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WALES

Deeside College of Further Education

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will visit Deeside College of Further Education. [632]

Mr. Hain: I intend to visit a number of further education institutions in Wales this year but I have yet to finalise my programme.

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FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Nigeria

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to promote (a) the return of democracy and (b) respect for human rights in Nigeria; and if he will make a statement. [517]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We intend to make the protection and promotion of human rights a central part of our foreign policy. I am therefore extremely concerned by the lack of accountable democratic government and continuing human rights violations in Nigeria. We are actively considering what further measures we can take with EU, Commonwealth and other partners.

Bahrain (Human Rights)

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he proposes to make to the Government of Bahrain concerning abuses of human rights. [518]

Mr. Fatchett: We intend to have a close and frank relationship with Bahrain. On 15 May, I had a useful discussion with the Bahraini ambassador on human rights and other issues. The Government of Bahrain is well aware of our concerns about the human rights situation there.

Antarctica

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to ensure agreement is reached amongst Antarctic treaty countries to enable a secretariat to be established. [175]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We intend to review our policy on the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat after the forthcoming Antarctic treaty consultative meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Mission Statement

Mr. Hogg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost to public funds of the press conference held in the Locarno room on Monday 12 May, at which the Foreign Secretary outlined his mission statement, separately indicating the cost of the film background. [121]

Mr. Fatchett: The cost of public funds of the 12 May press conference was £19,000. The rostrum structure will remain in service. An additional sum of £7,000 was necessary for the hire of the video wall.

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who made the videotape used at the official launch of his mission statement; who supervised the making of the videotape; and what was the cost to public funds. [307]

Mr. Fatchett: The video which had its first showing at my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's press conference was an abridged and re-edited version of a film originally made for the Hanover Fair. The video was produced in-house by this Department, and drew on our own television archive, thereby limiting the cost to £28,000. The video will be shown in coming months at other events.

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Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost to public funds of the official launch of his mission statement. [178]

Mr. Fatchett: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave today to the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg).

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost of producing, launching, distributing and publicising his Department's mission statement. [757]

Mr. Fatchett: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave today to the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham and the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire).

Yemen

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the application for membership by the Republic of Yemen at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. [288]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh will consider a report on Commonwealth membership criteria. The Commonwealth Secretary-General has advised Yemen that no applications for membership will be considered until that has taken place. We welcome the fact that the Commonwealth is attracting interest from potential new members, but will emphasise the importance of full compliance with the Harare declaration, which sets the Commonwealth political and human rights standards.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit the Republic of Yemen. [290]

Mr. Fatchett: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary looks forward to visiting Yemen in due course, although he has no plans to do so in the immediate future.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the recent elections in the Republic of Yemen. [291]

Mr. Fatchett: We welcome the successful completion of parliamentary elections in Yemen last month. They marked a further step in Yemen's recovery since the damaging civil war of 1994. Yemen's democracy is young, and although there were some irregularities, the international observers concluded that, on balance, the elections were "reasonably free and fair". We welcome this, and look forward to future co-operation with the new Yemeni Government and Parliament.

Civil Service (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants at each grade within his Department were of Asian origin on 5 May. [247]

Mr. Fatchett: Staff within this Department are not obliged to report their ethnic origins. The information in the table is based on voluntary returns to a survey into ethnic origins carried out in 1989 to which 89 per cent.

20 May 1997 : Column: 41

of staff responded. We have since invited all new entrants to complete the questionnaire, and those that have done so are also included.

Officers of Asian origin by grade (including those of part-Asian origin) as at 1 April 1997

Number
DS5S/HCS61
DS5/HCS72
DS7D/8/HEO (D)4
DS7M/HEO7
DS9/EO20
DS10/EA/AO47
AA/SGB29
Total90

These figures do not include officers on unpaid leave.


Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs if he will make a statement on current Anglo-Yemeni relations. [289]

Mr. Fatchett: We enjoy good relations with Yemen. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has recently written to the Foreign Minister of Yemen, stressing our wish to strengthen co-operation between our two countries.

Hong Kong

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which Commonwealth Governments are being invited to the Hong Kong handover ceremony; and at what level. [268]

Mr. Fatchett: The handover ceremony will be a joint occasion, invitations to which will be issued jointly on behalf of Britain and China. We have agreed with China to invite countries and international organisations with the strongest links to Hong Kong, such as all European Union and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation member states, plus a small number of other countries with special links with Hong Kong, including several members of the Commonwealth. Invited countries will generally be represented by their Foreign Ministers. We will announce the list of countries in due course. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House. I can, however, say that we and China have agreed to invite the Commonwealth Secretary-General. We are delighted that he has accepted.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he has to increase the number of employees from ethnic minorities within his Department. [248]

Mr. Fatchett: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regards increasing the number of employees from ethnic minorities in this Department as a priority. My noble Friend Baroness Symons has been asked to give careful and swift consideration to ways of improving the policies already in place in this Department. When proposals have been agreed, my noble Friend will write to the hon. Member and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Social Chapter

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what powers the United Kingdom will have to amend or improve social

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and employment laws in the United Kingdom without the consent of the EC once it has signed the social chapter. [303]

Mr. Doug Henderson: Accepting the social chapter will not affect the UK's power to alter our own social and employment legislation except in so far as UK legislation will have to comply with measures adopted under these Treaty provisions in the same way that it already has to comply with other aspects of Community law.


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