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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government raised the situation in Tibet during the most recent round of its regular human rights dialogue with China in September. We continue to urge the Chinese to enter into discussions with the Dalai Lama as the only realistic solution to the Tibetan issue. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister will indeed raise the question of human rights in China, including Tibet, with President Jiang Zemin at his meeting on 21 October.
The 1998 edition of the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls will be published as soon as possible and will set out information on all licensing decisions, including details of military equipment licensed for export. We will consider the format and content of the 1999 annual report in the light of responses to the 1998 edition, in particular the final report of the joint inquiry currently being conducted by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs, Defence, International Development and Trade and Industry Committees.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Bearing in mind the right of all sovereign states to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, when this Government came into office we introduced new and stricter criteria for all arms exports. We will not issue an export licence if there is a clearly identifiable risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression or external aggression. We have taken great care to apply the criteria scrupulously in the case of Indonesia, as elsewhere. We have seen no evidence that arms approved for export by this Government have been used in East Timor.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The details of the UN transitional authority and the international commission of inquiry are still being worked out. The Secretary-General has said that one of the authority's objectives should be to create non-discriminatory and impartial institutions to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law and to promote and protect human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in preparing for the inquiry, has told us that the preservation of evidence is at the top of its agenda.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Declaration on the Establishment of a Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit, annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty, provided for a unit to be established in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to monitor and analyse developments in areas relevant to the Common Foreign and Security Policy; provide assessments of the Union's foreign and security policy interests and identify areas where the Common Foreign and Security Policy could focus in future; provide timely assessments and early warnings of events or situations which may have significant repercussions for the Union's foreign and security policy; and produce argued options papers to be presented under the responsibility of the Presidency as a contribution to policy formulation in the Council which may contain analyses, recommendations and strategies for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The establishment of the unit has been timed to coincide with the assumption of functions of the Secretary General of the Council and High Representative. It is expected to become operational in the coming weeks.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The 500-plus bilateral treaties which exist between the UK and the US have not been reviewed since the end of the Cold War to establish whether they are still in British interests. To carry out such a review would not be practical both in terms of financial and physical resources and would involve disproportionate costs. Individual treaties will be reviewed when circumstances merit.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today placed a copy of the working party's report in the Library, and it will also be published on the Home Office's Internet web site.
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary congratulates his honourable friend the Member for Knowsley North and Sefton East, now Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office, and all the members of his working party on a report that will be a major landmark in this country's electoral history. The existing procedures have served us well but are now well over a hundred years old and do not fully reflect modern conditions of life and work. The working party has gone out of its way to ensure that the integrity and openness of our electoral system will still be maintained into the next century.
My right honourable friend commends the working party's report to the House. The majority of its recommendations will require primary legislation, and my right honourable friend will be seeking the earliest practical opportunity for a Bill. He looks forward to cross-party co-operation that will ensure a swift and smooth passage for this excellent set of proposals.
|Total Middle East||117||3||120|
|Syrian Arab Republic||3||0||3|
|United Arab Emirates||3||0||3|
|Total North America||101||27||128|
|United States of America||72||21||93|
|Total Central or South America||171||33||204|
|Total West Indies||821||184||1,005|
|St Kitts and Nevis||4||1||5|
|St Vincent & The Grenadines||3||0||3|
|Trinidad and Tobago||31||2||33|
|Cameroon, United Republic of||2||0||2|
|Central African Republic||6||0||6|
|French Southern Territories||2||0||2|
|Herd and McDonald Island||1||0||1|
1 Provisional figures.