HC Deb 05 July 1995 vol 263 c375
14. Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had regarding the future composition of the Council of Europe. [30908]

Mr. David Davis

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently discussed the future composition of the Council of Europe on 15 February 1995 in London with Mr. Tarschys, the Secretary-General.

Mr. Marshall

I thank the Minister for that answer, but I take a slightly different approach to the question. Is the Minister aware that the British parliamentary delegation to the Assembly of the Council of Europe is the same delegation as attends the Assembly of the Western European Union? In view of the heavy workload of the Council of Europe and the increasing workload and importance of the Assembly of the Western European Union, will the Government give some attention to either splitting the British parliamentary delegation or having two separate and distinct delegations to those parliamentary assemblies?

Mr. Davis

I know that the hon. Gentleman has put a great deal of work into both those organisations, as well as into the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe and the Technical Aerospace Committee of the WEU. I have not considered the matter and I do not hold out any great hopes to the hon. Gentleman at this point, but I will examine his proposals.

Mr. David Atkinson

Now that the Council of Europe has accepted that the three Caucasian states are European, is my hon. Friend disturbed by today's reports that the elections currently taking place in Armenia may not prove to be free and fair? Is the Minister observing those elections and will he continue to urge restraint on both Armenia and Azerbaijan not to go to war again on Nagorny Karabakh if they are really serious about wanting to join the Council of Europe?

Mr. Davis

There are international observers attending the elections. However, the countries' admission to the Council of Europe will fall under article 3 of the Council, which means that they must meet the various freedom and democracy requirements.