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Written Answers

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1986

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Written Answers

Iraq: Torture Allegations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What developments there have been since the Amnesty International Report on Torture in Iraq.

Since the Amnesty International Report on Torture in Iraq was published in April 1985 we have taken every suitable opportunity to express our concern to the Iraqi Government about allegations of human rights violations. We raised the matter of human rights violations with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during his visit here in December.

Us National Guard: Role In Uk

asked Her Majesty's Government:What role is envisaged in emergency in the United Kingdom for US National Guard Forces, and whether such personnel have carried out any exercises in this country.

The US National Guard has a war role as a reserve force in Support of regular US forces assigned to NATO. In order to practise this role, members of both the Army and Air National Guard take part in routine military exercises in this country.

Anglo-American Agreements: Terms

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether American amendments to any agreement with the United States Government have been accepted by Her Majesty's Government providing (

a) for US Forces to quell protest or disorder by British subjects, ( b) that no British subject shall be able to take action in the courts against any member of the US Forces, or ( c) that the American authorities shall have the exclusive right to exercise criminal jurisdiction (and if so over what area or areas their jurisdiction will operate).

Abm Treaty And Uk Role In Us Research

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is the case, as reported in the

Financial Times on 3rd March, that vessels and aircraft from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are to act as "targets" for an experiment related to the Strategic Defense Initiative, and, if so, on what grounds they consider this test to be compatible with the United States' strict interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1973.

The article in question refers to the UK intention, along with Canada and Australia, to participate in the US led Teal Ruby research programme. This aims, through the launch of a satellite carrying an experimental infra-red sensor, to assess the potential of infra-red for space surveillance, and its results have a variety of potential civil and military applications.

The experiment, which has been delayed following the tragic loss of the Shuttle "Challenger", is separate from the SDI research programme, although its results could conceivably be linked with SDI research in future.

The US Government has made it clear that Teal Ruby will involve field testing of a device which is neither an ABM component nor capable of substituting for an ABM component, and does not therefore contravene the restrictive interpretation of the ABM Treaty.

"European Architecture" Study

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have undertaken to research "European Architecture" under contract to the United States Strategic Defense Initiative Organisation (USSDIO), whether in the course of the studies undertaken discussions have been held with other European governments, whether the USSDIO is paying for such a study, whether political and strategic implications of Europe-based strategic defences are included in the study, whether it is to be published, and if so where and when.

The so called European Architecture Study which the US wish to place with the Government is still subject to the outcome of current negotiations, and it would therefore be inappropriate to provide details at this stage. I can confirm, however, that no discussions have taken place with other European governments on the detailed nature of this study. The research work will be funded by the US Government and the results will be classified.

Sdi: Proposed Us Research Institute

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether allies of the United States taking part in Strategic Defense Initiative research will have access to the new US government-financed intensive research group which is to provide impartial advice on the design and Operation of space-based defence and which according to US officials is being set up in such a way as to obviate all "conflict of interest" and "commercial taint".

I presume the noble Lord is referring to the proposal by the US Government, announced in March, to create a Federally Funded Research and Development Center to support SDI research and to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative Institute. As the institute is not yet in being, the degree of access to it by allies remains to be seen.

Abm Treaty: Us Interpretation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have discussed with the United States Administration the period over which that Administration considers itself bound by a strict interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972, given that one of the Secretary of Defense's Deputies is reported in an official United States Information Service text to have stated that in the long run "there is no rational basis" for the United States to hold to a "restrictive interpretation" of the ABM Treaty that would limit ABM systems, and whether the co-operation extended by them to the United States Administration under the secret Memorandum of Understanding would be affected in any way by a shift of interpretaion from "restrictive" to "permissive".

President Reagan last October reaffirmed that the SDI research programme would continue to be conducted in accordance with a restrictive interpretation of the ABM Treaty's obligations, and the British Government welcomed this decision. The US administration has confirmed that this remains US policy. The US Administration has also made clear that participation by the allies will also be consistent with US treaty obligations. It is for the parties to the ABM Treaty to interpret it, though the implications of any proposed change in US policy would need to be considered carefully by HMG.

