INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT – 7 November 2000

[Mr Huw Edwards (Monmouth): If he will make a statement about progress on the establishment of an international criminal court.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Peter Hain): Good progress is being made. Twenty-two countries have already ratified the treaty, out of the 60 needed for establishing the international criminal court.

Mr Edwards: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that a Bill in the Queen's Speech to ratify the international criminal court would have cross-party support? Does he also agree that whoever is the new President of the United States, that country should take a greater role and ensure that those who commit crimes against humanity are brought to justice?

Mr Hain: We would, indeed, like to see the US sign up to the treaty and give the international criminal court its agreement, as its participation would be important. My hon. Friend would not expect me to comment on the contents of the Queen's Speech, but I hope that when the Bill is introduced into Parliament, which we hope to achieve as soon as possible, it will receive all-party support. I hope that the official Opposition, and in particular those on the Front Bench, will not obstruct the Bill, but will allow it a quick passage, so that Britain can become one of the first 60 countries to ratify the treaty and bring it into force... ]

Dr Julian Lewis: May I endorse everything that the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr Edwards) set out in his main question? When the war crimes tribunals sit, there should be retribution for the past and a deterrent to obscene atrocity in future. I express some concern that it is taking as long as it is for Britain to ratify the process and to get it under way.

[Mr Hain: We are committed to achieve ratification as quickly as possible. I am delighted that we shall have the hon. Gentleman's support. It is a unique experience for me, but I am delighted to agree with virtually everything that he said.]