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5 Jul 1996 : Column WA119

Written Answers

Friday, 5th July 1996.

Balibo, East Timor: Death of Journalists

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the report by Mr. Tom Sherman on the deaths of Australian-based journalists at Balibo, East Timor, on 16th October 1975, which finds that two British citizens Mr. Brian Peters and Mr. Malcolm Rennie, were killed by members of an attacking force under Indonesian officers, they will ask the Indonesian Government to arrest former Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, the field commander of the assault on Balibo, and former Major Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah, who was in direct command of the Balibo troops, on murder charges; and whether they will ask the Indonesian Government to make a formal apology to the relatives of the British victims and offer them appropriate compensation.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Sherman report concludes that there is sufficient credible evidence to suggest that it is more likely than not that the journalists who died at Balibo on 16th October 1975 were killed by members of an attacking force under Indonesian officers consisting of Indonesian irregular troops and anti-Fretilin East Timorese, in circumstances of continuing fighting. In the light of this conclusion we have contacted the Australian and Indonesian Governments to indicate our continued close interest in this matter. We have also told the Indonesian Government that we await with interest their response to the Australian request for their views on how to seek further clarification, within Indonesia, of the events surrounding the deaths, as suggested by Mr. Sherman, with a view to establishing the full truth of what went on. Pending that response it would be premature to address the possibilities proposed by the noble Lord.

Strategic Defence Initiative: Collaboration with United States

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether British collaboration with the United States in Strategic Defence Initiative programmes as envisaged in the 1985 memorandum of understanding was conditional on the United States' acceptance of the four points that Prime Minister Thatcher and President Reagan agreed at Camp David in 1984; whether these have since been dropped by the United States Administration; and, if so, whether new conditions safeguarding British and international interests in the ABM field have been agreed in place of the Camp David conditions, and, if so, what.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The four points agreed by my noble friend Lady Thatcher and President Reagan related to the then United States Strategic

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Defence Initiative (SDI). The UK is not party to the ABM Treaty. But we remain in close contact with the US in this area.

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: Accession

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer given by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, on 20th June (HL. deb., cols. 455-7), what recent "uncertainties" concerning the fisheries around Rockall have arisen to cause them not to accede to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (and the ancillary agreement) in time to nominate and vote for candidates to the Law of the Sea Tribunal.

    Why their uncertainty about the fisheries round Rockall, which represent 0.2 per cent. of Scottish catches, has remained undetected as "complicated" until now, despite their statements over the years that they accepted these parts of the UN Law of the Sea as international customary law; and which department of state has raised them at this late stage.

    In what ways UK fishery limits currently fail to coincide with the UN Law of the Sea provisions.

    What amendment of the Scottish fishery limits could not be secured by Order in Council under Section 1(2) the Fishery Limits Act 1976; and, if any, what has delayed such action.

    Whether, in view of the provisions of the convention establishing the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and of the European Union's common fisheries policy relating to these areas, they have consulted with ICES or with DG XIV of the European Commission.

    With what national bodies and industries in the maritime field which have collaborated with them since 1974 in negotiating the UNCLOS texts they have consulted over their decisions not to accede in time to nominate to or vote for the Law of the Sea Tribunal, and what has been the reaction to their decision.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In the light of a number of continuing uncertainties in the situation with regard to fisheries issues, the Government have concluded that now is not an appropriate time to accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The timing of accession remains under review and Parliament will be informed as soon as the Government have taken a decision. The candidate for the Law of the Sea Tribunal nominated by Her Majesty's Government has also been nominated by France, and therefore remains eligible. Her Majesty's Government strongly support his candidacy.

Measuring British fishery limits from Rockall is believed to be inconsistent with the convention's provision that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone. Any amendment to British fishery limits can be made by Order in Council under Section 1(2) of the Fishery Limits Act 1976.

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The Government have concluded that no such amendment should be made at the present time.

The Government's position in relation to the convention is not a matter for either ICES or the European Commission. Neither did the Government consult other outside bodies on the timing of accession.

