House of Lords

Written Answer, Data Protection – House of Lords, 10 Dec 2013

Lord Laird (UUP)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ensure that secret data relating to the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons fleet have not been transferred abroad without authorisation.

Lord Astor of Hever (Conservative)
Her Majesty’s Government’ Security Policy Framework (reissued in October 2013, and available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/255910/HMG_Security_Policy_Framework_V11.0.pdf) describes the security controls applied to United Kingdom Government assets including information (and within that, information relating to our nuclear capabilities). The policy focuses on security outcomes that are necessary to achieve a proportionate and risk managed approach that enables Government business to function effectively, safely and securely. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Departments and Agencies have information security policies setting out how they and any delivery partners and suppliers protect information assets they hold, store or process (including electronic and paper formats and online services) to prevent unauthorised access, disclosure or loss. The policies and procedures are regularly reviewed to ensure currency.

Question, Iran and Syria — Question, 5 Dec 2013

Lord Soley (Labour)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Iran regarding that country’s role in the current conflict in Syria.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
My Lords, after that last question I am really looking forward to the debates in January. The Government have impressed on Iran the importance of it playing a constructive role in Syria—for example, in pressing for greater humanitarian access. However, its current actions are far from that. Iran continues to support the Assad regime financially and militarily. We are using the upgrading of our diplomatic relations to engage Iran on a range of issues, including Syria.

Lord Soley (Labour)
I thank the Minister for that Answer. Bearing in mind the remarkable success of my noble friend Lady Ashton in chairing the nuclear talks, the importance of the links that have developed between Iranians and civil servants in the European Union and the western powers, and the effect of the international sanctions that have brought Iran to the table, is it not time to expand those contacts with Iran to try to use extra influence on them both against the Assad regime and with Hezbollah?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
We are expanding our contacts with Iran. The noble Lord will be aware of the meetings between Foreign Minister Zarif and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the telephone conversations between the Prime Minister and President Rouhani. He also will be aware of our decision to appoint the chargé d’affaires last month. I can inform the House that our chargé d’affaires, Mr Ajay Sharma, visited Iran this week on 3 December. We are hoping that the chargé d’affaires from Iran, Mohammad Hassan Habibollah-zadeh, will visit the United Kingdom this month.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (Liberal Democrat)
Following on from the Minister’s helpful answer, could Her Majesty’s Government cease supporting with quite such pressure the fractured, and in some ways poisonous, opposition in Syria? Could they ask Iran, with its concessions already in the bag, to be at Geneva II with a guaranteed seat and a proper invitation?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
The national coalition represents a broad range of Syrian opinion. We could not proceed with the Geneva II discussions without the views of the Syrian people being at the table in a wide and broad way, so possibly I disagree with my noble friend on that point. Any constructive role that Iran can play in relation to Geneva II is good. However, Iran must first and foremost say that it supports the communiqué that was agreed at Geneva I. It could not possibly be part of a process where it does not agree with the outcomes as detailed in the communiqué.

Lord Triesman (Labour)
My Lords, in Her Majesty’s Government’s discussions with Iran, have the Government stressed the need for progress on regional co-operation, however difficult that might be to achieve? Do the Government have a view on how to lessen the distrust, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia and between Iran and the Gulf states, so that this level of distrust in regional geopolitics does not perpetuate the battles in Syria beyond the point that they are already at?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
The noble Lord raises an important point. It was right that we communicated properly the discussions that we were having with Iran and the outcome of those discussions. We must bear in mind that this is an interim discussion relating specifically to Iran’s nuclear programme. I think that our partners, whatever their reservations, and they are right to have reservations in the light of Iran’s previous conduct, accept that an Iran with nuclear arms, which was where Iran was heading, was not the right way forward, and therefore to halt to the programme and in some ways to unroll it must be the way forward. This is an interim agreement with a view to a final settlement agreement in due course.

