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29 Oct 1999 : Column WA49

Written Answers

Friday, 29th October 1999.

AIDS Vaccine Development

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in 1999, with their funding or technical assistance, towards the development of a more affordable vaccine against AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; and what expectations they have of a breakthrough in the coming year.[HL4298]

Baroness Amos: This year we have increased our support to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) from 163;200,000 to 163;14 million over five years. This will support the development of an AIDS vaccine which is safe, effective and affordable for the developing world. IAVI are harnessing public and private resources to accelerate testing of a number of promising candidate AIDS vaccines suitable to market to developing countries within 10-15 years. This is a long-term product development effort which supplements basic DFID sponsored vaccine research undertaken by the Medical Research Council and the European Commission.

Population Control Programmes: Funding

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current level of funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA); and whether they consider that any of this money should be made available to the Chinese Population Association.[HL4311]

Baroness Amos: The UK's core contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in 1999 are 163;15 million and 163;5 million respectively, supporting work in over 150 countries worldwide. In China, UNFPA is promoting the standards of free and informed reproductive choice agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in a $20 million programme over four years. This year IPPF is providing 163;345,000 to its Chinese affiliate to support information and education on ICPD principles.

Population Control: Policy

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who organised the recent rally in Trafalgar Square promoting population control policies which was addressed by the Secretary of State for

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    International Development; who authorised the distribution of departmental literature at the rally; what was the cost of the literature; and whether the distributed text of the Minister's speech, including her references to abortion, represent government policy or her personal position.[HL4312]

Baroness Amos: The event on 12 October in Trafalgar Square marked the UN-designated Day of Six Billion. It was organised by Marie Stopes International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Population Concern. DFID's Information Department distributed existing departmental literature. The speech by the Secretary of State for International Development to the UN General Assembly on the International Conference on Population and Development is government policy.

Seizures of Weapons and Ammunition

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the weapons and ammunition seized on their way to IRA/Sinn Fein during the last three months.[HL4257]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The Government have stated that we believe the IRA were responsible for the recent arms smuggling from the United States which led to arrests in the USA and the Republic of Ireland and a number of weapons seizures. However, investigations continue and with criminal proceedings pending in other jurisdictions it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

Northern Ireland: Arms Decommissioned

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the weapons, ammunition, bombs and bomb-making equipment decommissioned by each terrorist group in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.[HL4246]

Lord Dubs: On 18 December 1998 the LVF decommissioned:


    4 sub-machine guns


    2 rifles


    1 sawn-off shotgun


    2 pistols


    379 cartridges


    5 detonators


    2 pipe bombs


    2 weapons stocks


    5 assorted magazines.

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RCDS Exercise: "Enemy Forces"

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken towards the Russian Federation after portraying "enemy forces" wearing the uniforms and bearing the arms of the former Soviet empire, at the Royal College of Defence Studies demonstration.[HL4145]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): It is MoD policy that personnel acting as the "enemy" in exercises of this nature are not to be dressed and equipped as to suggest that they are modelled on the Armed Forces of any specific nation, and clear guidance is promulgated communicating this policy. Various foreign equipment and uniforms are often used, however, to distinguish "enemy" forces from our own for exercise purposes.

In the case of the exercise at Tidworth Military Camp at the end of September, the soldiers playing the role of opposing forces were dressed almost entirely in standard issue British Army clothing, and were equipped with a mixture of British, American and Czech weapons. The commander of the "enemy forces", to distinguish himself from his troops, wore a peaked cap of Russian origin, and a combat vehicle was painted with a red star. This unfortunately gave the misleading impression that a small element of "enemy forces" was being portrayed as Russian Federation forces.

The Russian Ambassador in London has made representations to the Ministry of Defence about this incident. There was no intention that "enemy forces" in the demonstration should be perceived as Russian. The MoD has written to the Russian Ambassador in London to apologise and has instructed our Defence Attache in Moscow to make a similar apology to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Immigration and Asylum Bill, Clause 20

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

    On what grounds they consider that Clause 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Bill is compatible with the right to respect for personal privacy and the data protection principles prescribed by the European Union Directive 95/46 EC.[HL4284]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The purpose of Clause 20 is to ensure that, where a registrar has formed reasonable suspicions about the genuine nature of a marriage, these are passed on to the Home Office for further investigation. Policy needs to reflect both the individual's right to privacy and the need to maintain the effectiveness of the immigration control. If there exists a suspicion that a marriage may be a sham, deliberately contracted to facilitate a false application for leave to remain in the United Kingdom, it is right that some investigation

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should be made into the circumstances of that marriage application. The Data Protection Act 1998 gives effect to Directive 95/46/EC and comes into force on 1 March 2000. Both the 1984 and 1998 Data Protection Acts provide an exemption which allows for the disclosure of information where there is a statutory requirement, which Clause 20 provides.

Amsterdam Treaty and Immigration and Asylum Measures

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any of the agreements reached at the Tampere Heads of Government Council on 16 October concerning asylum and immigration diminished or affected in any way the provision in the Protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland which states in Article 2 that no provision of title IIIA of the Treaty "shall be binding upon or applicable in the United Kingdom".[HL4331]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: None of the conclusions of the Special European Council at Tampere adversely affect the provisions of the Protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to the Protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland which exempts the United Kingdom from the provisions of the title IIIA of the treaty, on how many occasions and in what matters they have notified the President of the Council of their wish to take part in measures affecting immigration and asylum as allowed for in Articles III, IV and VI of the Protocol; and with what results.[HL4333]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There has been one occasion on which the United Kingdom has notified the President of the Council of its intention to take part in measures affecting immigration and asylum. This was on 7 October 1999, in respect of the proposed Eurodac Regulation, which concerns a central electronic fingerprint database for asylum seekers and for certain illegal entrants. The result of this is that the United Kingdom will be able to participate in the adoption and application of a system which will make it easier to establish which member state has responsibility for considering an asylum application under the Dublin Convention.


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