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29 Apr 1996 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Monday, 29th April 1996.

Contempt of Court Act 1981: Interpretation

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

    Further to the Written Answer given by the Lord Chancellor on 3rd April 1996 (WA 47), whether they consider that English courts are obliged to interpret the relevant provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 in accordance with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 27th March 1996 in the case of Goodwin v. United Kingdom.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): If Section 10 or Section 14 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 falls to be interpreted in future litigation by an English court, it will be for that court to decide what weight to attach to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the circumstances of the litigation.

Millennium Exhibition Site: Funding

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contributions have been promised toward the cost of the millennium site in Greenwich and by whom; and

    What will be the cost of clearing the pollution of the millennium site at Greenwich caused by the operations of the former gasworks, and how much of that cost will be met by the former owners.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): This is a matter for the Millennium Commission. I have therefore asked the Chairman of the Millennium Commission to write to the noble Lord and place copies of her reply in the Libraries of the House.

Northern Ireland Policing: Community Consultation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will deposit in the Libraries of Parliament copies of the evidence received from the public in the Community Consultation on the Future of Policing in Northern Ireland, together with any comments or views subsequently expressed by the Secretary of State, chief constable or police authority, and if not, why not.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): The Police Authority for Northern Ireland is a statutory body established under the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970. A copy of its Community

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Consultation Report has been placed in the Libraries of Parliament, as have the press releases issued by the Minister of State just prior to publication and by the RUC on the day of publication. The Government have written to the chairman of the police authority to begin dialogue on how the conclusions and proposals in the report should be taken forward.

I understand that the evidence on which the police authority's report is based is threefold; letters and submissions, seminars and a public opinion survey. The letters and submissions as well as the seminars were carried out on an "in confidence" basis and it would not be appropriate to place further details of these in the Libraries. All the tables compiled from the public opinion survey are contained in Appendix 6 to the report.

Foreign Affairs Council and IGC Ministerial Meeting, 22nd April

Lord Lucas of Chilworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council and the IGC Ministerial meeting on 22nd April.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and my honourable friend David Davis attended these meetings, where the outcome was as follows:

The A items listed in document 6507/96, which will be placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as it is available, were approved except item 6 on Former Yugoslavia, which became a B item for substantive discussion.

The Council took note of resolutions in EP documents 5779/96 (PE-RE 24) and 6210/96 (PE/RE 27). Copies of these documents will be deposited in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are available.

The Council agreed conclusions on Former Yugoslavia; the critical dialogue with Iran; and the US "Helms/Burton" legislation on trade with Cuba.

A declaration on the latest developments in Lebanon and conclusions on the situation in Niger were agreed. The Council also expressed its sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Cairo on 18th April.

The Council discussed the MEDA regulation on aid to countries in the Mediterranean. While no agreement was reached at this Council, the Presidency expressed hope for agreement during the next Council, scheduled for 13th May. Ministers also discussed Former Yugoslavia; and Slovenia.

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The Council discussed the continuing export ban on British beef products. The Secretary of State underlined the urgent need for progress towards lifting the ban.

In the margins of the Council, Partnership and Co-operation Agreements were signed with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The sixth EU/Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Joint Council and Ministerial meeting also took place, followed by a dinner. Ministers discussed the prospects for a free trade agreement and agreed to set up a joint EU/GCC Working Group on regional security in the Gulf.

The second Ministerial session of the IGC also took place on 22nd April. Ministers considered a range of issues, under the broad heading of "the citizen and the Union" on the basis of eight questions in a Presidency note (doc no Conf 3843/95) which has been placed in the Library of the House. The issues included: the workings of the Justice and Home Affairs pillar; EU citizenship; fundamental rights; the employment and environment provisions of the Treaty; subsidiarity; and transparency.

We reiterated the positions that the UK representative had already set out in the two preceding Working Party sessions on 1st/2nd and 15th/16th April, in particular that intergovernmental co-operation was the appropriate model for Justice and Home Affairs and that, in general, this was working well; that businesses, not new Treaty provisions on employment, created jobs; that neither strengthening the concept of EU citizenship, nor writing fundamental rights into the Treaty which were already protected in national laws would be likely to bring Europe closer to the citizen; and that subsidiarity should be further entrenched in the Treaty.

The Ministerial session was preceded by an exchange of views with the European Parliament President and two representatives of the European Parliament.

Diplomatic Missions: Parking Fines

Lord Pender asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish figures recording the number of parking fines incurred by diplomatic missions in London during 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: During 1995, the London diplomatic missions incurred a total of 1,586 unpaid parking fines, which is less than half the 1994 figure of 3,613. In February this year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions to give them an opportunity to pay off all outstanding parking tickets, or appeal to have the ticket cancelled. Since then payments totalling £11,600 have been received. The biggest offender is the Nigerian mission, which has appeared at or near the top of the list for the third year running. The attached table shows only missions which have 11 or more fines outstanding.

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Unpaid Parking Fines

PositionDiplomatic Mission19951994
22Russian Federation1531
32Ivory Coast1140

AEA: Detection of Clandestine Nuclear Activities

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What initiatives the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was referring to when he recently said that "we are currently supporting a number of initiatives intended to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime". (House of Commons, Hansard, col. 280), including the International Atomic Energy Authority's "ability to detect clandestine nuclear activities", and whether "clandestine nuclear activities" cover those allegedly being carried out in Israel.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The measures envisaged to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency's capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities emphasise greater agency access to and analysis of information on states' nuclear-related activities. Advanced technical measures, including the use of environmental sampling techniques and unattended monitoring equipment, are also to be used.

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The full range of these proposals is still under consideration in the board of governors. It is not yet decided to what extent they will apply in states such as Israel which do not have full-scope safeguards agreements with the agency.

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