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British exports and services are exported, and includes tourism, which is extremely valuable? Does he agree that that is very much in line with the comments made by the Prince of Wales in an excellent speech earlier today?

Mr. Hurd: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend and I entirely agree with what he says about the work of the British Council in promoting, for example, the excellence of education in this country. I am not in favour of grandeur or over-representation and over-staffing overseas. We have cut our representation in the United States by--I think--19 per cent. and in France by 10 per cent. I am emphatically not in favour of shoddy and second-rate representation of this country.

Mr. Madden: Will the Foreign Secretary take this opportunity to urge British diplomats in India to intensify their activities and to persuade the Government of India that there is no prospect of securing lasting peace in Kashmir by mounting doomed elections, but that the Government must now recognise that urgent negotiations are necessary to secure a political settlement?

Mr. Hurd: I have made it clear to the Government of India when I have been there the way forward which we think offers the best hope for Kashmir. They need to discuss the matter with the Government of Pakistan, as they agreed in the Simla agreement. They need, I believe, to start a successful political process in Kashmir. I do not think that the hon. Member is right to dismiss that out of hand. If--I agree that it is an "if" --it were possible to hold valid elections in Kashmir, it would be a big step forward. The third element in the equation is that those outside should refrain from encouraging violence in Kashmir.


11. Mrs. Gorman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations with Canada.     [14950]

Mr. Hurd: Our relations with Canada are excellent.

Mrs. Gorman: Is my right hon. Friend aware of the deep sense of loyalty that the British people feel to their kith and kin in Canada, who have never failed to come to our rescue when this country has been threatened by brigands and that the British people are dismayed that we are not taking a firmer line in supporting Canada now that its people are being themselves threatened by the Spanish fishing fleet?

Will my right hon. Friend please make it quite clear that this Government will have nothing to do with sanctions against Canada in this dilemma? Will he also please confirm that the intemperate language being used by Miss Emma Bonino has nothing to do with anything that the British Government would wish to express in this matter?

Mr. Hurd: Perhaps my hon. Friend will telephone Canada house, which will confirm to her that twice in recent days the Canadians have been in touch with me to thank us for the stand that we are taking in the matter. I agree with her that we must avoid and discourage intemperate language by anyone. This is not some sort of adversarial contest in which we simply have to decide which side to whoop on. We are talking about part of the north Atlantic that everybody concerned has over-fished.

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There is agreement on what the total catch of Greenland halibut should be, but there is disagreement about how that catch should be shared--that needs to be ironed out.

There is also disagreement about the enforcement necessary. We believe that a high degree of enforcement is necessary, but while the matter is being discussed, and, we hope, agreed, in our British view it is essential that there should be restraint--restraint by the Spaniards, in not fishing in the especially sensitive areas of the nose and tail of the grand banks, and restraint by the Canadians in not taking the law into their own hands and cutting nets, which, as we know from our experience with the Spaniards, is a dangerous thing to do.

Mr. Galloway: The Government's posture over the past few days has shown the value of Britain's use of our special relationship with Canada and with Spain to try to bring about a peace process in the north Atlantic between those two fishing nations. Why can we not use our equally close and equally special relationship with India and with Pakistan to do the same thing over Kashmir?

Mr. Hurd: Fortunately, I have already answered that question.

Latin America

12. Dr. Michael Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to help promote Britain's trade relations with Latin America.     [14951]

Mr. David Davis: Jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry, and in association with the Confederation of British Industry, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is organising a three year Latin American trade campaign--Link Into Latin America--to promote trade and investment. My right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, launched the campaign at the conference of our heads of mission in Latin America at the CBI Centrepoint on 17 January. Conferences, seminars, inward and outward trade missions, roadshows and lectures are being organised as part of the campaign. We have also strengthened our commercial representation in Latin America.

Dr. Clark: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he think that Latin America is an appropriate area for British investment? What is the extent of our investment in that continent, and can it be used as a basis for furthering even more strongly our trade relations with countries in Latin America?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend makes a very perceptive point. Our investment base in Latin America and the Caribbean, measured in 1992--the most recent year for which we have figures--amounted to about £13.4 billion. Also in that year--again, it is the most recent for which we have figures--we invested £1.4 billion in Latin America. That is larger than our investment in north America, and it represents a major source of leverage for us in delivering trade, especially exports, into Latin America.

