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Written Answers

Friday 14 December 2012

Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will name those who have been awarded the Victoria Cross who were Muslims.[HL3697]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence does not hold specific information on the religion of medal recipients.

Armed Forces: Unmanned Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to take measures to prevent worldwide proliferation of unmanned aircraft, in particular those armed for attacks.[HL3969]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK is strongly committed to the need for appropriate controls on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including those that are armed. The UK is one of 34 states which make up the missile technology control regime (MTCR) and which work together to prevent the proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This includes UAVs. The MTCR rests on adherence to common export policy guidelines (the MTCR guidelines) applied to an agreed list of controlled items. The UK supports MTCR outreach to non-members to work towards wider adherence to the MTCR guidelines.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 30 October (WA 121–2), by what methods and routes those 760 asylum seekers who had first been registered in Greece gained admission to the United Kingdom; and whether they will investigate any failings in border security which allowed this, and develop means to prevent entry of asylum seekers already registered in another European Union country.[HL3089]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The information is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Individuals who have applied for asylum in another EU country and want to come to the UK are required to meet the same immigration requirements as any other foreign national. In most cases they would be unable to meet these requirements while their asylum application is under consideration and so would be unable to enter the UK legally.

The Government are committed to tackling illegal entry by maintaining the highest standards of border security and regularly review its effectiveness. Border Force works closely with French partners, deploying the latest technology to detect individuals seeking to evade border checks in the juxtaposed ports in northern France. We are also working closely with European partners to support the improvement of border and asylum arrangements in countries such as Greece to help disrupt illegal migration flows long before they reach the UK.

British Overseas Territories

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether British Overseas Territories are required to purchase British goods and services in preference to similar goods from a foreign source.[HL3992]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): No. We expect the Governments of the British Overseas Territories to put in place open and transparent procurement processes to ensure value for money and in line with good international practice.

At the Joint Ministerial Council on 4 and 5 December, UK and territory Ministers agreed to work together to promote trade and investment between the territories and the UK.

EU: Competence

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which departments are conducting an analysis of the effect of European Union competences; at what cost; whether they will publish a combined report; and, if so, when.[HL4065]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), set out the timetable for the review including departmental responsibility for the 32 reports into each individual area of competence on 23 October (Official Report, cols. WS 5-7).

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Work on the review is drawing on existing resources and reports will be published at the end of each of the four semesters. A final decision will be taken closer to the time on collating the individual reports produced by the review.

EU: Trade Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 6 December (WS 76–7) on the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, whether the outcome of the negotiations with Japan, Canada, Singapore and Morocco will require those countries to adopt all the legislation and regulations that apply to countries in the single market.[HL4061]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): It is not the case that as a result of these trade negotiations the countries concerned will have to adopt all the legislation and regulations that apply to EU member states.

The aim of these negotiations is to eliminate, as far as possible, duties applied to trade in goods and to address non-tariff barriers that affect trade in goods in services—ie rules, regulations and practices that affect market access. Non-tariff barriers can be overcome through a variety of methods. These include the adoption of international rules, mutual recognition of approaches to testing, standards, et cetera, and commitments to end discriminatory practices.

India

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures are in place to ensure that United Kingdom military equipment exported to India is not used against civilians in Kashmir.[HL3934]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, the right honourable Michael Fallon, in the other place on 6 November 2012 (Official Report, col. 590W). An extract of the answer is noted below.

All export licences for military goods are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. An export licence will not be issued if the decision is not consistent with the criteria. Assessments of export licence applications for military goods to India and Pakistan will take account of the continuing tensions over Kashmir.

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The following criteria are relevant:

Criterion 2:

The respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country of final destination. A licence will not be issued if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.

Criterion 3

The internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts. The Government will not issue export licences for exports which would provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions or conflicts in the country of final destination.

Criterion 4

Preservation of regional peace, security and stability. The Government will not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country, or to assert by force a territorial claim.

Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what training or other forms of assistance to Sudan they have provided already, and plan to provide in 2013, to (1) the Armed Forces, (2) military intelligence, (3) national intelligence, and (4) security forces of Sudan.[HL3913]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) provides a limited programme of defence education to officers from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). This is funded by the Africa Conflict Pool Programme (ACPP) and represents the MoD contribution to wider UK efforts to promote stability, accountability and good governance in Sudan in line with the Building Stability Overseas Strategy. The intent is to encourage security sector reform and improve respect for human rights, professionalism, and governance and accountability mechanisms within the armed forces. This has been matched by a similar programme in South Sudan as part of a balanced approach to defence engagement which has directly enabled the UK to play a central role in support of African Union-led efforts to prevent further conflict between the two countries.

In this financial year, five SAF officers have or will attend courses in the UK. These include a place at the Royal College of Defence Studies, a place on the advanced command and staff course, basic officer training, and a place on the managing defence in the wider security context course at the UK Defence Academy. This course examines approaches to the governance and management of defence in developed and transitional democracies.

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A condensed version of the wider security context course is also delivered in Khartoum, as is a Defence Academy-delivered course focused on strategic leadership. A small number of places on these courses are offered to students from military intelligence, national intelligence, the security forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of a cross-government approach to encouraging improved governance and accountability within the Sudanese security sector.

Through the British Council, we also deliver English language teaching (ELT) at the Sudanese Staff College. This improves SAF ability to communicate with the United Nations missions in Sudan and provides a medium for education on topics such as international humanitarian law. ELT also improves interoperability with neighbouring countries, and is intended to encourage Sudan to play a more positive regional role through participation in east African regional security architecture.

The programme of activity for 2013 is still being determined, but we expect to bring fewer officers back to the UK, and deliver more bespoke education in country on issues such as democratic governance, human rights and the law of armed conflict.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they will make to the Government of Turkey following the recent arrest of four deputies belonging to the Peace and Democracy Party. [HL3894]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government do not plan to make specific representations to the Government of Turkey over the arrest of four members of the Peace and Democracy Party. We expect high legal and judicial standards to be observed in line with Turkey’s responsibilities as a member of the Council of Europe. We continue to lobby the Turkish Government on human rights at ministerial and senior official level.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the reduction in the number of visas issued to students on the ability of United Kingdom businesses to attract young international talent.[HL3890]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The number of sponsored student visa applications to study at our universities has increased. The reduction in sponsored student visa applications has come from those sectors where there was previously most abuse.

The immigration package is deliberately targeted at ensuring that UK businesses are able to attract the best international talent, who will contribute to growth in our economy. Upon graduation those with a job offer paying at least £20,000 per annum are able to stay and we also have a very attractive offer for graduate entrepreneurs to stay and build a business in the UK.