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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for Class VII Vote I, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Departmental Expenditure Limit for 2000-2001 will be increased by £96,723,000 from £1,113,610,000 to £1,210,333,000 and the running cost limit will be increased by £17,989,000 from £513,993,000 to £531,982,000. The increase is the net effect of:
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government recognises that, despite a recent increase in the Court's output, there is an imbalance between the number of applications registered and the number of cases determined by the Court. The Government are looking at ways of helping the Court to alleviate the situation in the short term, within the constraints of our overall policy on the Council of Europe budget. The Government are also following closely the Court's consideration of long-term solutions, including changes to procedures, and participate in the Court's consultations with member states of the Council of Europe.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We take every opportunity to warn British travellers of the possible dangers they might encounter overseas through regular liaison with travel and tourist organisations and wide distribution of consular publications and travel advice notices. Where possible, we also alert foreign local authorities to potential dangers.
In Jakarta he called on President Wahid, Foreign Minister Shihab and Co-ordinating Minister for Politics and Security Yudhoyono, and the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnasham). Among the topics discussed were West Timor, decentralisation, negotiations between the Irianese and the Indonesian Government on greater autonomy, the humanitarian pause in Aceh and Indonesian efforts to control intercommunal violence in Maluku. This was John Battle's third visit to Indonesia and helped deepen our understanding of Indonesian reform efforts. However no new agreements were reached.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, has blamed "the intransigent behaviour of the Eritrean Government" for failing to move the peace process forward, and accused the Eritreans of proposing unacceptable conditions in the Algiers talks.
The Convention met regularly from December 1999 to October 2000. It circulated a final draft on 2 October. This was discussed by Heads of Government at the Biarritz Informal Council on 13-14 October. They agreed that the charter should be proclaimed as a political declaration at the Nice European Council in December. Copies of the charter text have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Government strongly support the charter. People need to know their rights and the EU institutions need to respect them. The charter will help on both counts. It sets out fundamental rights and principles that the EU institutions should respect when going about their daily business, and it promotes the visibility and accessibility of those rights.
The charter is not legally binding. It is addressed to the EU institutions, and to member states only when they are implementing Union law (Article 51(1)). It does not establish any new power or task for the Community or the Union or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties (Article 51(2)). It does not create any new powers for the ECJ. In deciding how to interpret fundamental rights, the ECJ is now, and will remain, free to have regard to relevant material. That may include the charter.
Individual charter articles should be read in the context of the declaration as a whole, including the horizontal provisions. The meaning and scope of articles derived from the European Convention on Human Rights shall be the same as that in the corresponding ECHR articles (Article 52(3)). Charter articles based on EC/EU Treaty rights shall be exercised under the conditions and within the limits defined by those Treaties (Article 52(2)). Other articles make clear that the rights they concern are given effect only to the extent that they have effect in national laws and practices.
The Government believe the charter will be good for Britain and good for Europe. Its successful negotiation is a vindication of our policy of positive engagement with our European partners. The charter cannot become legally binding unless all member states agree. We have made our opposition clear.
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