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28. Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the prospects for reform in East Germany following the meeting of the four powers in Berlin.
37. Mr. Mans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the prospects for reform in East Germany following the meeting of the four powers in Berlin.
Mr. Waldegrave : We are greatly encouraged by the steps Mr. Modrow's Government are taking to introduce real democracy into the GDR. We hope for further progress in the run-up to the elections planned to take place next May.
Mr. Waldegrave : Our bilateral relations remain excellent. I am pleased to say that Shaikh Sa'ad Abdullah Al Sabah, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Kuwait, has recently accepted an invitation to visit the United Kingdom as a guest of the Government later this year.
Column 647Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not had the opportunity of an official meeting with the Somali ambassador since taking up his present appointment. Senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are in frequent contact with the ambassador about developments in Somalia.
33. Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for United Kingdom policy of the prospects for reform in Czechoslovakia.
Mr. Waldegrave : We are confident that recent events in Czechoslovakia will allow much closer bilateral relations. Once the necessary economic and political reforms are in place, we will consider economic assistance at interna-tional and bilateral level.
Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs looks forward to meeting and working closely with Mr. Gujral, the new Indian Minister for External Affairs, but he has no specific plans for a meeting at present.
38. Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what has been Her Majesty's Government's response to President Gorbachev's proposal to bring forward the next conference on security and co-operation in Europe review conference.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Soviet Union has modified President Gorbachev's original suggestion of holding a CSCE summit meeting to launch a Helsinki follow-up meeting brought forward from 1992 to 1990. Mr. Shevardnadze has since said, on a number of occasions, that the Soviet Union does not want the CSCE summit, which the Soviet Union has proposed for 1990, to interfere with the programme of intersessional CSCE meetings arranged in 1990-92, nor with the holding of the Helsinki follow-up meeting in 1992. We are willing to consider the suggestion of a CSCE summit in 1990. A successful meeting would require careful preparation and clarity as to its intended purpose and goals.
Mr. Sainsbury : International co-operation against the drugs trade takes place in a number of fora, notably the United Nations, the European Community and the Council of Europe. In my statement to the United Nations General Assembly in November, I called for greater resources for the United Nations drugs effort ; and for a restructuring of the United Nations drugs bodies to make them more effective. The General Assembly has now called on the
secretary-general to convene an expert group to review these issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs hopes to attend a United Nations special session on drugs in New York next month. The Government will also host a world ministerial summit in London in April 1990 to look at ways of reducing the demand for drugs and combating the cocaine threat.
Column 649Mr. Waldegrave : The constituent assembly has made substantial progress towards agreeing a draft constitution. On this basis, we believe Namibia will achieve independence within the timetable of the United Nations plan.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is being provided to the Nicaraguan authorities in connection with that country's forthcoming election.
47. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation he has received on the Indo- Nepalese trade and transit dispute ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : We have received many representations. We have been very concerned at this dispute, and its effects on the people of Nepal, and are therefore much encouraged by the new Indian Government's statements about the need to improve relations with Nepal, and by the news that the two Foreign Ministers will meet soon.
49. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation he has made to the Government of the United States of America concerning peace plans for central America.
52. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the development of further integration in the European Community following the declaration of Heads of Government at Strasbourg on 10 December.
55. Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if officials of his Department have entered into discussions with representatives of the Argentinian Government concerning the possible resumption of fishing of Argentinian fishing vessels in Falkland waters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : Talks on fisheries between British and Argentine representatives took place in a working group in Paris on 18 and 19 December 1989. Officials discussed ways of exchanging information, in order to improve both sides' understanding of fishing questions and promote the conservation of fish stocks. The report of the working group will be considered at the next substantive meeting to discuss relations between the two countries in Madrid on 14 and 15 February. The question of fishing in the Falkland Islands interim conservation and management zone by Argentine vessels did not arise.
Mr. Maude : We believe that the United Nations Secretary-General's initiative offers the best hope of settling the Cyprus dispute. We strongly support it, and do not propose any new initiative ourselves which might cut across it.
58. Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans to meet representatives of the African National Congress in London to discuss the situation in South Africa.
64. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he accepts without serious reservation the recommendations presented in the report on force comparisons which was approved by the
Column 651WEU assembly on 6 December ; and what role he envisages for the Western European Union in the pursuit of verification of arms reductions.
Mr. Waldegrave : We welcome the support expressed in this report for NATO's agreed arms control priorities. But we cannot endorse all its specific proposals. In particular, the report's recommendations on short- range nuclear forces differ from the Alliance's agreed position as set out in the comprehensive concept. We consider that the WEU can provide useful support for NATO's work on conventional arms control verification by helping to ensure that the European contribution is as effective as possible.
67. Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what approaches he has made to the British Broadcasting Corporation external services concerning the situation in Romania.
Mr. Waldegrave : We regularly review with the BBC world service the hours of broadcasting to Romania and other countries. In view of the situation in Romania, the FCO and the BBC agreed to increase the evening broadcast by 15 minutes a day, Monday to Saturday, from 21 December, and to introduce additional dawn transmissions of 15 minutes a day on Saturdays and Sundays from 23 December.
