Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


18 Feb 1999 : Column WA83

Written Answers

Thursday, 18th February 1999.

Constitution Unit Conference: Constitutional Futures

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contacts they have had with the Constitution Unit regarding the one-day conference entitled "Constitutional Futures" on Thursday 25 February at the Senate House, University of London; what were the nature and subjects of the contacts; and on which dates they occurred.[HL868]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): No comprehensive central record of contacts between the Constitution Unit and the government departments is held and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, I am aware that the Constitution Unit has sent publicity material about this and other forthcoming events to various contacts in government departments.

Labour Party Manifesto

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total number of commitments made in the Labour manifesto at the last general election.[HL993]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There were 177 commitments in the Labour manifesto at the last election. They were listed in full in the Government's Annual Report.

VAT

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 2 February (H.L. Deb., col. 1420) that "we are in control of our own fiscal policies", whether the United Kingdom is entirely free to decide the coverage of VAT and to set the applicable rates.[HL949]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The European Community's Sixth VAT Directive provides a framework for the coverage of VAT and the rates which may be applied by member states. Within that framework, the UK is able to decide a number of important issues, including the level of our standard rate above the 15 per cent. EC minimum which the last Government agreed to in 1992.

18 Feb 1999 : Column WA84

Tobacco Duty

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of losses estimated to be £1.5 billion per annum to the Government's revenues due to tobacco smuggling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will refrain from further increases in tobacco duty in his forthcoming Budget.[HL943]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Duty rates are a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What connection there is between cheap smuggled tobacco products entering the British market and unregulated sales of such products to children under 16 years of age; and whether they intend to reverse their policy of imposing increases of 6 per cent. above inflation in tobacco duties in the forthcoming and subsequent Budgets.[HL944]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Research shows that most children who smoke say that they buy their cigarettes from shops. The Government believe that the majority of shopkeepers do try hard to avoid illegal sales of cigarettes to children. The Government do, however, intend to work with local enforcement agencies to ensure more effective compliance.

Duty rates are a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement.

Heinrich Muller

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any direct evidence to support the view that SS Gruppenfuehrer Heinrich Muller, Head of the Gestapo, survived the Second World War.[HL880]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Initial enquiries indicate that the answer is no. However, we are making further enquiries with other government departments, and should any direct evidence come to light as a result of these enquiries I will write to the noble Lord.

European Convention on Human Rights: Article 14

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

    What progress has been made by the Working Group of the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe in drafting an additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights to broaden the scope of Article 14 of the Convention by

18 Feb 1999 : Column WA85

    including an open-ended list of grounds of discrimination.[HL883]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Council of Europe's Committee of Experts for the Development of Human Rights (DH-DEV) has continued its work on the drafting of an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights broadening, in a general fashion, the field of application of Article 14 of the Convention. The Committee of Experts has considered a number of different variants and plans to report to the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) in time for the latter's next meeting in June.

Yemen and Aden: British Representation

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members of staff in British diplomatic and consular representation in the Yemen in (a) Sana'a and (b) Aden are United Kingdom-based; and how many of them are Arabic speakers.[HL906]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are nine United Kingdom-based officers in Sana'a and none in Aden. Three of the nine officers are Arabic speakers: the Ambassador, Political Second Secretary and Commercial Second Secretary.

Turkey: Council of Europe Mission

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the report by the Council of Europe's fact-finding mission, which visited Turkey in 1998, when available.[HL907]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have made arrangements for a copy of the Council of Europe Report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States on Turkey to be placed in the Library of the House.

International Instruments: Violations

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider the United States is authorised and, if so, by what authority to act unilaterally against violations of international non-proliferation standards; and if so, what limits the Charter of the United Nations puts on such unilateral actions.[HL921]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Whether or not authority exists for unilateral action taken in response to a violation of international non-proliferation standards would depend on the precise circumstances both of the violation and the response.

18 Feb 1999 : Column WA86

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of the proposal made by the United States delegation to the most recent plenary meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly (in the context of NATO actions out of area), that member states should be required to act merely "in the spirit" of international instruments such as the United Nations Charter, United Nations Security Council Resolutions and Resolutions of the North Atlantic Council, instead of in accordance with them:


    (a) whether they support this proposal;


    (b) when they would expect to judge whether actions were "in the spirit" of such instruments; and


    (c) whether they intend to introduce this concept into the domestic law of the United Kingdom.[HL923]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Member states of NATO must act in accordance with international law.

BBC World Service: Middle East

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the BBC World Service has decided to close its posts of Middle East and Islamic Affairs Analyst; and, if so, why.[HL926]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Middle East is extremely important to the BBC World Service, which is committed as a priority to ensuring the best coverage of and about affairs in the region. Staff matters are for the BBC management to decide internally.

General Pinochet: Vatican Representations

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any representations from the Vatican about the arrest of Senator Pinochet.[HL927]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes.

Angola: Global Witness Report

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in pursuance of United Nations Security Council resolutions on Angola, they will take up the recommendations in the Global Witness report

    A Rough Trade: the role of companies and governments in the Angolan conflict with those to whom they are addressed, with a view to stopping the flow of contraband diamonds onto the market from Angola, and hence the financing of the civil war.[HL931]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: FCO officials have met representatives of Global Witness to discuss the findings of their report. The UK is already working actively within the United Nations Sanctions Committee on Angola to promote measures to improve the

18 Feb 1999 : Column WA87

implementation of sanctions against UNITA, including the ban on the import of diamonds not controlled through the Certificate of Origin Scheme of the Government of Angola.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page