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Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong

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

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The full terms of the agreement between Britain and China concerning the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong were published after the agreement was signed on 9 June. They are as follows:

After full consultations, the two sides of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group have reached the following agreement on the question of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong:

i) The British side agrees to amend the Court of Final Appeal Bill on the basis of the eight suggestions published by the political affairs sub-group of the preliminary working committee of the preparatory committee of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region on 16 May 1995.

ii) The Chinese side agrees to the British side amending the Court of Final Appeal Bill to make it clear that section 83P of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance applies in a case where an appeal has been heard and determined by the Court of Final Appeal, and that there is therefore no need for further legislation or other provisions in relation to the power to inquire into the constitutionality of laws or to provide for post verdict remedial mechanisms.

iii) The British side agrees to amend the Court of Final Appeal Bill to include the formulation of "acts of state" in Article 19 of the Basic Law and to provide that the Court of Final Appeal Ordinance shall not come into operation before 30 June 1997.

iv) The Chinese side agrees that, after the Chinese and British sides reach this agreement, the legislative procedures for the Court of Final Appeal Bill, on which the two sides have reached consensus through consultation, will be taken forward immediately to enable them to be completed as soon as possible before the end of July 1995. The Chinese side will adopt a positive attitude in this regard.

v) The Chinese and British sides agree that the team designate of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region shall, with the British side (including relevant Hong Kong Government departments) participating in the process and providing its assistance, be responsible for the preparation for the establishment of the Court of Final Appeal on 1 July 1997 in accordance with the Basic Law and consistent with the provisions of the Court of Final Appeal Ordinance.

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

    What are the safeguards of the independence of the final court of appeal in Hong Kong against interference by the executive branches of government of the People's Republic of China and of the Special Administrative Region.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Joint Declaration and the Basic Law provide that the Hong Kong Special Administrative region will be vested with executive, legislative and independent judicial power,

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including that of final adjudication. They state that "the Courts of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference." They also make specific provisions for the appointment of all judges of the HKSAR on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities and for their removal only for inability to discharge their duties or for misbehaviour. The 9 June agreement on the Court of Final Appeal is entirely in accordance with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law and provides for a proper court of final appeal to be set up on 1 July 1997.

Turkish Operation in Northern Iraq

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they had advance information of the recent second Turkish military invasion of Iraq; what has been the impact of this attack on the civilian population of the area; and whether allied aircraft are still flying over Northern Iraq to protect the Kurdish inhabitants.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We received no advance notification of the Turkish operation in northern Iraq from 5 to 11 July. The Turkish Government has announced that the troops involved have now withdrawn. We have heard reports of some civilian casualties. Allied aircraft continue to patrol the northern Iraq no-fly zone.

Turkey, Arrests in Ankara, 6th July

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reports they have received about the arrest in Ankara on 6th July of 244 people, including 2 children, on the instructions of Mr. Nusret Demirel, the Chief Prosecutor of the State Security Court, and of the ill-treatment of some of the detainees, and whether they will draw these events to the attention of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We understand that of the 242 people arrested after demonstrations outside the Turkish State Security Court on 6 July, 211 have now been released. We regularly make clear our concern about human rights in Turkey, including the question of arbitrary detentions. We prefer to do so by means of direct representations to the Turkish Government.

EU Judgments: Consistency

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what means they will ensure that there will be consistency across the European Union in legal judgments arising from matters contained within Title VI of the Treaty on European Union.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The objective of work under the Third Pillar is to promote co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs. The general principles of international law and the co-operative basis of the Third Pillar will normally provide an adequate

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degree of consistency. Each member state is responsible for ensuring that obligations assumed under agreements negotiated in the Third Pillar are observed within the jurisdiction of that member state.

CAP: Reform

Lord Jay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to include the issue of reform of the common agriculture policy on the agenda of the Inter-Governmental Conference on the future of the European Union in 1996.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Inter-governmental conferences deal with treaty change rather than policy adjustments. The problems of the CAP stem less from the provisions of the treaty than from the policy which has been subsequently developed on the basis of those provisions. We shall continue to work for reform of the CAP in the appropriate fora.

China: Human Rights

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the Government of China suggesting the reallocation of resources from central government to orphanages and welfare centres, taking into account the training and salaries of staff involved in child care and to increase the numbers of those persons in charge of children; and

    Whether they will make representations to the Government of China suggesting an increased allocated discount for all medication and hospitalisation for orphans in the state-run orphanages and welfare centres.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in China, including the conditions in Chinese state orphanages, but allocation of Chinese state funds is a matter for the Chinese authorities.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consultation the Spanish Government held with other states of the European Union before announcing that human rights in China would not be an issue during their presidency of the European Union; and whether they will propose that the European Union raise with China the recent arrests of dissidents, and particularly that of Mr. Harry Wu.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: There is no question of human rights in China not being an issue for the European Union. The European Union issued a declaration on 7 June calling for the release of dissidents detained recently. We are in close contact with our European Union partners and the United States about the detention of Mr. Harry Wu.

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Standards in Public Life

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

    Whether they have any plans to amend "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" by qualifying the statement of the duty of Ministers' to reveal to Parliament "as full information as possible about the policies, decisions and actions of Government", or of the duty of Ministers' "not to deceive or mislead Parliament and the public".

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): I refer the noble Lord to The Government's Response to the First Report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, (Cm 2931) published on the 18 July 1995.

Eurostar Services: Immigration Controls

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, when Eurostar has been in service for some months, sufficient immigration staff have not yet been allocated to allow inspection of passports on all trains from Paris to London; and whether they are aware of the impression this delay creates among visiting foreigners.

Baroness Blatch: Immigration controls are normally carried out on board all Eurostar services from Paris, but there are occasions when this is not possible. This is not because of staffing shortages but for a variety of operational reasons. The Immigration Service is striving to keep these exceptions to a minimum and to ensure that, when controls are carried out on arrival at Waterloo, passengers are dealt with speedily and within the published service standards.


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