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India and Pakistan

3.2 p.m.

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, as a longstanding friend of both countries, we are deeply

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concerned by the fighting in the Kargil area of Jammu and Kashmir following armed infiltration across the Line of Control. We have urged both Pakistan and India to respect the Line of Control and to work to end the fighting. Our role, and that of others who wish them well, is to encourage both countries to resolve, through dialogue, the issues between them.

Lord Ahmed: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Is she aware that in the past five to six weeks scores of Kashmiri civilians have been killed and injured, and over 30,000 people in the Kargil area and 50,000 in Azad Kashmir have been made refugees due to Indian air strikes, shelling and artillery fire? Does she agree that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan in accordance with the Simla Agreement or the Lahore Declaration have failed, and that to resolve the issue of Kashmir we need a UN-sponsored peace plan which would bring peace and prosperity in the region? Finally, would her Majesty's Government encourage the UN Secretary-General to send a special envoy to broker peace between India and Pakistan and to find a permanent solution to the issue of Kashmir which is acceptable to all the people of Kashmir--Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist and Christian?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am aware that both sides are conducting artillery fire across the Line of Control. I am also aware that a number of allegations have been made by the Kashmiri side and the Pakistanis about Indian activity, which has been denied by the Indian Government; and that, similarly, allegations have been made which Pakistan has denied. The picture is indeed very confusing.

The noble Lord makes a specific suggestion about UN intervention. He makes his case very eloquently. Indeed, some may find it highly persuasive. However, I am sure that my noble friend will realise that if there is to be the involvement of any third party that is to contribute positively to the resolution of this matter it must be acceptable to both sides. That is not the case as regards my noble friend's suggestion. An approach that is acceptable to only one side is not a way forward. Her Majesty's Government believe that the sensible course of action is to pursue the discussions that were begun as part of the Lahore process and which continued last month with the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers meeting in New Delhi on 12th June. We hope that those talks will be resumed.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is it worth pursuing the possibility of setting up a plebiscite or referendum so that the people of Kashmir themselves, whether they are in that area or in refugee camps in Pakistan or elsewhere, would have an opportunity to express their view about how they wish their country to be governed in the future? This dispute has been going on since 1947. Is it not high time that it was settled?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords, the noble Baroness is right. This has been a long-running dispute; it has continued for over 50 years. Her Majesty's Government believe that any solution, if

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it is to be permanent and acceptable, must reflect the views of the population of Kashmir. However, I would point out to the noble Baroness that Kashmir is not a country as such. The suggestion that the noble Baroness makes has been made previously. I am afraid that it does not find support on both sides of this very troubled argument. At present, our best course of action, as a true friend of both countries, is to urge them to settle their differences between them. A great deal can be done through quiet diplomacy rather than through public statements, which only serve to inflame the situation.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, does the United Nations believe that this is a bilateral situation and should be resolved under Simla?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the United Nations and everyone else who wishes India and Pakistan well, including the EU and the G8 Foreign Ministers, have urged India and Pakistan to do everything in their power to resume the discussions that took place on 12th June. We were hopeful about those discussions. We hope that the invitation that has been issued to resume them in Islamabad will be taken up.


3.7 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 4.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Bill [H.L.]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington) : My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Order of Commitment of 21st May be discharged and that the Bill be committed to a Grand Committee.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Greater London Authority Bill

3.8 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

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Clause 33 [General duties of the Mayor in relation to his strategies]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 111:

Page 19, line 42, at end insert--
("( ) In preparing or revising any strategy mentioned in subsection (1) the Mayor shall carry out and have regard to a sustainability appraisal of the strategy.").

The noble Lord said: This is a modest amendment. I shall move it in my usual modest way, allowing colleagues to leave the House in good order.

The purpose of the amendment is to help minimise conflicts between the different strategies and promote the social, economic and environmental general purposes of the GLA. The Committee should note that, while it is my amendment, it is supported by the RSPB, Friends of the Earth, CPRE and the wildlife trusts of London.

As the Minister knows, the spatial development strategy, as a broad land use strategy for the region, should form the context within which the economic and other strategies are set, integrating and balancing the various economic, social and environmental needs of the Greater London area and taking account of the surrounding south-east region.

It is in the knowledge of the difficulties and the balance which the GLA and the mayor of London will have in reaching agreement that we suggest that the Minister can be helpful to those outside the House who are deeply involved in such matters. We welcome the Government's statements that each of the strategies will be consistent with and complementary to each other. The purpose of the amendment is to invite the Minister to tell us how it is intended that the various strategies can be made consistent and complementary to each other.

A set of sustainability principles should be developed to underpin all the policies and the different strategies. Sustainable appraisals should also be carried out during the preparation of each strategy. I believe that that will help to ensure consistency between the different strategies, identify any potential conflict between policies and promote the integration of economic, social and environmental objectives of the GLA's main purposes.

I am certain that the Minister will tell us that it is early days, discussions are going on, the objective is well understood and is one objective for which we should strive. In another context, one would say this is a probing amendment to find out whether the Minister can help us, and particularly those outside the House, to understand how he intends to achieve his objective of policies which are consistent and complementary and yet at the same time reach a rapport between the various bodies affected.

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The Government have stated that a sustainability appraisal will be carried out on the spatial development strategy. Given the non-hierarchical approach, it is illogical not to carry out such an appraisal of the mayor's other strategies. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: I have put down an amendment in this group--Amendment No. 118. Like that of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, it is designed to ask the Government what mechanisms they will support putting into effect. However, we on these Benches continue to juggle with the difficulty that we would like to see as much autonomy as possible on the part of the new authority, but as the Bill contains much detail, inevitably we shall also have to raise points of detail.

In relation to Clause 33(4), can the mayor have regard to matters which are not listed in that subsection? Clause 34(4), concerning consultation, states that it is without prejudice to the mayor's other duties. Clause 33(4) has a similar but not identical thrust in its different context.

I hope we shall be told that the mayor can exercise discretion as to the matters to be considered in preparing strategies and add to the list of matters to which she or he must have regard. My question is whether everything is intended to be set out in Clause 33(4), or whether the mayor can add to the matters specified.

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