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23 Apr 2001 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 23rd April 2001.

Subsidiarity and Repatriation of Powers

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 27 February (WA 127), what were the last three occasions upon which, as a result of the application of the principle of subsidiarity, action at member state level was chosen; and by whom such a choice was made. [HL1327]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The treaty establishing the European Community provides that, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity only if the objectives cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states.

The institutions of the Community are required by the Amsterdam Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality to ensure that the principle of subsidiarity is complied with.

It is not possible to specify the last three occasions on which the principle was applied. The institutions are required to apply it constantly. Its successful application means that often proposals for EC action are simply not brought forward.

The Commission prepares an annual report on the application of subsidiarity. Its last report, entitled Better Lawmaking 2000 and available in the Library of both Houses, provides specific examples of how the principle is put into practice.

EU: Enhanced Co-operation

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were their reasons for agreeing in the Nice Treaty to abolish the United Kingdom's last-resort veto in the European Council on proposals for enhanced co-operation in matters that come within the treaties establishing the European Communities and in provisions relating to the Third Pillar of the Treaty of European Union. [HL1374]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: In an enlarged EU it is not reasonable for one member state to hold up all the others wishing to proceed with enhanced co-operation, provided that the rigorous conditions for enhanced co-operation have been met. These provide that enhanced co-operation is open to all and that the single market is protected; and will help ensure that there is no development of an inner core.

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In addition, the appeal clause we secured allows a member state to seek discussions by the European Council of a proposal for enhanced co-operation before any decision is taken. This is the right balance between the interests of member states and the benefits of greater flexibility in an enlarged EU.

Turkey

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they have received from the Government of Turkey to recent inquiries concerning multiple-allegations that women in official custody or under interrogation have suffered rape and other forms of torture. [HL1427]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are concerned about the recent case of 19 people who have made allegations about rape and torture in police custody in Turkey. Our embassy in Ankara raised this case most recently on 23 March with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have not yet received a substantive response from the Turkish Government. Our consulate-general in Istanbul attended the first hearing on 21 March. We will continue to monitor this case closely.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are discussing with the Government of Turkey the closures of newspapers and the fines imposed on media owners and editors, especially where the state security court is involved; and whether these matters are being examined in connection with Turkey's application for membership of the European Union. [HL1428]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We monitor closely the human rights situation in Turkey, including restrictions on freedom of expression. We have on a number of occasions raised concerns with the Turkish authorities. The European Commission also regularly publishes reports reviewing Turkey's progress towards meeting the criteria for EU membership (agreed at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council). The most recent report (November 2000) is available in the Library.

The Turkish Government stated in their recently published national programme that they will review their legislation governing freedom of expression.

Macedonia and Kosovo: Albanian Insurgents

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have encouraged NATO to take in order to make clear to the ethnic Albanian insurgents in Macedonia and in Kosovo that violence is not in the long-term interests of all the peoples in the region.[HL1432]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Throughout the crisis in Macedonia the UK has strongly supported the strenuous efforts of NATO and its Secretary General, Lord Robertson. We fully endorsed the Secretary General's statement of 21 March which called on all

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political leaders, especially in Kosovo and in ethnic Albanian communities in Macedonia, to condemn violence unreservedly and work to end it. UK forces in Kosovo, with Scandinavian support, have formed an extra battlegroup, Task Force Cambrai, which has deployed to the Kosovo Macedonian border to help prevent unauthorised crossings by extremists groups.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken to emphasise Britain's support for the Macedonian Government following the recent actions of ethnic Albanian insurgents in Macedonia.[HL1431]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: From the outset of the crisis the UK has led efforts in the UN, EU and NATO to condemn the extremist violence in Macedonia. We drafted and supported UNSCR 1345 which made clear the international community's support for the Macedonian Government and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia. Throughout the crisis British Ministers have been in close contact with Macedonian counterparts. On 5 April the Foreign Secretary visited Skopje to meet the Macedonian President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and leaders from the ethnic Albanian political parties.

European Community and Nice Treaty

Baroness Harris of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the effect of changes to Articles 137 and 144 of the treaty establishing the European Community to be made by the Treaty of Nice, in particular the extension of the list of matters in Article 137(1) and the creation, in Article 144, of a Social Protection Committee.[HL1458]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Treaty of Nice extends the list of matters in Article 137(1) to include the modernisation of social protection systems. This is limited to co-operation between member states (such as the exchange of information and best practice): the harmonisation of legislation is explicitly excluded.

New Article 144 provides a legal base for a non-legislative committee to monitor the development of social protection policies in the member states and to promote the exchange of information and experience between them. The establishment of the committee was agreed at the Lisbon European Council. This amendment merely gives it a formal legal base.

Missile Defence

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate in terms of obligations under Article III, V, VI and IX of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of any role to be played by RAF Fylingdales and RAF Menwith Hill in United States plans for missile defence. [HL1491]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The US has yet to put forward any specific missile defence proposals and has not therefore requested the use of UK facilities in this regard.

In addition, the UK is not a party to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Northern Iraq

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What work is currently being undertaken by the Department for International Development in northern Iraq. [HL1677]

Baroness Amos: In the Financial Year ending 31 March 2001, DfID provided approximately £3 million in humanitarian assistance to northern Iraq for mines-affected communities, village rehabilitation for internally displaced and vulnerable women and children, physiotherapy for children with physical disabilities, social support for older persons, the development of a statistical capacity to assist the Kurdish administration in the planning of humanitarian aid policies, and an integrated water management programme, focusing on 2,500 families in 123 urban and rural communities. We are funding these projects through Save the Children Fund, ACORN, Kurdistan Children's Fund, Christian Aid/REACH, HelpAge International, 4RS, Durham University and Mines Advisory Group.

DfID is also providing funds for Liverpool University to carry out research into a possible healthcare programme for the victims of weapons of mass destruction.

European Community: UK Contribution

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 3 April (WA 109) on contributions to the European Community's own resources, and the statement that figures for the year 2000 are not yet available and that the Government do not "forecast the contribution of other member states", what was the basis for the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons (H.C. Deb., 11 December, col. 349) that by 2006 Britain would be making a "net contribution roughly equivalent to France and Italy for the first time in our membership". [HL1650]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As I explained to the noble Lord in my reply on 3 April, the Government do not forecast the contribution of other member states on an annual basis. However, estimates have been produced for the net contribution of France and Italy in 2006. These are based on the assumption of only six new member states, and are at 1999 prices, and indicate that the net contribution of France will be around 5 per cent of the EC Budget and that of Italy

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around 4 per cent. Based on the same assumptions, the United Kingdom's net contribution in 2006 would be around 5 per cent.


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