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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, the noble Viscount has asked several questions to which I shall try to respond as briefly as I can, being aware of the time limits on this part of the debate.

As to the press situation, I am sure that the noble Viscount will be aware--as I repeated in the Statement--that there were several items of news which

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were included in the Statement, particularly in relation to the deployment of additional British troops, which were certainly not available to anybody to report at an earlier stage. I am surprised that the noble Viscount thinks that he derived any of the basic factual information which I gave in the Statement from any background briefing which had been given at, for example, any of the Ministry of Defence briefings which occur on a daily basis. The Statement was very clear in its outline and in the items of news, if one can express the matter in that way, that it delivered.

On the question of the relationship with the Russians, in referring to the Statement which Secretary Albright issued in the last couple of hours, I said that I thought that there was a clear picture that at least some progress had been made and that at least talks are continuing. As to the impact on the internal position of the Russian elections, that will probably be more dependent on the somewhat catastrophic economic situation within Russia rather than on external relations with NATO. However, we should be aware that anything which increases the instability of the domestic situation there would not be helpful to any international objective.

I am sorry if I was not sufficiently clear to the noble Viscount about the objectives of the campaign. If he will forgive me, I shall not repeat those objectives which I read out in some detail because I am aware that I have now taken several of the allotted minutes, but if he would like me to, I shall repeat them in writing to him.

The noble Viscount mentioned the Territorial Army and the overstretch of the British Army. My noble friend Lord Gilbert has not conveyed any particular information to me on that point. However, I reiterate a fact which I mentioned to the House when we last discussed Kosovo. Since the defence review took place last year, Army recruitment has increased by a large percentage--about 16 per cent. That must reduce the overstretch, which is something of which the military planners will be aware in making their dispositions.

Lord Grenfell: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Leader of the House for her informative Statement. In the event that Milosevic agrees to a ceasefire, are Her Majesty's Government taking into account that if that is some way into the distant future, he may not be in a position to deliver that ceasefire given the fact that the paramilitaries and some of his own forces in Kosovo will not necessarily respond, having now got up a head of steam there? If that happens, is it envisaged by the Government that it may be necessary for NATO forces to go in to make sure that the ceasefire does in fact take place?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for making that important political point. As was said by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, reports coming out, at least through the media--although they are censored--from Yugoslavia is that Mr. Milosevic's political power is not being restrained. But my noble friend makes a legitimate point about the length of time that this campaign may take and its possible impact on the political stability within the Yugoslav area. In a sense, that underlines the importance of being in a position to have an international military presence there to ensure that a ceasefire is maintained and that it is

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maintained on the terms which I discussed when I repeated the objectives for a ceasefire that came yesterday from the Foreign Ministers of NATO.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, first, is it not the case that most of the Kosovars who have not yet been ethnically cleansed have remained immune from Serbian attacks because they live in mountainous or inaccessible regions which are not easy to get at by road? If that is so, will the noble Baroness suggest to colleagues in NATO that we should air-drop humanitarian supplies to those regions and that at the same time we should air-drop to the KLA, who are guarding them, shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles so that at least they can protect themselves if the Serbs do go in to try to ethnically cleanse the remainder of the territory?

Secondly, what is being done to counteract the propaganda shown nightly on Belgrade television and repeated from Pale? Are we not going to make some effort to see that the Serbs understand what is being done in their name; that is, the horrific crimes being committed by their armed forces? In connection with such crimes, will the Minister ensure that where evidence is available from the refugees and migrants it is taken down in a form which may subsequently be used in prosecutions before the ICTY; in other words, that it conforms with the rules of evidence laid down by that tribunal?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for raising those important points. He is correct in saying that the number of internal refugees, displaced persons internally, now fleeing from the Serbian forces are mainly in the mountain regions which are extremely inaccessible. Whether they are residents of those regions or whether they have gone there simply to hide from potential reprisals or the kind of eviction that their other, less fortunate neighbours have seen, is not entirely clear. There is a considerable lack of clarity concerning the numbers involved, but I think that no one disagrees that they are substantial.

As regards humanitarian aid for those people, the question of air drops is a complicated one. It would include low flying in mountainous regions with, no doubt, a great deal of Serbian response. It is difficult to imagine how that could be done and whether it could be done in a valuable way, given the substantial amount of aid which would have to be conveyed to make a real impact rather than simply being a gesture. However, such matters are under consideration.

As regards dropping arms to the KLA, I am sure that the noble Lord is aware that there is a UN resolution which would preclude that. It would obviously be difficult for NATO to undertake such action.

As regards counter-propaganda, I am sure the noble Lord will be aware that some of our websites on the Internet are receiving large numbers of visits from people within the Yugoslav Republic, who are, in a sense, picking up information of a different kind. There have been leaflet drops by the Americans but, as was stated yesterday by the BBC, this is a propaganda war

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in a situation of censorship and it is almost as difficult to get into the system in that way as it is to get into the military system in a more conventional way.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, I should like to ask the Minister two questions. First, what is the legal basis in international law for our invasion of a sovereign country, no matter what our morals may be or what morality may be intended? Secondly, can the Minister say whether NATO's moral indignation is confined to Europe or should we not have extended it to West Africa where Hutus and Tutsis have been murdering each other? Finally, is it not the case that the net result has been to rally the Serbs right behind Milosevic, which is the last thing NATO wanted to bring about?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I believe that the point regarding the legal basis for our action has been made clear in this House on several occasions. My noble friend Lady Symons has repeated it in Written Answers and at Question Time and I have repeated it in several Statements. I refer to the United Nations resolution which allows that in exceptional circumstances military force can be used to deal with humanitarian catastrophe. I am sure that the noble Earl would not disagree that there is definitely a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo. That is the legal basis upon which we are undertaking this military action.

The noble Earl raises a sensible point about the disparity, as he sees it, between the different aims of our attention to humanitarian catastrophe in one part of the world and another. I simply repeat the words of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, with which I entirely agree, that had we not taken action on this particular occasion, we would have felt deeply ashamed.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords--

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords--

Noble Lords: Cross-Bench!

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I was about to ask whether your Lordships would permit me to ask two brief questions from a position which is more exalted than that from which I am entitled to speak because the Bench I was told to occupy was already occupied.

My two questions are as follows, and I speak on behalf of those, from all sides of the House, who think that this bloody war should never have been started. First, will the Government pursue with the utmost energy the discussions which I understand are taking place and which have the view in mind, which I believe all of us share, that this business should be brought to an end as soon as possible?

Secondly, will my noble friend recognise--I hope that she will forgive me for using the word "friend"; I do so because I feel it to be proper--and will the Government recognise that this type of operation is known intrinsically to be much harsher on the attacked than the attacker? One of the consequences of that is that women and children are almost invariably killed in

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this type of operation. Having regard to that and recognising that our forces are doing their best in that respect, they are not succeeding very well. Will they take what extra care is possible at this stage to ensure that non-combatants do not suffer to the degree that they are at present?

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