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Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Ambassador Audrey Glover has already referred the matter to the chairman in office and that discussion is taking place on how best to proceed? Is he also aware that at the Budapest meeting it was agreed that, where a matter was of sufficient importance, it could be referred to the Committee of Ministers, and should be in this case? Does the Minister recall the dictum of the former Prime Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, that you do not just walk into someone else's country? In view of the fact that the Turks have invaded Iraq with 35,000 troops, jets, tanks and helicopters and are terrorising not only the PKK but also the native Kurdish people of northern Iraq, is this not a matter of sufficient importance to command the attention of the highest levels of the OSCE?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord is right about going into other people's countries. We note the Turkish Government's assurances that their operations are temporary and aimed solely at destroying the PKK's capability to mount attacks against Turkey from northern Iraq. We look forward to the Turks abiding by their undertaking to withdraw at the earliest opportunity.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in the Government's own communiqué published by way of Answer to a Written Question in another place recently Her Majesty's Government claimed special credit for the humanitarian issues that were raised at the Budapest conference? In those circumstances, may we have the Government's assurance that they will take the initiative in ensuring, particularly as Turkey is a potential member of the European Union, that the humanitarian objectives and standards (with which Her Majesty's Government have presumably concurred) are observed in both the spirit and the detail?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord is right. The human dimension of the Budapest Declaration owes a great deal to British involvement. That is something of which we can be proud. The noble Lord is also right in saying that there has been a series of serious human rights abuses in Turkey which the Government have regularly drawn to the attention of the Turkish authorities at the highest level, making quite clear our disapproval of those abuses.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, will the Government work through all available channels to achieve a timetable for the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the invaded territory? Will they also ensure that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is able to protect those refugees from Turkey already in that area and ensure that none of them is forcibly repatriated to Turkey?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I can assure the House that we shall do everything that we can to try to ensure that Turkish troops withdraw as soon as possible. Equally, we shall endeavour to do everything that we can to contribute to ensuring that the actions to which the noble Lord refers take place. However, he will appreciate that the area is a long way from here and it is difficult to stand at this Dispatch Box and say that this or that will happen.
Lord Stallard: My Lords, given the record of the Turks in Cyprus and the Government's continued repetition of assurances that they will do their best, and given the fact that in 20 years no solution has been reached, what grounds are there for thinking that the situation will be any different in respect of this latest invasion?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we have to do our best to try to bring about a successful outcome to this matter. The noble Lord mentioned an example where none of us has been as successful as we would have liked.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, the Turkish invasion seems to have attracted little or no protest from Iraq. Does that not suggest that there may well be some collusion between Turkey and Iraq to attack the Kurdish population in that area on the basis of singling out the PKK for attack by the Turks? Is it not a fact also that it is very likely that thousands of innocent people are being caught up in this pincer movement and it is the Kurdish population as a whole who are bearing the brunt of this action?
Does the Minister agree that the welcome evacuation operation undertaken by the United Nations in securing the release of some 2,000 innocent Kurdish people from that situation ought to be thoroughly welcomed in all free parliaments of the world? Is there any hope that that possibility may be reopened in order to secure the evacuation of further people?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the point that the noble Lord makes about some form of joint operation between Iraq and Turkey has been canvassed in the media. I know of no evidence to support that view. Clearly, we must all welcome the action taken to secure the release of the people affected, to which the noble Lord referred. Let us hope that we shall see the end of this episode, as he said.
Lord Rea: My Lords, can the noble Lord imagine the furore that would have occurred if before the current peace initiative in Northern Ireland the British Army had gone south of the Border to eliminate possible IRA bases there? What, in effect, is the difference between the current situation in Turkey and Iraq and such a hypothetical situation?
Lord Chalfont: My Lords, does the noble Lord not agree, however, that that question raises the principle of hot pursuit? Do Her Majesty's Government believe that the PKK is a terrorist organisation, and would it not be as well to recognise that fact because so far the questions on this matter seem to have been notably one-sided?
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is it not the case that under Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter no state has a right to enter the territory of its neighbour except as a matter of self-defence or in accordance with a
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord is right. It is important that we take decisions and discuss these matters on the basis of information, which at present is sketchy. Obviously any means of improving our knowledge of these matters will be to everyone's advantage.
Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords, is the Minister saying that, despite our knowledge of the serious violations of human rights in Turkey, we shall permit that corrupt country to join the European Union?
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to permit the distribution of funds by building societies to a person who switched funds from a shareholding account to a deposit account during the qualifying period for such a distribution. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a first time.
I do not want to detain your Lordships for more than a moment, but I should like to express thanks to those members of the small but distinguished Committee which carefully examined the business of the Bill. They made a recommendation on a vote of three to two that the sponsors of the Bill should seek to arrange with the Registrar of Friendly Societies that some of the places on the board of the new heritage foundation should be open to election by direct franchise in Letchworth. The sponsors have assured me that they will try to achieve that as soon as possible in accordance with the wishes of the Committee. However, no change is made to the text of the Bill; and, therefore, I hope that the Bill which has been favourably received in all parts of your Lordships' House may now complete its progress.
I am grateful to the committee for having pursued the matter and for having sought the views of the Registrar of Friendly Societies as there was a widespread understanding that the election would not be an acceptable procedure under the rules governing industrial and provident societies. I was glad to learn that the registrar wrote to the Committee that at no time had he said that a structure involving direct election of governors by a constituency comprising the town of Letchworth, or a section of that town, would be unacceptable. I am glad that the Committee decided to allow for direct election of six of the 30 governors.