Antiquities: Code of Practice for Dealers

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, on 23rd April 1966 (HL Deb. Col. 1013) whether they will place in the Library a copy of the "code of practice agreeing not to deal in illegally excavated or exported antiquities" to which "members of the United Kingdom antiquities trade subscribe"; and which members of the United Kingdom antiquities trade and which auction houses are subscribers to the code, and whether the London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association has subscribed to it.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): A copy of the code of practice has been deposited in the Library today, together with a list of signatories. The Association of Art and Antique Dealers (formerly the London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association) has not signed the code. However, the association is a member of CINOA (Confederation Internationale des Negociants en Oeuvres d'Art), which has a similar code of practice. I have placed a copy in the Library.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any procedures to monitor the working of the code of practice agreeing not to deal in illegally excavated or exported antiquities to which members of the United Kingdom antiquities trade subscribe, and whether in any recorded case evident infractions of the code have led to disciplinary or punitive action or critical comment.

Lord Inglewood: It is for the members of the United Kingdom antiquities trade to monitor those members who have subscribed to the voluntary code of practice and to apply any appropriate sanctions for infraction of the code. This is an internal matter for the trade, and not one in which the Government are involved.

Defence Procurement and the UK-US Defence Trade

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they have evaluated the political implications of the approaching large-scale defence procurements; and, following those procurements, how they propose to make sure that the United Kingdom's defence business relationship with the United States is balanced.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Whether it is appropriate to do so, international political considerations are taken into account, along with all other relevant factors, in our procurement decision-making process. These are geared to providing the necessary equipment which offers the best overall value for money for our Armed Forces. Her Majesty's Government will continue to promote on a regular basis the need for a visible two-way street in defence trade between the UK and the US, and in particular the need for reciprocal market access, giving UK industry a fair chance to compete for US requirements.

Ballistic Missile Defence: UK-US Government-to-government Contracts

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list all the government-to-government research contracts; information exchange arrangements; joint trials and experiments and direct contracts with UK companies and universities' currently taking place under the 1985 memorandum of understanding concerning the Strategic Defence Initiative and successor US anti-ballistic missile defence programmes.

Earl Howe: Government-to-government arrangements for US funded work performed by the UK are called letters of offer and acceptance (LOAs). Since the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries in December 1985, 27 such LOAs have been awarded, amounting to a total value of 115 million dollars, with the work being carried out by UK industry and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The purpose of two arrangements is classified; the remainder are as follows:


    UK SDI European Architecture Study

    European Battle Management Command, Control and Communications

    Electromagnetic Railgun

    Countermeasures to SDI components

    Laser Impulse Coupling/Interaction

    European Test Bed Requirements Study

    Catalysts for CO2 Laser System

    Advanced Sensor Hardening

    Higher Operating Temperature Infra-Red Detectors

    Delay Lines

    UK Extended Air Defence Test Bed

    Artificial Intelligence Discrimination

    Data Fusion Demonstrator

    Multifunction Electronically Scanned Adaptive Radar Trials

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    UK Architecture Study Follow-on

    Lethality Database

    Sensor Hardening (follow-on-Studies)

    Phase Conjugation programme

    Target Orientated Tracking System

    Evolution and Testing of Infra-Red Window Materials

    Lethality Technology

    Threat Generation Study

    Space Technology Research Vehicle 2

    Interceptor Avionics

Under the terms of the 1985 MoU, exchange of relevant research information is undertaken by a number of SDI collaboration and research (SCORE) groups and sub-groups, covering a wide area of ballistic missile defence (BMD) related technologies. These are supported by an exchange of scientist programme, under which UK scientists are invited to spend periods working at various US research establishments and vice versa.

Joint trials and experiments are undertaken as and when the opportunity arises, allowing the sharing of research data to mutual benefit. The detail of the majority of these trials is classified.

Since 1985, over 80 direct contracts have been awarded to UK firms and universities. Details of these are a matter for the parties concerned.

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