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30 Jan 1995 : Column WA97

Written Answers

Monday 30th January 1995


Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will discuss with the Government of Turkey the draft of the Council of Europe's Convention on the protection of National Minorities.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Turkey, with the UK and other Council of Europe Member States, played an active and constructive part in the drawing up of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities. We hope the Turkish Government will sign and ratify the Convention.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the status in the international law of the Caspian Sea, and of its bed, and what advice they have given to BP concerning the deal it is reputed to have reached (along with others) with the government of Azerbaijan to exploit oil from the bed of that water.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The status of the Caspian Sea and its seabed in international law is a matter to be resolved by the littoral states of the Caspian Sea themselves. There is no generally agreed view of its status.

We warmly welcomed the signature on 20 September 1994, and subsequent ratification, of a Production Sharing Agreement between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and an international consortium including BP. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and Energy (Mr. Eggar) attended the signing ceremony in Baku. Officials were in regular contact with BP during the negotiation of the contract.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposal made by President Milosevic of Serbia to Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece on 19 December last for a loose confederation of Greece, Serbia and Skopje (Macedonia) has been discussed in the European Union, and what is their opinion of it.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: There has been no discussion of this proposal in the European Union.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Whether Turkey has stated it would consider going to war if Greece were to declare (as international law allows) a breadth of 12 nautical miles for its territorial sea in the Aegean, and if so, what steps are they taking to defuse this possible threat to NATO, either within NATO or within the OSCE.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: There was speculation in November 1994 that the Greek Government would take advantage of the entry into force of the Law of the Sea Convention to extend its territorial sea to 12 miles. This led some Turkish Ministers to declare that such an extension would be seen by them as a casus belli. Greece took no such steps and the situation has calmed.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the policy within NATO of handing down weapons, etc. required to be disposed of under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Agreement, and whether the legitimate defence of their interests against each other has been used to justify passing weapons to both Greece and Turkey, and what quantities, of which weapons, have been passed to these two governments.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to the Answers I gave him on 20 October 1993 at column WA50.

The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty allows states to "cascade" surplus equipment to other states within their group, providing they remain within overall treaty limits. Under this programme, we understand that Greece has received about 850 tanks, 350 artillery pieces and 1,110 armoured combat vehicles from other Allies. Turkey has received about 850 tanks, 830 artillery pieces and 200 armoured combat vehicles. Use of these cascading provisions allows NATO to maximise its defence capabilities.


Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the known number of patients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are currently diagnosed as having Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): The number of people in the UK currently diagnosed as having Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a condition being increasingly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is not known.

Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish details of the proposals they have for establishing in Northern Ireland a ME clinic to undertake up-to-date diagnostic services,

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    advice and treatment relevant to illness caused by persistent virus disease.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield: There are no proposals at present to establish a ME Clinic in Northern Ireland.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Lord Henley's Answer of Thursday 15th December to the effect that the Ministry of Defence keeps no record of armed forces officers who have taken up appointments with companies in the defence industry (col. WA14) means that they do not monitor in any way whether these officers abide by the Official Secrets Act and by any restrictions "which the Department may have placed on their application for employment with the prospective employer" from the Official Secrets Act (as referred to by Lord Henley at col. WA140).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Neither the Official Secrets Acts nor the rules on the acceptance of outside appointments require the department to monitor whether officials abide by their duties under the Acts, or by restrictions imposed on their applications for outside employment.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is the case that the secret US reconnaissance aircraft known as Aurora has been flying in British airspace given that the previous answer to this Question (col. WA14) referred an "experimental" aircraft, which Aurora is not.

Lord Henley: The existence of any secret US aircraft known as "Aurora" would be for the United States Government to confirm. No authority has been given for any such aircraft to fly over the United Kingdom or to land in this country and we have no evidence to suggest that such an aircraft has.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the elderly "Identification Friend or Foe" system currently in use in British and NATO forces was developed in the 1950's; whether internationally agreed replacement systems have been cancelled before the product was delivered, and, if so, for what reasons other than financial reasons were they cancelled.

Lord Henley: I can confirm that the "identification Friend or Foe" system currently in use in British and NATO forces was developed in the 1950s. Plans for an internationally agreed replacement system were

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cancelled in 1991 prior to the system's development phase in light of concerns over its affordability and technical risk. We continue to explore the options for improvements in current IFF systems. A key requirement, for any such system is interoperability with our major allies and progress cannot, therefore, be made on a purely national basis.


Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much public money was spent on barristers' fees during the financial year 1993–94, taking into account legally-aided cases and cases involving the Crown or Her Majesty's Government as a party.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Information is not readily available in the form requested. Information in respect of civil proceedings could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. For criminal proceedings, a total of £142.8 million was paid from the legal aid fund in respect of barristers' fees in England and Wales during 1993–94. During the same period the principal prosecuting agencies paid in total £82.4 million to barristers, broken down as follows; the Crown Prosecution Service £72.3 million, the Serious Fraud Office £4.2 million, HM Customs and Excise £5.0 million, and Inland Revenue £0.9 million.


Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To estimate the number of barristers earning more than £100,000 annually from criminal legal aid.

The Lord Chancellor: It is estimated that 50 barristers received more than £100,000 in fees (excluding VAT and travelling expenses) from criminal legal aid in 1993–94, being the latest year for which figures are readily available.

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