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Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, dated 2 March 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many prisoners from (a) Gwynedd, (b) Clwyd and (c) Powys are currently serving custodial sentences in prisons in England.
The available information is for the county of the sentencing court and the latest provisional statistics are for 31 December 1993. On that date the numbers of prisoners held in Prison Service Establishments in England and Wales who had been sentenced by courts in Gwynedd, Clwyd and Powys were 106, 205 and 39 respectively.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of prisoners being transported and the number of prison officer escorts in the prison coach escape which took place on 17 February while on its way to Wandsworth prison ; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 2 March 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question on the number of prisoners being transported and the number of prison officer escorts in the prison coach escape which took place on 17 February while on its way to Wandsworth prison.
On 16 February, eight prisoners were being escorted on the National Escort by five prison staff.
A full inquiry into the escape of two prisoners from this escort is under way. One prisoner was recaptured shortly after by the police but the other remains at large.
Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison officers, and at which prisons, have been disciplined in each year since 1991 for the use of racially derogatory or insulting language under the terms of the "Code of Conduct for Prison Officers Race Relations Manual" published in 1991.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. John Cummings, dated 2 March 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking about the numbers of prison officers who have been disciplined for using racially derogatory or insulting language since 1991. The Race Relations Manual to which you refer was published in 1991 as part of the Prison Service's commitment to equality of opportunity and the elimination of discrimination on improper grounds. It is not in itself a code of conduct, but a manual which consolidates all previous advice and quidance on race relations matters. The Manual makes it clear that the use of racially derogatory or insulting language towards prisoners is not acceptable.
Column 739In July 1993 a new code of discipline was introduced which cites "racial or sexual harassment or discrimination towards inmates, colleagues or members of the public" as specific examples of behaviour which may lead to disciplinary action. Since the implementation of the new code, no instances of disciplinary awards for this type of offence have been recorded. There was no requirement for all disciplinary cases under the pre-July 1993 code of discipline to be reported centrally, but we are aware of the following two cases since 1991, each concerning one officer.
Prison |Result |Date ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Highpoint |Dismissal |February 1992 Leicester |Written reprimand|November 1992
Dr. Lynne : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what were the reasons for declining to insert a clause in the sale agreement for the privatisation of DTELS requiring the purchaser not to change staff terms and conditions without their prior agreement ;
(2) what consideration he has given to offering staff of DTELS a five-year deal protecting the severance and redundancy terms after the organisation is privatised ; and what were the reasons for his decision.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The unions representing DTELS staff requested a Government guarantee for the protection of staff redundancy money in the event that the new owner of DTELS become insolvent. They also asked that the new owner should undertake not to vary staff severance terms without consent and that anyone dismissed for refusing consent would be automatically entitled to redundancy payments.
It is Government policy that there should be a clean break on privatisation. Any argument for special treatment therefore has to be examined on its merits, judged against the perceived risks to the business. In DTELS' case, although it has competitors, it has a strong market position, a reliable and stable customer base and a good record on contract renewal. It was concluded, therefore, that there should be no redundancy money guarantee.
Staff redundancy terms are protected on transfer by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. While it was not a condition of sale, shortlisted bidders were asked whether they were prepared to give an undertaking as requested by the unions on any future variation of severance entitlements. The preferred bidder, National Transcommunications Ltd., has confirmed that it will fully meet its TUPE obligations. It has assured us that in the period after sale, subject to its strategy and business needs, it will not be seeking to discuss and agree changes to staff terms. It also accepts that any variation in terms would require negotiation and staff, in respect of which it sought to enforce change, would need to have given consent.
Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding conditions at Blakenhurst prison in Redditch and alleged action of ill-treatment of prisoners ; and if he will make a statement.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Richard Burden, dated 2 March 1994 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions asking what representations he has received regarding conditions at Blakenhurst prison and alleged action of ill treatment of prisoners. I am aware that you have written to the management contractor at Blakenhurst raising the case of one of your constituents who is held there. As at any prison many of the concerns that are raised by prisoners, their relatives or their representatives are dealt with by the prison management. Prisoners also have access to the Board of Visitors, and they can also make representations to persons and bodies outside the prison, including of course their Members of Parliament.
I should also explain that, at contracted prisons such as Blakenhurst, a Prison Service Controller is appointed with a statutory duty under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to keep under review, and report to the Secretary of State on, the running of the prison. In fulfilling this function he completes monthly reports to officials ; and reports and investigates any particular matters drawn to his attention or of which he becomes aware. This would include any allegations of mistreatment of prisoners and complaints about the conditions at the prison. Many of these issues would be resolved at establishment level.