Lord Hylton (Crossbench)
My Lords, Iran was unable to accept the conclusions of the first Geneva conference. Can the noble Baroness assure the House that that is not a sufficient reason in itself for excluding Iran from Geneva II?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
The noble Lord will be aware that that communiqué, among other things, reiterates the need for a transitional Government who have full executive powers and for that to be done with mutual consent. If Iran cannot agree with that statement, I am unsure what constructive role it could play by being at the table in Geneva. Iran can play a constructive role in advance of that—for example, by leveraging its influence in Syria to give us better humanitarian access. That is an early win that Iran could put on the table to show that its intent and actions supported its words.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead (Labour)
I am sure that the House welcomes the dialogue taking place between Iran and Syria while they continue to supply Hezbollah with arms and training. During these cosy talks with this butcher who is the new President of Iran, could the Government ask him to spare a thought for the executions in Iran of its own people that take place almost daily?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
My Lords, we feel that the discussions with Iran are constructive and that the intent that we have seen so far has been sincere. I take on board the noble Lord’s strong views but I also take the view that closer diplomatic relations mean that we can start to tackle the difficult issues around human rights, including the use of the death penalty, face to face.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
My Lords, has the Minister been able to get any further with my recent Written Question about the mass graves discovered in Sadad in Syria and the links between the militia involved in the killings that took place there and both al-Qaeda and Iran?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
I am not aware of the latest on that, but I shall write to the noble Lord with more information.

Written Answer, Iran – House of Lords, 21 Nov 2013

Baroness Tonge (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Statement by the Foreign Secretary on 8 October (HC Deb, col 27), what representations they will make to the government of Iran concerning its breaches of United Nations resolutions.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
We remain deeply concerned by Iran’s continuing nuclear activities in contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions. We have repeatedly expressed these concerns to Iran in E3+3 talks, through the IAEA Board of Governors, in our bilateral engagement, and through the UN 1737 Committee. The most recent E3+3 negotiations with Iran have made progress towards a first step agreement that would create the confidence and space to negotiate a comprehensive settlement of the nuclear issue. Negotiations will resume on 20 November. Throughout, we have been clear with Iran that UN Security Council resolutions (and sanctions) will remain in place until Iran has restored international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

Written Answer, Nuclear Missile Submarines – House of Lords, 19 Nov 2013

Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Welsh Government concerning the relocation of the British fleet of nuclear missile submarines from Scotland, in the event of a “yes” vote in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum.

Lord Astor of Hever (Conservative)
None.

Written Statement, Israel – House of Lords, 12 Nov 2013

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the government of Israel to declare (1) any stocks of nuclear weapons they possess, and (2) any facilities they fund to research and produce such weapons.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues. The Government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We also call on Israel to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Written Answer – House of Lords: Iran – 8 November 2013

Baroness Deech (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that Iran has recently installed an additional 7,000 centrifuges.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
As the International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly reports on the Iranian nuclear programme make clear, Iran continues to install centrifuges at an alarming rate, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Iran has installed more than 7,000 new centrifuges in the last year alone, bringing its total number of centrifuges to in excess of 19,000. This includes 1,000 more advanced centrifuges, capable of enriching at a significantly faster rate. Iran currently has no credible civilian use for the large quantities of enriched material that it already has, let alone what it might be able to produce in the near future should it decide to do so. We hope that the negotiations between the E3+3 (made up of the UK, along with France, Germany, Russia, China and the US) and Iran will soon lead to Iran taking concrete steps to address international concerns regarding its nuclear programme.

Written Ministerial Statements – House of Lords: Office for Nuclear Regulation – 5 November 2013

Baroness Verma (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
The independent nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), has today published the Chief Nuclear Inspector’s inaugural annual report, which provides information on the performance of the UK nuclear industry.

The report is published as part of the ONR’s commitment to openness and transparency on an annual basis.

The report is based on the areas that the ONR regulates; safety, security, transport and emergency preparedness. It also includes information relating to nuclear safeguards where ONR has a duty to ensure that the UK’s international responsibilities are met.

Copies of the report can be obtained from the ONR’s website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/

Written Answers – House of Lords: Iran – 31 October 2013

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass)(Non-affiliated
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the number of nuclear scientists engaged on the Iranian nuclear programme (1) before, and (2) since, the election of President Rouhani.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
We are not in a position to assess whether the number of nuclear scientists has changed. But there is no evidence in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General’s latest report (dated 28 August) to suggest a decrease in activity. Iran has continued to develop its programme, including heavy water related projects, and to enrich uranium.

Written Answers – House of Lords: Iran – 17 October 2013

Lord Dykes (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they will put to the government of Israel to publish details of its nuclear arsenal and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
We encourage Israel to sign up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and call on Israel to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We do not intend to table any new proposals in the near future.

Written Answers – House of Lords: Iran – 15 October 2013

Lord Dykes (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to reduce the international isolation of Iran.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
Iran’s international isolation is a result of the regime’s policies: its continued defiance of UN Security Council resolutions over its nuclear programme; its support of instability in the region; and its appalling human rights record. We hope that the new Iranian government will take concrete steps to address these issues and enable us and the wider international community to improve relations with Iran. We are ready to make the most of any opportunity and increase our dialogue. On 8 October the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), announced that the UK would appoint a non-resident Chargé d’affaires to Iran to enable greater direct contact.

