Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


5 Apr 1995 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Wednesday, 5th April 1995

Natural Resources Institute

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the restructuring of the Natural Resources Institute.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Against the background of changes in the nature and level of demand for NRI's services, we have put in hand a restructuring programme. The result will be a smaller institute which focuses on NRI's interdisciplinary strengths in adaptive research and related development services. NRI management envisage an organisation of around 360 professional and administrative staff, which will mean a reduction of present staffing levels by 140. We aim to achieve the reduction in staffing by voluntary means.

The restructured institute will continue to play a major role in Britain's programme of aid for the natural resources sector in developing countries. It will do so as a supplier of services in its own right and as a manager of resources from the available science base. NRI's expertise is increasingly sought by outside clients in the development aid community. The institute will be strongly encouraged to expand this aspect of its activities.

Armenian People of Turkey: 1915 Genocide

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to mark the 80th anniversary of the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, which began with the arrest and slaughter of 235 leading Armenian intellectuals during the night of 23rd April 1915, and culminated in the extermination of an estimated one and a half million of the Armenian people of Turkey, and the exile of the survivors.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: These were tragic events, but we have no plans to mark the anniversary.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

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

    Further to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey's Written Answers of 1 March (WA 97) and 20 March (WA 55), whether in their Second or Third Periodic Report on Dependent Territories or any supplemental report thereto under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights they have informed the Human Rights Committee of their decision not to renew the right of individual

5 Apr 1995 : Column WA18

    petition under Article 63 (4) of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands; and, if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The decision not to renew the acceptance of the right of individual petition in respect of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands under Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights was notified to the UN Human Rights Committee in connection with the United Kingdom's Third Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

UN Human Rights Committee: Report on Dependent Territories

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

    When they intend to submit their Fourth Periodic Report to the Human Rights Committee, under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the Dependent Territories.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have commissioned the preparation of reports from all the Dependent Territories. We intend to submit them as soon as possible this year.

In view of the special interest in Hong Kong we plan to submit its report in advance of the others.

Diego Garcia: US Equipment Afloat Ships

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the United States' failure to persuade governments in South East Asia to accept the presence of US "floating arsenals" (commercial ships carrying such equipment as battle tanks, infantry vehicles and rocket launchers) anchored off their shores, whether they propose to permit such "floating arsenals" to be anchored off Diego Garcia; and whether they have yet consulted the Australian and other Indian Ocean governments about the proposal.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: US equipment afloat ships have been positioned at Diego Garcia since July 1980 with the full agreement of Her Majesty's Government. These arrangements are governed by the various Exchanges of Notes concerning the facilities on Diego Garcia which are published in the Treaty Series.

No other governments are concerned or have been consulted.

Burundi

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have seen the statement by the French Minister of Overseas Development Cooperation that it may be necessary to dispatch an international humanitarian military force to Burundi within days, what is their position on this analysis

5 Apr 1995 : Column WA19

    and what action they will be recommending in the Security Council.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I have seen no such statement. Indeed, our contacts with the French Government have established that they share our view that the despatch of an international military force to Burundi, in the absence of the clear and widespread consent of the parties in Burundi, would be inappropriate. Reports of Minister Debré's recent press conference in Bujumbura are consistent with this position.

Turkish Attacks on Kurds in Northern Iraq

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approve of Turkey's use of NATO supplied weapons in attacks against the Kurds in Northern Iraq.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have expressed our concern to the Turkish authorities about the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq. We shall continue to press the Turks to withdraw their forces as soon as possible and to avoid harm to non-combatants and relief efforts.

Biological Warfare: Japanese Wartime Experiments

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, under the 1980 Memorandum of Understanding on Chemical and Biological Defence between the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada, they have received information concerning the Japanese biological warfare experiments that the USA obtained from the Japanese officials who had conducted experiments in 1945 and before.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence Lord Henley: No information originating from Japanese wartime experiments has been received under the arrangements of the 1980 Memorandum of Understanding on Chemical and Biological Defence.

Royal Naval College Greenwich

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the interests of the taxpayer in general (as distinct from the interests of the Defence Budget) and the future of the Grade 1 listed buildings at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich were fully considered before it was decided to relocate the Joint Service Command and Staff College.

Lord Henley: In reaching decisions on the location of the Joint Service Command and Staff College, we took account of all relevant factors, including those not strictly the responsibility of my department. While the savings expected from the establishment of the Joint Service Command and Staff College at Camberley will

5 Apr 1995 : Column WA20

accrue to my department, no extra costs to other government departments are expected to arise.

Her Majesty's Government had particularly in mind the future of the Grade 1 listed buildings at the Royal Naval College when they reached their conclusions. As I said in my Answer of 30 March, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence, as sole trustee of Greenwich Hospital, the Crown Charity which owns the Royal Naval College, is conscious of the need to find suitable occupants for this exceptional site. In doing so, he will keep in close touch with the Secretary of State for National Heritage and will have in mind the proposals made by the Royal Parks Review Group

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the costings referred to on 30 March (WA 54-56) on the future of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and the Secretary of State for Defence's intention to relocate the Joint Service Command and Staff College exclude returns on the possible sale of land at Camberley, and, if so, whether this affects the assertion that "Camberley is the most cost effective option".

Lord Henley: The costings considered and referred to in my Answer of 30 March included potential sale receipts for Camberley and Bracknell. As is normal policy, the published costings exclude reference to such receipts for reasons of commercial confidentiality. In all respects, however, Camberley remains the cheapest and most cost effective option.

Armed Forces Review: Bett Report

Viscount Mersey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to make an announcement concerning the Bett Report.

Lord Henley: My right honourable friend the then Minister for the Armed Forces announced on 9 February 1994 (Official Report, col. 361) the intention, in the light of changes in military commitments and deployment patterns, to set in hand a major independent review of Service career and manpower structures and terms and conditions of service, to ensure that we will have personnel and management arrangements appropriate to the early part of the 21st century. The review was to be wide-ranging in accordance with the terms of reference set out on 30 March 1994 (Official Report, cols. 748 and 749). It was also to take into account the implications of the Front Line First exercise. In that context, the Government have made it clear that following the decisions that have been taken on the size, capabilities and roles of the Armed Forces for the post-Cold War World the Armed Forces are now set on a steady course for the future. Mr Michael Bett was appointed to lead the review.

Mr Bett and his team have completed their review and we received their report, Managing People in Tomorrow's Armed Forces, on 30 March. Mr Bett has consulted extensively within the Armed Forces and within my department. He has made some 150 recommendations, which cover the whole field of rank

5 Apr 1995 : Column WA21

and career structures, pay and allowance structures and pensions, housing and accommodation policies and wider conditions of service. As Mr. Bett says, his intention has been to ensure that the Armed Forces continue to hold their own against civilian competitors, in recruiting and retaining high quality people. We are most grateful to Mr. Bett and his team for all their work.

Mr. Bett has undertaken an independent review; we now need to consider his recommendations. Our initial examination is likely to take several weeks, and will include a consideration of the amount of further study and development required to validate Mr. Bett's proposals. We shall make a further statement about our general approach at the end of that period. Thereafter there will need to be a further, more lengthy development period before a final definitive response to the report can be made.

Throughout this process, we intend that, as for Front Line First, the Armed Forces themselves should be fully involved. Service personnel will be encouraged to submit their comments, which we shall consider carefully. In the meantime, to assist in the consultation process, Mr. Bett's report is being published today. A copy of the report is being distributed to every unit of the Armed Forces together with an explanatory leaflet for every Serviceman and woman. Copies of the report and leaflet are being placed in the Library of the House.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page