If there is any particular issue of concern to you please do not hesitate to let me know.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners and staff were involved in the disturbance at Blakenhurst prison on 24 February ; what was the duration of the incident and the extent of injuries and damage ; what plans he has to hold an inquiry ; and when the chief inspector of prisons will inspect Blakenhurst ;
(2) pursuant to his answer of 17 January, Official Report, columns 446-52, regarding assaults in prison establishments, what steps were taken at Blakenhurst to improve prison-staff relations and discipline at the prison.
Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answers 1 March 1994] : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from A. J. Butler to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 2 March 1994 :
HM Prison, Blakenhurst
The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director-General from the office, to reply to your recent Questions about Blakenhurst prison, concerning prisoner and staff relationships and the disturbance on 24 February.
Both the controller and the Director General are satisfied that relationships between staff and prisoners and discipline at Blakenhurst are generally good and, as would be expected with a new prison, are improving with greater experience. As at other establishments the director and his staff are always looking to maintain and improve them and to ensure that any breaches of prison rules that do occur are dealt with appropriately.
Your question was presumably prompted by the level of assaults at Blakenhurst. New prisons tend to record more assaults. In line with experience at other new prisons the number of assaults at Blakenhurst now appears to be on a downward trend, although that trend is likely to be affected by the adjudications which are being undertaken following the disturbance on 24 February, about which you also asked.
The Director General has appointed an inquiry team, headed by the Prison Service Area Manager for Mercia, which has already started its investigation into the incident.
Column 741A total of 111 prisoners were in the particular houseblock where the incident occurred but not all were involved in the subsequent events. The inquiry will seek to establish, amongst other things, the individual involvement of prisoners. 36 staff were involved in the incident which lasted from 1430 until 2122. Minor injuries were caused to staff and prisoners. Current estimates indicate that approximately £25,000 of damage was caused to the houseblock. Unless otherwise directed by the Secretary of State, it is for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons to decide when he wishes to inspect a prison. However, we have been informed that the Inspectorate will commence an inspection of Blakenhurst on 23 May.
Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish a table showing the number and percentage of severe disablement allowance recipients who are in receipt of other income by source and average amount of such other income.
The number and percentage of severe disablement allowance recipients in receipt of the following benefits, and the average amount of the other benefit in payment Benefit |Claimant<1> |Average |Percentage |Partner<1> |Average |Percentage |amount<2> |amount<2> |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Income Support (IS)<3> |186,000 |56.11 |61.6 |11,000 |52.83 |3.6 Housing Benefit (HB) without Income Support<4> |9,000 |23.75 |3.0 |4,000 |19.43 |1.3 Community Charge Benefit (CCB) without Income Support<4> |14,000 |4.43 |4.6 |6,000 |4.57 |2.0 Attendance Allowance (AA)<5> |82,000 |Not available |27.2 |Not applicable|Not applicable|Not applicable <1> With the exception of AA, all figures quoted are in respect of benefit units. A benefit unit may be a single person or a couple, both of whom may be in receipt of SDA. AA is paid to an individual. <2> With the exception of AA, the average amount quoted refers to the benefit unit rather than the individual. In the case of AA benefit is paid to the individual. <3> The IS figures also include cases where HB and/or CCB are in payment. Source: income support statistics quarterly sample inquiry, May 1993. <4> There is considerable overlap between HB and CCB, many cases receiving both benefits. Source: Derived from the housing benefit and community charge benefit management information system sample and the income support annual statistical inquiry. The inquiries are 1 per cent. samples of HB/CCB and IS cases in May 1992. <5> The information refers to cases where AA is combined with SDA and paid to the individual, and there is therefore no information on partners. The average amount of AA in payment to SDA recipients is not available. Source: 1 per cent. sample of claimants to SDA on 4 April 1992. Notes: 1. Information on other benefits which may be in payment with SDA is not available. 2. The statistics are for Great Britain.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was (a) the number of claimants and (b) the amount spent on (i) invalid care allowance and (ii) carers' premium in each year since 1979.
Mr. Scott : The available information is in the tables. The information on expenditure on the carer's premium gives data only on the weekly expenditure and in view of the fluctuating caseload should not be used to estimate annual expenditure.