Questions – House of Lords: Iran – 10 July 2013

Baroness Williams of Crosby (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will re-establish full diplomatic relations with Iran to coincide with the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani on 3 August.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
My Lords, diplomatic relations between the UK and Iran are not severed, but they are at their lowest levels possible. Our respective embassies are closed, but Sweden looks after UK interests in Iran and Oman looks after Iranian interests in the UK. Until we can be confident that Iran will abide by its obligations to protect our staff and allow them to carry out their functions, we cannot have a diplomatic presence in Tehran.

[…]

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
Of course the noble Baroness is right. Supreme Leader Khamenei still has a huge amount of influence in many spheres of life in Iran. She is right to say that the human rights situation in Iran is dire. In 2012 there were reports of over 350 executions and 162 executions as of May this year. It has more journalists in prison than almost any other country. Opposition leaders remain detained in prison after two years. We have real human rights and other concerns in Iran. We are open to improving this relationship, and there have been opportunities when officials have met, such as during the E3+3 talks, but it is important, as the noble Baroness says, to remain cautious.

[…]

Lord Davies of Stamford (Labour)
My Lords, all of us hope that Rouhani will prove to be more reasonable and rational than Ahmadinejad. Is it not important that nobody should have any illusions; that we should make it absolutely clear that sanctions cannot be relaxed until there is real evidence, through inspections or otherwise, that Iran is not proceeding with a nuclear weapons programme; and that, in view of the lamentable record on human rights and other matters that the noble Baroness has just set out, we should reserve even symbolic concessions on our side until the Iranian regime makes some positive move forward?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
Sanctions are there for a purpose. They are targeted. They are for a specific issue and we have been careful to note that humanitarian goods are protected. However, the noble Lord is right. We have to make progress on substantive issues, and nuclear is one of them.

Questions – House of Lords: Defence: Trident Review – 9 July 2013

Lord Lea of Crondall (Labour)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their review of Trident will include the issue of non-proliferation.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, the starting point for the review of alternatives to a like-for-like replacement of Trident was that the UK will continue to comply with its international obligations, in particular with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Lord Lea of Crondall (Labour)
My Lords, we know that the alternatives review will address the issue of options for replacing the Vanguard submarines. Will it also consider whether, relatively soon in a submarine’s lifetime, its missiles will need a new warhead? The Government plan to consider that question in the next Parliament, deferring the timetable for consideration in this Parliament given in the 2006 White Paper. Secondly, is it possible to develop a new warhead without testing it and therefore without rescinding our moratorium on testing and indeed contravening the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty? If it is not tested, how can we be assured that any new warhead would be effective?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, the British Government, under both the previous and the current Administrations, have been strong supporters of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. We have developed sophisticated means of simulating the testing and checking of warheads. This is one area in which we are now co-operating with the French: on the sophisticated facilities available for examining current nuclear warheads and considering further developments in design.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, surely, whatever the outcome of the decision on Trident, it is important that this country continues to play its full role in diplomatic efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament. Why did the UK ambassador not attend the UN open-ended working group intended to kick-start efforts in this area?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, the United Kingdom remains strongly committed to nuclear disarmament, and we are working in a range of different international contexts to achieve this. As noble Lords will know, the next Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will meet in 2015, and the preparatory committee met earlier this year.

Lord Browne of Ladyton (Labour)>
My Lords, the Minister will be aware of recent credible research which, using modern climate change models, found that even a regional war using nuclear weapons between emerging nuclear-armed states with relatively primitive weapons would quickly lead to significant global climate change, reduce temperatures, reduce growing seasons, have significant adverse agricultural effects and then quite devastating effects for all the world’s populations. Why, then, did the coalition Government not attend the Oslo conference on the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons? Why did they boycott it? Do we have nothing to say to the rest of the world about these issues? Will we go to the follow-on conference in Mexico in 2014?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord’s work within the context of the European Leadership Network and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which is highly desirable, multilateral work involving the Russians and many others. It is exactly the sort of work that needs to be done and published to inform the debate on the future of nuclear weapons. Her Majesty’s Government decided, in the context of preparations for the Oslo conference, that we should be pursuing this, as far as possible, through the conference on nuclear disarmament; the priority was to unblock that conference. As for attendance at the follow-on conference in Mexico, British diplomats in Mexico met Mexican officials some weeks ago to discuss the question.

