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Hong Kong Legislative Council

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Annex II, part I of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) sets out the "Method for the formation of the Legislative Council." Currently, in its second term since the handover, the Legislative Council is formed of 30 Members returned by functional constituencies, six Members by an Election Committee and 24 Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections.

In the third term, starting in 2004, the system will change so that 30 Members will be returned by functional constituencies and 30 Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections.

Article 68 of the Basic Law states: "the method for forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage." Annexes I and II of the Basic Law set out the conditions for amending the methods by which the chief executive is selected for the terms subsequent to 2007 and the Legislative Council is formed after 2007 respectively.

We regularly express to the SAR Government our hope that Hong Kong will make early progress towards the Basic Law's ultimate aims of the election of not only all Members of the Legislative Council, but also the office of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage.

Guantanamo Bay: British Detainees

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have requested the United States Government to transfer the British citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay into British custody; if so, what was the United States reply; what reasons were given for it; and, if Her Majesty's Government has not made such a request, why not.[HL3918]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are pressing the US authorities to move forward with the process of determining the future of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. We have discussed, and are discussing, a range of options with the US, including the possibility of repatriation.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek to ensure that British citizens detained by the United States are not tried before special military tribunals.[HL3844]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have expressed our strong reservations about the military commissions. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said during Questions on 9 July (Official

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Report, Commons; col. 1152–3), "Any commission or tribunal . . . must be conducted in accordance with the proper canons of law so that a fair trial takes place and is seen to take place."

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will obtain and publish, in relation to the British citizens facing the possibility of trials before military commissions in Guantanamo, copies of:


    (a) President Bush's Military Order of November 2001 authorising trials outside the normal federal and military courts;


    (b) the Military Commission Order of March 2002;


    (c) the eight Military Commission Instructions issued by the United States Defense Department on 30 April 2003; and


    (d) the Defense Department's announcement made in May 2003 of the appointment of officials who will administer the Military Commissions; and[HL3933]

    Whether it is the case that, under the rules published by the United States government for the trial by Military Commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo:


    (a) the Military Commissions' structure and composition will be under the complete control of the President with no appeal to any civil court;


    (b) the jurisdiction of the Military Commissions will cover areas not previously subject to military law or military courts;


    (c) Military Commission trials may take place wholly in secret; and


    (d) a guilty verdict for capital and other offences may be made by a two-thirds vote of commission members; and[HL3934]

    Whether it is the case that, under the rules published by the United States government for the trial by Military Commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo:


    (a) defendants will be denied a legal remedy for violation of any procedural or other protections in the Military Commission Instructions that might benefit them;


    (b) Military Commission defendants may be represented without their consent by Military Commission lawyers assigned to them;


    (c) as regards civilian defence lawyers, unless a defendant or his family or friends can provide funding, civilian defence lawyers will have to pay for their own security clearance investigations and all personal and case-related expenses, and will largely be confined to the premises of Military Commission proceedings;


    (d) communications between defendants and their lawyers may be monitored by the Defense Department;

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    (e) potentially exculpatory information may be withheld from military defence counsel if the prosecution does not intend to introduce such evidence at trial.[HL3935]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Order and Instructions relating to Military Commissions can be found on the US Department of Defense website, www.defenselink.mil.

Iraq: Copper Exports

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans there are to restrict the movement, sale and export of cuprous scrap within and from Iraq in order to reduce the looting and damage to publicly owned electrical installations.[HL3924]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Coalition Provisional Authority has prohibited the export of copper from Iraq. UK forces in Iraq carry out patrols to prevent looting from electrical installations and have destroyed illegal smelters used to melt copper for export. In all cases people suspected of looting are arrested and detained for theft. We are working to re-establish the Iraqi police force, which is a priority for the coalition in restoring law and order.

Iraq: Oil for Food Programme

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can confirm that 4 billion US dollars arising from the oil-for-food programme and earmarked for the benefit of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq is now held in a United Nations-controlled French bank account; and, if this is true or partly true, whether they will seek the immediate release of the money for the purpose for which it is intended.[HL3941]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Under the Oil for Food programme set up by UN Security Council Resolution 986 (1995) Iraqi oil revenues were divided between the North of Iraq (13 per cent), the South and Centre of Iraq (59 per cent), the United Nations Compensation Commission (25 per cent), UNMOVIC's operating costs (0.8 per cent) and the Oil for Food Programme's operating costs (2.2 per cent). The revenues spent in North and South/Central Iraq were held in separate accounts. The funds in the Northern account were spent by the United Nations while the funds in the South and Centre account were spent by the Iraqi Government. This was done so that the oil revenue from the whole of Iraq was spent on the whole of Iraq. Had the funds not been divided in this way, Saddam Hussein would have systematically discriminated against the Kurds in the north. The need to keep the two accounts separate disappeared when Saddam Hussein fell. The two accounts were consolidated by UN Security Council Resolution 1483 so that oil revenues from the whole of Iraq could best be spent on the whole of Iraq.

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The consolidated Oil for Food account is held by the French-owned BNP bank and controlled by the UN Treasury. The funds are being spent on Iraq-wide humanitarian contracts that are being assessed according to their utility by the UN and the Coalition Provisonal Authority with Iraqi involvement.

Before the conflict began there were 1.534 billion US dollars of unencumbered funds in the Northern account.

Iraq: Turkish Military Presence

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reason to believe that elements of Turkish military forces, other than the men arrested in Sulaimaniya and since released, are still in Northern Iraq; and, if so, whether they will seek their immediate removal, whether through NATO or otherwise.[HL3942]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Turkey maintains a military presence in Northern Iraq. We and the US continue to urge restraint on Turkey to ensure that all Turkish military activity in Iraq is properly co-ordinated with the coalition, in line with our shared objective of creating conditions for a stable and peaceful Iraq.

Gulf War: Missing Kuwaiti Nationals

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can confirm reports of the whereabouts of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other persons missing since the Gulf War; and what action they are taking.[HL3949]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We regret that not one of the 605 Kuwaitis missing after the Gulf War has so far been found alive. The UN envoy, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, reported recently that a number of remains at a recently discovered mass grave site at Samarra in Iraq were believed to be missing Kuwaiti nationals. The Government of Kuwait have confimed the remains of one missing national. The Tripartite Committee established after the invasion of Kuwait, under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has begun to investigate mass graves in Iraq. The coalition has so far received reports of more than 50 mass grave sites and we believe there may be more than 80. The UK sent a team of forensic experts to Iraq who have made recommendations on the treatment of mass graves, including identification programmes. The Coalition Provisional Authority has set up an Office of Human Rights and Transitional Justice which will put these recommendations into effect.

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