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8 Dec 2003 : Column 242W—continued

Brussels Treaty

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to support (a) the appending of the modified Brussels Treaty to the Constitutional Treaty as an optional protocol and (b) the amendment of the Treaty to oblige the EU Council to make an annual report on its activities in the fields of security and defence to the Assembly, as created by the modified Brussels Treaty and to the European Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [141354]

Mr. MacShane: The UK sees a clear distinction between the role of NATO as the basis of the collective defence of its members and the role of the European Security and Defence Policy as a crisis management instrument in support of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. As noted in the Government's White Paper on the IGC, we would not support anything in the EU constitution which undermined NATO's security guarantee.

The Government continue to regard national parliaments as having primary responsibility for scrutiny of CFSP and ESDP, given the central role of member states in these policy areas. There is provision in both the Treaty on European Union and in the draft constitution for the European Parliament to be regularly consulted on the main aspects and basic choices of ESDP. The Government are not aware of any proposals to change the status or role of the WEU Assembly, although there might be a case for considering this in the light of the outcome of the Inter-Governmental Conference.

Burma

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi concerning the situation in Burma. [140850]

Mr. Straw: The Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien) last spoke to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 7 March 2003. Since being detained on 30 May we have made repeated attempts to speak to her by phone but these attempts have been unsuccessful.

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Colombia

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the military assistance provided to Colombia is funded from the conflict resolution fund. [141509]

Mr. Rammell: Although Colombia does not have its own programme under the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP), the Security Sector Reform (SSR) strand of GCPP is used for military assistance projects for Colombia when they meet SSR criteria. Examples include the counter-terrorism seminar in Colombia in March 2003 (in which MOD personnel participated to give advice to Colombian security force units and civic officials on dealing with terrorist incidents in Colombia), and funding Colombian MOD personnel attending training and education courses in the UK.

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the proposed new emergency powers before the Colombian parliament meet the pledges given at the consultative group meeting in London in July 2003. [141511]

Mr. Rammell: The Colombian Government did not make any pledges at the London Meeting on International Support on Colombia about specific legislation, but they did pledge to implement recommendations made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR). There are legitimate concerns about the proposal to grant judicial police powers to the Colombian armed forces in the proposed Constitutional Reform Bill 223 of 2003. In July the EU made a demarche to the Colombian Government about this, reiterating the concerns of UNHCHR in Bogota, in particular where proposed articles were incompatible with Colombia's human rights and international humanitarian obligations. We shall continue to urge the Colombian Government to adopt the practice of adjusting all anti-terrorist legislation in line with Colombia's international obligations.

Correspondence

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when he will reply to the letter to him dated 6 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mr. Murhtar Ahmed Rana; [140780]

Mr. Mullin: I would like to apologise to my right hon. Friend for not having replied to his letters of 6 October to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary about

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Mr. Murthar Ahmed Rana, Ms Dorothy Ricketts, Mrs. Shafna Rahman, Ms Saidia Bibi and Mr. Usman Ilyas.

As a result of an administrative error a package containing a number of my right hon. Friend's letters was lost while in transit between the Foreign Secretary's office and UKvisas, the department responsible for entry clearance matters arising overseas. The letters that were lost have now been identified and copies have been sent to UKvisas. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the Foreign Secretary will write to him in the next few days on these cases.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Totnes of 22 August regarding the continued mining of Indonesian protected forests and the concern expressed by Mr. Rupert Stocks. [142300]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I apologise to the hon. Member for Totnes and his constituent, Rupert Stocks, for the late reply to his letter. This was the result of an administrative error and I am pleased to say that a letter has now been issued.

Draft European Constitution

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he plans to have with the Foreign Ministers of (a) Denmark, (b) Germany and (c) Italy regarding the declaration in the draft proposals agreed in Naples relating to the primacy, under Article 110 of the draft European Constitution, of the Constitution over their respective constitutions. [142429]

Mr. MacShane: The Presidency has proposed a 'Declaration for incorporation in the final Act with regard to article I-10 (1)'. It states that,


The proposal has not been agreed, but will be discussed at the European Council on 12–13 December, in which the Foreign Ministers of all the States mentioned will participate.

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications for the United Kingdom (a) Parliament and (b) Courts of the Declaration at Annex 2 of the proposals agreed in Naples on the primacy of European Union law as set out in Article I-10 (1) of the draft European Constitution. [142612]

Mr. MacShane: The proposed Declaration provides confirmation that the provisions of Article I-10 (1) reflect existing European Court of Justice case law. If agreed it would state the common intention and understanding of all the participating States that Article I-10 (1) has this meaning and should be interpreted accordingly.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that reference is made in the European Constitution to territorial cohesion. [142404]

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Mr. MacShane: The draft EU Constitutional Treaty contains provisions on territorial cohesion. The Government are content with these.

European Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the status is of the Italian presidency's proposal that any proposal made by the European Minister for Foreign Affairs should be subject to qualified majority vote; and if he will make a statement. [142015]

Mr. MacShane: This proposal is still under consideration in the Intergovernmental Conference. We expect a revised version of the draft Constitutional Treaty to issue in the week of 8 December. As stated in the Government's White Paper, British policy is that unanimity must remain the general rule for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

India

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's guidance is to UK citizens planning to travel to the Manipur region in north east India; what assessment his Department has made of the security situation in Manipur; when this assessment was last updated; and if he will make a statement. [142027]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We advise UK citizens against all travel to Manipur. This advice is reviewed on a monthly basis, most recently on 24 November 2003. A number of militant and criminal groups operate in the state; and whilst foreigners are not generally targets of violence, attacks can be indiscriminate. For example a German aid worker was kidnapped by one group earlier this year close to the capital Imphal. We currently see no grounds for changing the travel advice.


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