Invalid care allowance ( ICA) beneficiaries<1> |Numbers ------------------------ 1979 |6,349 1980 |6,648 1981 |7,098 1982 |8,005 1983 |8,847 1984 |9,494 1985 |10,284 1986 |30,587 1987 |91,392 1988 |109,334 1989 |120,816 1990 |133,912 1991 |159,324 1992 |188,717 1993 |230,313
ICA Expenditure<4> |<3>£ million --------------------------------------- 1978-79 |4 1979-80 |4 1980-81 |5 1981-82 |6 1982-83 |8 1983-84 |10 1984-85 |11 1985-86 |13 1986-87 |104 1987-88 |184 1988-89 |173 1989-90 |184 1990-91 |208 1991-92 |285 1992-93 |366
Income support beneficiaries with carer premium |Numbers ------------------------------ 1991 |<2>28,000 1992 |<2>62,000 1993 |<3>85,000
Carer premium average weekly expenditure |£ million ------------------------------ 1991 |0.3 1992 |0.7 1993 |1.0 <1> Invalid care allowance unit 100 per cent. count. Allowances current at a point in time between mid-December and mid-January. ICA was extended to include married women with effect from 22 December 1984. <2> Income support statistics annual inquiries, May 1991-92-1 per cent. sample. <3> Income support statistics quarterly inquiry, May 1993-5 per cent. sample. Figures rounded to the nearest thousand. Carer premium introduced October 1990. <4> Departmental report.
Dr. Wright : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give details of the public appointments he is responsible for making in addition to those identified in "Public Bodies 1993", including non- executive agency and other departmental management boards.
Mr. Hague : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible for the appointment of trustees to the Maxwell Pensioners Trust, The Maxwell Pensioners Charitable Trust, the Motability 10th Anniversary Trust, The Far East (Prisoners of War and Internees) Fund and Queen Mary's Roehampton Trust. He also appoints the pensions ombudsman, the social fund commissioner and the chief executives of the Department's agencies.
Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how long on average it takes the Child Support Agency to make payment of maintenance once an assessment has been completed, broken down by area CSAC ;
(2) what is the average time taken by the Child Support Agency to pursue defaults of maintenance by absent parents.
Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 28 February 1994 :
I am replying to your Parliamentary Questions about the payment of child maintenance and pursuit of defaulters.
The average time taken to make a payment is dependant on the method of payment and the frequency as agreed between the absent parent and the Agency's account controller. It is not therefore currently possible to give reliable data on average times broken down by CSAC. The Child Support Computer system records individual case records, and automatically flags individual maintenance defaulters to be pursued. For that reason, average times across the Agency are not currently available.
Mr. Salmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to the answer of 14 February, Official Report, column 586, what compensation has been negotiated for fish exporters for loss of business and dislocation of orders due to action by French fishermen.
Mr. Jack : The compensation available under French law from the French regional authorities relates to direct and substantiable losses. We have secured the assurance of the French Government that such claims will be paid, and
Column 744the Fisheries Departments will assist all operators in a position to mount claims which are arguably in this category to submit and pursue them with the relevant authorities. Our policy has been to minimise indirect losses not covered by these arrangements, by making it very clear to the French authorities that we require them to ensure that legitimate trade can go ahead. We have also reactivated the arrangements set up last year for police protection to be provided on arrival in France upon pre-notification of arrival arrangements, via the Fisheries Departments, to the French authorities.
Mr. Soames : Because of delays following the introduction of the Intrastat system, details of the total numbers of live animals exported in 1993 are not yet available. It is not possible to say when they will become available, but when they do I shall write to the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Bowden : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action her Department is taking to investigate alleged irregularities by Ministry veterinary officers and other officials in relation to the enforcement of regulations controlling the export of live animals ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 18 February, Official Report, columns 1056-58, if she will publish (a) the take-up rate of publications ordered relating to "At the Farmer's Service", (b) the number of calls monitored relating to the pesticide poisoning of wildlife campaign, (c) the numbers attending seminars relating to the IACS--integrated administration and control systems--scheme and (d) the results of the quantitative assessment of the animal welfare campaign.
Mr. Jack : The take-up, to date, of publications ordered relating to "At the Farmer's Service" is 16,500 complete sets and 19,000 individual sections ; (b) 1,070 calls have been received relating to the pesticide poisoning of wildlife campaign ; (c) the attendance at seminars relating to the IACS scheme was 3,510 ; and (d) over 21,000 animal welfare leaflets have been distributed via exhibitions at major livestock events.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 18 February, Official Report, columns 1056-58, if she will place in the Library the results of market research relating to each of the campaigns listed.
Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will identify for each of the proposals put forward to Government by the business deregulation task forces, and represented by numbers 96 and 99 in the publication "Deregulation Task Forces ; Proposals for Reform" (a) which the Government have already taken action on, (b) which are under further consideration and (c) which are not being considered further.
Mr. Jack : In relation to proposal 96, we argued consistently in Brussels during the discussions on reform of the common agricultural policy that a premium scheme for male beef animals with payment in two stages based on age would be very complex to run. Since the reformed new scheme has only recently been agreed, any fundamental changes are likely to be for the longer term. The food, drink and agriculture task force's recommendation will be looked at carefully when such major changes are considered.
Regarding proposal 99, the Government are considering whether a quicker and simpler system for paying forestry grants could be introduced. This is in line with a Environment Select Committee recommendation made last year. The Government are also considering whether there is scope for more self- regulation by the forestry industry.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what basis the calculations of average subsidies per hill sheep farm in England were made in her press statement of 30 November and of her answers of 2 February, Official Report , column 737 , which indicated an average subsidy receipt for English less-favoured area farms ; and if she will account for the difference.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The average quoted in the press statement of 30 November related to the estimated average direct subsidy which would be paid to full-time farms classified as severely disadvantaged area specialist sheep farms in England in 1993-94. This is consistent with the tables which were prepared for the autumn review and copies of which were placed in the Library of the House.
Column 746The figures contained in the written replies relate to the total number of farms in England with at least 50 per cent. of their land in the less-favoured areas classified as LFA cattle and sheep farms and an estimate of the total direct livestock subsidy payments on beef and sheep in the less-favoured areas in 1994. These payments will of course include those to the large number of very small farms and to farms not classified as SDA specialist sheep.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what information is available from the data collected in connection with (a) the integrated administration and control system and premium claims, (b) the annual farm census and (c) the farm business survey of the number and proportions of (1) all hill and upland livestock farms and (2) hill and upland livestock farms drawing over two thirds of their standard gross margins from sheep, cattle or cattle and sheep, falling into (i) four to 11, (ii) 12 to 15, (iii) 16 to 28, (iv) 29 to 39, (v) 40 to 69, (vi) 70 to 98, (vii) 99 to 199 and (viii) 200 and over British size units ; and if she will provide a breakdown of the average net income according to all sources available to the Ministry of farms of each of categories (1) and (2) in each size band ;
(2) what is the average size of (a) all hill and upland livestock farms and (b) all upland hill and livestock farms of four British livestock size units and over, according to (i) the integrated administration and control system and premium claims, (ii) the annual farm census and (iii) the farm business survey.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 24 February 1994] : The current system of farm size classification uses economic size units based on 1988 standard gross margins rather than British size units which were based on 1980 SGMs. The readily available information from the agricultural census and the farm business survey, based on ESUs, is given in the table. Economic size and type of farm are not recorded on the forms used for IACS or hill livestock compensatory allowance claims. Properly weighted estimates of net farm income for the non-standard farm type covered by columns (1) to (3) of the table cannot be provided without disproportionate costs.
LFA livestock farms in England: holdings and net farm income by ESU size group ESU size group (a) Farms partly or wholly in the LFA wiFarms classified as cattle cattle and/or sheep (b) and sheep (LFA) farms (c) |Number |Proportion |Net farm |Number |Proportion |Net farm |(June 1992) |income |(June 1992) |income |(1992-93) |(1992-93) |£000 |£000 |1 |2 |3 |4 |5 |6 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- <8 |5,204 |29 |- |4,590 |39 |- 8<16 |2,359 |13 |- |1,909 |16 |3.1 16<28 |2,476 |14 |- |1,752 |15 |9.4 28<40 |2,041 |11 |- |1,171 |10 |12.0 40<60 |2,508 |14 |- |1,184 |10 |19.8 60<100 |2,383 |13 |- |910 |8 |24.1 100<200 |992 |5 |- |298 |3 |- 200+and over |127 |1 |- |28 |0 |- All sizes |18,090 |100 |- |11,842 |100 |13.7 Average over all sizes |36 |- |- |24 |- |- Average over 8 ESU |49 |- |- |37 |- |- (a) The relationship between ESUs and BSUs is not straightforward. However, averaged over all farm enterprises in England two ESU are approximately equal to one BSU. (b) Breeding and others. (c) Farms mainly or wholly in the LFA with more than two thirds of their total SCM in cattle and sheep except farms classified as dairy.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to whom the single licences were issued in 1990, 1991 and 1992 for the killing of a total of 3,332 herring gulls ; and what reasons were given for the application.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will give details of the single licences issued in 1991 and 1992 which resulted in a total of 989 bullfinches being shot ; to whom the licences were issued ; which premises were involved ; and what inspections of the premises were made by her Department before the licences were issued.
