Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Department of Health: Cash Limits

Baroness Gould of Potternewtown asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Subject to parliamentary approval, the cash limit for Class XI, Vote 1 (Hospital, community health, family health and

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA23

related services, England) will be increased by £6,600,000 (from £31,385,613,000 to £31,392,213,000). This allows for a transfer of £6,600,000 from Class IX, Vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services) to reflect the initial transfer of funding responsibilities for students in health care professions.

The cash limit for Class XI, Vote 2 (Department of Health, administration, miscellaneous health and personal social services, England) will be reduced by £1,130,000 (£75,000 running costs), from £1,097,507,000 to £1,096,377,000. This reduction allows for the transfer of responsibility for childcare and early years policy to Class IX, Vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services) as announced by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to Parliament on 27 March 1998 at column 296.

The Department of Health's gross running cost limit will be increased by £4,425,000 from £258,490,000 to £262,915,000 for additional work being carried out by the National Health Service Pensions Agency on missold pensions (£4,500,000) less part of the transfer mentioned above.

All increases will either be offset by savings, increased receipts or transfers to or from other Votes and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

North Sea Oil and Gas Tax Revenues

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What have been the sums of money paid to the Treasury in each of the last five years from the oil industry.[HL2238]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Annual government revenues from North Sea oil and gas production were published in the 1997 edition of Inland Revenue Statistics, table 11.15. Figures for 1997-98 were updated in Table B9 of the March 1998 Financial Statement and Budget Report.

Bosnia: Export of Bomb Disposal Equipment

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an export licence for the supply of bomb disposal equipment to the Ministry of the Interior, Sarajevo Canton, Bosnia, has been approved.[HL2417]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Government recently approved the export of a complete disruptor set and a box of 100 cartridges to the Ministry of the Interior, Sarajevo Canton, in Bosnia to enable local police bomb disposal teams to defuse bombs placed in the city by

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA24

criminal and terrorist elements. Given the threat which these improvised explosive devices pose to civilians who are trying to rebuild normal, unthreatened lives in the city, we were glad to be able to approve this export as an exception to our interpretation of the EU arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia. This decision does not affect the Government's continued support of the EU common position on arms exports to the former Yugoslavia.

UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture that contracts with relevant organisations should not normally be funded for periods exceeding 36 months so as to bring the fund into line with the European Commission Budget Chapter B7-70, European Initiative for Democracy and the Protection of Human Rights.[HL2108]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Nations Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture (VFVT) make grants to non-governmental organisations and other groups with relevant expertise. Projects are funded on the basis of an implementation period of no more than 12 months, although further funding is considered on the basis of a fresh application. VFVT do not enter into contracts with their partners, but operate on the basis of an exchange of letters.

Indonesia: Release of Political Prisoners

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to President Habibie of Indonesia for the release of all political prisoners, and particularly of Xanana Gusmao, the East Timorese leader who is serving a 20-year sentence of imprisonment.[HL2109]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have on a number of occasions, most recently at the European Council in Cardiff on 15-16 June, called on the Indonesian Government to release all political prisoners, including those from East Timor.

In his capacity as representative of the Presidency of the European Union the Minister of State, Mr. Fatchett, visited Xanana Gusmao in prison in Jakarta on 28 May. He also stressed to the Indonesian Government the importance of Gusmao's early release, which would allow the dialogue on East Timor to be taken forward. This call was repeated at the EU General Affairs Council on 8 June. The European Council in Cardiff on 15-16 June agreed to continue to press for Xanana Gusmao's early release.

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA25

Turkey: Assault Rifles

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that assault rifles sold by the United Kingdom companies to Turkey, or manufactured there under licence from United Kingdom companies, would not be used for purposes of internal repression.[HL2110]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are not aware to date of any request to export such items from the UK under this Government. All such applications to export, including those to Turkey, are considered in accordance with the Criteria to be Used in Considering Export Licence Applications for the Export of Conventional Arms, as announced by the Foreign Secretary on 28 July 1997, (Official Report, Commons cols. 26-30), and in accordance with the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Sales. The UK national criteria state quite clearly that we will not issue an export licence if there is a clearly identifiable risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.

Non-British Prisoners Abroad: Visits by Diplomats

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review their policy of seeking to visit certain prisoners in countries such as Cameroon and Ethiopia, but not in others, such as Bahrain; and whether, in evaluating the possible risks to the relatives of prisoners arising from such requests to visit, they will accept the opinion of the next of kin.[HL2111]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There is no worldwide policy on embassy officials visiting non-British prisoners. Each case is considered carefully in the light of individual circumstances, drawing on all information at our disposal. The opinion of family members would be given due weight in this consideration.

The Gambia: Arrests

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Government of the Gambia about the reasons for the arrest of Imam Karamo Touray, Sangsang Sanneh and seven others as they left the Brikama Mosque after the Maghrib prayers on Sunday 17 May, as well as former Member of Parliament, Lamin Waa Juwara, six hours later, and three other persons on 1 June after they had attended the High Court proceedings relating to the earlier arrests; and whether they will ask the British High Commissioner in Banjul to visit these detainees, if possible, and to report on their welfare and access to lawyers.[HL2168]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The British High Commissioner in Banjul raised these arrests with

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA26

the Acting Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Bajo) on 21 May. Mr. Bajo stated that the arrests were as a result of criminal behaviour "of a very serious nature."

The 10 arrested on 17 May were released on bail on 8 June. The four arrested on 1 June were charged with breach of the peace on 2 June and released on bail on 9 June.

The British High Commissioner in Banjul made a demarche on 9 June on behalf of the EU expressing concern at recent events and seeking assurances that the Gambian Government remained committed to the constitution.

Northern Iraq: Turkish Military Action

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the continued presence of large Turkish armed forces in northern Iraq; whether this has been reported to the United Nations Security Council; if so, with what outcome; whether they have made representations to the Government of Turkey; and, if so, in what terms.[HL2114]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We understand that the Turkish military action in northern Iraq launched on 21 May has ended, and that most of their troops were withdrawn on 5 June. The British Embassy in Ankara made representations to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs when the action began. We urged the Turkish authorities to avoid civilian casualties, and to withdraw their troops from Iraqi territory as soon as possible.

We are not aware of any reports to the United Nations Security Council on this issue.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page