Lord Hylton (Crossbench)
My Lords, is there not a contradiction between, on the one hand, the statements of successive British Governments about the weapons of mass destruction of others and the risk, therefore, of killing non-combatant civilians and, on the other hand, their own possession of nuclear missiles?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, I have no doubt that when the Trident alternatives review is published, it will stimulate a good deal of, I hope, informed and rational debate about the future of our nuclear weapons programme and of nuclear weapons as a whole. That was part of the intention of commissioning this review.

Lord West of Spithead (Labour)
My Lords, unsurprisingly, the alternatives review that the Minister refers to seems to show that are no real alternatives to replacing the Vanguard class submarines if we wish to maintain our best-value and most capable deterrent. The only thing that will be looked at further is continuous sea deterrent and, even in that, the worst probability is that we will have to order two Vanguard replacements. With that in mind, will the Minister not agree that we should order those two replacements now, to remove the uncertainty hanging over many hundreds—indeed, over 1,000—skilled workers and their families about their future, and to save £300 million?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, I am not sure that major defence decisions should be driven either by the need to employ a large number of people to build aircraft carriers in Scotland or by the need to maintain employment in Barrow-in-Furness. There are larger issues at stake.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the purpose of that review, which is yet to be fully announced, is to reduce the number of nuclear weapons at sea and on land and that that is part of the non-proliferation effort that we are all engaged in? That is the purpose of the review, and I look forward to its outcome.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, of the declared nuclear states, Britain already has the fewest nuclear weapons. Under current plans we will further reduce the number of nuclear weapons deployed in recent years. We are therefore very much already at a minimum nuclear deterrent. The purpose of the Trident alternatives review, like the EU balance of competences review, which will also be published shortly, is to provide for an informed public debate. That is highly desirable on both major topics.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Labour)
My Lords, while the Minister and I will be campaigning side by side to keep Scotland within the United Kingdom, there is an outside chance that we might lose in that referendum. Why, therefore, is the Ministry of Defence not undertaking contingency plans to work out what will happen to the independent deterrent in that event?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, we shall be campaigning side by side. I hope that my son will have a vote in that election, since he may be about to move to Edinburgh. The question of whether Scots living outside Scotland should be allowed to vote is, as the noble Lord knows, a very active one. I would rather leave to another day hypothetical questions as to what would happen if Scotland were to become independent.

Written Answers – House of Lords: Iran – 11 June 2013

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the evidence given by James Clapper, the United States Director of National Intelligence, to the United States Senate Intelligence Committee and to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons programme and could not covertly produce sufficient highly enriched uranium for a bomb.

Lord Astor of Hever (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defence; Conservative)

James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, stated: “We assess Iran is developing nuclear capabilities to enhance its security, prestige, and regional influence and give it the ability to develop nuclear weapons, should a decision be made to do so. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons”

“Of particular note, Iran has made progress during the past year that better positions it to produce weapons-grade uranium (WGU) using its declared facilities and uranium stockpiles, should it choose to do so. Despite this progress, we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU before this activity is discovered”.

We share our views about Iran’s nuclear ambitions with the US Government regularly. We assess that Iran’s continuing expansion of its uranium enrichment programme, as evidenced by the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is improving its ability to produce weapons grade uranium, and to do so more quickly if it made a decision to do so. We also assess that if Iran started to divert safeguarded materials to produce weapons grade uranium the IAEA would almost certainly detect this before sufficient material was produced for a nuclear weapon.

