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Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what outcome he expects from the forthcoming UN Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans to be held in New York on 30 May to 2 June. [124190]

Mr. Prescott: The establishment of a UN Informal Consultative Process is a new and promising development. For a long time, I have been calling for a single global focus for integrating action on the oceans. At the 1999 meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, I particularly highlighted the need for better preparation of the annual UN General Assembly debate on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and better implementation by all states of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Chapter 17, Oceans and All Seas, of Agenda 21. I believe that the new Informal Consultative Process will address both these points.

The UK has played a leading role in getting the new Process established and we are looking forward to participating in a productive meeting. Although all aspects of the oceans and seas are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole, discussion should focus on one or two main areas, to get agreement on the progress to be made. In this inaugural meeting, the issues of tackling illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries and the economic and social implications of marine pollution have emerged as issues of particular concern. These are important issues and we want to ensure that the new process makes a real difference to progress in tackling them. In particular, there needs to be early entry into force of the UN fish stock agreement and full implementation

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of that agreement, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and the Global Programme of Action against land-based marine pollution. The new Process should promote concerted action for this purpose by all the different international bodies involved.

Standard Spending Assessments

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the age-related demographic factors used in setting SSAs. [123296]

Ms Beverley Hughes: A wide range of indicators is used in working out Standard Spending Assessments. The following age-related demographic factors were used in calculations for the 2000-01 settlement:


Honours (Removal)

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions honours have been removed from those who received them, and for what reasons, in the last ten years. [122904]

The Prime Minister: In the last ten years, there have been 13 cases of forfeiture of honours for which the Prime Minister is responsible. The reasons leading to these forfeitures are:

(i) corruption (mis-use of their position): five cases;
(ii) company fraud: three cases;

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(iii) sexual offences against children: three cases; and
(iv) theft: two cases.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Prime Minister if a conviction for perjury constitutes grounds for recommending the removal of a life peerage. [122905]

The Prime Minister: This would require legislation to be passed by both Houses of Parliament. Once a Peer has been created, neither the Sovereign, the Prime Minister nor the House of Lords alone can cause his or her title to be forfeited.

Debt Relief

Mr. Reed: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had with the Japanese Prime Minister about debt relief at their recent meeting. [123105]

The Prime Minister: Prime Minister Mori and I met on 3 May. We covered issues in preparation for the G8 Summit in Okinawa in July, and agreed on the importance of discussing debt issues at the Summit. We are both concerned to see that the debt relief measures agreed at the Cologne Summit last year are implemented.

Rural Economies

Mr. Breed: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place the responses received by his Department to the Performance and Innovation Unit's report, "Rural Economies", in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [123397]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 24 May 2000]: The Performance and Innovation Unit's report, "Rural Economies", asked for comments on the report to be sent to the Rural White Paper Team at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions by 11 February 2000. Copies of the responses received will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses in due course (except for those which respondents request remain confidential).



Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he and the Ministers in his Department last had a meeting with the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [123528]

Mr. Hain: I last met the Ethiopian Ambassador when he accompanied the Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Atto Seyoum Mesfin, who called on me on 9 December 1999. I saw him again on 23 May when I strongly criticised Ethiopia's renewal of fighting against Eritrea.


Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has received the report from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs on the prospects for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [124185]

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Mr. Hain: I understand that a distinguished, international delegation organised by the National Democratic Institute visited Zimbabwe from 15 to 22 May. After over 30 meetings with representatives of government, political parties and civil society the delegation called for "heightened observation" of the elections by the international community. Their findings reflect an atmosphere of anxiety and fear, a news bias in favour of the ruling party, and that the Registrar General has so far failed to establish an open and transparent electoral process. We hope that the delegation's observations are closely heeded in Zimbabwe.


Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes have been made to EU sanctions in place against Burma. [124186]

Mr. Vaz: On 26 April the Council of the European Union adopted a Common Position (2000/346/CFSP) which enhanced EU sanctions against Burma by strengthening the existing visa ban, imposing a freeze on the funds of those individuals subject to the visa ban and imposing a ban on the supply of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism.

Following from this Common Position, the Council adopted Regulation 1081/2000 on 22 May. The Regulation prohibits the sale, supply, export or shipment of goods listed in an Annexe to the Regulation, directly or indirectly, whether or not originating in the Community, to any person or body in Burma or to any person or body for the purpose of any business carried on in, or operated from, the territory of Burma.

The Regulation also provides that all funds belonging to individual listed in an annexe to the Regulation shall be frozen and that no funds shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of those persons.

The Regulation applies within the territory of the Community including its air space and on board any aircraft or any vessel under the jurisdiction of a member state and, to any person elsewhere who is a national of a member state and any body which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a member state.

The Regulation entered into force on 24 May and is directly applicable in the UK. Legislation to provide for enforcement, including penalties, will shortly be in effect.


Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many laptop computers used by Ministers, officials and special advisers in his Department have been (a) lost and (b) stolen since May 1997. [123736]

Mr. Battle: There are three instances of FCO laptops going missing. In two cases, overseas, these are recorded as losses. But every loss may, in fact, be a theft. The third instance was theft, again overseas.

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