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30 Jan 2001 : Column WA43

Written Answers

Tuesday, 30th January 2001.

Saudi Arabia

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will link the continuance of British exports of military goods to Saudi Arabia to a programme for improving human rights and freedom of religion in that country. [HL340]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Saudi Arabia, like all countries, is granted licences on a case-by-case basis. The Government exercise special caution and vigilance when taking account of the nature of the equipment to countries where serious violations of human rights have been established by the competent bodies of the UN, the Council of Europe or the EU. If there is a clearly identifiable risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression, the licence is refused.

European Security and Defence Policy Report

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Draft Presidency Report on the European Security and Defence Policy submitted to the European Council in Nice has now been approved; and what, if any, were the substantive amendments made prior to adoption. [HL358]

Baroness Ramsey of Cartvale: The Nice European Council approved the Presidency Report on ESDP without any amendments.

Mount Athos

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the status within the European Union of Mount Athos. [HL394]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Under Article 105 of the Greek Constitution, Mount Athos has a special status. Mount Athos is governed by representatives of its 20 monasteries; a governor is appointed by the Greek state to exercise its responsibilities, such as public order.

A Joint Declaration concerning Mount Athos was attached to the 1981 Treaty of Accession of Greece to the European Communities. The declaration was:

    Recognising that the special status granted to Mount Athos, as guaranteed by Article 105 of the Hellenic Constitution, is justified exclusively on grounds of a spiritual and religious nature, the Community will ensure that this status is taken into account in the application and subsequent preparation of provisions of Community law, in particular in relation to customs franchise privileges, tax exemptions and the right of establishment.

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A Joint Declaration on the status of Churches and non-confessional organisations was also attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997. It reads:

    The European Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the member states. The European Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

At that time, Greece made a declaration linking this to the 1981 declaration about Mount Athos:

    With reference to the declaration on the status of churches and non-confessional organisations, Greece recalls the Joint Declaration on Mount Athos annexed to the Final Act of Accession of Greece to the European Communities.

Iran: Export Licences

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have recently authorised the issue of any export licences for Iran as an exception to the national arms embargo. [HL475]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Government have recently issued a licence for the export of industrial gas turbine parts to Iran for civil end use. This particular industrial engine has been developed from a military engine and is commonly used to drive pumps and electric generators. The engine is not subject to export control when it is exported as a complete unit. However, when it is broken down into component form, a very small percentage of its parts are unchanged from their original form and, as military components, come within the scope of the UK's arms embargo and are controlled under Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994.

The Government are satisfied that Iran does not possess any aircraft powered by the original military engine and that the risk of the components being diverted for use by the Iranian military is minimal.

Iran: Anti-Drugs Assistance

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are planning to provide any anti-drugs assistance to Iran. [HL515]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Most of the heroin sold on Britain's streets originates in Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium. Iran is a key country on the heroin route from Afghanistan to Europe. We share an interest in co-operation against the drugs trade.

The Iranians make the world's largest seizures of opiates--253 tonnes in 1999. But it has been at a cost. Around 3,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in clashes with drug traffickers in the past 20 years. They deserve our help.

The FCO has recently agreed to provide £400,000 towards the UNDCP/Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran Combined Interdiction Unified

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Strategy (CIRUS) programme in Iran to assist with anti-drugs work on their eastern border with Afghanistan and Iran.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office assistance is ring-fenced specifically for the established and successful CIRUS project.

Terrorism Act Orders

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to lay a draft order under paragraph 16 of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000; when they intend to make and lay an order to amend the Channel Tunnel Order 1993 to apply the Terrorism Act 2000 to the Channel Tunnel system; and when they intend to make and lay regulations under section 119 of the Terrorism Act.[HL514]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today laid before Parliament a draft order under paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 enabling an examining officer to require certain persons to complete and produce to the officer, if required to do so, a landing or disembarkation card. The persons in question are those who disembark or embark at a sea or airport in Great Britain or Northern Ireland from or, as the case may be, on a ship or aircraft travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland. As required under paragraph 16(1), the order sets out the information to be contained in the card and the form of the card.

My right honourable friend has also made and today laid an order to amend the 1993 Channel Tunnel Order to ensure that the Terrorism Act 2000 extends to examining officers performing their functions in relation to the Channel Tunnel system; and regulations under Section 119 of the Act applying provisions of the Act relating to terrorist property offences to persons in the public service of the Crown. The regulations also disapply Section 19 of the Act, which imposes a duty to disclose information about suspected offences, in the case of persons performing, or connected with the performance of, regulatory, supervisory, investigative or registration functions of a public nature.

Election Expenditure Limits

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What limits will be in place on election expenditure by political parties and third parties for the next General Election.[HL535]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Paragraph 3 of Schedule 9 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 imposes limits on campaign expenditure by registered political parties in the

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365 days prior to the date of a parliamentary general election. The maximum amount a party may spend is determined by the number of constituencies contested. A party receives an allowance of £30,000 for each constituency contested, subject to a minimum threshold. A party contesting every constituency in the United Kingdom would therefore be subject to a limit on campaign expenditure of £19.77 million during the normal 365-day period.

We have today made a commencement order bringing Schedule 9 into force on 16 February 2001. As provided for in Section 163(6) of the Act, the order includes transitional provisions specifying a lower limit on campaign expenditure that will apply if the next general election is held less than 365 days after 16 February. In such circumstances, the allowance per constituency contested will be as follows:

Period before date of election Revised allowance per constituency contested £Limit on party contesting all 659 seats £ million
0-3 months22,50014.8275
3-4 months24,00015.816
4-5 months25,50016.8045
5-6 months27,00017.793
6-9 months28,50018.7815
9-12 months30,00019.77

Paragraph 3 of Schedule 10 to the Act imposes separate limits on controlled expenditure by recognised third parties in each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Again, these limits would normally apply in the period of 365 days before the date of a parliamentary general election. If the next election is held less than 365 days after 16 February, however, the following revised limits will apply:

Limit on controlled expenditure in:
Period before date EnglandScotlandWalesNorthern IrelandTotal
of election£££££
0-3 months595,12581,00045,00020,250741,375
3-4 months634,80086,40048,00021,60079,800
4-5 months674,47591,80051,00022,950840,225
5-6 months714,15097,20054,00024,300889,650
6-9 months753,825102,60057,00025,650939,075
9-12 months793,500108,00060,00027,000988,500

The limits on national campaign expenditure by political parties and third parties complement rather than replace the long-standing local limits on candidates' and third party expenses provided for in the Representation of the People Act 1983.

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