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11 May 1995 : Column WA11

Written Answers

Thursday, 11th May 1995.

Chernobyl: Disaster Costs

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the total costs suffered by all the parties affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): No source of information on the costs exists. Any estimate would therefore be purely speculative, and thus unreliable.

Chernobyl: Safety Reports

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will press the European Commission to publish all reports received by them on the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear complex.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In common with all other issues, reports commissioned by the EC on this subject remain their property, and some are commercially confidential. The Commission decide on a case by case basis whether reports, or summaries of reports, financed under the TACIS programme of technical assistance to the former Soviet Union should be made publicly available. We see no reason to seek any change in that practice in respect of reports on the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Israel/Occupied Territories: Border Reopening

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What diplomatic initiative they propose to take to achieve: (a) the restoration of normal supplies of cement to Gaza (b) the reopening of the Gaza-Israel border to heavy trucks (c) renewed access to Israel for Palestinian migrant labour.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We shall continue to press the Government of Israel to lift fully the closure of the border between Israel and the Occupied Territories and allow the free movement of goods and labour.

East Jerusalem: Proposed Land Expropriation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action, if any, they propose to take in the light of the decision of the Government of Israel to expropriate 133 acres of land in East Jerusalem for use for Israeli housing, contrary to the intention of the Oslo Agreements; and whether they will seek a joint European Union-USA démarche on this matter.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are concerned by the decision of the Israeli authorities to authorise the expropriation of 131 acres of land in East Jerusalem. EU representatives in Tel Aviv have expressed concerns to the Israeli Government that the decision to expropriate land in East Jerusalem is contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions and to the spirit of the Declaration of Principles signed by the Israelis and Palestinians in September 1993 and might endanger the peace process; and have urged them to reconsider.

EU: Role of National Parliaments

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in connection with the Inter-Governmental Conference of 1996, they will take the earliest possible opportunity of securing the agreement of the governments of other member states of the European Union to such amendments to the Treaty of Rome as will ensure that all national parliaments have adequate time to consider and advise their respective governments between the date of issue of proposals from the European Commission and the date upon which they are on the agenda of the appropriate Council of Ministers Meeting, either on list "A", or for discussion.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The member states agreed at Maastricht that national parliaments should receive Commission proposals for legislation in good time for information or possible examination. This commitment will be reviewed, at the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference, as one aspect of a broader examination of the role of national parliaments in the EU.

NATO Enlargement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the proposed extension of NATO eastwards may have the effect of encouraging fascist and militarist elements within Russia, and, if so, what political or military interest of the United Kingdom and of other European members of NATO will be served.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: NATO enlargement will threaten no one. NATO's purpose is to provide security for its members and to preserve peace in the Euro-Atlantic area. This should be understood by all Russians.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed extension eastwards of NATO is endorsed by all members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe; if not, whether it is their intention that it should be; and if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Paragraph 11 of Article IV of the OSCE's Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security agreed at the CSCE Budapest Summit last December states that "The participating States have the sovereign right to belong or

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not to belong to international organisations, and to be or not to be a party to bilateral or multilateral treaties, including treaties of alliance; they also have the right to neutrality. Each has the right to change its status in this respect, subject to relevant agreements and procedures. Each will respect the rights of all others in this regard".

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What political or military response they expected from Russia when it was first proposed to extend the NATO frontier to the east.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: NATO made it clear in its summit communiqué in January 1994 that it is committed to enhancing security and stability in the whole of Europe, and that it therefore wishes to strengthen ties with the democratic states to its east. This includes Russia.

The North Atlantic Council Ministerial communiqué of 1 December 1994 stressed that NATO enlargement, when it comes, would be part of a broad European security architecture based on true co-operation throughout the whole of Europe. It would, moreover, threaten no one.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the question of a new military frontier in Europe will be put to the electorates of the European Union before conclusive steps are taken to establish such a division by the extension of NATO eastwards.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No. The enlargement of NATO is a matter for the member states of the Alliance alone. The aim of NATO enlargement is not to create new divisions or erect new military frontiers in Europe, but to extend security and stability throughout the continent.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed extension eastwards of NATO is intended to demonstrate the United States' and NATO's "victory" in the cold war.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No.

Access Committee for England: Grant

Baroness Stedman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have announced a reduction in the grant to the Access Committee for England (ACE) which is intended "to cover the operational expenses, including the cost of prescribed staff, to enable ACE to fulfil the remit given to it by the Department of Health in 1993, such costs to be defrayed out of monies provided by Parliament under Section 64 of the Health Services Act 1968".

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Access Committee's core funding has been tapered in accordance with the Government's current policy on Section 64 grants. This seeks to support the general development of the voluntary sector by targeting resources on innovative project work and to support new applicants.

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RAF Valley: Support Services

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have to save jobs in Anglesey under threat as the result of their disqualification of the in-house bid for RAF Valley.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The proposal to contractorise support services at RAF Valley without an in-house bid is at present the subject of consultation with the trades unions and other interested parties. All representations made during the consultation process will be carefully considered before a final decision is taken.

Standards in Public Life: Nolan Report

Baroness Young asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to receive the First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, under the chairmanship of Lord Nolan, is being published today as Command Paper 2850. The Government would like to express their thanks to Lord Nolan and his colleagues for the way in which they have discharged the initial part of the remit which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced in October. It is welcome that they have reached unanimous recommendations based on open proceedings, and having taken oral and written evidence from a wide cross-section of opinion. The oral evidence they have taken is included in Volume II of the report, and written submissions are to be made available at the Public Record Office.

The Government believe it is important to maintain the highest possible standards and confidence in public life. They therefore welcome the work the committee has done.

The Government accept the broad thrust of the committee's recommendations in so far as they are addressed to the Government. They will give the report the close study it deserves and then make a detailed response.

Those recommendations which are addressed to the House of Commons are of course a matter for that House itself to consider, and my right honourable friend the Leader of the House of Commons will arrange an early opportunity for a debate in another place.

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