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Cyprus

9. Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to help to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus problem. [13962]

Mr. David Davis: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave earlier.

Mr. Corbett: I welcome the present Foreign Secretary's visit to Cyprus, and that of the next Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook). Have the Government received reports of what in my recollection was a unique get-together of leaders of political parties from both Cypriot communities that took place recently in the former Ledra Palace hotel on the green line and, if so, what does the Minister make of it? Will he give the House a commitment that he will do all that he can to encourage contacts between politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, trade unionists, business people and others from both communities to try to change the climate in favour of a settlement of the Cyprus problem?

Mr. Davis: As I have said, we will do everything we can to promote any method of improving the situation and of devising a solution to the Cyprus problem. Of course,

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I will do everything possible along those lines. I hope, however, that the hon. Gentleman's assessment of Cyprus is more accurate than his domestic political forecasts.

Mr. Trimble: I agree with the Minister's earlier comment that the accession of Cyprus to the European Community would benefit the whole island. I hope that that is the basis on which accession takes place. Does he agree that matters would be improved immediately if the European Community stopped discriminating against northern Cyprus in trade matters? That creates the unfortunate impression that the Community is being manipulated in favour of one community in Cyprus, and that should end.

Mr. Davis: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The problem is that what he terms discrimination arose from a court judgment, not from pressure of the sort that he describes. As such, there is little that can be done directly about it, but other measures can be designed to help.

Gibraltar

10. Mr. David Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had about the future of Gibraltar. [13963]

Mr. David Davis: My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly meets the Chief Minister of Gibraltar to discuss matters concerning Gibraltar's future. The last such meeting was in London on 18 November. He also met the Spanish Foreign Minister in Madrid on 22 January under the Brussels process to explore the scope for enhanced co-operation between Gibraltar and Spain.

Mr. Evans: I thank the Minister for that reply. Would he take this opportunity to assure the British people and the Gibraltarians that while we have a Conservative Government the Union Jack will continue to fly over Gibraltar and that we will not raise the white flag? Does he also agree that, if that lot over there ever got into power, they would give away Scotland, Wales, the sovereign and this Parliament to the bureaucrats in Brussels and it would not be long before they gave away the rock and its monkeys to Spain, but it takes a monkey to recognise one?

Mr. Davis: My hon. Friend puts his point much better than I ever could. With respect to his substantive question on the sovereignty of Gibraltar, we gave an undertaking in the 1969 constitution--which this Government will always stand by--that we will never give up the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the free and fully given consent of the Gibraltarian people. We will always stand by that undertaking.

Mr. Mackinlay: I support the Minister on the principles of national self-determination for the people of Gibraltar, but may we also consider their democratic deficit? They are citizens of the European Union, but they have no representation in the European Parliament or in this place. Is there not a case for the people of Gibraltar

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having at least some limited representation here, as occurs with comparable territories of the United States and France?

Mr. Davis: I recognise the hon. Gentleman's commitment to Gibraltar and to its people. The question about the European Parliament is not easy to answer because, with 30,000 people, Gibraltar is less than one tenth the size of a British constituency. With respect to his other proposal, I do not think that there is much to be advanced by this country's copying the constitutions of France or the United States.

Yemen

11. Sir Robert Hicks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the Foreign Minister of Yemen to discuss Anglo-Yemeni relations; and if he will make a statement. [13964]

Mr. Hanley: During his visit to Yemen in November, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State discussed a wide range of bilateral issues with Dr Iryani, including how further to improve political and commercial co-operation between the United Kingdom and Yemen. No further meeting is planned in the near future.

Sir Robert Hicks: Given the nodal position occupied by Yemen and its potential for development, should not the United Kingdom Government be showing more interest in, and giving greater encouragement to, the numerous Yemeni political development and economic programmes? In particular, would not the exciting Aden port redevelopment and free port project be a worthwhile starter?

Mr. Hanley: I agree with my hon. Friend, who I know has visited Yemen quite recently. We are determined to enhance relations with our Yemeni friends, as we have made clear during a succession of recent visits. Not only has the Secretary of State made a rare visit to the Yemen, but so has the Minister for Trade. I visited it a year before the Secretary of State, and the permanent under-secretary at the FCO has visited it in the past couple of weeks. The other way round, the Prime Minister of Yemen, Abd al-Ghani, visited Britain last September and Dr. Iryani has been here recently. We have invited President Saleh to visit at a date yet to be specified this year. My hon. Friend is right that the Aden port project is exciting and offers big opportunities to British companies. I am pleased that British Airways has recently agreed to renew its air services to Yemen.

