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22 May 2003 : Column WA95

Written Answers

Thursday, 22nd May 2003.

Northern Ireland Departments: Underspend

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 30 April (WA 102) concerning the underspend of Northern Ireland departments moved from 2001, 2002 and 2003, what, in each case, was the underspend spent on.[HL2718]

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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): In the case of underspends in areas where automatic end year flexibility (EYF) arrangements apply, the unspent resources are retained by the relevant department for use in the same area in the following financial year. Any residual underspend falls to be surrendered for central reallocation, together with other available resources, in the following financial year (usually in the first monitoring round for the year). It is therefore not possible to separately identify what any residual underspend in any year was spent on. The attached table summarises the position for 2001–02. The position for 2002–03 has not yet been determined.

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DEL Carry Forward for NI Departments for 2001–02 (£ million)

Areas Where Automatic EYF Applies
Approved Capital ProgrammesExecutive Programme FundsEducation & Library BoardsResidual UnderspendTotal Carried Forward1
Agriculture & Rural Development4.32.4015.121.8
Culture, Arts & Libraries1.71.308.611.5
Employment & Learning8.00.4010.518.9
Enterprise, Trade & Industry8.1008.817.0
Finance & Personnel2.40.208.411.0
Health, Social Services & Public Safety16.34.8018.639.6
Regional Development15.11.500.917.5
Social Development2.10.5010.513.1
Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister00.402.73.2

1. There has been a minor revision to the "carried forward" figurework as reported in WA 102 as a result of clarification of the year-end figurework.


Totals may not balance due to roundings.

In addition further EYF for 2001–02 resulting from the difference between provisional outturn and final outturn has not yet been allocated as it will be drawn down in 2003–04 subject (as is always the case in respect of end year flexibility) to agreement by the treasury of the necessary call on the reserve.

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Palace of Westminster: Security

Lord Burnham asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What are the results of the latest review of the security of the Palace of Westminster.[HL3047]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The security of the Palace remains under constant review in the light of the changing assessment of the terrorist threat. Additional physical security to the West Front will be provided as a result of the latest assessment, consisting of concrete blockers along the line of Abingdon Street. Members will still be able to park in Old Palace Yard and there will be no change to the arrangements at the Black Rod's Garden entrance. These works will be completed during the Whitsun Recess.

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Iraq: Italian Support for Coalition

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 28 April (WA 68), whether the Italian Government have declared publicly the nature of their involvement or contribution to the allied coalition in Iraq.[HL2652]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): On 29 April the Italian Government announced the dispatch of their first consignment of assistance to Iraq, to set up a hospital in Baghdad. Her Majesty's Government greatly welcome this commitment. We also welcome indications from the Italian Government of their intention to make further concrete contributions to reconstruction in Iraq. The Italian Parliament debated and approved this and other elements of Italy's contribution on 15 April.

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Guantanamo Bay: British Detainees

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will request the United States Government either to determine by legal process whether British citizens detained at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo are guilty of terrorist acts or to release them to Her Majesty's Government.[HL2728]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We remain in regular contact with the United States at both ministerial and official level about the situation of the detainees. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has raised the issue regularly with the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell. We have been pressing the US to determine the future of the British detainees. We shall continue to do so.

Arms Control and Disarmament

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is now the policy towards multilateral action on arms control and disarmament with particular reference to nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and what commitments on behalf of the United Kingdom remain central to their policy in each of those spheres.[HL2688]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government continue to regard the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as central to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The UK regards the NPT a key component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Her Majesty's Government's policy reflects widespread agreement that: the non-nuclear weapon states undertook not to acquire nuclear weapons and to put their civil programmes under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards; the five nuclear weapon states would pursue disarmament negotiations and facilitate the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology under safeguards.

The BWC and the CWC are the legal foundation of the international regime which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer and use of chemical and biological weapons. We continue to urge universal accession to both conventions. In the CWC context the UK took a leading role at the convention's First Review Conference (28 April—9 May 2003), tabling 10 papers. The UK was instrumental in ensuring a successful outcome to the Fifth Review Conference of the BWC in November 2002, which reached agreement on a work programme for the next three years. Her Majesty's Government hope that this will lead to further concrete steps to strengthen the convention.

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Dalai Lama

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what occasions they have raised with the Chinese Government the case for a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and what response they have had.[HL2723]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: At the biannual UK/China human rights dialogue we regularly urge the Chinese authorities to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama. We have made clear to the Chinese authorities our view that a long-term, peaceful solution to the Tibet issue can be found only through dialogue. They maintain that they too wish to see progress in the situation. Their position remains unchanged: they are willing to open dialogue with the Dalai Lama but he must first accept that Tibet is an inalienable part of China and give up his support for Tibet's independence.

At the last round of the bilateral dialogue (November 2002) at our request the Chinese provided a read out of the visit to China by senior representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Iraq: Participation of Women

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many women were invited by Mr Jay Garner to the meeting held in Baghdad on 28 April to plan the future of Iraq; and whether they will propose to Mr Garner that further meetings on the proposed interim authority or on reconstruction should consist of equal numbers of men and women.[HL2678]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The US-led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance issued invitations to participate in the meeting in Baghdad on 28 April. Twelve Iraqi women were invited. The Government are committed to promoting the inclusion of women in all phases and at all levels of the reconstruction of Iraq, in line with UN Resolution 1325 (October 2000). We propose that future meetings on the proposed interim authority should include a range of opinions and interest groups, but we cannot say whether equal numbers of men and women will attend.

West Bank: Security Walls

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the Israeli Government in relation to the recent study, undertaken by international aid donors under the auspices of the World Bank, about the adverse effects of the security walls being constructed on the West Bank upon the Palestinian economy and the human rights and freedoms of Palestinians. [HL2729]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have instructed our Embassy in Tel Aviv to make representations to the Israeli Government on the adverse effects of the "security" fence on the Palestinian economy and on human rights.

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