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22 Mar 1999 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Monday, 22nd March 1999.

Peers Not Taking Party Whips

Lord Coleraine asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 2 March (WA 174), whether they will give the number of Peers taking no party whip, in the following categories:

    (a) Peers by succession; and

    (b) life Peers (including hereditary Peers of the first creation, but excluding the Law Lords and bishops);

    and, in each category, the numbers of Peers whom they identify as independent and the number of Peers whom they identify as supporting each political party.[HL1406]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): As at 1 March 1999, there are 105 life Peers (including hereditary Peers of the first creation but excluding the Law Lords and bishops) and 286 hereditary Peers who do not take a party whip and who are eligible to attend the House of Lords.

The voting record of individual Peers in the current Session is not available. It is not possible, therefore, to provide the specific details requested.

Turkey: Arrest of HADEP Members

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Government of Turkey: (a) whether the members and employees of HADEP (the Peoples Democracy Party) arrested in the last month have all been released; and, if not, who is still in custody; and (b) whether senior officials of three trades unions were recently arrested in Diyarbakir; whether they and others suffered torture as has been alleged; and whether any persons were held for longer than the ten days permitted under emergency regulations.[HL1476]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): According to HADEP, since Ocalan's arrest on 15 February, approximately 3,000 HADEP members and supporters have been detained. Most of these have been released without charge. But 116 of them have been charged--mainly with promoting separatism or aiding the PKK--of which 30 (including 5 HADEP Central Committee members) are being held on remand.

According to the Human Rights Association, the following senior trade unionists were taken into custody in Diyarbakir on 20 February: SES branch chairman Huseyin Bayrak; Egitim Sen branch chairman Ebukebir Celebi; and Birlesik Tasimacilik branch chairman Hasan Soysal. On 21 February Tum Yargi Sen branch

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chairman Edip Binbir and Harb-Is branch chairman Mehmet Durmus were also taken into custody. A further seven other trade union officials were also taken into custody on the above dates and on 28 February.

All 21 union officials were released on 1 March without charges and within the maximum 10 day detention period. A number have said that they were blindfolded, subjected to verbal abuse and beaten during their detention.

The British Embassy will raise these issues with the Turkish authorities at an early opportunity.

EU Policy: Wye Agreement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 18 February (WA 89); whether the European Union efforts to support the implementation of the Wye Agreement include that element of the Agreement under which the United States undertook to enhance Israel's deterrent capabilities, to establish a new strategic relationship with Israel, and to provide funding for ballistic missile defences; whether they understand the reference to Israel's deterrent capabilities to be to nuclear weapons (and, if not, to what it might refer): whether this part of the Wye Agreement is being implemented, while other parts are not; and whether this is compatible with Article 1 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.[HL1510]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Wye River Memorandum of 23 October 1998 was an agreement between the US Government, the Israeli Government and the PLO to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of September 28, 1995 and other related agreements. It included no provision for bilateral defence agreements.

NATO: Strategic Concept

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they propose to follow up the statement of the Secretary General of NATO at the NATO at 50 Conference that the new Strategic Concept will be debated in the national bodies.[HL1511]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO's new Strategic Concept was debated in this House as recently as 3 March, at the noble Lord's request. There will be opportunities to do so again, including during the defence debate in another place on 25 March and in the context of the Defence Select Committee's inquiry into the future of NATO.

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UN Human Rights Commission: 1999 Session

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider it satisfactory that, one week before the United Nations Human Rights Commission is due to begin its 1999 session in Geneva, only 26 of the 119 documents to be considered have been published and that none of the reports by the main thematic and country rapporteurs and workings groups is available; and[HL1546]

    Whether they will move a Resolution at the United Nations Human Rights commission 55th session which begins on 22 March asserting that decisions on the manner of publication of documents for presentation to the Commission are a matter for the Commission and that all documents shall be published in the language of the original, rather than waiting until translation into all the working languages of the Commission has been completed notwithstanding any decisions of the General Assembly to the contrary.[HL1547]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We encourage the UN Secretariat to issue such reports as soon as practicable and welcome recent efforts to disseminate them more widely using the Internet. We fully support the recommendations contained in the Review of Mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights which suggest measures to make summaries of reports available more quickly. The Review will be discussed at the forthcoming Commission on Human Rights.

Ethiopia and Eritrea: Arms Embargo

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps have been taken by the European Union to adopt an arms embargo against Ethiopia and Eritrea.[HL1645]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Following a UK proposal, the European Union adopted a mandatory arms embargo against Ethiopia and Eritrea at the EU Finance Ministers' Council on 15 March 1999.

Following adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1227 on 10 February 1999, which urged UN member states to end immediately all sales of arms and munitions to Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Government took immediate steps to ban exports from the UK to Ethiopia and Eritrea of all goods and technology on the Military List, which forms Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, as amended. Details were reported to Parliament on 16 February (WA 71-72). The national measures necessary to implement the EU arms embargo were therefore already in place when the EU embargo was adopted.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be issuing a press release on the EU embargo and has issued guidance to departments in London, posts overseas and other Whitehall departments. An updated version of the list of all UK policy commitments on the application of strategic export controls, including arms embargoes, will be placed in the Library of the House.

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High Court Crown Office List

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor will be considering the recommendations made by the Law Commission in its 1994 Report, Administrative Law: Judicial Review and Statutory Appeals, and by Lord Woolf in Chapter 18 of his 1996 Report, Access to Justice.[HL1647]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have decided to establish a full Review of the High Court 'Crown Office List', which includes, for example, habeas corpus and the judicial review of administrative decisions. The review, under the chairmanship of Sir Jeffery Bowman, will be fundamental. It will consider not only the recommendations made by the Law Commission and Lord Woolf, but also the Rules, procedures, jurisdiction, organisation and work of the Crown Office List.

Human Rights

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

    Whether they will publish the official review of international human rights instruments in addition to the summary of the conclusions of the review; and, if not, why not.[HL1454]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): There is nothing available beyond the document placed in the Library. The remainder of the papers relating to the review comprise internal opinion, advice, recommendations, consultation and deliberation.

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

    What are their reasons for deciding not to accept the right of individual petition under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[HL1455]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As stated in my reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on 4 March (Official Report, col. WA 201-202) our reason is that accepting such additional complaints procedures could present an undesirable distraction in relation to the vital work of preparing for and bedding down the Human Rights Act.

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