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28 Apr 1999 : Column WA33

Written Answers

Wednesday, 28th April 1999.

Kosovo

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of their commitment to ensure that Kosovo refugees should be able to return home in security, what arrangements are being made to ensure the availability of all the necessary financial, material and human resources for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Kosovo; and what arrangements are being made to ensure that these measures will be effectively applied within Kosovo itself.[HL2051]

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development chaired a meeting on 22 April of representatives of US, French, German and Italian development ministries to begin preparatory planning for refugees to return home in security and for the future rehabilitation and reconstruction of Kosovo. There was general agreement on specific issues, notably: an early involvement of Kosovar people in the planning and implementation phases, clear roles for and full preparation by the key agencies, strong links between military and civilian agencies. The countries that attended this meeting will continue to work together, involving other countries and organisations, to take the planning process forward. The UK has prepared a paper on conditions for refugee return drawing on the discussions of this meeting. Copies will be made widely available to interested parties, including Kosovar refugees in the region. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken to meet the educational needs at all levels of young Kosovo refugees.[HL2053]

Baroness Amos: We recognise that it is vital to meet the educational needs of the young Kosovar refugees, and to help them reintegrate into the formal school system on return. The Department for International Development's programme of assistance for the refugees includes funding for education projects: we have, for example, contributed £300,000 to the Save the Children Fund's appeal, which includes plans for non-formal education activities in Macedonia and Albania.

Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the external audit of the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme to be completed and if they intend to publish the audit report.[HL2172]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The MoD has now received the final report of the audit of the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme, MAP, undertaken by the King's Fund Health Quality Service. The auditors were impressed with the organisation of the Medical Assessment Programme and the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff to the provision of a high quality service. Nevertheless, the auditors also made a number of specific recommendations for improving the service and these have been accepted in full and work has already begun to implement them. The process of implementation is expected to be completed by November of this year. A copy of the report will be placed in the Library of the House. The report will also be published on the Ministry of Defence Gulf Veterans' Illnesses website.

CAP Reforms: Agenda 2000 Negotiations

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the Agenda 2000 Common Agricultural Policy Reform consultation exercise.[HL2171]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): On 22 April 1999 we sent to interested organisations an information document entitled CAP Reform Agreement, which summarises the outcome of the negotiations on the CAP reform package of Agenda 2000. It also includes an economic note on the likely effect of the reforms upon producers, taxpayers and consumers, and a summary of responses to the consultation exercise received to date. A further consultation will be undertaken on the implementation of the agreed CAP reform measures when detailed regulations and details of available Community funds are known.

Two consultation documents which stem from the agreement on CAP reform on which early preparatory action is necessary were also made available on 22 April. The first, Rural Development Regulation: Consultation on Implementation in England, seeks views on mechanisms for drawing up and operating seven-year rural development plans. We will be asking for comments on who should prepare plans, on the geographic areas they should cover and on who should operate them.

The second, Supporting the Hill Farmer, seeks views on how we should support farming in the Less Favoured Areas in future. Since the Agenda 2000 reforms have changed the basis on which LFA support can be provided, we will be replacing our Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances scheme. We hope this consultation document will stimulate a wide debate on how we should design a new and better framework of support for our hill farmers.

Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library of the House.

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Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whey they expect the Agreement with the Irish establishing an Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains to be signed.[HL2203]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Agreement was signed on 27 April. Copies of the Agreement are available from the Printed Paper Office, have been placed in the Libraries of the Houses, and will be published later in the usual way.

Treaty of Amsterdam: Entry into Force

Lord Davies of Coity asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When he expects the Treaty of Amsterdam to come into force.[HL2202]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The process of ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam was completed on 30 March, when France deposited its instrument of ratification with the Italian Government.

In accordance with Article 248 of the Treaty on European Union, the Treaty of Amsterdam will come into force on Saturday 1 May 1999.

British Dependent Territories Citizens: British Citizenship

The Earl of Iveagh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of their Overseas Territories White Paper, whether they will implement any measures to lessen the bureaucratic burden upon Saint Helenians visiting or working in those places where they currently need permits; and if so, what would those measures be.[HL2036]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government intend to bring forward legislation to offer British citizenship to those citizens of UK Overseas Territories who do not already have it.

Her Majesty's Government are considering the possibility of taking interim measures under existing regulations to help BDTCs to enter and remain in the UK. Meanwhile the current immigration regulations remain in force and citizens of UK Overseas Territories currently in the UK are still subject to the conditions attached to their permission to stay in the UK.

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

    When they intend to introduce legislation to offer British citizenship to those citizens of the British Dependent Territories who wish to have it.[HL2031]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave today to the noble Lord, the Earl of Iveagh.[HL2036]

EU Member States: UN Civil and Political Rights Convention

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

    Which member states of the European Union have not accepted the right of individual petition under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[HL1969]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the reply that I gave on 13 April concerning member states of the Council of Europe which had not accepted the right of individual petition. All member states of the EU are also member states of the Council of Europe.

Serbia: Cessation of Military Action

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the NATO operation against Yugoslavia has led to more civilian deaths than would have occurred without a military operation; and whether they will cease the military operations and instead pursue their aims through purely diplomatic means.[HL2043]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Military action is being taken only as a last resort to seek to end a humanitarian catastrophe and secure a lasting peace for the Balkans. All civilian deaths are a tragedy. But a key NATO aim has been to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, in contrast to the deliberate targeting of civilians by Serbian security forces.

NATO has clearly set out its conditions for a cessation of military action. President Milosevic knows what he must do if he continues to reject the path of peace and pursue a military strategy. NATO will continue to degrade his forces' ability to repress.

Treaty of Rome: Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the legal and constitutional basis for applying the terms of Article 227, paragraph 4, of the Treaty of Rome (which states that "The provisions of the Treaty shall apply to the European Territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible"), to Gibraltar but not to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.[HL2047]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The application of Article 227(4) of the Treaty of Rome to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man is explicitly qualified in the Treaty by Article 227(5) c, which provides that, notwithstanding the previous paragraphs of that article, the "Treaty shall apply to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man to the extent necessary to ensure the implementation of the arrangements for those islands set out in the Treaty concerning the accession of new member States to the European Economic Community and to the European Atomic Energy Community signed on 22 January 1972". The relevant arrangements are set out in Protocol 3 to the Act of Accession annexed to the 1972 Treaty.


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