Mr. Soames [holding answer 1 March 1994] : The Ministry issues a general licence each year to allow commercial fruit growers in those areas most affected by bullfinches to kill or take these birds during the period of greatest damage in order to protect their crops. This general licence, which has been approved by English Nature, the statutory conservation agency, is valid from 1 November to 30 April each year and for 1991 and 1992 it was limited to the counties of Essex, Kent and Suffolk ; the districts of East and South Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Huntingdon in the county of Cambridgeshire ; and the district of Stratford-on-Avon and the parishes of Brandon and Bretford, Monks Kirby and Sherbourne in the county of Warwickshire.
Growers using the licence are not inspected by the Ministry but they are required to send the Ministry a report of the number of birds killed or taken under the authority of the licence. The locations of the farms reporting action under the licence are shown.
Number of returns County |1991 |1992 ------------------------------------------- Kent |9 |14 Suffolk |1 |1 Cambridgeshire (part) |1 |1
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Attorney-General what was the average length of time in those cases for which the appeals have already been held relating to Operation Jackpot between the investigator reporting a case to the Crown Prosecution Service as involving a possible miscarriage of justice and the hearing of those cases in the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Attorney-General what representations the Crown Prosecution Service has received from the Police Complaints Authority with regard to criminal prosecutions or disciplinary proceedings against police officers arising out of Operation Jackpot in those cases where the appeals have been heard ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Attorney-General what assessment he has made of the reasons for the delays in hearing those appeals before the Court of Appeal of defendants which have now been heard in cases relating to Operation Jackpot.
The Attorney-General : There are a number of factors which may affect the progress of individual cases. Not all apply in every case. They are (i) the time it takes for the officers to complete their investigation and prepare a report ; (ii) review by the prosecution of the material ; (iii) the time it takes to list a case in the Court of Appeal ; (iv) listing the case for determination of any issues relating to disclosure ; (v) preparation of the appeal by the defence.
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Attorney-General if the Crown Prosecution Service has received or considered any representations from the Metropolitan police in relation to those appeals which have been heard relating to Operation Jackpot.
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Attorney-General (1) if the Crown Prosecution Service has considered the potential consequencies for the careers of individual police in relation to its approach to those appeals which have been heard relating to Operation Jackpot ; (2) if the Crown Prosecution Service in deciding its approach to appeals which have been heard in cases relating to Operation Jackpot has taken account of possible criminal prosecutions of, or disciplinary action against, the police officers concerned.
The Attorney-General : No. The approach of the Crown Prosecution Service has been to examine all the evidence, including any evidence tending to suggest that police officers may have committed criminal offences or breaches of discipline, to determine whether the Crown could properly seek to sustain the conviction.
18. Mr. McAvoy : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the Governor of Hong Kong to discuss future relations with the People's Republic of China.
Column 749from 30 March to 9 April. This will be an opportunity to take stock with the Governor, following the welcome decision of the Hong Kong Legislative Council to pass the first electoral Bill and the publication of the Bill on the remaining electoral issues.
20. Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to improve communications between the United Kingdom and other European Union member states.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : At last December's European Council my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary discussed how improved physical and information links throughout the Community could increase the Community's growth and competitiveness. The European Council agreed that the Commission, assisted by a group of personal representatives of heads of government would co-ordinate work on trans-European network projects. The Council also asked for a report on information networks to be prepared by a group of prominent persons who would represent industry and users.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will next meet his European Union counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council on 7 March, when developments in the former Yugoslavia will feature on the agenda.
29. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with other Foreign Ministers regarding the former Yugoslavia ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary meets his European Union colleagues regularly to discuss Bosnia. He also maintains close contact on the issue with other Foreign Ministers, including those of Russia and the United States. European Union Foreign Ministers are next due to discuss Bosnia at the Foreign Affairs Council on 7 March.
38. Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the United Kingdom's contribution to obtaining a peace settlement in Yugoslavia.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Kingdom's contribution to both the humanitarian effort and the efforts to obtain a peace settlement has been second to none. We have taken a lead within the European Union efforts to encourage a negotiated settlement, and are working intensively with other interested countries to build on the Sarajevo ceasefire.
We welcome and support closer United States and Russian engagement on international efforts to secure a settlement.