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13 Mar 1997 : Column WA31

Written Answers

Thursday, 13th March 1997.

Commonwealth African Countries Conference

Lord Thomson of Monifieth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a report of the recent Conference of Commonwealth Governments held in Botswana.

Lord Chesham: Leaders from 16 Commonwealth African countries attended a Roundtable on Democracy and Good Governance in Africa in Botswana from 24-27 February. The meeting, organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, began with a preparatory meeting in Gaborone, attended by representatives from both governing and opposition parties. Heads of Government then went to Kasane in northern Botswana for a two-day "retreat" to consider the future of democracy in Africa. The Commonwealth Secretariat has provided the following documents, which will be placed in the Library of the House: 1. Opening Remarks by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Commonwealth Secretary General. 2. Report to Heads of Government from the Preparatory Meeting of the Roundtable. 3. Concluding statement from Heads of Government Session in Kasane.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement regarding NATO expansion made by the Baroness Chalker of Wallasey that "these negotiations will have no direct effect on other international business or the European Union Intergovernmental Conference" (27 Feb., WA 106) takes account of the Russian Parliament's linking of NATO enlargement with the renegotiation of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the ratification of START, the reinterpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other such matters outwith the responsibility of NATO.

Lord Chesham: Linkages made by the Russian Parliament are a matter for that body. We remain of the view that negotiations for accession to NATO membership are compatible with the present international arms control agenda.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the continuing experience of Partnership for Peace (including the joint exercises with and in East European countries) has shown that the eastward enlargement of NATO is no longer necessary and should be reconsidered.

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Lord Chesham: No. Partnership for Peace was launched at the 1994 NATO Summit, in parallel with the Alliance's commitment to enlargement, as one strand of a policy aimed at enhancing the security of Europe. The enlargement of NATO has been another essential strand of that policy since 1994.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware that the proposed expansion of NATO eastward is considered by the Russian Government to be a breach of an informal undertaking given by the Prime Minister, when he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, during discussions on German reunification.

Lord Chesham: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to his question on this subject on 20 November 1996 (WA 137).

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by the Baroness Chalker of 20 February (WA 59), whether the statement made in the course of the December 1996 NATO meeting that NATO had "no intention, no plan and no reason" to deploy nuclear weapons in new NATO states, is legally binding on those who made it; and, if not, what is its status.

Lord Chesham: Statements made by NATO Foreign Ministers at their meetings are politically binding on the 16 NATO governments.

US Missile Sales to Thailand

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the decision of the United States of America to sell Amraam missiles to Thailand is in accordance with the provisions of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Lord Chesham: While it is for the United States to judge, on the basis of all available information, whether its missile exports are in accordance with the provisions of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), we have no reason to believe that the proposed transfer contravenes such provisions.

Central Europe: Security

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What meaning they attach to the statement made by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that "we cannot deny [the countries of Central Europe] a guarantee for their security that they desire and desperately need" (HC Deb., 26 Feb., col. 274) and what is the desperate need that is not satisfied by the existing OSCE and United Nations security arrangements.

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Lord Chesham: As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in Washington, "For countries of Central Europe to feel secure, they need to join the European institutions: NATO, the European Union, the Council of Europe".

National Galleries of Scotland

Lord Mowbray and Stourton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What improvements have been made to access to the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): I am anxious that the people of Scotland should have the fullest possible opportunity to see and appreciate the country's heritage of art and design in appropriate surroundings. At present only one-fifth of the Scottish paintings held by the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) are on permanent public view. It is right that action should be taken to improve the position.

To this end, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is inviting the NGS Trustees to consider the establishment of a new national loans scheme whereby coherent groups of good quality works of art from the National Galleries are made available for exhibition at suitable local museums and galleries and other appropriate locations throughout Scotland. This initiative would also encourage local museums and galleries to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Heritage Lottery Fund to upgrade their facilities to a standard appropriate to housing works of national importance.

As a further step, the Board of Trustees of the NGS has put to me revised outline proposals to establish a new National Gallery of Scottish Art and Design in Glasgow. These proposals reflect the advice of the National Heritage Memorial Fund that it could not support a project of the scale described in the NGS's original application for Lottery funding towards the capital costs of acquiring and fitting out the former Post Office building in George Square. The new proposals, which take account of that advice, are smaller in scale and more focused on the objective of making available to the public good quality works of Scottish art which are not currently on permanent display.

The trustees are aware that the capital costs of the revised project would need to be met from non-government sources and I would require half of the running costs for at least the first four years to be met from private sources. The provision of the balance from public funds would be a matter for consideration in future public expenditure rounds. The project would also have to meet normal requirements of public sector investment appraisal.

On the basis of these assurances about the funding of the capital and running costs of a Glasgow gallery, we are prepared for further detailed work to go ahead on this proposal, in parallel with the development of the

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new national loans scheme initiative, with the objective of maximising access to the national collections.

EU Budget: UK Contribution

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (i) What was the United Kingdom's total gross contribution to the European Union's budget in 1995; (ii) what were the total receipts to local authorities, public bodies and others through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund in 1995; and (iii) what was the United Kingdom's total net contribution to the EU budget not including subsidies paid to farmers in 1995.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The United Kingdom paid a total of £8,889 million in respect of its gross contributions, before abatement, to the European Community in 1995. Payments made from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund to UK government departments during the course of 1995 amounted to £436 million and £756 million, respectively. It is not possible to provide disaggregated figures for the net contribution in terms of the cash transactions which took place in 1995. This is because the abatement relating to our contributions and receipts in respect of a year is paid in the following year.

Police Scientific Development Branch

Lord Westbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When a memorandum concerning the prior options review of the Police Scientific Development Branch will be placed in the Library.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My right honourable friend has today placed in the Library a memorandum setting out the rationale underlying the decision he announced on 29 January, that the Police Scientific Development Branch should remain in the public sector as an integral part of the Home Office.

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