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House of Commons

Wednesday 14 December 1994

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

PRAYERS

[ Madam Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Business of the House

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of--

(1) the total number of Questions to Ministers or other Members which stood on the Order Paper, distinguishing those set down for oral, written Answer on a named day and written answer


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respectively, the number of days upon which replies to Questions for oral answers were given in the House; and the total number of Questions for oral answer to which such answers were given in the House;

(2) the total number of Notices of Motions given for an early day;

(3) the number of Members ordered to withdraw from the House under Standing Order No. 42 (Disorderly conduct), showing separately the orders given in the House and those given in Committee; and the Members suspended from the service of the House under Standing Order No. 43 (Order in debate) or otherwise, distinguishing whether the offence was committed in the House or in Committee, the period of such suspension, the number of occasions on which more than one Member was so suspended having jointly disregarded the authority of the Chair, and the number of occasions on which the attention of the House was called to the need for recourse to force to compel obedience to the Speaker's direction; and

(4) the number of public petitions presented to the House distinguishing separately those: brought to the Table at the times specified by Standing Order No. 133 (Time and manner of presenting petitions).--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]


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Closure of Debate and Allocation of Time

Ordered, That thre be laid before this House a Return for Session 1992-93 of --

(A) applications of Standing Order No. 35 (Closure of Debate)--


(1)in the House and in the Committee of the whole House, under the following heads:                                     

1                   |2                  |3                  |4                  |5                                      

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date when           |Question before    |Whether in         |Whether assent     |Result of a Motion,                    

Closure claimed     |House or           |House or           |given to Motion    |and, if a Division                     

and by whom         |Committee          |Committee          |or witheld by      |Numbers for                            

                    |when claimed                           |the Chair          |and against                            

and


(2)in the Standing Committees under the following heads:                                       

1                  |2                 |3                 |4                                    

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date when          |Question before   |Whether assent    |Result of Motion                     

Closure claimed    |Committee when    |given to Motion   |and, if a Division                   

and by whom        |claimed           |or witheld by     |Numbers for                          

                                      |the Chair         |and against                          

(B)applications of Standing Order No. 28 (Powers of Chair to propose question)--


(1)in the House and in Committee of the whole House, under the following heads:                                         

1                   |2                  |3                  |4                  |5                                      

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date when           |Whether in         |Whether claimed    |Whether assent     |Result of Motion,                      

Closure claimed,    |House or           |in respect of      |given to Motion    |and, if a Division,                    

and by whom         |Committee          |Motion or          |or witheld by      |Numbers for                            

                                        |Amendment          |the Chair          |and against                            

and


(2)in the Standing Committees under the following heads:                                       

1                  |2                 |3                 |4                                    

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date when          |Whether claimed   |Whether assent    |Result of Motion                     

Closure claimed    |in respect of     |given to Motion   |and, if a Division                   

and by whom        |Motion or         |or witheld        |Numbers for                          

                   |Amendment         |by the Chair      |and against                          


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and

(C) the number of Bills in respect of which allocation of time orders (distinguishing where appropriate orders supplementary to a previous order) were made under Standing Order No. 81 (Allocation of time to Bills), showing in respect of each Bill--

the number of sittings allotted to the consideration of the Bill in Standing Committee by any report of a Business Sub-Committee under Standing Order No. 103 (Business sub-committees) agreed by the Standing Committee, and the number of sittings of the Standing Committee pursuant thereto; and

(ii)the number of days or portions of days allotted by the allocation of time order and any supplementary order the the consideration of the Bill at any stage in the House or in Committee, together with the number of days upon which proceedings were so taken in the House or in committee. [ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]


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Delegated Legislation

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of--

(A) the numbers of Instruments subject to the different forms of parliamentary procedure and those for which no parliamentary procedure is prescribed by statute (1) laid before the House; and (2) considered by the Joint Committee and Select Committee on Statutory Instruments respectively pursuant to their orders of reference, setting out the grounds on which Instruments may be drawn to the special attention of the House under Standing Order No. 124 (Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)) and specifying the number of Instruments so reported under each of these grounds; and (B) the numbers of Instruments considered by a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c., and by the House respectively, showing the number where the Question on the proceedings relating thereto was put forthwith under paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 101 (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.).-- [ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Private Bills and Private Business

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of--

(1) the number of Private Bills, Hybrid Bills, Bills for the confirmation of Orders under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936, and Bills for confirming Provisional Orders introduced into this House, and brought from the House of Lords, and of Acts passed, specifying also the dates of the House's consideration of the several stages of such Bills;

