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Royal Household: Appointments

Lord Marsh asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The normal practice is that certain appointments are made on the advice of the Prime Minister. Contrary to my Answer of 4 December (WA 67), the Prime Minister gives formal advice on all political appointments to the Royal Household, on the three Great Offices of State, (the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward and the Master of the Horse) and on non-political Lords in Waiting. Appointments to other senior positions in the Queen's Household are subject to informal discussion with Government Ministers, as in the past have been

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some senior appointments in the Household of the Prince of Wales.

Alcoholic Drinks: Effects of Price Reduction

Lord Stoddard of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the actual reduction in the price of a bottle of spirit of 27p and a real reduction, through non-indexation, in the price of all other alcoholic beverages except strong cider will lead to an increase in the consumption of alcoholic drinks.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The responsiveness of demand to price changes is measured by price elasticities. Price elasticities supplied by the Institute for Fiscal Studies indicate that the real reductions in most alcohol duties are expected to increase consumption.

Hyperbaric Chambers

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which hospital centres in the United Kingdom are equipped with hyperbaric chambers for compression and decompression purposes in the treatment and prevention of functional disorders using oxygen and air.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Hyperbaric chambers are uncommon in the National Health Service. Services are available from hyperbaric chamber owners such as the Ministry of Defence, the Northumberland Police Service or private operators. We agree with the British Medical Association that the current level of service provision is sufficient.

Treaties: Ponsonby Rule

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

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 1 November 1995 (WA 159), whether they have issued notes of guidance for Ministers and civil servants about the proper operation of the Ponsonby Rule and, if so, whether they will publish them.

Lord Chesham: General guidance is issued to government departments by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which retains responsibility for compliance with the Ponsonby Rule and all other matters to do with the ratification of treaties. The gist of this guidance was published in the British Year Book of International Law 1992 (volume LXIII at page 704).

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

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 1 November 1995 (WA 159), what are the criteria by which they interpret what are "important" treaties which the Government submit to each House of Parliament for discussion under the Ponsonby Rule.

Lord Chesham: There are no fixed criteria for determining which treaties are debated in Parliament for discussion. The matter is decided case by case.

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

    Which of the other Member States of the Council of Europe require, or do not require (as the case may be), parliamentary approval to be given for the ratification of treaties.

Lord Chesham: This information is not readily available either in the FCO or via the Council of Europe Secretariat and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Iraq and UN Resolution 986

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the discussions between the United Nations Secretary General and the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister on the United Nations offer to allow Iraq to sell $2 billion worth of oil to finance the purchase of humanitarian supplies.

Lord Chesham: We understand that there has been no change in Iraq's position on UN Resolution 986 as a result of the meeting. We condemn the Iraqi regime's decision not to implement this resolution, which would help to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Iran: International Terrorism

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they and the European Union will be making to the government of Iran in the light of (i) reports that the German federal prosecutor is investigating the possible role of the Iranian Minister of the Interior in the terrorist murders of Dr. Sharafkandi and three other persons in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in September 1992 and (ii) evidence linking the Iranian Government with other acts of international terrorism.

Lord Chesham: The investigation into the possible role of the Iranian Minister of the Interior in the terrorist murders of Dr. Sharafkandi and three other Iranian opposition activists in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in September 1992 is a matter for the German Federal Prosecutor and the relevant German authorities. Her Majesty's Government and the European Union remain committed to the engagement of Iran in a process of

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"critical dialogue" and regularly discuss Iranian sponsorship of international terrorism in European and international fora. By engaging Iran in tough dialogue through the European Union and United Nations machinery we hope to encourage better communication, maintain Iranian awareness of our concerns and, ultimately, to bring about a change for the better in their behaviour within the international community.

Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Misbarak Shah Geelani: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise, after consulting their European Partners if necessary, at the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva the demolition on 10 December of the homes of Syed Ali Geelani, Syed Misbarak Shah Geelani and their families in Kashmir.

Lord Chesham: Since we do not have independent evidence as to the cause of this incident, we do not intend to raise it at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva next year.

Yugoslav Federation

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to commission, along with other west European governments, a study of the steps by which those governments came to recognise, and to accord permanent international boundaries to, certain component parts of the Yugoslav Federation, and how those boundaries accord with the relevant CSCE provisions and with the opinions of the citizens of these areas; and if they do not intend so to do, whether and if so how they propose to ensure that such steps are avoided on other occasions.

Lord Chesham: We do not intend to commission a study. Each case of the recognition of a state is considered on its own merits.

Greece and Turkey: US Funding

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they and other NATO allies were consulted by the United States over its funding of "multi-year military modernisation programmes" in both Greece and Turkey.

Lord Chesham: The US Government does not consult the UK over its funding of bilateral military co-operation programmes for Greece and Turkey. I would not expect the US Government to consult other NATO allies either on this.

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Gen. John Galvin

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether General John Galvin, the former NATO Commander for Europe, has been acting as military adviser to the Bosnian Government in recent months, and if so whether it was by agreement with either NATO or the United Nations.

Lord Chesham: John Galvin, a retired general, and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has in the past provided military advice to the Bosniac-Croat Federation. This arrangement was a purely bilateral one between the United States and the Bosniac-Croat Federation.

Bosnia: NATO Air Power

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it was decided earlier this year within NATO that Croatian infringements of ceasefires and of human rights should not provoke NATO bombing, and if so whether this was at US insistence.

Lord Chesham: The use of NATO air power in Bosnia was authorised under UNSCRs 816 and 844. This allowed UN commanders on the ground to call for air strikes should there have been: (a) an attack on a UN safe area; or (b) a breach of the no-fly zone. NATO aircraft were also able to retaliate in self defence. NATO had authority to respond in this way to attacks in Bosnia from any side. NATO had no authority for the use of air power against Croatian government forces in Croatia.

Bosnia: Allied Intelligence Co-operation

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is the case, as reported in the press, that "US-German [intelligence] co-operation intensified after Washington reduced intelligence co-operation with British and French services in September 1994", and that "Washington took this step because London and Paris has accused the CIA of interference in Bosnia in support of the Sarajevo government".

Lord Chesham: It would not be appropriate to comment on the intelligence relationship between two close allies.

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