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9 Dec 1999 : Column WA95

Written Answers

Thursday, 9th December 1999.

Lord Chancellor's Department and Scottish Executive Concordat

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the bilateral concordat between the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Scottish Executive.[HL284]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I am pleased to announce that the Deputy First Minister and Minister for Justice and I have agreed the text of the concordat between the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Scottish Executive. Copies of the concordat have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and the text is available on the Lord Chancellor's Department website ( "What's New?").

I hope that the concordat will mark the beginning of a fruitful and co-operative working relationship between my department and the executive.

Northern Ireland: Small Firms Capital Allowance

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 25 November (WA 15), what representations were made by Ministers to the European Commission before the latter decided that the non-agriculture elements of the small firms in Northern Ireland capital allowance were judged to be incompatible with state aid rules; and whether Her Majesty's Government will publish the exchanges that took place with the Commission before their decision was made.[HL136]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The question is based on the premise that the non-agricultural elements of the proposal were judged to be incompatible with state aid rules. That is not the case: the European Commission decided on 25 June 1999 that the non-agricultural elements of the scheme were compatible with the state aid rules.

These state aid approvals followed extensive discussions at official level between the UK and the European Commission to ensure that the scheme was compatible with the treaty. The Commission's decisions on state aids are published in the official journal.


Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure adequate salaries, the

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    recruiting of qualified and suitable Kosovar personnel and the provision of appropriate training for the public sector in Kosovo; and what progress has been made to date.[HL161]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The restoration of the public sector in Kosovo, including recruitment of qualified personnel, their training and salaries, is being taken forward by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). There has been progress in many areas. For example, recruitment to the Kosovo police service is going well: the first class of 173 police cadets graduated in October, and a further 19,000 Kosovars have applied. Over 50 justice officials have been appointed. The vast majority of schools have now re-opened to 300,000 children. Encouraging progress has been made in the reintegration of workers in the Kosovo Railway Enterprise. The main post office in Pristina opened on 1 August, with several hundred staff returning to work.

UNMIK is arranging appropriate training. Her Majesty's Government are helping. Six UK local government experts are now working as part of the UN civil administration, and we have put forward a further 54 candidates for consideration by the European Commission. There are also 32 UK police trainers at the OSCE Police Training School.

UNMIK has begun rounds of stipend payments to local civil servants, including doctors, from a UN trust fund. Two thousand health professionals have received such payments from UNMIK since August.

Payment of stipends to Prizren Regional Administration staff also commenced in August, as did payments to some 35,000 teachers and other educational staff in October. The UK will pay 6.18 per cent of UNMIK common costs for this year, and have in addition made a 1 million dollar donation to the UN Trust Fund for Kosovo for initial administrative costs, including the payment of local salaries.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made bilaterally and multilaterally in ensuring adequate policing and effective administration of justice in Kosovo; and what action has been taken to ensure that all local and international forces in Kosovo are fully trained in the upholding of human rights.[HL162]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), supported by KFOR, is responsible for policing in Kosovo. There are currently around 1,810 UN international police officers who are present in all five regions of Kosovo. They have relieved KFOR of responsibility for maintaining law and order in 60 per cent of Kosovo. The UN has been making efforts to increase the number of police officers to 4,718 by April 2000, and has approached some 50 member countries for urgent assistance. Sixty UK police officers have been working

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with the UN international police in Kosovo since the beginning of November.

Within UNMIK the OSCE is training an indigenous Kosovo police service. To date 176 Kosovo police officers have completed their training and a further 223 students commenced training on 29 November. The OSCE police training school has an establishment of 165 international police trainers, including 32 from the UK.

The administration of justice and prison administration are the responsibility of the UN civil administration pillar of UNMIK. The OSCE is assisting with judicial training and is providing facilities for penal management training.

Members of the Kosovo police service receive human rights instruction as part of their training. International military forces are educated on the Geneva Conventions and the law of armed conflict as part of their standard military training.

The UK supports the work of the UN, KFOR and OSCE, both financially and through the provision of personnel. Further bilateral assistance with combating crime, as part of an EU initiative proposed by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, is under consideration and will depend on the findings of an assessment mission to Kosovo planned for early December.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest assessment of the adequacy of winter supplies of food, clean water and shelter for more isolated villages in Kosovo; what action is being taken bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure adequacy; and what action is also being taken to ensure access in adverse weather conditions.[HL159]

Baroness Amos : The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is responsible for co-ordinating the international humanitarian effort to support the people of Kosovo through the winter. Its view is that the effort to provide winter accommodation for those in need is now on target. Shelter kits are reaching remote villages. Overall, isolated mountain villages suffered relatively little damage from Yugoslav forces during the conflict. They are usually self-sufficient in terms of utilities, relying on well water and generators rather than mains supplies. UNHCR has indicated that it has prepared collective accommodation for use if the situation changes.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance they are providing for micro credit and rural development schemes to assist the most vulnerable people in Kosovo, particularly in rural areas.[HL160]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development has provided the United Nations Development Programme with 1 million dollars for its small enterprise development programme in Kosovo. The programme is implemented through Catholic Relief Services, the International Catholic Migration

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Commission and Mercy Corps International. The programme targets rural communities with small loans aiming to restart local agricultural industry and construction. Those receiving business loans will be able to make in-kind repayments this winter by assisting in house repair for particularly vulnerable people or in the provision of other winter essentials.

East Timor

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that all human rights abuses in East Timor are rigorously pursued.[HL188]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We fully support international efforts to establish the facts surrounding allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses in East Timor. We co-sponsored the resolution adopted on 27 September at the Special Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights calling for an international commission of inquiry (ICI). The five Commissioners appointed by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights have been in East Timor to gather information and are due to report to the UN Secretary General and Security Council by 31 December. We have offered practical assistance to the ICI, as well as to the investigation launched by the independent Indonesian National Human Rights Commission.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that international response to the short and long-term humanitarian, economic and social needs of East Timor is generously adequate and effective.[HL186]

Baroness Amos: The Government are working with the World Bank, the UN and others to secure adequate funding and a simplified, international approach. This is designed also to strengthen the capacity of the East Timorese to run their country during the transition to independence. Meanwhile the Government are working with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor to ensure that British humanitarian assistance is targeted effectively.

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