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Volume 724: debated on Monday 31 January 2011


My Lords, with permission, I shall now repeat as a Statement the Answer given by the Minister for Europe to an Urgent Question in the other place this afternoon. The Statement is as follows.

“With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the situation in Egypt. First, may I apologise on behalf of the Secretary of State for his absence today? The House may be aware that he is attending a Foreign Affairs Council meeting today in Brussels, where this issue is at the top of the agenda.

While the calls for political reform have been peaceful, general unrest has become increasingly dangerous, with elements of violence leading to lawlessness in some areas of major cities such as Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Severe restrictions on freedom of expression, including closure of both internet access and mobile phone services, have only fuelled the anger of demonstrators. We have called on the Egyptian authorities to lift those restrictions urgently.

I am sure that the House will join me in expressing our deepest sympathies to all those affected by the unrest in Egypt, including the families and friends of those who have been killed and injured. Casualty figures remain unclear, but it is estimated that at least 100 people have died. On Saturday, the army took over responsibility for security in Cairo, and its role has so far been welcomed by protestors. Our aim throughout these events has been to ensure the safety of British nationals in Egypt and to support Egypt in making a stable transition to a more open, democratic society.

I turn first to consular issues. There are estimated to be 20,000 British tourists in Egypt, the majority of whom are in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where, according to our latest information, the situation remains calm. We estimate that there are a further 10,000 British nationals in the rest of Egypt.

On Friday 28 January we changed our travel advice to advise against “all but essential travel” to the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor, due to the severity of demonstrations there. On Saturday 29 January, we heightened our travel advice further to recommend that those without a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez leave by commercial means where it was safe to do so. Those in Luxor are advised to stay indoors wherever possible. A daily curfew remains in place throughout Egypt from 3 pm to 8 am.

Cairo airport is open but has been operating under considerable difficulties. The situation was particularly difficult yesterday, but our ambassador in Cairo reports that it has eased a little today. Flights are operating but are subject to delays or cancellation. The majority of British nationals have been able to leave Cairo airport today. We estimate that around 50 British nationals will remain at the airport overnight, to depart on scheduled flights tomorrow. The situation also appears to be improving in Alexandria, with road access to the airport now secure. We have staff at Cairo airport working around the clock to provide assistance to any British nationals who require it. We also have staff in Alexandria, Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh, who are providing very regular updates about the situation on the ground in these parts of Egypt and staying in close touch with tour operators and British companies on the ground.

Additional staff reinforcements from London and the region have been sent to Egypt to help embassy staff to maintain essential services in these difficult circumstances. A 24-hour hotline is available for British nationals to call if they need assistance or advice. I am sure that the House will join me in recognising the hard work and dedication shown by all our staff, both in Egypt and in London, in responding quickly and professionally to the unfolding events.

I turn to the political situation in Egypt. The United Kingdom has major interests at stake in Egypt, which has played an important role as a regional leader, including in the Middle East peace process. We are also the biggest foreign investor, with a cumulative investment of more than £13 billion. The scale of these protests is unprecedented in Egypt over the past 30 years. We have called on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians and we have called on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

In response to the growing protests, President Mubarak announced on 28 January that he had asked the Government to resign. On 29 January, he appointed the head of the Egyptian intelligence services, Omar Suleiman, as his vice-president and Ahmed Shafiq, most recently Minister for Civil Aviation, as Prime Minister. Further Cabinet appointments have been made today. However, demonstrations have continued and are now focused on a demand for President Mubarak to resign.

It is not for us to decide who governs Egypt. However, we believe that the pathway to stability in Egypt is through political change that reflects the wishes of the Egyptian people. This should include an orderly transition to a more democratic system, including through holding free and fair elections and the introduction of measures to safeguard human rights. This kind of reform is essential to show to people in Egypt that their concerns and their aspirations are being listened to.

We continue to urge President Mubarak to appoint a broad-based Government who include opposition figures and to embark on an urgent programme of peaceful political reform. We are also working with our international partners to ensure that these messages are given consistently and that technical and financial support for reform is available. The Prime Minister has spoken to President Mubarak and President Obama. The Foreign Secretary has spoken to Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU High Representative Baroness Ashton over the weekend. He will also be discussing the situation in Egypt with EU colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting today.

