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Decommissioning Agreement: Statistics

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Dubs: In accordance with the agreement the British and Irish Governments brought decommissioning schemes into force on 30 June. No terrorist weapons have yet been decommissioned.

Northern Ireland Referendum: Release of Prisoners

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Dubs: As I indicated to the noble Lord in my Answer to a related Question on 1 June (Official Report, col. 16), my right honourable friend the Secretary of State authorised the release of four prisoners to attend the reconvened Sinn Fein Ardfeish early in May. Rule 27 of the Prison and Young Offenders Centre Rules (Northern Ireland) 1995 governs the temporary release of convicted prisoners in Northern Ireland and provides the legislative authority for the Northern Ireland Prison Service's temporary release schemes.

Higher Education: Access Funds

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government are committed to widening participation and improving access to higher education. We are determined that students should have the support they need to take up or stay on courses of higher education. We are making available £56 million through the access funds for students in further and higher education in England for the academic year 1998-99. This includes £3 million (£2 million in 1998-99 financial year) which we are providing to help remit the fees of part-time undergraduate students who lose their jobs after their course has started.

The total sum is being allocated between the two funding councils for England as shown below. The allocations take account of adjustments between the higher education access fund and the further education access fund to help part-time higher education students who are studying at further education institutions.

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£ million
Higher Education Funding Council for England:45.76
of which: Undergraduate Fund39.44
Postgraduate Fund5.50
Further Education Fund0.82
Further Education Funding Council:10.24

Turkey: Conviction of Mr. Ragip Duran

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support the Committee for the Protection of Journalists in their request for the release from prison in Turkey, of Mr. Ragip Duran, a journalist who has worked for the BBC World Service and Agency France Presse.[HL2815]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): From the information currently available to us, it appears that Mr. Duran's conviction raises questions about Turkey's international commitments to uphold freedom of expression. The British Embassy will be discussing his case further with the relevant Turkish authorities.

Turkey: Conviction of Mr. Esber Yagmurdereli

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the sentence of life imprisonment, recently imposed in Turkey on Mr. Esber Yagmurdereli, a known campaigner for peace, constitutes a set-back for human rights in that country.[HL2839]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We share the widespread international concern at the plight of Mr. Yagmurdereli, who was re-imprisoned in June this year to serve various sentences including that of 23 years' imprisonment following his conviction for promoting separatism. As EU Presidency we raised his re-imprisonment with the Turkish authorities and urged Mr. Yagmurdereli's release. We shall continue to take every opportunity to remind the Turkish authorities of our concerns, and to point out that their actions sit ill with Turkey's commitments to uphold freedom of expression.

Treaties: Explanatory Memoranda

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 21 April (WA 203), whether they will introduce a procedure to give Lords notice of the publication of explanatory memoranda relating to international treaties signed by or on behalf of Her Majesty's Government and laid before Parliament under the so-called "Ponsonby Rule" while awaiting ratification.[HL2889]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Notice of the publication of an Explanatory Memoranda (EM) is given in the Minutes of Proceedings and Votes with each entry for a treaty laid under the Ponsonby Rule. Paper copies are available in the Printed Paper Office on the day after the treaty is laid together with copies of the relevant Command Paper. In addition, as stated in my Written Answer of 21 April (WA 203), EMs are published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Internet Site.

Turkey: Allegations of Torture

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are discussing with the Government of Turkey--(a) allegations that police officers sexually abused and tortured five children from the Haci Husrev district of Istanbul, while they were held in custody for three days in May or June; and (b) the events in a village near Kulp in the region of Diyarbakir, depopulated by security forces and then made uninhabitable in June.[HL3016]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are concerned at recent reports suggesting that torture, including the use of sexual abuse, of five children occurred during their detention in police custody in the Haji Husrev area of Istanbul. We understand that appeals have been lodged with the relevant public prosecutor to investigate these reports. The British Embassy is following this issue closely, and will be discussing it with the relevant Turkish authorities.

We are unable to confirm whether any villages near Kulp were depopulated by security forces in June.

Nuclear Disarmament: Multilateral Talks

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans to reinvigorate multilateral talks on disarmament; and[HL2904]

    What is their policy towards the establishment of a Five Power Nuclear Forum to discuss nuclear weapons safety, verification, transparency and related matters; and what they would envisage to be the relationship between any such forum and India, Pakistan and other nuclear or potentially nuclear powers.[HL2959]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are working for the early adaptation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.

We are pressing for the early conclusion of negotiations on a Protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and working to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

We are actively considering how best to follow up internationally the initiatives on nuclear disarmament set out in the Strategic Defence Review. We would not rule out the possibility that a forum of all the Nuclear Weapon States could make a constructive contribution to the process of nuclear disarmament. The relationship

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between such a forum and other states, including India and Pakistan, would be one of the issues to be considered in its establishment.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) clearly defines Nuclear Weapon States as those which exploded a device before 1967. Only five states come into this category, India and Pakistan are not nuclear weapon states as defined by the NPT and will not therefore be treated as such. We are pressing India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Sponsorship Money

Lord Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which organisations and companies have contributed sponsorship money to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the last two years.[HL2916]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As sponsorship acquisition by the FCO is carried on not only in the United Kingdom but by posts overseas the information requested can, at present, only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Lord Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under what terms and conditions sponsorship money is received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[HL2917]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The terms and conditions under which sponsorship money is received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is agreed between the parties on a case by case basis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently working up a standard model sponsorship contract which could be used to form the basis of future sponsorship arrangements.

Separate conditions apply to jointly funded scholarship schemes, which involve co-sponsorship arrangements, normally on an equal cost sharing basis, by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its partners in the private, charitable and higher education sectors.

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