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Baroness Amos: My Lords, first, I believe that everyone in this House should be concerned about democratic institutions. Secondly, we are addressing the long-term sustainability of those countries. I do not accept that in discussing these issues in the context of

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the European Union we are over-regulating. We are putting mechanisms in place to facilitate the recovery of those economies.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, are we monitoring the pollution levels in the Danube in Romania or Bulgaria to ensure that the bombing of petrochemical plants and refineries on the Yugoslav borders is not causing severe pollution? Will the Minister undertake to examine the position with regard to nuclear power stations in Bulgaria and Romania which take water from the Danube because if the water becomes polluted there will be serious problems in "iffy" nuclear power stations? Finally, will she confirm that the populations of Bulgaria and Romania have been forbidden to eat fish caught in the Danube?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, possible pollution of the Danube is being investigated. When further information is available, I shall be happy to write to the noble Lord with it.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, are the Government aware that the blocking of the Danube by the destruction of bridges is causing great difficulties economically to all the countries of eastern Europe, including Romania and Bulgaria?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, as I said in answer to the supplementary question from the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, we are concerned about the possible economic impact on all the surrounding countries. That is one of the reasons why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development hosted a meeting of a number of donor nations on 22nd April. They examined the way in which Britain and other concerned nations, as well as the international financial institutions, could put forward a long-term strategy to improve the position of those countries.

The Royal Tournament

3.32 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the future of the Royal Tournament.

Lord Burlison: My Lords, on 7th October last year, my noble friend Lord Hoyle informed the House that the current form of the Royal Tournament would end on a high note this year, but a flagship event would continue. As part of the Services' contribution to the millennium celebrations, the Royal Military Tattoo 2000 will be staged on Horse Guards Parade from 10th to 15th July 2000. The format, location and timing of events after that remain the subject of further planning.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that rather disappointing Answer. Would it not be more honest to say right from the beginning that this will be the last Royal Tournament; that next year it

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will not be the event we know because there will be no field guns? Why does not the MoD underwrite the £500,000 needed to keep this self-financing and very enjoyable pageant going?

Lord Burlison: My Lords, the Royal Tournament has served us well for a great many years. However, as we approach the new millennium, it is appropriate to take a fresh look at the event. In its current form, the tournament sends only a limited message about the role of the Armed Forces in the modern world and therefore needs to be reviewed.

Lord Renton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that for years the Royal Tournament has been not only marvellous entertainment and a great tourist attraction, but has also helped the Armed Forces with much needed recruitment? Is it not short-sighted and narrow-minded to let it come to an end like this?

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that question and agree that the Royal Tournament has served this country well. We can all be proud of the event and its success over the years. However, it is clear that with the change that is taking place and the fact that attendance has fallen from 300,000 to 200,000 we must look at the event again.

Furthermore, while recruitment generally in the Armed Forces is buoyant this year, there are reservations about whether the Royal Tournament targets the right area for recruitment. That was one of the main reasons why the position needs to be reviewed.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, it has been known that the Royal Tournament has been in a bad way financially for some years. There has been no payment from the tournament to the services' charities. However, they have received a considerable amount of money from a lottery connected with the tournament. Can the Minister assure the House that those charities will be compensated for the losses they will suffer as a result of the closure of the tournament?

Lord Burlison: My Lords, the noble Lord has made a good point. In recent years, we have seen a steady decline in the finances of the tournament. Between 1991 and 1997 it made an overall loss of £600,000. During that period, donations were made to the various charities, in particular those mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Burnham. I cannot give assurances about those charities, but I am sure that the committee and the MoD will be examining the changes which need to take place in the tournament and their future effects on charities.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the Minister said that the Royal Tournament should cease to take place because it has little relationship to what happens in the 20th or 21st centuries. Can he assure the House that such absurd scrutiny will not apply to the Trooping of the Colour?

Lord Burlison: My Lords, at this point in time, I do not wish to comment on that. However, I appreciate the noble Earl's point. The effects of the revised tournament

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arrangements or its format will be subject to further study. If the noble Earl and other noble Lords wish to make recommendations and proposals, or to give advice to the department concerned, I am assured that they will be taken on board.

Lord Hoyle: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, while the new venue will retain the best traditions of the Royal Tournament, its setting will allow the services to be better represented and will have a wider appeal to the population?

Lord Burlison: My Lords, it might be that my noble friend knows a little more than I do in relation to future events. However, for 2001 and beyond a further study will consider a replacement for the current event which will provide the opportunity to put across the message of the armed services in a fashion better than we are able to do at the moment. We want to send the general public a message about the services and their future role in a changed world. However, as regards the future beyond 2000, nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out.

Business

3.38 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I announce arrangements which have been agreed by the usual channels for the handling of the Weatherill amendment to the House of Lords Bill.

It has been agreed that it will make for a better debate on the Weatherill amendment if the principal amendment could be debated and decided upon on Tuesday without any debate on the 22 amendments which have been tabled to it. In order to achieve that, it has been agreed that should the Weatherill amendment be agreed to on Tuesday the Bill will, at the conclusion of its Committee stage, be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House only in respect of what would then be a new clause which gives effect to the Weatherill amendment. Noble Lords who have tabled amendments to the Weatherill amendment are therefore asked to withdraw them from the Marshalled List for next Tuesday. Noble Lords concerned should contact the Public Bill Office if possible by 4 p.m. tomorrow.

If the Weatherill amendment is accepted on Tuesday, amendments to the new clause can then be tabled for debate when the clause is recommitted. All noble Lords who have tabled amendments to the Weatherill amendment will agree with that approach. It would lead to a better managed and clearer debate on the principles which the noble Lords will wish to probe in Committee. It will also allow the House to decide on the Weatherill amendment in principle before it moves to consider its details. The House will agree that it would be a waste of time if the House were to spend a long time discussing the detailed amendments to the Weatherill amendment and then decided to reject it.

Procedurally, the scheme that I have outlined is the only way round this problem. It will certainly make for a better and clearer debate on a very important

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amendment. Therefore, the Weatherill amendment itself will still be taken in Committee next Tuesday, 11th May, as previously announced. It will, however, be possible also to make some further progress with the Bill in Committee on that day. The recommittal will take place early in the week that the House rises for the Whitsun Recess. I hope that this arrangement is both clear and satisfactory to your Lordships.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip for making that statement and agreeing to the request from the Official Opposition to take the business in that way. I give an assurance to the noble Lord that I shall do my best to make sure that all my noble friends who have tabled amendments to that particular amendment will withdraw them. However, I ask for some reassurance from the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip that the time he suggests of 4 p.m. tomorrow is not an absolute limit and that those whom I find it slightly more difficult to contact may, if necessary, withdraw their amendments on Monday.


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