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Zimbabwe: Land Ownership

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Zimbabwe Independence Constitution, agreed at Lancaster House, made no reference to citizenship as a condition of land ownership. Its Declaration of Rights offers, protection from arbitrary deprivation of any property, or interest in property. Many foreign companies and holders of non-Zimbabwe passports own land in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe: Land Acquisition

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with President Mugabe's policy of seizing farms for redesignation; and if not, what action they are taking to dissuade the Zimbabwean Government from land confiscation.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We recognise the need for land reform in Zimbabwe but do not support that Government's present programme of land acquisition. We have expressed to them our concern that their current action will damage the economy, undermine investor confidence and do nothing to help the poor. We have urged them to follow a carefully planned programme that is fair and transparent and aimed at poverty eradication.

Poland: NATO Membership

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications for NATO and for Poland's joining NATO, of that country's decision to equip itself for NATO membership with Israeli weapons systems that will require maintenance by Israeli personnel.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): It is the decision of any member country or prospective member country how, and from whom, they wish to equip their armed forces in order to maintain or meet the requirements for NATO membership. We are unaware of any final decision by the Polish Government to purchase either equipment or subsequent support facilities from Israel.


Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision they have reached on the future of HM Yacht "Britannia".

Lord Gilbert: We have decided that "Britannia" should be preserved for the wider public benefit, subject to the conclusion of satisfactory arrangements to safeguard her future appearance and use. Following an initial sift earlier this year on a wide range of proposals, seven very imaginative ideas have been considered in detail. We are grateful to all the organisations for their enthusiasm and hard work. Two proposals have been assessed as offering the best prospects for successful preservation, namely those for Edinburgh (Forth Ports plc) and Manchester (Peel Holdings plc). These two proposals stood out from all the rest with firm, costed plans for the appropriate preservation and care of "Britannia", and finance already in place. Detailed discussions will begin on these with a view to a final decision in the Spring. Her Majesty the Queen has been kept closely advised.

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Student Support

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of their proposals for the reform of student support, what support will be available to students in England and Wales through mandatory awards and student loans in the academic year 1998-99.

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The total level of support available to students through grant and loan together in 1998-99 will be 3 per cent. higher than for 1997-98, in line with forecast price increases. I am placing a memorandum in the Library giving full details of the new grant, loan and fee rates for 1998-99. These rates will be incorporated in the Education (Mandatory Awards) Regulations and the Education (Student Loans) Regulations to be laid before Parliament in due course.

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