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state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes. On the separate issue of direct rule, we have no desire to act directly; for the reasons that I have already given, however, it is important that the Government of Gibraltar should pass legislation bringing their law book into line with their own wishes and ambitions as a financial centre.

Intergovernmental Conference

12. Mr. Knapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has drawn up a formal agenda for the forthcoming intergovernmental conference.     [25442]

14. Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's preparation for the intergovernmental conference.     [25444]

Mr. David Davis: The intergovernmental conference is still some way off--at least seven months, and perhaps more. Several issues are already identified for discussion--I have spelt them out on previous occasions--and other issues may be added. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained the basis of our approach to the IGC in the House on 1 March and Cabinet Committees have already taken a preliminary look at some of the individual issues.

Mr. Knapman: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. At a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to find those who wish to remember that they voted for the Maastricht treaty, I was wondering whether a White Paper would be a useful performance factor to enable the Foreign Office to prove that it is winning all the arguments? For instance, in the preamble we still have such phrases as "ever closer union" and "single institutional framework". Do they sit easily with our professed aim to safeguard Britain's national interests?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend will be unsurprised to hear that I not only remember voting for Maastricht but I have a list of those who did and those who did not. As for his comments about ever closer union and creeping competence, I have already answered my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) on that matter. My hon. Friend can be very clear that I shall continue to oppose centralising tendencies in the European Union, including the matters that he raised. On the White Paper, I refer him to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 23 May at columns 703-4 of Hansard .

Dr. Wright: Will the Minister confirm that the thrust of British policy as we approach the IGC is to win friends and influence people? Will he tell us now, in concrete terms, which friends we are currently winning and over which issues we are now exercising some influence? Is not the truth that, as before, the British Government are marching us resolutely and remorselessly to irrelevant and impotent isolation?

Mr. Davis: Government policy is principally aimed at defending the British national interest--that first, that second and that last. I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's variation of his leader's "I'll never stand alone" frame, in which Labour will stand up to nobody for anything. That is not the way to win arguments in Europe.

Sir Roger Moate: Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Prime Minister made a clear commitment to restoring

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the powers of this national Parliament over European matters, which must include European legislation? Will he confirm also that there will be no weakening of that resolve, and describe the mechanisms by which that objective will be achieved?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend is right. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that he wants to see this national Parliament and all national Parliaments exercise rights in the control of legislation. That is very much part of the brief that I take to the reflections group, and which I expect we shall take to the intergovernmental conference.

Mr. Soley: Was the Minister not present in the House on 3 May, when the Foreign Secretary said that he supported the Maastricht treaty aim of a common foreign and security policy and that he would continue to build that policy "brick by brick", to use his phrase? Does the Minister recall the Prime Minister saying on 23 May that he would block any attempt by the Community to extend its powers into foreign defence policy? Perhaps the Minister will say what is Cabinet policy.

Mr. Davis: That is a remarkable exercise in ignorance by the hon. Gentleman, who does not distinguish between Community and Union. The British Government's stance is straightforward: to make a common foreign security policy work, and work well, on an intergovernmental basis.

Monetary Union

13. Mr. Bill Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's policy on European monetary union; and how this will be presented at the reflections group.     [25443]

Mr. David Davis: The United Kingdom will not participate in a single currency in 1996 or in 1997. The United Kingdom would only ever take part in a single currency if to do so would be in the national interest. Under the UK protocol to the treaty on European union, any decision to seek to join a single currency would be a matter for the UK Government and Parliament. The Government see no reason for any of the articles or associated protocols relating to economic and monetary union to be on the agenda for the 1996 intergovernmental conference. Neither is it on the agenda of the reflections group. The Government do not therefore intend to provide any submission on the issue to the reflections group.

Mr. Walker: I thank my hon. Friend for that constructive and helpful reply. I take it that when he attends the reflections group he will be aware that other participants will arrive with the views of their countries and national Parliaments and Executives clearly in mind. They may want to do things that my hon. Friend might oppose. May I have my hon. Friend's assurance that what he has just said will give him the ground for opposing?

Mr. Davis: In one sense, we shall be observing a difference of view between other countries. Some will want to relax the convergence criteria, some will want to tighten them. For that reason, I do not foresee a single currency being a major issue in the reflections group or the intergovernmental conference.

