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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am most grateful to, and in agreement with, my noble friend. In particular, following the Rome Summit in May, I believe that the Prime Minister said that that summit had marked a transformation in the relationship between Russia and the alliance. Indeed, the NATO-Russia Council has got off to a very good start in the fields of counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, missile defence and defence reform. Therefore, I am most grateful that my noble friend, who has far greater expertise than me in these matters, is able to confirm that.
He will also have noted in the Statement which I repeated on behalf of the Prime Minister the very sharp tribute which the Prime Minister paid to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson. I can assure my noble friend that the Prime Minister has his point well in mind, as does the Secretary-General, the noble Lord, Lord Robertson. If we are to bear the burdens, we must bear them with some degree of equity.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clark, about defence spending, were any firm undertakings given by the existing or applicant members to increase their defence spending and their defence capabilities?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, as I said earlier, I believe that the best answer that I can give to the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, is that these are very much preliminary stages. The objectives that he identified will be long-term ones. I can reaffirm this Government's agreement that, if there are to be
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, while I always agree with my noble friend Lord Strathclyde, on this occasion I share many of the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. In particular, I share her concern about the inadequate opportunity in this House to consider many of the critical, far-reaching and important issues that were discussed and, indeed, agreed. Those range from crisis prevention to post-conflict resolution, NATO's role in countering terrorism, the RRF, Fylingdales and, indeed, as a consequence of much of the discussion, the total cost impact on the UK's budget. Those are all major issues. I appreciate that the noble and learned Lord said that this was a beginning. But many of us saw the decisions as milestone decisions and worthy of greater and more detailed consideration by your Lordships' House.
In that context, when the noble and learned Lord pauses to reflect on the summit, perhaps I may ask whether it is the view of the Government that American and European security interests are now one and the same and, if they are not, where they differ.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I take the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, about time for debate. I must not be partisan, but that may be a consequence of the different way that we work. If we carry out more work in Grand Committee, for example, there may be better opportunitiesI know that the noble Baroness is equally as keen on this as the noble Lordto have genuine debate in the Chamber where there is a vast amount of expertise. I shall probably go to my death wishing that the excellent quality of the debates was reflected in any of the media. That is not the case, despite the fact that extremely good work is done here.
With regard to identity of interest, I would express that as "community of interest". We shall not agree with the United States on every single aspect of every single component of every single foreign policy. But I agree with the noble Lord that there is much more that binds us together and much deeper community of interest than divides us. I believe that that is reflected by the outcome of this extraordinarily successful summit, where European countries joined fully and wholeheartedly with the United States in the same way as, for example, the United States joined with countries which, until a very short time ago, were under the heel of totalitarianism and would not have dreamt of agreeing with the United States on anything. Indeed, their citizens found it very difficult even to travel outside the borders because there was a wall.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I wish the noble Lord had not said "sporting chance"not following last weekend, and I am not simply talking about England. I believe that there is. It is in the interest of all European nations to secure the peace that, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said, has been hard won over a period of more than half a century. There are bound to be differences of view. The noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, would not expect a dull uniformity in Europe in any circumstances.
The Bill concerns the adapted version of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, commonly referred to as the "CFE Treaty", which was signed in Paris on 19th November 1990. The agreement on adaptation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treatymore commonly known as the "Adapted CFE Treaty"was signed by all states party to the CFE Treaty at Istanbul on 19th November 1999.
The original CFE Treaty limits the holdings of five categories of heavy weaponstanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicoptersby the 30 member states of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. The treaty includes an important transparency and verification regime. It is seen as a cornerstone of European security and has resulted in the destruction of more than 50,000 heavy weapons in Europe. However, the treaty was negotiated at the end of the Cold War and it needed to be adapted in order to reflect the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and NATO enlargement.
The Adapted CFE Treaty replaces the old bloc-to-bloc system with national and territorial ceilings for heavy weapons. The Adapted CFE Treaty also provides for greater transparency than the present CFE Treaty through a substantially enhanced system of information provision. In particular, it increases the amount of military information that each of the 30 states party to the treaty must provide and it enhances the regime of inspections. The Adapted CFE Treaty also includes provisions for new European states to join.
The Adapted CFE Treaty provides for inspections of larger areas than in the original CFE Treaty. In the United Kingdom, the fact that increasingly parts of military sites are owned and operated by the private sector means that we need to legislate to allow access to these private sites.
The main provisions of this short technical Bill amend the Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Act 1991 to provide for the additional rights of entry to private land which are required to implement the additional inspection requirements of the Protocol on Inspections of the Agreement on Adaptation. It also confers a power to make further amendments to the 1991 Act should they be needed to implement future amendments to the CFE Treaty.
The Bill thus provides the legislation necessary for the UK to ratify the Adapted CFE Treaty quickly when the time is right. While the UK is keen for the Adapted CFE Treaty to come into force as soon as possible, our position and that of our NATO allies is that ratification can be envisaged only in the context of full compliance by all states parties with agreed treaty limits and consistent with the commitments contained in the CFE Final Act.
