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20 Feb 1996 : Column WA67

Written Answers

Tuesday, 20th February 1996.

Libya: Sanctions

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider trade sanctions against Libya are giving the country value for money.

Lord Chesham: Sanctions against Libya cannot be evaluated in terms of value for money. The aim of sanctions is to ensure that Libya complies with its international obligations. In any case British exports to Libya rose 15 per cent. in 1995.

Libya: Lockerbie Disaster Suspects

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, given that they "cannot be sure from one moment to another what the intentions of Libyan Government may be" [Sir Nicholas Bonsor, Commons Hansard, 7 February 1996, col. 448], and in the light of Sir Nicholas's previous statement that "the Government will do everything we can to ensure that those responsible [for the Lockerbie disaster] are brought to justice" [loc. cit., col. 446], they will now agree that the two accused Libyans should be tried in the Hague by Scottish judges and in accordance with Scottish law, including a Scottish jury, and if not why not.

Lord Chesham: A trial in a third country of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing remains unacceptable to HMG for the reasons given by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the honourable member for Upminster, on 7 February 1996 in Another Place [Commons Hansard col. 449].

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the absence of an extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and Libya, why they expect the Libyan Government to concur with their view that Libya should extradite two Libyan citizens to this country.

Lord Chesham: Her Majesty's Government has requested the Libyan Government to surrender the two accused for trial in Scotland or the US. It has not sought their extradition. Our request has been endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Iraq: Sanctions

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the sanctions against Iraq, which have the effect of raising the price of oil, are giving this country value for money, and if so what is the "value".

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Lord Chesham: It is misleading to evaluate the United Nations sanctions against Iraq in terms of their impact on the price of oil. The aim of United Nations sanctions is to ensure that Iraq complies with its international obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and that it cannot again threaten regional security. The maintenance of international peace and security is very much in our interests.

Bett Review

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What follow up action they are taking on Managing People in Tomorrow's Armed Forces, the independent review of the armed forces' manpower, career and remuneration structures.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): On 26th June last year, my honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces described the detailed work set in train on Sir Michael Bett's report, in his Written Answer to Sir Michael Marshall in the other place (Official Report, col. 503). Good progress is being made and it remains our intention to complete this work in time to make a definitive announcement in the summer.

In some areas we have already reached conclusions. To meet the first and fundamental recommendation that a Services Personnel Board should be created, a management group chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff has been established. This group will include an external member with relevant experience. The group is developing a personnel strategy which will help shape future terms and conditions of service. The group has endorsed guidelines to apply to individual areas of personnel policy, which are now being promulgated, and a copy of which is being placed in the Library.

The initial stages of detailed work have concentrated on career and rank structures, the balance between mobility and stability, policies on accompanied and unaccompanied service and related issues. The rank structure must be driven by operational considerations, including the need for continuity of command in the face of casualties. Account also needs to be taken of the increasingly multinational nature of operations and the need therefore for the UK rank structure to fit together with that of other countries. In the light of these considerations, we have decided not to implement the full package of changes proposed. In the case of officers, promotions to five star rank in peacetime will cease and other minor changes will be made: for other Ranks some streamlining is planned. In both cases, the possibility of further changes will be kept under review in the light of the introduction of new arrangements for job evaluation and pay. We agree on the importance of using the minimum number of ranks and layers in non-operational organisations.

We endorse the proposals for a more flexible pay system based on pay ranges, underpinned by improved job evaluation arrangements and involving a looser

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coupling of rank and pay. This is a particularly complex area and much detailed design work is now required. We have also endorsed in principle the recommendation that a tri-Service agency should be established to manage personnel administration and pay delivery systems.

We are giving detailed consideration to the Independent Review's recommendations on career incentives and pensions. We recognise that any new career structures must give us the best means to manage recruitment and retention of the right numbers and high quality personnel the Services of the next century will need. In terms of postings and turbulence, each of the Services intends to offer greater predictability in career management and improved family stability for its personnel wherever possible. We shall also be pursuing the recommendations about the need to support greater individual choice in such matters as home ownership and accompanied service.

Further study and development work is continuing. We expect changes introduced as a result of the review to be broadly neutral in cost terms--this is not a savings exercise. At the same time, we will be looking to achieve reductions in the longer-term resource cost of manpower and increased value for money, as Sir Michael envisaged, through better management of our people. Service personnel are being kept informed of developments with this important work.

Army Careers Information Offices

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the review of the number and location of Army Careers Information Offices.

Earl Howe: The review of the requirement for Army Careers Information Offices has now been completed. It has been decided that 36 offices that were due for closure during the current financial year should remain open. Additionally, five new offices will be opened in areas where recruiting has been buoyant in the past. These offices will remain open for an initial period of one year to allow time for the recruiting initiative with the Job Centres, launched last month, to settle down.

Environmental Statistics: Publication Policy

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their policies for publishing environmental statistics.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): My department publishes a wide range of environmental statistics every year, primarily in the annual Digest of Environmental Statistics, the next edition of which is to be published in May. This is to be supplemented in 1996 by a new

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booklet giving key facts in graphical and tabular form, which we hope will be particularly useful for those wanting a pocket-sized summary and for schools. Key information from the digest is also to be made available through the Internet for the first time later this year.

A more limited set of statistical information was given in the Sustainable Development Strategy, published in 1994. It is planned that this will be updated in 1997, five years on from the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In the meantime, the Government continue to publish their annual White Papers reporting progress with the strategy; the next is due in March this year.

A new report presenting a preliminary set of Indicators of Sustainable Development for the United Kingdom will also be published in March. This follows a commitment given in the Sustainable Development Strategy to publish a set of indicators within two years. The United Kingdom will, we believe, be one of the first countries in the world to publish such indicators. The indicators will be the subject of consultation and development, and will be updated on a regular basis, probably every two years.

The new Environment Agency is to publish early in April 1996 a summary of the state of the environment in England and Wales. This will be made available through the Internet.

In addition to the more technical Digest of Environment Statistics, my department also published, in 1992, the first edition of a compendium statistical report, The UK Environment, aimed at schools and colleges. This was successful and we had planned to update it in 1997. However, in view of the wide range of statistical publications planned in the next few years which I have described, we have decided that it would be better to devote our resources to producing a special edition of UK Environment in 1999 to mark the beginning of the new Millennium. The department will discuss with the Environment Agencies what contribution they might make to the preparation of this report.

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