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12 Dec 1995 : Column WA101

Written Answers

Tuesday, 12th December 1995.

Angola and Sierra Leone: Mercenaries

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they will propose, or support, in the United Nations Security Council, to persuade the government of Angola to cease employing mercenaries provided by the South African firm Executive Outcomes, in the light of that government's persistent flouting of Security Council resolutions on the matter; and whether they will ask the United Nations Secretary-General why no mention is made of the provision of mercenaries by the same company to the government of Sierra Leone, in his report to the Security Council on the situation in Sierra Leone of

    21 November, reference S/1995/975.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): With regard to Angola, I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave him on 5 June at column WA85.

On Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General's report of 21 November notes the use by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) of "non-Sierra Leonean advisers to improve the fighting skills of its troops, instil discipline and upgrade command and control". The details of any contracts with foreign companies are a matter for the Sierra Leonean Government.

Iraqi Invasion Threat, October 1994

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received new information concerning the October-November Iraqi invasion scare.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Following his defection in August 1995, Hussein Kamil al-Majid told the press that Saddam Hussein ordered his troops in October 1994, as they were massing near the Kuwaiti border, to loot Kuwait. This firmly suggests that Iraq intended to move forces across the border, and underscores the continuing threat that they pose to regional stability.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the numbers involved in the build-up in early October 1994 of Iraqi forces close to the border with Kuwait and how were they armed.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We estimate that Iraq deployed 20,000 troops from the republican guard including armoured, mechanised and infantry divisions, and up to 300 tanks. UK forces played a prompt and effective role with allied forces in deterring this aggressive act, and securing an early Iraqi withdrawal.

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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether at the time of the build-up of Iraqi forces on the Kuwaiti border in October 1994 there was also a build-up of expellees from Kuwait to Iraq encamped in the area; what were the numbers and whether they were armed.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The deployment of Iraqi troops close to the border with Kuwait coincided with the arrival of about 2,000 to 3,000 people, including Lebanese, Palestinians and stateless. Those involved appeared to have come from various parts of Iraq, not Kuwait. We have seen nothing to suggest that the group was armed.

UN: Human Rights Reports

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the reports submitted to the Human Rights Committees of the United Nations by states parties under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are publicly available; and if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Copies of reports submitted to the Human Rights Committee by states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are freely available in UN document form from the UN Office in Geneva and the UN Information Centre in London. The House of Commons Library receives copies from UN Documents Section, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who can also provide copies on request.

East Timor: Hawk Jets

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received on reports of overflying of Dili by Hawk jets of the Indonesia occupation forces in East Timor on Friday

    10 November at 08.50.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no evidence to support allegations that Hawk aircraft overflew Dili on Friday 10 November.

Liberia: Rubber Industry

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the acquisition of equipment and materials for the revival of the rubber industry in Liberia, and why in their view those responsible for the implementation of the demobilisation and reintegration strategy, referred to in paragraph 45 of the Secretary-General's Thirteenth Progress Report on the UN Observer Mission in Liberia, S/1995/881 have not taken advantage of the offer of help by a British expert with experience of the rubber industry in Liberia.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no knowledge of plans to rehabilitate the Liberian rubber industry at this stage of the peace process. When this issue is addressed, it will be for those responsible to seek out the best available expertise.

Mr. Koro Ceesay and Captain Hydara

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received about alleged extrajudicial killings of armed forces personnel in The Gambia on 11 and 12 November 1995 of the former Minister of Finance Mr. Koro Ceesay, and of the former Minister of the Interior, Captain Sadibu Hydara; and whether the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, established by the Millbrook Declaration of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland in November 1995 to deal with serious or persistent violations of the principles of the Harare Declaration, will investigate these killings.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have received reports that Captain Hydara died in detention from hypertension and liver failure. Mr. Ceesay's body was discovered in a burnt out car. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has not yet met but it has been tasked to assess infringements of Harare Declaration principles and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action.

Motorcycles and Waiting Restrictions

Lord Strathcarron asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will encourage borough councils to grant the same discretion to motorcycles as to four wheel vehicles while unloading on single lines in a restricted area.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Traffic authorities should not discriminate between types of motor vehicles when allowing an exemption for loading and unloading in a traffic regulation order that restricts waiting, and we would not encourage them to do so. The activities for which motorcycles are parked temporarily, however, may not always fall within the definition of loading and unloading. That can only be determined on a case by case basis.

Stansted: Air Transport Movements

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking in respect of BAA's application for an increase in the air transport movement limit at Stansted Airport.

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Viscount Goschen: We are today beginning consultation on raising the limit on air transport movements at Stansted. This follows the application by BAA plc, the airport operator, to increase the limit to 150,000 movements each year. The department is seeking views on this option, as well as on an alternative option of increasing the limit to 120,000 movements a year. When planning permission was granted for the development of Stansted, an upper limit was placed on the number of air transport movements each year to ensure that the local infrastructure could cope with air traffic growth. We now need to decide whether it is time to increase that upper limit, and if so by how much, taking account of local interests and without unduly restricting the airport's ability to grow.

The department will be seeking the views of airlines, local authorities and other interested parties. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the library.

Commission for Local Administration in England: Review Report

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish Sir Geoffrey Chipperfield's report of the Financial, Management and Policy Review of the work of the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): Following completion of the first stage of his Financial, Management and Policy Review of the Commission for Local Administration in England, Sir Geoffrey Chipperfield presented his report to the Secretary of State and to the Chairman of the Commission on 30 November. The report is now being carefully considered by Ministers and by the Commission and it will be published for wider consultation in due course.

Health Education Contracts

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the criteria will be published showing how voluntary sector providers can bid for health education contracts under the proposed changes to the Health Education Authority.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Advertisements inviting expressions of interest have been placed for a number of areas of work which the department proposes to put out to tender. It was open to voluntary sector providers to respond to these advertisements and several have done so.


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