Rev. Martin Smyth: The thrust of the Minister's answer was helpful, but does he accept that he who pays the piper calls the tune? In the European context, do we

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not have to monitor carefully those who would print bank notes and issue Government bonds and destroy the whole economy?

Mr. Davis: One benefit of the British Government's position is that we are part of that process. Our policy input is extraordinarily important, and we are taken extremely seriously in those arguments. We have as much influence as anyone could wish.

Mr. Bellingham: Does my hon. Friend agree that the quickest way to create a federal Europe would be to enter a single currency, so it is hardly surprising that the Government are so cautious? Public support for the Government's position is also hardly surprising. When will the Opposition wake up to that fact?

Mr. Davis: The answer to my hon. Friend's last point is never.

Former Yugoslavia

15. Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's relations with the successor states of the former Yugoslavia.     [25446]

Mr. Hogg: We have recognised the states of the former Yugoslavia with the exception of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The development of relations with the latter will depend on its recognition of the other states and on its readiness to take further concrete steps to promote a political settlement to the conflict.

Mr. Gapes: Does the Government's position remain one of support for a negotiated peaceful outcome to the crisis? Will the Minister assure us that the Government's position is at one with that of the United Nations Secretary-General on the additional troops being sent to former Yugoslavia, and that they should remain and be under UN control?

Mr. Hogg: It is indeed our policy to promote a political settlement within former Yugoslavia, and Bosnia especially, although I am bound to say that progress on that is not so rapid as we would like. The reinforcements are being deployed under the UN flag to reinforce the performance by UNPROFOR of the mandate.


17. Mr. Janner: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whatassessment he has made of relations between Britain and Morocco.     [25448]

Mr. Douglas Hogg: Relations between Britain and Morocco are good. We recognise Morocco's significance as a stable and moderate country in a region which, though fragile, is of increasing importance to the EU.

Mr. Janner: I thank the Minister for his answer. Can he reassure the House that the Government will continue to do their best to help to reach a positive conclusion to the EU-Morocco fishing agreement, and to the European-Moroccan Mediterranean Association amendment, in the interests of the regional stability to which he has referred, as well as economic progress in the area, especially in view of the great suffering in Morocco due to the awful drought and its consequences?

Mr. Hogg: With regard to the association agreement, we support it and hope to see an agreement concluded.

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We favour greater access for Moroccan goods to EU markets. We would also welcome a fisheries agreement and are disappointed that one was not possible. When negotiating that agreement, it is important not to prejudice the position that we have taken for some time on the question of western Sahara.

Sir David Steel: How actively are the Government attempting to assist the ending of the procrastination in holding a referendum on western Sahara?

Mr. Hogg: We are anxious to see a referendum and we are doing what we can to bring that about. It depends in the end on persuasion, and we are trying to persuade.

Diplomatic Locations

18. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many new diplomatic locations have been opened by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in each of the past three years; at what cost to public funds; how many similar locations have been closed; at what saving to public funds; and if he will make a statement.     [25449]

Mr. Hurd: I have deposited the information requested by the hon. Gentleman in the Library. Our interests are global and our overseas representation needs to match them. We must respond quickly and flexibly to changing opportunities and to challenges. This year we plan to close three posts and open 15 new ones. The new posts are concentrated in countries where new export opportunities for British companies are opening up.

Mr. Greenway: I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply that 15 new trading opportunities have been opened up for the United Kingdom. Is he satisfied that the Treasury is prepared to respond quickly enough with the money required to open new diplomatic missions abroad, especially where there is a possibility of new trade, as has occurred in recent years in eastern Europe, including Russia and Poland?

Mr. Hurd: No, indeed. The Treasury would not be doing its job if I felt comfortable about that. The Treasury makes us sweat to open new posts. For instance, we have plans to abolish more than 500 support staff over three years. Such savings and reviews and constant pressure for greater efficiency, to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State always refers, are what we rightly have to implement and maintain so as to expand overseas and help our exports in the way that I have announced.

Mr. Mackinlay: Does the Secretary of State have an opinion about the need for a consulate in Krakow, where many other principal European players have consular services? Bearing in mind its important geographical position in central Europe, will he have regard to the desire both by British people and by Polish people to see some significant representation in that important southern Polish city?