Mr. Dalyell: Did Dr. Iryani raise the long-standing Yemeni concern about the appalling plight of the children of Iraq and the famine and its consequences? Is it altogether wise to be so definite about sanctions that strengthen, not weaken, Saddam Hussein?

Mr. Hanley: I admit that I discussed the situation in Iraq with Dr. Iryani. I am pleased that, when I met President Saleh, he too expressed regrets about the policy of Saddam Hussein and the way in which the people of

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Iraq have been harmed by it. We are having a good exchange of views with Yemen, and I believe that it understands our point of view well.

Mrs. Sherratt

12. Mr. Day: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by his Department to the Moroccan Government concerning the case of Mrs. Sherratt. [13965]

Dr. Liam Fox: We stand ready to make representations to the Moroccan authorities on behalf of Mrs. Sherratt once we know the outcome of her solicitors' bid to obtain compensation through the courts.

Mr. Day: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He knows that this case is particularly tragic. My constituent was shot by an off-duty Moroccan policeman and is wheelchair-bound and paralysed for the rest of her life. The Moroccan Government deny responsibility, despite the fact that the weapon used was supplied by them. Since I raised this matter at business questions, the Moroccan ambassador has kindly agreed to meet me, for which I am grateful. Legal action may be taken.

I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind the fact that the matter is serious because of the number of British tourists who holiday in Morocco. They must be assured that the Government will look after their interests. Should legal action not be successful--and hopes of success are tenuous--can the matter be raised at ministerial level, if necessary?

Dr. Fox: The shooting in the Hotel Tarik was indeed tragic, and two Britons were killed. The gunman's wife was shot, and the gunman committed suicide. Given the circumstances, we believe that this was an isolated incident, not a trend. The problem with compensation is that Morocco does not have an equivalent of our criminal injury compensation scheme. I assure my hon. Friend that, if Mrs. Sherratt cannot obtain satisfaction through the courts, we will consider approaching the Moroccan authorities in the way he suggests.

Racism and Xenophobia

13. Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the European Union initiative against racism and xenophobia. [13966]

Mr. David Davis: There are two main areas of the initiative: the designation of 1997 as the European Year Against Racism and the EU monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia.

Mr. Gapes: Does the Minister agree that racist and neo-Nazi groups operate internationally, often publishing their material in one country and disseminating it in others? Does he agree that it would be better to have a co-ordinated, legally based, European-wide joint initiative for minimum standards of racial equality? Is it not deplorable that our Government are in a minority of 14 to

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one in blocking the initiative to establish a European Union centre to monitor racism, and are opposing EU-wide action against holocaust denial?

Mr. Davis: I believe that, some time ago, the Home Secretary said something about dealing with the issue of material being published in one country and printed in another. Europe has a role in dealing with racism: that of exchanging and disseminating information on how to deal with racism and xenophobia. However, the United Kingdom's domestic race relations legislation is among the most sophisticated in Europe.

If the hon. Gentleman wants effective race relations legislation, the best locus for that is within the nation state, not in a supranational body. That is how the misunderstanding from which he clearly suffers has arisen. We are not blocking progress on the establishment of the observatory; but we are saying that it is appropriate as an intergovernmental measure, not as a measure for the Commission and the European Court in the European Community.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the European Union might make more progress in the fight against xenophobia and racism within the European Union if, instead of setting up institutions to enforce codes of Euro-political correctness, it looked at the competitiveness of the European economy and did something about the rampant unemployment on the continent--the sort of unemployment that would be caused by the policies of the Labour party and lead to the very racism and xenophobia--

Madam Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is abusing my recognition of him on this question, which relates not to the economy but to a specific issue. Would the Minister like to make some response?

Mr. Davis: My simple response is that when unemployment is maximised it creates an obvious problem by encouraging racism and extremism of all sorts. Britain and other European countries would seek to avoid that.

Mr. Home Robertson: Will the Minister condemn the incidents of racism and xenophobia that have been witnessed by NATO peacekeepers in the city of Mostar in recent days? Will he tell the Croatian authorities that there can be no question of progress towards-- [Hon. Members: "That is not in Europe".] There can be no question of progress towards Croatian membership of European or other institutions as long as--

Madam Speaker: Order. I call Sir David Knox--let us have a sensible question.


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