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Whether they will make immediate representations to Southern African Development Community member states on the case for political reform in Zimbabwe and the likely effect of the reported and impending collapse of Zimbabwes economy on other economies in the region.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the crisis in Zimbabwe is deepening. We are in regular contact with leaders of SADC countries to discuss this matter and how political reform and good governance can be re-established in Zimbabwe. On 6 July the Prime Minister spoke to President Mbeki of South Africa about Zimbabwe. In recent weeks Zimbabwe has been
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Lord Blaker: My Lords, I am glad that Her Majestys Government are doing what the noble Baroness has just described. Is she aware that within the past few days representatives of Mugabe have failed to attend a negotiation meeting with the opposition, arranged by President Mbeki? Is she also aware that the students of the university have been expelled from their residences in the past few days; that inflation is now above 10,000 per cent according to the best estimates; that the Government are printing money; that they have issued an edict halving the prices to be charged in shops; that business leaders are being arrested; and that businesses are being nationalised? That looks like a pretty terminal condition to me, and apparently, it looks like that to the Archbishop of Bulawayo. If SADC continues to do very little to rescue the situation, apart from the rather ineffective activities of President Mbeki, and the situation in Zimbabwe collapses into total ruin, is it not likely that the SADC economies will suffer and that aid which had been intended for SADC countries will have to be diverted to Zimbabwe?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am sadly aware of all the issues that the noble Lord raises. On the meetings which President Mbeki is engaged in, I understand that this is not the first time that Zanu-PF has failed to turn up, but it is understood that the meetings will still take place. We hope that progress will be made and that President Mbeki will report to the SADC meeting in August.
The inflation is quite extraordinary. When last month my noble friend Lord Triesman answered a question from the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, he said that inflation would possibly reach 11,000 per cent this year. We now understand that any old figure might do, and are expecting perhaps 100,000 per cent inflation by the end of the year. The situation is quite extraordinary and, yes, it looks as though the country is in terminal decline. We will certainly do whatever we can to assist in rebuilding it.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister will have seen comments by the South African Foreign Minister, Dr Dlamini Zuma, about a possible rescue plan for the Zimbabwean economy and the suggestion that the Zimbabwean dollar should be tied to the South African rand. Is thought really being given to rescue plans for the economy without political reforms, which would include the departure of President Mugabe and the restoration of freedoms guaranteed by international law? If Zanu-PF continues to delay and obstruct the mediation efforts of SADC, is there a fallback plan?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I am aware of the reported activity by Dr Zuma but am not sure whether it will get anywhere. This is just a South African initiative, not an international one. We firmly believe that good governance and restoring law and order in Zimbabwe are of the utmost priority. It is good that South Africa is now thinking in these terms and things are finally being aired in public. Perhaps it is an indication of the level of concern in South Africa. That is an important step forward.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, we are already providing humanitarian aid, such as food aid and money, to the people of Zimbabwe. We are discussing with our European partners and between government departments what we can and must do when the eventual decline of Zimbabwe happens.
Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, leading on from my noble friends question about humanitarian aid, many of the students who face problems in British universities will be great friends of the United Kingdom when they return to Zimbabwe. Is there no way of helping them with their fees, either through our new departments of education or funds that universities have at one side?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I understand what my noble friend is saying. Our principal concern is for the people actually in Zimbabwe who are undergoing such a terrible time. I will take the ideas he outlines back to the department.
Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior: My Lords, the Minister may well be awareI am aware through my contacts in Zimbabwethat the countrys basic rural economy is in a state of complete collapse. In particular, animal health services are just not functioning, which means that animal disease is rampant. That is obviously significant for Zimbabwe, but it has overtures for other countries in southern Africa, and serious disease may end up being transmitted, simply because there is an absence of control in Zimbabwe. I am sure that the Minister will be able to represent those views to the organisations in southern Africa that should be taking note of them.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. I am sure that the SADC countries are very concerned about this matter, but I will ensure that it is brought to their attention. The burden on neighbouring countries is extraordinary. As noble Lords will know, 3 million to 4 million people have already gone from Zimbabwe into South Africa, for example, and it expects a further 2 million people to cross the borders in the not-too-distant future.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, we are all very impressed at the way in which the noble Baroness now seems to answer questions on absolutely everything. I hope that now that she has reinforcements on the Foreign Office side she will be able to share the burden of question answering. Is it true that we have not been able to stop the invitation to Mr Mugabe to attend the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December? Surely we have made strong representations and can have some influence to stop someone who is, in effect, proscribed from travelling to Europe. That invitation is a terrible insult to the people of Zimbabwe who are suffering under the regime of this monster.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, it would indeed be a terrible insult if Mugabe were to attend.
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The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, your Lordships will recall that on 27 June, my predecessor informed the House that, following the appointment of David Beamish as Clerk Assistant, a competition limited to existing House of Lords staff would be held to identify a successor as Reading Clerk. Earlier this week, three applicants were interviewed, and the recommendation is that Rhodri Walters should succeed David Beamish as Reading Clerk. I am sure that your Lordships would wish to join me in congratulating Rhodri on his appointment, which he will take up in November.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, it might be helpful to the House if I indulge myself a little by repeating as an oral Statement what appeared in Hansard this morning as a Written Statement, because some noble Lords may not have read it. The State Opening of Parliament has now been scheduled for Tuesday, 6 November. When Prorogation will bein other words, how long the gap will be between Prorogation and State Openingwill obviously depend on the progress of business.