We try to use that as part of our strategy in dealing with Latin American Governments and in securing good conditions, such as double taxation arrangements, for British traders there, and also in encouraging large British companies to help smaller and medium-sized companies to go into that continent. That has been successful, and

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there has been an increase of 21 per cent. in exports to Latin America over the past year. I still think that the strategy could be made even more successful, and that is what we seek to do.

Mr. Tony Banks: What is the state of our trade with Cuba at present, and what pressure are the Government putting on the United States Administration to end their absurd and illegal trade embargo on that island?

Mr. Davis: Our trade with Cuba is perfectly reasonable. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy visited Cuba last year. The visit was successful and he met President Castro, who gave him a great deal of time. As for the relationship between America and Cuba, that is a matter solely for those countries.

Mr. Jacques Arnold: Bearing in mind that the economic power of Latin America is greater than that of Africa, the middle east and southern Asia put together, and despite the fact that we have done exceptionally well there in the past few years, should not we redouble our efforts to work with the markets of Latin America which basically have a European trading tradition and look towards us with extreme good will?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend is expert in that area and will know that the last decade has been something of a miracle decade for Latin America in terms of democracy, fiscal and monetary disciplines, stability and free trade. He is right to say that we should be putting more effort into that area, and the Government are doing just that. I know that my hon. Friend has attended at least one of the events with which we have been involved. He is quite right--21 per cent. growth in one year is not good enough.

Middle East Peace Process

13. Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps he is planning to support the peace process in the middle east.     [14953]

Mr. Douglas Hogg: We will continue to provide full political and economic support for the peace process, including through efficient and effective delivery of our aid package of £82 million over the three years 1994-97.

Mr. Grocott: Will the Minister reaffirm that it is of fundamental importance to the peace process that the people in the

area--particularly the people of Gaza--see some immediate and tangible benefits resulting from that process, as estimates of unemployment in Gaza range from 43 per cent. to as much as 70 per cent? Will the Minister redouble his efforts with the international community to ensure that an economic package is produced which provides tangible assistance to the people of Gaza?

Mr. Hogg: The hon. Gentleman is quite right, and that is why one important element of the programme that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced, by way of new money when he visited Gaza, was directed to labour-intensive schemes and projects. That is also why my right hon. Friend took with him a number of United

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Kingdom business men, some of whom are interested in developing commercial and manufacturing processes in Gaza. That is an important way forward.

Mr. Allason: While the presence of British police officers in the Gaza strip to train Palestine Liberation Organisation personnel has clearly been a success, does my right hon. and learned Friend recognise that there is widespread concern about the size of the aid package which was recently announced? Can he assure the House that there will be close supervision of that money, to ensure that it is spent on precisely the aid projects for which it is intended?

Mr. Hogg: Yes. One of the great difficulties which we have faced is that the Palestinians have been slow in developing mechanisms for identifying worthwhile projects and for controlling expenditure. We welcome the progress that they have made in that area, but more work needs to be done. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the need for a careful auditing of expenditure.


14. Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the preparedness of UNAVEM III forces to keep the peace in Angola when called upon.     [14955]

Mr. Hurd: Following the report of his special envoy and the undertakings given by the parties, the Secretary-General announced on 27 March that the UN would proceed with preparations to deploy the logistic and support elements for UNAVEM III in keeping with its resolution 876.

As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement told the House on 23 February, we have agreed in principle to provide a 600- strong logistics battalion to help the initial deployment of infantry units provided by other member states.

Mr. Worthington: After many years, there is a fragile peace in Angola, but there is great apprehension that the UN will follow in Angola previous failures with its peacekeeping forces in Somalia and Rwanda, where it took many months to deploy forces. Can the Secretary of State guarantee that those UN peacekeeping forces will be deployed the moment they are called for?

Mr. Hurd: A guarantee is not really required from us, as we have declared our willingness and are preparing accordingly. The guarantee is required from the parties concerned. Despite what I just said, the deployment which is envisaged can be completed and fulfilled only if the parties on the ground fulfil their commitments.

