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28 Jul 1999 : Column WA191

Written Answers

Wednesday, 28th July 1999.

International Development Issues: Public Understanding

Lord Bach asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for monitoring public attitudes on international development issues.[HL3918]

Baroness Amos: The Government are committed to working to increase public awareness and understanding of international development issues and to monitoring the effectiveness of this work. We are therefore conducting a baseline survey this month through the Office of National Statistics' Omnibus Survey, and will make the results publicly available. Further surveys will be undertaken periodically, in order to measure progress against our objectives.

Shrimp Production, Bangladesh

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding they are providing for intensive shrimp production in Bangladesh.[HL3919]

Baroness Amos: DFID has recently agreed to provide £9.76 million to support the Government of Bangladesh's Fourth Fisheries Project. The project will engage government, non-governmental and community based organisations in improving aquatic resource management of inland waters and coastal polders. Fourteen per cent. of the funding will support a component for improving the shrimp production system. DFID's contribution is 25 per cent. of the total project requirements, which will be parallel financed with the World Bank and the Bangladesh Government over five years.

As a major supporter of sustainable fisheries development in Bangladesh for many years, DFID shares local concerns about the environmental and social impact of past development of the shrimp industry. We have been able to influence development partners in this sector, using our expertise to provide strong environmental and social analyses in the design of the new project. This helped to put poverty elimination and environmental sustainability objectives at the centre of project design. For the shrimp component, DFID also helped to modify the focus of the project to the creation of more diverse and stable livelihoods in areas where shrimp are produced.

The project plans to promote the production of shrimp by smallholders, but this is conditional on the outcome of a feasibility study in the first year which will fully consider social and environmental dimensions in consultation with the communities concerned and NGOs. The project will also support a regional initiative to develop a code of conduct for responsible shrimp culture.

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Former Yugoslavia: Investigation of Atrocities

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Mr. Tony Lloyd, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that their "first priority is to investigate and establish the details of atrocities committed in Kosovo" (HC Deb., WA 316), whether they will investigate and establish details of all atrocities and ethnic cleansings in former Yugoslavia since the break-up of that country.[HL3607]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We strongly support the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was established to investigate genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws of war committed throughout the former Yugoslavia and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We have provided substantial voluntary assistance to the tribunal since its creation in 1993, including funding for exhumations in Bosnia, the secondment of staff and the provision of large amounts of information, including intelligence material. We have appointed a Kosovo War Crimes Co-ordinator to help the tribunal's investigations. Our support includes the provision of a Scenes of Crime Team which has been in Kosovo since 18 June.

Former Yugoslavia: NATO Intentions

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary General of NATO has been given permission by the NATO Council to approve further military action against Yugoslavia; and, if so, in what circumstances.[HL3608]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 20 June 1999 the NATO Secretary General announced that the NATO air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) had been terminated. The NATO Council has not discussed military action against the FRY since then.

Military Action: Legality

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are examining how to ensure that military action entered into: (a) to prevent humanitarian catastrophe; (b) to counter proliferation; or (c) to defeat the common interests and values of NATO members; are always (i) lawful and (ii) generally accepted as lawful, and, if not, are not entered into.[HL3757]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Any military action undertaken by the Government will be in accordance with international law.

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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any generally recognised customary law permitting military action: (a) to prevent humanitarian catastrophe; (b) to counter proliferation; or (c) to defend the common interests and values of NATO members; and, if so, what.[HL3758]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Whether the use of military action is justifiable under international law must be considered on a case by case basis in the light of the circumstances at the time.

UN Security Council

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their strategy for breaking the deadlock which occurs in the United Nations Security Council when it is called upon to assert international authority in cases such as Iraq and Kosovo.[HL3765]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are committed to the United Nations Security Council as the central pillar for international co-operation on peace and security. We do all we can as a Permanent Member to ensure that the Council can achieve consensus and take decisive action when required. We have long been advocates of Security Council reform. We recognise the need to find new ways to make the Security Council more effective: we will be pursuing this with other states in the coming months.

BBC World Service and Armenia

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider introducing a BBC World Service provision for Armenia similar to the existing service for Azerbaijan.[HL3785]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The BBC World Service is constantly investigating ways of improving its services. An Armenian service is not at present a priority but the World Service is constantly keeping the situation in relation to language services under review. The World Service does broadcast special Russian language programmes for the region, which include regular reporting of Armenian affairs; some of these are re-broadcast by one of the leading FM stations in Yerevan.

Lithuanian Independence Anniversary

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to mark the 10th anniversary of the proclamation of Lithuania's restoration of independence on 11 March 1990, and the role that this nation played in the break-up of the Soviet Empire.[HL3797]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government will make the proclamation of Lithuanian independence by sending messages of congratulations. The British Ambassador in Vilnius will also represent Her Majesty's Government at the various celebrations that will be held.

Defence Industry Mergers

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, before agreeing to any further transatlantic defence industry teamings or mergers, they will conduct an inquiry into the political pressures these full-privatised industries may exert on governments, particularly as to (a) the development of unnecessary, undesirable or inhumane weapon systems; and (b) the promotion of military actions or activities in which these systems may be tested at the taxpayer's expense.[HL3722]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): If a proposed merger were to fall to the UK authorities for consideration under the Fair Trading Act, the Secretary of State would decide whether or not to refer it to the Competition Commission in the light of advice from the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT). In formulating his advice, the DGFT takes into consideration representations he receives on competition and other public interest issues.

Proposals for large mergers with a Community dimension fall to the European Commission for consideration under the EC Merger Regulation. The European Commission assesses the effect of the proposed merger on competition.

The EC Treaty permits a member state to take such measures as it considers necessary to protect the essential interests of its national security. Pursuant to this a member state may request a party not to notify the military aspects of a merger to the European Commission. If the UK takes such action the military aspects of the merger may fall to be considered under the Fair Trading Act.

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