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26 Nov 2002 : Column 189W—continued

Outreach Programmes

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding from his Department has been provided to the Outreach programmes provided by ACFA in financial year 2001–02; what will be provided in (a) 2001–03, (b) 2003–04 and (c) 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [82961]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 25 November]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will provide a reply in due course.

Prisons (Education)

Mr Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much the Open University has spent on funding distance learning courses for prisoners in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [82459]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 25 November 2002]: Students in prison follow the same courses as all other Open University students, although the Open University does incur additional costs in terms of tailoring the presentation of the course to prisoner students. These additional costs in England and Wales, for which assistance is provided by the Home Office and DfES, are shown in the following table:

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OU Financial Years£000
1 August-31 July

This does not cover Open University staff time to manage provision of services to prisoners.

Students in prisons are not entitled to the standard student support arrangements for part-time students. However, the Open University offers fee waivers subject to certain conditions. The following table shows the cost to the Open University of fee waivers for prisoners in the United Kingdom:

OU Financial Years£000
1 August-31 July

(16) committed this year to date

Mr. Oaten : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many prisoners were undertaking level 1 Open University courses during the last 12 months for which figures are available. [82460]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer November 2002]: The following table shows the number of prisoners in each of the countries of the United Kingdom who are taking level 1 Open University courses in 2001–02. It also shows the total number of students in prison who are studying with the Open University.

EnglandWalesScotlandN.IrelandTotal UK
Level 1143052150
All levels42031714454


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of progress towards the targets for 2004 agreed between his Department and (a) HM Treasury and (b) the Prime Minister's Department. [81085]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 18 November 2002]: There is ongoing assessment of progress against Public Service Agreement targets, which are agreed and published as part of the Spending Review.

The Department has published progress against targets due to be met in 2004 in its spring annual report and will shortly publish updates in its first autumn performance report.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how often and by what means assessments are made of progress towards his Department's targets with (a) HM Treasury and (b) the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit. [81086]

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Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 18 November 2002]: There is ongoing assessment of progress against PSA targets with both HM Treasury and the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit via correspondence and meetings. The Department publishes progress against these targets in its spring departmental report and will shortly publish updates in its first autumn performance report.


Leg-Irons and Cuffs

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what circumstance export licences are granted for (a) over-sized cuffs and (b) leg-irons manufactured in the UK. [82941]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend, the then Foreign Secretary (Mr Robin Cook) announced on 28 July 1997 (Official Report, column 65W) a complete ban on the export or transhipment from the UK of electric-shock batons, stun guns, lasers, leg-irons, gang chains, shackles (excluding normal handcuffs) and electric-shock belts designed for the restraint of a human being. The necessary amendment to the Export of Goods (Control) Order came into force in December 1997.

All export licence applications for over-sized handcuffs are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and other announced Government policies. This includes consideration of the risk of the over-sized handcuffs being used as, or converted into, leg irons or shackles.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information has been given to the United Nations over the killing of prisoners near Kunduz during the war in Afghanistan. [83178]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We cannot answer on behalf of the UN. However, it is in the public domain that an investigation by Physicians for Human Rights in January 2002 reported claims from captured Taliban that 1,000 men had suffocated on their journey to Shiberghan prison in late November 2001. Their bodies were allegedly buried in mass graves at Dasht-e-Leili.

A preliminary UN investigation into the alleged grave sites recommended in May 2002 that a full investigation be carried out, when the conditions for witness protection allowed. In order to protect witnesses the UN cannot release any detailed information at this stage.

We are concerned about the alleged human rights abuses at Shiberghan. The British embassy in Kabul has raised our concerns with the Afghan Transitional Administration, the UN, the US authorities and the Afghan Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The embassy also recently raised the issue with Afghan Interior Minister Wardak. He agreed the matter was serious and undertook to co-operate in a UNAMA/AHRC investigation. We also welcomed

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the Transitional Administration's announcement on 21 August that they would fully co-operate with human rights organisations in the investigation of these alleged mass graves.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards the demobilisation of soldiers in Eritrea. [82821]

Mr. Rammell: Over 8,000 soldiers have been demobilised since the IBRD programme became effective on 8 August 2002.