Mr. Waldegrave : Her Majesty's ambassador in Bucharest has had cordial meetings with members of the new Government of Romania. We look forward to developments in Romania which will make close and fruitful relations possible.
Mr. Waldegrave : We were encouraged by the commitments made by the new Government of Romania to pluralism, democracy and respect for human rights. If such commitments are fully realised it will be possible to develop cordial and close relations with Romania.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has overall responsibility for policy towards the European Community. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for economic and monetary issues.
Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not met Salvadorean Ministers recently. The importance which we attach to respect for human rights was emphasised to both President Cristiani and Foreign Minister Pacas on the occasion of their visit in September last year.
Mr. Sainsbury : We fully support the efforts of President Barco in combating the activities of the illegal drugs traffickers in Colombia. As my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced on 27 September in New York, the Government are providing a substantial package of practical assistance to the Colombian authorities. This includes the provision of non-lethal equipment, technical expertise and training in a number of areas including bomb disposal, close protection of VIPs, secure communications, police data processing and riverine patrolling. Royal Naval vessels in the area are periodically deployed to provide surveillance assistance to Colombia.
Mr. Maude : The European Council in Strasbourg on 8 and 9 December agreed in principle to set up a European bank for reconstruction and development. Follow-up discussion has continued within the Council. A substantive follow-up meeting of interested parties will take place in Paris on 15 and 16 January 1990. This is consistent with the timetable set by the European Council. The Strasbourg Council set a target for negotiations to open in January 1990.
Column 653to make a visit to Australia in order to maintain the valuable dialogue that we now have with the Australians on a wide range of international issues. No decision has yet been made on the timing of such a visit.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will obtain for his departmental library a copy of the book "The Colombian Amazon : Policies for the Protection of its Indigenous Peoples and their Environment", by Peter Bunyard.
Mr. Sainsbury : The publication "The Colombian Amazon : Policies for the Protection of its Indigenous Peoples and their Environment", by Peter Bunyard has been ordered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office library.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what is his Department's policy towards support for President Mobutu Sese Seko in mediations between the MPLA and UNITA in Angola ;
(2) whether he has made any recent representations to the MPLA-PT in Angola concerning any response which it may make to the peace proposals placed before it in October by President Mobutu Sese Seko.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have consistently stressed the need for a political settlement in Angola. The terms of such a settlement are for the MPLA Government of Angola and UNITA to decide. We support President Mobutu's work as mediator and trust that this will lead to an early end to the fighting and to negotiations without pre-conditions between the two sides.
Mr. Sainsbury : We intend to introduce the necessary Orders in Council under the Extradition Act 1989 during the present Session. Subject to the approval of Parliament, signature and ratification of the convention will then follow.
Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether there is currently a prima facie requirement in respect of requests for extradition to the United Kingdom from those countries which have ratified the European convention on extradition.
Mr. Sainsbury : Requests for extradition to the United Kingdom from those countries party to the convention with which we have bilateral extradition treaties must be supported by evidence or particulars sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the relevant treaty.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to require any public bodies receiving grants from the EEC to declare this in the publications of these bodies.
Mr. Maude : Individual departmental chapters of the public expenditure White Paper already refer to any significant receipts from the EC in respect of the Department's programme. The Government expect all public bodies to publish details of significant grant receipts from the EC.
Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance he has given to unaccompanied minors from Vietnam currently residing in Hong Kong's refugee camps.
Mr. Maude : The Hong Kong Government are discussing with UNHCR the establishment of special procedures under the comprehensive plan of action for dealing with unaccompanied minors, with the aim of identifying the most humane and appropriate course in each individual case. This might mean repatriation where the child's parents or closest relatives are in Vietnam or resettlement elsewhere where the nearest family ties are overseas.
Ms. Clare Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many additional people would qualify for the following benefits if the capital limits were increased to (a) £8,000, where applicable, (b) £10,000, (c) £12,000 or (d) abolished ; and what would be the full year cost of each of these changes at current benefit levels (i) income support, (ii) family credit, (iii) National Health Service benefits, (iv) housing benefit, (v) community charge benefit and (vi) the social fund.
Additional people qualifying Full year cost at current rate (Thousands) (£ million) Upper capital limit |IS |FC |HB |CCB |IS |FC |HB |CCB -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- £8,000 |10 |<1>- |- |- |25 |<2>- |- |- £10,000 |20 |<1>- |25 |35 |45 |<2>- |20 |10 £12,000 |30 |<1>- |30 |55 |55 |<2>- |25 |15 Abolished |40 |<3>1.5 |40 |85 |65 |<4>1 |50 |20 <1>Denotes less than 1.5 thousand people. <2>Denotes less than £1 million. <3>Approximately. <4>Around.
Because most expenditure from the social fund is discretionary, it is not possible to estimate the effect on the fund of implementing the changes.
Qualification for the NHS low income scheme depends not only on the patient's financial circumstances but on the nature and level of the particular charge or expenses incurred. Therefore meaningful estimates of the effect of changing the capital limits are not possible.