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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Tibet. We believe that these concerns are better addressed through our continuing human rights dialogues with China rather than repeated UN resolutions, all of which have failed to be adopted in the past. Through dialogue, we take every opportunity to raise our concerns with the Chinese authorities. We urge China to respect the distinct cultural, religious and ethnic identity of Tibetans and to enter into talks with the Dalai Lama in order to seek a lasting solution. My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Derek Fatchett, raised our concerns about Tibet during his recent visit to China.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Along with our EU partners, we remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Tibet. In Geneva, these concerns were expressed in statements by the EU Presidency, on behalf of all EU member states, on 23 March, 31 March and 23 April.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have given thorough consideration to the merits of the United Kingdom becoming a member of the Venice Commission and have decided to do so with immediate effect.
Baroness Amos: The Government are working actively with the European Commission, EU member states and the international financial institutions to assess the reconstruction costs and longer term development needs in the Balkans.
A major effort will be required from the international community, in close co-operation with local people, and we expect the European Union will play a significant role as part of its ongoing support for transition efforts in the region.
Lord Burlison: A statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act must be made where, in the view of the Minister, the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the convention rights. In other cases a statement under Section 19(1)(b) of the Act must be made: such a statement is not one that the provisions of the Bill are incompatible with the convention rights but to the effect that the Minister is unable to make a statement of compatibility. A Section 19(1)(a) statement is a positive statement of compatibility.
Section 19 of the Act applies where a Minister of the Crown is in charge of a Bill; that is either a government Bill or a consolidation Bill. Section 19 does not apply to Private Members' Bills: there is no duty to make a statement about their compatibility with the convention rights. Where the Bill is directly assisted by the Government, however, the Minister responsible for the policy should, as a matter of good practice, express the Government's views on compatibility with the convention rights during the Second Reading debate.
Lord Burlison: The Government have always recognised that there would be a gap between the Human Rights Act receiving Royal Assent and implementation of its main provisions. This is because of the need for extensive preparations before the Act can be brought into force. The Government are committed to implementing the Act as soon as is feasible.
Lord Burlison: The Government made their position clear during the passage of the Human Rights Act. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Home Affairs stated in another place on 21 October 1998 that implementation could not happen in the near future and a precise date for it could not be given. A similar point was made in a departmental news release on 9 November 1998.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): A report on the public private partnership options for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was submitted to Ministers by the Ministry of Defence study team on 31 March 1999.
The report detailed the progress of the study to date, setting out the team's analysis and the proposed way ahead. In line with its advice, we have agreed that it should consult on the report's findings with key stakeholders, including other government departments, UK industry and academia, overseas allies, DERA staff and trade unions, before providing Ministers with a final recommendation in the summer.
We would hope to be in a position to make an announcement on the PPP option chosen by the time of the Summer Recess. However, it is important that all stakeholders are properly consulted and their views taken into account before a decision is taken on the final shape of the PPP.
Lord Gilbert: We have undertaken a comprehensive investment appraisal and business case study to inform a decision on the location of the headquarters of the Defence Logistics Organisation, DLO, following its foundation year. We are now able to announce that, subject to full consultation with the trade unions, the headquarters will be based from 1 April 2000 at Ensleigh in Bath. The headquarters will comprise only a very small proportion of the DLO's staff, but its new location is the best site to enable it to drive forward the revolution in logistic support, deliver the full scale of early business improvements expected from the newly unified organisation, work closely with the Defence Procurement Agency to develop the smart procurement initiative and become an integrated and responsive defence logistics team. Once agreement is reached with the trade unions, transition planning will begin in earnest with the aim of a step by step move to the new location by 1 April 2000.
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