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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 January 2001


Middle East (Racist Incidents)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions have commenced arising from racist actions as a consequence of the present situation in the middle east; what policy the CPS is adopting towards reports to them by the police in these circumstances; and if he will make a statement. [144377]

The Solicitor-General: In the absence of direct evidence or a perpetrator identifying his/her particular motive in acting as alleged, it is impossible to attribute the commission of an offence to any particular event(s). Given that and the fact that the question embraces the possibility of any offence nationwide with a racist element, the information sought could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. However, I am able to confirm that the Casework Directorate of the CPS is considering a police report into two reported incidents of the publication and distribution of inflammatory material, which targeted the Jewish community. Also, I can say that any other offences reported will be reviewed by the CPS in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and, where the evidential and public interest tests are satisfied, prosecuted.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Solicitor-General in how many cases during the last 12 months appeals against lenient sentences resulted in an increase in the sentence that had been imposed. [143928]

The Solicitor-General: In the year 2000, the sentences imposed upon 85 offenders were referred to the Court of Appeal in London or are currently awaiting hearing. The court has heard 48 applications to date. In 43 cases the sentences were held to be unduly lenient and in 36 cases the sentences were increased.


Saville Inquiry

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he reviewed the attendance of MOD personnel at the Saville Inquiry; how many staff of what grades have attended the inquiry in each week it has sat in public; and in what capacity he is represented at the inquiry. [142278]

Mr. Hoon: Ministry of Defence representation at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is kept under regular review. Public hearings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry began on 27 March 2000. By 8 December it had sat for 58 days and Ministry of Defence officials were present on all but

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five days. A Grade 5 or Grade 6 official and/or a Senior Executive Officer were present on 48 days (and on five of these days leading Counsel was also present). A Higher Executive Officer or Executive Officer attended on a further five days.

In 1998 and 1999 there were 10 days of preliminary hearings in public. On all but one day (when a Senior Executive Officer was present) leading Counsel represented the Ministry of Defence. Senior Government lawyers and Ministry of Defence officials at the level of Grade 6 and Senior Executive Officer were also present.

The Ministry of Defence is not a party to the Inquiry. Officials attend hearings to provide whatever help the Inquiry may require.

European Defence

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the concept of a European Security and Defence Identity; [143065]

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Mr. Spellar [holding answer 15 December 2000]: The development within NATO of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), based on decisions taken by the Alliance at successive Summit meetings held in London in 1990, Brussels 1994 and Madrid in 1997, has been an integral part of the adaption of the Alliance's political and military structures, enabling the European Allies to assume greater responsibility for the common security and defence as a manifestation of transatlantic solidarity. These developments have been followed with a view to providing a genuine European military capability without duplicating the military assets and capabilities already available within NATO. The ESDI within NATO has been an important element of the development of the WEU, and has been built upon to support developments in the EU, as envisaged in the Treaties of Maastricht 1992, and Amsterdam in 1997.

At the Washington Summit in April 1999, NATO supported the EU's aspirations and announced that it stood ready to develop arrangements to provide the EU with ready access to NATO resources. In particular, NATO has agreed to develop arrangements for the EU to have assured access to NATO's planning capacities, and a presumption of availability of its common assets and capabilities, for the use in EU-led operations.

At the NATO North Atlantic Council meeting of Defence Ministers on 5 December, it was re-affirmed that NATO

The detailed modalities for the availability to the EU of NATO assets and capabilities have yet to be determined. However, they will build on the previous agreements between NATO and the WEU.

The EU, at Nice, put forward proposals on the permanent EU/NATO relationship, again building on the NATO/WEU consultation arrangements. Nice also agreed that DSACEUR will be invited to attend meetings of the EU Military Committee, as necessary, in view of his responsibilities for the European Pillar of NATO, and his potential role in EU-led operations.

Interim structures for the Common Foreign and Security Policy were initiated at Helsinki (a Political and Security Committee, an EU Military Committee, and an EU Military Staff) and were established during the Portuguese Presidency. They will achieve their permanent status as soon as possible during 2001.

The allocation of posts in the small permanent European Union Military Staff is still to be determined.

Noting that there is no standing entity of a European Rapid Reaction Force, none of the forces earmarked by the UK, at the Capability Commitments Conference, for potential EU-led operations will be allocated to full-time duties with the European Union.

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Within the European Union, there is no EU Council of Defence Ministers. Defence Ministers of the EU have however, on occasion, met on an informal basis, and they have joined their Foreign Minister colleagues in the General Affairs Council.

The Secretary of State has regular discussions with his EU and NATO counterparts. To this end, he has had discussions with his Turkish Counterpart, and met him most recently, at the NATO Ministerials in Brussels on 4-6 December 2000.

The Nice European Council agreed on a substantial set of provisions to enable non-EU European Allies (including Turkey) and other EU accession candidates to have close and continuous involvement in the evolution of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy and to participate in EU-led operations. These arrangements do not affect their status as associate members or associate partners in the WEU. They create a new set of relationships building on arrangements in the WEU.

At the WEU Council in Marseille in November 2000, Ministers acknowledged the work of the WEU Military Staff and noted that it is preparing to cease its activities. The final exercise of the WEU programme will be the Joint Exercise Study 2001 to be held with NATO between 11 and 15 June 2001. Sweden has identified the development of an EU exercise policy as one of its objectives for its incoming EU Presidency.

Decisions were taken at the WEU Ministerial Council in Marseille in November, and later at the Nice European Council, to transfer the WEU Satellite Centre to the EU, as a Second Pillar agency, with effect from 1 January 2002. The detailed arrangements for the transfer have yet to be established; these will be examined by the forthcoming Dutch WEU Presidency and Swedish EU Presidency. The continued involvement of WEU associate members has been established as an important principle in this process. The residual WEU will not have any requirements of the Satellite Centre beyond 2001.

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