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International Action on Humanitarian Crises

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear in his speech at the Mansion House on 22 November that the international community needs an agreed framework on when and how it is appropriate to intervene in the face of massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The United Nations Charter declares that armed force should not be used, save in the common interest. We need to build consensus on what that common interest is and how we define it.

We believe that the development of a set of pragmatic understandings on action in response to humanitarian crises would help the Security Council--acting on behalf of the Members of the United Nations--to reach consensus when such crises occur, thus ensuring effective and timely action by the international community. In this context, we have put to the UN Secretary-General and to key international partners a set of ideas, of which the key elements are:

    second, the immediate responsibility for halting violence rests with the state in which it occurs;

    but, third, when faced with an immediate and overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe and a government that has demonstrated itself unwilling or unable to prevent it, the international community should take action;

    and finally, any use of force in this context must be collective, proportionate, likely to achieve its objective, and carried out in accordance with international law.

The detail of these preliminary ideas is still under discussion with partners. Once we have had time to take account of their views and develop our proposals further, we will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Eriskay Causeway) Order Confirmation Bill

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998 in connection with the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Eriskay Causeway) Order Confirmation Bill.[HL898]

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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Eriskay Causeway) Order Confirmation Bill are compatible with the convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

Public Buildings: Fine Art

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their policy to include a fine art component in the budgeting for and construction of public buildings and other public works.[HL646]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have no general policy on the provision of fine art in budgeting for and constructing public buildings. The Government encourages the involvement of artists throughout the design and construction process, but it is for individual client departments to decide whether they wish works of art to be included, and to budget for them accordingly. The Government Art Collection displays works of art by British artists in major government buildings, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport provides core funding to the Royal Society of Arts for its Art for Architecture scheme.

Royal Parks Agency

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) Whether the meeting between the Friends of the Royal Park Forum with Mr Alan Howarth, Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport took place as scheduled on Monday, 24 January; (b) what issues were discussed; and (c) what action will be taken by the Government as a result of such discussions.[HL713]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I confirm that this meeting took place on 24 January. The issues discussed at the meeting were the Review of the Royal Parks Agency, next year's Royal Parks Agency Corporate Plan, including funding, and the review of the 1999 season of events in the Royal Parks. The views of the forum will be taken carefully into account when Ministers take decisions on all these subjects.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish their recommendations following the Review of the Royal Parks Agency.[HL714]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The conclusions and recommendations of the review, and Ministers' decisions on them, will be announced to Parliament and published as soon as Ministers have had the opportunity to consider them.

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New Opportunities Fund and Non-maintained Special Schools

Lord Baker of Dorking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps have been taken to ensure that funding from the New Opportunities Fund will in future be made available to non-maintained special schools such as Dorton House School, Sevenoaks, Kent, which provides education and training for blind and visually-impaired children and students.[HL624]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: NOF funding is made available to particular groups according to the nature of the initiative concerned. Funding for future initiatives will be made available to relevant groups, following consultation, on the same principle. Non-maintained special schools are currently eligible for funding from the Out of School Hours programme but not for the ICT Training for Teachers programme.

Tourism Industry Training for Disabled People

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by the Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale on 4 November 1999 (H.L. Deb., col. 1097): (a) what meetings have been held since that date between Ministers of the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Social Security to consider what help will be provided by the two departments for the training of disabled people to take up jobs in the tourism

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    industry; and (b) what measures will be taken by the departments as a result of those meetings?[HL716]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Since 4 November 1999, Ministers of the two departments have met regularly and are actively considering what help could be provided nationally through the New Deal for Disabled People taking account of emerging findings from the pilots. Ministers hope to make an announcement on this in the near future. In these meetings they have not discussed the tourism industry specifically. However, Ministers are aware of the importance of tourism to the economy of this country and the variety of employment opportunities available within the industry for disabled people, given the right level of training and support. Since the pilots began in autumn 1998, disabled people have found jobs in a wide range of industries, including tourism and other service industries.

Legislation: Compatibility with EU Law

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

    Whether they will introduce a practice for Ministers to inform Parliament whether they consider that primary and secondary legislation being considered by Parliament is compatible with the obligations of the UK under European Community law.[HL398]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): This is not necessary. The Government support the rule of law in the European Union and will not put legislation before Parliament which they consider to be incompatible with the United Kingdom's obligations under EC law.

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