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3 Jul 1995 : Column WA65

Written Answers

Monday, 3rd July 1995.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Security Assurances

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are planning towards the achievement of a legally binding document that would contain both negative and positive security assurances, and whether in the light of developments in the Middle East these assurances will include assurances that Israel will not use nuclear weapons against its neighbours.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): On 6 April 1995, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, we agreed with the other P4 members (USA, Russia, France) Positive and Negative Security Assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These assurances imply responsibilities which we take very seriously. They were welcomed by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 984.

The NPT Review and Extension Conference agreed to adopt a set of Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. This states inter alia that "further steps should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. These steps could take the form of an internationally legally binding instrument".

We have been concerned for some time about reports that Israel may have a nuclear weapons programme. We continue to urge Israel to allay international suspicions and accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

Chechnya: Public Relations Initiative

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they know if the Chechen Dudayev leadership, or others on their behalf, have contracted with any public relations firm in Britain or in New York or elsewhere.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are unaware of any such arrangement.

Croatia: Public Relations Initiative

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they know if the Croatian leadership, or others on their behalf, have contracted with any public relations firm in Britain or in New York or elsewhere.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware of any such arrangement either in Britain or elsewhere.

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Bosnian Moslems: Public Relations Initiative

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they know if the Bosnian Moslem leadership, or others on their behalf, have contracted with any public relations firm in Britain or in New York or elsewhere.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware of any such arrangement either in Britain or elsewhere.

Chinese State Orphanages: Alleged Abuses

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will investigate the evidence produced by the Channel 4 documentary "Secret Asia: The Dying Rooms" to the effect that some Chinese children are abandoned and left to die, and place their conclusions in the Library of the House.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to be deeply concerned about reports of abuses in certain Chinese state orphanages. We believe that conditions in Chinese state orphanages vary, as do the quality and number of staff. We do not however have unrestricted access to Chinese orphanages and our investigations are inevitably incomplete.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the evidence presented by the Channel 4 documentary "Secret Asia: The Dying Rooms", they accept the denials of the Chinese Government that such places exist.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We do not have unrestricted access to Chinese orphanages, and we are unable to verify the claims of the Chinese Government.

The Gambia: Democratic Rule

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest assessment of the economic, social, political and human rights situation in The Gambia and what action they are taking bilaterally and multilaterally to speed the restoration of democracy.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We remain to be convinced of the present regime's commitment to restore civilian democratic rule. Basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, association and political activity are still not permitted. Both we and our EU and other partners continue to press for a credible timetable for a return to democracy.

Kenya: Human Rights

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest assessment of the human rights situation in Kenya and what conclusions they have reached about its implications for bilateral and multilateral aid programmes.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to follow closely events in Kenya in such areas as democracy, good government, human rights and economic reform. We note that in some respects there has been good progress while in other areas there are still grounds for concern. We are in touch with the Kenyan authorities and other aid donors about the implications for aid policies.

Liberia: Peace Initiatives

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest analysis of the economic, social, political and human rights situation in Liberia and what bilateral and multilateral policies they are consequently pursuing.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We remain concerned about the continuing conflict in Liberia and its impact on the civilian population. The recent summit in Abuja failed to agree on a cease-fire or Council of State and the arms embargo continues to be flouted. Nevertheless we shall continue to support the efforts of the UN and regional leaders to find a peaceful solution.

Algeria: Political Unrest

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What analysis they have made of the economic, social, political and human rights trends in Algeria, what conclusions they have reached and what policies they are consequently pursuing.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are concerned about the political situation in Algeria and about human rights abuses in the country. We deplore the appalling violence on both sides. We call for a wider dialogue involving all those who reject violence with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the Algerian crisis and holding elections on an agreed basis. We welcome the Algerian Government's efforts to pursue economic reform and supported the granting in May of an IMF Extended Financing Facility for the country.

Visual Arts Year 1996

Lord Henderson of Brompton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will describe the criteria to be used to determine the balance between the promotion and development at local and national levels respectively for the purposes of Visual Arts Year 1996

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): Visual Arts UK is a year-long celebration of the visual arts which will take place in the North of England in 1996. It is part of a wider Arts Council led initiative, Arts 2000, which aims to celebrate a different art form in a different part of the UK in each year between 1992 and 2000. The project is supported financially by the Arts Council, Northern Arts Board and a wide range of partnerships between the public and private sectors in the region. Her Majesty's Government applauds the

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region's vision, but has no role in promoting or developing the programme of activity

Civil Service Recruitment Policy

Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present position regarding recruitment to the Civil Service and whether appointments to the permanent establishment are still being made; and what is the nature of short-term contracts and what are the recruitment arrangements for posts in the public services at present.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): Recruitment to the Civil Service is a matter for individual departments, although they must comply with certain centrally-prescribed rules; for example that, with limited exceptions, recruitment should be on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. Just under 20,000 people were recruited to permanent posts in the Home Civil Service in the year ending 31 March 1995.

There are five types of short-term temporary appointments in use in the Civil Service. Departments and agencies use these appointments where there is a management need to employ people for a short period rather than make a permanent appointment.

Casual appointments are used only where there is a genuine management need to employ people for a short period rather than make a permanent appointment.

Fixed term appointments are made for a specified period of time, normally less than five years. They are made only where there is a genuine management need to make an appointment of limited duration.

Short Notice, Standby, and Recurring Temporary Appointments involve appointees making themselves available for short periods of work that arise, or have been scheduled. There are varying degrees of length and commitment as to the period of employment between these types of appointment.

There are no centrally-prescribed arrangements for recruitment throughout the public services.


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