(2) all Private Bills, Hybrid Bills and Bills for confirming Provisional Orders which were reported on by Committees on Opposed Bills or by Committees nominated by the House or partly by the House and partly by the Committee of Selection, together with the names of the selected Members who served on each Committee; the first and also the last day of the sitting of each Committee; the number of days on which each Committee sat; the number of days on which each selected Member served; the number of days occupied by each Bill in Committee; the Bills of which the Preambles were reported to have been proved; the Bills of which the Preambles were reported to have been not proved; and in the case of Bills for confirming Provisional Orders, whether the Provisional Order ought or ought not to be confirmed; (3) all Private Bills and Bills for confirming Provisional Orders which were referred by the Committee of Selection to the Committee on Unopposed Bills, together with the names of the Members who served on the Committee; the number of days on which the Committee sat; and the number of days on which each Member attended;

(4) the number of Bills to confirm Orders under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936, distinguishing those proceeded with under section 7 and under section 9 respectively; specifying, in the case of Bills proceeded with under section 9 against which petitions were deposited, whether a motion was made to refer the Bill to a joint committee, and if so whether such motion was agreed to, withdrawn, negatived or otherwise disposed of; and stating for each joint committee to which a Bill was referred the names of the Members of this House nominated thereto, the first and last day of the committee's sitting, the number of days on which each joint committee sat for the consideration of the Bill referred to


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it, the number of days on which each Member of the committee served, and whether the committee reported that the order ought or ought not be confirmed;

(5) the number of Private Bills, Hybrid Bills, Bills for the confirmation of Orders under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936, and Bills for confirming Provisional Orders withdrawn or not proceeded with by the parties, those Bills being specified which were referred to Committees and dropped during the sittings of the committee; and

(6) the membership, work, costs and staff of the Court of Referees and the Standing Orders Committee.--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Public Bills

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of the number of Public Bills (other than Bills to confirm Provisional Orders and Bills to confirm Orders under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936) distinguishing Government from other Bills, introduced into this House, or brought from the House of Lords, showing--

(1) the number which received the Royal Assent, and

(2) the number which did not receive the Royal Assent, indicating those which were introduced into but not passed by this House, those passed by this House but not by the House of Lords, those passed by the House of Lords but not by this House, those passed by both Houses but Amendments not agreed to; and distinguishing the stages at which such Bills were dropped, postponed or rejected in either House of Parliament, or the stages which such Bills had reached by the time of Prorogation.--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Sittings of the House

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of the days on which the House sat; stating for each day the day of the month and day of the week, the hour of the meeting, and the hour of the adjournment; the total numbers of hours occupied in the sittings of the House; and the average time; showing the number of hours on which the House sat each day and the number of hours after the time appointed for the interruption of business; and specifying, for each principal type of business before the House, how much time was spent thereon, distinguishing from the total the time spent after the hour appointed for the interruption of business.--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Special Procedure Orders

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of--

(1) the number of Special Procedure Orders presented; the number withdrawn; the number annulled; the number against which Petitions or copies of Petitions were deposited; the number of Petitions of General Objection and for Amendment respectively considered by the Chairmen; the number of such petitions certified by the Chairmen as proper to be received and the number certified by them as being Petitions of General Objection and for Amendment respectively; the number referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses; the number reported with Amendments by a Joint Committee, and the number in relation to which a Joint Committee


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reported that the Order be not approved and be amended respectively; and the number of Bills introduced for the confirmation of Special Procedure Orders; and

(2) special Procedure Orders which were referred to a Joint Committee, together with the names of the Commons Members who served on each Committee; the number of days on which each committee sat; and the number of days on which each such Member attended.--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Standing Committees

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of--

(1) the total number and the names of all Members (including and distinguishing Chairmen) who have been appointed to serve on one or more Standing Committees showing, with regard to each of such Members, the number of sittings to which he was summoned and at which he was present;

(2) the number of Bills, Estimates, Matters and other items referred to Standing Committees pursuant to Standing Order No. 101 (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.), or Standing Order No. 102 (European Standing Committees) considered by all and by each of the Standing Committees, the number of sittings of each Committee and the titles of all Bills, Estimates, Matters and other items as above considered by a Committee, distinguishing where a Bill was a Government Bill or was brought from the House of Lord, and showing in the case of each Bill, Estimate, Matter and other item, the particular Committee by which it was considered, the number of sittings at which it was considered (including, in the case of the Scottish Grand Committee, the number of Meetings held in Edinburgh, pursuant to a motion made under paragraph 3 of Standing Order No. 94 (Scottish Grand Committee)) and the number of Members present at each of those sittings; and

