|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 26 February 2007]: There is no requirement in the EU treaties for member states to accede to the European convention on human rights (ECHR). However, all EU member states are members of the Council of Europe and signatures of the ECHR. There is no provision in the treaty establishing the European Community which either requires or empowers the European Community to accede to the ECHR. Article 6 of the treaty on EU, which requires the EU to respect fundamental rights, refers to the ECHR as an instrument containing such rights, but does not require the EU as an organisation to accede to the ECHR.
Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Turkish authorities to encourage them to instigate an investigation into the actions taken against Armenians in 1915-16. 
Mr. Hoon: We regularly discuss the issue concerned with the Turkish and Armenian authorities, including when the UK's Special Representative for the South Caucasus visited Turkey in January. We welcomed the Turkish Government's offer in 2005 of an impartial investigation by historians into the events of 1915-16. The Armenian Government suggested a commission to consider this and all other bilateral issues. Regrettably, there is no agreement between the parties thus far on how to take this forward.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on relations between the UK and Turkmenistan;
and what assessment she has made of the internal stability of the country following the death of President Nyazov. 
Mr. Hoon: We are encouraged that the succession of a new President of Turkmenistan happened peacefully without social unrest or disruption and note the emphasis of the new administration on sustaining unity in the country.
We support the aims of the government programme to reform the education, health and agricultural sectors declared by the acting President during the pre-election campaign and confirmed in his inauguration speech. The UK stands ready, with EU colleagues and the international community, to assist the government of Turkmenistan in the implementation of democratic reforms and the development of civil society.
Mr. Hoon: Our embassy in Ashgabat raised the cases of two human rights defenders, Mr. Zatoka and Mr Kyarisov, in January and, together with other EU embassies, took action again on behalf of Mr. Kyarisov in February. EU Special Representative Pierre Morel, on behalf of the EU, raised the cases of several human rights defenders, including Mr. Kyarisov, during his visit to Turkmenistan on 16 February.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations the Government are making through EU and UN channels to strengthen Turkmenistan's respect for human rights; 
Mr. Hoon: We are working closely with our EU and international partners to offer co-ordinated support and assistance to the government of Turkmenistan in implementing democratic and human rights reforms.
EU Special Representative Pierre Morel raised human rights during his discussions with President Berdymuhamedov on 15 February. The subject was also raised by Pierre Morel and EU ambassadors in a meeting with Foreign Minister Meredov on the same day.
Both a visiting UN delegation and an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in EuropeOffice for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights team have discussed democratic and electoral reform with the government over the recent election period.
While there were shortcomings, the presidential election was a step forward in comparison with previous elections in Turkmenistan and we welcome
the Government's request for international support to reform the electoral system for the future. The UN visited Turkmenistan during the presidential election period and discussed possible electoral reform with the Turkmen authorities. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights team sent a technical assistance team for the election and also discussed future electoral reform with the government.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on British interests and investment in Venezuela on the nationalisation of telecommunication, energy and mining industries. 
Mr. Hoon: We continue to engage with British companies with interests in Venezuela to assess the effect of the recently announced nationalisation plans in these sectors. We also use our ongoing dialogue with the Government of Venezuela to discuss this issue with them. The extent of reform plans in Venezuela and the longer-term consequences are not yet clear. We will therefore keep the issue under review, continuing to consult British companies and the Venezuelan government to inform our assessment.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions she has had with (a) (i) Ministers and (ii) officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and (b) Cabinet colleagues about whaling in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions she has had with representatives from other governments on whaling since the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission; and when she next plans to discuss whaling with her foreign counterparts; 
(3) when she next plans to discuss the international moratorium on whaling with (a) her Japanese counterpart and (b) representatives from the government of (i) Antigua and Barbuda, (ii) Benin, (iii) Cambodia, (iv) Cameroon, (v) Cote dIvoire, (vi) Denmark and (v) Dominica. 
The departmental lead on this subject lies with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Officials from DEFRA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are in daily contact regarding whaling and work in tandem to lobby governments and to publicise the need for whale conservation.
Since the last International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting the FCO has lobbied the governments of seven countries to join the IWC, two of which have expressed the intention of joining and voting with the UK.
The UK led the international condemnation of Icelands decision to resume commercial whaling. On 1 November 2006, our Ambassador in Reykjavik led a multinational demarche of 25 countries plus the European Commission, making clear the extreme disappointment felt by those parties at Icelands decision and urging Iceland to abandon its current operations.
On 31 January 2007 DEFRA and the FCO launched the brochure Protecting Whales: A Global Responsibility. This brochure is being sent to various target countries with a letter jointly signed by myself and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
7. Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the siting in Scotland of facilities related to the Trident weapon system. 
9. Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the future of the post office network in Scotland. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Scotland continues to benefit from the strong macro-economic stability that this Government have delivered enabling the Scottish labour market to reach new record highs for employment and economic activity. Scotland has one of the highest employment rates out of all EU member states.
12. Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the European Commission on the effects of European maritime cabotage regulations on Scottish ferry services. 
David Cairns: Ferry services within Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Executive who, along with the Department for Transport, have made strong representations to the European Commission on a range of matters related to ferry services over a number of years.
David Cairns: Since 22 January 2007, 83 devolution issues have been intimated to the Advocate-General Of these 83 devolution issues, 59 related to civil proceedings and 24 related to criminal proceedings.
Mrs. McGuire: For people with health problems and disabilities we will be introducing the new employment and support allowance which will be a single benefit combining earnings replacement and the income related elements.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure is planned to be carried out in Pendle by his Department in the years up to 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what items valued at above £100 were reported as stolen from his Department's buildings or premises in the last 12 months. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|