Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Wales: Per Capita GDP

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Roberts of Conwy from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 11 March 1998.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question on per capita gross domestic product (GDP) figures for Wales.

Regional GDP is a measure of the economic activity of a region. However, when presented in terms of GDP per head, the denominator used relates to the entire population of the region, whether they contribute directly to generating the GDP or not. The population includes those of pension age, children, and the unemployed. The importance of these groups varies from region to region, but all have a similar effect on per capita GDP. A relatively high proportion of non-working population will have a downward effect on the per capita GDP figures, while a low proportion of non-workers will have an upward effect.

The number of people in Wales of pensionable age (men over 65, women over 60) account for about 20 per cent. of the Welsh population, compared with an UK average of over 18 per cent. This implies that if, hypothetically, the proportion of pensioners in Wales was to be the same as that for the UK, then Welsh per capita GDP might be about 2 percentage points higher than it actually is. However, similar assumptions could be made about other demographic groups and for

11 Mar 1998 : Column WA64

other regions. In particular, the highest proportion of pensioners is in the South West of England (21 per cent.) and the lowest is in Northern Ireland (15 per cent.). In contrast, Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of children in the UK.

Lawyers: Rights of Audience in Scotland

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the review of rights of audience announced by the Lord Chancellor on 24 February (H.L. Deb., col. 557) will cover the rights of audience of lawyers practising before the courts in Scotland.[HL 826]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): No. Scotland has its own legal system, and any review of the rights of audience of lawyers practising before the Scottish courts would be a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Iraq: Threat of Force

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the arguments set out in the International Herald Tribune on 17 February, whether they still consider that the USA has legal authority to attack Iraq.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The US position on legal justification for the use of force is a matter for them. Security Council Resolution 1154, unanimously adopted on 2 March, makes clear that if Iraq violates the agreement signed between the UN Secretary-General and Iraqi Deputy Minister, the severest consequences will follow.

Throughout the crisis with Iraq we pursued a policy of backing up our intensive diplomatic efforts with the threat of force if Saddam Hussein failed to comply. This was a key factor in focusing his mind on reaching an agreement with the UN.

Turkey: Trial Following Murder of Mr. Goktepe

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the 13th session of trial of the policeman accused of murdering Mr. Metin Goktepe, Turkish journalist, due to be held on 22 January, was observed on their behalf (or by diplomats of the European Union); what is their opinion of the many adjournments and varying locations of this trial and of the independence or otherwise of the judges involved; and whether they have made or will make representations to the Government of Turkey on this matter.[HL816]

11 Mar 1998 : Column WA65

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: An official from the British Embassy in Ankara attended the 13th session of the trial of those accused of the murder of Mr. Metin Goktepe. The German Embassy was also represented on that occasion. A British official will attend the next trial session on 12 March.

We are concerned that the trial has continued for 15 months and that it has been subject to numerous changes of location. We understand that these moves have been undertaken for security reasons. We have raised this issue with the Turkish authorities and will be making further representations before the next session of the trial.

Turkey: Human Rights and Freedom of Expression

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the treatment of the Ankara chairman of the Labour Party (Emegin Partisi), of Haluk Gerger, journalist, of Ismail Beskci, academic, of Yasar Kemal, novelist, of Akin Birdal, president of the Turkish Human Rights Association, and of Esber Yagmurdereli, lawyer, has been in accordance with the undertakings on human rights given by Turkey at the time of the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, and, if not, what action they propose to take.[HL817]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Association Agreement of 1963 between Turkey and the European Community noted that the contracting parties would consider the possibility of Turkey's accession to the Community when the operation of the agreement had made it possible to envisage the full acceptance by Turkey of the obligations arising out of the treaty setting up the Community.

Turkey's obligations to respect fundamental human rights and freedom of expression are laid out in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The treatment of those listed in the question appears to fall short of the standards required under the European convention. We have raised these apparent shortcomings with the Turkish authorities and will continue to make representations. We welcome the Turkish Government's stated commitment to increase freedom of expression in Turkey and look forward to early legislation to this end.

Iraq: Transfer of Weapons Expertise

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek to amend the mandate of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) to allow it to inquire into the alleged transfer of know-how, materials and facilities for the development or manufacture of chemical and biological weapons from Iraq to other countries.[HL869]

11 Mar 1998 : Column WA66

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: UNSCOM's current mandate allows it to pursue inquiries into all aspects of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction activities, including alleged transfers of materials, know-how, facilities, technology or personnel. We are concerned at recent reports alleging such transfers, although we have not seen evidence to substantiate them.

Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, 2 and 3 March

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decisions were made by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting in London on 2 and 3 March.[HL907]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The eight members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group met in London on 2 and 3 March, primarily to review the situation in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the light of developments since the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh in October 1997. The group recognised the progress made towards the consolidation of civilian democratic and constitutional rule in The Gambia. It welcomed the fact that the rule of the military junta in Sierra Leone had been brought to an end and decided to send a ministerial-level mission, comprising representatives from Britain, Canada, Ghana, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.

On Nigeria, the group discussed the state of the transition process and the criteria against which an eventual judgment on that process would have to be made.

I have placed the text of the concluding statement from the group's meeting in the Library of the House.

Scotland Against Drugs Campaign

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money they have made available to Scotland Against Drugs in the financial years 1996-97 and 1997-98 and how much they propose to make available for 1998-99.[HL813]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): Government funding made available to the Scotland Against Drugs Campaign is as follows:

    1996-97: £1.4 million

    1997-98: £2 million

    1998-99: £0.5 million

11 Mar 1998 : Column WA67

South Ayrshire: Cala Management Limited

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to call in the planning application to South Ayrshire Council of Cala Management Limited for housing on the area known as South Woods which Cala Management Limited intend to purchase from South Ayrshire Council.[HL846]

Lord Sewel: I understand that, to date, South Ayrshire Council has not received an application for

11 Mar 1998 : Column WA68

planning permission from Cala Management Limited for the development of this site.

Heroin-related Deaths in Scotland

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many heroin-related deaths there have been in Scotland in 1996, 1997 and so far this year.[HL812]

Lord Sewel: There were 31 heroin-related deaths in 1996. Figures are not yet available for 1997 and 1998.

   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page