EU General Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the General Affairs Council held on 18 to 19 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [83152]

Mr. MacShane: My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for International Development, the Secretary of State for Defence and I represented the UK at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 18 and 19 November 2002. Conclusions were agreed by consensus and no formal votes were taken.

General Affairs Session

Progress of work in other Council formations

The Council took stock of the Presidency report on the work of other Council configurations (doc. 14057/02), noting decisions reached at the ECOFIN meeting of 5 November on modifications to the EIB's statute and the increase to the ECB's capital and foreign exchange reserves, in the context of enlargement.

Preparation of the European Council in Copenhagen

The Council endorsed the draft annotated agenda (doc. 14257/02) for the European Council, which lists two items only: enlargement and the functioning of the Council in view of enlargement. The European Council will also be updated on the work of the Convention by the Presidency of the Convention and will have its customary meeting with the Presidency of the Parliament.

The European Council is expected to take all necessary decisions to conclude all negotiations with the 10 candidate countries as identified at the Brussels European Council in October.


The Council discussed the way ahead with a view to concluding accession negotiations with 10 of the acceding countries in time for the Copenhagen European Council on 12 and 13 December 2002. The Council decided that their accession would take place on 1 May 2004, allowing acceding countries to participate in European Parliament elections of 2004. The Commissioners from the new Member States will join the Commission upon accession and will fully

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participate in the forthcoming Inter-governmental Conference, while candidates that are still negotiating will participate as observers.

Reform of the Council Presidency

The Council held a broad debate on reform of the Council Presidency, in advance of a report by the Presidency to be given to the European Council. While some Member States indicated a preference for maintaining the features of the present rotating Presidency and extending co-operation between successive presidencies, others underlined that it would be necessary to consider measures going beyond that.

The Presidency also proposed that the role of the High Representative should be strengthened to help overcome Presidency weaknesses in the area of external relations. Proposals include chairing specific Council meetings, representing the Union in international organisations or in meetings with third countires, negotiating international agreements in the areas of CFSP/ ESDP and supervising EU special envoys.

Commission's legislative and work programme

The Council took note of a presentation by the Commission on its legislative and work programme for the year 2003, following the Annual Policy Strategy presentation in February 2002.

The Commission's work programme is built around three priorities: making enlargement a success; security and stability (fight against terrorism, immigration policy, the new neighbours initiative); and a sustainable and inclusive economy.

Terrorism: follow-up to the Action Plan

The Council took note of the roadmap, outlining progress made in the fields identified by the Action Plan on the fight against terrorism, (doc. 13909/02)

External Relations Session

Middle East

Ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East, international efforts and work on the road map. Concern was expressed at the continued violence and further development of settlements.


The Council welcomed the unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002, which paves the way for weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. The EU's objective on Iraq is clear: disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions. The EU will whole-heartedly support the UN on this.


The Council noted the UN Secretary General's presentation on a plan for settlement, regarding the initiative as timely. The Council expressed the hope that the UNSG's proposals would form the basis for a negotiated agreement. The Presidency reiterated its desire to see negotiations reach a conclusion prior to the Copenhagen European Council in December, to allow a re-united island to be welcomed into the EU.

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The Council re-examined the situation in Belarus, following its 21 October declaration expressing concern. It urged the authorities to avoid disruption of the activities of the OSCE Advisor and Monitoring Group (AMG) in Minsk. The Council noted that most Member States planned to implement measures to prevent entry to their territories by the President of Belarus, the Head of Presidential Administration, the Prime Minister, four government ministers, and the Chairman of the Committee of State Security.

Korean Peninsula

The Council reiterated its grave concern at the North Korean revelations concerning a uranium enrichment programme for nuclear weapons. It expressed deep concern that such a programme violated North Korea's international obligations via the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA safeguard agreement, the North-South Joint Declaration on Denuclearization and the Agreed Framework. The Council urged North Korea to immediately dismantle its programme in a verifiable manner and comply fully with its international commitments. Future international co-operation with the international community would be conditional on this. The Council stressed the EU's commitment to act in consultation with all relevant partners to resolve the situation peacefully.

