European Council and North Africa — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:12 pm on 7 February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy) 8:12, 7 February 2011

To be brief, because time is out, of course I will ensure that my colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office make every effort, as they always do, to provide the best possible up-to-date briefing. Sometimes matters are moving so fast that it is hard to be absolutely up to date and sometimes when one is on a delegation in another country-and I have led many in the past, as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in another place-one finds the local view and perspective seemingly different, even with a conflict of facts. We will do our best.

As to the US reaction to the release of Mr Megrahi, I think that it was generally realised that this would be greeted with great concern by the United States; everyone was fully aware of that. Many people thought, probably not just as a result of that, but for other reasons, too, that it was wrong to release Megrahi-those many included my right honourable friend the Prime Minister-but we have our own views in this country. I am not saying that in this case the decision was right-I think that it was wrong-but we are entitled to develop our own world perspective and our own views on how the new landscape is changing, as well as to remain very close to our allies and friends in Washington while being in a relationship that, to quote my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, is "solid but not slavish".