The situation in Egypt is still very uncertain. We are putting in place contingency plans to ensure that we are prepared for all eventualities”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement to the House today. I declare an interest as chairman of the British Egyptian Society and a member of the British Egyptian Business Council.

The Statement makes it clear that the unrest that we have witnessed in Egypt has developed very rapidly over the past few days, particularly in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, as the Minister mentioned. The casualty figures, at more than 100 dead and many more injured, are very high. They seem to be a high proportion of those who were demonstrating. The numbers have been estimated variously as 10,000 at the beginning of the demonstrations and 20,000 most recently and, given those numbers, the casualty figures seem very high. I wish to associate these Benches with the expression of sympathy given by the noble Lord to all those who have been affected, in particular the families and friends of those who have been killed or injured.

Can the Minister tell the House whether there were fewer deaths after the army was brought in to replace the police? From the reports that we have all read and certainly from the Statement that the Minister has made, it seems that the army was more acceptable on the streets as a regulating force and that possibly it did not use some of the lethal force that the riot police seem to have deployed originally. Can the Minister confirm that there were many more people demonstrating yesterday than had been the case the day before and that, as a result, the curfew hours have now been extended? I think he mentioned the time of three o’clock in the afternoon, but originally it was four o’clock. I wondered whether that was as a result of those increasing numbers on the street.

I hope that the Minister will be able to convey the good wishes and the thanks of the whole House to our embassy staff in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, particularly the consular staff who have been working so hard. On that point, the FCO’s business plan has a commitment to deliver a smaller consular staff in future. Is the Minister satisfied that our embassy has sufficient consular staff to undertake the very heavy burden that has fallen on them, given the large number of British people currently holidaying in or visiting Egypt? He mentioned a number who have been deployed in recent days. Is that the rapid reaction force from the Foreign Office and can he tell us how many consular staff are on the ground in Egypt at present? I trust that the travel advice which he was kind enough to detail will be updated regularly and that we shall be able to see that on the FCO website.

On the Egyptian Government’s reaction to demonstrators, can the Minister tell us whether the UK Government or the EU has reacted to the reported use of low-flying F16s by the Egyptian air force? Have they asked about why those aircraft were deployed? Clearly, the street demonstrations today and tomorrow will give us a clearer insight into what is going on, but that seemed to be a quite extraordinary use of F16s.

I have two more specific questions. First, can the Minister tell the House anything about what is happening to the financial markets in relation to what is going on in Egypt? There has been some reporting on that. I make it clear that I do not ask that because of the great British investment in Egypt—as the Minister said, some £13 billion—but because of the impact that further financial pressure will have on the Egyptian Government’s ability to look after its own people. Secondly, can he say anything about the widespread reports of looting, not particularly from houses but—as we have heard from Professor Zahi Hawass, who today I believe has been appointed as a government Minister—from museums? Egypt’s artefacts are a glory not only to Egypt but to the whole world and it is important that we keep track of what is happening in that regard.

Many of your Lordships will be very concerned about what will happen over the next few days in Egypt and in the wider region. Egypt has a huge and growing population and, as has been discussed at the UN and elsewhere, for the past 10 years there has been a desperate and growing shortage of jobs in the area, particularly for the fast growing youthful population. Unemployment and rising commodity prices over the past few months have been a real problem throughout the whole region.

I visited Jordan last weekend and Libya the weekend before and the impact of both unemployment and rising prices is evident, particularly in those countries where there are few natural resources to combat them, especially where there is a rising problem of debt and no ability to subsidise prices. In some areas there has been very heavy subsidising of essential commodities. Money has been put into the system to try to create more jobs and in some countries there have been direct subsidies into citizens’ bank accounts in order to keep these problems under control. However, these safety valves simply are not available where there are energy shortages and job shortages as there are in Egypt. Do the Government recognise that this is not just an Egyptian problem, but a regional one? We have seen what has happened in Tunisia and we have seen the unrest, albeit in a more limited version, in Libya, Jordan and Lebanon and elsewhere.

