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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness. Syringes, cartridges and other carriers of drugs are, regrettably, often disposed of irresponsibly and completely outside the waste disposal system. The only control is effective local authority waste disposal. Inevitably some things slip through. It is a problem which local authorities are well aware of.

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Kosovo: Russian Deployment

3.23 p.m.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the NATO Council unanimously approved the request to Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary to deny their airspace to Russian planes bringing peace-keepers to Kosovo.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, requests for overflight clearance are a matter for individual nations. The North Atlantic Council, which, as the House knows, operates by consensus, agreed on 16th June that the NATO military authorities would advise nations of requests which related to deployments to Kosovo approved by Commander KFOR. On 26th and 27th June, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary asked NATO to check whether Commander KFOR had yet given formal approval to particular Russian deployments; the NATO military authorities confirmed that he had not. Arrangements for the Russian deployment were concluded successfully on 5th July, and we are pleased to note that the deployment is now proceeding smoothly.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, while the hitches and confusion are comprehensible, what is against KFOR now coming under the direct control of the United Nations--in other words, what is against the British general commanding KFOR becoming the servant of the United Nations? If that were possible, it would provide automatic assent and obedience to his orders, not only by Russia but by China if it was involved, which it probably is not. Would not it make sense to have a shot in this direction? It would avoid this necessary action on behalf of world civilisation being conducted by a partial alliance and would allow it to be conducted by a universal alliance of all humanity?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I do not agree that there was confusion over the matter; it was a very straightforward matter which has been satisfactorily resolved. As for whether it would be right to bring KFOR under the command of the UN, those who have watched the matter carefully will agree that the agreements which have been reached have been negotiated very carefully. Any suggestion that the agreements should now be unravelled and put into a different arena would be counter-productive.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, what advantages does the Minister think the Russians gained by sending a surprise rapid expeditionary force of tanks from Bosnia to Pristina to gain control of the airport? Does not that show that at heart the Russians are still more interested in gaining territory than in negotiating? What does that suggest for the long-term peace prospects in the Balkans?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Lord should ask the Russians what advantage they thought to gain. It was certainly not a move to which

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Her Majesty's Government were privy. The Russian deployment at Pristina is continuing, with the Russians managing the ground facilities and the NATO deployment controlling the airspace. I am pleased to say that since 5th July, the issues left outstanding from the negotiations of 28th June have now been resolved. We very much look forward to working with Russian colleagues in order to ensure peace and security in Kosovo.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, instead of raking over dead embers, is it not a matter of some gratification--not least for the people of Kosovo--that those involved as peace-keepers are now working together in purposeful collaboration? Is not that the point?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords, that is very much the point. The agreement on the technical details which we were able to reach on 5th July has underpinned Russia's involvement in KFOR. Her Majesty's Government welcome that agreement. It clears the way for an enhanced NATO-Russian co-operation over Kosovo.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, is it not of the greatest importance that we are absolutely certain that the Russian troops will be fully integrated into the NATO operation in such a way that the opening-up of any fault lines on ethnic grounds in Kosovo can be avoided? Is the Minister satisfied that the full integration of Russian forces in every area of the province will take place?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords, I am satisfied on that point. The agreement reached on 5th July has preserved NATO's unity of command and has given Russia a distinct role within the German, French and US sectors, but not its own sector. As I have indicated, there is some Russian participation on the ground at Pristina airport, which is in the British sector. There are some 750 Russian troops at the airport, about 1,000 in the German sector and smaller deployments in the French and United States sectors. The political direction and tactical control will be provided by NAC but Russia will retain full political and military control of its contingent.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I should be grateful if the Minister would give the House an update on the refugee picture in Kosovo as of today.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will forgive me if I tell him that my figures are as of yesterday, 7th July. They indicate that some 618,000 individuals have returned to Kosovo. That means that about two-thirds of the regional refugees have returned in less than three weeks. The picture is slightly different depending on whether we

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are talking about Macedonia, Albania or Montenegro. However, we are seeing a general return to Kosovo, which is very heartening.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, can the noble Baroness tell the House anything about the demilitarisation of the KLA?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the commander of KFOR is responsible for overseeing the demilitarisation of all the armed groups in Kosovo, covered by UNSCR 1244. The KLA undertaking is a unilateral commitment setting out how the KLA will comply with its obligations under the United Nations Security Council resolution.

On 30th June, the Kosovo Albanian forces accepted the KLA's undertaking; so they accepted what had been said on their behalf by their civilian leaders as set down in the agreement that had been signed by Mr Thaqi on 21st June. So the undertaking has been agreed politically and at military level by the KLA.

Lord Monson: My Lords, have any promises been made to Bulgaria and Romania as a reward for their co-operation with NATO over the Kosovo operation?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the Prime Minister has made it clear that we want countries such as Romania and Bulgaria to join the alliance as soon as they can. There is no pre-ordained order for future invitations. Each candidate will be judged on its own merits. NATO will issue any invitations to nations willing and able to assume those responsibilities and obligations as it determines they are ready for such an invitation. The next review process--the next summit--will take place no later than 2002.

Immigration and Asylum Bill

3.31 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Immigration and Asylum Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 34, Schedule 1, Clauses 35 to 46, Schedule 2, Clause 47, Schedule 3, Clause 48, Schedule 4, Clauses 49 to 73, Schedule 5, Clauses 74 to 75, Schedule 6, Clauses 76 to 77, Schedule 7,

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Clauses 78 to 85, Schedule 8, Clauses 86 to 93, Schedule 9, Clauses 94 to 144, Schedule 10, Clause 145, Schedule 11, Clause 146, Schedule 12, Clauses 147 to 158, Schedules 13 to 15.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

Lord Renton: My Lords, I gladly support the Motion moved by the noble Lord, which, I am glad to say, states that we should deal with the Bill in a Committee of the Whole House in the order in which the clauses are set out in the Bill, taking the schedules with the clauses as they arise.

However, it should be borne in mind that this is a very long Bill, containing 158 clauses and 15 schedules, and that parts of it are controversial. Bearing in mind that we have only a relatively short time left in this Session, how many days are the Government prepared to let us have for discussion in what will necessarily be a long Committee stage?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his support for the Motion. Speaking personally, I have listened to his advice when we have had this sort of discussion in the past. We thought that this was the best way of dealing with the matter. As to the number of days, I undertake to give careful attention to what the noble Lord has said, and it must remain a matter for the usual channels.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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