Abm Treaty: Us-Funded Research In Uk

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have received an undertaking from the United States Government, in the secret Memorandum of Understanding of December 1985 or otherwise, that no research funded by that government in Britain will be used in tests conducted in breach of the strict interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

The US Government has made it clear that the SDI research programme, which includes research in which the UK participates, will be conducted in accordance with a restrictive interpretation of the ABM Treaty's obligations. Her Majesty's Government have no reason to believe that any research work placed by the US in the UK outside the context of the SDI will not be compliant with US Treaty obligations.

Forestry Grant And Conifer Planting

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will state, for each of the last five years, and for (

a) England, ( b) Scotland and ( c) Wales, in respect of applications for foresty grant for planting conifers on previously unplanted land:

  • (i) how many applications have been received by the Foresty Commission (FC) where the FC have refused grant, and where the applicant or another party have subsequently planted part or all of the land involved with conifers without grant;
  • (ii) how many applications have been received by the FC where grant has been initially refused and where the applicant or another party has subsequently planted part or all of the land involved in the earlier application with grant-aid from the FC.
  • Two cases have been recorded in the first category. These were in Scotland—one in the year ended 31st March 1983 and the other in the year ended 31st March 1986.Only one case has been recorded in the second category. This was in Scotland in the year ended 31st March 1984.In addition, there was a case in Scotland in the year ended 31st March 1985 in which an application for grant was made but the applicant planted part of the land before a decision on the application was reached.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many instances they are aware of where, in each of the last five years, and for (

    a) England, ( b) Scotland and ( c) Wales, land previously unplanted with trees has been planted with conifers in blocks of 10 hectares or more, without any application for grant-aid in respect of that planting being made to the Forestry Commission.

    The Forestry Commission is aware of only two such cases. These were in Wales during the year ended 31st March 1986 and involved the planting of approximately 20 hectares in one case and between 10 and 20 hectares in the other.

    Uk Pensioners In Canada: Proposed Convention

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What further consideration has been given to the development of a reciprocal agreement with Canada which would bring about pensions upratings for British pensioners living there.

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
    (Baroness Trumpington)

    The Government have accepted the case in principle for a social security convention with Canada which would include uprating United Kingdom pensions payable to pensioners in Canada.Officials of the department and of the Canadian Department of Health and Welfare have work on hand on the preparatory technical matters. Such a convention, however, would involve extra expenditure for the United Kingdom to which we cannot at present be committed. Consequently we cannot say when we shall be able to reach final agreement.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the current estimate of the cost of implementing a reciprocal agreement on pensions uprating for British pensioners resident in Canada which would not involve retrospective action.

    The current cost of paying only those pension increases which became due after any social security convention with Canada came into effect is estimated at about £4·8 million in the first year. This estimate is based on the number of pensioners at the end of 1985 and current rates of benefit.

    The cost would rise year by year until all pensioners in Canada were receiving the same rate of benefit as if they were living in the United Kingdom.

    Invalid Care Allowance: Payment To Married Women

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What action they propose to take regarding payments for married women who give up their paid employment to care for invalid relatives.

    An extension of the existing invalid care allowance to married women is estimated to cost an additional £100 million a year net of savings on other benefits. It is not self-evident that, even if such resources were available, extension would be the best use of those resources to help carers in the valuable work they do. The judgment of the European Court as to whether the current legislation contravenes the European Community Equal Treatment Directive is not expected until June.

    France: Legality Of Grants To Sheep Producers

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will investigate reports that the French Government propose to offer French sheep producers £25 for every extra ewe bought, provided more than 40 are purchased, a further £40 for every ram purchased, and a further £1·30 for every ewe artificially inseminated; and, if these reports are correct, whether they consider such actions by the French Government to be in line with curtailing agricultural production in the European Community and whether these subsidies are contrary to the Treaty of Rome.

    Under the Treaty of Rome, it is for the French Government to notify any such aids to the EC Commission; and for the Commission to determine whether they are compatible with Community law. We are in touch with the Commission to ensure that these procedures are followed.