey. My understanding is that the previous government had it in mind that in future foreign treaties should be submitted to the House with an explanatory memorandum, as happens with European legislation. Would that not be a good precedent to follow on this occasion?
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I am indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Bridges. As much information as possible will be given. The House will agree, I am sure, that we cannot give information that is militarily sensitive on troop movements. But this Government are wedded to open government and will make as much information as possible available.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, perhaps I may echo the good wishes expressed from the Benches opposite for the fact that there is now a commitment to have a full debate in this House on the matter while it is still alive. Is my noble friend in a position to tell us when that is likely to be? Must it await the conclusion of the study by the Defence Committee of the House of Commons, or could it be before that?
Lord Burnham: My Lords, in consideration of the problems associated with NATO enlargement, can the Minister state that the Government will give an absolute assurance that the costs will be taken into account in the strategic defence review?
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, NATO's initial assessment is that the cost of enlargement will amount to 1.5 billion dollars over the next 10 years. That confirms our assessment that the cost of enlargement will be manageable. The MoD's share of costs to date is 110 million dollars over the same 10 years.
The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House which of the former Warsaw Pact nations--and I include the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania--have opted for the United Kingdom model to train and equip their armed forces? What encouragement will Her Majesty's Government give those nations through the supply of military training teams so that they can meet the criteria which NATO will set before they are allowed to join NATO?
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord should put down a Question on the matter. The new members have already put forward significant programmes of modernisation and restructuring. NATO's assessment of those countries' forces has at the moment produced no nasty shocks. Indeed, they are in far better condition than we expected and the whole of NATO, including ourselves, will give every assistance we possibly can.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that most interesting answer. Is he aware that obscene increases continue to be given to chairmen of companies, chief executives and directors? Does he agree, therefore, that the pleas and exhortations which have been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others are not achieving their purpose? In those circumstances, what thought is being given by the Government to the problem?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, my noble friend has drawn attention to one aspect of corporate governance which is important. I have already indicated that excessive pay can impact on the company's reputation and on morale within the company. Those are two important components of corporate governance.
My right honourable friend will consider the element to which my noble friend drew attention, and all the aspects that have been set out in the Hampel report. Of course, included in her considerations will be the observations made by the TUC.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, do the Government have any intention of bringing in statutory regulation of wage and salary movements? If not, is it still the case that the responsibility of directors is to act within the law and in the best interests of their shareholders, rather than in response to the exhortations of passing politicians?
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page