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28 Jul 1997 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 28th July 1997.

Landmine Clearance: Bilateral Funding

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much in each of the past five years has been spent from the budget of each of the following departments on landmine clearance: Overseas Development Administration (Department for International Development), Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Bilateral funding for global mine clearance operations in the last five years is as follows:

£ million
Department 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97
ODA(DFID) 1.769 3.152 5.929 4.808 4.384
FCO 0.065

ODA(DFID) bilateral funding is augmented by over £7 million, being UK's share of the European Commission's mine clearance activities 1992-96/97.

Ministry of Defence also contributes towards demining operations, for example through the involvement of UK Armed Forces personnel in the monitoring and co-ordination of mine clearance operations by Bosnian authorities. It is not possible separately to identify the costs associated with these tasks.

Diplomats Withdrawn from UK Posts

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to the six diplomats who, with their families, were withdrawn from posts in the United Kingdom at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in which countries' diplomatic missions they were employed and what serious offences they were alleged to have committed.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The six diplomats, and their families, who were withdrawn from posts in the United Kingdom after representations from this department in 1996 were from the following missions:

    Honduras: fraud

    Jamaica: drink/driving

    Nigeria: fraud/deception

    Uganda: breach of the peace

    Zimbabwe: (1) drink/driving (2) assault/breach of the peace.

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Diplomats Alleged Serious Offences: Information

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to the 34 alleged serious offences by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1996, in which countries' diplomatic missions the persons concerned were employed.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The 34 alleged serious offences committed by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity in 1996 were from the following missions:

    3 offences Nigeria, Zimbabwe

    2 offences Commonwealth Secretariat, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uganda

    1 offence Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Gabon, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Uruguay, USA

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the figure of 34 alleged serious offences in 1996 by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity from a diplomatic community of 17,000 compares proportionately with other similar category offences committed by the population of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The figure of 34 alleged serious offences in 1996 by those entitled to diplomatic immunity (from a diplomatic community of 17,000) compares with similar offences committed by the population of the United Kingdom as follows:

Rate of Offenders per 17,000 population

Offence descriptionEngland and WalesNorthern IrelandDiplomatic Corps.
Breach of the peace632
Actual bodily harm13101

Information for Scotland has not been included in the Answer due to differences in both the legal system and procedure and the methods for recording statistical information.

Defence Exports: End-use

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 14 July (WA 93), when they expect to reach decisions on the methods and agencies to be used to monitor the end-uses of arms and ammunition exported from Britain; and how these decisions will be announced.

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Work to make good the Government's commitment to strengthen monitoring of end-use of defence exports is being taken forward alongside the Government's other commitments on export controls. We shall consider how best to announce the results once this work is complete.

General Affairs Council, 22 July

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will report on the outcome of the General Affairs Council on 22 July.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The 36 A Points in Document 9959/97, the text of which will be placed in the House Library as soon as it is available, were approved.

The Council noted the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament, listed in Document 8776/97. A copy of that document will also be placed in the House Library as soon as it is available.

The Council began with a debate on the Luxembourg presidency programme. The Luxembourg Foreign Minister outlined their priorities: the Special European Council on Employment in October; preparation for enlargement; relations with Africa; and the fight against drugs. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs made clear that we want to take forward the Agenda 2000 package presented by the Commission, with a view to the early launching of the next stage in the enlargement process. We also need to ensure that the EU focuses on issues of concern to its citizens: above all on jobs.

The Commission presented its Agenda 2000 Communication (covering enlargement, policy reform and future financing). Member states held an initial exchange of views. Three (Italy, Sweden and Denmark) opposed the Commission's recommendation that the EU should negotiate only with those central European applicants which it judged sufficiently prepared. There was a general recognition of the need for policy reform, but some of the principal CAP and structural and cohesion fund beneficiaries made clear their concerns. Detailed discussion will begin in the autumn, with a view to the Luxembourg European Council taking the necessary decisions so that accession negotiations can begin in early 1998, during the UK's Presidency of the EU.

On Iran, the Council agreed the continuing need for EU solidarity, including on the return of EU Ambassadors to Tehran.

The EU special envoy on the Middle East peace process briefed the Council on developments in the region. The Council discussed ways in which the European Union could contribute to ending the current deadlock and to a resumption of negotiations on the basis of the agreements signed between the two sides. The Council had meetings with the Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy, and the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.

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The Council discussed a report from the European Commission on exports to the European Union from the Occupied Territories in the context of the European Community interim association agreements with Israel and the PLO.

The Council briefly discussed the draft 1998 EC budget and in particular the level of structural funds payments.

The presidency and the Netherlands put forward new proposals on the trade aspects of the overseas countries and territories mid-term review, including quotas for rice (160,000 tonnes) and sugar (3,000 tonnes). There was no discussion and the item was remitted for further discussion in the working group, with a view to a decision being taken at the 15 September General Affairs Council.

The Council agreed, by a qualified majority, the framework agreement on humane trapping standards and a list of countries from which the import of furs into the European Union will be permitted. It also agreed a declaration that the Commission would do everything possible to accelerate the implementation of the agreement. We argued that the Community should not put its name to an agreement which continued to allow the use of leghold traps, which we consider inhumane. The United Kingdom therefore voted against the framework agreement, with the support of Austria and Belgium. We also tabled a minutes statement explaining why we had voted against the proposal and pointing out that we consider the agreement to be an interim measure only and expect work to continue to ensure that the use of leghold traps is brought to an end as quickly as possible.

The Council discussed the proposed EU/Jordan association agreement. We hope that this can be concluded as soon as possible.

The Council reiterated EU support for OAU/UN efforts to resolve the crisis in Congo (Brazzaville). An EU contribution to any inter-African force is under consideration.

The Council welcomed the holding of acceptable parliamentary elections on 29 June and 6 July in Albania. They urged Albanians to respect the results and to pursue the process of national reconciliation. The EU is committed to continuing its assistance to Albania, on condition that the Albanian authorities work towards stabilisation, democratisation and economic recovery. Law and order must be restored, while respecting human rights.

The EU will co-operate closely with other international organisations under the co-ordinating framework of the OSCE. They encourage a "common international agenda" on Albania, in co-operation with the Albanian authorities.

The High Representative, Carlos Westendorp, reported to the Council on the situation in Bosnia. The Council condemned terrorist acts against SFOR and other international organisations and reiterated the international community's determination to penalise those responsible for failures to comply with the commitments agreed at the meeting of the steering board of the Peace Implementation Council at Sintra on 30 May.

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