I think all human beings want a say in how they are governed—at least the overwhelming majority do. They want better functioning institutions; they want to see the growth of civil society and non-governmental organisations. However, the Minister may recall, as I do, the ill fated American initiative on this issue—which was spearheaded by President Bush and I think Vice-President Cheney—which tried to impose a view of Arab reform in the Middle East. That was rejected completely by the countries of the Middle East at the time and I hope the British Government will do everything they can to resist that sort of imposition. I have no reason to think they will be looking for that sort of imposition. It is enormously important that the solutions to these problems are found within the countries themselves. We have to recognise that there is an inevitable dilemma between the benefits of stability and security on the one hand and the benefits of freedom on the other.

The Egyptians did begin a reform programme. There were a number of constitutional amendments, as I am sure the noble Lord is aware. There was a move towards facilitating opposition parties and indeed the setting up of a human rights commission in Egypt. This is not nearly enough and we have to look forward to what can be achieved by the new Government to whom the noble Lord has referred, including, most importantly, free and fair elections and a programme of peaceful political reform. We wish that not only for peace and justice in the Middle East’s most populous state but for the wider Middle East and, in particular, the Middle East peace process. We should not forget that Egypt has been a real force for moderation and engagement in the Middle East peace process when other states in the region perhaps have taken a rather less constructive attitude.

In supporting the main thrust of the Statement which the Minister has repeated, can I ask him to assure the House that we will be kept up to date? Tomorrow there is a call for 1 million people to turn out on to the streets of the Egyptian cities we have been discussing. That will be a crucial day. I trust that the Minister will do everything he can to make sure that the House is kept informed of developments.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her comments. Of course she knows the region very well and I am particularly grateful for her expressions of good will on behalf of all of us to the consular staff who are carrying out their duties, often in very challenging and even very dangerous conditions. Those good wishes mean a lot and I am very glad to ensure that they are conveyed to those concerned. The rapid reaction force of staff, to which she referred, is involved in the process. She asked whether we are satisfied that in normal times, if one can use that phrase, we have the right kind of consular support for the substantial number of British tourists and for the still relatively small but growing trade, industrial and investment links with Egypt. The answer is yes, we do. We have examined the staffing very carefully and think it is the right amount, but we are in a highly abnormal situation and we must obviously reinforce the consular numbers as quickly and as effectively as we can. I am not sure of the precise number of consular staff now in Egypt but, as I mentioned earlier, 20 more have been added over the past few days.

I will deal now with the noble Baroness’s other points, which seem to me extremely apposite. I agree that the number of deaths seems high but we are dealing not just with what is going on in Cairo—an enormous city of, I think, about 20 million people, so twice the size of London—but with the many other areas and towns across the whole of this country of 80 million people as well. It is regrettable but not totally surprising that when real violence and anger break out on the streets the deaths are high. She asked whether there were signs that the army has been doing better in its relations with the demonstrators than the police, whose first wave of response was violent and insensitive. It seems it is. Again, there are variations across the country but there are all sorts of anecdotes indicating that the army personnel and the crowds are in some sort of rapport on occasions. That is a very healthy development, which one hopes provides the foundations for an orderly transition to some degree of stability.

The noble Baroness is right about the curfew. It was extended yesterday by another hour from 3 pm to 4 pm. She also asked about the low flying aircraft. I am afraid we are talking about internal decisions of the existing or recently renewed Egyptian Government regarding how they dispose of their security forces. I cannot add anything to that as to why those they chose to fly the aircraft or what the psychological impression was intended to be. On the whole, I am not sure it was terribly helpful in terms of reassurance because hands pointed skywards and said that they were American aircraft and so on, so it probably did not help the general atmosphere.

Regarding financial markets, the Egyptian stock exchange I think is closed again today; it may have opened for a short while. It was closed yesterday, obviously, and the ratings of stocks and shares are sharply down. The crude oil price in the region has hit $100 a barrel and seems to be moving upwards—that affects us all, as we well know when we go to the garage petrol pump. The region has 66 per cent of the world’s oil reserves—not so much in Egypt, although it does have oil and gas.

