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Westminster Foundation for Democracy: Annual Report

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Copies of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy's annual report for 1998-99 will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses this week.

The foundation makes a valuable contribution to the promotion of democracy overseas. Its activities include providing assistance to political parties, parliaments, the independent media, trade unions, human rights groups, women's groups and other non-governmental organisations involved in political development.

In 1998-99, the foundation received £3,168,815 from the FCO, along with £211,256 from corporate and charity sources. With these funds it supported 274 new projects and managed another 223. It directed most of its funds to supporting democratic institutions in its priority areas, which are: Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Anglophone Africa. It also supported worthwhile projects in other parts of the world, such as South East Asia and the Middle-East.

In particular, the foundation initiated three important technical assistance projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Indonesia, all of which are undergoing crucial transition processes towards fair and free democracy. The foundation can also pride itself on ground-breaking work in Qatar in the lead-up to their Central Municipal Council elections, where women were given the vote and allowed to stand as candidates for the first time ever in the Gulf states. Most recently, the foundation has been preparing the ground to initiate projects in Kosovo, if and when this is appropriate.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Small Arms

Lord Hacking asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Council of the European Union adopted on 19 July a Council Decision amending Common Position 96/184/CFSP to allow transfers of small arms to the police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This decision was taken in order to promote peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Member states are required to inform the Council of any transfers made under this exemption. The export of small arms to the police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains licensable under the terms of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, as amended.

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Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia: Export Restrictions

Lord Hacking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What UK specific export restrictions currently apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia; for what reasons; and what proposals the government have to lift them.[HL3914]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: UK national export controls in general apply to all countries.

The only UK specific export control currently in place on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is Group 3, Part 1, Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, which prohibits the export without an export licence of certain all-wheel drive utility vehicles capable of off road use, heavy duty recovery vehicles and drop sided trucks.

This control was introduced to address concerns that such vehicles might be used by para-military groups against British troops deployed on peace-keeping duties in the Former Yugoslavia.

We are currently taking steps to remove this control in respect of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, as we no longer perceive the uncontrolled export of these vehicles as a threat to British troops.

Sanctions Implemented by UK

Lord Hacking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the sanctions and arms embargoes currently implemented by the United Kingdom.[HL3916]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As of today's date the United Kingdom implements Security Council resolutions which impose arms embargoes or wider sanctions regimes in relation to Angola, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Government has also implemented an arms embargo on Ethiopia and Eritrea, called for in non-binding SCR 1227 (1998).

The United Kingdom implements additional sanctions imposed by the European Union on Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burma, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Croatia, The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Gambia, Libya and Sudan.

The UK currently implements two arms embargoes as a result of decisions by the OSCE--on Armenia and Azerbaijan.

There is also a national arms embargo on Iran.

I shall keep the House informed of current sanctions regimes and arms embargoes and their scope on a yearly basis. All new sanctions or arms embargoes and any amendments to existing sanctions or arms embargoes will be announced at the time. We shall be laying a list of sanctions regimes and arms embargoes implemented by the UK in the Libraries of the Houses. A Summary of Additional UK Restrictions on the Export of Strategic Goods, which includes details of additional national controls, will be annexed to this list. Both documents

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will shortly be available on the FCO website. These documents replace the Summary of Government Commitments Regarding the Application of Strategic Export Controls, copies of which are currently in the Libraries of the Houses and on the FCO website. An updated version of the sanctions list will be laid in the Library annually or more.

Diplomats: Serious Offences

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many serious offences were alleged to have been committed in 1998 by persons entitled to immunity.[HL3904]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: From a community of over 17,500 persons entitled to immunity, 21 alleged serious offences by such persons were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1998. "Serious offences" are defined in accordance with the 1985 White Paper on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges, i.e. as any offence that would in certain circumstances carry a maximum penalty of six months' or more imprisonment. The majority of alleged serious offences in 1998 involved driving under the influence of drink and shoplifting.

Massacre at Gracko, Kosovo

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their reactions to the killing of 14 Serbs at Gracko, Kosovo, on 23 July.[HL3966]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We wholeheartedly condemn this massacre and strongly endorse the statement made yesterday by the President of the UN Security Council expressing shock and concern, calling for a speedy and thorough investigation to bring to justice those responsible, and expressing the Security Council's support for the efforts of KFOR and UNMIK to ensure peace and security for all the inhabitants of Kosovo.

UK members of KFOR are taking the lead in the investigation and we will do all we can to assist KFOR, UNMIK and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in their investigations.

With our partners in KFOR and UNMIK, we are committed to a democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo. Our aim is for Kosovo Serbs to stay in Kosovo, and for those who have left to return.

Wilton Park Executive Agency

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Wilton Park Executive Agency performed against the targets agreed for 1998-99; and what are the agreed targets for the current year.[HL3967]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Wilton Park exceeded all four of the agreed targets set for the 1998-99 financial year, for the number of conference participants, income, cost recovery and cost per head to the FCO overall. The 1998-99 targets were:

Income £2,051K
Recovery of cost 81%
Number of Wilton Park conference participants 2,000
Cost to FCO per conference participant £240

The following key targets have been agreed for the financial year 1999-2000:

to increase overall income to£2,182K
to maintain cost recovery at82.5%
to maintain the target for the overall number of Wilton Park conference participants at2,000
to achieve an average cost to the FCO of each participant of£232

Treasury Building: Refurbishment

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the proposal to refurbish the Treasury building under the Private Finance Initiative.[HL3776]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Ministers have now approved plans for the refurbishment of the Treasury building under the terms of an innovative PFI deal with Exchequer Partnership plc (EP), the Treasury's Private Sector Partner. This flagship PFI project at the heart of Whitehall confirms the Government's commitment to PFI in the accommodation sector. On completion, the project will bring together the whole department in one modern, efficient office building fit for the 21st century. It is the first to follow the recently published Treasury Task Force PFI Standard Contract Guidance. It is also the first project where the service provider, in partnership with the Treasury, will put debt financing out to competition.

This will be the first major refurbishment of a building nearly a century old. While it needs some remedial work, the building's services also require major updating, and more flexible and efficient use needs to be made of the space within it to meet business needs. The project will achieve both, as well as providing very good value for money for the taxpayer. Work on site is expected to commence in the spring of 2000 and take two years to complete. The department will remain at the eastern (Whitehall) end of the building while its new accommodation at the western (St. James's Park) end is refurbished. The move is scheduled to take place in spring 2002, and the Treasury will then be occupying just under half of the building. The Treasury will pay as and when its accommodation needs are delivered to specified standards.

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Under the terms of the PFI deal, EP are responsible for securing town planning permission and listed building consent. It is also for EP to let the non-Treasury space to another public sector tenant.

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