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Mr. Maude : The Strasbourg Council noted the Commission's intention to submit, before April, a composite paper on economic and monetary union. The ECOFIN Council on 18 December 1989 asked the Monetary Committee to undertake further work and report in March. Our EC colleagues and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs briefly discussed the work programme at the Foreign Affairs Council on 5 February. The Strasbourg Council decided that the inter-governmental conference would set its own agenda.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no current plans to do so. However, he has made it clear that if Mr. Walter Sisulu visits this country he would be happy to meet him.
Column 687intends taking as a signatory to the fourth Geneva convention on the recent report by Amnesty International on the Israeli Government's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
38. Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he intends taking as a signatory to the fourth Geneva convention on the recent report by Amnesty International on the Israeli Government's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs looks forward to maintaining the close working relationship which his predecessors enjoyed with Israeli Ministers. I saw the Israeli ambassador on 30 January and 1 February.
56. Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli Government about the intifada and the way in which Israeli troops are being used.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have repeatedly urged the Israeli authorities to administer the occupied territories in accordance with international law and human rights obligations, pending their withdrawal in the context of a negotiated settlement of the Arab/Israel dispute.
57. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to support the decision of the European Parliament to suspend scientific co-operation with Israel ; and if he will make a statement.
28. Mr. Callaghan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the South African authorities concerning the action of the South African police at Jan Smuts airport on 19 January against those objecting to the rebel cricket tour of South Africa and against British journalists covering the protests.
Mr. Waldegrave : We deplore the use of violence from whatever quarter in South Africa. We have expressed our concern to the South African authorities over recent incidents. We note that the South African Government are committed to allowing peaceful demonstrations provided proper authority is sought.
48. Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has received from the committee meeting held on the weekend of 20 and 21 January to discuss a basic law for Hong Kong post-1997.
Mr. Maude : None. The drafting of the basic law is a matter for the Chinese Government. However, we are following the drafting process extremely closely and, where necessary, seek clarification from and make representations to the Chinese Government. The content of those exchanges is confidential.
43. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations there have been between his Department and the Chinese Government about the percentage of Hong Kong legislature positions to be directly elected post-1997.
Mr. Maude : The Chinese Government are currently finalising the drafting of the political structure provisions of the basic law. We have made clear to the Chinese Government, on a number of occasions, the importance of a basic law which fully reflects Hong Kong people's views, especially in this important area.
Mr. Maude : Some 42,000 people emigrated from Hong Kong in 1989, of whom about 20,000 were part of the working population. Of these, about 50 per cent. were professional, technical, administrative and management personnel.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what training the immigration officers, currently involved in the screening process of the Vietnam refugees in Hong Kong, have undertaken.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 24 January 1990] : Immigration officers assigned to screening duties have attended training courses conducted by the immigration department and the UNHCR's legal officers from the department of law and doctrine. In addition, there are frequent formal and informal in-service training sessions designed to ensure that the screening procedures are being carried out in accordance with UNHCR guidelines.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Vietnamese asylum seekers, their representatives or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are allowed to be present at the meeting, where the refugee status review board considers individual cases.
Column 689Mr. Maude [holding answer 24 January 1990] : No. But the representatives of the asylum seekers and the UNHCR have an opportunity to put all the relevant information to the board before their cases are considered. The board may also interview asylum seekers if it requires clarification of any matter of fact.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many punishment cells there are at present in the Hong Kong camps ; what are the dimensions of such cells ; what is the average stay of each individual in the cells ; and how widespread is their use.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 24 January 1990] : Of the 10 Vietnamese boat people detention centres in Hong Kong, four have segregation sections, containing a combined total of 133 cubicles. The dimensions of these varies from 3.5 sq m to 7.5 sq m. The average length of stay is 14 days. They are used only for persons who seriously and repeatedly breach detention centre rules.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will commission a fully independent and impartial inquiry into the methods used by the correctional services department and the tactical response squad in the Hong Kong camps.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number of disturbances that have taken place in the closed camps in Hong Kong since June 1988 and the number of detainees involved.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 24 January 1990] : Most disturbances in the detention centres since June 1988 have been caused by clashes between rival groups of boat people. There were 25 such incidents during the period June 1988 to January 1990 involving groups of between 50 and 400 people. In addition, there were three serious disturbances directed against police or correctional services department officers. These were :
Place |Time |Numbers |involved -------------------------------------------------------- Sek Kong |July 1989 |2,000 Tai a Chau |August 1989 |1,000 Chi Ma Wan |December 1989|3,000
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what processes the detainees in the Hong Kong camps have open to them to complain about alleged attacks and ill-treatment at the hands of the police and correctional services department.
Mr. Maude [holding answer 24 January 1990] : Complaints may be made to visiting justices of the peace, to the UNHCR protection and field officers who work in all camps or, in the case of the police, to the complaints against the police office. All such complaints are thoroughly investigated.
Mr. Waldegrave : The achievement of peace in Somalia must be primarily a matter for the Somali people. We continue to support all constructive efforts to promote this process. Regrettably there is little sign of progress so far.
32. Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what implications the 1992 changes will have for international relations between Britain and (a) other European Community member states and (b) developing or undeveloped countries.
Mr. Maude : The single market programme will integrate the economies of the EC member states more closely. By removing barriers to trade, and increasing the size of the market, it should provide new opportunities for those of our trading partners who are outside the Community.
33. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the operation of immigration controls overseas is made more effective.
