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30 Jun 1998 : Column WA61

Written Answers

Tuesday, 30th June 1998.

Savings Tax: EU Directive

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are empowered to veto the European Union's proposed directive on the taxation of savings; and, if so, whether they will do so.[HL2363]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The draft directive would have to be agreed by all member states. We are scrutinising the draft directive closely and consulting with interested parties in the City.

United Kingdom Boundaries

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the present boundaries of the United Kingdom: (a) on the Continental Shelf; (b) in the waters of the sea.[HL2225]

    Whether all United Kingdom boundaries have now been determined; if not, which are still being negotiated; whether those that have been determined have been published; if so, where; and, if not, when they will be.[HL2226]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The United Kingdom's Continental Shelf boundaries with neighbouring states have for the most part been delimited by bilateral agreements with the states concerned, all of which are published as command papers in the United Kingdom treaty series. Negotiations continue between the United Kingdom and Denmark concerning the delimitation of the Continental Shelf between the United Kingdom and Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands). Further negotiations may be needed in due course concerning other areas, including the determination of the outer edge of the continental margin in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The agreements and decisions concerning the delimitation of the United Kingdom's Continental Shelf with other countries are as follows:

Agreement with Norway of 10 March 1965 (Cmnd 2757), and Protocol of 22 December 1978 (Cmnd 7853);

Agreement with Denmark of 25 November 1971 (Cmnd 5193);

Agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany of 25 November 1971 (Cmnd 5192);

Agreement with The Netherlands of 6 October 1965 (Cmnd 3254) and Protocol of 25 November 1971 (Cmnd 5173);

Agreement with Belgium of 29 May 1991 (Cm 2499);

Decisions of the UK-France Court of Arbitration of 30 June 1977 and 14 March 1978 (Cmnd 7438);

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Agreement with France of 24 June 1982 (Cmnd 8859)--see also the Agreement with France relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Sea in the Straits of Dover of 2 November 1988 (Cm 733);

Agreement with France of 23 July 1991 (Cm 1979);

Agreement with the Republic of Ireland of 7 November 1988 (Cm 990) and Protocol of 8 December 1992 (Cm 2302).

By virtue of the Fishery Limits Act 1976 (c. 86), British fishery limits currently extend 200 miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, except as provided in S.I. 1997/1750 or where the median line between those baselines and the corresponding baselines of other countries is less than 200 miles from those baselines.

NATO Expansion: Costs

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any assessment of the costs of NATO expansion has been made in relation to each of the five countries now entering accession negotiations with the European Union.[HL2251]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO Defence Ministers agreed last December, based on detailed analysis by the NATO Secretariat, that the costs to NATO budgets of admitting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic would be approximately US$ 1.5 billion over 10 years. As I told House on 19 June (Official Report, col. 1848), the cost shares for the new members will be 2.48 per cent. for Poland; 0.65 per cent. for Hungary; and 0.9 per cent. for the Czech Republic. Slovenia and Estonia have not at present been invited to join NATO and no assessment has been made of the costs should they do so.

Diplomatic List: UK Nationality

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish in the Official Report the names of those diplomatic missions in London which have on the London Diplomatic List persons who hold United Kingdom nationality, whether or not that nationality is in addition to that of the sending state.[HL2344]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to Protocol Department's records, the names of the diplomatic missions in London which have on the London Diplomatic List persons who hold United Kingdom nationality in addition to their own nationality are:

Bangladesh

Belize

Bolivia

Croatia

Czech Republic

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Grenada

Guyana

Maldives

Slovenia

South Africa

Dayton Agreement: Former Yugoslav States

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Dayton Agreement imposes any control over the arms trade into and out of ex-Yugoslavia and Albania; and whether the recent agreement for Croatia to export $1 million-worth of weapons to Colombia enjoys the appropriate international approval.[HL2297]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Dayton Agreement established arms control mechanisms for the former Yugoslav states under which the parties agreed to a time-limited ban on arms imports. Dayton also provided for numerical limits on holdings of certain types of heavy weapons by the parties. The Dayton Agreement does not cover Albania.

Croatia's arms export policy is a matter for its own national discretion, provided that any exports are not inconsistent with its international commitments and obligations.

EU Human Rights Working Group:UK Presidency

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish an account of the work of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy Working Group on Human Rights during the United Kingdom Presidency, identifying any new initiatives taken.[HL2313]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Under the UK Presidency, the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) co-ordinated EU preparations for the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women. In addition it developed a wider role through consultation with other working groups. For example, it prepared the EU's human rights dialogue with China with the CFSP Asia Oceania Working Group; worked with the Development Co-operation Working Group on two new development regulations on human rights and democracy; and took steps, for the first time, to integrate discussion of Council of Europe human rights issues into HRWG's ongoing work. It also drew up new guidelines on EU demarches on the death penalty and a paper on electoral monitoring, including a code of conduct for observers.

Armenian Massacre, 1915

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the recent recognition by the Government of France of the genocide of Armenians in 1915 and in view of the historical records of that

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    genocide available in the United Kingdom, they will also recognise the Armenian genocide.[HL2325]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The British Government condemned the 1915 massacres at the time, and views the sufferings of the Armenian people then as a tragedy of historic proportions. However, in the absence of evidence to show that the Turkish Government took a specific decision to eliminate the Armenians under their control at that time, the British Government have not recognised the events of 1915 as a genocide.

The French Government have not recognised the 1915 massacres as a genocide. The French National Assembly adopted a draft law on 29 May stating that "France recognises publicly the genocide of the Armenians in 1915".

Commonwealth Institute: Funding

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reduced their support for the Commonwealth Institute in the financial years 1996-97 and 1997-98; and, if so, whether they will reverse any such trend in 1998-99 and in future years.[HL2326]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The previous government informed the Commonwealth Institute in July 1994 that their grant in aid would be £1 million in the financial year 1996-97, £800,000 in 1997-98 and £600,000 in 1998-99. These figures have been confirmed at intervals since. Until the comprehensive spending review is completed. I am unable to say anything specific about funding for the Commonwealth Institute in 1999-2000 and in future years.

London Diplomatic List: Diplomatic Immunity

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all persons listed in the London Diplomatic List enjoy (a) diplomatic immunity and (b) diplomatic privileges of a fiscal nature.[HL2345]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes. The London Diplomatic List gives details of all category A and category B diplomatic agents accredited to diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom. Category A diplomatic agents are heads of mission of the sending state and category B diplomatic agents are senior members of their support staff. Diplomatic agents enjoy immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving state under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Category A and category B diplomatic agents are entitled to immunity in this respect as a result of this provision.

Under Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic agents are exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal, with certain exceptions which are set out in the convention.

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The London Diplomatic List also incorporates a directory of international organisations and honorary consuls. Staff of international organisations benefit from privileges and immunities negotiated individually under the auspices of the International Organisations Act 1968. Honorary consuls benefit from limited diplomatic immunity when on official duty. They do not enjoy privileges of a fiscal nature.


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