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16 Apr 1996 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Tuesday, 16th April 1996.

Brussels Treaty

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the modified Brussels Treaty:

    (a) has a deadline for termination of 1998;

    (b) may be denounced by any signatory after 1998;

    (c) may be reviewed in 1998;

    (d) remains in force unamended until denunciation or amendment.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Article XII of the Brussels Treaty states that:

    "[The Treaty] shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of the last instrument of ratification and shall remain in force for fifty years.

    After the expiry of the period of fifty years, each of the High Contracting Parties shall have the right to cease to be a party thereto provided that he shall have previously given one year's notice of denunciation to the Belgian Government".

As the text of this Article was not amended by the modification to the Brussels Treaty in 1954, the Government consider that the period of fifty years is to be measured from the date of entry into force of the original Treaty (25th August 1948).

It may be misleading to suggest that the Treaty has a deadline of 1998; it is not a deadline for termination. Instead, from 25th August 1998, each of the High Contracting Parties may denounce the Treaty individually. It has always been possible for the High Contracting Parties to agree collectively to amend or terminate it. The expiry of the period of 50 years does not affect this right in any way. The Treaty will remain in force, unamended, until such time as the Parties collectively decide otherwise.

Drugs: Proposed World Conference

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to take up the Mexican Government's proposal for a global summit to tackle the issue of the drug market that would pay as much attention to the consumer end of the trade as to the producer end.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Discussions on the Mexican proposal for a World Drugs Conference are currently taking place at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. A number of alternative proposals will be discussed, including a Special Session on drugs at the UN General Assembly. Strong support for the three UN Drugs Conventions, the Global Plan of Action and the System Wide Action Plan to tackle drugs already exists in the General Assembly and among member

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states. We therefore do not believe that a further high-level meeting is necessary, but if a consensus emerges that more needs to be done we will seek to ensure that the outcome is as effective as possible.

Chemical Weapons: Destruction

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the status under the Chemical Weapons Convention of the 3.6 million United States chemical weapons, some of which will not be destroyed until 2004, and whether any international control is to be expected over these chemical weapons or those also as yet undestroyed in the Soviet Union.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Chemical Weapons Convention has not yet entered into force. We expect it to do so in late 1996 or early 1997. States Parties will have to declare any stocks of chemical weapons they hold, and destroy them within a maximum of 15 years. Declarations and destructions will be verified by inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union will be subject to these international controls once they have ratified the convention.

The United States and Russia are also negotiating a bilateral agreement, complementary to the Chemical Weapons Convention which would provide for mutual verification of destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles.

Gibraltar Airport Agreement

Lord Merrivale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any progress has been made on the updating of the 1987 Gibraltar Airport Agreement mentioned by Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish on 16th June 1994 in a Written Answer (H.L. Deb., col. WA 109), and, if none, what consideration is being given to the unanimous Motion of the House of Assembly on 9th February 1996 calling for its termination.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The British Government's position on the 1987 Joint Declaration concerning Gibraltar Airport is unchanged. We believe an airport agreement would benefit Gibraltar, but we will not impose it. We believe a satisfactory solution can still be found and remain willing to work to that end.

European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe: Separation of Powers

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the principle of the separation of powers applies to the European Court of Human Rights and to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Yes, in the sense that each is given its respective functions by the relevant agreements. In particular, the Government fully respect the independence of the Court. That does not, however, prevent governments expressing their views, including within the Committee of Ministers.

International Criminal Court Proposal

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the creation of a permanent international criminal court of adjudication on gross abuses of human rights, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government support the establishment of an International Criminal Court to try certain of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community; our support for the establishment of such a court is dependent, among other things, upon its being a court of last resort in cases where states are unable or unwilling to act. A court should only be established if it is generally accepted by the international community.

The Government will take a final decision as to whether to become party to the statute establishing such a court once the statute is finalised.

Mykonos Trial: Request for Documents

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will translate and place in the Library of the House copies of the following three documents placed before the court in the Mykonos trial in Berlin: a report by the German Chancellor's office, released on 13th April 1994; a report by the German internal intelligence organisation BfV (Federal Department for the Protection of the Constitution); and a report by the German interior security organisation presented to the court on 19th December 1995; and whether they will also translate and place in the Library of the House transcripts of the evidence given by Herr Klaus Gruinewald, Director-General of the "foreign extremism section" of the BfV.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The German authorities have informed us that they are not able to release the documents in question while the trial is still pending and the documents remain sub judice.

Extra-territorial Jurisdiction

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to implement the recommendations of the Ministers of the Council of Europe concerning extra-territorial jurisdiction, adopted on 9th September 1991 (Document R (91)11, in particular part 11, 2 to 4).

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are taking positive steps to assist those countries where child prostitution exists and to strengthen action against those in the UK who organise sex tours or who encourage others to travel abroad for the purposes of sexually exploiting children. In this context, the Government are supporting a Sexual Offences (Conspiracy and Incitement) Bill, the purpose of which is to make it an offence for persons in the UK to conspire with or incite others to commit sexual acts against children abroad which would be offences if committed in the UK.

An interdepartmental review is considering the general issues of extra territorial jurisdiction. But the UK police already provide assistance to local police forces directly and through participation in training sessions arranged by Interpol. The National Criminal Intelligence Service also provides assistance through Interpol to police in countries receiving sex tourists in order to help identify British sex tourists.

"La Lecture de Moliere" by de Troy

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the refusal of the export licence for de Troy's "Reading of Moliere" in favour of purchase by a private individual, (a) whether the purchaser is a United Kingdom subject; (b) what undertakings were received from the purchaser that the picture would be properly conserved and made available for public enjoyment; and (c) whether the purchaser is in any way inhibited from selling the picture to a foreign buyer and applying for an export licence at a higher price.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): A decision on the export licence application for de Troy's La Lecture de Moliere was deferred until after 11th January 1996 to give the opportunity for an offer to purchase to be made at or above the fair market price of £4,497,672. The primary purpose of the deferral was to allow time for a potential purchaser to come forward to keep the painting in the UK. An offer to purchase was accepted by the owner and, as a consequence, the licence application lapsed, the painting became the property of the purchaser and was consequently retained in the United Kingdom in accordance with the prime objective of the Waverley system. My department did not refuse the export licence. No written undertakings were required from the purchaser and my department has no knowledge of whether the purchaser is a UK subject. If the purchaser wishes to export the painting, then any new export licence application would be subject to the normal procedures.

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