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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that not only did I visit Peru as a

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member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation last year, but I also visited the country 10 years previously, just before President Fujimori came to power? It is amazing to see the remarkable change that has taken place in the country during that time. Is the Minister also aware that 10 years previously our NGO, Plan International, was forced to leave Peru because it was impossible for NGOs to work there to help alleviate poverty? Is the Minister further aware that a great deal has been done by the present administration to reduce poverty in the poorest parts of Peru?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Yes, my Lords. I am very well aware that, at the beginning of his period of office and in his first five-year term, President Fujimori had to deal with a country that had been greatly weakened by terrorism and bad government--a situation that he inherited. The noble Baroness is quite right in that respect. Great strides have since been made in the country. Unfortunately, the present problem is the validity and the correctness of the last election. The noble Baroness is absolutely right to say that Peru has made giant strides in all the fields that she mentioned.

Zimbabwe

3.5 p.m.

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes they propose in policy towards Zimbabwe in the light of the result of the election there.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the House is well aware of the background against which parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe over the weekend. We admire the dignity and courage of the people of Zimbabwe in turning out to exercise their democratic rights in the face of violence and intimidation. The result is a clear message that the people want change. We hope that ZANU(PF) will respond positively to the offer from the opposition to discuss how they can work together for the people of Zimbabwe. If ZANU(PF) is willing to make a fresh start, Britain will be willing to respond.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that statement, with which I believe all noble Lords will agree. Can she add praise to the congratulations that she expressed on the courage of the MDC in particular, 35 supporters of which were killed during the election campaign? Will she also congratulate the statesmanlike position taken by Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC?

In so far as action taken by other countries in this fraught and unstable situation can be helpful, does the noble Baroness agree that there is much to be said for action being taken internationally by the Commonwealth, the European Union and the United Nations rather than by the United Kingdom alone, which seems to provoke rather prickly reactions? I do

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not ask the noble Baroness to tell the House about the Government's plans, but can she assure us that they have plans in place?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Yes, my Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, is absolutely right. I believe we all agree that the way forward is through concerted international action. The fact that a Commonwealth mission and a European Union mission led the 400-strong team of international observers which played a role in helping through the process in Zimbabwe during the elections over the weekend has shown that this is the way forward. We are awaiting the final report from the EU mission, which was led by Pierre Schori, who has already appeared on the media and publicised an interim report. We are also waiting for the final report from the Commonwealth mission led by General Abubakar. They have both done a very good job. We await to hear the results and to see political developments in Zimbabwe. We are prepared to help in any process that will aid the economic, political and democratic future of Zimbabwe.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I too respect Mr Tsvangirai for the position he has taken and for the restraint he has shown in interviews after the election when tempers are high. However, does the Minister agree that economic crisis is looming in Zimbabwe? Although ZANU(PF) may have won the elections, change will almost certainly be brought about by the economic situation. I hope that the Minister will ensure that Britain takes a leading role in doing nothing to precipitate an economic crisis which would affect the people of Zimbabwe far more than the ruling party.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, we have kept in touch with Morgan Tsvangirai. As noble Lords are aware, the Movement for Democratic Change will contest the outcome of a number of seats, perhaps 22 of them. That may include the seat which Mr Tsvangirai failed to win. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, is right to mention the economic problems which face Zimbabwe. I refer to the following frightening statistics: 80 per cent inflation; 50 per cent unemployment; and interest rates of 70 per cent. It is absolutely vital that the economy of Zimbabwe is helped. It is also important that the new government of Zimbabwe, working with the Parliament, should not discourage any foreign investment on which Zimbabwe's prosperity depends.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: My Lords--

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords--

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, it is the turn of the Conservative Front Bench.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, without pressing the noble Baroness on the detail, and recognising that these are early days, I ask her whether

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she recalls that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said the other day that he would mount an international campaign to put pressure on President Mugabe to implement the will of the people. Can the noble Baroness give us an idea of his allies in that campaign, which seems to me to be utterly the right way forward? What rapid international action can we take to save the entire economy from sliding into the chaos which the noble Baroness has already indicated lies ahead? On a more specific point, can she say something about the British military advisers to the army of Zimbabwe, of which President Mugabe is the commander? Is it planned to leave them in place or to withdraw them?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the noble Lord asks a series of questions. As I have already said, we shall work in conjunction with both our European Union partners and the Commonwealth. Both those organisations will have a great role to play to try to help Zimbabwe along the path that we would all like it to follow. Noble Lords will understand that I am trying to choose my words extremely carefully as we do not wish to sound too critical or to anticipate problems that we hope will not arise if things develop according to the comments in the televised statesmanlike public address that President Mugabe gave yesterday.

The noble Lord asked a specific question about the British military training team in Harare and the advisers. There are five military advisers providing peacekeeping training to the Southern African Development Community region. Three other advisers are involved in peacekeeping training in support of UN priorities. As the noble Lord knows, they are in Harare. The British military advisory training team is based there but it focuses on regional peacekeeping training within the whole development community. The courses are held across southern Africa and at the moment we have no specific plans to change things.

Business

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord Sainsbury of Turville will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on the post office network.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill

3.13 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): 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 Bassam of Brighton.)

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, before we start the Committee proceedings, I wish to record that the

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Government have written to me and to other Members of your Lordships' House setting out a vast series of most important changes which rewrite important parts of the Bill. I am glad that the Government have recognised the need for this major rewrite. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, and to the Chief Whip for their letters, which have been fairly widely distributed, although I do not think that they were placed in the Library.

Some of these important amendments concerning Part III appeared yesterday. We shall discuss them later today, although admittedly at short notice. However, other changes were promised at earlier stages of the Committee but we have not yet seen the actual amendments. It is clear that, for example, the definition of "communications data" and the matters which flow from it will be of the first importance, will be exceptionally complex and will have consequences in a number of clauses. They may well amount to a rewrite of that part of the Bill.

In those circumstances, we may seek the recommittal of that part of the Bill in accordance with the Companion to the Standing Orders, which suggests that procedure for amendments tabled at a late stage which require detailed examination. The Companion states:


    "Decision on such amendments may then be reached on recommitment, reserving to the Report stage its proper function as an opportunity to review and perfect the bill as amended in Committee".

Obviously such a request would be considered by the usual channels. However, I thought that it might be useful to mention that possibility now.


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