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26 Jan 1995 : Column WA87

Written Answers

Thursday 26th January 1995

UK/US MUTUAL DEFENCE AGREEMENT

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many times the Anglo-American Defence Agreement has been renewed since 1958; how often it has been before (a) the US House of Representatives and Senate and (b) either or both of the two Houses of Parliament; and whether they will place copies of the original agreement and any subsequent amendments in the Library of the House, excluding any material classified in both countries.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The 1958 UK/US Mutual Defence Agreement is open-ended and does not require renewal. It was presented to the US Congress and the UK Parliament in 1958. We shall ensure that copies of the agreement and its subsequent amendments are placed in the Library of the House.

JERUSALEM

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in their opinion Israel has contravened the status quo, which was internationally accepted and respected from 1856 to 1948, regarding universal access to the Holy Places in and near Jerusalem; and in particular whether there has been full and free access for persons coming from all parts of the West Bank, from Gaza and from all Arab countries.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: From the Declaration of the State onwards, Israel has always promised to respect Muslim and Christian Holy Places in and around Jerusalem, and allow free access to them. Since April 1993, however, access to Jerusalem for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, both Muslim and Christian, has often been restricted. Israel has justified these measures on grounds of security.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present value in international law of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181(II) of 29 November 1947, 194(III) of 11 December 1948 and 303(IV) of 9 December 1949 declaring the city of Jerusalem a corpus separatum under a special international régime; and what means exist, or could be envisaged, by which these resolutions might be brought into force.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We acknowledge the corpus separatum defined by General Assembly Resolutions 181(II) of 1947, 194(III) of 1948, and 303(IV) of 1949, which includes the city of Jerusalem and its surroundings. These resolutions of the UN General Assembly were not mandatory. According to the Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem remains to be determined in the permanent status negotiations between

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the parties. The outcome of these negotiations should not be prejudiced by agreements reached for the interim period.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any subsequent government of Israel has repudiated the statement of the then Prime Minister of that country (made on 7 April 1949 and reported in UN General Assembly Document A/838) that his government accepted without reservation an international régime for, or international control of, the Holy Places in the city of Jerusalem, but could not accept the establishment of an international régime for that city.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We know of no such repudiation by an Israeli government. To the contrary: in 1950, the Knesset declared that Jerusalem was the country's capital, although Israel held only the western sector of the city. Government institutions were progressively transferred there. Following the 1967 war, Israel annexed the old, eastern and former Jordanian sector de facto. In 1980, Israel enacted its "Jerusalem law", formally proclaiming the united city to be its capital.

The UK is at one with the international community in rejecting all such claims. Our position has been repeatedly expressed in UN resolutions, in national statements and in company with our EU partners. We do not accept that commitments concerning the Holy Places alter, or are relevant to, the fact that Israel's efforts unilaterally to change the status of the city of Jerusalem contravene international law.

US COUNTERPROLIFERATION INITIATIVE

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the ad hoc group working on a verification régime for the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention is to inform itself of the US Counterproliferation Initiative on the physical elimination of weapons of mass destruction (CPI); and, if the group is not informing itself about this, whether Her Majesty's Government will bring the CPI to the attention of the group.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The ad hoc group's main aim is to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention by drawing up measures to verify compliance with it. Since the purpose of the US Counterproliferation Initiative is to consider a defensive response to the threat from proliferation, it is not clear that this needs to be among the substantive issues which the group will address.

ENTRY CLEARANCE: INDEPENDENT MONITOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept the recommendations contained in the first Report by the Independent Monitor, in accordance with Section 10 of the

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    Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993; and, if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Dame Elizabeth Anson made four main recommendations in her first report as Independent Monitor of entry clearance refusals which do not have a right of appeal.

First, that all applications and re-applications should be accepted and applicants should be told that they have a right to proceed, even where warned of likely failure. Instructions have been sent to Posts to implements this recommendation.

