|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Minister for Europe (Peter Hain): Foreign Office Ministers have met their Polish counterparts to discuss this matter on numerous occasions in recent months and the Secretary of State will be meeting the Polish Foreign Minister tomorrow.
Dr. Whitehead: Has my right hon. Friend had any discussions with his Polish counterparts specifically concerning the status of Kaliningrad following Poland's accession to the EU, and particularly in relation to arrangements for transits between Kaliningrad and Russia should Lithuania, too, join the EU subsequently?
Peter Hain: I am aware of my hon. Friend's close interest in, and family connections with, Poland and, therefore, of his expertise. We are in close contact with all the countries in the region, Poland included, as of course Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave, borders Poland as it does Lithuania. It is a difficult issue to resolve: meeting the Russians' concerns that citizens of Kaliningrad should have access to the rest of Russia while at the same time making sure that borders are secure and that the EU's external borderas it will be, after enlargementis free from trafficking that might threaten extra crime waves.
Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston): Does my right hon. Friend share my disappointment that, on an issue such as Kaliningrad, which, classically and ideally, should be resolved by the EU rather than by individual member states, the French President saw fit to see Mr. Putin on Monday and therefore break ranks in many ways? That is really not helpful in terms of finding a suitable long-term solution to Kaliningrad and to a single EU external voice.
Peter Hain: I understand and agree with my hon. Friend's desire for a much stronger external policy for the European Union. It is important, however, that, in the absence of that, we all make every effort to try to crack this problem. The Danish presidency is seized of the need to engage on this matter, and the European Commission is in weekly discussion on Kaliningrad on behalf of the whole of Europe.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham): Further to the Minister's informative reply to the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), was he misquoted when he was reported as having said that the European Union should press ahead with enlargement even in advance of prior agreement on radical agricultural reform? Surely, unless the Fischler reforms are agreed, enlargement to the east will be totally unsustainable.
Peter Hain: It is much more complicated than that. If we allow countriessome of them are in the European Unioneffectively to block enlargement because they want to protect their vested interests in the bloated and inefficient common agricultural policy, we will not secure that objective. We therefore need to complete the negotiations on the agricultural chapter, which are already 95 per cent. concluded. The tough 5 per cent. concerns direct payments, which is a serious issue for Poland as well. We do not want those negotiations, which I am sure can be satisfactorily concluded, to prejudice wider reform of the CAPthat is why we asked for a delay in the decision until the informal European Council in October or Novemberor to prejudice the wider process of enlargement. That process is crucial to the reunification of Europe and to getting countries, such as Poland, into Europe, which is where they should always have been.
13. Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Pursuant to his recent meeting with the Lockerbie relatives, when he expects to make a decision on setting up a public inquiry into the international aspects of Lockerbie. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mike O'Brien): As the Foreign Secretary told the House on 11 July, he has explained to the families of the Lockerbie victims that he does not see a case for a public inquiry. A successful criminal process has convicted an agent of
Mr. Dalyell: What knowledge does the Foreign Office have of a payment of $11 million on or about 23 December 1988 from Iranian sources via a bank in Lausanne, the Banque Nationale de Paris and the Hungarian development bank to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine? What knowledge does the Foreign Office have of a payment on or about 25 April 1989 to Mohammed Abu Talb, an "incriminee" of the Lockerbie trial and a long-term suspect?
Mr. O'Brien: My hon. Friend's question is, no doubt, an appetiser for the Adjournment debate that we hope to hold later this evening. The answers to his questions are complex, and I hope to be able to set them out in the reply to that debate. I will happily try to cover that point and many, many others.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane): The BBC World Service is a vitally important asset for Britain. We want it to remain the best known and most respected voice in international broadcasting. That is why, last week, we announced an uplift of £48 million in funding for it over the next three years.
Mr. Hamilton: I am sure that my hon. Friend and the whole House agree that that is a tremendous boost for the BBC World Service. Does he agree that it played a crucial part in the recent war in Afghanistan and that it is the main source of communication among many Afghans, who listen to the World Service before any other station? Does he also agree that the Persian service has played, and continues to play, a crucial role in Iran in supporting the reformist elements of President Khatami? For example, in January 2001, 287,000 people contacted the Persian language website, but the figure had increased to 2.4 million by last month.
Mr. MacShane: I fear that my hon. Friend has answered his own question. He is right. An increase in services using regional languagesPersian, Pashtun, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and central Asian languageshas been provided by the World Service.
I refer to another part of the world where the World Service has performed marvels: it has doubled its audience in the United States. I know that Mr. Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Fed, listens to the World
The Minister for Europe (Peter Hain): The Convention has concluded its listening phase, during which it took soundings from its members and a wide range of civil society. It is now moving into its analytical phase, including working groups on specific issues.
Mr. Challen: May I ask my right hon. Friend to contrast the almost complete absence of public debate on the Convention of the Future of Europe and on the democratic nature of the enlargement that is to take place with the £37,000 that is spent every day on euro preparations, which I estimate has amounted to £8 million or £9 million since I last raised the issue? Does that suggest that we are not really interested in encouraging public debate on the future of Europe?
Peter Hain: No, it does not. I spend quite a lot of time travelling around BritainI have travelled to all three nationsexplaining what enlargement and the future of Europe are about. It is hard to get attention in the media for that debate, but I agree that it is essential to do so.
On preparations for the euro, I am sure that my hon. Friend would agree that it is important that our companies, many of which are small businesses, are properly prepared for the existence of the euro in the eurozone countries, because many of them trade in the euro. That is what the Treasury plan and the money that is being spent, under the Chancellor's supervision, are designed to achieve.