Oral Questions and Answers – UN Arms Trade Treaty – 21 May 2013

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (Crossbench) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what arrangements they are making for the signature, ratification and implementation of the new United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) My Lords, the United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of the arms trade treaty on 2 April. We spent seven years working for this treaty. Its adoption is a victory for government, Parliament, civil society and industry. The treaty opens for signature on 3 June. The United Kingdom will sign and ratify it as a matter of urgency. We will also encourage other states to sign and ratify to ensure that the treaty enters into force as soon as possible.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (Crossbench) My Lords, I trust that it will be in order to ask that congratulations be passed to Alistair Burt and his team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their skill and perseverance in achieving a more robust treaty than might at one time have been anticipated, and to the Foreign Secretaries, from Jack Straw onwards, who gave them their full support. Can the Minister say who is going to sign on behalf of the UK on 3 June? It is surely important that the signature be at a level that indicates the importance that we attach to it. Can she also say what consideration will be given in future, when granting an arms export licence, to the status of the importing country under the arms trade treaty—whether it has signed and ratified and is implementing the treaty? Would not that be a more effective way of encouraging the widest possible acceptance of its terms?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) I think the noble Lord asked three questions. Yes, I can absolutely add my support and congratulations to all the Foreign Secretaries, and indeed all Ministers, many from the Opposition, who have worked over seven years to make this happen. Of course, my congratulations go to my right honourable friend Mr Burt, who handled this towards the end, and to Alan Duncan. Negotiations went on long into the evenings to make sure that it happened—and, of course, it has been a huge success. The treaty will be signed as soon as possible. We are hoping that it can be done by the Foreign Secretary, and we are looking at opportunities for how that will happen. It is really a matter of getting a balance to make sure that it is as near to 3 June as possible as well as at the highest level. I missed most of the noble Lord’s third question, but I think it was in relation to getting the broadest support from member states. Of course, this treaty will come into force only once 50 states have signed it and 90 days thereafter have passed. So we will do all we can to encourage that.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (Liberal Democrat) My Lords, the United Nations press release says that the treaty makes it, “harder for human rights abusers, criminals and arms traffickers to obtain weapons”. How does that fit in with the UK defence industry and the sales of arms, equipment and aircraft to other states?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) As the noble Lord is aware, the UK already has one of the most robust and effective export control systems in the world. I regularly see documentation on the countries for which I have responsibility. We have extensive criteria against which we assess any sales. We feel that this arms trade treaty sets an international benchmark, but we do not think that primary legislation will be required to enable us to implement it.

Lord Browne of Ladyton (Labour) My Lords, of the 150 countries that adopted this treaty, a significant proportion do not have the capacity to implement it. What plans do our Government have to build that capacity in countries that are key to the implementation of the treaty as it is in our interests that they are able to do so?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) I can inform the noble Lord that resource has been set aside to make sure that we work with those countries which do not have the developed, sophisticated arms control systems that we have. The treaty will be effective only when 50 countries join; thereafter, it comes into force. We will, of course, use the network—as the noble Lord is aware, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has one of the most extensive networks—to make sure that we work with our partners to ensure that countries which need the support get the support.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth (Crossbench) What changes, if any, will be necessary in the UK arms controls guidelines on exported arms?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) We think that we may have to implement some secondary legislation. Once the treaty has been signed, it will be laid before both Houses, I think for 21 sitting days. We hope and anticipate that we will be able to ratify before the end of the year. We think that there may be some amendments to secondary legislation, but that will take place before the end of the year.

Lord Dubs (Labour) My Lords, I have had discussions with various people who were closely involved with this. It is, after all, a really good news story. However, I have been advised that the signing ceremony will be particularly important. If the United Kingdom is not present, that could send a signal that our commitment is not as high as it should be. I urge the Government to consider that we should be represented in New York on 3 June at the most senior level possible to show how committed we are to this treaty.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) Exactly those kinds of discussions are happening to make sure that we send out that very strong signal. Your Lordships will also be aware that we can make an intent declaration when we sign. We will make sure that that is very robust and clear. Much work has gone into this and we have led on much of it. I absolutely assure the noble Lord and this House that we will continue to show our support.

Lord Elton (Conservative) My Lords, which countries are currently the most prolific exporters of arms to undesirable recipients who have not signed up to the treaty and are not proposing to ratify it? What plans are there to try to persuade them to sign up to it?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) I do not know whether I can tell my noble friend which countries are sending arms to undesirables. However, I can say that there are countries heavily involved in arms exports—for example, the US, Russia, China and India. The US will, of course, sign the treaty. Russia, China and India abstained but they made positive statements and we are hopeful that they will move in the right direction.

Lord Triesman (Labour) My Lords, I join in congratulating the Government and former Foreign Secretaries on this achievement. Indeed, I have written to Alistair Burt personally to say how much I admire and respect the work that he did in achieving this outcome. I return to the final point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. There will be those, like us, who have signed the treaty. There will be others who do not sign the treaty. How do the Government envisage ensuring that the people who have signed the treaty do not export arms to those who will not abide by these international standards?

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) The treaty sets out an international benchmark and even for those countries which do not sign the treaty initially, and are not supportive of it fully at this stage, political pressure will build off the back of this saying this is what the international community sees as the standard—you may not have signed up to it but it is how we expect you to conduct yourselves. That will be an important lever in trying to move those countries in the right direction.