(3) the membership, work, costs and staff of the Chairmen's Panel.--[ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Select Committees

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House a Return for Session 1993-94 of information and statistics relating to the membership, work, costs and staff of Select Committees (other than the Standing Orders Committee).-- [ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. ]

Oral Answers to Questions

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Land Mines

1. Mr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on the export of land mines.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Davis): The United Kingdom has not produced or exported anti-personnel land mines for some years.

Mr. Harris: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Can he say precisely for how many years the Government have not exported land mines? Does he agree that it is important to get over to the public at large and to those


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organisations that have a proper interest in and concern about land mines exactly what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend asked for how long we have not exported anti-personnel mines. It is certainly a decade. The policy of Her Majesty's Government was best described by my own announcement on 27 July this year, when I announced an indefinite moratorium on anti-personnel land mines without self-destruction or

self-neutralising capacity. That is important because, as my hon. Friend will be aware, a large number of civilian deaths are caused each year by improperly used land mines and the aim of our policy is to reduce and eliminate that as much as possible.

Ms Quin: Does not the Government's decision to exclude self- destructing land mines from their ban actually mean that we are now lagging behind other countries rather than taking a lead? Is the Minister aware that the problem of land mines is so great that new killing fields are being established throughout the world because of land mines, and that at the present rate of clearance it will take 5, 000 years to clear the land mines in countries such as Afghanistan? Is it not more important for the Government to announce a complete ban on the export of land mines and to intensify international efforts to deal with the problem effectively so that a real start can be made?

Mr. Davis: On the contrary. For example, the American proposals on land mines are close to our code of conduct and we are actively seeking to ensure that the international community adopts a regime that gets the most adherence possible. The problem with land mines is not just their type but how they are used. The UK armed forces adhere to the UN weapons convention and the principles thereof to ensure that no civilian risks arise from land mines, and that is one of the major routes to improving the position. However, in my judgment, self-destructing and self-neutralising land mines are the best possible route for our policy.

Mr. Robathan: I congratulate my hon. Friend on his response and on the Government's policy. Will he confirm that, to the best of his knowledge, the British Government have never sold any land mines to the Soviet Union--which laid millions in Afghanistan--that no civilian in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola or Mozambique has been injured by a British anti-personnel mine, that other countries are responsible for this awful tragedy in all those countries and that we should be congratulated on our excellent policy in this matter?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What is more, the British Government have contributed some £7 million in the past three years, together with personnel and funds, to try to clear up the problems created by other people.

Nuclear Non-proliferation

2. Mr. Chisholm: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to secure an indefinite and unconditional extension of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Mr. David Davis: We are working hard for the indefinite and unconditional extension in unamended form of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1995. We are aiming to obtain a sizeable majority in favour.


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As a first step, we are trying to persuade non-member states to accede to the treaty, which is already the most widely adhered to arms control treaty in history.

In addition to an on-going European Union joint action, we are lobbying moderate non-aligned movement states to convince them that indefinite and unconditional extension of the treaty is in the security interest of all states and that such an extension would send a clear message to would-be proliferators of the international community's resolve to prevent any proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Chisholm: How can the Government seriously argue for an indefinite and unconditional extension of the non-proliferation treaty at next year's conference when they intend to break their obligations under article 6 of the treaty by doubling their deployment of strategic nuclear warheads? Is it not an insult to the intelligence of the non-nuclear weapon states to expect them to accept that blatant hypocrisy?

Mr. Davis: The hon. Gentleman is consistent with his party in one thing: the continuing defiance of the facts. It is worth noting that the most significant reduction in nuclear weapons has taken place under the non -proliferation treaty as it now stands. This country has done away with maritime tactical nuclear weapons. It has reduced the number of nuclear bombs carried by aircraft, and the nuclear power of the Trident programme is broadly similar to that of its predecessor, the Polaris programme. The net effect of all that is a 25 per cent. reduction in the nuclear power that this country wields.

