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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We believe strongly that Israelis and Palestinians want peace, and that they recognise that a negotiated settlement is the only means of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The Government continue to urge Israeli and Palestinian representatives to put in place measures to end the violence and to return to the negotiating table. Britain will remain actively engaged, doing all it can to help both parties achieve these aims.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Her Majesty's Government are extremely concerned that the whereabouts of the 605 Kuwaitis and other nationals missing since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait remains unknown. The UK plays an active role in the Tripartite Commission process, chaired by the
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We strongly condemn all acts of violence committed by both sides in the conflict in DRC. We regularly raise these issues with all parties and in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1291 have urged an international investigation into all such events with a view to bringing all those responsible to justice.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have many human rights concerns in Sudan and our policy of critical engagement with the Sudanese Government has put us in a far better position to pursue these. We have seen some improvement in their record. For example, over 300 abductees have been returned since the setting up of the Committee for the Eradication of Abductions of Women and Children last year. Our Ambassador regularly attends the committee's meetings to urge further progress. The Sudanese are also now allowing greater numbers of visits by monitors such as UN Special Rapporteurs, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. They have also agreed to review the "Public Order" law and continue the process of legal reform. Nevertheless, we continue to have serious concerns at continued human rights violations.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK fully supports the European Union's decision to fund 85 per cent of the Danube Commission project to clear the river Danube at Novi Sad. This project is now at the stage of tendering. In recognition of humanitarian need and following a needs assessment visit by the Department for Trade and Industry, the UK will also be meeting the costs of laying a replacement water pipeline across the new, permanent road bridge at Novi Sad.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Our policy is to promote British interests and pursue British values by supporting democracy and human rights, wherever we can, however we can. That means responding to human rights challenges in the way most likely to help the people whose freedoms are being restricted. In assessing the human rights situation in a country, we weigh information available from a wide range of sources, such as governments, NGOs and international bodies, against factors such as relevant international standards and the policies of the government in the country concerned.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The MOU signed on 20 November in Beijing by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Wang Guangya, and Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, commits the Chinese Government to implement a programme of technical co-operation which will cover specific areas including rule of law, human rights education, and progress towards the ratification of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Council Secretariat does not hold figures on the number of times member states have used the veto on single market issues, and the figures sought could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Most single market legislation is subject to qualified majority voting rather than unanimity. We support this, since QMV helps prevent other countries from blocking single market measures which benefit UK businesses.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Mobility Trust has written asking about the provision of NHS powered wheelchairs and vouchers and its letter is currently receiving attention. Our reply will include information about the £14 million recurring funding, made available from April 2000, for powered wheelchairs and voucher schemes. This funding is now free of distinctions in what should be spent on either scheme. Health authorities have been advised to consult with service users and take a flexible approach to ensuring that this money meets local needs and priorities in wheelchair services.
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