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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The cost of disruption to would-be visitors and others of building a 2 km tunnel will depend on the precise method of construction used. That will be developed during the detailed design process in consultation with English Heritage and others. Particular care will be taken with landscape and ecological issues so as to avoid permanent scarring across the chalk landscape, and to carrying out restoration in a sensitive way. We are in discussion and will continue to work with English Heritage, the National Trust, English Nature and the Countryside Commission to achieve this.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Yes. A number of analyses have been carried out over the years and these have been made available to the public. The one carried out in 1998 for the Roads Review was included in the Assessment Summary Tables published during the recent Public Consultation. Consultees included: English Heritage, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, English Nature, County and District Councils and many others.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: At an estimated £300 million, the cost of the bored tunnel was neither economic nor affordable and that is why it was not taken forward. It had few additional environmental benefits over the cut and cover tunnel and these were not considered to justify the additional costs. The cut-and-cover proposal is supported by, among others, English Heritage, English Nature and the National Trust and by the overwhelming majority of people who responded to the recent public consultation.

Sudan: Dr. Abdeen's UK Visit

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Under-Secretary Hassan Abdeen of the Government of Sudan has been granted a visa to enter the United Kingdom; and, if so, whether this is consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1054 and the Government's commitment to an ethnically based foreign policy and promotion of human rights.[HL3273]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Dr. Abdeen did indeed visit London during the week beginning 21 June in order to inspect the Sudanese Embassy and to have talks about steps to normalise relations with the Sudan. As a result on 25 June, a statement was issued announcing the return of British staff to Khartoum. This will allow diplomats to take up the important work they were doing prior to their departure.

UNSCR 1054 "restricts" the entry of officials of the Government of Sudan and hence all applications are considered on a case by case basis.

River Danube: Environmental Restoration

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What planning is in hand and by whom to ensure that (a) the Danube is re-opened for international transport and (b) the broken bridges are rebuilt as soon as possible.[HL3003]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are in close touch with all the countries of the region and with the international financial institutions, who are carrying out assessments of reconstruction needs, including damage to bridges. We have no plans to provide reconstruction assistance to Serbia as long as Milosevic remains in power.

Kosovo

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What principles were observed in the allocation of areas within Kosovo to different national bodies of

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    troops; whether, as envisaged at Rambouillet, but not in the eventual agreement approved by the United Nations Security Council, any NATO or Allied officials are currently holding out to the KLA the prospect of eventual independence for Kosovo; and whether the United Kingdom is supporting eventual independence for Kosovo or its incorporation in "Greater Albania".[HL3046]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: KFOR sector boundaries in Kosovo follow as closely as possible opstina (municipality) boundaries. The sectors themselves were allocated on a voluntary basis as part of the force generation process.

There was no mention of independence for Kosovo or of "Greater Albania" in the Rambouillet Accords. Under UNSCR 1244, it is for the international civil presence (now the UN Mission in Kosovo) to facilitate a political process designed to determine Kosovo's future status, taking full account of the Rambouillet Accords.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Kosovo will be virtually "walled off" from Yugoslavia; and, if so, what implications would this have for the comprehensive reconstruction of the economic and social infrastructure of the Balkans.[HL3047]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: UNSCR 1244 recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It also tasks the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to promote the establishment of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet Accords and to support the reconstruction of key infrastructure and other economic reconstruction. The detailed arrangements under which UNMIK will carry out its mandate under USCR 1244 are still being finalised.

Palestinian Refugees

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications for the Palestinians of NATO's recent determination that refugees should be enabled to return to their homes and ancestral lands in areas of Euro-Atlantic responsibility such as the Mediterranean.[HL3050]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO's pursuit of the unconditional and safe return of refugees and displaced persons in the Kosovo context was specific to that situation.

There is already an agreed framework for the resolution of the situation of the Palestinian refugees. Refugees are listed in the Oslo Declaration of Principles as one of the issues for permanent status negotiations. We hope those negotiations will start in earnest soon after the formation of the new Israeli government. The UK and EU partners are considering ways in which they might help the parties to achieve agreement on the refugee issue.

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Syrian President's Meeting with Lord Levy

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will confirm the reports in the Syrian newspaper al-Tishrin and on Syrian television that Lord Levy recently met President Asad of Syria as the personal representative of the Prime Minister; and, if he was not the personal representative of the Prime Minister, whether they are aware in what capacity this meeting took place.[HL3281]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Lord Levy visited Syria from 9-10 April, and Jordan and Syria from 5-10 June as a personal representative of the Prime Minister. He met President Asad on 7 June.

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What, if any, official support was given by Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials to Lord Levy in connection with, or during, his visit earlier this month to the Syrian Arab Republic and to Jordan.[HL3282]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The official support given Lord Levy during his visit was of the same level we would normally provide for any important visitor.

The FCO, through the Embassies in Amman and Damascus, liaised in advance with the respective governments on the timing of Lord Levy's visit. The Embassies in Amman and Damascus made programme arrangements, provided some accompanied transportation by road during the programme and accommodation at our Ambassadors' residences. The Embassy in Amman hosted a lunch for Lord Levy to meet Jordanian politicians and officials.

Kosovo: Mine and Bomb Clearance

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are working through NATO to ensure that sufficient skilled personnel are available in Kosovo to ensure safety in country areas as well as towns and main roads and to train local people in mine clearance and safe disposal of unexploded bombs.[HL3287]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have been pressing at NATO and the UN for the speedy deployment of KFOR troops and civilian police to Kosovo. The full complement of KFOR troops should ensure security coverage throughout Kosovo. KFOR has been clearing mines from roads and buildings needed for operational purposes. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is responsible for humanitarian mine action throughout Kosovo. We are working closely with UNMAS and other NGOs. UNMAS has already begun its work, and training local people in mine clearance and safe disposal of ordnance will be part of its task. DfID has committed over £1 million so far, including substantial support for UNMAS' mine-clearance activities and the establishment of a UN Mine Action Co-ordination Centre in Pristina.

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