Mr. Maude : Applications made overseas for entry clearance to come to the United Kingdom are dealt with in accordance with the immigration rules (HC 388). The entry clearance operation is kept under continual review and we are satisfied that it operates effectively.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have been at the forefront of those calling for Mr. Mandela's early and unconditional release. We warmly welcome the decision announced by President de Klerk on 2 February that Mr. Mandela will shortly be released.
35. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps his Department will take to help support the political and economic reforms taking place among the countries of eastern Europe.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have said that we will extend the know-how fund to other eastern European countries once they are fully committed to reform. Meanwhile we will also support the reforms through an expanded programme of ministerial contacts, visits, seminars and training schemes. We will continue to play a major role in international efforts to support the reform process.
36. Mr. Batiste : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Her Majesty's Government are doing to ensure that European Community aid to eastern Europe is properly utilised in projects that will enable successful market economies to emerge.
Column 691responding to developments in eastern Europe should be consolidation of democratic reform and promotion of market-based economies. British Ministers and officials consult closely the European Commission, EC partners and other members of the Western Group of 24 on the best means of achieving this objective. Commission proposals for EC aid made against this background are considered fully in the Council and in the management committee which oversees expenditure of the EC's aid budget for eastern Europe. Member states' agreement is required before aid projects are implemented.
81. Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further assessment he has made of the impact on future Government policy of recent events in eastern Europe.
Mr. Maude : We warmly welcome the recent historic changes in eastern Europe and we shall continue to support the political and economic reforms which are now occurring. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was glad to announce on 22 January that our know-how funds for Poland and Hungary will now be expanded to include the remaining countries of the region, as they move decisively toward democracy and the adoption of market-based economic systems.
76. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the desirability of institutional changes in the European Community following the developments in eastern Europe.
Mr. Maude : We welcome the process of economic and political reform which has swept eastern Europe. We agree the Community must continue to develop, and want faster integration. The immediate priority is for pressing ahead with completing the single market programme on which the United Kingdom has taken a leading role. Proposals for institutional change should be considered on their merits.
40. Sir Anthony Meyer : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with other EC Ministers about future relations with the states of eastern Europe.
Mr. Maude : Eastern Europe was the focus of the Dublin meeting of EC Foreign Ministers on 20 January. Those discussions resumed at the Foreign Affairs Council on 5 February. The Community intends to complete the network of agreements covering trade and commercial and economic co- operation with the emerging democracies of eastern Europe. As their economic and political reforms progress, the Council will consider wider forms of association and the criteria that are appropriate.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs next expects to meet the President of the European Commission at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 5 March, when a range of EC issues will be discussed.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met Mr. Delors at the Foreign Affairs Council on 5 February at which a range of European Community issues were discussed.
39. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's contribution towards finding a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict acceptable to the international community.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is in touch with the Chinese Government on a number of issues, including the future of Hong Kong, on which he reported to the House on 17 January.
Mr. Maude : We have been unequivocal in our condemnation of the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Peking last year. We and our partners will continue to take suitable opportunities to register our concerns.
42. Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will desist from any further contacts with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as long as it is its policy that Arab countries should open their borders to Palestinian Fedayeen action.
Mr. Waldegrave : Through its renunciation of terrorism and its recognition of Israel, the PLO has earned the right to participate in the peace process. Our dialogue with it is conducted on that basis.
Mr. Waldegrave : The respective talks between the Ethiopian Government and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front have not yet got beyond procedural matters. We urge all involved to persevere since negotiations offer the only prospect of a lasting peace.
Mr. Maude : The United Kingdom is sending an official observer, Dr. David Browning. No other EC Government will be sending official observers to the Nicaraguan elections. However, we understand that a number of parliamentarians from EC countries will observe the election, some as members of the UN observer mission. A group of Members of the European Parliament will also observe the elections.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have frequently raised human rights matters with the Yugoslav authorities. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed the question of Kosovo with the Yugoslav ambassor, Mr. Rikonovic, on 22 November.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have raised the matter with a wide range of Governments and organisations which might have influence on the hostage holders, but we do not make public confidential exchanges between Governments.
52. Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aid his Department is channelling to Romania ; and if he has considered the extension of the know-how fund beyond Poland and Hungary.
Mr. Waldegrave : As well as the initial consignment of medical supplies sent to Romania on 24 December, we have given medical equipment and literature. Five victims of the December fighting arrived in the United Kingdom for urgent treatment on 31 January. We made a major contribution to the £7.5 million of emergency medical and food supplies sent by the EC between 22 and 31 December, and shall also do so in relation to the further £27 million food aid package which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs agreed with EC colleagues on 20 January. Furthermore, my right hon. Friend announced on 22 January that the know-how fund will be expanded to include other countries of eastern Europe, as well as Poland and Hungary, once they are firmly committed to reform.
53. Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what particular initiative he is hoping to take at the forthcoming special United Nations session on drug misuse and trafficking.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will be going to the special session. The United Kingdom will be working for a commitment to improving the effectiveness of the United Nations effort against drugs, and for agreement on a practical programme of international and national action--including ratification of relevant United Nations conventions, measures to strengthen the monitoring of precursor chemical movements, and undertakings to develop a network of agreements to trace, freeze and confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs expects to meet President Barco of Colombia when he attends the London drugs summit conference in April. He hopes then also to meet the representatives of the other Andean countries to the conference.
58. Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the latest figures for numbers of Vietnamese boat people repatriated forcibly and voluntarily from Hong Kong.
Mr. Maude : Eleven hundred and one Vietnamese have returned voluntarily from Hong Kong to Vietnam. Fifty-one Vietnamese, who had not volunteered to return, were repatriated on 12 December 1989. No force was used.