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EU Membership

Mr. Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries seeking EU membership which will have to raise their external tariffs to qualify for membership. [103388]

Mr. Vaz: On accession to the EU, candidate countries will have to apply the same external tariff as the EC. In general, candidate countries currently have agricultural tariffs which are lower than those of the EU while their industrial tariffs are often higher. The Commission is presently studying the detailed implications including the potential impact on other WTO members and the Union's obligations under Article XXIV of GATT.

Bonded Labour

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call for reports on how many people have been successfully

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prosecuted in Pakistan under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 for employing bonded labour since this law was passed. [103872]

Mr. Hain: We share concerns about bonded labour in Pakistan. We have urged the Pakistani authorities to fully implement the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 which abolishes the practice. There are no reliable statistics about the number of people prosecuted under the Act. We are in contact, however, with human rights groups in Pakistan who monitor this issue.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call for reports on how many people have been successfully prosecuted in India under (a) the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 and (b) the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, for employing bonded labour since these laws were passed. [103873]

Mr. Hain: We are concerned about bonded labour. I raised the issue with my Indian interlocutors during my visit there last month. Our High Commissioner in New Delhi met the Secretary of the Indian National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on 8 October. We currently have no plans to ask the Indian Government to supply reports on the number of people prosecuted under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act or the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Papal Visit (Tomb of Abraham)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made since 1 November to (a) the United Nations and (b) the Vatican about the proposed visit of His Holiness the Pope to the Tomb of Abraham. [103573]

Mr. Hain: None.

Eddie Izzard

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what engagements the Minister for Europe held with Mr. Eddie Izzard on 1 December. [103034]

Mr. Vaz: In Paris, Mr. Izzard and I gave an interview to the "Today" programme and attended a meeting to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Council of Europe. We then boarded the Eurostar and, during the journey, spoke to passengers about Europe. On arrival at Waterloo we held a press conference.

Karen People

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received concerning the policies and actions of the Government of Burma in respect of the Karen people. [103123]

Mr. Battle: We continue to receive disturbing reports of human rights violations against the ethnic minorities, including Karen, in Burma. These violations include arbitrary killings, rape, torture, mass arrests, forced labour and forced relocations. These abuses have been highlighted in the UN General Assembly resolution

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adopted on 19 November, which the UK co-sponsored. We make regular representations to the regime on this issue.

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the conditions experienced by the Karen people in Thai camps. [103122]

Mr. Battle: The British Embassy in Bangkok is in close contact with the Thai authorities, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) giving assistance to the refugee camps, including regular meetings. Embassy officials have also visited the camps, most recently Mae La and Umpiam Mai camps on 22-23 November: this was an opportunity to see the results of the successful relocation of two camps (Mawker and Wangka) close to the border which had proved vulnerable to attacks in the past. The Thai authorities administer the camps in close co-operation with UNHCR and NGOs. The refugees themselves are actively involved in implementing the programmes of assistance provided by NGOs. The UK is an important contributor to the Burma Border Consortium, one of the leading NGOs providing food and shelter to refugees. We will continue to pay close attention to the plight of Burmese refugees in Thailand.

Entry Appeals

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many appeals against refusal to enter his Department has lost in the last 12 months, indicating how many were for overseas students wishing to study in the UK. [103405]

Mr. Vaz: The latest year for which we have statistics on the outcome of entry clearance appeals is the financial year 1998-99, for which we have figures based on estimates supplied by the Lord Chancellor's Department. These include figures for appeals against refusal of entry clearance for temporary purposes. Students are included in this category, but separate statistics are not kept on student appeals.

Outcome of adjudicator appeals against refusal of entry clearance 1998-99

Total dealt withAllowedDismissedWithdrawn (1)
1,7004001,200100

(1) Includes cases where the appellant withdrew the appeal because the Home Office had conceded the case, as well as those where the appellant decided not to pursue the appeal further.


BBC World Service

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will publish his review of the funding arrangements for BBC World Service Monitoring since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [103541]

Mr. Hain: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as sponsor Department, is currently undertaking a two-year review with the other Stakeholder Departments (MOD, BBC World Service and Cabinet Office) of BBC Monitoring's Overall Operating Regime. This was provided for in the 1996 agreement between BBCM and the FCO which came into force in April 1997. A decision on publication will be taken when the review is complete.

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Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 1997, what has been the financial contribution to BBC World Service Monitoring of (a) his Department, (b) the MOD, (c) BBC World Service and (d) other sources, together with the names of those sources; and what are the forecast contributions for each of the next three years. [103542]

Mr. Hain: The financial contributions to BBC Monitoring for the years 1997-1998 to 1999-2000 are:

£000

1997-19981998-19991999-2000
FCO(1)7,1817,0117,457
MOD7,1657,2757,404
BBC World Service4,1154,1624,266
Cabinet Office168172180
Other1,5952,3402,952
Total Income20,22420,96022,259

(1) This includes a £250k capital roll-over from 1996-1997.


The "other sources" include other parts of the BBC and commercial revenue. Contributions for 2000-2001 are still under consideration; funding for 2001-2004 is subject to agreement on the 2000 Spending Round.

Gibraltar

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 14 December 1999, Official Report, column 111W, on Gibraltar, for what reason no representations have been made to Spain specifically in relation to the border incident on 29 November; and if he will make a statement. [103543]

Mr. Vaz: To our knowledge, there has been no subsequent repetition of the incident on 29 November. We have also noted that the individual in question was not prevented from crossing the border. We have therefore seen no need to raise this specific case with the Spanish authorities but we will continue to monitor carefully the situation at the border.

PRIME MINISTER

Performance and Innovation Unit

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out the title of each report published to date by the Performance and Innovation Unit, stating in each case the cost implications of the recommendations made. [101179]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The Performance and Innovation Unit has published three reports to date:



    "e-commerce@its.best.uk", published in September 1999; and


    "Rural economies", published in December 1999.

For the e-commerce project, it was considered that most recommendations could be implemented within existing resources, although reprioritisation of resources would be

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needed in some areas. The project team recommended further work to look at the full resource implications and the scope for private/public sector partnerships.

The encryption and law enforcement project recommended the setting up of a technical assistance centre to help law enforcement agencies. The detailed cost implications of this and other recommendations are being assessed by other Departments, in particular the Home Office and HM Treasury.

The Rural Economies report raised a range of issues for discussion which are being taken forward by the Rural White Paper Team, in the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Copies of all three reports are available in the Library.

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Prime Minister what reports have been prepared by the Performance and Innovation Unit; and which of these have been published. [103130]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I have given to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) today and to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bath on 14 December 1999, Official Report, columns 111-12W.


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