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China

Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when concerns about the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners were last raised with the Chinese Government; and what actions Her Majesty's Government plan to continue to make in this matter. [147977]

Mr. Battle: We have serious concerns about the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in China and take every appropriate opportunity to raise these directly with the Chinese authorities. A list of individual cases of concern, including Falun Gong practitioners, was passed to the Chinese authorities during a call by the British Ambassador on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 19 January. Falun Gong was also discussed in detail during the last round of the UK/China human rights dialogue in London between 16-18 October. I personally raised Falun Gong with Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhengang on 20 June and 30 November 2000.

We intend to raise the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners during the forthcoming sixth round of the UK/China human rights dialogue in Beijing between 12-14 February.

Colombia

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the peace process in Colombia and on the support that Her Majesty's Government are making available to (a) the Colombian and (b) non-governmental organisations. [147023]

Mr. Battle: We fully support the efforts being made for peace and the protection of human rights and democracy in Colombia. The recent announcement of a preliminary agreement between the Colombian Government and the ELN is a welcome development. But we are concerned that peace talks between the Government and the FARC are at a standstill. In a statement issued on 19 January, we and our EU partners

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urged the FARC to immediately resume negotiations and, to facilitate the peace talks, appealed for the demilitarised zone to be extended beyond the current deadline of 31 January.

EU assistance for the peace process of 105 million euro over the period 2000-06 will support human rights, long-term economic and social development and an end to violence. The UK has played a leading role in helping to ensure that NGOs and civil society groups are fully involved. NGOs and civil society groups made a valuable contribution to meetings attended by the Colombian Government in Costa Rica on 17 October and Bogota on 24 October 2000. We shall continue to encourage this dialogue.

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of plans for the international community to engage in efforts to aid the Colombian military with respect to combating drug trafficking. [147024]

Mr. Battle: Peace in Colombia will remain elusive until a concerted effort is made to tackle violence, inequality, poverty and social injustice and illegal drugs cultivation and trafficking. We and our EU partners place particular importance on the defence of human rights and international humanitarian law; assistance for victims of violence and the need to uphold the rule of law; protection of biodiversity and the environment; and support for regional co-operation. The EU package for Colombia of 105 million euro announced in October 2000 will focus on these areas. Our policy also stresses alternative development and voluntary eradication. US support for Colombia places a high priority on an anti-narcotics strategy, although a significant proportion of the US$1.3 billion package will also contribute to institutional-building, human rights and strengthening access to justice.

We will continue to work with the Colombian authorities and local communities for long-term solutions.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he is having with parties to the military conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. [147019]

Mr. Wilson: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to his question on 24 January 2001, Official Report, column 594W.

European Security and Defence Policy

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Danish Presidency of the EU has placed on the agenda for its next meeting proposals for parliamentary oversight of the ESDP. [146458]

Mr. Vaz: The next Danish Presidency of the EU will not begin until the second half of 2002.

The current Swedish Presidency have no plans for such a debate. The Prime Minister's Warsaw speech proposed a second chamber of the European Parliament, involving

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representatives of national Parliaments, which could provide democratic oversight at European level of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The Nice Declaration on the Future of the Union agreed another IGC, to be convened in 2004, that would address, among other issues, the role of national Parliaments in the European architecture.

HEALTH

French Beef

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice the Government have given to schools on the safety of French beef. [144310]

Ms Stuart: No specific advice has been issued to schools on this subject. The Government are advised on food safety issues by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The FSA has assessed the safety of French beef, and has advised that there is virtually no risk from legally sold imported French beef--ie. beef from animals under the age of 30 months at time of slaughter.

Information on the FSA's assessment is available on the agency's website and has been made available through news releases. Its advice to any consumer who may be concerned is to buy meat from reputable sources, and to ask the supplier for details of the origin of the meat.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations the Government have made to the European Commission concerning the safety of French beef. [144315]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 January 2001]: The Government discussed questions on the safety of French beef with the European Commission on several occasions during November and December 2000. These included the meetings of the Council of Agriculture Ministers on November 20 and 21 and December 4, a telephone discussion between Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, and Commissioner Byrne in December and meetings of the Standing Veterinary Committee and of the Beef Management Committee. The meetings discussed not only French beef but the safety of beef in the European Union generally.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice the Government provide to consumers regarding consumption of French beef included in products that are not labelled with the country of origin of their ingredients. [144393]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 January 2001]: Responsibility for the provision of advice on food safety matters rests with the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA's advice to consumers is that legally sold imported beef from France poses no greater risk than United Kingdom beef. Imported processed meat products from countries with a record of BSE may pose a slightly higher risk than legally sold carcase meat, but that level of risk is considered to be within an acceptable range. The FSA has advised consumers who may remain concerned to buy meat or meat products only from reputable sources, and to ask their supplier about the country of origin of the product and the beef it contains.

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The FSA's advice on imported French beef is available on its website, and has been provided in press statements.

BSE (Ireland)

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the decision of the Food Standards Agency to commission research by Dr. Christl Donnelly on the number of cases of BSE in the Republic of Ireland. [144326]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 January 2001]: We welcome the decision by the Food Standards Agency to seek advice from Dr. Donnelly on BSE incidence in the Republic of Ireland. We expect the agency to make assessments of any possible risks on imported foods as well as domestic production, in order properly to advise the Government. Dr. Donnelly is a respected scientist in her field.

In the view of the FSA, the best protection of the United Kingdom consumer continues to be the vigorous enforcement of the controls on specified risk material and of the prohibition on the sale for human consumption of beef from animals aged over 30 months at time of slaughter.

HIV/AIDS

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the HIV prevention moneys allocated to health authorities in 1998-99 was used for targeted prevention work with (a) people with family links or travelling to sub-Saharan Africa, (b) injecting drug users, (c) women having sex with people in at risk groups and (d) gay and bisexual men, based on AIDS Control Act reports submitted by his Department. [146571]

Yvette Cooper: £53.4 million was allocated to health authorities in 1998-99 for HIV prevention. Approximately 24 per cent. was targeted at gay and bisexual men, 13 per cent. at injecting drug users, 6 per cent. at people with links to sub-Saharan Africa and 4 per cent. at women partners of men in high risk groups.


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