Mr. Hurd: Let me look into that. I have not studied that, although I notice that at least 10 of the posts that we have opened in the past three years are in central and eastern Europe, for the kind of reasons that the hon. Gentleman gives.

Mr. John Marshall: Does my right hon. Friend think that redeployment is going quickly enough? There is a

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suspicion that we have perhaps too many diplomats in lovely cities such as Paris and not enough in Poland and eastern and central Europe.

Mr. Hurd: We have cut Paris by, I think, 10 per cent. in recent years. With a new French Government and new personalities, as is the case now, when it is important to get to grips with them and the issues quickly, one sees vividly the need to have trained and expert and professional staff in a place such as Paris.

United Nations Anniversary

19. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans Her Majesty's Government have to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.     [25450]

Mr. Douglas Hogg: There will be a major national commemoration ceremony in Westminster Hall on 26 June in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter.

Mr. Hughes: I thank the Minister for his answer. Given the huge advantage to international peace and mediation in the last 50 years achieved by the UN, which was founded here, will the Minister give an assurance that not only will the Government continue to be absolutely unqualified supporters of the United Nations but that they will also take the lead in ensuring that the UN is equipped to deal with the objectives of the next half century? In particular, that may mean retargeting some of its efforts and ensuring that some of our allies and friends play as full a part--including contributing fully, as we have done--in ensuring that it is an even more effective organisation in the years ahead.

Mr. Hogg: I believe that we have been taking the lead--for instance, on proposals that we have made in the context of conflict prevention and more specifically on the action that the United Kingdom Government have taken in support of the United Nations in Bosnia.

Mr. Jopling: Will the Minister use every opportunity during this year to express the grave reservations of the Government and the House about moves in the United States Congress to reduce subscriptions to the vital work of the United Nations? Will he make it clear to the members of Congress whom he meets that that is exactly what the world does not need at this time?

Mr. Hogg: I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. I regard the legislation that was passed in the Congress as extremely damaging and I regret that it happened. I shall certainly take every opportunity to make that point to American Congressmen and Senators and to stress the importance of making a full contribution to the United Nations. Indeed, I shall make the further point that that is required by their international obligations.

Mr. Murphy: Will the Minister give an assurance to the House that, in the year when the United Nations is

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celebrating its 50th anniversary, there are no proposals for Britain to withdraw from the oldest of those agencies, the International Labour Organisation?

Mr. Hogg: As it happens, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment answered questions yesterday tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) on precisely that matter. I commend to the hon. Gentleman those replies, which make the position and the commitment of the United Kingdom Government quite clear.

Sir Michael Marshall: Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept the appreciation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for the considerable assistance rendered by our ambassador and mission in New York for the IPU conference in August and September on the occasion of its 50th anniversary? Following what he has just said, will he use his good offices to persuade the US Congress to support that opportunity to assess the needs and requirements of the United Nations for the next 50 years?

Mr. Hogg: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks about the British ambassador to the United Nations. On the second part of his question, the answer is yes.

Consular Activities

20. Dr. Howells: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's consular activities in (a) Europe, (b) north America, (c) south America, (d) Asia, (e) Africa and (f) Australasia in 1994.     [25451]

Mr. Baldry: A breakdown by geographical area of how consular resources were spent in 1993-94 is contained in the 1995 departmental report of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Dr. Howells: I thank the Minister for that answer, but I should like to ask him about one aspect of that expenditure: entry clearance duties. What measures are being taken to strengthen the alleged links between his Department and the Home Office to ensure that the activities and duties carried out by our consulates around the world with regard to entry clearance are of a sufficiently high standard and efficient enough to ensure that backlogs of work are not placed at the door the hard-pressed and under-resourced immigration service at ports of entry in Britain?

Mr. Baldry: The entry clearance officers who work in our posts throughout the world are a mixture of Home Office and Foreign Office officials and they seek to carry out their work expeditiously. If the hon. Gentleman can instance any post where he thinks that entry clearance work is not being carried out as speedily as it should be, I hope that he will bring it specifically to my attention. Our experience is that throughout the world our entry clearance officers work hard, diligently and efficiently.

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