London Evening Standard/This is London
10 Jul 1998, 11:10 Universal Time
MPs to pass Diana mines Bill
by Charles Reiss
MPs met today to pay tribute to Princess Diana and
of her key causes - with a Bill to ban landmines rushed
through in a single sitting.
The measure, barring the development, production
sale of mines, was set to pass with all-party backing.
That opens the way for Britain to be among the first
countries to ratify the Ottawa Convention, leading to a
The Government has already made clear that Britain's
forces would cease using mines and that existing stocks
would be destroyed.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said today that half
mines stockpiled had already been disposed of and that
the Government was on target to destroy all anti-personnel
landmines by the end of next year.
However, until recently, ministers argued that it
be practical to hurry through the necessary change in the
law to allow Britain to sign up to the convention. That
stance was reversed under increasing public pressure and
embarrassment that the Government might be seen to be
faltering in its promised backing for the cause.
Mr Cook today highlighted the scale of the menace,
pointing out that some 60 million landmines were scattered
in 70 countries, with 18,000 identified minefields in Bosnia
"After the trauma of war, landmines pollute the peace,"
Princess Diana, he added, had made an "immense
contribution" in making people aware of the human cost of
landmines and the best way to pay tribute to that was to
make the change in the law.
Tories complained at what they said was a loophole
measure,which would allow British troops to continue to
However, ministers said this was a necessary legal
to protect British forces who might be working in a
combined operation, under Nato or UN command,
alongside American or other forces which still used mines.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 10 July 1998
Webversion/Compilation © www.icbl.org 1998