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Written Answers

Tuesday, 9th November 1999.

Human Rights and European Institutions

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What priority they give the following: (a) the Council of Europe; (b) the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe; and (c) the European Union, in the development of human rights policy and in the implementation of such policy.[HL4409]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We do not set priorities among the international organisations working to promote respect for human rights. The Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union each have an important role, as do other international and regional organisations--most notably the United Nations--as well as national institutions, Non-Government Organisations and civil society.

We work to ensure effective co-operation and co-ordination among all such organisations in order to achieve maximum impact.

Council of Europe Treaties: Ratification

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy towards the ratification of the following Council of Europe treaties, conventions and protocols: and, if appropriate, what is their target date for such ratification:


    (a) Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (signed 16 September 1963);


    (b) Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills (signed 16 May 1972);


    (c) European Convention on the Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms by Individuals (signed 28 June 1978);


    (d) European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter (signed 10 May 1979);


    (e) European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals Used for Experimental and Other Purposes (signed 18 March 1986);


    (f) Protocol of Amendment to the Convention at (e) above (signed 8 September 1998);


    (g) Protocol Amending the European Social Charter (signed 21 October 1991);

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    (h) European Social Charter (Revised) (signed 7 November 1997);


    (i) European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (Revised) (signed 16 January 1992);


    (j) Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (signed 5 February 1992); and


    (k) European Convention Relating to Questions on Copyright Law and Neighbouring Rights in the Framework of Transfrontier Broadcasting by Satellite (signed 2 October 1996).[HL4408]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Our policy on ratification of the Council of Europe Treaties, Conventions and Protocols listed is: Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, securing certain rights and freedoms other than those included in the Convention and in Protocol No. 1 (signed 16 September 1963)

We wish to give formal recognition to the rights contained in this Protocol in a way which is compatible with our immigration legislation. At present we are considering whether to enter a reservation or draft fresh legislation to accommodate provisions of the Protocol conferring rights to passports and right of abode which are not compatible with existing legislation. Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills (signed 16 May 1972)

The UK is unable to ratify this Convention because it is incompatible with the law of Scotland. Ratification is not seen as a priority. European Convention on the Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms by Individuals (signed 28 June 1978)

Ratification would require amendments to the Firearms Act 1968. There are no plans to make such amendments and ratification is therefore unlikely in the foreseeable future. European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter (signed 10 May 1979)

UK legislation is now compatible with the Convention and we are in the process of ratifying. European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes (signed 18 March 1986) and Protocol of Amendment to the European Convention (signed 8 September 1998)

The UK is committed to the ratification of the Convention and Additional Protocol by 1 January 2000. Protocol Amending the European Social Charter (signed 21 October 1991) and European Social Charter (revised) (signed 7 November 1997)

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UK ratification is under active consideration. Consultations are continuing within Whitehall on the provisions that we might accept upon ratification. European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (revised) (signed 16 January 1992)

UK ratification is envisaged by March 2000. Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (signed 5 February 1992)

UK ratification is under active consideration. Consultations are continuing on whether we can ratify specifying only Chapter A at this stage. European Convention Relating to Questions on Copyright Law and Neighbouring Rights in the Framework of Transfrontier Broadcasting by Satellite (signed 2 October 1996)

UK ratification would require amendment to domestic law.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Expenditure Limit

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any proposals to amend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Departmental Expenditure Limit/running costs limit for 1999-2000.[HL4592]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates for Class VII Vote 1 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Departmental Expenditure limit for 1999-2000 will be increased by £59,218,000 from £1,112,022,000 to £1,171,240,000 and the running costs limit has been decreased by £1,000,000 from £531,968,000 to £530,968,000. The increase is the net effect of:


    (i) additional provision of £36,702,000 on Section B for UK contributions to United Nations Missions in the former Yugoslavia (includes UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) and the former Soviet Union, United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission, United Nations Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara, United Nations Police Mission in Haiti, United Nations Mission in East Timor, United Nations Observer Mission in Angola, United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Central African Republic, United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Community Monitoring Mission and Western European Union Police Mission in Albania. This is partially offset by a reduction of £1,000,000 in Section A;

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    (ii) an increase in provision of £3,000,000 to support an independent media in Serbia, civil society in Serbia and to continue the provision of forensic teams to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia;


    (iii) a transfer of £12,000,000 to Section A from DfID (Class VIII, Vote 1), in respect of Chevening Scholarship;


    (iv) take up of end year flexibility of £8,516,000 for assistance to Sierra Leone as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to House of Commons on 27 July 1999 (Official Report cols. xx to xx).

The increase will be offset by a transfer from another Departmental Expenditure Limited (DfID) and a change on the DEL Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Kosovo Campaign Analysis

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will hold and publish a political, military and economic review of the recent NATO campaign in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[HL4270]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons (FAC) and the House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) are conducting inquiries into the Kosovo crisis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will submit two memoranda to the FAC. The first is a history of the crisis in Kosovo in 1998-99 and of the background to it. The second deals with lessons learned and implications for future policy. The Ministry of Defence are also providing a memorandum for the HCDC on military aspects of the crisis and lessons learned.

Both committees are due to take evidence this autumn and early in the New Year. The normal practice would be for the committees to publish the relevant departmental evidence along with their reports, but that is a matter for the committees themselves.

River Danube: Clearance

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken and by whom to restore navigation throughout the Danube, particularly in view of the dangers posed by ice during the winter months and the danger of flooding in countries other than Serbia.[HL4392].

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The International Danube River Commission is in the lead on matters relating to the navigation of the Danube. They have recently assessed that clearing the Danube of the debris blocking it could be accomplished fairly rapidly at a cost of about 14 million euros.

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However, the co-operation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is a prerequisite for any work to start. The government of FRY have made it clear in a memorandum to the Danube River Commission that they will only co-operate once all economic sanctions against FRY are lifted. They also demand that the reconstruction of the bridges is financed by the international community as "reparations".

These conditions are unacceptable and are in breach of the 1948 Danube Convention. In these circumstances, work to clear the Danube cannot go ahead.


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