All 1 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Howell of Guildford

Wed 21st Jul 2010

Kabul Conference

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Howell of Guildford
Wednesday 21st July 2010

(13 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. May I, on behalf of the Cross Benches, offer profound sympathies to bereaved families and, once again, pay tribute to the courage of the forces fighting in the south of the country?

I would like to ask two very brief questions. First, in view of very recent events—the killing of soldiers—what measures are being taken to prevent and/or weed out any Taliban presence in the Afghan national army? The second question, which the Minister certainly alluded to, is what new measures will now be taken as a result of the Kabul conference to ensure that aid is actually used to build and improve infrastructure in the form of transport, health and education facilities?

Lord Howell of Guildford Portrait Lord Howell of Guildford
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I am very grateful to the noble Baroness both for her questions and, indeed, for the brevity of her questions.

Of the tragedies which we have seen in recent times, the appalling killing of military personnel, very tragically including three British soldiers, by a member of the Afghan forces was a horror. There have been other incidents of a similar kind, but I think that my answer has to be that there is no question of this being a general problem. It does not in any way deter us from the overriding commitment of moving forward to the transition and enabling a proper, well-trained Afghan force, and indeed Afghan police force, to take over the security of their own country. However, there has to be very careful monitoring and watching to make sure that this kind of tragedy does not occur. It is something that one just has to watch for. There can never be any guarantee that personnel will not somehow be perverted, twisted or lose control of themselves and do terrible things; but the whole system is being very carefully monitored and watched, and we hope and pray and work to ensure that it does not happen again.

As to the destinations of aid, these can be tightened up. Of course there have been criticisms that not all aid is reaching the right points. We have strengthened a number of the monitoring processes, and they will be even more strengthened as a result of the Kabul conference in order that we may continue with the infrastructure development, which has gone on apace. We should not underestimate the fantastic things that have been done in the years since the original invasion. I shall share with your Lordships one figure that quite surprised me when I looked at some of the briefing for today. The Afghan economy is growing incredibly fast—last year it grew at 22.5 per cent. We could do with that kind of growth here.