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WTO Negotiations and Developing Countries

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Her Majesty's Government are committed to ensuring that a new comprehensive round of negotiations in the WTO will have a clear development agenda which addresses the needs and priorities of developing countries, enabling them to respond to the opportunities offered by further liberalisation and to cope with associated adjustment costs.

Bioethics: International Committee Meetings

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The meetings of the International Bioethics Committee, the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee, and the joint session concluded on 13 October. The Government are presently awaiting a report on their outcome.

Malaria

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that malaria kills over 1 million people a year, the majority of deaths being in countries in tropical Africa. The Medical Research Council, through which the Government support research into the causes and treatment of disease, spent £4 million in 1998/99 on research into malaria. In addition, in the calendar year 1999 the Government, through the Department for International

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Development, contributed £11 million to programmes either directly involved in malaria research or with strong malaria research components, both through United Kingdom research institutions and WHO. Details of the amounts spent by other countries are not known.

Several malaria vaccines are under development. There have been some encouraging reports. However these results have yet to be replicated elsewhere. The WHO estimates that a usable vaccine is not on the 10-year horizon. Once one exists, it envisages malaria vaccine being included as part of established immunisation progammes to keep costs to a minimum.

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reinforce the Prime Minister's encouragement to the United States Senators to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban by discouraging them from breaching the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with a National Missile Defence.[HL4154]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We welcomed the agreement by Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton at Cologne in June to hold discussions on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and on a possible START III treaty.

We look forward to the outcome of these discussions.

Statutory Instruments

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many new regulations have been brought into effect since May 1997; and whether the Government will provide an analysis showing the broad areas of government where they apply.[HL4123]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): From the beginning of 1997 to 6 October 1999, 7,197 Statutory Instruments were brought into effect. The information requested is not collated in the form requested and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, the full text, area of government, and date of each Statutory Instrument can be obtained from the HMSO website (www. legislation.hmso.gov.uk).

In addition, details of regulations which impose compliance costs on business are published every six months in a Command Paper, and are available on a monthly basis on the Cabinet Office Regulatory Impact Unit's website (www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation).

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Human Rights Act 1998

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

    Whether they will publish a breakdown of the number of staff in each government department specifically allocated to implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL4108]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There is no central record of staff involved in implementation of the Human Rights Act, nor would it be practical to maintain one. The Act affects every public authority and, accordingly, all public servants will need to take account of it in their work. This means that the Human Rights Act must be mainstreamed throughout Government. As part of this process, training in the Act is available for staff in all departments and guidance material is being distributed through departmental Human Rights Act contact points.

Parliamentary Commissioner Appointment Procedures

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 24 May (WA 67), whether their review of the organisation of public sector ombudsmen in England is likely to be concluded and published before the end of 1999; and, if not, when is the probable date of publication.[HL4111]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The review team are due to submit their report to Cabinet Office Ministers by the end of December 1999. The Government will then consider the publication of the report.

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 24 May (WA67), what are the reasons for confining their review of the organisation of public sector ombudsmen to England.[HL4110]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There are separate ombudsmen for Scotland and for Wales. It will be for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly respectively to decide whether to review their systems in due course. The Cabinet Office review team are, however, consulting the ombudsmen in the devolved areas.

Devolved Assemblies: Members' Correspondence with Ministers

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance has been given to Ministers on the handling of correspondence from Members of the

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    Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL4358]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Cabinet Office has recently produced guidance for departments on the handling of correspondence under devolution. This includes guidance on the handling of correspondence from Members of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Library of the House.

International Conventions and the UK

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the UK is not a signatory to (a) the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation or Prostitution of Others, (b) the Optional Protocol of the Vienna convention on Diplomatic Relations concerning Acquisition of Nationality, (c) the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning the Right of Individual Petition, (d) the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, and (e) the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.[HL4203]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK is not a signatory to the Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation or Prostitution of Others because the convention, in the opinion of the UK and others, would criminalise a wider range of activities than is presently covered by criminal law.

With regard to the Optional Protocol of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations concerning the Acquisition of Nationality, I shall write to the noble Lord once further research has been completed.

On the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Government will look again at the right of individual petition under ICCPR once the Human Rights Act has been fully implemented. We have looked closely at the merits of adopting these additional rights, but have also taken into account the impact on the vital work of preparing for and implementing the Human Rights Act 1998.

On The Convention of the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, the UK has long supported the principle that there be no statute of limitations for war crimes and crimes against humanity but considered certain provisions of the convention to be unacceptable. The convention has been substantially superseded by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The UK is not a signatory to the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries because the Government have serious doubts that it would be possible to

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enforce it in the UK courts. Relatively few states have ratified the convention, and it is not therefore in force.


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