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29 Apr 2008 : Column WS3



29 Apr 2008 : Column WS3

Written Statements

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Chemical Weapons Convention: Correction to Oral Answer

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): On 18 March 2008, during the debate on the Second Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), in response to a question by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, I said that,

I should have said that the CWC’s prohibitions apply to all toxic chemicals and their precursors, unless they are intended for permitted purposes and provided that they are of a type and in a quantity consistent with such purposes. The schedules of chemicals do not limit the scope of the convention’s prohibitions; they provide only a framework for the application of verification measures. Reinforcing the comprehensive nature of the CWC has been a key UK objective for the Second Review Conference and the subject of one of the UK’s four working papers submitted to the preparatory working group. It has also been a priority for the EU as set out in the EU’s common position 2007/469/CFSP of 28 June 2007.

The CWC is a key component in the disarmament and non-proliferation agreements and regimes and will remain so after the 2012 deadline for completion of destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles. We have already started to consider how the CWC will need to adapt to face future challenges and see this as a key issue to be addressed in the years ahead.

Kosovo

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The House will recall that on 17 February 2008 the Government of Kosovo declared independence, with a commitment to implementing the obligations contained in UN Special Envoy Ahtisaari’s comprehensive proposal for a status settlement in Kosovo. Since independence, there have been positive developments by the Kosovo Government in meeting these obligations, including the approval of a new constitution, which will come

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into force in June 2008. The EU and NATO have also made progress in preparing to assume their responsibilities under the Ahtisaari proposals, including the European security and defence policy policing and rule of law mission in Kosovo and the implementation of NATO’s new tasks in relation to Kosovo’s own security forces.

During this period, the security situation has remained tense and there have been some sporadic incidents of violence. The NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR), in co-operation with the UN international police authorities, are working hard to address this and to maintain a safe and secure environment.

Against this background, the UK has received a request from NATO for the deployment of a UK battalion to Kosovo by the end of May as part of our existing commitment to the NATO-EU shared pan-Balkans Operational Reserve Force (ORF). This is a long-standing commitment that the UK meets in rotation with Italy and Germany. Since 1 January this year, it has been the UK’s turn to provide the highest-readiness battalion for a period of six months. We are, therefore, well prepared to meet NATO’s request and I have agreed to deploy our ORF battalion until 30 June 2008. The task will be undertaken by 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, which has been trained specifically for this requirement.

This deployment will demonstrate our commitment to the security of the region and will provide NATO with extra flexibility in maintaining peace and stability for all communities within Kosovo. The House will also wish to be aware that our commitment to the NATO-EU pan-Balkans ORF continues until the end of this year at a lower readiness.

I would like to stress that the deployment of the UK ORF battalion confirms yet again the professionalism of our Armed Forces and their ability to provide essential military support at short notice. I shall make a further Statement on this deployment in due course, if required.

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have received the business plan for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which has been placed in the Library.

The agency has an important role to protect public health in the United Kingdom by ensuring that all medicines and medical devices are acceptably safe. The business plan for 2008-09 sets out specific key and high-level targets for the agency for the coming year.


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