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Congo (Brazzaville)

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is the practice of Her Majesty's Government to recognise states (including the Republic of the Congo), not governments. We deplore the violent overthrow of constitutional governments and unlawful military interventions.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government and the international community are deeply concerned about the situation in Congo (Brazzaville). The UN Secretary-General issued a report on 21 October. On 22 October the UN Security Council discussed the situation, with particular emphasis on the humanitarian problem. The UN will continue to follow events closely and the Security Council will meet again soon to discuss possible further action.

Ascension Island: Radar Site

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The new radar site on Ascension Island is undertaking an investigation into the distortion of very high frequency/ultra high frequency signals as they travel out of the atmosphere and back to earth. The US will share the results of their experiments with us if we so wish.

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Chadrel Rinpoche

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Chinese authorities to release the former abbot of Tashilunpo monastery in southern Tibet, Chadrel Rinpoche, who was sentenced last April to six years in jail for "conspiring to split China and for leaking state secrets"; and whether they will propose that the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention should seek an invitation to visit Tibet to investigate a report, published in September by a seven member delegation of the German Bundestag's subcommittee on human rights, that 200 monks and nuns are arbitrarily imprisoned in Tibet.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 18 September a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Department for International Development delegation visiting China raised Chadrel Rinpoche's case with the authorities. The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention visited Tibet during their recent 10 day trip to China.

Nuclear Weapons: Prohibition Goal

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take in the light of a recent Gallup poll which showed an 87 per cent. majority in favour of the Government negotiating a global treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have consistently made clear that our goal is the global elimination of nuclear weapons. We are considering the best way to encourage progress towards this goal, particularly in the context of the strategic defence review.

Rwanda Refugees: Armoured Land Rovers

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision they have taken on licensing the export of armoured Land Rover vehicles to the UN High Commission for Refugees in Rwanda.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has recommended approval of an export licence for this item, which has been issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. UN Security Council Resolution 1011 prohibits the export of military goods to non-governmental agents in Rwanda. However, the UN secretariat have confirmed that this embargo does not cover the export of equipment destined for UN operations. This export follows similar exemptions made for UNHCR in the fomer Republic of Yugoslavia.

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Argentina: Arms Embargo Exception

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any new exceptions to the arms embargo on Argentina.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government have recently approved the export of a single sporting rifle to Argentina following its repair by the original manufacturer in the UK. This is an exception, but not a change, to the embargo.

Former Yugoslavia: Riot Shields

Lord Grenfell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce what decision they have taken on licensing the export of riot shields to the United States Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government recently approved the export of 340 riot shields of UK manufacture to the US Army for use in Bosnia to protect US SFOR troops. Given the tension in Bosnia around the time of the municipal elections on 13-14 September we were glad to be able to approve this export as an exception to the EU common position on arms exports to the former Yugoslavia. This decision does not affect the Government's continued support for the EU common position.

Khamisiyah Weapons Dump: 32 Field Hospital

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces and other individuals at the site of 32 Field Hospital may have been affected by chemical agents released following the bombing of the Khamisiyah weapons dump on or after 4 March 1991; whether they had any protective equipment or medication; and whether there has been any follow-up of their medical cases; and,

    Whether, at the time of the bombing of the Khamisiyah weapons dump on 4 March 1991, there were any means of measuring the levels of nerve gas or other chemicals released in the vicinity of 32 Field Hospital; and if there were, what were the levels.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): In the time available so far it has not been possible to complete appropriate inquiries in order to provide an answer to these questions. As soon as I have sufficient information, I will write to the noble Countess. A copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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African Group: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the proposals made by the Africa Group for an agreed programme to ensure that, after a transitional period, no nation emits more than its fair share of a safe global limit for greenhouse gas emissions and what their response will be at the Third Climate Change Convention in December.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Government recognise the importance of long term reductions in emissions taking into account issues of equality and the need for developing countries to develop their economies and combat poverty. The proposals of the Africa Group merit consideration as one of a number of approaches to the long term control of greenhouse gas emissions. In the meantime we believe that developed countries must take the lead and agree at Kyoto to making legally-binding significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions after 2000. The EU proposal for a 15 per cent. reduction in emissions by 2010 provides the best way of achieving this.

Asylum Seekers Housed by Kent County Council

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum seekers from eastern Europe have been housed by Kent County Council.

Baroness Hayman: On 27 October, Kent County Council's social services department was accommodating approximately 215 asylum seekers from eastern Europe, of whom more than 100 were children. In addition, on the same date, Dover District Council was accommodating 44 asylum-seeking families from eastern Europe under the homelessness legislation.

Single Vehicle Approval Test

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to recall the products of the five kit and replica manufacturers given single vehicle approval (SVA) after 1 January 1998 for re-test in order for these products to be re-tested in accordance with the amendments they propose to announce in their final SVA specifications contained in the Motor Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 1996 which came into force on 1 July 1997 and which have been the subject of a consultation exercise that will end on 14 November 1997.

Baroness Hayman: No. Once a vehicle passes the single vehicle approval (SVA) test it can be licensed and registered for use on roads in Britain. If elements of the test are changed as proposed in our current consultation,

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the changes will not be retrospective; existing Minister's approval certificates issued under the existing SVA requirements will remain valid.


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