We and other NATO allies continue to urge Russia to resolve the outstanding issues on Georgia and Moldova. The Secretary of State will not bring the Act into force in accordance with Clause 3 until the Government are ready to ratify the agreement on adaptation. I hope that your Lordships will be able to support the Bill.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for introducing the Bill. As we have heard, it deals with amendments to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and enhances transparency, which we welcome.
In the light of the agreement on adaptation, I should be interested to hear the implications for declared sites in the UK. As I understand it, the reason for providing additional rights of entry under Section VII of the protocol on inspections is that private companies are now involved in the ownership and operation of sites that were previously managed wholly by the Ministry of Defence. Can the Minister give the House an example of a site to which that might apply? Would it, for example, apply to airfields and RAF bases that are no longer used by the Ministry of Defence but are still used for domestic and freight purposes? I should be grateful for clarification on the procedure under the new part-ownership arrangements.
Under Clause 2, in future any amendment to the CFE Treaty would no longer appear before your Lordships' House as primary legislation. It would appear as an affirmative instrument. That represents, I fear, yet another example of the Government enacting measures by secondary legislation. We should like simply to register our concerns. The CFE Treaty addresses sensitive issues.
The protocol on inspections in particular concerns rights of entry to areas that may be partly or jointly owned by private companies. I am anxious that all parties likely to be affected by amendments to the treaty will be aware of every implication thereof.
The final point I should like to raise concerns the commencement of the Act. It will come into force on such a day as the Secretary of State appoints by statutory instrument. I understand that that will happen only when the Government are ready to ratify the agreement on adaptation. As your Lordships will know, when the agreement was signed in Istanbul in 1999, a CFE Final Act was also signed. As we have heard, Russia is committed to withdrawing her forces from Georgian and Moldovan territories by the end of 2002. Both countries are possible future members of NATO, as mentioned by the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House in the Statement on NATO. I should be grateful if the Minister could explain how the situation is progressing with regard to Russian withdrawal in the flank zone.
Does the delay that has occurred between the agreement being signed and the introduction of this Bill reflect uncertainties regarding the future of Russian forces in the flank zone? Clearly, the agreement on adaptation can be ratified only when states parties have complied with agreed treaty limits.
As it is not the practice of this House to vote on Second Reading, I should like to give notice to the Minister that I shall return to these serious matters in Committee. We should bear in mind that as we shall be in Grand Committee, we might have to keep this open for later stages of the Bill. I shall be enormously grateful for clarification and look forward to hearing the Minister's reply.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, when I heard the noble and Learned Lord the Leader of the House refer to this as the main Business of the day, I assumed that the noble Baroness would honour us with a 25 minute explanation, to which we would then reply with at least 15 minute speeches. I now have to tear up the last 10 minutes of my speech in the light of the short speech she made.
We on these Benches welcome this modest but useful extension of the CFE Treaty. We have always supported the principle of inspection and verification. We accept that national sovereignty has to be limited by the extension of multilateral arms control, and this takes us a further stage forward. Arms control has clearly to accept the principle of mutual inspection. Some years ago when we were taking the protocol to the chemical weapons convention through the House, I remember that some on the Conservative Benches wanted to argue that, although inspection was fine for countries that one could not trust, it was unacceptable for countries such as Britain which everyone would trust.
We are conscious that in the United States at present the issue of inspection of chemical plantsprivate sites which are, however, fully capable of producing chemical weapons under contractis one of the most sensitive issues in the whole American approach to arms control. We are also conscious that if one is talking about the overlap between public and private, the question of what happens to some weapon
Can the Minister confirm that the principle of mutual inspection extends not only to British bases in Britain but also, I assume, to American bases in Britain, although not to American bases in the continental United States, which is outside the designated area? After all, CFE is in the context of a broader transformation of European security, which links to NATO at one end and the OSCE at the other.
As the Minister remarked in her opening speech, we are all concerned about the problems of the southern flank and in particular the failure of Russian forces to withdraw from the two bases in Georgia and Transdnistria. It is right to say that, although we should move through the process of ratification, we should not complete ratification until we have further assurances on that scale.
Further, are the Government thinking of redefining peacekeeping in the Caucasus and around the edge of the Soviet Union, which is now under CIS auspices, the arrangements made by the former Soviet Union, Russia and its new partners. It seems to many of us that it would be entirely correct to try to bring the question of Russian peacekeeping forces in Abhazia and elsewhere within the framework of the OSCE, or even of the United Nations. I am rather disappointed, as are many others, at how inactive European governments and forces have been in those flanking regions. I note that American forces are now training Georgian armed forces, not European forces. My understanding was that there were a number of British military observers in Abhazia some years ago. Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether they are still there.
