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27 Oct 2003 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 27th October 2003.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Consultancy

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much has been spent to date per year on consultancy work by:


    (a) Waterways Ireland;


    (b) Enterprise Ireland;


    (c) Food Safety Promotion Board;


    (d) Tourism Ireland;

    what was the purpose of the work; and who conducted it. [HL4594]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): I have today placed the information requested by the noble Lord in the Library in relation to Waterways Ireland, the Food Safety Promotion Board and Tourism Ireland Limited. Enterprise Ireland is an Irish Government agency.

Palace of Westminster: Peers' Entrance

Lord Lucas asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will arrange for the security gate in the Peers' Entrance to be adapted to Pugin or Gothic form. [HL5045]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): No. The principle underlying the design of security gates is that they should be functional and unobtrusive, without causing damage to the historical fabric. The current gate is temporary, pending the arrival of a more effective and less obtrusive replacement.

Guantanamo Bay: Detainees

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are discussing with the United States authorities the continued imprisonment without trial in Guantanamo of persons aged under 16 and over 60; and, if not, whether on humanitarian grounds they will do so; and [HL4511]

    Whether four children aged 13, 14 and 15, together with two men aged 88 and 98, are still held at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba); and whether they are asking the United States authorities to release the young and old prisoners. [HL4654]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The focus of the Government's discussions with the US authorities has been on how to resolve the position of

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all the UK detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, none of whom are juveniles. Our hope, however, is that the issues raised will be reflected in the treatment of other countries' detainees.

Any situation where juveniles are held in the same conditions as adults would raise concerns. I am afraid I am unable to comment further on the detention of juveniles at Guantanamo as Her Majesty's Government do not have access to the details of the circumstances of their detention.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 6 October (WA 22), whether they will ask Mr Moazzam Begg, now in detention at Guantanamo (Cuba), whether he was arrested at Islamabad in February 2002, whether he previously fought in Afghanistan and to verify his replies with the Pakistan Government.[HL4657]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We understand that the fact that Moazzam Begg was arrested in Pakistan in February 2002 is a matter of public record.

We are not in a position to prove the information requested about whether Mr Begg fought in Afghanistan. This information is withheld under exemptions 1 and 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The Data Protection Act also prevents us disclosing personal data on individual cases (exemption 15 of the code).

European Union Foreign Minister

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the European Union Foreign Minister will be able to represent and speak for the European Union at the United Nations Security Council on those occasions where there is a common European Union position as proposed in the draft European Union Constitution Treaty.[HL4729]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Article III-206 of the draft Constitutional Treaty states "when the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs be asked to present the Union's position". This allows for a continuation of the current practice, in line with the Security Council's Rules of Procedure, whereby the presidency can speak at open meetings of the Council. Under the new treaty, the European Foreign Minister, not the presidency, would represent the Union where non-members of the Council are permitted to speak and when the Union has defined a common position on the subject of the meeting. The UK, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would retain the right to speak in a national capacity.

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Rome Intergovernmental Conference

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will describe the manner and procedure they expect to be adopted to enable Parliament to examine the outcome of the Rome conference considering a constitution for the European Union, which will enable both Houses to consider the implications of any articles therein, prior to the signing of any treaty incorporating the articles of any constitution agreed.[HL4741]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Parliament has already considered the text of the Convention on the Future of Europe, through debates in both Houses and scrutiny in the European Union Select Committee. Members of Parliament also took part in the work of the convention. During the intergovernmental conference (IGC) Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers will regularly appear before parliamentary committees, including the new IGC Standing Committee, to report on the conference's work. The IGC Standing Committee met for the first time on 20 October. Parliament of course will also have the final say on whether the resulting treaty will enter UK law.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the names of the Members of Her Majesty's Government attending the whole, or part of, the intergovernmental conference in Rome considering the draft of the proposed constitution for the European Union and the numbers and positions of officials and staff of Her Majesty's foreign and diplomatic service; and whether their attendance represents any departure from practice relating to previous negotiations of former Community and Union treaties.[HL4742]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK is represented at the intergovernmental conference (IGC) by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary accompanied by the Minister for Europe (Denis MacShane). They are accompanied at each session by officials and staff, in accordance with usual practice. Five Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials and four accompanying staff members attended the European Council on 16–17 October, of which one session was devoted to the IGC.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any Member of Parliament not being a Minister of the Crown is concerned in negotiations, on its behalf, at the Rome conference considering the draft constitution for the European Union.[HL4743]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The only Members of Parliament participating in the IGC negotiations are Ministers of the Crown. We welcomed the role played by national Parliamentarians in the

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European Convention, which produced the draft text that has been the starting point for discussions at the IGC. We are also committed to engaging closely with Parliament throughout the IGC process, not least through Ministerial appearances at parliamentary committees, including the new IGC Standing Committee.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have published, or will publish, any papers presented to the constitutional conference in Rome by the Italian, or other, government, together with any response made to it or them by any Minister of the Crown.[HL4745]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government's position on the intergovernmental conference is set out in the White Paper A Constitutional Treaty for the EU (Cm 5934). The Italian presidency has produced a number of public documents relating to the IGC which can be found on their website at: http://www.ueitalia2003.it/EN/ConferenzaIntergovernativa The presidency may request formal public responses to some of these documents, which will be displayed both on the presidency website and on the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk).

European Union Draft Constitutional Treaty

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their statements that the proposed additions to the existing treaty provisions of the European Communities and Union do not alter the fundamental relationship between them and member states, whether their opinion is compatible with the proposed additional Article III-246 (Cm 5897, p. 120) that would permit decisions of the Council of Ministers currently requiring unanimity to be regarded as unanimous, even if there is abstention in, or absence from, such meetings by any representative of any member state.[HL4744]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Article III-246(3) of the draft Constitutional Treaty provides that:


    "Abstentions by members present in person or represented shall not prevent the adoption by the Council of Ministers of acts which require unanimity." This corresponds to Article 205(3) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which states that:


    "Abstentions by Members present in person or represented shall not prevent the adoption by the Council of acts which require unanimity."


    The draft Constitutional Treaty therefore makes no change to the existing treaty provisions.

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