Mr. Cousins: The Minister has recognised the dangers of proliferation and the spread of tactical ballistic missile systems throughout much of the world. Can he give the House an assurance that there will be no undue cavilling about the text of the treaty and that there will be a single strong European Union position towards it with which the Government will totally identify themselves?

Mr. Davis: The Government will set out to get the best possible nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and will do so in a way that is constructive and seeks to get the maximum possible adherence of countries to that treaty. That is the only way in which it can be made to work.

East Timor

3. Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Indonesia concerning their occupation of East Timor.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd): We have not recognised Indonesia's annexation of EasTimor. We continue to encourage Indonesia and Portugal to work together under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General to find a solution to this problem. We welcome recent talks between East Timorese representatives and the Foreign Ministers of Portugal and Indonesia, and among East Timorese representatives themselves.

Mr. Corbyn: Does the Foreign Secretary think that Britain's representations concerning East Timor would have just a tinge of credibility if we were not at the same time supplying to the Indonesian regime arms and aircraft,


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which, supposedly, are for training but have been used to bomb East Timorese people and their positions, and if we did not maintain normal trade, diplomatic and aid relationships with the Indonesian Government, whose army has murdered 200,000 East Timorese people over the past 15 years and continues a genocide against those people? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that Britain's position is just one of rank hypocrisy?

Mr. Hurd: Certainly not. We do maintain normal, indeed friendly, relations with Indonesia. Because we do that, we are able to make known to the Indonesians our views, whether on East Timor or human rights generally, and we do so. I do so myself. The hon. Gentleman cannot, and has not, produced evidence to support allegations that Hawks, already supplied to Indonesia under the contract authorised by the previous Labour Government, have been used for oppressive purposes in East Timor. We think not.

Mr. Nicholls: In case the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who spoke a moment ago, cares to disown the previous Labour Government, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he read in the New Statesman of November 1993 that the then Labour party spokesman on defence matters positively approved the sale of Hawk aircraft? Does he agree that it does not take forward the cause of human rights in Indonesia, a cause which even the Indonesian Government admit needs improving, for the Opposition, instead of acknowledging the improvements that have taken place --even dissidents in Indonesia admit that they have--to make ill-informed criticism, when, if they were asked to find Indonesia on a map, let alone East Timor, they would know nothing apart from the fact that it is somewhere east of Islington?

Mr. Hurd: I sympathise with what my hon. Friend says and am well aware of the New Statesman article to which he refers. I had it almost by heart on a previous occasion.

As regards human rights, there has been some improvement in Indonesia over the past two decades, but not yet enough, and we take all the steps that we can to point out to it where we think the shortcomings still are and to suggest ways in which they can be remedied. For example, we encouraged the Indonesian Government to invite a delegation of Amnesty International to see the situation on the ground. I hope that that will happen.

Mr. Worthington: Does the Foreign Secretary not think that the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) should have declared his visit to Indonesia? He has been a guest of the Indonesian Government and that may have affected his approach to the question.

Mr. Hurd: I do not think that there is any secret about my hon. Friend's knowledge of Indonesia and his friendship with that country. I do not think that there is any harm in that at all.

Mr. Bill Walker: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Hawk training aircraft is the finest aircraft of its type anywhere in the world and that is why it sells to Indonesia and other countries? This is just humbug from the Labour party in much the same way as there was humbug over Argentina when it sold warships to that country.

Mr. Hurd: I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I can help the Opposition Front Bench out of its difficulty by providing some ammunition against its Back Benchers.


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The Hawks in Indonesia are two-seater trainers and we have no evidence that they have been reconfigured to carry live bombs since they were supplied.

Angola

4. Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to meet the Angolan Foreign Secretary to discuss the situation in that country.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tony Baldry): My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no immediate plans to do so. However, my noble Friend the Lord Inglewood met President dos Santos in Lusaka on 20 November at the signing ceremony of the Lusaka protocol.

Mr. Grocott: Does the Minister agree that one of the principal reasons why the tragic war in Angola resumed after the United Nations- sponsored elections two years ago was the failure of the international community to give immediate and unequivocal support to the newly elected democratic Government? In the light of that, is there now a special responsibility on the UN and the international community not only to support the ceasefire but to do everything possible to see that UNITA hands in its weapons? Should they not also provide an aid programme that helps to rebuild that country which has suffered so tragically when, all too often, the world's media and Governments have focused their attention on situations elsewhere that are less tragic?