The noble Baroness asked about looting, and again I do not have details, but we have seen evidence of quite widespread looting and she asked particularly about how this might endanger the antiquities and museums which contain some of the most precious items, familiar to us all, marking the ancient glories of Egypt. Our understanding is that the Egyptian Government are well aware of their responsibilities and have posted special guards round the museums. As this is an internal matter, I cannot guarantee that is going to be totally effective. There were some demonstrations rather close to the museums, but there are guards round them and people are aware, and we have offered some reminders of the importance of preserving these precious objects at a time of violence on the streets.

The noble Baroness made some extremely penetrating and wise remarks about the causes of this remarkable transition that seems to going on first in Tunis and now in Egypt, and there have been riots in other countries in the region as well and protests on the streets. Many causes have been analysed by all sorts of experts on these occasions. These are countries with a very large youthful population who are very short of jobs. Youth unemployment is always a danger. It is an era in which protest becomes e-enabled, with the ability to mobilise through the internet vast organisations of protest with the click of a button. With mobile phones and the support of an endless cascade of television media the whole speed at which protests can spring up, as has happened in Egypt, is vastly accelerated. Add to that a toxic mixture of rising food prices, rising fuel prices and the longing which is always there—and is one we salute—for liberty and greater freedom, particularly of press and media expression, and you have the kind of mixture which simply requires a match to light it, and up it goes. That is what has happened.

I give a firm assurance to the noble Baroness and your Lordships that I and my colleagues will seek to keep the House fully informed as the situation unfolds but, for the moment, speculation as to how it will unfold is difficult. One wants to be optimistic and see moderate, balanced regimes emerge, aware of their international and regional responsibilities. That is possible, but it is also possible that the whole event could take a much darker turn.

My Lords, can my noble friend reassure the House about the transportation of British nationals? I assume that his figure of 10,000 includes dual nationals. Can other European carriers bring out British nationals, should British carriers be unable to accommodate the number who might need airlifting out of Cairo?

On a broader point, the United Kingdom does not have a good history in the Middle East. This situation, grave as it is, provides us with an opportunity to be on the right side of history. Does my noble friend agree that comments by senior British statesmen in the Middle East that stability is perhaps to be traded for pluralism and democracy are unhelpful, and that, although stability is deeply important in that volatile part of the world, pluralism is equally so? It does not behove our Government to take a position whereby we do not seek to uphold the wishes of the people and instead somehow trade off a peace process that is going nowhere with a desire for a false state of stability?

I know what my noble friend is getting at, but I think that that is a false polarity. Something that I have learnt—in particular, in my dealings with the Commonwealth, which does not really come into this issue—is that democracy, the rule of law and good governance are the foundations of stability, investment, jobs and trade expansion. Where those things are not adhered to, or at least there is no trend towards them, problems arise that lead to challenges—not in every country; we can think of exceptions to that generalisation, but that is the scene. I do not think that the pattern of differentiation hinted at in my noble friend's remarks is entirely justified.

The certain and central truth is in my noble friend’s other observation that the UK has a long history in the area, not all of it bad. I am always interested in the way in which many countries with which we might have had bad relations in the past are extremely pro this country—I am thinking of countries slightly further to the east in the Gulf—and are constantly asking for stronger renewed links with the United Kingdom. Some of them have recently been saying to me, “Where is the United Kingdom? Please will you come back?”, so not all the history has been bad, although some of it has been very awkward indeed. The history of our relations with Egypt has had its good moments and its terrible moments over the past century, and certainly for the past 40 or 50 years, as we all vividly remember.

As to the practical matter of routes to the airport and getting nationals out, we are watching that carefully. If it were necessary to think in terms of special charters and so on, we would move immediately, but so far we are finding that the commercial airlines, including British and some non-British airlines, have capacity. The airport is operating again today better than it was and, most importantly, the routes to Cairo airport are clear and properly guarded in a way that it was feared they were not the day before yesterday and yesterday. The situation can change at any time, but at the moment it looks a little better. I hope that that is helpful to my noble friend.