Secondly, that Posts should be more consistent in their requirements for documentation before an entry clearance application is lodged or an applicant is interviewed. We are encouraging greater consistency between Posts.

Thirdly, that the refusal notice should not refer to confidential matters such as political asylum applications by UK sponsors or others, given that the notice may become a public document with an applicant's consent. Instructions have been sent to Posts to implement this recommendation.

Finally, that writing should be legible on all documents on an applicant's file. Again, we are encouraging Posts to ensure this; Refusal Notices, especially, should be in typescript where possible.

THE CIVIL SERVICE

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are yet in a position to respond to consultation on the White Paper, The Civil Service, Continuity and Change and to the report of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee on The Role of the Civil Service.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Government are publishing today a Command Paper (Cm 2748), taking forward the policies on the Civil Service set out in last July's White Paper, The Civil Service: Continuity and Change (Cm 2627). The Command Paper incorporates the Government's response to the Fifth Report of the House of Commons Treasury and Civil Service Committee, The Role of the Civil Service, HC(1993–94). It also takes account of other responses to the invitation to comment on the proposals in Continuity and Change. Comments were received from 50 individuals and organisations. Copies of the responses where confidentiality was not requested have been placed in the Library of the House.

In Continuity and Change, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to the maintenance of a permanent Civil Service, based on the values of integrity, political impartiality, objectivity, selection and promotion on merit and accountability through Ministers to Parliament. This commitment has been widely welcomed—and was equally emphasised by the Select Committee in its report. The Government also welcome the Select Committee's belief that "the commitment of the overwhelming majority of civil

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servants to the principle and practice of a politically impartial Civil Service is undiminished". The Command Paper announces further measures to underpin these values.

The Government have accepted the Select Committee's recommendation for a new Civil Service code to apply to all civil servants and summarising the constitutional framework within which civil servants work and the values they are expected to uphold. A draft code, suggesting the changes which the Government think necessary to the text proposed by the Select Committee, with an associated commentary, is published in the Command Paper as a basis for further consultation. The proposed code incorporates, as recommended by the Select Committee, a new independent line of appeal to the Civil Service Commissioners in cases of alleged breaches of the code or issues of conscience which cannot be resolved through internal procedures.

The Government also intend to enhance the role of the Civil Service Commissioners as guardians of the principle of selection on merit. They will be responsible for the interpretation of the principles of fair and open competition on merit for all Civil Service recruitment. The Commissioners will be responsible for approving all appointments from outside the Civil Service to the new Senior Civil Service; and the next First Civil Service Commissioner is to be given a new role in monitoring senior internal appointments. Consequently he or she will not hold the post as a serving civil servant.

The Command Paper re-emphasises the Government's commitment to maintaining the Civil Service as a good employer, ensuring equality of opportunity, maintaining a predominantly career Civil Service, and to the training and development of all staff. It also confirms the Government's intention to proceed with other approaches set out in Continuity and Change to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Civil Service, including the delegation of pay and grading below senior levels to departments, and the introduction of Efficiency Plans in place of the centrally-driven Competing for Quality programme; to establish the proposed new Senior Civil Service; to carry out senior management reviews in all departments; to introduce new pay arrangements for the Senior Civil Service, including Permanent Secretaries; and to introduce contracts for all senior civil servants.

The Government are also publishing today detailed responses to the Review of Recruitment Responsibilities and the Review of Fast Stream Training which were published in parallel with Cm 2627. Copies of the responses have been placed in the Library of the House.

The Command Paper charts a clear course for the Civil Service. The Government believe that Parliament, the public and particularly the Civil Service itself should be encouraged by the degree of agreement on the way forward, reflected in the very considerable sharing of views on key issues between the Government and the Select Committee, as well as by those who have given evidence to the Select Committee and have commented on the White Paper. There is a wide recognition of the

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work of the Civil Service, the values it upholds and the progress it has made in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the services it provides. This offers an excellent foundation on which to move ahead.


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