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14 Jun 1999 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 14th June 1999.

Northern Ireland: Legal Aid Reform

Lord Sawyer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish a consultation paper on legal aid reform in Northern Ireland.[HL2952]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): A consultation paper on legal aid reform in Northern Ireland has been published today. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

EU Pension Fund: Use of Public Moneys

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the European Parliament voted in 1995 to replenish a deficiency in a European Community pension fund with money which had been allocated for office expenses; and, if so, whether they consider this to be an acceptable use of public funds.[HL2747]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government's policy on all spending by the institutions of the European Communities is to push for the same principles of rigour and cost-effectiveness as we apply to the UK budget.

OSCE: National Elections

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What national elections will be held or have been held in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe region during 1999; what is the OSCE involvement in the preparation, observation or monitoring of the election; and where there was or is to be no involvement, whether they will give the OSCE's reasons.[HL2657]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Details on national elections which have been held or are to be held in 1999 in the OSCE area can be found on the website of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) at www.ifes.org.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has carried out election observation missions for the Estonian Parliamentary Election (7 March), Slovak Presidential Election (15 and 29 May) and Armenian Parliamentary Election (30 May). ODIHR also sent a technical assessment mission to the Kazakh Presidential Election (10 January).

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The tentative ODIHR election observation schedule for 1999 also foresees election observation missions being mounted for the FYROM Presidential Election (September -- date to be confirmed), Ukrainian Presidential Election (31 October), Kazakh Parliamentary Election (October -- date to be confirmed), Georgian Parliamentary Election (autumn -- date to be confirmed), Turkmenistan Parliamentary Election (12 December), Russian Federation Parliamentary Election (19 December) and Croatian Parliamentary election (end of year -- date to be confirmed).

ODIHR informs us that elections included in its tentative election observation schedule and elections already observed this year represent those to which the OSCE attaches the greatest priority. These are generally elections in emerging democracies in the OSCE area.

All ODIHR election observation exercises begin with a needs assessment mission. This normally takes place several months before an election. It will assess the extent, needs and context of the observation and should serve to establish an early dialogue with the national electoral authorities and other institutions involved in the election process. In the case of the Kazakh presidential election, the needs assessment mission judged that the electoral process was so flawed that the election did not warrant a full observation mission. Because of this, only a technical assessment mission was sent.

An ODIHR election observation mission proper consists of core team members (head of mission, legal expert etc.), long-term observers and short-term observers. Long-term observers are dispatched around two months prior to an election. They consider the various stages of the election cycle, from the registration of voters and the commencement of the election campaign, to the final voting, counting and verification procedures, the processing of complaints and the resolution of disputes. Short-term observers normally arrive shortly before election day and are deployed to provide a broad presence throughout the country on election day.

A preliminary post-election statement is issued 24 to 48 hours after the election. This provides a preliminary assessment of whether OSCE commitments were upheld and how well the domestic law and regulations were implemented. The final report, issued in slower time, reflects detailed and cumulative findings of both the long-term observers and the short-term observers. It gives the OSCE's final conclusions on whether the election measured up to OSCE commitments (in particular, those included in the Copenhagen Document 1990) and on the domestic legal framework and its implementation. The report also contains recommendations for future improvements in the election process.

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Arms Trafficking and Brokering Controls

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose to the German Presidency of the European Union that member states of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe be invited to adhere to any European Union agreement on the control of arms trafficking and brokering which may be reached as a result of current German initiatives; and whether they will seek to place this matter on the agenda for the OSCE summit meeting in Istanbul in November 1999.[HL2720]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Discussions of the German proposals for EU member states to impose uniform controls on arms trafficking and brokering are still at an early stage. We will consider closer to the time of any EU agreement whether and how to seek to broaden adherence to it.

China Western Poverty Reduction Project

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, since neither the World Bank's staff appraisal report nor the English version of the environmental impact assessment on the proposed China Western Poverty Reduction Project has yet been published, they will instruct the United Kingdom Director of the World Bank to seek deferment of the decision on the project to allow non-governmental organisations a reasonable time in which to study these reports and make representations to the World Bank.[HL2771]

Baroness Amos: The World Bank's staff appraisal report on this project was made available at the end of last week and has just been received in London. It is now being studied. Discussions are continuing in Washington about the timing of consideration by the bank's board.

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Unemployment in the EU

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the percentage unemployment in each of the countries of the European Union excluding Finland, Austria and Sweden; and, still excluding Finland, Austria and Sweden, what was the numerical total of unemployed in the European Union as a whole in each year since 1990.[HL2818]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Mr. Tim Holt, dated 14 June 1999.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question on unemployment in selected countries of the European Union (EU).

The data are shown in the two attached tables. Table 1 shows the ILO unemployment rates for EU12 countries, that is all EU Member States except Finland, Austria and Sweden, for 1990 to 1998. Table 2 shows the level of ILO unemployment in EU12 as a whole for 1990 to 1997. Please note that the ILO unemployment rate for Ireland for 1998 is not yet available and therefore that the levels and rates of ILO unemployment for EU12 for 1998 cannot be calculated. The rates and levels refer to spring of each year and are not seasonally adjusted.

The Labour Force Survey is the recognised source of internationally comparable information on ILO unemployment in EU member states. This is defined on a consistent and internationally recognised basis set out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO definition of unemployment considers a person unemployed if he/she is (a) without a paid job; (b) available to start work within the next two weeks and (c) has either looked for work in the last four weeks or is waiting to start a job already obtained.

A line has been drawn between rates for 1991 and 1992. Several improvements to the survey were implemented in 1992, introducing a slight discontinuity in the series. Eurostat advise that since both series are based on ILO guidelines, the difference between the series should be minimal.

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Table 1: ILO Unemployment Rates for selected EU countries, 1990-98--Spring of each year, not seasonally adjusted
Per cent

EU 12BelgiumDenmarkGermanyGreeceSpainFranceIrelandItalyLuxembourgNetherlandsPortugalUK
19908.47.38.34.97.016.39.414.19.81.67.74.66.8
19918.67.09.15.37.715.99.215.810.11.57.33.98.4
19929.26.79.06.37.817.710.215.09.42.05.64.09.7
199310.68.110.77.78.622.211.415.610.32.36.35.310.3
199411.49.68.08.78.924.312.714.611.33.57.26.79.6
199510.89.37.08.29.122.711.912.011.82.97.27.18.6
199611.09.56.88.89.722.212.411.712.23.36.47.38.2
199710.99.05.49.99.620.912.610.212.42.55.56.67.1
1998--9.35.19.811.718.912.1--12.42.84.44.76.1

Source:

Labour Force Survey, ONS and Eurostat.


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Table 2: Level of ILO unemployment in EU12 countries,
1990-97 Spring of each year, not seasonally adjusted Thousands

EU12
199012,238
199113,328
199214,235
199316,380
199417,676
199516,822
199617,247
199717,121

Source:

Labour Force Survey, ONS and Eurostat.



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