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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The UK remains committed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration, to supporting the Middle East Peace Process, and to the struggle against terrorism.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We exchange information and views on a regular basis with our NATO allies on the various national programmes which are in place to assist the process of denuclearisation in the former Soviet Union.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We support the implementation of UN Security Resolution 425, which calls for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. We also support Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and would like to see a situation where there is no need for any foreign troops to be stationed in Lebanon: the withdrawal of all foreign forces was envisaged in the Taif agreement of 1989 that ended the civil war. We believe that the best hope for a durable settlement is through the Middle East Peace Process.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Lebanon is eligible for assistance from the EU in the form of grants and European Investment Bank loans. This includes reconstruction assistance. The World Bank recently agreed a 50 million dollars loan to Lebanon specifically for emergency reconstruction and rehabilitation. Other donors are also contributing. The uses to which these funds are put are determined by discussions between donors and the Government of Lebanon.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): The Culture/Audiovisual Council on 11th June, which I attended, made significant progress in a number of areas, with the UK's interests defended in all the agreements which were reached.
The council achieved a common position on the revision of the 1989 Broadcasting Directive ("Television Without Frontiers"), and in so doing, secured all the key UK objectives-retention of the existing quota arrangements, clearer jurisdiction criteria, and updating of provisions on advertising, teleshopping
The council also reached agreement on the substance of the Ariane programme on books and reading, the Raphael programme in the field of cultural heritage, a resolution on access to culture, and a resolution on electronic publishing and libraries. However I blocked adoption of these items in accordance with the policy announced by the Prime Minister on 21st May in another place in response to the "BSE crisis".
Three "A" points were considered. An agreement to allow Andorra to enter goods into free circulation on its own behalf instead of through member states of the EC, and a procedural item relating to a proposed regulation concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients were approved. In accordance with the policy to which I have referred, I blocked the adoption of a council resolution on industrial co-operation with other regional areas and third countries which was subject to unanimity decision.
Lord Inglewood: The policy which the Sports Council announced on 8 May is to provide a wide range of high quality services, including specialist advice, to all recognised sporting activities while identifying a number of activities for which an enhanced service can be provided. The Sports Council has assessed each activity against a set of criteria related to the development potential of the sport and governing body, and their particular relevance to the two main emphases of the new English Sports Council, young people and the development of excellence. The Sports Council has informed angling governing bodies, including the Salmon and Trout Association, that, while angling will continue to receive a wide range of services from the Sports Council, there are other activities which ranked higher against the criteria and should receive an enhanced service.
Lord Inglewood: The Sports Council has received representations about resource allocations in respect of angling, ice skating and volleyball since it announced its new focus on the provision of services and support for governing bodies. These activities will continue to receive a wide range of high quality services and support from the English Sports Council but are not included on the list of activities that will receive the Sports Council's enhanced service.
The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The department and its agencies have policies which lay down their commitment to equal opportunities and affirm their opposition to discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or disability. Measures have been introduced to combat both direct and indirect discrimination. All personnel practices, including recruitment and promotion are monitored to ensure that they are fair. All staff responsible for recruitment and promotion receive equal opportunities awareness training. Through the implementation of these policies, the department aims to ensure that the best person, regardless of race, gender or disability, is recruited for the job.
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