Written Answers – House of Lords: North Korea – 21 May 2013

Lord Ashcroft (Conservative) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the resolution of the International Democrat Union Executive at its Helsinki meeting on 14 April 2013 regarding North Korea’s nuclear test.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) The International Democrat Union’s statement on North Korea of 14 April condemned in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted on 12 February 2013 and urged North Korea to stop any further military threats. We have been clear to the North Korean Government that they have a choice to make: either continue with this provocative path and face further isolation, or engage constructively with the rest of the world. The US and South Korea in particular have been clear that they will engage with North Korea if it ceases its irresponsible behaviour.

Written Answers — House of Lords: Nuclear Weapons – 25 April 2013

Lord Judd (Labour) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their objectives for the meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons taking place in Geneva; and in particular what are their objectives towards the fulfilment of the existing commitments of the five nuclear powers.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) The UK’s objectives for the 2013 preparatory committee are to maintain and nurture support for the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its three pillars-nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technology-and to encourage implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan. We are committed to making progress with our P5 partners on fulfilling our responsibilities under the NPT’s Article VI (disarmament). At the recent P5 conference in Geneva, delegates reviewed disarmament initiatives and discussed reporting activities across all three pillars of the NPT Action Plan. They also discussed progress in preparing a glossary of key nuclear terms to aid future understanding and trust and agreed further P5 work to support the operation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s verification regime.

Written Answers — House of Lords: North Korea – 24 April 2013

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of political and security developments in North Korea.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) We are monitoring the situation in North Korea and are in close contact with allies and partners. North Korea’s long-term interests will not be served by threatening the international community and increasing regional tensions. We call on the Government in Pyongyang to take credible steps towards denuclearisation and to respond to international calls for dialogue. United Nations Security Resolution 2094 makes clear that the UN Security Council would take further significant measures in the event of another North Korean launch or nuclear test. We assess that the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the world. The North Korean Government’s continued the development of nuclear weapons, and ballistic missile technology shows that the regime continues to prioritise military spending over the welfare of its people.

Written Answers — House of Lords: North Korea – 24 April 2013

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench) To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last met North Korea’s ambassador to the United Kingdom; who met him; and what matters were discussed.

Baroness Warsi (Conservative) The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend Mr Swire, last met North Korea’s ambassador to the UK on 13 February in order to express in the strongest terms the UK’s condemnation of the North Korean nuclear test the previous day. Since then, there have been meetings with the ambassador at senior official level, most recently on 21 March and 17 April. At the meeting on 17 April, officials handed over a copy of the G8 Foreign Ministers’ statement and urged North Korea to respond positively to the offers of engagement made by the US and South Korea. We also underlined the need for North Korea to refrain from its recent aggressive, provocative rhetoric.

Written Answers to Questions — House of Lords – Nuclear Weapons – 6 March 2013

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat): To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last made a full assessment of the developmental, economic and environmental consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat): The 2010 National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA), which informed the 2010 national security strategy, included both state and terrorist use of nuclear weapons. This assessment is reviewed biennially to ensure it continues to reflect the most up-to-date evidence. It includes an assessment of harm to people; the economy and infrastructure and territory as well as restrictions on our freedom to act in UK national interests and psychological impacts. The precise details of the assessment remain classified for national security reasons.

The National Risk Assessment (NRA) complements the NSRA and is designed to inform how we prepare for emergencies and takes a more detailed look at domestic civil emergencies that could reasonably occur over a five-year period to inform contingency planning. A public version-the National Risk Register (NRR)-is available on the Cabinet Office website and noted that the “likelihood of terrorists obtaining…a functional nuclear device remains low, but not negligible; and the impacts are potentially very serious”. The National Risk Register 2013 is due to be published later in spring 2013.

More generally, the Government also continue to recognise the serious threat posed to international peace and security by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and are fully committed to working with international partners to further the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Written Answers – House of Lords: Nuclear Weapons – 25 Feb 2013

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat) To ask Her Majesty’s Government which departments will send representatives to the conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo on 4 and 5 March. The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are considering their position on the conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo. We believe that our focus should be on making progress against the tangible issues set out in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Action Plan, which was agreed by consensus by all NPT signatories. To this end, the UK continues to work closely with our P5 and non-nuclear weapon state partners to make progress against our NPT Action Plan commitments. We would be cautious about parallel processes that could distract attention away from this.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the outcome document of the last Review Conference on the implementation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, what assessment they have made of the extent of their preparedness, including emergency plans and existing capacity, to respond to a major nuclear incident.

