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All Work Test for Claimants with Mental Illness

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The reformed All Work Test will determine entitlement to incapacity benefits but, in addition we want to help claimants, including those with mental health disabilities, achieve independence by giving them the help and advice they need to plan a return to work. We intend to make changes to ensure that the test produces positive information about a person's capacities which can inform a wider assessment of employability by a personal adviser. We recognise that people with severe mental illness have particular problems and want to ensure that the new arrangements are sensitive to their needs. We will consult with the disability organisations as we work up the detail of the change.

Refusal of Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The decision of an Adjudication Officer that a person is capable of work following an All Work Test assessment is conclusive for all benefits where capacity for work is at issue, including Jobseeker's Allowance. This is set out in legislation and is an important safeguard to prevent people leaving Incapacity Benefit being denied access to Jobseeker's Allowance. We are not aware of any recent information to suggest that this principle is not being followed in practice.

In turn, the Jobseeker's Allowance rules recognise that people with disabilities, including those leaving Incapacity Benefit, may need to restrict their availability for work. The rules allow a jobseeker to restrict his or her availability for employment in any way that is reasonable in light of his or her medical condition.

Kosovo Liberation Army: Funding

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Kosovo Liberation Army's acquisition of weapons has been funded by Mr. bin Laden or by any fundamentalist groups; if so whether these groups have been trained by the United States, and, if not, where the funding for the weapons has originated.[HL3787]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Her Majesty's Government are aware of press reporting about contacts between Mr. bin Laden and the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) but we have no evidence that Mr. bin Laden or any other fundamentalist groups are funding UCK. Media and other reports suggest that Kosovo Albanians living in Europe and elsewhere are actively involved in fund-raising for the UCK.

NATO

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is NATO's approach to "rogue states"; and whether (a) Iran and (b) Israel are considered "rogue states" by NATO.[HL3789]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are not aware that NATO has employed the term "rogue states". NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept says that NATO does not consider itself to be any state's adversary.

US/Israeli Memorandum of Understanding

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have discussed with the United States the likely consequences for peace in the Middle East, including the intended nuclear, chemical and biological weapon free zone (as envisaged by Madrid), of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu during the Wye Plantation negotiations,

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    whereby the United States will preserve Israel's "qualitative military edge" and enhance Israel's defensive and deterrent capabilities".[HL3791]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government discuss peace in the Middle East with the United States regularly. Any Memorandum of Understanding signed by the United States and the Israeli Government is a matter for those two governments.

Sudan

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Regarding the requirement by the United Nations that the Government of Sudan should receive technical assistance for improving the teaching and observance of human rights, what funding they have offered or provided to assist the Sudanese Government in their investigation of allegations of slavery and human rights violations and the development of the Sudanese Government's human rights education committees.[HL3793]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have continued discussions with the Government of Sudan on the possibility of technical assistance. But since no agreement has yet been reached between UNHCR and the Government of Sudan on the terms on which such assistance should be given, Her Majesty's Government have not yet given any such assistance.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the implications for the validity of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1044 and 1045, with regard to the demand for the extradition of suspects in the attempted assassination of President Mubarak of Egypt, if one or more of the suspects named is found to be outside Sudan.[HL3794]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In addition to calling upon the Government of Sudan to take immediate action to extradite to Ethiopia the three suspects wanted in connection with the attempted assassination of President Mubarak, Security Council Resolutions 1044 and 1054 call upon the Government of Sudan to:


    "desist from engaging in activities of assisting, supporting and facilitating terrorist activities and from giving shelter and sanctuaries to terrorist elements and act in its relations with its neighbours and with others in full conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and with the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity."

Before lifting the measures imposed by any resolution, the Security Council would need to be satisfied that the target state had complied fully with the demands of the resolution.

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Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the bombings in Khartoum at the end of June.[HL3795]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government are aware of reports of four bombs having gone off in and around Khartoum on 29-30 June, which caused little damage. The UK condemns terrorism in all its forms wherever it occurs and whatever its motivation.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any progress has been made by the international commission investigating the murder, during the summer of this year, of members of the Operation Lifeline Sudan assessment mission in the Nuba mountains.[HL3796]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government are not aware of any international commission investigating the murder. We are, however aware of an internal UN investigation. The results of this investigation have not been shared with Her Majesty's Government.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Government of the United States has withdrawn over 100 reports by its agencies that the Government of the Sudan was involved in international terrorism; and, if so, whether this has resulted in a re-evaluation of Her Majesty's Government's position towards the Government of the Sudan.[HL3797]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is established practice under Section 1(c) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose or discuss information received in confidence from foreign governments.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether members of or employees at the British Embassy in Khartoum visited the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant before the missile attack by the United States Government; and, if so, how many of them visited the plant.[HL3803]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A commercial officer from our Embassy in Khartoum visited the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant on a routine commercial visit in May 1997. The same officer and our Ambassador attended the official opening of the plant in July 1997. These have been the only visits.

NATO: Strategic Concept

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO's revised Strategic Concept should identify as a new NATO "fundamental task" the carrying out of operations in defence of common interests and values, wheresoever it may decide, as an Alliance or in coalitions of the willing, regardless of

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    the United Nations Security Council, and develop the military power so to operate under continuing United States leadership.[HL3747]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): NATO Heads of State and Governments directed that NATO's Strategic Concept be examined and updated as necessary to ensure that it is fully consistent with Europe's new security situation. The tasks identified in the updated concept will be consistent with international law and in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter. It is clear, however, that not all operations would require a Security Council resolution.


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