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18 Jan 2001 : Column WA139

Written Answers

Thursday, 18th January 2001.

European Union: Forthcoming Council Business

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for January; and what are the major European Union events between 1 February and 20 June. [HL350]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): See attached.

To date we have received the detailed agendas for the following Council meetings in January: January 19--Brussels--ECOFIN Council

Adoption of the provisional agenda

Approval of the list of "A" items


Report on Public Finances

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

EMU statistics


January 12--Brussels--Fisheries Council (Possible)

January 22-23--Brussels--General Affairs Council

January 29--Brussels--Budget Council (Possible)

January 29-30--Brussels--Agriculture Council

No agendas for the above are yet available.

The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 February and May 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue).

8-9BrusselsJHA Informal Council
12BrusselsECOFIN Council
12BrusselsEducation/Youth Council (possible)
12BrusselsResearch Council
15-17BrusselsInformal Employment/Telecommunications Council
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
25BrusselsInformal Trade Ministers' dinner
26-27BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
6BrusselsEmployment and Social affairs Council
8BrusselsEnvironment Council
12BrusselsECOFIN Council
12BrusselsInternal Market/Consumer Council
15BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
16BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
19BrusselsAgriculture Council
19BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20-21BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
23-24StockholmEuropean Council
31-1BrusselsMeeting of Environment Ministers
5-6BrusselsTransport/Telecommunications Council
8-10BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
8-10BrusselsAgriculture Council (Informal)
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
7BrusselsECOFIN Council
7BrusselsEmployment and Social Council (possible)
14-15BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
14-15BrusselsIndustry and Energy Council
28-29BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
28BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
30BrusselsDevelopment Council
31BrusselsHealth Council
5BrusselsECOFIN Council
5BrusselsInternal market/Consumer Council
7-8BrusselsEnvironment Council
11-12BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
11BrusselsEmployment/Social Affairs Council
15-16GothenburgEuropean Council
18BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
19BrusselsECOFIN Council (possible)
21BrusselsCulture Council
25-26BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
26BrusselsResearch Council
27-28BrusselsTransport/Telecommunications Council

18 Jan 2001 : Column WA140

International Criminal Court Bill: Consultation

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the results of the consultation on the draft International Criminal Court Bill published on 25 August 2000.[HL349]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I have placed in the Library a report on the consultation which summarises the main points raised on the draft International Criminal Court Bill and how the Government are responding to them. The Government are most grateful to those noble Lords and others who gave comments. Valuable suggestions were received and many changes have been made to the Bill as a result.

18 Jan 2001 : Column WA141

State Retirement Pension Uprating for Recipients Living Abroad

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy for the uprating of National Insurance retirement pensions received by United Kingdom citizens now living abroad; which are the countries of residence where uprating of such pensions takes place and which do not; and what principles govern the distinction made between the two categories of United Kingdom pensioners.[HL216]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): United Kingdom state retirement pensions are paid anywhere in the world, to anyone who has fulfilled the contribution conditions, not only to UK nationals. Since they became payable world-wide in 1955, state retirement pensions have never been increased annually where people live permanently outside the UK, except in those countries which are either members of the European Economic Area or countries with which the UK has long-standing reciprocal social security agreements which allow for payment of upratings. These countries are listed below:

    EEA countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), Sweden, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

    Countries with the appropriate legislation: Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Guernsey, Mauritius, Philippines, Israel, Jamaica, Jersey, Malta, Sark, Switzerland, Slovenia, Turkey, USA.

No agreements providing for upratings have come into force in recent years and none is planned.

Our priority is to focus the resources available on pensioners in the UK, especially those who are in greatest need. There are no plans to unfreeze pensions in countries where upratings are not payable.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans have been made to conduct a Quinquennial Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[HL315]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government are today announcing the Quinquennial Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Kew is managed by the Board of Trustees established by the National Heritage Act 1983 and has the status of an Executive Non-Departmental Public

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Body. We are today announcing the Quinquennial Review of this body which will evaluate its performance and status. The review also meets a commitment under the Government's Better Quality Services initiative, which requires departments to review their services and activities over a five-year period to decide how best to improve quality and value for money.

The terms of reference for the review are as follows:

    to conduct an evaluation of the performance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since the last review in 1995;

    as part of the evaluation, to pay particular attention to the effectiveness of postgraduate horticultural training and the quality of public education education activities; and to take account of the conclusions of the science audit being carried out in March 2001;

    to consider in the light of this evaluation and the views of customers and other stakeholders whether NDPB status remains the most cost effective way of achieving its own and departmental aims, as well as government-wide aims such as those relating to science policy and Modernising Government;

    if the review concludes that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew should continue to function as a NDPB, then to consider what changes, if any, are required to its operating framework in the light of the findings of the review. If, however, the review concludes that a different delivery system would provide high quality, more effective and better value for money services, to set out the rationale and to recommend appropriate options to Ministers.

The review will be conducted by a review team attached to MAFF's Chief Scientist's Group, working in consultation with the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and other government departments as appropriate.

Interested parties are invited to submit their views to the review team by Monday 9 April 2001. Details of how to contact them are contained in the MAFF press notice issued today or on our website (

"View of Hampton Court Palace": Ex Gratia Payment

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Government's proposals in response to the claim concerning the "View of Hampton Court Palace" by Jan Griffier the Elder at the Tate Gallery.[HL399]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts has received the report, which is published today as a Parliamentary Paper, of the Spoliation Advisory Panel's examination of the claim in relation to the Griffier painting in the Tate Gallery. We welcome the panel's report and we will

18 Jan 2001 : Column WA143

implement the recommendation which is addressed to us.

In setting up the panel we recognised the duty to do what the Government can to play its part in righting these historic wrongs and the need to ensure that questions of ownership of works of art arising from the terrible events of the Nazi era are resolved. Although the report makes clear that the family, who wish to remain anonymous, have no legal title to the painting, and that there is no criticism whatsoever of the Tate Gallery, we accept the panel's advice that there is a moral strength to the claimant's argument and that, in the spirit of the Declaration of Principles agreed at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets held in December 1998, this justifies an ex gratia payment of £125,000.

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