Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


11 Oct 2004 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 11 October 2004.

Legislation: Effects on Wales

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will insert into the Explanatory Notes accompanying each Bill a table listing all the provisions that give powers to the National Assembly for Wales, in order to assist in tracking Bills as they apply to Wales.

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The guidance issued to departments already states that, where a Bill affects the National Assembly for Wales, or otherwise affects Wales in a different way from the rest of the jurisdiction covered by a Bill, the Explanatory Notes should list all the clauses and paragraphs on schedules to the Bill that affect the powers of the National Assembly. It will be suggested to departments that they present this in a tabular form where appropriate.

Palace of Westminster Medal Collection

Lord Marlesford asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will arrange for the medal issued for the 2004 Iraq operations to be added to the Palace of Westminster medal collection.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The House of Commons medal collection is a matter for the authorities of the House of Commons. I understand, however, that the Army Medal Office has supplied a specimen of the medal issued for the 2004 Iraq operations which will be added to the collection in due course.

United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider establishing a Ministry of Peace in order to give effect to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Government are committed to strengthening international peace and stability, building upon the objectives of the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace initiative.

11 Oct 2004 : Column WA2

The Government have no plans to implement a separate Ministry of Peace. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development all contribute significant resources and effort to conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace support operations; both as individual departments and jointly through the Government's Global and Africa Conflict Prevention Pools. The pools have ministerial oversight and direction at Cabinet level.

Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Kingdom would benefit from a ministry in government to deal with conflict resolution.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development already contribute significant resources and effort to conflict prevention; both as individual departments and jointly through the Government's Global and Africa Conflict Prevention Pools. The Government have no plans to establish a separate ministry to deal with conflict resolution.

The Conflict Prevention Pools are subject to ministerial oversight and direction at Cabinet level. A major external evaluation of the pools in 2004 concluded that the progress achieved through the pools' mechanisms is significant enough to justify their continuation, and that they are funding worthwhile activities that make positive contributions to effective conflict prevention.

China: Human Rights

Lord Chan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made to the Chinese Government regarding the imprisonment of house church leader Xu Shaungfu and the recent apparent killing by Chinese police of two Christians, Gu Xianggao and Jiang Zongxiu.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of the reports of the detention of Xu Shaungfu and the deaths in custody of Gu Xianggao and Jiang Zongxiu. We continue to monitor these cases.

We are very concerned about religious freedom and the treatment of prisoners in China. We raised these issues during the last round of the UK China Human Rights Dialogue in May. We continue to press the Chinese to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which forbids torture and permits freedom of religious belief. I discussed ICCPR ratification with Vice Minister, Zhang Yesui, during my trip to China in July.

11 Oct 2004 : Column WA3

Afghanistan

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What common methods and objectives are shared by the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan under NATO command; what changes have been made to those methods in preparation for the elections; and whether overall numbers of troops are being increased.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Each Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is staffed and run to suit the circumstances of the area in which it operates. But all PRTs—whether run by NATO or the coalition—aim to help improve the security environment in order to extend the authority of the central government by facilitating reconstruction and security sector reform. PRTs will continue to operate as normal during the election period, providing support to Afghan security forces as necessary.

Italy and Spain are each providing an extra battalion of troops to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to cover the election period. An extra company of US troops will support ISAF in Kabul, in addition to 1,000 extra US troops who will operate as part of the coalition. NATO will have further troops ready to respond if required. As announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 25 August, in addition to our existing commitments, the UK is deploying six RAF Harrier GR7 aircraft to Kandahar for an initial period of nine months, supported by some 230 personnel. The aircraft will support both coalition and ISAF operations.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent adequate security outside Kabul is frustrated by the inability of central government to pay adequate salaries to soldiers and police or to maintain the planned level of demobilisation of local militia; and how this is being addressed.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is clearly essential that Afghan National Army (ANA) and Police Force (ANP) personnel are properly paid. We are aware that there have been some limited problems with payments and we have encouraged the US (which leads international support for the ANA), Germany (for the ANP) and the Afghan Government (whose ministries oversee the payments) to improve the system of payment. But this has not affected security outside Kabul. On the contrary, ANA and ANP units regularly contribute to resolving conflicts in the regions, most recently in Herat following the removal of former Governor Ismael Khan. And the ANA has also contributed effectively to coalition missions in the south and east.

11 Oct 2004 : Column WA4

The process of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of militia personnel has been slower than we would have liked. But progress is being made. On 7 September, President Karzai issued a decree adding a further 27,000 to the total number of militia to be disarmed, in addition to the 13,000 processed so far.

London Diplomatic List

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to change the position whereby British citizens on the London Diplomatic List may represent the interests of foreign governments; whether such persons receive full diplomatic privileges including exemptions for United Kingdom taxes; and whether they will name those persons on the current Diplomatic List who are known to hold British citizenship.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Under the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, members of the diplomatic staff of an Embassy or High Commission who are British nationals may not be appointed without the consent of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Where such cases arise, they are decided on their individual merits. In accordance with long-standing arrangements, members of a diplomatic mission of a Commonwealth country and of Ireland who are both nationals of that country and British nationals are treated, for the purposes of privileges and immunities, as if they were not British nationals. They are therefore entitled to full diplomatic privileges and immunities. Members of foreign diplomatic missions who are British nationals or permanent residents of the United Kingdom are not entitled to any privileges or immunities beyond immunity for acts performed in the course of their official functions. It is not the practice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make public details concerning individual diplomats, other than those published in the London Diplomatic List.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page