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13 Dec 1995 : Column WA107

Written Answers

Wednesday, 13th December 1995.

Weapons Transfers: OSCE Control Mechanisms

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What mechanism exists within the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for considering allegations of the use of weapons and equipment in a manner that contravenes the OSCE's "Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers" of November 1993; and whether they will refer the allegations contained in the Human Rights Watch Arms Project report, Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey to the chairman in office, with a view to having them considered by the Committee of Ministers.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We consider on a case by case basis the use to which defence equipment is likely to be put and do not permit the export of equipment which is likely to contravene the OSCE's Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers or any of the other international guidelines to which we adhere.

Under paragraph 5 (c) of the "Principles", OSCE participating states are committed to exchanging information within the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) about national legislation and practices in the field of conventional arms transfers. Implementation of the "Principles" is thus a proper topic of discussion for the FSC, and a Seminar on Conventional Arms Transfers was held in Vienna in June. Furthermore, any OSCE participating state may raise in the FSC any question relevant to its work, at any time.

We do not plan to refer the allegations contained in the Human Rights Watch Arms Project report to the chairman in office. It is however open to the Human Rights Watch Arms Project to submit a case to the chairman in office through the Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, requesting that these allegations are discussed.

Treaties: "Ponsonby Rule"

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

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 28 November 1995 (WA 38) whether they will list the treaties ratified by the United Kingdom during the last five years requiring legislation; and

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 28 November 1995 (WA 38) whether they will list the treaties ratified by the United Kingdom during the past five years, not requiring legislation,

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    which were considered of sufficient importance by the Government that a debate on a Motion should be held; and

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 28 November 1995 (WA 38) whether they will list the treaties ratified by the United Kingdom during the past five years, not requiring legislation, which the Government decided were not of sufficient importance that a debate on a Motion should be held.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Her Majesty's Government have ratified 72 treaties since 1 January 1991. A list of the treaties ratified is being prepared and will be placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as possible.

The number of treaties either requiring legislation or not requiring legislation (whether the subject of debate on a Motion or not) is not centrally recorded and could only be provided a disproportionate cost.

Anglo-American Mutual Defence Assistance Agreements

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Written Answers of 7 November (cols. WA 192 and 205), whether on the principle of obtaining money for value they will charge appropriate rents to the United States for its uses of Ascension Island and of Diego Garcia, and whether they will determine the notional and/or actual values of those sites and balance these sums against the annual payments on war debts from the United Kingdom to the United States which currently stand at $1,124 billion and which the United Kingdom will not have paid back before the year 2006.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The sites on Ascension and Diego Garcia are provided to the United States under the terms of agreement signed in 1956 and 1966 respectively, and which were signed for specified, long-term periods. We have no plans to seek to amend the terms of these agreements. Similarly, the United Kingdom's war debt to the United States is fixed, as are the terms and rates of payment. We have no plans to seek a change to the terms of the agreement covering this debt.

Peacekeeping Operations: Payments to UK

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What sums other governments and organisations (including the United Nations) have paid to the United Kingdom for its participation in United Nations exercises, or quasi-United Nations exercises such as the Gulf, since 1980.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Since 1980, the United Kingdom has received an estimated £140.78 million from the United Nations by way of reimbursement for participation in UN peacekeeping operations and £2.049 billion from governments to offset costs incurred in Operation Desert Storm.

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Haiti: US Participation in UN Mission

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much in reimbursement funds the United States has asked from the United Nations for its participation in the United Nations exercise it initiated and controlled in Haiti, not excluding any costs contracted for with United States firms; and whether these sums have been paid by the United Nations to the United States.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United Nations Secretariat advises that as of 11 December, the US Government had submitted claims valued at US$ 5.5 million for its participation in the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), none of which has so far been paid. The UN does not have details by nationality of those companies which have provided services to UNMIH.

Tour Operators' Margin Scheme

Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the workings of the tour operators' margin scheme.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): Yes, although we are always examining the scope for improvements. To this end the tour operators' margin scheme is currently under review and Customs and Excise are consulting the travel industry and professional bodies about possible options for change.

Children Dependent on Income Support

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children are dependent on income support in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland; and what percentage of those under 16 each of these figures represents.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The information is set out in the table.

Numbers of Children Dependent on Income Support in Great Britain

Country(Column A) Number of children on Income Support (000s)Column A as a Percentage of those under 16 in the Relevant Country
England and Wales2,71525.6
Scotland24623.7
Great Britain2,96125.4

Notes:

1. Sources: Income Support Quarterly Enquiry November 1994. Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys mid-term estimate 1994.

2. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand and decimals to one decimal place.

3. Children have been defined as persons under the age of 16.

4. Numbers have been given as a percentage of all aged under 16 in the population in that country or countries.


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Child Benefit Payments to Divorced Parents

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will promote consultations between the Department of Social Security and the Lord Chancellor's Department about the division of child benefit between the parents in cases of shared residence after divorce.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: No. Child benefit in respect of one child cannot be split. Where benefit is in payment in respect of more than one child the decision on whether divorced parents should each receive a part of that benefit is based on the degree of care they each exercise. Such decisions are taken by officials of the Department of Social Security on behalf of the Secretary of State. The Lord Chancellor's legislation in relation to residence after divorce has a wholly different focus.

Sporting Clubs: VAT Refunds

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money has so far been refunded to sporting clubs in respect of VAT wrongly charged on subscriptions in recent years.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The total amounts refunded to non-profit making organisations supplying sporting services are estimated at £140 million plus £30 million interest.

Tax Allowances

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the level of (a) the personal income tax allowance, and (b) the married couples' allowance in the tax year 1996-97 if both allowances had been fully index-linked since 1979.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: If the corresponding allowance for 1978-79 had been indexed in line with movements in the retail prices index, the personal allowance would be £3,115 and the married couple's allowance for those aged under 65 would be £1,730. The proposed levels of the allowances for 1996-97 are higher--at £3,765 and £1,790, respectively.


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