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The circumstances of military action in Sierra Leone are unclear and are disputed by both sides. Our Permanent Representative to the UN made clear at the first meeting of the Sanctions Committee that we expect Nigeria to operate strictly within the provisions of UNSCR 1132.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Angola has not reported its military intervention in the Republic of Congo to the United Nations Security Council. On 17 October, the Security Council issued a statement condemning all external interference in the Republic of Congo and, in particular, the intervention of foreign forces in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, and calling for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces including mercenaries. The UK fully supports this statement.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Iraq has agreed to allow all UNSCOM weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. We hope that they will resume their vital work immediately. It is not sensible to speculate on the circumstances in which military action would be appropriate. If Iraq reverted to the obstruction witnessed over recent weeks, this would be a clear breach of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The legal justification for the use of force would have to be considered in the light of circumstances at the time.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The nationalities of professionals who make up UNSCOM inspection teams are a matter for the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM. We are not privy to any list of such personnel. UNSCOM personnel are not afforded diplomatic status: they enjoy the facilities, privileges and immunities provided for by the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialised Agencies. UNSCOM personnel are bound by an undertaking not to communicate any information outside the United Nations without the approval of the Executive Chairman.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are strongly committed to the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), not only in the Middle East, but globally. We have consistently supported the idea of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. We have also urged all states in the region to ratify the relevant conventions and treaties on weapons of mass destruction.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is indeed a significant security threat. We continue to urge Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in order to allay international suspicions about her nuclear activities. We also continue to encourage Israel to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and accede to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The case referred to concerned the responsibilities of social services authorities in England and Wales under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. The House of Lords judgment in this particular case applies equally in Scotland as Section 2 of that Act extends to Scotland.
I am advised by the responsible Northern Ireland Minister that, although the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 does not extend to Northern Ireland, the terms of its Section 2 are replicated in Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Northern Ireland) Act 1978. In interpreting the
Lord Sewel: Local authorities are under strict statutory obligations to conduct their business in a way which is open to public scrutiny. The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 makes requirements about the openness of council meetings (and meetings of committees and sub-committees) to the public, and about public access to documents associated with these meetings. The Local Government (Access to Information) (Scotland) Order 1996 extended these provisions to the joint boards created on local government reorganisation.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities issued a Code of Openness in Local Government in January 1997, to set out principles of openness and to give advice and examples of good practice to local authorities. This document was produced by a working group which included officials from the Scottish Office and representatives of the Local Government Ombudsman, the Accounts Commission and the Scottish Consumer Council. I have arranged for a copy of the code to be placed in the Library of the House.
The Government have announced their intention to set up an Independent Commission on Local Government and the Scottish Parliament; it is intended that part of this commission's remit will include an examination of the accountability of local authorities to their electorate, and this may include consideration of the openness of local authorities. The Government are also considering the development of a new ethical framework for local government in the light of the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recent report, and intend to publish proposals in the near future.
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