My Lords, we should all devoutly hope that there will be a peaceful transition to democracy, notwithstanding the demographic explosion in Egypt, which leads to the lack of jobs and the water shortage, but there is another option. The spectre of the Iranian revolution still haunts the Middle East. The Minister will recall that at that time our embassy was rather dazzled by the Peacock Throne and that the revolution went downhill from Mr Bakhtiar, a liberal democrat, to end with the mullahs and Ayatollah Khomeini. How serious is the danger of such a decline? We must recognise not only how Egypt, the most populous Arab country, would be affected but, because of the linkage of the Muslim Brotherhood and other less moderate forces to the rejectionist forces in the Middle East, the blow that would result to the Middle East peace process.

Of course, the dangers are there. Revolutions and massive street protests can take unpredictable paths. I think that the analogy with the Peacock Throne and the fall of the Shah is not strong. There has been deep recognition for some time that the pattern of rule in Egypt and the far from fair and free elections conducted last year were paving stones on the route to trouble and that, although one cannot always assess the exact moment of conflagration, there were dangers. I said earlier that the power of electronic media, including the internet, in mobilising people and protests at lightning speed should not be underestimated. Some people have mentioned the machinery of Twitter, Facebook and all those other things. They can convey and gather information and organise people at fantastic speed.

The dangers were seen. Now the task, not for any individual country but for all responsible states men and women around the world, is to see that the pattern unfurls in a moderate way and that the more extreme elements—the younger hotheads in the militant Muslim Brotherhood, the jihadists, and so on—do not hold sway. My view is that there are many sensible, wise and talented people in Egypt and a strong middle class who, although they might be frustrated by past events, have a strong enough voice to give us some hope that moderation will prevail.

I ask the Minister to get his crystal ball out on what might be one of the more certain and important consequences of what is happening in Egypt. Exactly a year ago, I was with the Foreign Minister of Egypt and a party of parliamentarians from 15 European countries. We were en route to Gaza and could get in only via Egypt. It strikes me in particular that Egypt's alliance with Israel in effect to keep the lid on Gaza cannot possibly prevail in the aftermath of what is happening. Whatever Government come in, they seem almost certain to want to review that rather loveless alliance. Is the Foreign Office having due regard to the possible consequences of what seems to me to be almost inevitable? I think, for example, of the border between Gaza and Egypt. As the Minister will know, the Egyptians built the wall along that border only a year or two back, and it has been tunnelled under relentlessly.

One would hope that whatever the immediate consequences in that dimension, there might be the prospect—one hopes and prays—of a balance of voices within Israel itself shifting more to that part of Israeli opinion, political and non-political, that desperately wants to break out of the box that Israeli policy is currently in. That is in the hope that in due time—I realise that these are hugely complicated matters and that it takes all sides to tango—one could move away from the continued colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and into a positive mode that could in the end see a general resolution of this ghastly combination of factors. I ask the Minister whether the Foreign Office is alive to all this—I am sure it is—and whether it will be able to exert some constructive influence and pressure to reach a positive outcome.

I thank my noble friend. Foreign Office Ministers, particularly junior ones, have to be quite careful when it comes to taking out a crystal ball and making bold forecasts, because this is a particularly fluid situation. My noble friend has done a pretty good job himself in raising certain crystal-ball issues, and these are very much in my mind and that of my noble and honourable friends and their advisers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is absolutely right that we now have to look at implications and try to be one step ahead of the unfolding scene. Gaza and the Israel-Palestine situation, oil and energy supplies throughout the region, and the now increasingly unfashionable pattern of nepotism—which seemed to cause so much anger in Tunis and was clearly a feature in the riots in Cairo, and which was a feature in other contexts as well—all need to be looked at, together with the position of other countries all around the region.

Even in Lebanon we have a fragile situation, with a new Prime Minister who will we hope command sufficient support all round to achieve a delicate balance there. There are issues of potential turbulence in many other regions as well. This means not only that we are already in a new international landscape but that we now, as a result of what has been happening for the last few weeks, have to have a further reassessment. I can therefore assure my noble friend that every effort will be made to peer into the future—it sometimes seems very dark indeed—and to make proper provision for the interests of this country in a new and changing world.

I thank the Minister for his Statement and join others in expressing sympathy for British citizens caught up in unrest and our admiration for the consular staff, both in Egypt and sent from London, who are helping.

