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Computerised Systems: Hacker Vulnerability

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: In my comments I was speaking of the worst case in international and strategic terms.

UK Military Procurement: Cost

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: My department's records are not kept in a way which would allow this information to be provided without disproportionate cost.

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UK Military Procurement: US Influence

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With which of its major defence systems is the UK uninfluenced by US procurement policies, decisions and strategies.

Earl Howe: While it is prudent to take note of the procurement policies and decisions of our American and other allies, the procurement of major weapons systems by the United Kingdom is carried out according to the principles of seeking value for money and of employing competition whenever possible, rather than on the basis of the procurement policies, decisions or strategies of our allies.

UK Military Procurement and Europe

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their decisions to buy a US helicopter, Apache, (to be part assembled in the UK), and a US Cruise Missile, Tomahawk, and to participate in the US JAST programme for a possible successor to Tornado and/or Sea Harrier (all in addition to the US Trident Missiles) are intended to demonstrate that Britain is withdrawing from "the heart of European defence" to which they had been committed (Earl Howe, HL Deb., 14th July 1995, col. 2002).

Earl Howe: No. The United Kingdom procures military equipment according to the principles of seeking the best value for money and of employing competition whenever possible. Purchases of equipment from the United States are made in accordance with these principles and do not indicate Britain's withdrawal from the heart of European defence. We continue to play an active role in the Western European Union and the Western European Armaments Group.

European Community Legislative Instruments

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) communications, (b) proposals, (c) decisions, (d) directives and (e) regulations have been issued by the European Commission so far this year, and in each of the last three years.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave the Lord Bruce of Donington on 17th January, (Official Report col. WA 37), which gave figures for 1993 and 1994. The total number of Commission proposals for Council legislation in these years was 625 and 510 respectively, of which the number of proposals for principal legislation was 75 and 51. There is no common definition of a Commission "communication". According to the CELEX database, the figures for 1992 and 1995 are:

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1992 1995 (to 20 May)
Council Commission Council Commission
Directives 95 34 4 7
Regulations 381 1,137 63 229
Decisions 134 385 30 118
Proposals 655 105
Proposals for principal legislation 89 11

European Legislation: Repeal Progress

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made toward the repeal of 25 per cent. of all European legislation, as announced by the Prime Minister last year.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Prime Minister reported in another place on 13th December 1993 (col. 690) on the undertaking in the Commission's subsidiarity report to the December 1993 Brussels European Council to "stabilise the volume of permanent legislation, thanks to the combined effect of a 25 per cent. reduction as a result of the proposed repeal of certain instruments, and a smaller number of new proposals". The Commission reported on progress to the Cannes European Council in June. The European Council restated the importance which it attached to a rigorous application of the principle of subsidiarity, and called on the Commission to report back to the European Council's meeting in Madrid in December.

European Union Regulations

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many regulations arising from requirements of the European Union are currently in force in the United Kingdom; and how many such regulations were made and how many rescinded in the last five years.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We do not hold or collate such statistics centrally, and could only do so at disproportionate cost.

European Union: Areas of Competence

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Into which, if any, areas the competence of the European Union has been extended in the last five years; and

    Whether any areas of competence have been returned from the European Union to the nation states during the last five years.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In the Maastricht Treaty the Member States of the European Union agreed to clarify or extend the scope for action by the European Community in a number of areas. These are set out in

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the Answer given to Mr. Bernard Jenkin on 8 July 1995 in another place. Under the principle of subsidiarity, which was codified as a binding Treaty provision by the Maastricht Treaty, the European Community is to act only where action at the Community level is lawful and justified and does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the EC Treaty. In the areas of health, education, training and culture the Treaty explicitly limits the scope for Community action.

Self-governing Sovereign States: Characteristics

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they regard as the attributes which characterise or define a self-governing sovereign state.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Sovereignty is an attribute which under international law resides inherently in any independent state recognised as such. By virtue and in exercise of their sovereignty, states conduct dealings with one another internationally—for example, the conclusion of treaties laying down mutual rights and obligations and the exchange of diplomatic representatives.

Bosnia: Reported Atrocities against Muslims

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have as to the approximate number of Muslim women raped, and men and children massacred following the fall of the United Nations safe haven of Srebrenica to Serb forces, and whether the United Nations monitors stationed on each Serb truck carrying civilians expelled from Srebrenica were able to prevent any such atrocities.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Judge Goldstone, the prosecutor of the International War Crime Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, has said that his representatives are investigating reports of atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica and will be reporting their findings. We await the results of their report.

We are aware of media reports relating to UN soldiers accompanying the Bosnian Muslim civilians from Srebrenica but are not able to confirm whether their presence did prevent atrocities.

Hong Kong: Consistency of the Law

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

    Whether they consider that the concept of an "act of state" defence, in Article 19 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, is fully consistent with the common law.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The concept of "act of state" is one familiar to the common law, which will continue to be applied by the courts of the Hong Kong

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Special Administrative Region. There is nothing in the language of Article 19 of the Basic Law which would require the Court of Final Appeal to give that concept an interpretation which is inconsistent with its accepted meaning under the common law.

Hong Kong: Court of Final Appeal

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

    Whether it is intended that the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal will be empowered freely to decide whether an administrative act is within the "act of state" defence, or that the Final Court will be bound to give effect to the Chief Executive's certificate on that point.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The availability of a plea of act of state is a question of law to be determined by the court in the light of the facts of the case.

Articles 8 and 18 of the Basic Law provide that the Court of Final Appeal has jurisdiction to apply the common law except in so far as it may contravene the Basic Law itself.

Article 19 of the Basic Law obliges the court to obtain an executive certificate but only on questions of fact concerning acts of state whenever such questions arise in the course of adjudication. This is consistent with the present position in the common law, whereby certificates on questions of fact concerning acts of state are binding on the courts. But such a certificate cannot pronounce on matters of law, as opposed to fact. In so far as it purported to do so, it would not be binding on the courts. Thus, the legal consequences which flow from the facts remain a matter of law for the courts.


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