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Written Answers

Thursday, 25th November 1999.

Intergovernmental Conference

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the White Paper on the forthcoming European Union intergovernmental conference; and what its scope will be.[HL36]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The White Paper will set out the Government's approach to the forthcoming IGC and its position on key IGC subjects. It will be published early next year, before formal IGC negotiations begin.

Yugoslavia: Petroleum Supply Regulations

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any changes to the EU oil embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[HL82]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: On 15 November, the Council of the European Union adopted EC Regulation 2421/1999, which amends EC Regulation 2111/1999 prohibiting the sale and supply of petroleum and petroleum products to certain parts of the FRY.

The regulation provides for member states to authorise the sale, supply or export of such goods provided that it takes place within the framework of the Energy for Democracy initiative to provide Serbian municipalities with energy, and that conclusive evidence has been presented to member states' authorities that the end-users or final destinations are the municipalities listed in an annex to the regulation.

The regulation entered into force on 16 November 1999 and is directly applicable in the UK. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Supply, Sale and Export of Petroleum and Petroleum Products) (Penalties and Licences) (No. 3) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/2821) came into force on 14 October 1999 and provide for licensing and enforcement, including penalties.

Turkey: Outstanding ECHR Fines

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 31 July 1998 (WA 307), what amount of fines or compensation imposed by the European Court of Human Rights on Turkey remains unpaid; and whether Turkey is

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    complying with the judgment of the Court in the cases of Loizidou (re north Cyprus).[HL4]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal There are 10 cases in which the "just satisfaction" imposed on Turkey by the European Court of Human Rights on Turkey remains wholly unpaid. The total amount of these awards is a little over £600,000.

There are nine further cases in which payment has been insufficient, or where default interest is owed due to late payment. The ECHR is unable to provide the total amount outstanding for these cases.

The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers' Deputies has made clear to Turkey the need to respect the Court's judgment in the case of Loizidou v Turkey, despite the difficulties which, in Turkey's view, flow from the judgment. The interim resolution adopted by the Committee on 6 October urges Turkey to review its position and pay the relevant compensation award.

DSS: Computer Contracts

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department of Social Security has concluded or is negotiating on any computer contract with the firm EDS.[HL10]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The department has a number of existing contracts in place with EDS covering the day to day operations of computer systems.

As part of the ACCORD procurement, the department is also working with the Affinity consortium, led by EDS. This is to prepare the work necessary to design the strategic components of the next generation of DSS Information Systems/Information Technology (IS/IT).

Formal contractual negotiations are also under way between Affinity and the Department to outsource our development, delivery and support work. Subject to satisfactory negotiations, Affinity will become responsible for arranging and managing the department's existing IT development work, day-to-day IT delivery and support arrangements, and management of other IT suppliers.

Long-term Care Insurance Policies

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to make the sale of long-term care insurance policies subject to conduct-of-business regulation by the Financial Services Authority.[HL51]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The question of whether long-term care insurance policies should be regulated by the Financial Services Authority is being considered alongside the other recommendations of the Royal Commission on Long term Care for the Elderly. The Government will announce its reponse to

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the Royal Commission as soon as its consideration is complete.

Northern Ireland: Small Firms Capital Allowance

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the criteria used by the European Commission for judging the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal to assist small and medium firms in Northern Ireland with a 100 per cent first year capital allowance to be a state aid, and what reasons the Commission gave; on what date the Government were informed of the Commission's ruling; and what period of time they were given by the Commission to make the necessary changes in the Finance Bill.[HL22]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The criteria used by the European Commission in considering the proposals was whether they were compatible with state aid rules within Article 87 of the Treaty of Rome (as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam). The Commission determined that the measure constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 87.

The scheme was notified to the Commission on 30 September 1998. The non-agricultural elements were judged to be compatible with state aid rules on 25 June 1999. The agricultural elements were judged compatible on 19 October 1999. The Commission set no time limit for the changes to the scheme, which were made in the Finance Act 1999. The scheme could not be brought in without the approval of the Commission.

EMU: Constitutional Issues

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Pursuant to the Prime Minister's statement published in The Daily Telegraph of 20 October concerning entry into European Monetary Union, "That is not to say that the political and constitutional issues are not important. They are. But I have resolved them in my own mind", what are those constitutional issues which the Prime Minister has so resolved.[HL19]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The October 1997 statement acknowledged that to share a common monetary policy with other states represents a major pooling of economic sovereignty. The constitutional issue is a factor in the decision but it is not an overriding one. Rather it signifies that in order for monetary union to be right for Britain the economic benefits of joining should be clear and unambiguous. If they are, there is no constitutional bar to British membership of EMU.

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A-Level Re-markings

Lord Smith of Clifton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the number of remarkings, both upwards and downwards, of the initial gradings awarded at GCE A-level examinations in (a) Northern Ireland and (b) England and Wales for 1997, 1998 and 1999.[HL18]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In 1998, 2.3 per cent of A-level entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were the subject of an inquiry, with 11 per cent of those enquiries resulting in a grade change. Under current rules, re-marks cannot result in a lower grade. Figures for 1997 are unavailable because the systematic collection of the relevant data was not instigated until 1998. Figures for 1999 will be available early next year. Separate figures for Northern Ireland, England and Wales are not available.

Marriage Support: Funding

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it intends to publish Sir Graham Hart's report on the funding of marriage support, and the Lord Chancellor's response.[HL97]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I am pleased to announce that I have today placed copies of Sir Graham's report, and my response to him of yesterday, in the Libraries of both Houses.

I agree with Sir Graham's conclusion that public funding of marriage support agencies is highly appropriate and worth while. I have considered his recommendations in detail, and I accept them.

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999: Regulations

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to consult on the main regulations which they plan to put in place under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.[HL98]

Lord Bach: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today placed in the Library copies of a consultation paper which sets out our proposals for those regulations which we intend to put in place under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is also sending copies of the document direct to interested groups and will make it available on the internet. The consultation period will end on 14 January 2000.

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