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16 Mar 1998 : Column WA93

Written Answers

Monday, 16th March 1998.

Africa: Peacekeeping Forces

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they intend to support a strengthened international peacekeeping force in Africa.[HL955]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): There is no international peacekeeping force in Africa as such. However, the United Nations has two peacekeeping operations in Angola (MONUA) and Western Sahara (MINURSO). Regional African peacekeeping forces are deployed in the Central African Republic (MISAB), Liberia (ECOMOG) and Sierra Leone (ECOMOG).

Azerbaijan: Weapons Embargo

Lord Grenfell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will continue to uphold the OSCE embargo on the export of weapons and munitions to Azerbaijan.[HL1043]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government remain committed to the OSCE embargo against both Azerbaijan and Armenia, which the UK interprets as covering all goods and technology controlled under entries in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 (commonly known as the Military List).

Following consultation with this department and the Ministry of Defence, and in line with the defence export criteria of July 1997, the Department for Trade and Industry recently issued a licence for the export of equipment containing military explosives, for use in the oil industry in Azerbaijan. While the grant of this licence constitutes an exception to the UK's interpretation of the scope of the embargo, it is in no way inconsistent with the purpose of the embargo and our continuing commitment to uphold it.

Iraq: UN Resolution 1154

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will elucidate their interpretation of United Nations Security Council resolutions which might authorise further military attacks on Iraq without further recourse to the Security Council: whether this interpretation is agreed by other members of the United Nations Security Council, and if so which.[HL935]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The views of Her Majesty's Government on the interpretation of

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Security Council Resolution 1154 were set out in the statement made by Sir John Weston, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on adoption of the resolution; a copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

The legal justification for any military action in the future would depend upon all the circumstances at the time.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the statement made by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Bill Richardson, that Resolution No. 1154 (1998) "is drafted so it is perfectly clear that any member can take unilateral action if it feels there is a grievous violation" of the United Nations-Iraq Aide Memoire (International Herald Tribune, 4 March).[HL936]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The views of Her Majesty's Government on the interpretation of Resolution 1154 were set out in the statement made by Sir John Weston, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on adoption of the resolution; a copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have agreed to take part in any unilateral military action which the United States might take in pursuit of its interpretation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154 (1998), or to support such action.[HL937]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government would prefer to ensure compliance by Iraq with its obligations to the United Nations without the resort to force. But, as Security Council Resolution 1154 makes clear, if Iraq violates the agreement signed in Baghdad with the UN Secretary-General the severest consequences will follow. It is not sensible to speculate at this stage on what those consequences might be.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications for international law if Resolution 1154 (1998) (or any other United Nations Security Council Resolution) is interpreted by one or more, but not by all, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as authorising them to take "unilateral (military) action", and if they will urgently refer the matter to the World Court for an opinion on the lawfulness of any such unilateral military action.[HL938]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: All members of the United Nations are required to comply with mandatory resolutions of the Security Council. Security Council Resolution 1154 was adopted unanimously by the Security Council. All members agreed that further violations of Iraq's obligations under relevant Security Council Resolutions and the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Baghdad would be followed by the severest consequences. It is not sensible at this stage to speculate on what those might be, nor to seek to involve the World Court in this matter.

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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they consider are the implications for other United Nations Resolutions, which establish various prohibitions relating to Iraq, of a decision by the United States to interpret Resolution 1154 (1998) unilaterally, and whether embargoes, sanctions etc., may in future be unilaterally interpreted and acted upon by all members of the Security Council in accordance with their feelings.[HL939]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: All members of the United Nations are required to comply with mandatory resolutions of the Security Council. It is not sensible to speculate on the consequences of hypothetical decisions by other members of the Council.

Brookshaw v Chief Constable of North Wales

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the judgment of Mr. Justice Halbert in the case of Brookshaw v Chief Constable of North Wales Constabulary (27 June 1997, Mold Crown Court) the judge's signed order, the court record sheet, transcript of evidence and all other papers lodged before the Court.[HL888]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The judgment was of His Honour Judge Halbert. Arrangements have been made to place a copy of the court record sheets in the Library of the House. There is no signed order; the record sheet contains the appeal decision. Verbatim notes are not taken in this type of proceedings and therefore a transcript cannot be prepared. The other papers lodged before the court are privileged and cannot be supplied without the consent of the appellant's solicitors.

Treasury Solicitor: Appearances by Trainees

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many occasions the Treasury have used the service of trainee solicitors in County Court appearances.[HL848]

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Litigation for the Treasury is conducted by the Treasury Solicitor, who conducts litigation on behalf of a number of government departments. I am replying to this question since the Treasury Solicitor's Department falls within the Law Officers' responsibilities.

There is no record of a County Court appearance by a trainee solicitor on behalf of the Treasury. The Treasury Solicitor's Department has identified eight occasions on which trainee solicitors appeared in the County Court before the District Judge on applications in Chambers, in the last 12 months. This figure does not include occasions when private firms of solicitors, acting as

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agents for the Treasury Solicitor, may have used legal trainees.

The Treasury Solicitor, in common with private solicitors, is required to provide trainee solicitors with the opportunity to gain experience of the practice of advocacy and oral presentation skills.

Bone-in Beef Imports

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is permissible to sell beef on the bone in the United Kingdom from beef carcasses which have originated from countries considered to be free from BSE such as Germany, New Zealand or the United States.[HL870]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): No. Regulation 3(1) of the Beef Bones Regulations 1997 prohibits the sale of any bone-in beef to the ultimate consumer.There are no exemptions to this prohibition, irrespective of the BSE status of the country of origin. Beef may be imported on the bone but, like home produced supplies, must be deboned in a food premises before sale to the ultimate consumer.

Mr. James Penny

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will arrange for a review by the Medical and Scientific Panel of the Veterinary Products Committee of the circumstances which led to the death of Mr. James Penny of Yealdon, Leeds; and whether they will publish the results.[HL912]

Lord Donoughue: The terms of reference of the Medical and Scientific Panel include a requirement to evaluate and advise on research on organophosphorus (OP) sheep dip products in relation to possible human exposure, and to report to the Veterinary Products Committee. It has been reported that Mr. Penny died of acute strychnine poisoning. However, the panel would consider any new research on the human health effects of OP sheep dips that may have been presented to the Coroner's Court if it is made available.


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