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Gulf War and the Health of the people of Iraq

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

19 Nov 1998 : Column WA198

Lord Gilbert: The Government are aware of suggestions that there has been an increase in ill-health including alleged deformities, cancers and birth defects in southern Iraq, which some have attributed to the use of depeleted uranium, DU, based ammunition by UK and US forces during the 1990-91 Gulf conflict. However, the Government have not seen any peer-reviewed epidemiological research data to support these claims. The Government would, of course, consider carefully any medical or scientific data which was presented on this subject.

NATO Enlargement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research they have conducted into United Kingdom public knowledge about, and support for, NATO enlargement.[HL3750]

Lord Gilbert: In August of last year, the Ministry of Defence commissioned a survey on "Attitudes Towards NATO and International Affairs." A copy of the survey has already been placed in the Library of the House. It revealed a reasonable knowledge of NATO among the public, and a high level of support, over 70 per cent., for the decision to admit Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into the Alliance.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Thiepval Memorial

The Lord Bishop of Oxford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will advise the War Graves Commission that it would be appropriate to ensure that the memorial at Thiepval is a commemoration of the fallen of all faiths.[HL3620]

Lord Gilbert: The Government have already addressed this matter with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who have given their assurance that the Thiepval Memorial is indeed a commemoration of all the fallen, with no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

This issue has twice been formally considered by the Commission, in December 1994 under the Chairmanship of the then Secretary of State for Defence the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Rifkind and again in June 1998 under that of the Rt. Hon. George Robertson. On both occasions the Commission has reaffirmed its policy of not making separate reference to the differences of faith among those who are commemorated.

Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is NATO's approach to missile defences and to their funding; and whether "theatre" defences against Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya or Russia are being considered in NATO.[HL3790]

19 Nov 1998 : Column WA199

Lord Gilbert: NATO continues to examine how a requirement for Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence for deployed forces could be met, and is considering the costs of such a requirement and how it could be funded. NATO's work has considered general scenarios rather than potential threats from specific countries.

NATO: Force Structure

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it has been agreed in the NATO Council that NATO's European members should in future "shift more focus to such priorities as mobility, deployability and reinforcement missions [thus to] become better equipped to operate with United States forces in a broader range of contingencies in the years ahead" (Report to the Congress on the Enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation: Rationale, Benefits, Costs and Implications 1997); and if so, what they understand by this reference to "a broader range of contingencies in the years ahead".[HL3748]

Lord Gilbert: At the NATO Ministerial Meeting of the Defence Planning Committee on 11 June 1998 Ministers agreed that the maintenance and enhancement of interoperabilty are key elements in the transformation of NATO's force structure, and of the Alliance itself, as it prepares to meet future challenges. The Defence Planning Committee approved requirements to allow the Alliance to carry out collective defence and deterrence, and crisis management, including peace support operations.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they are fully informed by the United States, and by the other countries of the scale and scope of their bilateral military relations, including military funding, in the whole Organisation for the Security and Co-operation in Europe area; and, if not, whether they consider the situation satisfactory as regards the transparency that NATO brings to its members' relationships.[HL3784]

Lord Gilbert: Her Majesty's Government have a wide range of contacts with the United States and other countries on the scope and scale of bilateral military relationships with the countries in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, area. These contacts provide transparency and contribute to our overall efforts to promote security and stability in the region.

19 Nov 1998 : Column WA200

NATO: Security of Sensitive Information

Lord Hardy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What efforts are being undertaken to ensure that the sensitive information is kept secure within NATO operational planning; and whether security has been breached in recent months.[HL3686]

Lord Gilbert: NATO has mechanisms in place to ensure the security of sensitive information. Her Majesty's Government supports these mechanisms. Any breaches are a matter for the relevant NATO authorities. NATO does not comment on NATO-personnel security issues.

RAF Feltwell: 5th Space Surveillance Squadron

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Gilbert on 20 October (WA 143), whether the United States Air Force 5th Space Surveillance Squadron based at RAF Feltwell searches for or tracks any objects other than satellites, space debris and space probes; and, if so, what these objects are.[HL3908]

Lord Gilbert: Further to the answer given on 20 October, the only role of the 5th Space Surveillance Squadron at RAF Feltwell is to detect, track and identify the status of satellites, space debris and space probes.

Human Rights Obligations: Compliance

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Ministers and civil servants are in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, having regard to the United Kingdom's ratifications of those instruments, the guidance Questions of Procedure for Ministers and the Civil Service Code.[HL3768]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Yes.

Latin America: Balance of Debts to UK

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is:

    (a) the total amount owed to the United Kingdom by the countries of Latin America;

    (b) the amount owed by each country in the region; and

    (c) the annual repayments, including interest, paid by each country in the region.[HL3843]

19 Nov 1998 : Column WA201

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The table below shows the residual balance and the annual payments due (comprising principals and interest falling due in the period from November 1998 to November 1999) owed by each country in Latin America:

Residual Balance of export credit debtAnnual payments due on export credit debt Nov 1998-Nov 1999Residual Balance of aid loan debtAnnual payments due on aid loan debt Nov 1998- Nov 1999
(£ million)(£ million)(£ thousand)(£ thousand)
Costa Rica0*037050

* Small payments before roundings.

The residual balance owed to the UK by these countries totals some £960 million.

Arts Council: "Fitness for Purpose" Report

Baroness Hooper asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the status of the Fitness for Purpose report to the Arts Council of England in dance, drama and stage management training of July 1998; whether dance teacher training is included in the scope of the report; and what are the implications for the future funding of the training of dance teachers.[HL3824]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Arts Council of England's Fitness for Purpose report is a helpful contribution in informing discussion between my department and the Department for Education and Employment on future arrangements for funding students in dance, drama and stage management. Fitness for Purpose does not refer specifically to dance teacher training, nor should any specific conclusions be drawn from it about the future training of dance teachers. The Department for Education and Employment has policy responsibility for education and training matters.

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