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23 Jun 1995 : Column WA35

Written Answers

Monday 26th June 1995.

Small Businesses: Trade with Europe

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they reconcile the statement that "71 per cent. of firms say they are enjoying greater trading opportunities with Europe owing to the single market" (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, 7th June 1995, HL. Deb., col. 1349) with the results of the survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses in July 1994 and the vote at the federation's annual general meeting on 24th March 1995.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The figures quoted in my Answer to my noble friend's question on 7 June came from a recent CBI survey involving over 500 companies. But the Government do not rely solely on this survey in assessing business opinion and are aware of the particular concerns of small businesses about excessive regulation. We want to cut back regulatory burdens wherever possible, both at the national and the European level.

European Union: Benefits of Membership

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, with regard to the comments made by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 7th June (HL. Deb., cols. 1347–1349), and Earl Ferrers on 8th June (HL. Deb., cols. 1461–1462), they consider that the benefits derived from the United Kingdom's membership of the European Communities are derived more from its access to the single European market than from its membership of the European Union.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No. Were we part of the European Economic Area, but not a member of the European Union, our companies would have to accept the rules and obligations of the Single Market without the British Government having any say in their formulation or adoption by the Council of Ministers. We need to be inside the European Union to influence European legislation to the advantage of our businesses; to press for more liberalisation, deregulation, and the elimination of unfair state aids; and to ensure that in international trade negotiations, Europe argues for free trade and open markets.

European Legislation and British Interests

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, with regard to the comments made by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 7th June (HL. Deb., cols. 1347–1349), they consider that European

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    legislation poses serious threats to a wide range of British interests, including London buses, lettuce growers and fishermen; and that those threats cannot reasonably be described as "myths".

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No. In general European legislation is useful for British interests. Some European legislation if accepted as originally proposed could have unwelcome consequences. We work within the European Union to improve such proposals in the negotiating process.

Brussels Treaty: Greek Accession

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Greek Government, when ratifying the protocol of accession to the modified Brussels Treaty, excluded from the competence of the International Court of Justice any dispute which involved taking defensive military measures for reasons of national defence and whether it is the case that such a reservation modifies Article X of the Treaty and therefore should have been included in the protocol of accession itself before it can become valid.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The content of the note verbal which accompanied the deposit of the instrument of ratification by Greece of the protocol of its accession to the Western European Union (WEU) corresponds to the reservation made by Greece at the time of its acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. The maintenance of this reservation, as communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and known to all WEU member states, is entirely consistent with the provisions of Article X, second paragraph, of the modified Brussels Treaty.

Family Planning Organisations: Spending Information

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House any documentation they have—other than annual reports—on the specific uses to which the core funds of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Family Planning Association have been put over the last three years.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We will place a selection of documents in the Libraries of the House.

Queen's Messengers

Lord Fanshawe of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total number of staff employed in the Queen's Messenger Service; the cost of messengers travelling overseas and administering staff in the United Kingdom; the total cost as a percentage of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Vote; and whether they will give an assurance that there are no plans to replace the service with a secure fax or similar system.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The current complement of Queen's Messengers is 27 including a superintendent and 2 messenger escorts.

The 1995/6 estimate for the cost of travel overseas is £2.25 million. Staff administration costs for 1995/6 are estimated to be approximately £780,600. The total cost of the service as a percentage of the 1995/6 FCO vote is 0.25 per cent.

The Cabinet Office Protective Security Review of 1993, covering security policy and practices, has prompted the FCO to look at the way in which despatch of mails to overseas posts is carried out. As part of this exercise the FCO is also looking at the future structure of the Queen's Messenger Service.

Council of Ministers: Change of Name

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Council of Ministers was renamed the Council of the European Union; upon whose decision the renaming took place; and whether Parliament and other national parliaments were consulted.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Member states agreed in Council Decision 93/591 of 8 November 1993 that the Council of Ministers would henceforth be called the Council of the European Union to reflect the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union. The change reflects the fact that the Council adopts acts both in the Community and in the intergovernmental pillars.

Israel: Nuclear Weapon Status

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they now recognise Israel as a nuclear weapons state and, if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have been concerned for some time about reports that Israel may have a nuclear weapons programme. We continue to urge Israel to allay these suspicions by acceding to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state and concluding a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

The only nuclear-weapon states recognised under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are those which had manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967; i.e., UK, US, France, China and Russia.

Israel: Anti-Ballistic Missile System

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have discussed with the United States the possibility that the setting up by Israel, mainly at US expense, of an anti-ballistic missile system might be interpreted by Israel's neighbours as a shield from behind which Israel might launch strikes against them as it did against Iraq in 1981.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: This possibility has not been discussed with the US Administration.

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Children's Rights: Draft European Convention

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to seek changes to the draft European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights in the light of Opinion No. 186 (1995) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Opinion of the Parliamentary Assembly was taken into consideration at a recent meeting of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) in Strasbourg, when amendments to the draft European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights were discussed and agreed. The United Kingdom was represented at this meeting.

Turkey: Human Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with the Government of Turkey concerning Turkish co-operation with the Committee set up under the Europe Convention for the Prevention of Torture, and concerning Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and persons imprisoned under the article.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have consistently made clear to the Turkish Government that we expect them to co-operate fully with all human rights mechanisms established under international treaties and conventions to which they are parties. This includes the Independent Committee set up under the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, which last visited Turkey in October 1994.

We have also made clear to the Turkish Government on many occasions our concerns over Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law. We believe that non-violent expression of opinion in Turkey should be protected, not punished. We look for early action from Turkey to carry out its intention to implement a package of reforms to improve democratic and human rights, including reform of Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law.


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