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Yugoslavia

7. Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge): If he will make a statement on sanctions applying to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. [95036]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Keith Vaz): The European Union and the United Nations maintain a broad range of sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They were mostly imposed in response to the atrocities carried out in Kosovo by the federal republic authorities, and remain in place as part of the international effort to promote democratic reform in the federal republic.

Mr. Randall: Would a Yugoslav Government, whose democracy was based on the Chinese model, be deemed acceptable for the lifting of sanctions?

Mr. Vaz: As the hon. Gentleman knows, the purpose of sanctions is to ensure that we promote democratic

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change in the federal republic. They are tough measures that are designed to make it clear to the authorities that we are against their proposals. On the question of China, one must consider such matters case by case.

Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan): Does my hon. Friend agree that Serbia holds the key to peace and democracy not just in Kosovo but in the whole Balkan region? Will he assure me that the Government will do all in their power to ensure that Serbia changes its ways, joins us, adopts western values and becomes a democracy?

Mr. Vaz: It is the Government's wish that the countries of the Balkans should join the European mainstream, but we can never have peace and stability in the Balkans with the likes of Milosevic in control of Serbia. That is why we have a targeted sanctions approach. That is why organisations, including the European Union and the United Nations, are working together to ensure that there is democracy, peace and stability in the local area.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): But does the Minister agree that a Balkan winter is as cold for Serbs as it is for Kosovan Albanians? If there is a shortage of fuel for heating in Serbia this winter because generating capacity was hit by the Balkan conflict, will he take steps to amend the sanctions regime to ensure that that does not happen?

Mr. Vaz: The Government are working with the European Union to ensure that as much humanitarian aid as possible is provided. That is why the European Commission has put aside 50 million euro for humanitarian purposes, and that is why organisations such as Energy for Democracy are working to ensure that heating is supplied to local people.

Palestinian Authority

8. Mr. Jim Murphy (Eastwood): If he will make a statement on the British Government's support for economic development in the Palestinian Authority area. [95038]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain: We are providing £50 million in bilateral aid over the next three years, including £24 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. We have also established the Derek Fatchett memorial fund to finance studies by Palestinian students. In view of the high esteem in which Derek Fatchett was held across the House, I am sure that that will be widely welcomed.

Mr. Murphy: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he join me in welcoming this month's Labour Friends of Israel-inspired summit, involving Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists, held here in the United Kingdom, to foster a sense of trust and allow them to discuss how best to bring inward investment into that region? What more can the UK Government and the European Union do to ensure that such initiatives become

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much more widespread, and deliver peace and security for the people of Israel, and peace and a new prosperity for the people of the Palestinian Authority?

Mr. Hain: I very much welcome that initiative, which is being hosted by the Trades Union Congress. That is exactly the type of initiative that promotes partnership and progress, and increases respect between Palestinians and Israelis. In future, Israel and the new Palestine will need to live together in peace and stability. We hope that there will be further such initiatives--possibly supported, as they could be, by the $400 million of European aid that is due to be provided to the area during the next four years.

Departmental Recruitment

9. Helen Jones (Warrington, North): What measures he is taking to open up recruitment to his Department to people from a wider social background. [95039]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain): Our policies aim to draw on the very best of Britain's diverse society by recruiting on merit more people from ethnic minorities and more with disabilities, and to increase the number of women at senior levels in the Foreign Office. Helen Jones: I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, and welcome him to his new post.

I appreciate the amount of work that has been done to encourage people from a wider range of backgrounds to consider careers in the Foreign Office, but will he consider extending the work that has been done, especially with young people, to target careers teaching in inner-city schools and in schools in the centre of constituencies such as mine, where there is no tradition of considering such careers but where there is a vast pool of underused talent? Perhaps he will tell me how long it might be before I hear a few Warrington accents in the Foreign Office.

Mr. Hain: I think there might be at least one such accent in the Foreign Office at present, but I welcome the points made by my hon. Friend. We are determined, as a Government, to open up the Foreign Office to as broad a section of society as possible, so that people join the Foreign Office on merit and are given every opportunity to do so. As a result of these initiatives, more and more women are being promoted to senior positions in the Foreign Office, which is encouraging. The open days that have been held--one took place last week--have brought into the Foreign Office some 3,000 young people who could possibly be recruited in future.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): Is the Minister aware that Conservative Members believe that recruiting on merit more women, people from the ethnic minorities and those with disabilities to the Foreign Office is a thoroughly worthwhile cause, even though the Foreign Secretary's pursuit of it has been characteristically inept? If the hon. Gentleman accepts the good faith of Conservative Members, will he go further and agree that, in addition to recruiting a great many others, the Foreign Office should be keen to recruit as many as possible of

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the outstanding products of the magnificent remaining grammar schools, which are the beacons of excellence in our society today?

