HC Deb 01 February 1995 vol 253 cc1076-7
11. Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met his European partners to discuss the middle east peace process.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

We are in regular contact with our European partners about the middle east peace process, most recently at the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 January.

Mr. Ross

Has the Minister had a chance to discuss with his European partners the blocking, losing and selling of equipment donated by the European Union to the emerging embryonic Palestinian authority in Gaza and the west bank, which is causing considerable problems there? I am sure that the Minister does not need me to remind him that six sewage trucks from the Paris municipality have been blocked in the port of Ashdod since October 1994; medical material from the European Union was lost in 1993; and two ambulances and two Land Rovers donated to the Nablus chamber of commerce have been blocked for the past six months.

Much more important for this House, computers worth several hundred thousand francs, donated by the European Union but paid for by our Government, were eventually sold at auction by Israeli customs because of bills that had been run up by the deliberate failure to allow them to get out of the port of Ashdod. What will the Minister do about that? Will he get someone from the Tel Aviv embassy to go to the port of Ashdod to clear that backlog?

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Gentleman has raised a number of instances. I have not discussed those matters with my European colleagues. Although I have seen a large number of representatives of the Palestinian community in London, they have not raised those points with me. That is not to say that the points are not real and do not need to be dealt with. The hon. Gentleman has raised them and I shall have them looked at. If there is substance in what he said, we shall see what we can do to assist.