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Written Answers

Wednesday, 10 November 2004.

EU: Subsidised Food Exports

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The Government are not currently undertaking any analysis of potential impacts on mortality rates of subsidised European Union food exports to developing countries, nor are we aware of other research on this issue. The Government do, however recognise the damaging economic impact that trade-distorting subsidies in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have on developing countries and we are committed to securing reductions in these subsidies, through reform of the common agricultural policy and the World Trade Organisation talks.

The common agricultural policy reform package agreed by EU Agriculture Ministers on 26 June last year marks a significant shift in the EU's agricultural policy. The decoupling of subsidies from production should increase the market orientation of European farmers, leading to reductions in production and disposal of subsidised surpluses abroad.

The Government also fully support the commitment made at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in 2001 "to reduce, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies, and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support". These commitments have been further progressed in the World Trade Organisation through the Framework Agreement reached in August this year.

Iraq: Uranium Procurement

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) report concludes that there is no evidence to suggest that Iraq sought to procure uranium from Africa in the 1990s. The Government continue to believe that credible evidence exists to
 
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support the assertion made in the September 2002 dossier. Lord Butler of Brockwell's review upheld that belief. The Government have accepted in full the findings of Lord Butler's review. The UK was not in a position to share all the intelligence on this issue with the ISG.

Democratic Republic of Congo: MONUC

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Security Council Resolution 1565 of 1 October authorised the deployment of a further 5,900 military personnel with the necessary specialist force enablers. We expect this enhancement of the mission to improve its effectiveness and to enable it to carry out the given tasks.

An assessment mission from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo where it undertook further detailed planning for the troop increases and looked in detail at the restructuring and reorganisation of the mission to improve its effectiveness.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: MONUC does not have a military presence in Kilwa which is situated in Katanga. There was no specific information or warning of the attack prior to it taking place.

MONUC has a brigade employed in Ituri but in such a large area there is difficulty in identifying or apprehending the militia forces as most come from the local community. MONUC was not made aware of any attacks until after they had been perpetrated.

MONUC has already repatriated over 11,000 foreign combatants. UN Resolution 1565 authorised MONUC to undertake voluntary repatriation and to continue to work with the forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo to locate the remaining ex-FAR/Interhamwe and encourage them to enter the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration programme.
 
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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There have been no allegations against UK personnel serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I can assure the noble Lord that any such allegations would be thoroughly investigated and the appropriate action taken.

There is a system in place within the United Nations Mission in the DRC to investigate offences by its personnel. In addition, the UK supports the Security Council's call in its Resoution 1565 for troop contributing countries to take appropriate disciplinary and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of misconduct involving their personnel.

Russia: Social Inclusion and Social Services

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We regularly engage with the Russian authorities on social inclusion. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Bill Rammell, discussed various aspects of social inclusion with the Russian Human Rights Ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, during his visit to Moscow in April this year. This subject was also covered during the official level bilateral UK-Russia human rights talks held at the FCO in September. It is due to be discussed again during Mr Lukin's scheduled visit to the UK later this month.

Outside these discussions, the Department for International Development is actively engaged with federal and regional authorities in Russia on a range of programmes and activities designed to support planned reforms in the areas of social inclusion and social services. Similarly, the FCO is spending around £900,000 this financial year on projects in Russia which are aimed at encouraging social inclusion coupled with the protection of individual rights.

Afghanistan: Opium Trade

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2003 Opium Survey assesses the income of Afghan opium farmers and traffickers in 2003 to be some 2.3 billion dollars, equivalent to 50 per cent of Afghanistan's estimated legitimate GDP.

The UK has committed more than £70 million over three years for counternarcotics activity, plus significant development funding and support to develop alternative livelihoods for farmers dependent on opium cultivation. The UK is helping the Afghan Government to build up the institutions which are fundamental to long-term success. In the first year of implementation of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, the basic counternarcotics structures have been put in place: drug control legislation, a Counter Narcotics Directorate, the Ministry of Interior's Afghan Special Narcotics Force, the Counter Narcotics Police and a central eradication capability. UNODC will publish its annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan later this month. The figures are not yet available.

We are working closely with the Afghan Government and the international community to secure a reduction in cultivation over the next year.


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