Previous Section Index Home Page


A303

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to dual stretches of the A303 in Somerset and Devon; and if he will make a statement. [1367]

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 162W

Mr. Jamieson: The London to South Wales and the South West Multi Modal Study currently in progress is looking at solution to problems on the main transportation corridors in the study area, including the M3/A303/A30 corridor. The study's recommendations will be considered by the Regional Planning Bodies for the South West and the South East, which are both represented on the steering group for the study. Only then will any decisions be taken on the addition of schemes to the trunk roads programme.

Exeter to Waterloo Line

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will announce the award of the new rail franchise for the Exeter to London Waterloo Line; and if he will make a statement. [1368]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority intends that the Exeter to Waterloo line be included in the new Wessex franchise for which they invited expressions of interest in November last year. This is at a relatively early stage. The SRA has announced seven pre-qualifiers from whom it intends to invite proposals for the new franchise.

Fylingdales

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what contingency plans exist in the Department for a spill out into the North Yorkshire Moors National Park as a result of the construction of an X Band Radar at the Fylingdales site; and what proposals there are for expediting planning permission and holding a public inquiry. [336]

Ms Keeble: There are no such contingency plans or proposals.

Rural Services

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have to increase the scope of business rate relief for rural services. [836]

Dr. Whitehead [pursuant to the reply, 27 June 2001, c. 103W]: The Rating (Former Agricultural Premises and Rural Shops) Act 2001 will extend the mandatory element of the village shop rate relief scheme to all food shops with rateable value of no more than £6,000, (and not £9,000 as stated) in a designated rural settlement with population up to 3,000.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Council of Europe

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at what meetings of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers he plans to be represented at ministerial level for the rest of this year; and if he will make a statement. [732]

Peter Hain: There is one Council of Europe Ministerial remaining this year, scheduled for 7–8 November. Ministers will consider nearer the time at what level the UK should be represented, on the basis of the substantive issues on the agenda.

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 163W

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was his reply to the inquiry of the Latvian Chair-in-Office of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the participation of parliamentarians in the national delegations to the General Assembly of the United Nations; and if he will make a statement on the composition of the UK delegation at the forthcoming session. [733]

Peter Hain: We do not appear to have received any inquiry from the Latvian Chairman in Office on the issue of participation of parliamentarians in national delegations.

HMG will consider favourably any proposal that Members of Parliament join the delegation when the assembly covers issues of particular concern to them, subject to accepting that any interventions could not be made in a personal capacity but would have to represent the views and policy of HMG.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will lead the delegation to the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and will attend parts of the General Debate. I shall also attend parts of the General Assembly. The rest of the delegation will comprise the British Permanent Representative, his staff, and officials from the FCO and other Government Departments.

Mercenaries

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what resolutions on mercenaries were put before the 57th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2001; which were adopted; and what position the EU delegation took on each. [980]

Peter Hain: The 57th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) adopted a resolution proposed by Cuba on "The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination" by 35 votes to 11, with six abstentions. The UK, with Belgium and Germany, voted against the resolution. The other EU members of the CHR, (Spain, France, Italy and Portugal) abstained. While fully recognising the numerous dangers caused by mercenary activity, the UK does not believe that the CHR is the appropriate forum to address the issue. This was the only resolution on mercenaries tabled at the CHR.

UK Human Rights Committee

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which Minister will attend the UN Human Rights Committee hearings on the UK Periodic report due to be discussed later this year. [981]

Peter Hain: The UK attaches importance to meeting its obligations to report on implementation of commitments under UN core human rights treaties. The UK's Fifth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), submitted in 1999, was approved by Ministers. But in line with usual practice, there are no plans for a Minister to attend the Human Rights Committee examination of the UK report in October this year. Senior officials from the relevant Government Department will attend.

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 164W

Western Sahara

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is regarding the recommendations contained in James Baker's report to the UN Security Council concerning the future of the Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. [1438]

Mr. Bradshaw: We supported United Nations Security Council Resolution 1359 which was passed unanimously on 29 June 2001, which extended MINURSO's mandate until 30 November 2001. We fully support the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to invite all the parties to meet directly or through proximity talks, under the auspices of his Personal Envoy, James Baker, and encourage the parties to discuss the draft Framework Agreement and to negotiate any specific changes they would like to see in this proposal, as well as to discuss any other proposal for a political solution, which may be put forward to the parties, to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement. We also affirm that while such discussions go on, the official proposals submitted by the Polisario Front to overcome obstacles preventing implementation of the Settlement Plan will be considered.

EU Enlargement

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the indicative expenditure ceilings agreed in March 1999 of (a) an enlarged Community with six additional members and (b) the existing 15 member states. [1601]

Peter Hain: The Berlin European Council agreed ceilings for commitments for the existing 15 member states which amount to 644.8 billion euro over the period 2000 to 2006. It also agreed a total indicative amount of 58.1 billion euro for new member states up to 2006. All figures are in terms of 1999 prices.

Arms Trade

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) the EU, (b) USA and (c) developing countries concerning the forthcoming UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. [1302]

Mr. Bradshaw: The first ever UN Conference on Small Arms in July will signal a step-change in the international community's efforts to combat the uncontrolled spread and misuse of small arms that are the primary instruments of death and injury in conflicts and criminal acts worldwide. The UK has been actively engaged in the conference process both in its national capacity and within the EU.

FCO has been in frequent and close consultation with EU partners, both bilaterally and through the regular EU working groups which discuss these issues.

We also have many formal and informal contacts with the UK, for example in various arms control regimes and working groups, through which officials are able to discuss the subject of small arms and light weapons and other related issues. We also had contact with the US during the meetings in the preparatory process for the conference itself.

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 165W

The Government attach particular importance to contacts with developing countries, as these include a large number of states most affected by the effects of small arms and light weapons. In February this year the UK hosted a small arms and light weapons policy brainstorming seminar to which a wide selection of countries was invited. The then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), addressed that meeting. We also hold regular EU Troika meetings with SADC (Southern African Development Community), and participated in an EU/SADC meeting in the margins of the third PrepCom. In addition, the EU Presidency will be organising consultations between the EU and SADC, Latin American countries and others during the early stages of the conference. The subject has been a regular agenda item for a wide variety of bilateral meetings over the past year. Most recently, the Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), discussed prospects for the conference with the South African Foreign Minister.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will be attending the UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in July; and if he will make a statement. [1303]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will not be attending the conference. The United Kingdom will be represented by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, who has taken a close interest in the issue and in the preparatory process for the conference since it was initiated.

The UK attaches considerable importance to supporting efforts to reduce the uncontrolled spread and use of small arms and light weapons. It has actively undertaken numerous initiatives, bilaterally and in line with the 1998 EU Joint Action on Small Arms. These include:




The UK also co-ordinated work leading to the November 2000 adoption of an OSCE Document on Small Arms, a significant regional contribution in itself and a major confidence-building step towards the UN conference.

The UK hopes that the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects will agree a practical and constructive programme

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 166W

of action with sufficient political support to give an impetus to sustained follow-up and implementation. We are working with our EU partners to this end.


Next Section Index Home Page