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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I feel that at this point I must remind your Lordships of the statement made at the beginning of the debate today by my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn when he clarified to the House the fact that the matter of the requested extradition of Senator Pinochet continues to be sub judice and, under the rules of the House, no reference should be made to the case in the debate. I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, has not in fact mentioned the case; but he will admit that he is sailing in waters dangerously close to it. I know that he will bear in mind carefully the sensitivity of the whole area in which he is speaking.
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that intervention. I realise that I am touching on delicate ground and because of that I took the opportunity of the advice of the Chief Clerk today and am keeping well within the parameters of an already approved text. I am delighted to go no further if that is the will of the Chamber or to halt at any time if any
If I might continue, Britain has reconsidered principles of immunity and in so doing addresses international human rights, crimes against humanity and torture commitments. While this area of the law is embryonic and the principle of international prosecution exists, the machinery to provide international jurisdiction at present does not. I trust that we can now hasten the establishment of the international criminal court and that the United States will come alongside as a team player and stop looking for iron-clad guarantees for US soldiers and policy makers.
Lord Beloff: My Lords, the noble Viscount has referred to rulings in the case he is not supposed to mention. Can he not observe the position outlined several times today by those in charge of the House?
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the noble Viscount has caught me quite unawares. I begin this debate by echoing a sentiment expressed by my noble friend Lady Williams and by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, in saying that it is superb that international development has been added to the title of this debate. However, it must be pointed out to the noble Earl that alphabetical considerations rather than the importance of international development as opposed to foreign affairs might have influenced the matter, though many of us in this place rather feel that international development should come first.
I am particularly pleased to speak in this debate because the gracious Speech introduced the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill. That is a remarkable step forward, as the CDC has done a great deal to increase investment in developing countries, especially in countries which rarely received investment from private sources, particularly in Africa. It was believed that it was going to be a privatisation measure. I take the point that the Government put forward that it is not a privatisation; it is a public-private finance initiative with private investors. I admit that the last government caused some surprise when they privatised the Crown Agents rather than taking the course that this Government have taken; that is, to move the Commonwealth Development Corporation more into the private sector.
The Commonwealth Development Corporation is the jewel in the attic. I understand that there was some difficulty in valuing the assets of the CDC but I was interested to see in the Bill the figure of £1.5 billion
The noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, mentioned that the Irish Prime Minister is considering whether or not Ireland should join the Commonwealth. That is a generous gesture to the Unionists. It also shows that Ireland sees the Commonwealth not as a British institution but as an institution that encompasses many countries that span the world.
The content of the Bill is also well received. In the provisions, one of the great worries of any privatisation of the Commonwealth Development Corporation is that it would be at risk from changes in the situation in the emerging markets. I particularly welcome the provision which states that the best and most profitable time for this move to take place will be judged and that no action will be taken until that time.
The CDC Bill is one that is uncontroversial. Indeed, it was so uncontroversial that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, failed to mention it in his speech. In the interests of this measure, I hope that the Government will agree that it would benefit from the Grand Committee procedure--that is, that its proceedings can be conducted in the Moses Room. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, would agree that this is the perfect Bill for such a procedure--
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord. I had not heard that. I am grateful to the Conservative Party for their action. I am obviously far behind the times as regards this measure and I will say no more about it, having been completely caught off guard there.
This second day of debate on the gracious Speech gives the opportunity for those of us who are particularly interested in international development to look at the position of the former ODA--now the DfID, following the promises made in the White Paper. I hope the Government will accept the praise that we on these Benches give them on converting the ODA into a department and on reversing the cuts that had been made
This has been an interesting debate, which has spanned many countries around the globe, including Iraq--I will come back to that country later--Nicaragua, Honduras, Japan, the Middle East, Russia, Kosovo, Cuba and even the Caribbean. I hope the House will forgive me if I do not touch on all those areas. However, one aspect was particularly interesting. It is gratifying to these Benches, where we are all confirmed and committed Europhiles, to hear that hardly any of the speeches--very, very few indeed--were actually Eurosceptic in nature.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, rather than following the drinking analogy, I would say that I believe it to be a positive step that for once a Europhile voice could be heard far more loudly than the far more vociferous minority view which is often expressed in this House.
I did say I would return to Iraq and I would wish to congratulate the Government on their handling of the situation. In a Statement which was given to the House recently but before the events of the last few days, the Government took a particularly hard line and I believe that we on these Benches were seriously concerned about the aftermath of the actions. However, the Government have been proved to be successful and I am particularly pleased that the success was achieved without actual bombing. The success of the policy can be judged by the fact that the monitors are back in Iraq. Indeed, I should like to pay tribute to the courage of those monitors, who found themselves in a particularly difficult position.
One of the aspects of the situation in Iraq which particularly concerned us was the "morning-after syndrome". I believe that, by taking the hard stance that they have, the Government have achieved the compliance of Saddam Hussein. Although he is obviously still causing difficulties, he has actually backed down from his previous position. However, I want to go on to say that the position taken by Britain and the United States in moving to implement measures to remove Saddam Hussein caused some concern on these Benches. It is not that we do not believe that he is probably one of the most dangerous individuals in the world--a threat to his own people and to all his neighbours--but that the precedent set by such actions by the West might be misinterpreted by other countries who do not share our political stance.
Many other issues have been mentioned, including natural disasters. I know that Nicaragua and Honduras were brought up in the context of aid. In a Statement made recently, the Minister pointed out that moneys were to be made available through the NGOs and through the EUAs. I would ask the Minister to say whether this money has been spent, because there is some talk about moneys that were desperately needed
I would also say that, as the Government were very forthright about debt payment relief in respect of those countries which have been hit so badly, I wonder whether they have any comment to make on France's call to suspend debt repayment.
Many noble Lords mentioned Africa and the noble Lord, Lord Gillmore, mentioned Angola in particular. However, the Congo is one area which has been--
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