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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Instability in Burundi contributes to insecurity in the rest of the Great Lakes region. Resolution of the Burundi conflict will improve the prospects for peace throughout the region. There can be no military solution to the situation in Burundi. We have urged all parties in Burundi to dedicate themselves to a negotiated settlement. The UK has contributed over £450,000 to the Burundi peace negotiations and stands ready to support further a credible commitment to peace. We continue to work with our EU and regional partners in the search for peace in Burundi. The recent appointment of Nelson Mandela as a mediator is very welcome and we will offer any assistance to him that we can.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Britain has worked to develop the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy since its establishment in 1992. Part of this effort has been to work with our EU partners in mobilising Europe's substantial political and economic weight to counter emerging threats. The European Defence Initiative will further strengthen CFSP by delivering credible military capabilities to underpin our policies. The US have a positive view of CFSP, understanding that a stronger Europe means a stronger Alliance.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: As soon as practicable, given the need for preparatory work before the introduction of a Bill, and in the context of the Government's priorities in the Legislative Programme. Delay does not signal any lack of resolve on the part of the Government to ensure that the commitment to offer citizenship is carried out.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The cases of the 13 members of the Iranian Jewish community and others detained on espionage charges have yet to come to trial. The sentencing of the four students to which his Lordship refers is less clear cut. There have been reports that one has been acquitted and the other three have received the death sentence but continue to have a right of appeal. But we and EU partners do not believe that the death penalty is justified under any circumstances. We have expressed our concern over all these cases with the Iranians on many occasions. We have in the past pressed the Iranian Government for clemency in cases where the death sentence has been confirmed. If necessary, we will do so again.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The EU Presidency expressed concern about these issues on behalf of ourselves and our EU partners during the latest round of EU/Iran talks on 1 December. We continue to follow events in Iran closely in the run-up to February's Majles (Parliament) elections. Our policy of engagement with Iran will continue and we will use the opportunities this affords to raise our concerns with the Iranians.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong is a treaty registered at the United Nations which creates international rights and obligations for both parties to it. The Joint Declaration has no termination date, although China has made an explicit commitment that its basic policies on Hong Kong, which include maintaining Hong Kong's capitalist system and way of life, will remain unchanged for 50 years from 1 July 1997. Under paragraph 7 of the Joint Declaration, China committed herself to abide by all her commitments in the Joint Declaration.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government have granted a licence for the export to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) of 7 x 500 metre lengths of electrical firing cable for use by the HALO Trust, an organisation engaged in humanitarian demining activities in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). These goods are on the UK's Military List.
UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1160 imposed an arms embargo on the FRY. The only exception to this embargo is that in UNSCR 1244, which provides that prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for use by the international civil and
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): Apex fares and other concessionary fares are not regulated by the Franchise Director and are offered by train operating companies at their discretion. We do not maintain records of all unregulated fares which are on offer, but I understand that some train operators have reduced the number of concessions offered because of increased demand for services.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have appointed the right honourable Lord Justice Auld to conduct a review of the criminal courts. The terms of reference of the review are as follows: "An inquiry into the practices and procedures of, and the rules of evidence applied by, the criminal courts at every level, with a view to ensuring that they deliver justice fairly, by streamlining all their processes, increasing their efficiency and strengthening the effectiveness of their relationships with others across the whole of the criminal justice system, and having regard to the interests of all parties including the victims and witnesses, thereby promoting public confidence in the law".
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The strength of our financial services industry is vital to our economy. And the dynamic nature of the financial services industry means there can be no room for complacency. So it is right that the Government should include the impact on our financial services industry as one of the five economic tests for potential EMU membership.
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