Previous Section Index Home Page


Gibraltar

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) of 20 March 2001, Official Report, column 112W, on Gibraltar (a) what obligations have been accepted by Her Majesty's Government arising out of the Matthews judgment, (b) how many electors will be enfranchised as citizens of (i) Gibraltar and (ii) Spain, (c) what options for representation he is assessing and (d) when the representation of Gibraltar will next be discussed at the General Affairs Council; and if a report from its working group will be published prior to that date. [158578]

Mr. Vaz: The Matthews judgment requires the UK to extend the European parliamentary franchise to Gibraltar. The UK unequivocally accepts this obligation. We are considering all possible options for achieving this before the 2004 European Parliament elections.

The precise manner in which Gibraltar will be enfranchised is under consideration. The electorate in Gibraltar is currently estimated at about 18,800. We have made clear that there is no question of Gibraltarians resident in Gibraltar being made to vote in Spain.

The UK has proposed an amendment to the 1976 EC Act on Direct Elections to extend the franchise to Gibraltar. This amendment remains on the agenda of the relevant Council working group. No date has yet been fixed for discussions of this issue at the General Affairs Council. There are no plans to publish a written report from the working group.

Belarusian Popular Front

Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the Government will take in relation to the detention of (a) Mr. Vincuk Viachorka, Chairman and (b) Mr. Ales Belyatsky, Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front. [158278]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 23 April 2001]: In a demarche delivered to the Belarusian authorities on 11 April, HMG together with EU partners, urged the authorities to review the cases of those imprisoned or fined, including Mr. Viachorka and Mr. Belyatsky, in connection with the 25 March demonstrations in Minsk. HMG will continue to work with EU partners and the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group to encourage an improvement in the human rights situation in Belarus.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 340W

Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made concerning the abuse of legal process in the trial of (a) Mr. Ales Belyatsky, Head of the human rights centre Vyasna and Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front and (b) Mr. Vincuk Viachorka, Chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front. [158279]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 23 April 2001]: An EU demarche was delivered on 11 April to First Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov, raising concerns about the actions of the Belarusian authorities following demonstrations on 25 March, including the imprisonment of Mr. Viachorka and Mr. Belyatsky. The EU also called on the authorities to ensure that freedom of assembly of Belarusian citizens be fully guaranteed.

UN Human Rights Commission

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list United Kingdom official delegates to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva; and if he will publish the United Kingdom voting record and list those resolutions sponsored by the United Kingdom. [158986]

Mr. Battle: The United Kingdom delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights is headed by Mrs. Audrey Glover CMG. The delegation also includes representatives from the UK missions to the UN in Geneva and New York, as well as from the Human Rights Policy Department and Global Issues Research Group of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The UK contributes actively to initiatives put forward by the EU. At the 57th Session of CHR the EU introduced resolutions on Chechnya, Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Arab Territories, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rights of the Child, and the Death Penalty.

The 57th Session of the CHR will end on 27 April. The final UK voting record will not be available until after this date. As soon as it is available it will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Chile

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what records are held by Her Majesty's Embassy of visits to Chile by Dr. Michael Denham, consultant geriatrician, since January 1998; and what facilities were offered to him. [158978]

Mr. Battle: There is no record of any visit to Chile by Dr. Michael Denham.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those visitors to Chile who have been visiting (a) the Pinochet Foundation and (b) General Pinochet who have been offered facilities at Her Majesty's Embassy in Santiago, Chile, since October 1998. [158975]

Mr. Battle: The British Embassy has not offered facilities to anyone visiting the Pinochet Foundation or General Pinochet since 1998.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 341W

United States

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United States Administration and to Congress about the funding of Irish republican terrorist groups. [158775]

Mr. Battle: The UK and Irish Governments made a joint representation to the United States Government on 24 November 2000 requesting that the Real IRA be designated under the US Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This would make it illegal for anyone to raise funds for RIRA in the United States. The final decision on whether to designate is of course a matter for the US Government.

TREASURY

Employment (Termination Payments)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the revenue yield of reducing the exemption of the first £30,000 of payments on the termination of employment to (a) £15,000, (b) £10,000 and (c) nil. [158777]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 23 January 2001, Official Report, column 570W.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 6 April 2001, to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Sir M. Spicer), Official Report, column 301W, on foot and mouth, (1) if he will list by valuation office area the number of appeals (a) made and (b) decided to date; [158677]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 23 April 2001]: The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is continuing to receive appeals on a daily basis. It is not possible to give a final figure.

The VOA will prioritise dealing with these applications. They are consulting, as a matter of urgency, members of the National Ratepayers Valuation Forum and representatives of business and professional bodies, local authorities and valuation tribunals on the approach and timetable for this work.

Indebted Countries

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2001, Official Report, column 413W, on indebted countries, if he will update the figures and list the countries for whom debt has been written off by Britain, together with the amounts written off in each case. [158821]

Miss Melanie Johnson: As previously outlined, the UK has, and is, writing off debt through multilateral initiatives such as the HIPC initiative, and through additional bilateral initiatives.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 342W

Under the HIPC initiative, the UK stands ready to write off all £1.9 billion still owed to the UK by the 41 countries potentially eligible. This is in addition to the £400 million of ECGD debt already written off under previous initiatives, and the £350 million of aid debt already written off for HIPCs. Interim relief is also being given to these countries on around £60 million of debt formerly held by CDC plc.

Since 5 February, no further countries have reached Decision Point or Completion Point, and so the position remains unchanged. The World Bank and IMF produce regular updates of progress of countries towards Decision Point. The latest report, "HIPC Progress Report" (dated April 2001), is available on the World Bank website.

As previously specified, the UK is holding all further payments from HIPC countries in trust, and as such is not benefiting financially from the debts of these countries.

Correspondence

Mr. Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Weston-Super-Mare, dated 6 February, concerning the class 4 national insurance contributions of sub-post masters. [159414]

Dawn Primarolo: There is no record of this letter being received. If the hon. Member would like to forward a copy it will be dealt with.


Next Section Index Home Page