I have one final question. As always in complex Bills such as this, there are references to their application to the British Overseas Territories, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar and, on this occasion, the sovereign bases in Cyprus. I emphasise that the whole question of how far British legislation applies to those different overseas territories confuses many of us in this House. It seems to raise large questions as to how far those overseas territories pick and choose which bits of legislation apply. I give the Minister notice that I intend to table a Question asking how the Government are accountable to Parliament for their management of the external relations of those various European overseas territories.
The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, referred to the question of Orders in Council. The exact wording in Clause 2(2) of the Bill seems to be appropriate and constructive in that respect. This is an Order in Council which has to be submitted for a positive vote by resolution of each House of Parliament. That seems to be the way forward. A negative resolution would not be appropriate in this measure, but an affirmative resolution is entirely appropriate.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I too support the Bill. It is important to know that we are dealing here with four documentstreaties, protocols or agreements. The Bill is full of references to subsection (2)(a) or (3)(b), or whatever, in the other documents. I found it a painful exercise trying to sort out exactly what the Bill does.
That brings me to the Explanatory Notes. They are absolutely vital in sorting out what references are involved from document A to document B. But they do not help us to understand what the Bill is about in reality. I would have found that extremely helpful. I spent a painful day yesterday trying to work the issues out, especially as I did not have all the documents with me. I make the humble suggestion that with a Bill of this complexity, it would be useful if the Explanatory Notes were intelligible to and helpful to Members of this House who perhaps are not so well informed as some other people. Most noble Lords do not have research assistants. We are not endowed with the same resources in that connection as are Members of the other place.
I want to make four brief points. I would like to know why the view was taken in the 1991 Act that rights of entry were not required for inspections of declared sites because they were wholly or mainly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence. The lay personI am a lay person in this contextwould have expected those sites, if owned by the Ministry of Defence, to be subject to inspection. That seems to me rather surprising. No doubt there is a simple explanation.
Then there is the question of ratification. The noble Baroness in introducing the Bill explained the position about Moldova and Georgia. Can she say more about that? Do we expect Russia to comply with its obligations? Can we look forward with confidence to the ratification of this Bill in the near future, or are there any difficulties?
I support my noble friend Lady Rawlings on Clause 2(1). I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that the Bill as it stands is satisfactory. Many years ago I remember when I was a law student reading Lord Hewart's The New Despotism. His objections to altering primary legislation by Orders in Council are still valid. I deplore the fact that we have yet another case of this Government introducing such a provision. It is the second bad precedent which we have seen now in a very short time.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I am glad that I did not manage to pre-empt my noble friend Lord Blaker because I was going to make exactly the same point. I find Schedule 1 extremely difficult to comprehend, not being totally au fait with the original 1990 treaty.
I ask the Minister whether she can produce outside the Bill a Keeling schedule because Schedule 1 to the Bill makes quite simple amendments, if one can get the Act together, to Sections 1 and 2 of the Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Act 1991. It would be not beyond the wit of her department to achieve a composite whole that would answer the problems that both my noble friend Lord Blaker and myself have identified.
I disagree with my own Front Bench and with my noble friend on the subject of Clause 2 of the Bill and agree with the noble Lord on the Liberal Benches. It seems to me that the changes to a treatyalthough they do not arise oftendo not need primary legislation. That is an excellent reason for doing them by order, as long asand I take the pointthe order is to be agreed affirmatively by both Houses of Parliament.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have adopted such a positive attitude towards the Bill. I have a great deal of sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, about the cross-referencing of the Bill to other treaties and measures. I sympathise with his remarks about the Explanatory Notes.
Perhaps I may suggest to the noble Lord and to the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, and others, that we might have a meeting with officials on some of the technical parts of the Bill. We could then go through what I believe will not be great areas of difficulty between us and offer some explanations on what I do not think is a contentious Bill as to the politics of the situation. That might help to shed a little light on how the new regime will work.
The noble Baroness was quite right when she said that the reason behind this measure was to get a better grasp of inspections on private company sites. It is not only that part that is new, but, as I believe I said in my opening remarks, it is also in order to have better access to some larger sites which were not covered in the previous legislation.
The noble Baroness asked whether I could give her some examples of private sites within military areas. There would be such things as base repair facilities, which are often civilian owned, or contract training facilities. Some MoD trainingfor example helicopter trainingis contracted out to private firms. So it would be access to those kinds of facilities which is not currently covered.
The Bill is not designed to give access to RAF disused sites, which was an example that the noble Baroness might have suggested. Treaty-limited equipment is not kept on those sites and therefore they are not objects of verification under the CFE.
There is a little more controversy around Clause 2 of the Bill. That allows for future amendments to the 1991 Act to be made by Order in Council rather than by primary legislation. The power will be limited to amendments of the 1991 Act relating to inspections but a memorandum was sent to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee when the Bill was introduced last week. I am very willing to listen to what the committee says about the proposed changes. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, that this is not particularly controversial, but I accept that the noble Baroness and others have expressed some misgivings about it. I think that we should listen carefully to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and consider what it has to say about the matter.
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