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7 Nov 1995 : Column WA191

Written Answers

Tuesday, 7th November 1995.

Sri Lanka

Lord Mountevans asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current situation in Sri Lanka, and whether they will report on the recent massacres of civilians in the north and east of the country.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We condemn the recent brutal massacres of civilians which have taken place especially those in villages in the north and east of Sri Lanka. These outrages bear all the hallmarks of operations carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and deserve the condemnation of the entire international community. We deplore the loss of life and destruction resulting from this conflict, and urge both the Government and the LTTE to take all possible steps to avoid further civilian casualties.

We continue to believe that a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka can be achieved only through a sustainable political settlement, reached through peaceful negotiation. The Government of Sri Lanka have put forward wide-ranging proposals for constitutional reform, which we believe could provide the basis for a negotiated settlement acceptable to all Sri Lankans. We urge all who are concerned to see a lasting and peaceful settlement to the conflict to make every effort to persuade the LTTE to respond positively to the constitutional opportunities now emerging.

Overseas Development Administration: Education Expenditure

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the Overseas Development Administration's projected expenditure on education projects for the current financial year; and whether they will provide a breakdown of that expenditure according to (a) educational levels (primary, secondary and industry) and (b) form of aid (training, books, educational materials and other activities).

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The information requested is only available up to 1994–95. The following table gives the requested breakdown of expenditure. This data is provisional until the publication of the 1995 edition of British Aid Statistics:

Aid expenditure on education sector 1994–95

£ million
Primary Education 7.0
Secondary Education 3.8
Tertiary Education 24.9
Training 8.6
Books 1.4
Materials/Equipment 4.8
Buildings 1.3
Scholarships 26.0
Other Education (Not separately allocable by above sub-divisions) 62.1
Education expenditure within other sectors 87.1
Total 227.0

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Ascension Island and Diego Garcia

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the cumulative value to the United States of the rents and charges that might be associated with the sites provided free from all rent and charges on Ascension Island, as referred to in Article XXIII of the Agreement of 25 June 1956 between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States; and in Diego Garcia.

Lord Chesham: The sites on Ascension and Diego Garcia are provided to the United States free of rent and charges. There has been no need to determine notional or actual values of the sites. It is not possible, therefore, to provide a figure showing the cumulative value of them.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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

    Whether they will list the States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Lord Chesham: The information that the noble Lord has requested is contained in a United Nations document (reference ST/HR/4/Rev.11) listing ratifications of human rights instruments as at 31 December 1994. A copy has been placed in the Library. The Republic of Ireland has become party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since the list was drawn up.

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

    Whether they will list those States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights whose governments have rejected in their entirety the recommendations made by the Human Rights Committee, for the full domestic implementation of the Covenant, pursuant to Article 40 of the Convention; and

    Whether they consider that their rejection of all the Human Rights Committee's recommendations (UN document CCPR/C/79/Add.55 of 27 July 1995) for full implementation in the United Kingdom of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will make it more difficult for the United Kingdom to

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    ensure that the People's Republic of China implements the Covenant in Hong Kong after the transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997; and

    Whether they consider the Human Rights Committee to be a body of persons of high moral character and recognised competence in the field of human rights, whose views on the United Kingdom's implementation of its legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should, except for cogent and compelling reasons, be implemented.

Lord Chesham: Article 28(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that the Human Rights Committee should possess the characteristics that the noble Lord describes. The Government respect the views of the committee, which, unlike the Covenant itself, are not legally binding. The Government have not rejected the committee's recommendations issued on 27 July 1995 concerning the United Kingdom's fourth periodic report. As my noble friend Lady Blatch said on 26 October 1995 [HL Deb, col. 1187], the Government noted the committee's observations but do not plan any specific changes in the arrangements for the protection of human rights in the United Kingdom in the light of them. In their next periodic report, the Government will report on the measures which they have adopted to give effect to the rights recognised in the Covenant and on progress made in the enjoyment of those rights. The Government are not able to give details about the reaction of other States Parties to the comments of the committee after consideration of their reports. That is a matter for them. As far as Hong Kong is concerned, the last paragraph of Chapter XIII of Annex 1 to the Joint Declaration (JD 156), reflected in Article 39 of the Basic Law, obliges China to ensure that the provisions of the ICCPR, as applied to Hong Kong, shall remain in force. The committee's observations on the United Kingdom's fourth periodic report have no relevance to Hong Kong, in respect of which a separate periodic report has been submitted.

European Convention on Human Rights: Protocol No. 9

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

    Further to their Written Answer of 30 October 1995 (WA 134), why they did not ratify Protocol No. 9 to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Chesham: We do not believe that becoming Party to Protocol 9 would significantly enhance the protection of human rights in the UK. On the other hand, it would add considerably to the workload of and consequent delays in the Court, which Protocol 11 is designed to reduce. Protocol 9 will, moreover, be repealed when Protocol 11 comes into force.

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Council of Europe and WEU Assemblies: Report of UK Delegation

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library a copy of the Information Bulletin on the activities of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of the Western European Union covering the period March to September 1995.

Lord Chesham: I have done so today.

Paternity Leave in the EU

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

    Whether they will provide a list of member states of the European Union which currently have a statutory paternity leave.

Lord Chesham: I understand that Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Spain and Sweden currently have statutory paternity leave.

Overseas Development Administration: Cash Limit

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Baroness Chalker of Wallasey's answer on 1 November 1995 (WA 161) relating to the 1995–96 cash limit for expenditure by the Overseas Development Administration included the cost of services provided in connection with the privatisation of the Crown Agents.

Lord Chesham: No. Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the cash limit on the External Assistance Vote (Class II, Vote 5) will be increased by £4,919,000 from £1,759,358,000 to £1,764,277,000. The increase is in respect of rollover of underspending against the 1994–95 External Assistance Vote. The increase will be offset by a claim on the Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure. The cash limit includes the cost of services provided in connection with the privatisation of the Crown Agents. This expenditure is not included in the control total.

Human Rights Treaties: Duty of Compliance

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

    Further to Baroness Blatch's Answer of 30 October 1995 (WA 146), and to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey's Answer of 30 October 1995 (WA 134), whether the fact that the duty (referred to in the proposed Civil Service Code, and in Questions of Procedure for Ministers) "to comply with the law,

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    including international law and treaty obligations", as contained in those codes means that individuals within the United Kingdom may reasonably expect that Ministers and civil servants will discharge their public functions in accordance with the obligations undertaken by the United Kingdom by ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Lord Chesham: The duty to comply with the law to which the Civil Service Code and "Questions of Procedure for Ministers" refer is a duty owed by Ministers, civil servants and citizens alike. As regards international law and treaty obligations, I refer to the Answer given by my noble friend Baroness Chalker of Wallasey to the noble Lord on 9 January 1995 (WA1).


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