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Northern Ireland Executive Committee: Memorandum of Understanding

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor: The Northern Ireland Executive Committee has recently decided to become a party to the Memorandum of Understanding originally agreed by the UK Government, Scottish Ministers and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales last year. I am therefore publishing today (as Cm 4806) the text of the Memorandum of Understanding and the supplementary agreements as agreed by all four administrations. The paper will also be made available on the Cabinet Office Internet site shortly.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I would refer the noble Lord to the reply to him from the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, dated 24 July 2000, which sets out the relevant information.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I would refer the noble Lord to the reply to him from the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, dated 24 July 2000, which sets out the relevant information.

Sudan Foreign Minister's Visit

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the granting of a visa to the Foreign Minister of the Government of Sudan is consistent with the spirit of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1054, 1966.[HL3484]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): UNSCR 1054 of 1996 requires states to restrict the entry of members of the Government of Sudan, officials of that Government and members of the Sudanese armed forces. This resolution remains in force. It is not a blanket prohibition. Consistent with our international obligations, we look at all applications in categories subject to restrictions on a case by case basis. We judge that the visit of the Sudanese Foreign Minister to the UK will further UK efforts to promote peace, democratisation and human rights in the Sudan.

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the visit by the Foreign Minister of the Government of Sudan is consistent with their commitment to a human rights-based foreign policy; and whether they will raise with the Foreign Minister the continuing bombing of civilian targets by the Government of Sudan.[HL3485]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are committed to improving the human rights situation in Sudan. We believe that some progress has already been made by the Government of Sudan in this field. There, is of course still much more to be done, but we remain convinced that this can only be achieved through a frank and constructive dialogue with the Sudanese Government.

Human rights concerns, including aerial bombings of civilian targets by the Government of Sudan, were raised both by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and by my honourable friend the Member for Neath when they met the Sudanese Foreign Minister on 18 July.

Plan Colombia

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they expect "Plan Colombia" to contribute to peace and stability.[HL3370]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Peace and stability will remain elusive in Colombia until a concerted effort is made to tackle the interconnected problems of violence, inequality, poverty and social injustice, drugs cultivation and trafficking. Plan Colombia sets out the Colombian Government's proposals for tackling these problems. The UK and the international community more widely are currently considering the best way to support their efforts.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether "Plan Colombia" is essentially military in purpose; whether it addresses adequately economic and social issues; whether it deals with corruption in official quarters and with the need to ensure accountability and professionalism in the armed services; and whether there was wide enough consultation in its preparation.[HL3371]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: "Plan Colombia" sets out the Colombian Government's proposals for tackling the interconnected problems of violence, social and economic inequality, abuse of human rights, and drugs cultivation and trafficking. It contains significant socio-economic initiatives and a pledge to tackle corruption in official quarters. It is of course important that the Armed Forces of Colombia are accountable to the elected civilian authorities. The UK and others have strongly encouraged the Colombian Government to consult NGOs and civil society more widely about the proposals contained in "Plan Colombia".

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the response of the United Kingdom and the European Union to requests for support for "Plan Colombia".[HL3372]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The United Kingdom has been at the forefront of efforts to support the peace process in Colombia since the Prime Minister's meeting with President Pastrana on 13 April. However, neither the United Kingdom nor the European Union has made any decision about what additional aid could be given to Colombia. We are determined however that any aid will support human rights, long-term social and economic development, and an end to violence.

Israel: Alleged Cruise Missile Capacity

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their estimates of the implications for long-term peace and security in the Middle East of the reported development by Israel of a sea-launched cruise missile with the capability of carrying a nuclear weapon.[HL3374]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We note that an Israeli spokesman has described as baseless the allegations which appeared in the Sunday Times on 18 June.

We do not believe that the long-term security interests of any Middle East state are served by

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possessing weapons of mass destruction. We support the establishment of a Middle East zone free from all weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery and urge all states in the Middle East which have not yet done so to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.

Bahrain

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with the Government of Bahrain about the report by the Bar Human Rights Committee and the Parliamentary Human Rights Court on the State Security Courts; and what assistance they have offered on reform of judicial procedures in Bahrain.[HL3386]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are willing to consider a request from the Bahrain Government for assistance with reforming their judicial procedures.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the plans by the Government of Bahrain to hold elections to the Shura Council in 2004, and to give the Shura Council legislative powers, they will offer the Government of Bahrain technical assistance in drafting the law on elections and in training the staff who will serve the legislature.[HL3387]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are willing to consider any request from the Bahrain Government for technical assistance and staff training.

Services Separation Bonuses

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they will not give a £7,500 bounty to any Serviceman or woman who has to carry out a second six-month unaccompanied tour within a 24-month period.[HL3342]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): No proposal for the introduction of a £7,500 bounty has been considered by the Ministry of Defence.

Enhancements to separation allowances were announced by the Secretary of State for Defence on 20 December 1999. An existing allowance known as Longer Separated Service Allowance (LSSA), which is payable to Service personnel who have completed a qualifying period of service and are separated from their duty stations for periods of 10 continuous days or more (whether operationally or not), was enhanced to include a two-tier bonus scheme known as Accumulated Turbulence (AT) and Accumulated Turbulence Plus (AT+). These are taxable lump sums paid as compensation to personnel who experience an intensive level of separation (however occasioned) over a two-year period. LSSA (AT) of £1,000.00 is

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paid once 280 accumulated days' paid separation has been accrued in a two-year period. Similarly, LSSA (AT-) of an additional £1,000.00 is paid once 365 accumulated days' paid separation has been accrued within the same two-year period.

The equivalent payment for those in receipt of Longer Service at Sea Bonus (paid primarily to the Royal Navy) is made to personnel deployed for more than 12 months or who spend less than nine months in their base port in any two-year period.

A further payment is made when personnel are deployed for more than 16 months or spend less than six months in their base port in the same two-year period.

Unusually, the bonuses were backdated to 1 December 1997 (which was the original implementation date of LSSA). The first two-year period therefore ended 1 December 1999. As at 23 June 2000, more than £4.6 million had been paid in AT bonuses.


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