Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
TUESDAY 19 DECEMBER 2000
HAIN, MP, MR
80. It is clearly something we and others would
wish to return to fairly speedily I would have thought.
(Mr Hain) Yes, I would welcome that.
81. In relation to Serbia, would the Foreign
Office be content if the domestic courts in Serbia were to deal
with former President Milosevic if there was a clear undertaking
that he would be dealt with adequately within their own courts,
or are we still pressing him to release Milosevic for the International
War Crimes Tribunal?
(Mr Hain) We are still pressing him to release Milosevic
to the International War Crimes Tribunal. He is self-evidently
a war criminal.
82. Are there any signs that the new President
Kostunica will comply or is he intending to go ahead with a domestic
(Mr Hain) I do not have the up-to-date diplomatic
views on that, but we continue to engage on that and continue
to press for that.
83. The Chairman's question prompts a further
one on this. These people cannot be a hostage to lifting the possibility
of prosecution of Milosevic in or outside Serbia, can they? Is
there a danger of that? You mention the amnesty law.
(Mr Hain) No, I do not think so. I think that this
is one of the matters of unfinished business as a result of Milosevic's
fall from power which will still be pursued.
84. It is a very good report on Belorus, but
both Mr Trend and myself met the Belorus opposition at the invitation
of the Foreign Office recently. They drew our attention to the
fact that the British Council have closed down their operation
in Minsk. Incidentally, can I say there is no BBC Belorus service
but that has not closed down; that does not exist. Whilst I recognise
the independence of the British Council, this seems to be quite
in contrast to what we should be doing.
(Mr Hain) The British Council has been engaged upon
and decided upon a new strategy which has involved decisions like
that. What it has also done is expanded hugely, for example, in
Eastern and Central Europe, especially in those countries that
are likely to come in under European Union enlargement which we
think is really important.
85. That is not answering my point, with the
(Mr Hain) There are priorities and the priority was
to do that.
86. To withdraw the facility from Minsk sends
all the wrong signals. This is packing up and going home. The
map of Europe does not have Belorus in it.
(Mr Hain) I do not accept that at all. What the British
Council is also doing, both in that region and elsewhere, is looking
at new ways of maintaining a presence there, in some cases certainly
in partnership with a British private company which has got commercial
interests there so we can maintain a presence and offer much the
same kind of services but get additional funding for it. I can
understand your irritation on it but British Council decisions
are about priorities and the priorities were felt to be elsewhere
in the world.
Chairman: Minister, we shall be meeting the
Director-General in the early New Year and this can be a marker
for him and we shall certainly pursue that further.
87. Can I go to the overseas territories. The
report you have published, we have had it for some months, says
you will bring forward Orders in Council later this year in relation
to homosexual reform, for instance. We have not had those Orders
in Council, have we?
(Mr Hain) No, I do not think we have.
88. Why not?
(Mr Hain) I cannot say.
89. What makes me cross is the fact that your
Departmentand to some extent probably not you Ministerdoes
not appear to care what it says to Parliament. Earlier you said
we were going to get a Green Paper; we do not have a Green Paper.
Your Report says we are going to have Orders in Council "later
this year"those are the wordsand we have not
had them. I do not want to go back over old sores, as it were,
but your planted Parliamentary Question on the last day of July
talking about the publication of an International Criminal Court
was aborted to suit the Foreign Secretary's arrangements. When
are you going to say things to Parliament and say what you mean
and keep to them? Why have we not got these Orders in Council?
Who is stalling? Who has been dilatory?
(Mr Hain) Andrew, I accept your reprimands on this
and I am not seeking to dodge them. Incidentally, the publication
arrangements for the International Criminal Court Draft Bill were
not aborted, but I do accept that the day was shifted by three
or four days and therefore the answer I gave before when giving
notice of this was wrong by three or fours days and I am sorry
about that. But we are wanting to bring these Orders in as quickly
as possible and we will do it as quickly as possible.
90. When do you expect the arrival date of these
(Mr Hain) Soon.
91. We can come back to that.
(Mr Hain) As soon as I have information on that, Chairman,
I will write to you with a copy to Mr Mackinlay.
92. Your colleague Ministers or Sir John Kerr
really must understand that if they say things to Parliament they
have got to stick to them. We are Parliament in this context here.
I think that throughout this Parliament there has been a cavalier
disregard for this Committee and things which have been uttered
(Mr Hain) Obviously that is a very serious point to
make. I will make sure the Foreign Secretary and the Permanent
Under Secretary are aware of the vehemence of that thought. I
do not think it is entirely fair, but the force of the point is
made and must be reported.
93. The other point (which I am not sure I will
take my Committee with me on) is looking at Article 21 of the
Universal Collection of Human Rights, has it occurred that we
are in breach of Article 21 in respect of all our overseas territories
in as much as we do not give them representation to government,
again in contrast to the United States, the Netherlands, France,
Spain which also have overseas territories?
(Mr Hain) It was because we regarded, as an incoming
Government, the position of the overseas territories as not being
acceptable by maintaining them in this constitutional limbo in
respect of the citizenship, in particular, that we brought out
the White Paper, and we are committed to legislation as soon as
we can to implement the broad policies that were consulted on
in the White Paper. I think the ideaand I know you have
not suggested thatthat we are indifferent to this is not
true. We are taking forward this agenda.
94. This White Paper which has not been enacted
and legislation has not been brought forward. Again, if you look
at the statements of the time, we are overdue on that legislation.
I cannot quote chapter and verse on that, but I think we were
promised legislation on citizenship in this Parliament and it
actually featured some Queen's speeches ago. The point I was coming
to was the fact that we are not providing representation in the
legislature to overseas territories.
(Mr Hain) On the question of legislation I do not
think a timetable was specifically given, but I stand to be corrected.
The important point that we can agree upon, and I hope the Committee
welcomes, is that we are committed to legislation. We have prepared
instructions for Parliamentary Counsel jointly with the Home Office
to draft the Bill and we will make available a slot in the legislative
timetable for the business as soon as one becomes practically
95. Finally on this, what is demonstrably so
is we still have got the obligation on Gibraltar, on the European
(Mr Hain) Yes.
96. I know it is a matter for the Home Secretary
but it is a matter for you also. Actually, the next European elections
are not all that very far away. Your colleague, Mr Vaz, has shifted
to new ground, which I welcome. He indicated it had to be done
with the agreement of others, he has now said he might do it unilaterally.
When do you think we can expect this legislation?
(Mr Hain) Well, as you rightly point out, and I acknowledge
your expert interest in Gibraltar, following the important announcement
of the European Court of Human Rights in February pretty well
immediately, I think within a month, February 1999, we tabled
in Brussels an amendment to the 1976 EC Act on Direct Elections
to try and get the provisions of that judgment carried into effect
which would give European parliamentary representation to Gibraltar.
We have not yet been able to get unanimity amongst Member States,
which is our problem. We cannot allow this sort of history to
go on forever because we are in breach of the Court with, as you
say, elections coming up in a few years' time.
97. We will be coming back to it.
(Mr Hain) By all means.
Sir David Madel
98. On the question of the trial of Milosevic,
is that a united position with the European Union that there should
be a trial at the Hague?
(Mr Hain) As far as I am aware, Sir David. If I may
I would prefer to write back to you on that matter because I do
not have the day to day responsibility for the Balkans.
99. Could it be the French tried to change the
policy during their Presidency?
(Mr Hain) I do not think that is the case but I would
not really want to speculate on that until I have proper information.