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15 Dec 1994 : Column WA129

Written Answers

Thursday 15th December 1994

NATO SCIENCE RESEARCH WORKSHOP, ARAL SEA

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): An Advance Research Workshop on "Critical Scientific Issues of the Aral Sea Basin: State of Knowledge and Future Research Needs" was held under the auspices of the NATO science programme in Tashkent from May 2-5 1994.

The workshop was paid for from the NATO science programme budget and attended by academics from and representatives of NATO and North Atlantic Co-operation Council countries.

CYPRUS

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: UN-led face to face talks took place between the two community leaders, between 18-31 October in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 939. Concrete progress has not so far been possible, but we believe it important to take every opportunity to pursue further negotiations and to move towards a settlement beneficial to both sides.

OVERSEAS AID: GOOD GOVERNANCE CRITERION

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In the majority of cases restrictions are applied to new commitments which would otherwise have been agreed for development aid. Only in the most extreme cases have projects which have already started been halted. Restrictions do not normally affect emergency aid and assistance to NGOs may also be maintained. We normally seek to co-ordinate our actions with our EU partners and other donors.

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It is not possible to answer the hypothetical question on what aid expenditure would have been if restrictions had not been imposed.

The position on individual countries is:-

Burma: Following the brutal repression of peaceful dissent in 1988, the United Kingdom and most other donors suspended all but humanitarian bilateral aid. This suspension remains in force.

China: In conjunction with other European Union member states, we suspended new commitments for Aid and Trade Provision and Technical Co-operation consultancy projects in June 1989 following the events in Tiananmem Square. We continued to provide English Language Teaching projects and training. We and EU partners resumed aid in October 1990.

The Gambia: After the coup in July 1994, we halted consideration of programme aid and of new technical co-operation. Existing projects in support of education and health continue. Kenya: In November 1991, we and other donors suspended balance of payments support to Kenya, in response to the Kenyan Government's non-implementation of economic and political reforms. Following multi-party elections and the agreement between the Government of Kenya and the IMF and World Bank on a shadow economic programme, we announced the resumption of balance of payments support in November 1993, while making clear that continued support would depend on further progress on economic reform and the political environment.

Lesotho: In August 1994 the King of Lesotho suspended the elected government. In response to pressure from other countries in the region and internationally, the elected government was restored to power in September. Although our aid programme was not formally suspended, the King was warned that failure to restore democracy would lead to suspension of United Kingdom aid and ODA work on new projects would be halted.

Malawi: In May 1992, we withheld balance of payments support and new public service training awards, and restricted project aid because of concerns over human rights. Projects which helped the poor and protected the environment continued, as did the provision of emergency aid related to drought and refugees. Restrictions were progressively lifted following acceptance of the results of the 1993 referendum on multi-party democracy.

Nigeria: In July 1993, following annulment of Presidential elections, we imposed a moratorium on all new aid commitments. Since December 1993, in line with other EU countries, all new aid is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and only projects bringing direct benefits to poor Nigerians are being considered.

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Peru: Following dissolution of Congress and suspension of the Constitution by President Fujimori in April 1992, all new aid commitments were suspended. Aid from the United Kingdom, along with other EU countries, was resumed in March 1993 following new Congressional and municipal elections and progress towards introducing a new constitution.

Sierra Leone: At the end of 1992, we withdrew our offer of programme aid and suspended new technical co-operation because of the summary execution of alleged coup plotters. Aid was resumed in March 1994 in conjunction with other donors, following the publication of a realistic timetable for the restoration of democracy, the issuing of a comprehensive list of detainees held without charge and assurances on the charge or release of remaining detainees.

Somalia: All assistance except for emergency aid and NGO projects was suspended in early 1991 on good government and economic grounds. This included termination of existing projects. The only existing commitments which we continued to meet were to trainees already on courses in this country. Restrictions are still in force.

Sri Lanka: We withdrew a conditional offer of programme aid for Sri Lanka in 1991 due to concerns about human rights performance and the expulsion of our High Commissioner. Other aid was allowed to continue but it was made clear that major new commitments would be reviewed in the light of the human rights situation. Restrictions were lifted following a ministerial visit in October 1992.

Sudan: The same situation applies in Sudan as in Somalia. Zambia: In December 1993, we withheld programme aid because of concerns on good government issues. The remainder of the aid programme was not affected. The restriction was lifted in March 1994 following changes made by the government.

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration has been given to including a recipient country's military expenditure as part of their good governance criterion.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: As part of our emphasis on good government we have underlined the importance of the proper use of public resources in aid recipient countries, including an appropriate level of military expenditure. It is one of the factors we take into account when deciding our allocations of bilateral aid.

MALAWI: DEBT REDUCTION

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What success they are having in reducing, and persuading other governments to reduce, the debt burden on Malawi, in the interests of the successful regeneration of democracy in that country.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: All aid debts owed by Malawi to the UK were forgiven in 1979. Malawi has not approached the Paris Club for rescheduling of non-aid debt to the UK, or of debts owed to other creditors, since its last rescheduling in 1988.

ENERGY CHARTER TREATY

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will sign the Energy Charter Treaty.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United Kingdom will sign the Energy Charter Treaty when it is opened for signature in Lisbon on 17 December. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy will sign on behalf of the government. We welcome this very important agreement, which represents the result of lengthy and complex negotiations between 50 countries, including the European Union, the G7, all the states of the former Soviet Union, western, eastern and central Europe, and Australia. We believe that the treaty will make a valuable contribution to the economic reform processes in the economies in transition, as well as improve the conditions for foreign investors in those countries. Details of the treaty were communicated to both Houses in explanatory memoranda on 20 December 1993 and 6 October 1994.

The text of the treaty will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses 21 sitting days before the UK deposits an instrument of ratification with the Depositary of the Energy Charter Treaty, the Government of the Portuguese Republic.

CROWN AGENTS: EXTERNAL FINANCING LIMIT

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to change the External Financing Limit for the current year for the Crown Agents.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The External Financing Limit for the Crown Agents as set out in the Statistical Supplement to the Financial Statement and Budget report 1994-95 (Cm 2519) has been increased from zero to £3.5 million. This is due to a classification change and has no consequence for public expenditure.


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