Mr. Hain: As I am in a charitable mood, I shall accept the good faith of Opposition Members. We are determined to recruit on merit. We want people from all class and ethnic backgrounds, from right across the country and with all sorts of accents, to come and join the Foreign Office to represent Britain at home and abroad.

Kenya

10. Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South): What assessment he has made of recent changes in the Kenya Administration in relation to democracy building. [95040]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain): In my meetings with him on 13 October in Nairobi and in London on 29 October, President Moi made it clear that he was leading Kenya's new economic recovery strategy to root out corruption and inefficiency and to extend democracy. We support that and want it implemented quickly and in full.

Mr. Chapman: During a recess visit to Kenya under the excellent leadership of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), I found a country beset with internal problems--problems of poverty, infrastructure breakdown and crime--many of them caused by a lack of probity in Government or economic mismanagement. Does my hon. Friend believe that the appointment of a few technocrats, no matter how distinguished they are, to senior official positions is sufficient to tackle the problems, or is it merely tinkering and placing excessively high expectations on those individuals?

Mr. Hain: I, too, was grateful for the briefing given to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) following the visit. I understand the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Chapman) that this may be another false start in Kenya, as there have been a number of false starts. However, there is no doubt that the economic recovery strategy, including a determination to root out corruption and to reform the parastatals and the entire public procurement policy, is being led vigorously by President Moi and his Cabinet Secretary, Richard Leakey, who has a high reputation in that regard. There are several high-quality new appointments at permanent secretary level, some of whom I have met and who have come in from the private sector. Kenya has drifted into a serious state of decline and crisis. We want to work with the Government there to ensure that it emerges as quickly as possible.

Mr. John Maples (Stratford-on-Avon): Does the Minister think that a good way to improve democracy and human rights in Kenya would be to invite the Kenyan

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President to Britain on a state visit and then for the Foreign Office to conspire with the police to suppress demonstrators, take away their banners and--

Madam Speaker: Order. I was rather expecting that. The question is about Kenya, and I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would stay with that subject.

Mr. Maples: I was suggesting that the Government might invite the Kenyan President to Britain and behave in that way, using police vans to hide demonstrators from the President, and scour the history books for some ancient byelaw that would allow the Government to declare demonstrations illegal.

Mr. Hain: No.

Mr. Maples: I expected a longer answer from a Minister who built his political career on being a student demonstrator. He was the Peter Pan of student activists for a very long time. Does he realise what kind of message the conduct of the Government during that visit sends to countries such as Kenya--that the Government, who claim to put human rights and democracy at the top of their agenda, are prepared to suppress even the right of free speech in Britain, so as not to offend a foreign Government? Would not Kenya rightly conclude that the Government's so-called ethical foreign policy means lecturing the small and weak, while kowtowing obsequiously to the big and strong?

Mr. Hain: Such artificial incandescence from the Opposition Front Bench was to be expected. May I inform the hon. Gentleman that I met President Moi in London last Friday, and that I was happy to do so? I will take no lectures from hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench whose party, when it was in government, ignored human rights across the world, conspired with almost every dictatorship across the world that repressed its own people, and in the case of Kenya, allowed denials of human rights, attacks on democracy, increasing economic decline and the spread of corruption to go on year after year and did nothing about it. We are taking that agenda on and working with the Government of Kenya to promote human rights and economic recovery.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich): Is my hon. Friend aware that if Kenya is to maintain its democracy--a cause that the House of Commons should pursue devoutly, not treat as a light political ploy--it is important that it maintains its trade with Great Britain and with other European countries? Will he please keep a close eye on the negotiations relating to the Kenyan flour industry, which not only provides many jobs, but puts money into areas that previously were famine stricken? If that industry is lost to Kenya, many people will be in dire financial straits.

Mr. Hain: I agree with my hon. Friend, and we shall certainly do as she asks. We regard Kenya as one of the leading African nations. It should be restored to that leadership after being dragged down over the past 10 to 20 years. It is vital for the regeneration of east Africa--

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and of Africa as a whole, which is in a dire plight--that Kenya emerges from this situation and is able to play that leading democratic and economically successful role.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): I do not believe that President Moi would recognise that caricature of the policy employed by my noble Friend Baroness Chalker when she was responsible for policy towards Kenya. As the Minister clearly believes the reassurance that he has received from President Moi, how long will he give him to come good on his promises?

Mr. Hain: We are monitoring the situation and working closely with the Kenyan Government in respect of their negotiations with the international financial institutions. For example, if an international finance loan were to become available--should the International Monetary Fund be satisfied at its board meeting that will take place shortly that the eligibility conditions have been met--we have made it clear that we would expect to see stage by stage progress as each tranche of loan support was released. If that progress was not forthcoming, the situation would be reviewed. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made clear, the same goes for increases in aid, to which we are committed providing that Kenya continues to make the progress that it has promised. I have been given absolutely categorical assurances by the President that he is committed to the programme and we shall obviously be monitoring the situation closely.


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