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10 Apr 2000 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 10th April 2000.

Iraq and Ballistic Missiles

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of the recent article in the New York Times (23 March) referring to reports of the transfer of Scud weapons by Iraq to Sudan to avoid detection by United Nations inspectors and current proposals for the building of a ballistic missile plant near Khartoum by North Korea, with financial support of 475 million dollars from Iraq; and, if so, what is their response to these reports.[HL1786]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Allegations that Iraq has hidden Scud missiles in Sudan have been circulating for at least two years. While it was able to operate in Iraq, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) reported no evidence of any missile transfers by Iraq to any other country since the Gulf conflict and the imposition of sanctions in 1991. Likewise, we have no evidence to suggest that such transfers have occurred. Nevertheless, we remain concerned about substantial gaps in Iraq's disclosures to UNSCOM. For this reason, and because UN inspectors have been unable to operate in Iraq since December 1998, we cannot be sure that some transfers have not occurred.

We are concerned about the allegation that Iraq is financing the building of a ballistic missile plant by North Korea in Sudan and are monitoring the situation.

Azerbaijan: OSCE Arms Embargo

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Kingdom will continue to uphold the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's embargo on the export of weapons and military equipment to Azerbaijan.[HL1942]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK remains committed to the OSCE arms embargo against both Azerbaijan and Armenia, which the UK interprets as covering all goods and technology controlled under entries in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 (commonly known as the military list).

We have recently approved the export of 60 protective vests for demining operations to Azerbaijan. These will be used by the United Nations Development

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Programme during humanitarian landmine clearance operations. While the grant of this licence constitutes an exception to the UK's interpretation of the scope of the embargo, it is in no way inconsistent with the purpose of the embargo and our continuing commitment to uphold it. It also reflects the determination of the Government to eliminate the scourge of landmines.

Commonwealth Development Corporation: Poverty Elimination

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Commonwealth Development Corporation in its new form has been able to establish policy priorities which are fully consistent with those of the Department for International Development, especially with reference to the eradication of poverty; and whether the corporation is on course to implement those priorities.[HL1700]

Baroness Amos: Poverty elimination depends on a level of sustainable economic growth which outstrips population growth. Investment is key to achieving the economic growth necessary to meet international development targets. CDC's investment policy focuses on investment in poorer countries. This policy is entrenched under the framework designed for the public/private partnership and which became effective at CDC's transformation into a plc last December (when CDC was registered under the name of CDC Group plc). This requires that over a rolling five year period a minimum of 70 per cent of new investments by CDC must be made in poorer countries (defined for this purpose as having a GNP per capita of less than 1,740 US dollars on World Bank data published in 1998). It also requires that CDC should seek to make at least half its investments each year in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. CDC's annual report for 1999 records that over the last five years 83 per cent of CDC's new investments were made in poorer countries.

South-east Europe Stability Pact

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they intend to pledge for the stability pact for south-east Europe at the Brussels Funding Conference starting on 29 March.[HL1753]

Baroness Amos: We announced at the conference that we have committed £100,000 in bilateral technical assistance over the next three financial years to Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and the countries of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is in addition to our share of the support provided by the EU and the international financial institutions. Our share of the EU's planned expenditure in these countries in 2000 is approximately £161 million.

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Human Rights Act Training

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What training has been provided for staff in the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Immigration and Nationality Department and the Prison Service respectively on the provisions of the Human Rights Act and their implications for the work of those departments.[HL1762]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): All Lord Chancellor's Department policy and legal staff have been provided with training on the implications of the Act. This included introductory training, as well as more detailed training on the main departmental business areas. The Court Service will be undertaking it own programme for court staff before October 2000. Written guidance has also been made available to staff.

The Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate is due to start its Human Rights Act 1998 training programme in May this year. All Immigration and Nationality Directorate staff and staff working for associated public bodies will receive general guidance material and staff instructions will be revised later this year to take account of the Act. We intend to provide introductory seminars on the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights to almost 3,000 Immigration and Nationality Directorate staff. In addition, we intend to provide detailed, applied training later this year to over 400 staff whose roles require them to have more advanced knowledge of the Act.

In respect of the Prison Service, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 25 January to a Question from the noble Baroness, Lady Stern (Official Report, col. WA 191).

Asylum Applications

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will update the table published in the Official Report on 11 May 1998, showing applications for asylum by month and by moving annual total since the beginning of 1996.[HL1778]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The requested information is given in the table.

Asylum applications(1) received in the United Kingdom, excluding
dependants, with totals for each 12 month period, January 1996 to February 2000 Number of principal applicants

Month of applicationNumber of applications in each monthTotal applications in preceding 12 months
1996 cont.
2000(1), p

(1) Figures rounded to the nearest 5.

-- Not applicable.

(1) This excludes some cases lodged at local enforcement offices and some

postal applications.

p Provisional data.

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Speed Limits: Enforcement

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that speed limits are observed on motorways and trunk roads.[HL1797]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The enforcement of speed limits on all roads is an operational matter for each chief officer of police. The Association of Chief Police Officers has recently published guidance on speed enforcement policy.

The Government have recently published their road safety strategy and casualty reduction targets for 2010. Promoting safer speeds and better enforcement are key elements in the strategy. In particular, we are encouraging the use of new technology in speed enforcement. Speed camera pilot projects have been set up in eight police force areas using some of the hypothecated revenue from fixed penalties for speeding to buy and operate the cameras. The aim is to reduce road casualties substantially and the success of the projects will be measured by that criterion.

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