Western Balkans

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

The Council welcomed the agreement reached by political leaders in Serbia on 5 November 2002 and urged them to ensure political stability, including a conclusive result for the forthcoming Serbian Presidential election, to allow all vital reforms to continue. The Council recalled that further strengthening of democracy in the FRY and Serbia requires prompt solutions to pending issues. It called on FRY political leaders to abide by democratic principles to ensure the effective functioning of institutions. It also called on them to rapidly adopt the Constitutional Chart and Action Plans on the internal market, trade and customs, to make progress towards the EU.


The Council welcomed the recent free and fair municipal elections in Kosovo and regretted that, following its boycott of elections, the Serb population of Mitrovica had no democratic representation. The Council welcomed the successful Donor Co-ordination Meeting of 5 November 2002 which underlined the need for continued engagement with the international community.

Arms sales

The Council expressed its deep concern at recent reports concerning illegal arms sales from FRY, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Iraq and Iran, in clear breach of UN sanctions. Such illegal sales tarnished the international reputation of the countries concerned and complicated their progress toward the EU. Measures had to be introduced to ensure such violations do not recur. The Council called upon all potential candidates for EU membership to adhere to the EU code of conduct on arms exports without delay.

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The international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

The Council reaffirmed the high importance it attaches to co-operation with ICTY. It expressed disappointment and growing concern at the insufficient co-operation by the FRY, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and in some cases, Croatia. The Council reiterated that failure to comply would seriously jeopardise further movement toward the EU.

Stability pact for South Eastern Europe

The Council expressed full support for the Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact, Dr. Erhard Busek. It invited the Special Co-ordinator to present a report on this ahead of the June 2003 'Zagreb Process' Summit in Thessalonika.


The Council underlined the importance of ensuring co-ordination of the EU's civilian and military crisis management instruments in order to be able to respond effectively when needed. The Council welcomed the Action Plan on this and the intention to complete the strengthening of civil-military co-ordination by the end of the Greek Presidency.

Military capabilities

The Council considered all relevant aspects of EU military capability development, including the Rapid Response elements of the Headline Goal, common training and the Mediterranean Dimension. It welcomed the High Representative's report on efforts to reach agreement between the EU and NATO and invited him to pursue his contacts and report back at its next meeting on 9 December. The Council welcomed the PSC's progress report on Military Capabilities and noted that the overall assessment is encouraging. 19 panels are considering the shortfalls to be remedied and will issue final reports, evaluating the military implications of each proposed option, examine ways of filling potential gaps, study possible solutions and identify whether remaining shortfalls impose constraints on the delivery of the Headline Goal, by 1 March 2003. The Council agreed to task the PSC and EUMC to finalise the work on rapid response elements as soon as possible.

Civilian capabilities

The Council endorsed the declaration adopted by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs at their meeting in Brussels on 19 November 2002 at a Civilian Crisis Management Capability Conference. The declaration notes that an EU police planning capability already exists and that an appropriate EU planning and mission support capability should be established within the General Secretariat of the Council for the other areas of civilian crisis management as a matter of priority. As a result of the commitments made so far the EU has been able to set up a European Union police mission (EUPM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will take over from the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF) on 1 January 2003. Ministers stressed that the development of the EU's civilian crisis management capacity is an ongoing process. They stressed that a solution to the financing of civilian crisis management operations

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under title V of the Treaty in European Union would have to be found as a matter of priority in order to meet the EU's ambitions in the field.

International trade in coffee

The Council held an exchange of views and expressed serious concern about the situation. Although there were no quick, short-term solutions, initiatives needed to be taken. The issue needed to be looked at in a broader context, including with a view to sustainable development. The Council noted the Commission's willingness to explore possible solutions for the general commodities situation.