Baroness Verma (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative) Her Majesty’s Government take nuclear emergency preparedness extremely seriously. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) continually assess the UK’s preparedness in terms of planning for and being able to respond to nuclear incidents. For example, following the events at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, ONR carried out a detailed assessment of the implications of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the UK (the Weightman Report), which included assessments and recommendations concerning emergency preparedness arrangements. The 2011 report and the recent assessment of progress against the report can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/fukushima/

The outcome document of the review conference in 2010 on the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty included two specific actions concerning nuclear emergency preparedness arrangements. The first of these actions asked states to consider becoming party, if they have not yet done so, to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. HM Government have signed and ratified these IAEA conventions and implemented them within the UK legal framework for response. The national arrangements for responding to nuclear emergencies include provision for fulfilling the requirements of these conventions and other international treaties. Furthermore, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has implemented bilateral arrangements with a number of other States for notifying and informing them of the current situation either in the UK or abroad. The outcome document also included an action on states to ensure that the transportation of radioactive materials was consistent with relevant international standards of safety, security and environmental protection, and to continue communication between shipping and coastal states for the purpose of confidence-building and addressing concerns regarding transport safety, security and emergency preparedness. In the UK, there are legal requirements for consignors of radioactive material to have arrangements to cover emergencies. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is responsible for regulating the land transport of radioactive material on behalf of DECC and part of this work involves ensuring that suitable emergency preparedness plans are in place, that they are adequate for foreseeable accidents involving the material being transported and that these plans are exercised. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) regulates the sea transport of radioactive material. The MCA has special arrangements in place to cover the notification process for shipments of nuclear waste and maintain up-to-date copies of all the ship emergency plans. The National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations (NCP), which is reviewed regularly, also covers the preparedness for such events.

Written Ministerial Statements — House of Lords – Defence- 7 February 2013

Lord Astor of Hever (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defence; Conservative)
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Philip Hammond) and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (William Hague) have made a joint Written Ministerial Statement.

Together we wish to inform the House that the Government are today publishing the international defence engagement strategy. Implementing this new strategy will maximise the contribution that defence can make towards the achievement of our foreign policy objectives.

The national security strategy and strategic defence and security review (SDSR) in 2010 set out our goal to bring together and use all the instruments of national power in a co-ordinated and coherent manner, ensuring that the sum of our efforts to safeguard our security, extend our influence, and build our prosperity is bigger than its component parts.

The international defence engagement strategy sets out how defence assets and activities fit within this goal, and how they can better contribute to wider government objectives. It looks out over a horizon of 20 years to identify both the major risks that we will face and opportunities that we will have.

In implementing this strategy we will use our network of defence attachés and other defence representation overseas, together with our diplomatic network and the defence and security organisation of UK Trade & Investment, to ensure that we are developing the right relationships and achieving the right influence for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

On occasion, we will cement these relationships in the form of a treaty, as we did with France in 2010. But the influence we can achieve through defence engagement goes far broader than this. This strategy therefore includes traditional defence diplomacy activity of senior level visits and international defence training; Ministry of Defence contributions to regional stability, conflict prevention and stabilisation activities; security and non-combat operations; and MoD support for defence and security exports. The scope of this strategy is ambitious and it will be implemented in conjunction with other related government initiatives, such as the building stability overseas strategy, the Gulf initiative and the emerging powers initiative. The implementation of the international defence engagement strategy will build on existing relationships and on work already underway, but we will also be making some significant advances in the development of our relationships with some states.

We have already taken steps to ensure that we use our defence engagement to promote our values through contributing to the institutional capability of other nations. We will have an accredited non-resident defence attaché for Burma next month and will establish a defence section in our embassy in Rangoon later this year. The Burmese Government have taken some very positive and welcome steps towards reform which we should assist. The Burmese military continues to play an influential role in government, so we will use military to military dialogue where we can, complementing diplomatic and development efforts, to encourage reform and support democracy. During her meeting with the Prime Minister in June 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi specifically recommended the appointment of a defence attaché to Burma as a key channel for engagement with the Burmese military.