I understand the pressure on the Foreign Office budget at the moment, including the consular budget, but will the Minister say whether the Foreign Office is considering developing the concept of rapid reaction forces to provide greater flexibility in the management of consular staff and increasing the chances of having the right number of people available in the alas increasing number of emergencies for which British citizens will quite rightly expect and deserve support from our consular services?

I am sure this is in the mind of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, about which the noble Lord knows a great deal. He probably knows a great deal more than I do; he has spent more time there than I have. This is an age that requires agility, adaptability and rapid deployment as never before in handling international affairs, securing stability and peace, and protecting and promoting our interests, so this kind of design will be increasingly required alongside the stable institutions of Whitehall and the hierarchies of government that have prevailed in the past. We have to have some new thoughts on how to deal with the instant conflagrations and instant fires that can spring up in this globalised total communication, totally informational world.

Will the Minister confirm that it is not always helpful to talk about countries in the region of North Africa and the Middle East as if they were the same, and agree that in Egypt there are some very active opposition parties—not just Mohammed El Baradei’s group and the Muslim Brotherhood but other parties who have MPs, some of whom have links with United Kingdom political parties. There is a vibrant civil society, and there are some free media, and we have in Dominic Asquith, as we had with Derek Plumbly, and their staff, people who know this situation very well. I found this out when I visited on a number of occasions with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to try to promote democracy in Egypt. Will he agree that our top priority must now be to do everything that we can through all the international organisations of which we are members to make sure that there are free and fair elections for the President and the Parliament?

I agree, and I regard those as extremely helpful and constructive comments. They underlie a point that is often worth making: that international affairs is not just about Governments to Governments but a vast substructure of informal, non-governmental, voluntary and professional links that make up the whole fabric of relations between two countries. What the noble Lord has said reinforces that very strongly.

What is the current state of health of General Suleiman, who had been invited to become Prime Minister in Egypt? Did he accept, and more generally will the Foreign Office be revising and reviewing its whole approach to the Middle East and to North Africa, bearing in mind what the Minister has already said about transition from one kind of regime to another?

I cannot add much on General Suleiman. He is known to a number of people in this country and to a number of people working in and for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I cannot comment on the precise circumstances in which he came to be appointed, as they are internal to the Egyptian Government. That is the position, and I am sorry if I have not been helpful on that.

As to revising our approach, revision of approach has become the pattern of the age. We are in an era of constant evolution in our institutions and our arrangements, driven by the global information revolution and the globalisation of events and processes, so new approaches are having to be considered at all times in this transformed international landscape, and we will do our best, in close dialogue with the experts and think tanks and international experts and partners, to make sense of this fast-changing jigsaw world.

My Lords, the Statement says that the Government are urging,

“President Mubarak to appoint a broad-based Government who include opposition figures”.

Is this not part of the problem? The massive movement of people on the ground who are demonstrating in Egypt see Mubarak as the problem, and for the Government to be calling on him to be doing anything at this time is not helpful. As the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, has said, what is really needed is a strong cross-coalition Opposition that will include different parties that have been kept down and kept weak by Mubarak over the last three decades. They will inevitably include the Muslim Brotherhood in a minority. An alternative is needed, which people can look to, that can step forward and help that transition.

I follow Twitter, and there are hundreds and hundreds of voices on it saying, “We do not want Mubarak. He is the problem; he is the one who has repressed everyone”. The present generation of young people who have seen high unemployment and have no hope for the future see him as the problem. Is it wise of the Government to be calling on Mubarak to take a lead in a transitional time? I wonder about that and the fact that we keep hearing about the Muslim Brotherhood when it is in fact a minority. It does not enjoy widespread support but inevitably has some support and will be part of any coalition in any transitional period.

One should not overestimate the powers of the outside world nor underestimate the fact that the future of this nation and its pattern of government will be determined internally by the people of Egypt. We have to take the situation as it is and, at the moment, the leadership and the power remain in the hands of Mr Mubarak. It is perfectly true, as my noble friend says, that tens of thousands of people are calling for his removal, but others are equally determined that he should not be removed. We will have to see how this works out. In the mean time, it seems reasonable to suggest to those who are in the Government of Egypt, with its new personnel, that the right path is the one to which the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, rightly referred. They must press towards democracy if they want the stability and better life for the people of Egypt that many in the streets are shouting for.