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Pakistan: Locally Engaged Staff in Diplomatic Posts

Lord Craigmyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There are a total of 315 Locally Engaged staff employed in our diplomatic posts in Pakistan. Their jobs range from drivers, cleaners and messengers to commercial officers and IT systems administrators. Some 150 casual staff are also employed on a daily basis to undertake skilled and unskilled labouring work.

Lord Craigmyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We employ a total of 315 permanent staff at three posts in Pakistan. Our records show that 96 are Christian, about 30 per cent of the total. The employees concerned occupy a range of jobs in management, consular, immigration and commercial sections in those posts. We are not aware of any other minority religious groups being represented amongst the employees.

Kosovo: Military Equipment for Security Forces

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: UN Security Council Resolution 1160 imposed an arms embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The only exception to this embargo is that in UNSCR 1244, which provides that prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for the use of the international civil and security presences in Kosovo. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1998 sets out the licensing requirements in relation to this embargo.

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Since 26 July 1999, the Government have licensed the export of the following equipment on the Military List to organisations involved in demining activities in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The United Nations FRY Sanctions Committee has approved the export of all of these goods.

    60 helmet and visor assemblies

    60 mine search jackets

    4 de-armers/disruptors

    2 rocket wrench

    2 box of 66, .05 cartridges for de-armers/disruptors

    20 RBR fragmentation vests

    5 high energy mini shrikes (used for mine destruction)

    10 LBA armoured protective helmets

    50 RBR warrior helmets

    50 protective vests

    35 protective trousers

    50 spare advanced fragmentation visors

    12 Beethoven Mk 19 exploders.

The Government have also licensed the export of the following equipment on the Military List to the international KFOR contingent in Kosovo.

    demining explosives

    4 armoured Land Rover 110s.


Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy towards the current fighting in Chechnya; whether they have already raised the matter with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe; and, if not, whether they will raise it as a matter of urgency.[HL4280]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We regard Chechnya as an integral part of the Russian Federation, and recognise Russia's right to defend itself against terrorism. We have urged Russia to avoid civilian casualties, prevent any escalation which might threaten regional stability, and look for a long-term peaceful solution through political dialogue with the Chechens. The EU repeated this message in the OSCE Permanent Council on 14 October. The OSCE has discussed Chechnya on a number of occasions, most recently on 22 October, and will continue to remain engaged. We believe the OSCE may have a role to play in working for a political settlement.

Visa Fees

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider reviewing the current visa regime to permit regional variations in the levels of fees charged to reflect significant distinctions in per capita incomes of developing countries.[HL4254]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is our policy to set visa fees at levels which will ensure that we recover the full cost of the entry clearance operation, to avoid these costs falling to the taxpayer. This is achieved by setting fees on a global basis, without regional variations. To set different fee levels in different countries would be administratively cumbersome and would make full cost recovery more difficult to achieve. It might also distort demand in those countries where fee levels were lower.

Sri Lanka: Executive Presidency

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made to the Sri Lankan Government concerning the extension of the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka. [HL4351]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: This is a matter for the democratically elected Sri Lankan Government to decide.

ACP Countries: Sugar Accords Review

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are committed to retaining current market access for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar post 2005.[HL4252]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Reviews are expected of both the Lome Sugar Protocol and the Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) variable supply arrangements before 2005. The SPS arrangements are due for review in 2000/01 alongside the EU internal sugar regime, and some change cannot be ruled out. The EU is seeking a review of the Lome Sugar Protocol by 2005. The EU directives for negotiating a successor agreement to the Lome Convention include a commitment to seek ways of maintaining levels of market access for ACP countries equivalent to current levels.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they would interpret the word "review" in the context of the Sugar Protocol in 2004; and whether they will oppose any renegotiation of the Protocol at that time.[HL4255]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The EU negotiating directives for the negotiation of a successor agreement to the Lome Convention call for a review of the Banana, Beef and Sugar Protocols, taking account of the special status of the Sugar Protocol, before 2005. Such a review would be without prejudice to the eventual outcome, and does not necessarily imply an end to or a renegotiation of the Sugar Protocol.

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China: Human Rights

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What individual cases of human rights dissidents were discussed between the Prime Minister and President Jiang Zemin during his State Visit to London.[HL4355]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister raised general issues of human rights, including Tibet, with the Chinese President, but individual cases were not discussed.

We continue to raise individual cases of concern within the context of the bilateral human rights dialogue with the Chinese Government.

Bahrain: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have been given any reason for the postponement by the Bahrain Government of the visit by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, originally agreed by them at the meeting of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in August 1998; what date has now been proposed for the visit; and whether they will press the Bahraini authorities to release in particular Sheikh Hussain al-Daihi, Sheikh Ali Ashur, Sheikh Hassan Sultan, Hassan Meshma'a, Sayyid Ibrahim Adnan al-Alawi and Abd al-Wahab Hussain, who were arrested on 21 and 22 January 1996 and have not been charged with any criminal offence.[HL4265]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Bahraini authorities have not discussed with us the postponement of the visit to Bahrain by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. We believe that dates for a future visit are under discussion between the Bahrainis and the Working Group. We expect all states to co-operate with UN human rights mechanisms. Bahrain is no exception. We will be monitoring the situation carefully.

The Bahraini authorities are aware of our concern over detainees. We welcomed the recent release of 320. We have urged the Bahraini opposition to react positively to the Amir's gestures towards reconciliation with the Shia population of Bahrain.

Abattoir Closures

Lord Seaford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many abattoirs have been closed since November 1998; and how many they anticipate will close in the coming 12 months.[HL4402]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Meat Hygiene and Inspection Regulations provide for

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licences to be revoked for a number of different reasons. These include where premises either fail to comply with hygiene requirements or cease operating for commercial reasons; and where the nature of the business has changed. Thirty-nine abattoirs in Great Britain producing fresh meat or poultry meat had their licences revoked between 1 November 1998 and 30 October 1999. Details of licence revocations are published in the Meat Hygiene Enforcement Report, which is placed in the Library of the House each month. It is not possible to forecast how many licences will be revoked over the next 12 months.

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