Trade and development

Trade and poverty reduction

The Council welcomed the Commission's communication on Trade and Development and recalled the joint Council-Commission Statement on the European Community's Development policy of November 2000, which highlights Trade and Development as a priority of poverty- reducing Community development activities. The Council reiterated that trade liberalisation in itself is not sufficient to combat poverty in developing countries, but must be part of a wider, country-owned poverty reduction strategy combining trade and development objectives with sound domestic policies, including good governance and anti-corruption measures.

Integrating trade and development strategies

The Council recalled the Doha Declaration objectives and its commitment to placing development at the heart of the work programme through: better market access for developing countries; balanced trade rules that developing countries can apply progressively and flexibly; willingness to solve the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) problem; and through strengthening the capacity for developing countries to adhere to technical standards and regulations.

The Council welcomed the outcome of the 2002 Monterrey Financing for Development conference, underlined its strong commitment to the Cotonou Agreement and welcomed the initiation of negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the ACP countries in September 2002. The Council emphasised that the XEverything But Arms" (EBA) initiative demonstrates the EU's leadership on trade and development and calls on other industrialised countries to emulate this.

Enhancing trade-related assistance

The Council invited the Commission to ensure that trade-related assistance is stepped up as part of a coherent assistant strategy within Country and Regional Strategy Papers (CSPs and CRSPs). It also endorsed the Commission's proposal to focus trade-related assistance in three main areas: assistance for WTO accession, multilateral and other trade negotiations; support for implementation of WTO commitments; and strengthening capacity to adhere to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). It invited the Commission to pursue all initiatives that ensure trade, development and environment policies are mutually supportive and urged

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the Commission to work to ensure an ambitious outcome for the Doha Development Agenda. The Commission will present a comprehensive report on further trade and development recommendations in the first half of 2005.

Untying of aid

The Council heard a Commission presentation, based on a recent communication on untying aid. The Commission proposed that all aid should be untied on two conditions: the agreement of the recipient country would be required and full untying would take place only on the basis of reciprocity between donors.

Follow-up to international conferences


The Council held an exchange of views on commitments made at Monterrey (March 2002) and Johannesburg (September 2002) and stressed the need for adequate monitoring of implementation of these in order to meet the Millennium Development goals.

Humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa

The Council reviewed the humanitarian situation crisis affecting Southern Africa, and in particular, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Council called on the Commission and Member States to consider offering further aid in response to UN appeals. The Commission was requested to make a more detailed needs assessment prior to the Council's meeting in December.

New Neighbours initiative

The Council adopted conclusions without debate, expressing its wish that the EU put in place further conditions which would allow it to enhance its relations with its Eastern European neighbours: Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. It recognised the need for the EU to formulate an ambitious, long-term and integrated approach towards each of these countries, with the objective of promoting democratic and economic reforms and sustainable development and trade. The Commission and High Representative were invited to prepare more detailed proposals on how to take this initiative further.

Sri Lanka

The Council adopted the conclusions on Sri Lanka, undertaking to strengthen the EUs engagement in the peace process in Sri Lanka and participate in the Oslo donor conference on 25 November 2002 and contribute to the donor fund to be established.


The Council adopted a Decision on the signature and provisional application of certain provisions of the Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States and Chile.

Justice and Home Affairs

The Council adopted conclusions on intensifying cooperation on the management of migration flows with third countries, to ensure that an integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach to tackle the root causes of illegal immigration remains the European Union's constant long-term objective.

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International Cocoa Agreement

The Council adopted a Decision on the signing and conclusion on behalf of the Community of the International Cocoa Agreement, 2001.

Liability and compensation for damage in connection with the carriage of hazardous and noxious substances by sea

The Council adopted a Decision authorising the Member States, in the interest of the European Community, to ratify or accede to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea 1, 1996 (the XHNS Convention").

Protection of the Communities' financial interests and the fight against fraud

The Council adopted conclusions taking note of the annual report 2001 from the Commission on the protection of the Communities' financial interests and the fight against fraud. In particular it reiterated the importance it attaches to the participation of third countries, and especially the candidate countries, in action to fight fraud, and to their co-operation with OLAF. It invited the Commission to present a full summary of activities and actions undertaken in this field in the 2002 annual report.

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