Moved, That Standing Order 41 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with on Wednesday 18 July to allow the Motion in the name of Lord Carlile of Berriew to be taken before the Motion in the name of Lord Adonis.(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)
Moved, That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to allow the Finance Bill and the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No. 2) Bill to be taken through all their remaining stages on Tuesday 17 July.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I begin by thanking Members from all parts of the House for the wonderfully warm welcome that I have received over the past few days. In many ways it reminds me of joining an aircraft carrier as a midshipman but without being shouted at. I gather that happens later on. It is certainly just as easy to get lost here. I am all too conscious of the unusual circumstances of my appointment, being the first active-list military Minister since the late noble and gallant Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis in the Conservative Administration of the early 1950s, but be assured I am very aware of the duty I owe the House and will do my utmost to fulfil it. I owe so much to this wonderful country and the opportunities it gives to its people.
My father was born deep in the New Forest, the son of a Hampshire farm labourer and later a gamekeeper who died as a result of illness stemming from his injuries sustained serving on the western front with the Royal Artillery during the First World War. As a
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When introduced on Monday, I was aware that my title provoked some interest, not least among the fishing fraternity. For clarity I felt I should explain where Spithead is and I thought I would use the words of the Solent chart book of 1898, which says,
I hope that is a lot clearer. Probably enough about me, but I enjoy racing keel boats, not too successfully, over and around Spithead and my wife has always made it clear that the two most useless things in a sailboat are an umbrella and a naval officer.
When I accepted the Prime Ministers offer of employment, I did not expect that my maiden speech would concern the complicated and high-profile area of extradition policy. I have been on a steep learning curve to assimilate the issues we are here to debate and I crave your Lordships forbearance. We are concerned here with further secondary legislation, required to amend the Extradition Act 2003 (Designation of Part 1 Territories) Order 2003 and the Extradition Act 2003 (Designation of Part 2 Territories) Order 2003. This instrument affects the United Kingdoms extradition arrangements with three countries: Algeria, Gibraltar and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
First, the order reflects the fact that the United Kingdom and Algeria signed a bilateral extradition treaty on 11 July 2006 and exchanged instruments of ratification on 25 February 2007. Designation of Algeria as a category 2 territory will bring this treaty into force in the United Kingdom. The extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and Algeria, signed by my right honourable friend, the then Home Secretary, Dr John Reid and the Algerian Justice Minister on 11 July 2006, is one of a package of measures, including a treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, a treaty on judicial co-operation in civil and commercial matters, an agreement on the circulation of persons and readmission, and an exchange of letters between the former Prime Minister and the President of Algeria which forms the basis of the deportation and assurances procedure.
These measures are designed to increase co-operation between our two countries. The extradition treaty allows extradition to be requested for any offence that attracts a maximum penalty of at least 12 months in
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There are currently no formal extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and Algeria outside a number of international conventions to which we are both parties and which deal with a limited number of specific offences mostly associated with terrorism. The introduction of a formal basis for extradition for conduct covered by the United Kingdom-Algeria treaty will lead to a more efficient and effective process for extradition between the two countries. This will be preferable to relying on the ad hoc provisions in domestic extradition law for the many offences, such as murder or rape, that do not fall under the international conventions to which I referred. Indeed, one of the advantages of the new arrangements is that we will improve our ability to achieve justice for British victims of serious crimes. For clarity, I should add that, although deportation and extradition procedures are distinct, the principle of relying on credible assurances should be as applicable to extradition as it has been to deportation. We have already successfully deported individuals to Algeria. The human rights requirements applied by the UK courts that approve deportation are the same requirements that will be applied by the courts in future extradition cases.
Secondly, the order also designates Gibraltar as a category 1 territory, as Gibraltar has implemented its own legislation giving effect in Gibraltar to the streamlined and simplified European arrest warrant. Although Gibraltar is not an EU member state, Article 299.4 of the Treaty on European Union 1993 provides that the treaty applies to,
In addition, Article 33 of the Council framework decision on the European arrest warrant confirms that these arrangements apply to Gibraltar. Gibraltar has designated the United Kingdom as a state for the purposes of the European arrest warrant, and has incorporated the European arrest warrant into its own legislation. Likewise, the United Kingdom needs to designate Gibraltar as a part 1 territory so that extradition between the UK and Gibraltar can be effected by the European arrest warrant procedure. The order amends the relevant part of the Act accordingly, and ensures that the United Kingdom continues to comply with our obligations under the framework decision. Gibraltar will thus become the 27th territory to which European arrest warrant procedures will apply to extradition arrangements with the United Kingdom.
Thirdly, the House will be aware that the 2006 Statutory Instrument No. 3451 designated Bosnia-Herzegovina as an extradition partner under the European Convention on Extradition. The order reflects that, under that convention, the time limit for requesting a state to submit full extradition papers in support of a request for a provisional arrest is now 40 days as opposed to 60 days. That longer time limit of 60 days was contained in the old United Kingdom-Yugoslavia
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The amendments are necessary to ensure that the United Kingdom can comply with its obligations under the relevant international extradition agreements. I hope that, given my explanation, the House will approve the order. I beg to move.
Lord Kingsland: My Lords, to me falls the signal honour of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, on his maiden speech. He has had a glittering career, as I am sure your Lordships are all aware. Following Dartmouth, the noble Lord has served in one capacity or another in no fewer than 14 ships. Most memorably for the noble Lord, and for all of your Lordships, the noble Lord was commanding the frigate Ardent on 21 May 1982 in the south Atlantic when she was mortally struck. The noble Lord was the last to abandon his doomed ship, subsequently receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his gallant conduct and exemplary leadership.
The noble Lords career as a staff officer proved as distinguished as it had in battle. He became Commander-in-Chief Fleet in November 2000 and in September 2002, as your Lordships well know, he was appointed First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. In 2004, already an admiral, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.
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