|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will propose to the United Nations Security Council that it take action to address the situation in Burma. 
The UK remains deeply concerned about the political and human rights situation in Burma. The UK has been at the forefront of efforts over many years to bring pressure to bear on the military regime to reform and respect human rights. We regularly raise our concerns on human rights in Burma with the military regime, most recently on 22 August when our ambassador in Rangoon and other EU ambassadors had a meeting with the Burmese Foreign Minister, Nyan Win.
Ian Pearson: We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Burma. Serious abuses of human rights continue, particularly in areas where there is still armed conflict. The humanitarian situation is grave. Only a genuinely inclusive process of national reconciliation can solve Burma's many problems.
The EU Troika, including the United Kingdom, expressed concern over the situation in Burma to the Burmese Foreign Minister, Nyan Win, in Kyoto on 6 May as did our ambassador in Rangoon, and other EU ambassadors, on 22 August. We continue to believe that it is essential for the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to enter into a genuine constructive dialogue with all legitimate representative bodies including Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, and the ethnic groups to promote a peaceful, lasting and democratic outcome.
Human rights violations have been highlighted by successive highly critical UK co-sponsored UN resolutions on Burma, most recently at the UN Commission on Human Rights in April. These issues remain a focus for the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro, and the UN Secretary General's special envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, whom we urge the SPDC to allow to return to Burma.
18 Oct 2005 : Column 880W
Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer my hon. Friend to the observations on this issue made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary during his statement on Croatia and Turkey on 11 October 2005, Official Report, columns 15759.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: As presidency, the UK is aiming to reach agreement on reforms to the EU sugar regime at the November Agriculture and Fisheries Council. Examination of the reform proposals in the council is under way. We have already held discussions on these matters in a series of working groups and in the margins of the September Agriculture Council. By the end of October, the UK presidency and the Commission will have also held trilateral meetings with every other member state. The Commission has said that it believes early agreement is essential in order to provide a sustainable framework for the industry itself, to help the EU comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body ruling against the current regime and to send a strong positive signal ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December. We support that analysis. We are also seeking agreement on good, timely transitional assistance arrangements for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries affected by the reforms to help them adjust.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list proposals from the European Commission put into effect since 1 June that have Articles (a) 94, (b) 95 and (c) 308 as their base; which of these have been challenged by the Government on the grounds of legal treaty basis; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: In general, the legal basis of Community legislation is determined on the basis of objective factors that are amenable to judicial review, in particular with regard to the aim and content of the measure. The Government are committed to ensuring that the correct legal base is used in European legislation. There may be occasions when the Government disagree with the Commission and other member states over the use of a particular legal base. In these circumstances a number of options remain open to the Government, including either to vote against or abstain from supporting the proposal. We also have the option of recording our disagreement with the legal base in a minutes statement.
Two pieces of legislation falling directly within the departmental responsibilities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office fall under the category the hon. Member set out. A Council Regulation imposing certain
18 Oct 2005 : Column 881W
restrictive measures directed against persons acting in violation of the arms embargo with regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was adopted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 18 July. This used Article 308 as one of three legal bases. A Council Regulation imposing specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons impeding the peace process and breaking international law in the conflict in the Darfur region in Sudan was adopted at the same Council. This also used Article 308 as one of three legal bases. The Government did not challenge the legal base of these regulations. In so far as the question relates to the business of other Government Departments, it would be most appropriately be directed to their Secretaries of State.
Dr. Howells: The established policy of the EU is not to supply arms to Iran. We assess export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and other policies taking into account the prevailing circumstances at the time. We will not issue an export licence if approval would be inconsistent with national embargoes observed by the UK. I refer my hon. Friend to the parliamentary statements made by Douglas Hurd, the then Foreign Secretary, on 1 March 1993 and my hon. Friend Tony Lloyd, the then Minister of State, on 28 September 1998, which set out our approach in respect of Iran. We will not issue licences for the export to Iran of goods or technology on the military or nuclear list, except for goods essential for the safety of civil aircraft and air traffic control systems and certain radioactive substances for medical use. No licences will be approved for any equipment where there is knowledge or reason to suspect that it will go to a military end-user or be used for military purposes. On very rare occasions, and with parliamentary agreement, exceptions are made where denying an export or gift would be against the spirit of the embargo. For example, we did so earlier this year with a small donation of body armour for the anti-narcotics police, who work closely with the UK and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to prevent drugs trafficking.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the introduction of the Civil Wrongs/Torts (Liability of the State) Law and the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law by the Israeli Government; and what assessment he has made of how this will impact on Palestinians. 
In July the Knesset approved an amendment to the Civil Wrongs Law which prevents any Palestinian injured by, or suffering any damage from, Israeli military forces from claiming compensation if the Ministry of Defence declare that the incident occurred
18 Oct 2005 : Column 882W
in a military zone. We are concerned by any legislation which limits Palestinian people's recourse to Israeli courts. We are also concerned about the effect of this law on the accountability of the Israeli military forces.
Also in July, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, allowing Palestinian men over the age of 35 and women over 25 to apply for immigration in the framework of family re-unification. While the July amendment indicates a slight relaxation of the law, we remain concerned about this law and its effects. We have raised these concerns with the Israeli Government on a number of occasions.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|