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The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): I have the power to apply to the court for an injunction to prevent threatened breaches of the criminal law. This power is to be exercised in the public interest, which I exercise in my independent judgment in my role as Attorney-General rather than as a member of government. Such an application is always exceptional and is instituted only where there is the prospect of genuine, serious and irreparable harm and I judge that it is in the public interest to make the application.
It is my duty to keep under constant review the question whether to exercise this power. In order to determine where the public interest lies I may consult, as I have been doing, with my ministerial colleagues to ensure that I am properly informed as to the public interest consultations arising. I have been informed also of the views of fire authority representatives in relation to the potential threat to public safety. But the power to apply for an injunction is one for me as the Attorney-General to exercise in the public interest and the decision is for me alone.
The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Copenhagen European Council agreed that "if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay". Her Majesty's Government welcomes this and encourages the Turkish Government to continue with its eocnomic and political reforms in preparation. The UK Action Plan for Turkey, formally launched by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in Ankara on 3 December, includes a wide range of bilateral reform initiatives, aimed at helping Turkey to prepare for EU membership.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As a guarantor power, the UK Government fully support the UN proposals for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, including security arrangements. It is, of course, for the two sides in Cyprus to agree a settlement, but we believe the UN proposals to be workable and fair.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I understand that the United Nations Secretary-General's proposals make provisions for religious groups in both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. I belive that the proposals are comprehensive, workable and fair. A settlement to the Cyprus problem remains the best basis for ensuring that all Cypriots enjoy the full range of civil and human rights.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Nations Secretary-General's proposals for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem provide for police forces in both the component states and the common state. They would have equal numbers of personnel and there would be extensive co-operation between them. The UK Government fully support the proposals as the basis for a settlement. However, it is for the two sides in Cyprus to agree on the details.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The UNHCR visited China in September to discuss how they might be able to help deal with North Koreans who cross into China. Officials from the British Embassy in Beijing visited the border region in June to assess the situation. The issue of North Korean border crossers was raised at the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in May in Beijing. The Embassy raised individual cases of detained North Koreans with the Chinese authorities in May and August. hp
What consultations they have had with President Assad of Syria to bring about peace in the Middle East. [HL613]
Barones Amos: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister and President Al-Assad discussed international efforts towards peace in the Middle East, including progress with the Quartet's Roadmap. The Prime Minister made clear his commitment to a solution based on two States, Israel and Palestine, living alongside each other in peace and security.
The Prime Minister reiterated his total condemnation of acts of terrorism, including suicide attacks. He strongly urged a change in Syrian attitudes to the presence of Palestinian rejectionist groups in Syria. The Foreign Secretary also discussed the presence of these groups in Syria with Foreign Minister Shara'a, asking what Syria proposed to do to change the behaviour of these groups.
Baroness Amos: UK/Syrian relations are important. Both sides are willing to invest time and effort in improving them. While we would not pretend to agree on every issue, we cannot attempt to resolve disagreements without dialogue. A candid dialogue is better than no dialogue at all.
Baroness Amos: it is customary for a head of state, on an official visit to the United Kingdom, to have an audience with the Queen if Her Majesty is available. On this occasion a call on the Prince of Wales also seemed appropriate. President and Mrs Al-Assad have an interest in the Prince of Wales' charitable works, in particular the Prince's Trust.
Baroness Amos: Copies of the new International Centre for Prison Studies Handbook for Prison Staff have been sent to all British missions overseas. They have been asked to disseminate the publication to appropriate senior officials in ministries of justice, prisons and other relevant government administrations. The handbook is currently being translated into Russian, Spanish and Turkish. A French version is also planned in the next financial year. Once printed, UK missions in Russia and Russian-speaking countries, Turkey and South America, as well as Francophone Africa will circulate many hundreds of copies more. I have also arranged to have a copy placed in the Library of the House.
Baroness Amos: We believe that the international community broadly shares our view that ideas discussed in Camp David and Taba provide a valuable framework for handling some of the issues which divide the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. The Quartet is working on a roadmap leading to a final settlement within three years, implementing the vision expressed by President Bush in June 2002. The Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties and based on UN resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognised borders and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
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