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EU Commissioners

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In the performance of their duties, both European Union Commissioners and their officials are expected to be completely independent. This means, amongst other things, that they should not take instructions from any individual government or member state. Rather, they should consider the interests of the European Union as a whole.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Former members of the European Commission and their officials are bound to respect certain obligations arising from the office that they held. In the event of any breach of these obligations, the EU institutions are able to rule, according to the circumstances, that that person should be liable to a reduction or withdrawal of pension rights.

Middle East: Israel "Security Fence" and Al-Quds University

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made in response to the President of Al-Quds University against the decision of the Government of Israel to seize almost one-third of the university grounds to make way for the "security wall"; and what representations have been made by other European Union member states. [HL4456]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary both made clear our concerns over the route and likely impact of the "security fence" to Prime Minister Sharon when he visited London on 14 July. Foreign Office officials have also made representations through the Israeli Embassy.

The fence should not be built within occupied territory. We deplore the seizure of Palestinian land, isolation of Palestinian villages and the creation of a further physical obstacle to the two-state solution. We continue to monitor the situation closely. Our embassy in Tel Aviv has raised our concerns with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the proposed path of the fence through Al-Quds University. There is no justification for taking this land and dividing the university.

UN: Inter-faith Dialogue

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the establishment of an inter-religious international peace council at the United Nations to facilitate dialogue between different faiths. [HL4463]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are not aware of any specific proposal for the United Nations to establish an inter-religious international peace council. The Government would welcome receiving details of such a proposal and on the basis of these would decide whether or not to support the initiative. We believe that inter-faith dialogue can make a valuable contribution towards building mutual understanding between communities and preventing conflict.

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EU: Draft Constitutional Treaty

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that the principles of neutrality and impartiality currently in the European Union humanitarian regulation are added to the new European Union constitutional treaty.[HL4457]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 4 October, EU member states will launch an intergovernmental conference (IGC) to draw up a new treaty for the EU. EU leaders agreed in June that the draft constitutional treaty drawn up by the Convention on the Future of Europe was a good basis for starting in the IGC.

The Government welcome the proposed inclusion in the treaty of a specific article (III-223) on humanitarian aid. This will provide a clear basis for the EU's efforts in this field.

As currently drafted, the treaty commits the EU to conducting humanitarian aid operations in compliance with the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination. We proposed amendments to Article III-223 to make the objective of humanitarian aid more explicit, including a reference to humanitarian aid operations being conducted in compliance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. These amendments were not, however, accepted by the convention. We will nevertheless explore the scope for securing them in the IGC.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will include a reference to all developing countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in the new European Union constitutional treaty.[HL4458]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 4 October, EU member states will launch an intergovernmental conference (IGC) to draw up a new treaty for the EU. EU leaders agreed in June that the draft constitutional treaty drawn up by the Convention on the Future of Europe was a good basis for starting in the IGC.

The Government welcome the draft treaty's commitment to the eradication of poverty as the primary objective of EU development policy. However we agreed at the convention that there was still more to do on the articles relating to development co-operation. We proposed amendments to Article III-218 on development co-operation to clarify that the Union objective of poverty eradication covers all developing countries. These amendments were not, however, accepted by the convention. We will nevertheless explore the scope for securing them in the IGC.

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Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the United Kingdom's opt-out of the single currency provisions of the Maastricht Treaty will be preserved after the coming into force of the proposed European Constitution.[HL4400]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The draft treaty produced by the European Convention confirms that "those Member States which have not adopted the euro, and their central banks, shall retain their powers in monetary matters." (1-29.4). The draft treaty does not alter the terms of the UK's Economic and Monetary Union protocol.

Public Sector Employment

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Of the forecast 674,000 additional public sector jobs that will have been created between May 1997 and 2006, (including 354,000 between 1997 and 2002) how many are:


    (a) teachers and university tutors;


    (b) additional medical staff, such as doctors, nurses and technical staff;


    (c) police officers and support staff;


    (d) engaged by or on behalf of government departments other than Departments of Health and or Education and Skills; and


    (e) engaged by local authorities in connection with statutory duties imposed on them since May 1997.[HL4327]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: ONS statistics for public sector staffing show a total increase in public sector employment between 1997 and 2002 of 344,000. Increases in the parts of the public sector specified are:


    (a) 169,000 increase in employment in the education sector between 1997 and 2002


    (b) 161,000 increase in the healthcare sector between 1997 and 2002


    (c) 12,000 increase in police and support staff between 1997 and 2002


    (d) 42,600 increase in civil servants between 1996–97 and 2005–06. (Source: HM Treasury, Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2003–4)


    (e) 21,000 increase in local government employment between 1997 and 2002.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Of the £19 billion estimated increase in the annual cost to the taxpayers between 1997 and 2006 of the additional number of public sector jobs, how much is attributable to:


    (a) additional teachers and university tutors;

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    (b) additional medical staff, such as doctors, nurses and technical staff;


    (c) police officers and support staff;


    (d) those engaged by on or behalf of government departments other than the Departments of Health and or Education and Skills; and


    (e) those engaged by local authorities in connection with statutory duties imposed on them since May 1997.[HL4328]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This information is not held centrally in the form requested.


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