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Lord Warner: My Lords, believe it or not, we do not collect in Richmond House all the details of these consultations but, from my previous involvement in other work, I can say to the noble Earl that much is being done to expand the development of child and adolescent mental health services. As I recollect, the Government are putting into that area a 10 per cent increase over three years. I am sure that that will produce many of the kinds of services to which the noble Earl has referred.

War Graves: Pilckem Ridge Road Plan

3.9 p.m.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, Her Majesty's Government continue to take a close interest in these proposals. However, the Belgian authorities are experienced and sensitive in dealing with the issues raised by such a project, including both the selection of the route and the handling of any remains discovered during the course of civil engineering work. They also have a good record of co-operation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in dealing with war graves. The commission is watching developments carefully and is confident that it will be consulted at each stage by the relevant authorities.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. He will recall that he answered a similar Question which I tabled on this subject on 21st January last year when plans for the proposed road first came to public attention. Is he aware that the excavations carried out by a joint Belgian-British team under the direction of the Flemish authorities have been extraordinarily successful? They have unearthed a wealth of artefacts which have produced a unique picture of what life in the World War One trenches was like. Taking that into account, and in view of the fact that two bodies of

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soldiers, one French and one British, have already been found as a result of those excavations—and it is certain that many thousands more lie in the path of the proposed A19 road if it were built—will he do his best to persuade the Belgian authorities that they should re-route the road?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am aware that the archaeology in this area has been very successful. I pay warm tribute to the All-Party Parliamentary War Graves and Battlefield Heritage Group—of which my noble friend is chairman and the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, is vice-chairman—for the pressure it successfully applied to get the archaeology started and for the pressure it continues to apply to the relative authorities in this area. Any decision making will be for the Flemish regional government in consultation with the Belgian national government. The British Government will consider what role to play should it be necessary to do so.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his remarks about the all-party war graves body. Can he assure the House that he will take the same attitude with regard to France? We are talking about Belgium at the moment but there will be many instances of roadbuilding and other developments in France where we will need the same kind of assistance from the Government.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I can give the noble Lord that reassurance. I am happy to say that, as we understand it, the latest French proposal to build a third airport for Paris in the area of the Somme—an issue raised previously by my noble friend—is, I choose my words carefully, in abeyance.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, is the Minister considering a review of archaeological practices in regard to excavations on sites containing the remains of British service personnel? Further—although this may go a little wide of Belgium—is a review taking place in regard to HMS "Sussex" and whether proper practice has been followed? The remains of British service personnel will be recovered from that site if proper excavation techniques are undertaken. It is slightly worrying that a salvage operation is taking place in an area where lie the bodies of British service personnel.

Lord Bach: My Lords, some might say that the noble Lord's question goes slightly wide of the original Question. I shall not say that. I shall write to the noble Lord.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that military historians will be hoping that important features on the Ypres battlefields can be preserved, as will the families of those who were engaged in the fierce fighting on this vital part of the British front in World War One?

Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord is right to raise the issue of the historical importance of the

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dreadful amount of killing that occurred on this battlefield. In 1915, as I understand it, 200,000 men of Kitchener's volunteer army were killed within 14 days. With this patch of land continuing to lie between the two sides, in 1917 in an offensive lasting 100 days—the figures are staggering—400,000 to 450,000 British soldiers were killed. The noble Lord can rest assured that the historical aspects of the issue will be kept well in mind.

Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, I declare an interest as honorary parliamentary adviser over many years to the Royal British Legion and as one, doubtless of a great many noble Lords, for whose kinsmen of an earlier generation the Pilckem Ridge battlefield was their final resting place. Is my noble friend aware that this issue is of considerable concern to the ex-service community as a whole? Is any ministerial visit to the excavations in prospect—I speak having recently been there—to see their scale of importance? And can the Government consider supporting efforts to make them a world heritage site?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I do not know whether a ministerial visit is forthcoming. If the noble Lord is inviting me, I shall of course accept. As to the second part of his question, we are aware that a proposal is currently being considered by the Flemish regional government to apply to UNESCO to have all the Great War battlefields in Belgium—not only this one—listed as world heritage sites. I cannot commit the British Government so far as the noble Lord's proposal is concerned, but I dare say that we will be sympathetic.

Earl Russell: My Lords, does the Minister agree that understanding the topography of a battlefield can be essential to historians in understanding what took place there? Does he further agree that although that interest can never be paramount, neither is it negligible? To assess it, it is necessary to weigh it against any loss of money and time in preserving the record. Does he agree that to outweigh the loss of 2,000 lives the saving would have to be considerable?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I agree with all the sentiments that I am asked to agree to by the noble Earl. He is absolutely right. As someone who lives between Market Bosworth battlefield and Naseby battlefield, I certainly agree with him.


3.17 p.m.

Lord Hurd of Westwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made with the other occupying powers and the United Nations in establishing a stable and democratic government in Iraq.

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the shared aim of the coalition and the United Nations is to facilitate a representative Iraqi Government based on the rule of law as soon as possible. The coalition has organised two conferences—the first in Nasariyah, the second in Baghdad—and, with the UN, is intensively consulting a broad range of Iraqis on ideas to move the political process forward. These include establishing a governing council and a constitutional convention. We hope that these will be in place soon.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does she accept that there is growing unease that the brilliant military campaign which destroyed the dictatorship was not matched by a realistic plan for the future and that that has created a dangerous situation? But we are where we are. We cannot pull out. We are condemned to succeed. In that context, does the Minister accept that, even if we and other countries were willing, we could not solve the problem simply by piling in more troops? Following on from what she said in her Answer, can she say when Iraqis of substance in their community and communities will take charge of key civilian agencies and ministries in that country?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I accept that there is a good deal of comment about there being unease. However, it is unrealistic to expect the coalition to put right in two months what has gone wrong over the previous 30 years. It is not only a case of what happened during the conflict but of not having the institutions in the country over a very long period. The noble Lord asked how we are moving forward. The governing council, which it is hoped will be in place during the course of July, will have, we hope, advisory powers while working with the coalition and the United Nations, and powers to appoint Ministers, to oversee the running of ministries and to set up commissions to review the cross-cutting issues such as justice reform and education. That is on the governing council side.

We hope that later in the month—probably towards the end of July—there will be a constitutional convention comprising 100 to 200 Iraqis, which will be charged with drafting a new constitution. Its members will be chosen from a wide range of groups in Iraq—Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Christians—and we wish to ensure that women will also participate. So there will be two big staging posts, we hope, this month—first, slightly earlier, the governing council; and then, by the end of the month, we hope to have in place the constitutional convention.

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