Mr. Baldry: The United Kingdom has allocated more than £24 million for emergency assistance since the United Nations appeal in June 1993 and we have established a new Angola development fund. Clearly, the rehabilitation of Angola will be a long and difficult process. As a member of the Security Council and of the European Union, Britain is willing to help with that rehabilitation. However, it cannot do so unless both parties commit themselves to lasting peace and reconciliation.

Bosnia

5. Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further discussions he has had with representatives of the US Congress and Senate on Bosnia.

7. Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation in Bosnia.

Mr. Hurd: I had a meeting with Senator Dole when he visited London on 1 December. We had a thorough discussion on Bosnia. Senator Dole's views differ on some points from those of the United States Administration, with whom we are co-operating closely. We and the other members of the contact group are united in pursuing peaceful settlements in former Yugoslavia.

On Bosnia, we all agree that the way forward is to achieve a ceasefire around Bihac, a Bosnia-wide cessation of hostilities and a resumption of political negotiations on


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the basis of the contact group plan. We welcome the recent statement by some members of the Bosnian Serb assembly in support of that.

On Croatia, as I told the House last week, we welcome the recent economic agreement between the Croatian Government and the Croatian Serbs, brokered by Lord Owen and Mr. Stoltenberg, and we hope that it will be quickly and fully implemented.

Mr. Griffiths: Does the Foreign Secretary share the American concern that the Bosnian Serbs rejected the Vance-Owen plan and were appeased, rejected the Owen-Stoltenberg plan and were appeased and rejected the contact group plan and are still being appeased? The stench of Munich is in the air here and in Bosnia. Has not the Foreign Secretary learned any lessons from appeasing the Hitlers of this world?

Mr. Hurd: As I pointed out last week, that is a ludicrous analogy. The hon. Gentleman is completely out of date with his views on the United States Administration. The United States Administration is one of the authors of the contact group plan. They fully support and are working with us on the policy that I outlined a moment ago.

Mr. Raynsford: The Foreign Secretary has frequently emphasised the importance of a settlement that preserves the territorial integrity of Bosnia, but he will be aware that Lord Owen, in a recent interview with Brian Walden, expressed the view that the Serbs could reasonably expect to achieve

"autonomy of such a degree that in most people's minds it would be independence".

Does the Foreign Secretary agree with Lord Owen? If not, what steps is he taking to ensure that the European Union's peace envoy does not undermine the prospect of maintaining Bosnia's integrity?

Mr. Hurd: The contact group plan is clear and we reaffirmed it when contact group Ministers met in Brussels the week before last. It is based on two main principles: the need for the Bosnian Serbs to withdraw from 72 per cent. to 49 per cent. of the land that they occupy in Bosnia and the need to preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina within its present frontier. Once those two principles are accepted, talks can take place between the parties about territorial swaps and constitutional relationships, including those between different entities in Bosnia- Herzegovina and their neighbours.

Mr. Cormack: In view of the increasing gravity of the situation and the importance of ensuring that the United Nations' authority and credibility are not damaged beyond repair, will my right hon. Friend talk urgently with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about a British initiative to summon a summit meeting of the Presidents of the United States of America, Russia and France and the Prime Minister?

Mr. Hurd: Such a meeting would not be complete unless it also contained the parties. I am not especially keen at the moment to give Mr. Karadzic, the leader of the only group that has rejected the contact group plan, a world platform. I do not exclude my hon. Friend's idea


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and the possibility of a summit in order either to avert a disaster or to consolidate a success. In either case, that might be possible.

Mr. David Howell: Does my right hon. Friend agree that, whatever silly things may have been said in the Senate, in Congress or a few minutes ago in the House about the Bosnian position, the American Defence Secretary's offer of at least 18,000 or more American troops--should there be a need for reconfiguration of UN troops, including our own, on the ground, or should there be a need for withdrawal--is thoroughly constructive and very much in the spirit of maintaining the Atlantic alliance and of not allowing it to be undermined by differences of emphasis over Bosnia? Would my right hon. Friend welcome that?

Mr. Hurd: I would, indeed. My right hon. Friend is right. President Clinton's decision, which he described, substantially helps forward what NATO is doing to prepare to help withdrawal, if that should be needed. However, as Secretary Perry and my right hon. and learned Friend agreed again today in Brussels, we believe that UNPROFOR is doing a good job, and that its withdrawal would be complicated and difficult. It is necessary to plan for withdrawal in case UNPROFOR's task becomes impossible. We hope that that will not happen, and so do the Americans.


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