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18 Jul 1995 : Column WA11

Written Answers

Tuesday, 18th July 1995.

Foreign Affairs Council, 30 June

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will report on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held in Geneva on 30 June.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): A Foreign Affairs Council was called at short notice in Geneva on 30 June to consider how the Community should respond to developments in the final stages of negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the liberalisation of financial services. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Technology (Mr. Taylor) represented the United Kingdom.

The Council noted with regret that the WTO was unable to conclude an agreement containing a high degree of commitment to multilateral and non-discriminatory liberalisation on trade in financial services and expressed concern about the position taken by the US Government in the final stages of the negotiations. The Council agreed that the European Union negotiators should support the extension of the deadline for completion of the negotiations on both financial services and the movement of persons until 28 July 1995.

The Council agreed that the Community and its member states should work during this extra period to achieve maximum liberalisation on a multilateral and non-discriminating basis, thus preserving the benefits of the great efforts made in earlier rounds of the negotiations, and called on other parties to work for the same objective.

The Council discussed how best to achieve this objective and agreed to return to the matter at its meeting in Brussels on 17 July 1995.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy: Annual Report

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Annual Report of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy will be available.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Copies of the Foundation's Annual Report for 1994/95 will be placed in the Libraries of the House this week.

The foundation received £2.2 million from the FCO for its activities in 1994/95. With this grant, it has supported 244 projects, compared with 236 projects last year. This has included a significant contribution to a wide range of media organisations in the former Soviet Union; a comprehensive programme of political party training with a range of parties throughout Central and

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Eastern Europe undertaken by UK political parties; and provided ongoing support to the post-electoral structures in the new South Africa.

The foundation continues to make a valuable contribution to the promotion of democracy worldwide.

Overseas Aid to China: Policy

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they remain committed to the advancement of human rights and good governance as part of the objective of their overseas aid policy and, if so, what is their policy towards the People's Republic China, with particular reference to its Tibetan minority, in the light of recent reports concerning: prisoners of conscience, including those held solely for their non-violent expression of religious conviction; unfair trials; torture; and ill-treatment of juvenile detainees in contravention of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Aid decisions take account of a range of criteria, including human rights and good governance. We regularly raise our concerns over human rights with the Chinese. Our aid programme in China provides opportunities for dialogue. We are more likely to have a beneficial impact through co-operation than by cutting contacts. Withholding aid would diminish our influence to help those whose rights are infringed.

Former Yugoslavia: Humanitarian Aid

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the humanitarian relief supplies to which the Overseas Development Administration has contributed during the past year for the victims of conflict in former Yugoslavia has reached those in greatest need; and what action they are taking to increase this proportion in the months ahead.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: All ODA's direct humanitarian aid to former Yugoslavia reaches needy victims. There are claims that some supplies, to which ODA and other donors contribute through support to UN and non-government relief agencies, are misappropriated: but the amounts are judged to be small and, in a war, unavoidable.

Civil Nuclear Plant: Protection

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in relation to Lord Kennet's Question about the security from threats to nuclear installations attacks on which might lead to mass destruction, their statement that "the responsibility to counter all threats at such facilities rests with the country in which they are located" (HL Deb., 29th June 1995, col. WA60) is intended to suggest that:— (a) all governments with vulnerable civil facilities should erect anti-missile systems,

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    (b) in view of Israel's attack on an uncompleted nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981, and recent suggestions in Israel that if a nuclear plant were found in Iran it should be attacked in the same way, Iran should set up an anti-missile system; (c) the element in the US Defense Counter-proliferation Initiative which contemplates the automated pre-emptive destruction of equipment and installations deemed by space sensors to be possibly "proliferative" should be pursued and; (d) they consider it would not be more sensible to make all attacks on such targets unlawful.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is for individual governments to decide, consistent with their international obligations, how to respond to threats to their facilities. The statement to which the noble Lord refers is not related to the US Counter-proliferation Initiative. As regards attacks on nuclear facilities, Her Majesty's Government are of the view that absolute protection cannot be given to installations which may contribute to a state's war effort.

Migrant Workers: Prevention of Abuse

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following criminal cases in Britain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc., they will consult the International Labour Organization on new and improved methods for preventing the abuse and exploitation of those who cross international frontiers to obtain work, and in particular domestic workers coming to England, the Middle East and other countries.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has already adopted a number of international instruments designed to eliminate abuses of migrant workers. These are open to ratification by all ILO member states. Workers from overseas, including domestic servants, who are admitted to the United Kingdom are eligible for the same employment protection rights as resident United Kingdom employees. The Government consider that the prison sentences imposed in recent cases brought before the courts confirm that their existing legislation already provides adequate protection against abuse and exploitation in the United Kingdom, and that there is therefore no need for it to consult the ILO on this matter.

Tourism: Balances 1979–1994

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the yearly figures for the deficit/surplus on the tourism account from 1979 to the latest available date.

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The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The travel account balances at current prices are:

1979 +£688 million
1980 +£223 million
1981 –£302 million
1982 –£452 million
1983 –£87 million
1984 –£49 million
1985 +£571 million
1986 –£530 million
1987 –£1,020 million
1988 –£2,032 million
1989 –£2,412 million
1990 –£2,131 million
1991 –£2,666 million
1992 –£3,207 million
1993 –£3,332 million
1994 –£4,374 million

Commonhold

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will introduce the commonhold legislation promised in the Conservative manifesto of 1992.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The Government intend to introduce this legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Courts in London: Resource Allocation

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the written reply by the Lord Chancellor (col. WA79, 3rd July 1995), whether they will set out in the Official Report how, when resources are allocated to the Court Service in England, that allocation takes account of the higher cost of operating in London whether by area cost adjustment or by other course.

The Lord Chancellor: The total resources allocated to the Court Service in England and Wales are based on previous spending patterns, aggregate workload forecasts and efficiency targets. Within the Court Service resources are allocated according to projected activity (planned sitting days in the Crown Court and administrative workload in the county courts) for workload-related expenditure, and on the basis of current spending or contract value, subject to planned efficiency measures, for expenditure (such as accommodation and maintenance) not immediately dependent on workload. The distribution of money therefore takes some account of geographical variations in costs, but workload is the major factor.


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