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29 Jun 2000 : Column WA91

Written Answers

Thursday, 29th June 2000.

Lord Levy: Visit to Syria

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Lord Levy was representing the Prime Minister on a mission to any country on Monday 12 June: and, if so, which country.[HL2857]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary invited Lord Levy, who met President Asad on several occasions as the Prime Minister's personal envoy, to join the official delegation to Syria for the condolence ceremony on 13 June to mark President Asad's death. The official delegation also included representatives of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. The party travelled to Syria on 12 June. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary represented the Government at the ceremony and presented a letter from the Prime Minister to Dr Bashar Al-Asad.

Demining Vehicle Export Licence

Lord Acton: asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have granted a licence for the export of demining vehicles for use by the HALO trust.[HL3060]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government have granted a licence for the export to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) of an armour protected wheel loading tractor for use by the HALO trust, an organisation engaged in humanitarian demining activities in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). This vehicle is rated on the UK's Military List.

Although UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1160 (1998) imposed an arms embargo on the FRY, 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 FRY Sanctions Committee of this export and it has raised no objection.

Sierra Leone Forces: Arms Supply

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the quantum of arms by volume and value that has been, is being or will be supplied by the United Kingdom to Sierra Leone forces trained by the British Army.[HL2818]

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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: As part of our £10 million package of assistance to Sierra Leone, we have provided a range of equipment for the new Sierra Leone army, including light weapons.

The detailed breadown was as follows:


    2520 x L1A1 SLR rifles.


    1.91 million rounds of 7.62 ammunition.


    132 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).


    2,000,000 rounds of ammunition for the GPMGs.


    24 x L16 81mm mortar systems.


    2,000 x 81mm mortar bombs L41 A3HE.


    60 x 81mm mortar bombs L54 A1 illuminating.


    24 x hand held mortar computers.


    24 x 81mm mortar sights.


    7,500 self-loading rifles.


    800,000 rounds of training ammunition for SLR use. These details were passed to the United Nations Sanctions Committee.

We are considering what further equipment we may provide.

Austria and the UN

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now publish the advice they have given the Government of the Republic of Austria on how they can cease to be the only member of the United Nations with whom the Government have a policy of refusing bilateral ministerial meetings.[HL2927]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have had conversations with their Austrian counterparts on the question of the EU 14 measures and have made clear their expectation that the Austrian Government adhere to the welcome commitments they made on coming into office in February 2000.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the political, human rights or other offences committed by the Government of the Republic of Austria which have led to their being the only member of the United Nations with which the Government have a policy of refusing bilateral ministerial meetings.[HL2928]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The measures implemented on 4 February by the 14 member states of the EU were an expression of concern over the inclusion of a far-Right party in the Austrian Government. Along with all our EU partners we are committed to act against xenophobia and discrimination and have the obligation to express concern where we see the danger of this arising.

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Sudan

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their current practice of constructive engagement with the Sudan has so far led to changes in the conduct and policies of the Sudanese government towards its own citizens; and whether the time has come for a review of their policy.[HL2992]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: We attach high priority to improved respect for human rights in Sudan. We discuss this bilaterally and in the context of the EU/Sudan dialogue. We believe that these exchanges with the Government of Sudan have played a part in securing intensified action to resolve problems such as the abductions of women and children. A number of legal changes are planned. Prisoners have been released.

We look to the Government of Sudan to make sustained progress in human rights matters and will be reviewing progress in the EU/Sudan dialogue with our European partners in the autumn.

Zimbabwe: Land Reform and Compensation

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What provision was made for farmworkers under the latest offer of land reform and compensation made through the United Nations and rejected by the Zimbabwean Government.[HL2873]

Baroness Amos: The 1998 land conference, convened by the Government of Zimbabwe and attended by donors, international organisations and local civil society, agreed and laid down some principles about the need for fair, transparent and pro-poor land reform. These were agreed by all the participants, including the Government of Zimbabwe, and I will place details in the Library of the House. Following the conference, the Government of Zimbabwe's land reform programme has not been consistent with the agreed principles. The delivery of possible assistance to farmworkers through government-led land reform has not therefore been addressed.

UK Residents Non-domiciled for Tax Purposes

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the number of people resident in the United Kingdom who are considered non-domiciled for tax purposes; and[HL3007]

    What is their estimate of the number of people resident and voting in the United Kingdom who are considered non-domiciled for tax purposes; and[HL3008]

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    What is their estimate of the tax loss to the Exchequer from people who are considered non-domiciled for tax purposes.[HL3009]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This information is not available.

Central Government Audit and Accountability Steering Group

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in appointing members to the steering group for the review of the audit and accountability arrangements for central government.[HL3116]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am pleased to announce that the following persons have so far agreed to serve on the steering group:


    Sir John Bourn KCB, Comptroller and Auditor General


    Sir Brian Carsberg, Chairman, International Accounting Standards Committee


    Rt Hon David Davis MP, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons


    Andrew Likierman, Director, Financial Management Reporting and Audit Directorate, HM Treasury


    Iain Plaistowe, Chairman, Auditing Practices Board


    David Rendel MP, Member, Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons


    Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry


    Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury


    Rosemary Thorne, Group Finance Director, Bradford and Bingley Building Society


    Professor Sir David Tweedie, Chairman, Accounting Standards Board


    Rt Hon Alan Williams MP, Member, Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons.

The remaining appointments to the steering group will be announced shortly.

Licensing Hours and Alcohol-related Crime

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that extended drinking hours on licensed premises will increase or decrease alcohol-related crime. [HL2974]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Our views on this issue are set out clearly in the White Paper Time for Reform: Proposals for the Modernisation of Our Licensing Laws, published on 10 April this year. We do

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not believe that all licensed premises should enjoy later closing times, particularly where this would lead to excessive disturbance to local residents. However, where this can be avoided, extended hours should help ensure that customers leave venues gradually over a longer period and so reduce binge drinking and public order problems arising from large numbers of people arriving on the streets simultaneously. We therefore believe that the scheme described in the White Paper would help to deliver reductions in reports of drink-related offences and in arrests for such offences.


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