Mr. Ian Bruce: Has my right hon. Friend seen the problems that the Ministry of Defence now appears to have in recruiting people into the Army and the fact that we seem to be making soldiers redundant and have low numbers of people in the forces? Is he satisfied that, when we make commitments to the United Nations and other peacekeeping operations, we shall have the right number of troops in place and that the morale of those troops will be satisfactory? Will he take urgent steps to talk to the Ministry of Defence about the position in the Army, which my constituents find troubling?

Mr. Hurd: It is not really a matter for me, as my hon. Friend knows. My perception of it, however, is that, once

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decisions announced in "Front Line First" have been carried through, our armed forces will enter a period of stability--their force levels will remain and their equipment will improve. They can then look forward to a period of stability during which we can respond where we think it wise and necessary in our own interest to the kind of appeals that we are discussing.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

15. Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which of the nuclear weapon state signatories to the non-proliferation treaty define their nuclear strike capacity in terms of explosive firepower.     [14956]

Mr. David Davis: The United Kingdom and the United States have released information on the total explosive yield of their nuclear weapon stockpiles. In May 1994, President Mitterrand gave figures for the numbers of French operational nuclear warheads. Neither Russia nor China has, to our knowledge, made official statements on the size of their stockpiles by any measure.

Mr. Cook: Is it true that the British Government have always justified their retention of the nuclear deterrent, despite the fact that they are a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty, on the basis that they must retain a minimum nuclear deterrent? What is meant by "minimum"? Do we need to be able to obliterate a small country or to take out a medium -sized country? How much of the world do we need to be able to devastate in order to justify retention of such weapons?

Mr. Davis: It is interesting to see the resurrection of CND on the Labour Back Benches. Since 1990, we have reduced our nuclear weapons by some 25 per cent., to what we judge to be a minimal level. That has involved halving free-fall weapons, the complete non-deployment of surface maritime weapons, and a self-imposed restriction on the number of missile warheads used on Trident. That is a reduction of some 25 per cent. in explosive power, which is what we consider a minimum level of deterrence-- [Interruption.] I see that the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) does not believe in deterrence at all.

Mr. Gallie: Is it not true that the benefit of nuclear weapons is their deterrent effect not, as suggested by the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook), their take-out effect?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend is right. The collapse of the Soviet Union has led to information being available that shows that our stance on cruise missiles and Trident, contrary to the Labour party's view throughout the 1980s, was one factor that led to the Soviet Union's collapse and the end of the cold war.


16. Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of peace negotiations in Bosnia.     [14957]

Mr. Hurd: With our Contact Group colleagues we are still working hard to secure a negotiated settlement. We have reached a critical stage, with the security situation on the ground deteriorating. The Contact Group met in

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London this week and is urging all sides to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement, and calling on the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Contact Group plan as a starting point for negotiations. We are working hard for peace in Bosnia. Our forces and aid effort in Bosnia have won deserved praise from the Bosnian Government for their effectiveness and dedication. We want them to continue their work but, as we have often said before, our forces can remain only if they can carry out their tasks at an acceptable level of risk.

Ms Hodge: If and when we eventually reach a peace settlement to end the conflict, will the Secretary of State confirm that that will include guarantees on human rights? Will he, in particular, confirm that there will be guarantees that refugees and victims of ethnic cleansing can return to their homes without the danger of persecution and a guarantee that the international community will pursue those guilty of war crimes?

Mr. Hurd: Procedures about war crimes are in hand; that is established. It is relatively easy to negotiate paper guarantees but relatively difficult to put them into practice. We must find a way in which that war can be brought to an end. That will depend on acceptance by all the parties concerned--by all the combatants. We can buttress that from outside, but the essence is not the guarantees that we draft from outside but the will for peace inside that country.

Mr. Robin Cook: The Foreign Secretary will have seen the statement on Monday by the UN spokesman in Sarajevo that the UN will use air power and limited strikes if the Bosnian Serbs attack civilians in the safe havens. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that, once that threat has been made, it must be carried out if civilians are attacked? Is not the lesson of Bosnia that every time that our bluff is called it weakens our authority? Will he take the opportunity to express his resolve that we will not back down this time?

