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Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Oil was first exported from the Sudan in August of this year. We are not aware of any arms purchases being made with the income from this business.

We keep in regular touch with the EU, IGAD and others on the situation in the Sudan, including on the impact of oil. We are making the case strongly, including in Khartoum, that revenues should be used for development projects and that there should be transparency in accounting for expenditure. We note that certain public assurances have been given to that effect, and look to the Government of Sudan to implement them.

We expect the EU arms embargo to remain as long as the war in Sudan continues.

Trepca Mines, Kosovo

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: UNMIK has judged that the Trepca mines are under public ownership and thus under UNMIK's jurisdiction. It is therefore a matter for UNMIK (supported by KFOR) to decide on the most appropriate method of assessing the potential of the mines and to decide how, if and when they should reopen.

An agreement signed earlier this month will allow 200 Albanian miners to return to the Stari Trg mine, part of the Trepca complex, to carry out a six-week assessment. A dozen Serbs who have been maintaining the mine will continue to work there.

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Ibero-American Summit, Havana: Declaration

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their reaction to the statement of the representatives of Governments at the Central and South America conference in Havana, rejecting territorial application of laws and interference by European countries in the internal affairs of other countries.[HL281]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government have noted with interest the declaration made at the Ibero-American Summit in Havana.

Diplomatic Posts: Open Competition

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is now their policy, or has been at any stage, that senior diplomatic postings may be filled by open competition, making them available to non-professional diplomats.[HL458]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have opened certain posts to open competition as part of our continuing strategy to ensure that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is as professional, adaptable, effective and innovative as possible. We ran an open competition in 1998-99 to fill the post of Consul-General in New York. There is an open competition currently in progress for the posts of Deputy High Commissioner Mumbai (Bombay), Consul-General Toronto and Consul-General Sao Paulo.

UN Security Council

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the question by the Lord Marlesford of 16 December, whether they support the case for greater representation of developing countries on the United Nations Security Council; and, if so, by what method this could be achieved.[HL475]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is essential that enlargement of the United Nations Security Council should include additional seats for developing countries if we are to make the Council more representative of the modern world. Better representation for developing countries must mean new permanent seats as well as non-permanent seats. For any agreement on enlargement to take effect, the members of the United Nations will have to adopt, by a two-thirds majority, an amendment to Articles 23 and 27 of the UN Charter. This must then be ratified by two-thirds of the UN membership, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

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European Commission Administration

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the administrative arrangements in the European Commission for covering political relations as well as aid, development, trade and economic relations with Africa.[HL327]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Since the beginning of the term of the new Commission, EU relations with Africa have been the responsibility of four Commission bodies: DG (Directorate General) External Relations, DG Trade, DG Development, and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). The Service Commun Relex (SCR) is responsible for implementing the financing decisions for all external relations DGs. We supported reorganisation as part of the reform of the Commission's structures and are working closely with these bodies in order to maximise their effectiveness.

European Court of Human Rights: Assistance to UK Applicants

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their policy to support and assist British citizens living abroad with any application to the European Court of Human Rights against a foreign country; and, if not, why not.[HL363]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Government officials are able to provide factual information about the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court to anyone considering pursuing an application, whether against a foreign government or Her Majesty's Government.

Beyond that there is no need for the Government to provide assistance to applicants, since the Council of Europe has its own effective system of legal aid for applicants to the court.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will examine the case of Mr Dick-Erickson, who has applied for a re-hearing before the European Court of Human Rights of the case of alleged medical manslaughter of his mother in a public hospital in Florence with a view to assisting him with his application.[HL364]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Council of Europe has its own effective system of legal aid for applicants to the European Court of Human Rights. Her Majesty's Government does not intercede in such cases. The court will decide on the merits of Mr Erickson's case.

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Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest assessment of humanitarian need in Angola; and what bilateral and multilateral action they are taking to help meet it.[HL224]

Baroness Amos: The UN estimates that 3.7 million war-affected people will need to be provided with humanitarian assistance during the year 2000. The UK has committed over £48 million bilateral humanitarian assistance since the first UN appeal in June 1993 (of which some £43 million has been disbursed). About £7.5 million of this has been committed in 1999 to international Non Governmental Organisations and UN Agencies, and includes US$6 million (some £3.75 million) for food aid through the World Food Programme. In addition, we contribute through our membership of the European Community.

Prevailing insecurity has made the delivery of assistance dangerous and expensive. The United Kingdom, as a member of the UN Security Council, has called on all concerned to help facilitate safe passage for humanitarian personnel and the delivery of emergency assistance in areas under their control.

Withholding Tax Proposal

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the comment by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 2 December (H.L. Deb., col. 915), whether in September 1998 the Government indicated that the threat of a withholding tax was resulting in a flow of money away from the European Union, particularly from London.[HL368]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government's position on this directive was set out in its paper of September 1999 entitled International bonds and the draft Directive on Taxation of Savings, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Ufl Ltd

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the framework, including controls, within which the department will provide financial support to Ufl Ltd.[HL507]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Ufl Ltd is a private company limited by guarantee established by the Secretary of State in October 1998. The company is seeking charitable status. By making use of information and communications technologies it will encourage innovative and cost-effective ways to learn.

The department exercises a number of controls over Ufl Ltd. The company's memorandum and articles of

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association were approved by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State also has the right to appoint the chairman and between 30 and 49 per cent of the board directors/members of the company and to approve the appointment of the chief executive.

The funding agreement between the Secretary of State and Ufl Ltd provides for a number of checks and controls on the spending of public funds. It specifies that a financial plan which sets out the company's financial proposals and reflects the guidance the Secretary of State may give Ufl Ltd shall be submitted to the Secretary of State annually. The financial plan must take into account guidance issued by the Secretary of State annually. The financial plan must be approved by the Secretary of State and it is subsequently monitored by the department. The financial plan relates Ufl Ltd's costs to its activities in the year covered by the plan. The funding agreement and the financial plan provide the basis for financial support.

In recognition of the market in which Ufl Ltd will operate, the company will own the assets it creates (mainly intellectual property rights on learning products) and retain any receipts from the disposal of assets. The department will take account of any income received by the company as a result of government investment, including asset disposal proceeds, in fixing the level of future financial support. This regime will apply only so long as the company receives government support; any such income received by the company after it has achieved financial independence will be treated as its own.

The funding agreement also provides for Ufl Ltd's intellectual property rights to be assigned to the Secretary of State if the funding agreement is terminated due to Ufl Ltd's breach of contract or insolvency. The memorandum of the company provides that if the company is wound up or dissolved the Secretary of State has a right of veto over the disposition of any remaining assets.

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