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11 Dec 2002 : Column WA27

Written Answers

Wednesday, 11th December 2002.

Irish Civil Servants: Diplomatic Immunity

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether civil servants from the Republic of Ireland who are operating in a part of the United Kingdom, namely Northern Ireland, have diplomatic immunity: and, if not, what is their status.[HL269]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): Unless they were accredited as members of a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organisation, or covered by arrangements for visiting forces, civil servants from other countries operating in any part of the United Kingdom would not enjoy diplomatic immunity or any other special status.

Fines under Articles 226-9 of the EC Treaty.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What sanctions exist if European Union member states refuse or fail to pay fines levied under Articles 226-229 of the treaty establishing the European Community.[HL329]

Baroness Amos: Article 228 (2) provides that the Commission shall refer to the Court of Justice any case where it considers that a member state has failed to take measures necessary to comply with a judgment of the Court of Justice. In making such a referral the Commission shall specify the lump sum or penalty to be paid. This would equally apply where the failure involved a failure to pay the fines set down in the judgment with which the member state had failed to comply.

The appropriate sanction would therefore be a second referral for failure to comply with a judgment (being the third referral in total, the first referral having been for failure to comply with the original judgment that the member state had failed to fulfil an obligation under the treaty).

In practice only one member state, Greece, has been fined. Non-payment under Article 228 has not been a problem so far.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What penalties, apart from fines, could be applied to member states under Article 229 of the treaty establishing the European Community.[HL330]

Baroness Amos: Article 229 does not provide for alternative penalties to be imposed. It confers upon the European Court of Justice jurisdiction to rule on penalties which are imposed under regulations

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adopted by the Council or by the Council and Parliament, i.e. to raise or lower fines so imposed.


Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider the confidence-building dialogue between the State Peace and Development Council in Burma and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy to have stalled; if so, whether their policy will toughen in line with the statement in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's country profile of Burma; and what form a tougher policy towards Burma would take. [HL347]

Baroness Amos: The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, expressed his disappointment at the pace of progress after he visited Burma on 12-16 November. He expressed disappointment with the political process which had not been "maximised or developed". We agree with this assessment.

If real political progress is to take place in Burma, Senior General Than Shwe must increase his contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi and move the discussions on from confidence building to substantive issues.

UK policy will remain firm until Burma irreversibly commits to national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to combat Burma's status as one of the largest producers in the world of opium for illicit consumption and as a major supplier of methamphetamines. [HL351]

Baroness Amos: We monitor the trade in Burma carefully through a drugs liaison officer based in Bangkok. The majority of opium and methamphetamine produced in Burma is trafficked within Asia and to Australia.

We try to bring pressure to bear on the Burmese regime to improve their record on drugs. The European Council conclusions of 21 October on Burma included urging "the authorities to take vigorous action to combat the production and trafficking of drugs". UK law enforcement agencies co-operate with their counterparts in South-East Asia in specific criminal investigations.

About 90 per cent of the UK's heroin originates in Afghanistan. Synthetic drugs (including methamphetamine) consumed in the UK are mostly produced in Europe.

Dublin: British Citizenship Applications

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many applications their Embassy in Dublin has had for British citizenship in each month since 1 January 1999; how many were accepted; and how many were rejected. [HL357]

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Baroness Amos: The British Embassy, Dublin does not retain figures on the number of successful or unsuccessful applications for British citizenship. All applications received by the British Embassy are forwarded to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at the Home Office in Liverpool where a final decision is reached.

Brussels Process

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the next meeting is scheduled under the Brussels process. [HL359]

Baroness Amos: No date has been set for a further meeting.


Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the complaints made to Her Majesty's Government by the Spanish Government about Gibraltar. [HL360]

Baroness Amos: The Spanish Government have raised a number of concerns about Gibraltar in public and in private, most recently in relation to the "Prestige" oil tanker and the operations of Gibraltar port. We have made clear to the Spanish that we do not share their view on this issue.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is responsible for the supervision of financial services in Gibraltar. [HL361]

Baroness Amos: The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission is charged with the responsibility of supervising institutions carrying on financial business in or from within Gibraltar. The commission is appointed by the governor with the approval of the Secretary of State.

Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Bill

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 25 November (HL Deb col 613), whether they will make available additional briefing about the Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Bill. [HL530]

Baroness Amos: My noble friend Lady Symons of Vernham Dean wrote on 4 December to all those noble Lords who took part in the debate on Second Reading of the Bill enclosing additional notes on the Bill. Copies have been placed in the House of Lords Library.

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Rural Proofing

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Rural Proofing report, whether all departments have now made arrangements to include a short rural proofing section within their annual departmental reports; and, if not, which departments have not. [HL313]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): All departments included in the Rural Proofing report, with the exception of Cabinet Office and Home Office, have said they will either be including a section on rural proofing or will be signposting the work they are doing in this area within their departmental reports.

The Tote

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the future of the Tote; and over what timescale they intend to achieve this change. [HL309]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): We plan to bring forward a Bill which will include provision for the sale of the Tote. We have made it clear that our wish is to sell to a trust which represents relevant horseracing interests. The Bill will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Chinook ZD576

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in the five years preceding the Chinook ZD576 crash there was one, or more than one, Chinook accident in the Royal Air Force; if so, on which dates; and whether the Royal Air Force held inquries. [HL373]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): There were three accidents involving RAF Chinook Mk1aircraft in the period 1989–94 and an RAF board of inquiry was held after each of them. The dates of the accidents were: 24 July 1989, 25 July 1989 and 15 October 1991. They have no relevance to the Mull of Kintyre accident, where the aircraft involved was a Chinook Mk2.


Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 25 November (WA 22), who are the current and prospective users of the 2 GHz band; what they use it for; and what are the recent changes that he referred to[HL305]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The radio spectrum referred to as the 2 GHz band is at 2025-2110 MHz and 2200-2290 MHz. (It is not the whole of the spectrum between 2 and 3 GHz where there are a great many current and prospective users, including prospective cellular systems, existing fixed links, satellite services, programme making and special events users, industrial, scientific and medical use, low power applications, government and de-regulated use).

The current users of the spectrum at 2025-2110 MHz and 2290-2025 MHz are space operations (Civil) and space operations (military). This spectrum is globally harmonised for space operations services. In Europe, this includes data links to satellite and telecommand. The UK has military use of NATO satellite services from specific sites. This application is of paramount importance to the UK and the international regulatory basis for managing spectrum is such that we can only protect this application under the provisions that apply to this spectrum. In this respect it is unique and is the only spectrum of its kind that is suited to this type of space operation.

Other services can operate in this band within limits imposed by international regulations. There is also one regional rural fixed wireless access licensee (Zipcom) which has held a licence since 1996 but has not rolled-out sevices. Indeed, as a consequence of Zipcom's failure to meet its roll-out obligations, it has been asked to surrender its licence.

Prospective users of the band are MoD tactical radio links, additional military space operations and programme making and special events.

The recent changes I referred to are consequential to requirements of the military for space operations and tactical radio links as part of our long-term commitment to NATO. It will not be possible for commercial public fixed wireless access services to co-exist with these operations, which would cause serious and repeated interruption through the UK.

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