We are increasing our efforts to support security and justice sector reform and capacity building, which contribute to regional peace and security. We will be opening a defence section in our embassy in Libya this year. During the transition in Libya we established a defence advisory team to assist the National Transitional Council in developing its organisational and planning capacity. This team has remained in place post-conflict, to support the democratically elected General National Congress. The defence section will build on relationships established by them. Also, we have recently established a defence section in Juba in South Sudan. We are working alongside other government departments to assist this newly independent state to establish national institutions and implement security and justice reform, contributing to regional security in a relatively unstable region. Similarly, when the British embassy is opened in Mogadishu this year we will be establishing a defence section there, enabling us to provide a greater focus for our support to the Government of Somalia and to AMISOM, the African Union force in Somalia, as they make progress in driving out al-Shabaab. Importantly, taking advantage of our transition from combat operations in Afghanistan and the resulting increase in available forces, we are exploring innovative ways of using some Army capabilities on a wide range of defence engagement tasks and intend to pilot this as the Army restructures its adaptable brigades. We will exploit our recent operational experience, develop our capabilities, our cultural understanding and language training, and demonstrate our commitment and support for our allies and partners including the UN, NATO and EU.

We recognise the importance of developing our bilateral relationships with emerging powers-nations we see as growing long-term partners in regional and global defence and security issues. The international defence engagement strategy allows us to focus our efforts, and as examples of this over the past two years we have signed defence co-operation and defence-technical arrangements with Japan, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Turkey and Brazil. Supporting our Gulf initiative and security in the Middle East region we have intensified defence co-operation across the region and we are increasing our training and exercise activity with Gulf nations throughout 2013.

We are continuing to develop our bilateral relationships more broadly, and have recently signed defence co-operation agreements or memoranda of understanding with Canada, Norway, Denmark and Mongolia. Since the SDSR in October 2010, the UK has signed no fewer than seven new defence treaties and over 50 new memoranda of understanding and other subordinate agreements which contribute to our network of international alliances and partnerships in line with the vision set out in the SDSR. The most recent new agreement is a defence co-operation treaty with Australia, signed in Perth on 18 January 2013. This will see our two nations co-operating on a range of defence-related topics such as cyber security, defence reform, personnel exchanges, equipment and science and technology.

We are deepening our relationships with longstanding allies. The United States will remain our pre-eminent security partner, and our Armed Forces continue to work closely together operationally. The UK currently stations over 750 British defence personnel in the US, conducting a broad variety of activities. These include a wide range of senior personnel serving in advisory or command positions in US headquarters. Approximately 200 British officers are on exchange with all four of the US services, developing capability and increasing interoperability. As close allies the US and UK host each other’s forces in order to conduct training, be prepared to forward-deploy when necessary, and in many cases conduct current operations. In November 2012 alone over 500 UK military personnel visited the US to conduct a joint exercise with US counterparts.

We are pursuing a programme of enhanced bilateral defence co-operation, focusing on areas of mutual benefit such as carrier-strike, cyber, space, land forces interoperability, science and technology, defence education, intelligence and the nuclear deterrent. These will be progressed through regular strategic dialogue at the most senior levels, supported by a reorganised British Defence Staff, United States.

Following our signature of the UK-French Defence Co-operation Treaty in 2010 we have been increasing our bilateral defence activity with France. In spring last year we established the British Defence Staff-France in Paris. We set up five new strategic exchange officer posts with France in September 2012 and will establish a further five posts by 2015. We are increasing our joint exercises. This was exemplified by the CORSICAN LION exercise last October, building towards the final validation of the concept of the combined joint expeditionary force in 2016. Our ambassador in Paris, Sir Peter Ricketts, has been consulted during the preparation of the French livre blanc security review and has offered advice drawing on the UK experience during our 2010 strategic defence and security review (SDSR).

We have rewired the existing defence attaché presence in Europe to establish three “networks” covering the Nordic/Baltic, central Europe and the western Balkans which will enable us to have a more strategic approach. We will also work increasingly closely with our northern European neighbours through the Northern Group of 12 nations established at UK’s initiative in 2010 to improve understanding on common security issues and identify opportunities for enhanced co-operation.

Recognising the importance of international defence engagement to wider government objectives, on current plans we have reprioritised our existing budgets to dedicate a further £2.5 million in 2012-13 for this purpose. From 2013-14 this reprioritisation will enable a further £3.5 million on top of existing resources to be available to pursue these activities, for the four years of the defence planning cycle.

In such a cross-cutting area of work it is important to ensure that we have clarity of governance. We have therefore established a new high-level Defence Engagement Board which will consult with and take guidance from Foreign and Commonwealth Office and MoD Ministers, the National Security Council and the National Security Adviser, and provide updates to them. It is jointly chaired at director-general level by FCO and MoD, and includes membership from across Whitehall.

We have deposited a copy of the strategy in the Library of the House. It is also available on the FCO and MoD websites.

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