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Lord Chesham: The Hong Kong (Overseas Public Servants) Act 1996, which received Royal Assent in February, provides for a compensation and pension package involving compensation and resettlement payments to Hong Kong HMOCS Officers.
Parliamentary approval of this new expenditure is being sought in the 1996-97 Main Estimate for ODA's Overseas Superannuation Vote (Class II, Vote 6). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £3 million is being met by a repayable advance from the Contingency Fund.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Israel has the right to employ foreign workers if it chooses to do so. We believe, however, that in the interest of the Peace Process, Israel should be promoting Palestinian economic well-being. We therefore encourage it to take steps in this direction.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We fully support UN Security Council Resolution 425. We call for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, as envisaged in the Taif Agreement of 1989. We believe that the Middle East Peace Process provides the best chance for a lasting settlement in the region, and will continue to work actively in support of it.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The experts serving on the Human Rights Committee are from Australia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Mauritius, UK, Venezuela, Chile, Germany, Ecuador, Egypt, France, India, USA, Israel and Japan.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The 18 experts of the Human Rights Committee are elected for a term of four years. Elections for half the seats are held every two years, most recently in 1992 and 1994. September 1994--28 nominations for 9 seats
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Special Rapporteur produced two progress reports and a final report, which have been submitted to the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The Sub-Commission has urged the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat), to take full account of the views contained in his final report. The progress reports and the final report will be placed in the Library of the House.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The St. Helena Government expect to complete their analysis of the Airport Questionnaire Survey by the end of June. An announcement of the results will be made shortly thereafter by the St. Helena Government.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Information on the value of trains built but not yet approved by Railtrack is not held by British Rail, Railtrack or the department, as this is a matter for the vehicle owners. I understand that some of the trains awaiting safety approval are not yet ready for operational use because of other engineering reasons. The safety assessment procedures are therefore not delaying the introduction of these trains at present.
Railtrack has advised me that the timescales for preparation of safety cases are driven by manufacturers and operators. Where the builder has developed the safety case in parallel with vehicle design, acceptance by Railtrack has proved relatively simple. In other cases where the safety case is being developed retrospectively, timescales for production are proving long. Acceptance of a well-reasoned safety case can be achieved in weeks.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): In my statement on 26th March, Lords Official Report col. WA 129-131, I announced an increase in the budget and the operational arrangements for the Access to Work programme in 1996-97. I also said that particular factors applied in the case of the self-employed, and that the help to be provided to them would be considered further.
From 1st June, Access to Work will meet up to 90 per cent. of approved costs over a threshold of £100 per year for all new applications. This means that a greater proportion of costs will be met than for employees generally. The programme will also provide 100 per cent. of all approved costs in excess of £10,000 over three years. In addition to this, existing commitments for the self employed will continue to be met for a transitional period of three years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The length of time that a self-destruct mine remains active before it is destroyed varies according to the type of mine and its operational role. At the United Nations Weaponry Convention Review Conference, which concluded on 3rd May 1996, agreement was reached on the duration and reliability of self-destruct mechanisms fitted to anti-personnel mines. This requires that any
The United Kingdom does not currently have any anti-personnel mines with this capability, but if it becomes necessary to procure future stocks, these would comply with the minimum requirement set at this conference.
Earl Howe: We have studied my noble friend's speech at Fulton and we share her concern about the emerging risks posed by ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. As the noble Lord is aware, we are considering how we should respond to these risks, including whether we should acquire a ballistic missile defence capability.
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