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Acts of Parliament since 1997: Prohibited Activities

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: This information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Iraq: Dossier

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Baroness to the answer the Prime Minister gave the honourable Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr Smith) on 10 February (Official Report, Commons; col. 583W) and to Prime Minister's Questions on 12 February.

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Ministerial Committees of the Cabinet

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Prime Minister will publish the full membership and terms of reference of ministerial committees of the Cabinet.[HL4162]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Prime Minister has today published the full membership and terms of reference of ministerial committees of the Cabinet, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Crown Prosecution Service: Annual Report 2002–03

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Director of Public Prosecutions will publish his annual report.[HL4151]

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The Crown Prosecution Service annual report 2002–03 has today been published and laid before Parliament. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Panel Counsel Review Group

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Attorney-General will publish the review of his current panels of junior counsel to the Crown?[HL4163]

Lord Goldsmith: The report of the review of current panels of junior counsel to the Crown has been published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A copy has also been placed on the website of the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, which can be found at

I maintain (by means of an open advertisement and application process) four panels of junior counsel to undertake civil and EC work for all government departments. I have three London panels (an A panel for senior juniors, a B panel for middle juniors and a C panel for junior juniors) and a provincial panel.

The current panel system for junior counsel to the Crown was introduced in 1999, following approval by the then Attorney-General (John Morris QC) of the recommendations arising from a review undertaken by a working party chaired by the then Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer QC) in 1998.

In March 2002, I established the Panel Counsel Review Group to review the operation of the current system. The membership consisted of lawyers from within the Government Legal Service and counsel from the independent Bar. The review recommends a number of measures to improve the current working of the panel system and I accept the recommendations, with the following two additional points:

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    1. the issue of dual membership in London and the provinces ought to be revisited and considered in a separate small working group, as suggested in recommendation 14 of the Report; and

    2. with regard to recommendation 10, I will review whether an appointment of an external chair in future selection boards is feasible.

I believe this will satisfy my objective of choosing counsel of the highest quality to advise and represent government in a fair, open and transparent way and ensure a fair allocation of this important work across suitable candidates.

I am grateful to all those on the Panel Counsel Review Group for their time and expertise in contributing to this review.

Africa: Small Arms Control

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are helping the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) states and governments in the Great Lakes region of Africa to develop effective policies and co-operative action to control and reduce the amounts of small arms and ammunition in private hands.[HL3268]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) currently has no mandate to work on small arms control and reduction measures in the Great Lakes region, though there have been discussions to address this. DfID has no institutional arrangements with IGAD on such work.

Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP), DfID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence contribute £460,000 to the Nairobi secretariat to assist states in the Horn and Great Lakes regions to implement the commitments they made on signing the Nairobi Declaration on small arms in March 2001. The secretariat provides training and advice to national focal points, being set up in signatory countries in the Great Lakes region, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, to prevent the proliferation of weapons and ammunition. Other countries receiving support from the secretariat are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, and Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in east Africa. Training has recently been provided to law enforcement officers on cross-border controls and management. Through the Nairobi secretariat, the GCPP supported participation by the national focal point co-ordinators at the United Nations biennial meeting of states on small arms and light weapons, held in New York from 7–11 July 2003.

The three departments have also provided support (£2.3 million) to the Governments of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania for the development of five-year national action plans on small arms and light weapons. This

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support is provided in conjunction with two non-governmental organisations, Saferworld and SaferAfrica.

Within a £7.5 million contribution to UNDP's global small arms reduction programme, the GCPP finances a project in the Great Lakes, which seeks to implement a broad small arms strategy for the region. This includes supporting the Nairobi Declaration and the peace process for the DRC. These initiatives are being closely co-ordinated with efforts to support broader peace building and reform of the security sectors.


Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider the current situation in Zimbabwe is one of peace and security in the sense in which those terms were used by the G8 nations in regard to Africa in the recent G8 summit in Evian.[HL3874]

Baroness Amos: The objectives on peace and security to which G8 countries signed up in Kananaskis in 2002, and which were reviewed at Evian in June this year, comprise both a focus on specific countries and a pan-African approach. The specific countries include the DRC, Great Lakes, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Angola. The pan-African approach includes a commitment to assist African countries to prevent conflict and undertake peace support operations; and a commitment to support African efforts to eliminate the flow of illicit weapons in the region. There is no specific objective related to Zimbabwe. However, these objectives were developed with the view of benefiting the entire region. Zimbabwe would benefit from increased regional stability, as would every other African country.

The challenges in Zimbabwe are of broader governance and not solely of security. We remain in regular contact with African leaders about the crisis. The Foreign Secretary met President Mbeki and Foreign Minister Zuma during a visit to South Africa in May and the Prime Minister discussed Zimbabwe with President Mbeki at the G8 Summit in June and at the recent progressive governance summit. President Mbeki continues to press both sides to resume the inter-party dialogue Zimbabwe so urgently needs. We support his efforts. Any resolution of the political, economic and humanitarian crisis facing Zimbabwe, must come from the Zimbabwean people themselves, supported by the wider southern Africa region.


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have information that the Burmese military are committing against the Karen, Karenni and Shan people in Burma any or all of the following

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    crimes under international law: crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide; and what reasons they have for their conclusions.[HL3652]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We are aware that appalling human rights violations have taken place against the Karen, Karenni and Shan people in Burma over many years. We take into account the views of appropriate international bodies. However, we need verification of crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide in Burma before using such terms. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Sergio Pinheiro, has regular access to Burma, most recently on 17 March 2003. I understand he takes the view that he will not use these terms to describe the situation there. The terms have likewise not been used by many major international NGOs, which monitor the human rights situation in Burma. There is room for debate about the use of particular words in different contexts but what matters in this case is that we all agree that the behaviour of the Burmese regime has been appalling and involved widespread killing and breaches of human rights.

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