Previous Section Index Home Page

EU (Accountability)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to increase the democratic accountability of the European Union. [158614]

Mr. Vaz: European democracy is strongest in the Parliaments within the member states. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out in his Warsaw speech a new proposal for the institutional involvement of the national parliaments through delegations to a second chamber of the European parliament. We secured agreement at Nice that the role of national parliaments would be one of the agenda items for the next intergovernmental conference.

At Nice we were also successful in securing the first ever increase in the voting strength of the UK in the Council of Ministers and acceptance of the democratic principle that votes should more fairly reflect population size.


Mr. Wells: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the areas funded by his Department in Zimbabwe. [159568]

Mr. Wilson: We are currently funding, from our Human Rights Project Fund, a project carried out by a Zimbabwean NGO which is designed to offer support to victims of torture. The same NGO is also working on the prevention of torture in Zimbabwe.

West Timor

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what support his Department is providing to long-term relief efforts aimed at solving the refugee crisis in West Timor; and what steps are being taken to ensure a secure environment for refugees and humanitarian agencies in West Timor; [159925]

Mr. Battle: We remain deeply concerned about the situation in the refugee camps. We maintain regular contact with UNHCR and I discussed West Timor with Mr. Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva on 22 March. Representatives from the British Embassy in Jakarta visited West Timor on 16-17 April to assess the situation there. Acquiring information in the field strengthens HMG's ability to influence the key players towards resolving the situation. We are also encouraging the UN to keep the situation in West Timor under review, so that UN agencies can resume operations in the camps as soon as possible.

The Indonesian Government have announced that from 21-24 May they will conduct a registration of the refugees remaining in West Timor with the aim of speeding up the

1 May 2001 : Column: 583W

repatriation of those who wish to return. On 10 April, five international NGOs agreed to work in the camps in West Timor.

Council of the European Union (Business)

Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for May and the major European Union events for the period between 31 May and October. [160152]

Mr. Vaz: The information is as follows:

The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 June and October 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue).

5LuxembourgHealth Council
5LuxembourgECOFIN Council
7-8LuxembourgEnvironment Council
11-12LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
11LuxembourgEmployment/Social Affairs Council
15-16GothenburgEuropean Council
18LuxembourgFisheries Council (possible)
19-20LuxembourgAgriculture Council
19LuxembourgECOFIN Council (possible)
21LuxembourgCulture Council
25-26LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
26LuxembourgResearch Council
27-28LuxembourgTransport/Telecommunications Council
6-7BrusselsInformal Employment and Social Affairs Council
10BrusselsECOFIN Council
13-14BrusselsRegional Territories Council (Informal)?
16-17BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20BrusselsBudget Council
23-24BrusselsAgriculture Council
There are no Councils scheduled for August
14-16BrusselsEnvironment and Transport Council
16-18BrusselsAgriculture (Ministerial Informal)
22-23BrusselsECOFIN (Informal)
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
27-28BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
1LuxembourgResearch Council
8LuxembourgEmployment and Social Affairs Council
8-9LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
11-12LuxembourgDefence Council (Ministerial Informal)
15-16LuxembourgTransport and Telecommunications Council
22-23LuxembourgAgriculture Council
25LuxembourgFisheries Council
29-30LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council

1 May 2001 : Column: 584W

St. Helena

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Island of St. Helena. [158623]

Mr. Battle: Various events are being arranged in St. Helena throughout 2002 to celebrate the quincentenary of the discovery of the island. These include sports days, carnivals, a son et lumiere and musical pageant, as well as the opening of the new museum to which we have made a financial contribution.

We are in touch with the Governor about other ways to celebrate this anniversary.

Lockerbie Trial

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the report by Dr. Hans Van Koechler on the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist. [158626]

Mr. Wilson: The UN Secretary-General was tasked by the Security Council to appoint international observers to the Lockerbie trial. These observers, representing five organisations, were not UN observers and, as such, did not have the task of reporting to the Secretary-General.

One of these observers, Dr. Hans Van Koechler, has written a report in a private capacity.

We understand that Dr. Koechler has been complimentary about the professionalism shown in the way the trial was administered by the Scottish Court

1 May 2001 : Column: 585W

Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the police. However, Dr. Koechler appears to have misunderstood a number of aspects of criminal procedure and processes in this case.


Flooding (Shrewsbury)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) when he will reply to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham's letters dated 30 January, 12 February and 14 March and the letters from the Shrewsbury Chronicle dated 11 January, 15 March and 22 March concerning the "Bale Us Out" campaign about business rate relief for flooded premises; and if he will make a statement; [156584]

Mr. Prescott [holding answer 2 April 2001]: The Environment Agency is investigating options for reducing the risk of flooding in Shrewsbury by the construction of flood defences to protect the vulnerable areas of the town.

An earlier scheme which would have been eligible for MAFF funding was refused planning permission by the local authority.

The Agency is now fast-tracking this project and, subject to the usual consents, is aiming to start construction this autumn. The Agency is currently preparing an Environmental Statement and planning application.

With reference to business rate relief, as with all cases where business is disrupted, businesses can apply to the local valuation office to have their rateable value reduced while premises are affected.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his holding answer to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham of 2 April, on the Shrewsbury Chronicle's "Bale Us Out Campaign", when he will give a substantive reply to the questions. [158430]

Mr. Prescott: I have replied to my hon. Friend's questions today.

Next Section Index Home Page