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8 May 2000 : Column WA197

Written Answers

Monday, 8th May 2000.

European Parliament: Visit to Lisbon Conference by Socialist Members

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have made representations concerning the use of public money to finance the visit by socialist Members of the European Parliament to Lisbon for a socialist conference.[HL2146]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): No. The visit by the Party of European Socialists to Lisbon is a matter for the relevant European Parliament authorities.

EU Legislation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the number of (a) directives, (b) regulations and (c) other legislative instruments issued by the European Union in each of 1997, 1998 and 1999.[HL2176]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: A full list of legislation adopted by the European Union in 1997, 1998 and 1999 is laid out in the Commission's annual General Report on the Activities of the EU for the relevant year.

Copies of the relevant reports are available in the Library of the House.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that European Union legislation is becoming "less, but better"; and, if so, upon what basis.[HL2177]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: In recent years progress has been made in reducing the volume and improving the quality of EU law. The Commission's Better Lawmaking Report 1999 highlights the importance it attaches to complying with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. There has been a decrease in the number of proposals for new legislation, from around 60 in 1990 to around 40 in 1998. The number of proposals extant has also fallen, from almost 800 in 1990 to about 500 in 1998. There remains scope for improvement, and the Government will continue to take a leading role in pursuing more effective and proportionate legislation.

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Kosovo: Demining

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking with regard to the supply of demining equipment for use by Bactec International in Kosovo.[HL2278]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have approved the export to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) of 18 sets of protective body armour and helmets for use by BACTEC International Ltd, an organisation engaged in humanitarian demining activities in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).

These goods are on the Military List. UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1160 (1998) imposed an arms embargo on the FRY. The only exception to this embargo is that in UNSCR 1244 (1999) which provides that prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for use by the international civil and security presence in Kosovo. We have notified the UN Sanctions Committee of this export and it has raised no objection. The export of the equipment required for demining purposes is not prohibited by the EU arms embargo.

Montenegro

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received from the Podgorica government on easing the sanctions against Montenegro.[HL2187]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Most EU sanctions in place against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia include exemptions in relation to Montenegro. We have not received any representations from the Djukanovic government on making further exemptions for Montenegro.

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will press the North Atlantic Council to task the NATO military command formally to prepare contingency plans in case of escalation of the crisis in Montenegro.[HL2188]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The international community, including NATO, is keeping a close eye on developments in Montenegro. It would not be appropriate to comment on specific contingency planning.

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are considering following Germany's lead in providing investment guarantees for companies prepared to invest in Montenegro.[HL2189]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Our bilateral programme provides assistance in agreed priority sectors. We do not provide investment guarantees. We are supporting the growth of the private sector by providing advice on the privatisation of state-owned enterprises.

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What bilateral support they have provided to Montenegro to advance stabilisation of the republic.[HL2190]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK has been providing technical assistance to the Montenegrins in the fields of public administration reform and privatisation and DfID has given grants to a number of NGOs to carry out humanitarian work in Montenegro. The UK has recently funded two media projects in Montenegro carried out by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), at a total of £40,000. The UK has also contributed £50,000 towards the establishment of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) office in Podgorica. The UK has also been carrying out an Independent Media and Civil Society Programme in Serbia and Montenegro which has provided £528,161 in assistance to Montenegrin organisations.

Balkan Stabilisation: Discussions with Russia

Baroness Rawlings asked her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with the Russian Government on Russian involvement towards stabilisation in the Balkans. [HL2191]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have had regular discussions with the Russian authorities on their involvement towards stabilisation in the Balkans, most recently during the visit to London by Acting President Putin on 17 April.

UK-Ukraine Trade

Lord Hylton asked her Majesty's Government:

    What were the most recent figures for exports and imports between the United Kingdom and the Ukraine; whether they have forecast figures for the current year; and what were the outcomes of the recent visit to the Ukraine by the Foreign Secretary. [HL2196]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The most recent figures for UK-Ukraine trade are:

£million

199919981997
UK exports145168164
UK imports485038

Forecast trade figures are not available.

During the Foreign Secretary's visit to Ukraine on 11/12 April, he met with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and a range of pro-Government and Opposition parliamentarians. He signed a memorandum of understanding providing for regular dialogue on a number of foreign policy themes between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also announced the establishment of a dialogue between senior advisers in the Prime Minister's office and the Ukrainian Presidential Administration. The Foreign Secretary opened the new British Council building in Kiev, visited the new BBC offices and studio and announced a further UK pledge of £10.6 million to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund.


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President Kuchma reconfirmed the Ukrainian intention to close ther remaining nuclear reactor at Chernobyl by the end of the year. The Foreign Secretary raised a number of issues on behalf of UK investors. President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yushchenko expressed a strong desire to see obstacles to further UK investment removed.

International Criminal Court: Ratification of Rome Statute

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the draft of a Bill that will make possible ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.[HL2197]

Baroness Scotland or Asthal: The legislation to enable ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will be published as soon as practicable in the course of this parliamentary Session.

Saudi Arabia: Non-Muslim Religious Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the context of their response to the 1st Report of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on the Annual Report on Human Rights of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Cm 4687), whether they consider that non-Muslim religious groups in Saudi Arabia have adequate and reasonable facilities for worship and church life; and, if not, what they propose to do to improve the situation.[HL2198]

Baroness Scotland or Asthal: Islam is the official religion of Saudi Arabia and the overt practices of other faiths is not officially permitted. There are no public places of worship for non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia. But Prince Sultan, Second Deputy Prime Minister, has publicly said that "Believers in God are free to practise their religious rights in their homes". In practice, therefore, discreet non-Muslim worship by foreigners is allowed in private.

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