Mr. Hurd: The principle is clear. It has been clear for a long time that NATO air strikes may be called in by the UN--that is perfectly true-- and it has been used to good effect. However, it is no good generalising in the House as to when and where that should be done. The circumstances in which that can effectively be done must depend on the judgment of NATO and of the UN commanders on the ground, including our own General Smith.

Consular Service

17. Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes have been made to the consular service in recent years; and if he will make a statement.     [14958]

Mr. Baldry: Consular work is a front-line activity for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our strong commitment to providing a high quality service to British nationals in distress overseas remains consistent in the face of increasing demand.

Mr. Spring: Does my hon. Friend agree that in many ways the consular personnel are the unsung heroes of the diplomatic service? Can my hon. Friend assure the

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House that the representatives of the travel industry are effectively telling British travellers what consular services are available to them when they travel abroad?

Mr. Baldry: Our consular service does first-class work throughout the world. Nearly 9 million British nationals live overseas and about 34 million Britons travel abroad each year. Each year, we help about 15,000 Britons in difficulties throughout the world. I am pleased to say that we work closely with the travel industry to ensure that, before going overseas, people can have objective and fair advice about the destinations to which they are travelling.

We are grateful for the help and co-operation that the travel industry, the Federation of Tour Operators and the Association of British Travel Agents are giving us in ensuring that all travellers overseas can have safe and happy holidays.

Mr. Flynn: Is it not symptomatic of the antiquated nature of our consular and diplomatic services that a constituent reports to me that in the audiovisual room in Tanzania the only two videos available are one of a royal wedding and one of country pursuits in Devon? [Hon. Members:-- "Hear, Hear."] Even after the cuts made in Paris, is it not ridiculous to pour millions of pounds into those prestigious consuls and embassies while in countries of great importance, such as the Baltic states, we have only one person in each country? When will the diplomatic service enter the present century?

Mr. Baldry: Practically every point that the hon. Gentleman made is wrong. He professes to be an expert on the Baltic states; we actually have three embassies in the Baltic states. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman seeks to visit a few more embassies and posts overseas. If he does so, he will witness the excellent work that is being carried out by our diplomatic staff and consuls and ambassadors throughout the world. It falls badly from the mouths of Opposition Members when so many of our diplomatic staff are working hard for Britain's interests, often in very difficult circumstances, throughout the world.

Sir Donald Thompson: Will my hon. Friend emphasise to the British consuls and other diplomats in the Baltic states and in the other former state trading nations how valuable they are in guiding British business men through that labyrinth?

Mr. Baldry: Yes, I suspect that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of business men in the UK today who would give testament to the help and guidance that they have received from British embassies and high commissions throughout the world in winning further orders for Britain. As a nation, we export more per head than Japan and the United States. We are assisted in that work by our diplomatic effort throughout the world.


19. Mr. Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the human rights record in Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement.     [14960]

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Mr. Baldry: We are concerned about the human rights situation in Ethiopia and take every opportunity to stress to the transitional government the importance of making progress in this area.

Mr. Timms: Is the Minister aware that Amnesty International says that there is an emerging problem of disappearances among Government opponents in Ethiopia? Has he seen the statement issued in London on 15 March by the Ethiopian asylum support group expressing its concern that human rights violations are spreading from the political to the religious, social and cultural spheres? What representations will the British Government make to the transitional Government in Ethiopia about those matters?

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Mr. Baldry: I am aware of Amnesty International's concerns and I have seen the report. I know that a large number of Ethiopians live in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. Due to the Ethiopian civil war, we operated an exceptional leave policy from late 1980 to April 1993. We think that the situation in Ethiopia has now improved to the point where the policy of granting exceptional leave to remain can be discontinued.

Of course, the Home Office will deal with all applications on their individual merits, but it may assist the hon. Gentleman's constituents to know that no Ethiopians who have benefited already from the exceptional leave policy will be required to leave the country when their existing leave expires, unless there are particular reasons in individual cases for asking them to do so.

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