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31 May 1995 : Column WA73

Written Answers

Wednesday, 31st May 1995.

European Commission Members: Pensions

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the annual pensions paid to retiring members of the European Commission as appropriate to the year on which retirement took place, expressed in pounds sterling at current rates of exchange and distinguishing between those who retired as ordinary members since 1977 and those who were Vice-Presidents on retirement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The level of pension paid to a former European Commissioner or Vice-President would depend upon individual personal circumstances. Details are not available to us. Actual payments are a matter for the Commission.

Navigation Information: Access Restriction by US

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have examined the United States Administration's intention to develop "Navigation Warfare" (i.e. "systems and concepts to deny any potential enemy the use of navigation information, including the Global Positioning System, while assuring access to these information systems by US forces" (Aviation Week, 20th March 1995)), and what would be the implications of such a development for the independent use of British systems.

Lord Henley: We are aware of concern in the United States over access by a potential enemy to the enhanced navigation accuracy provided by systems such as the US Global Positioning System and of the intention of the US to retain their military advantage in this field by denying that level of availability to the enemy.

The concerns expressed by the US are shared by my department and other NATO nations who have been granted access under a Memorandum of Understanding to the more accurate Global Positioning System Precise Positioning Service, which is not available to unauthorised users. We do not expect this service to be degraded as a result of any US intention to inhibit further the accuracy of the system.

Trident Sub-strategic Role

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give a fuller description than they have yet of the "sub-strategic role of Trident", in the light of the possible deployment worldwide of anti-missile missile systems and the possibility that the United States administration has persuaded the Russian Government that the Anti-Ballistic Missile

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    Treaty should be amended to permit the testing and deployment of anti-missile defences as part of United States Defence Counter-Proliferation Initiative.

Lord Henley: A sub-strategic capability is an essential element of effective deterrence. The Trident system will provide us with a credible minimum deterrent, in both strategic and sub-strategic roles, against all foreseeable developments well into the next century. The details of discussions between the United States and the Russian Federation on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty are a matter for the two governments concerned.

Counter Proliferation Joint Working Groups

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the joint working group on "Nuclear Forces and Counter Proliferation Studies", referred to by Mr. Freeman on the 16th February (HC Deb, col. WA 824), forms part of the NATO counter-proliferation studies or is a separate exercise, and whether in this working group, or otherwise, they have asked to see the ballistic missile defence systems and technologies recently secured by the US authorities from Belarus, and if not whether they will now do so.

Lord Henley: The joint working groups referred to provide a means for the exchange of information between the United Kingdom and the United States under the aegis of the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement. They are unconnected with NATO.

I understand that no discussions have taken place with the United States about ballistic missile defence equipment which may have been obtained from Belarus. It remains open for the subject to be raised bilaterally in the future should this be appropriate.

Green Currency Revaluations

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take at the Agriculture Council on 29 May when ministers consider the European Commission's current proposal to limit the cost of currency fluctuations under the agrimonetary provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will strongly support the Commission's proposal to limit the cost of compensation to producers affected by revaluation of their green currencies. Adoption of this proposal would enable green rate revaluations to take place when they become due without giving rise to excessive expenditure on compensation.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the cost to United Kingdom industrial sugar users, such as the manufacturers of soft drinks, jam and biscuits, of the decision to defer the operation of EC Regulation 150/95.

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Earl Howe: The decisions to extend the delay in revaluing the agricultural conversion rates (known as green rates) of member states with strengthening currencies have so far had no effect on the level of CAP support prices, including sugar prices, in the UK. The devaluations of the UK green rate which have occurred since mid-February 1995, raising UK support prices by 6.5 per cent., are partly due to the weakness of sterling over that period, and partly due to the provisions for delaying revaluations in strong currency member states that already exist in Regulation (EEC) 3813/92, as amended by Regulation (EEC) 150/95.

RMS St. Helena: Sailing Schedule

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have now received the report of the consultants on the sailing schedule of the RMS St. Helena and if so, whether or when it will be published.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have received the draft report of the consultants and this is under consideration. The final report is likely to be available in the summer and copies will be made available to the Libraries of both Houses.

Ascension Island: Access

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to make legal and practical access to and through Ascension Island easier should there be a revised sailing schedule for the RMS St. Helena.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Legal access to Ascension Island is regulated by the Entry Control (Ascension) Ordinance 1990. There are no plans to amend this Ordinance.

A revised sailing schedule which incorporated additional calls of the RMS at Ascension Island would make practical access to and through the island easier because pressure on flight allocations and accommodation would be spread more evenly throughout the year.

Nuclear Materials: Security

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the opinion of Jasjit Singh that the non-proliferation treaty "provides the legal framework for application of rules governing the flow of nuclear materials to non-nuclear weapon states who are party to the treaty" and the "primary source of illegal transfer of nuclear materials and technology and materials [has been] the advanced industrial states party to the NPT", and if so, what action they are taking.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Most nuclear materials and technology originate in the advanced industrialised countries. Article III.2 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty prohibits the supply of fissile material and related equipment to non-nuclear weapon states unless it is subject to safeguards. We therefore believe that an effective system of safeguards is necessary to help prevent the illegal transfer of nuclear materials and technology, and support the IAEA's "Programme 93+2", which aims to strengthen the effectiveness of safeguards.

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the opinion of Jasjit Singh, Director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, that illegal trafficking in nuclear materials and technology "has been the primary source of the clandestine nuclear weapon programmes of states like Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea", and if so, what action they are taking.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Any illicit transfer of nuclear materials or technology is a cause for serious concern. The United Kingdom is an active member of the nuclear suppliers group under which suppliers have agreed that nuclear materials should be placed under effective physical protection to prevent unauthorised use and handling. In the case of fissile material, we have been active in a number of fora to ensure a co-ordinated international response to the smuggling of such material. There is no evidence of a state seeking to obtain fissile material by illicit trafficking.

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