(HANSARD)in the third session of the fifty-second parliament of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland commencing on the seventh day of may in the forty-sixth year of the reign of
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
VOLUME DCXVII ELEVENTH VOLUME OF SESSION 1999--2000 House of Lords
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, it has long been the practice not to disclose the actual costs of protecting a particular individual. If those costs were revealed, it would be possible to estimate the scale of protection. That would prejudice the security of the individual concerned.
Lord Ahmed: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his reply. Now that Mr Rushdie is living in Manhattan, how long will we continue to provide his personal protection in New York? Is the Minister aware that Mr Rushdie charges 1 million dollars in advance for his publications, and that he has recently signed a contract with Random House for five books? Will he be paying tax to the British Government or the American Government?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it would be invidious for any Minister to discuss the tax affairs of any UK national. The level of protection which will be provided to Mr Rushdie during his time in America is entirely a matter for the American authorities. Perhaps
Lord Avebury: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that a bounty of 2.4 million dollars on the head of Mr Rushdie by the Iranian 15 Khordad Foundation exists and has not been withdrawn as a result of the conversations between Mr Cook and the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kharrazi? Can the Minister tell the House whether his right honourable friend Mr Cook has any plans to raise that matter with the Iranian authorities when he visits Tehran?
Lord Bragg: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Mr Salman Rushdie is domiciled in London? He is a British subject and the British Government pay nothing towards his protection in New York. Is he further aware that many people in Britain are proud of the effective protection given to Salman Rushdie, as they would be of similar protection given to any British subject?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, the Government have fully exploited the benefits of the peace dividend. They have shown their commitment to responsible arms export licensing. The United Kingdom has led the way in nuclear disarmament, both nationally and internationally. The UK supports the UN Secretary-General's "culture of prevention". The UN remains a key organisation in promoting peace. There is no conflict between our commitments to the UN and NATO, which underpin our defence and security.
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that answer. However, perhaps I may suggest that a pamphlet I have provides the means whereby the aims and ambitions of the Government as regards peace may be put into effect. The 10 contributors include Kofi Annan, Cilla Elworthy and many other writers of distinction. I shall arrange for copies to be placed in the Library in the next day or two. Members will then be able to decide for themselves whether the pamphlet contains important suggestions for ways in which the Government may put into effect their aims.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for bringing the pamphlet to the attention of the House and for his kindness in suggesting that it will be made generally available. I reassure my noble friend that the Government's commitment to nuclear disarmament remains. As a result of the recent non-proliferation treaty review conference, those aims are being progressed with greater energy.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Baroness will be aware that we have tried to target sanctions to hit those who will be most affected. I refer to the people responsible, as opposed to the ordinary people. It is our view that that is the better way forward. From the way in which we are progressing on those issues, I hope that the noble Baroness will see that "smart sanctions" are the ones which find greater favour within the international community.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the information sought is contained in the press releases issued by the Bank of England for each auction and is available on its website. The 1.8 billion dollar proceeds from the gold auctions held to date have been reinvested in interest-bearing foreign currency assets broadly in the proportion 40 per cent dollars, 40 per cent euros and 20 per cent yen. The only intervention undertaken since the euro was launched was on 22nd September 2000 when 85 million euros was purchased against sterling. To provide a short-term snapshot of the value of those medium-term portfolio decisions would not be meaningful.
Lord Blackwell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that informative reply. In the light of the Government's recent intervention to support the euro and press speculation over the weekend that the Government may intervene again, does the Minister stand by what he said in this House on 28th March this year when he assured us that the Government had no policy to intervene to create an artificial change in the euro-pound exchange rate? At that time he went on to explain,
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, what I said on 28th March was not intended to last for the whole millennium. The noble Lord knows that perfectly well. Circumstances change and we change with them; if we did not we would be very foolish. That was a decision of the Group of Seven. The role of the
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, would it not have been remarkable if an exercise involving the Bank of Japan, the Federal Reserve Bank and others had not involved the Bank of England? Secondly, can my noble friend comment further on the press reports and confirm that this exercise made a profit?
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