§ Mr. Vaz
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what negotiations he has entered into with the Venezuelan Government in respect of concluding a prisoner exchange agreement; what timescale he has set for the conclusion of an agreement; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Fatchett
We first approached the Venezuelan authorities in 1994 regarding a bilateral Prisoner Transfer Agreement but could not agree a mutually acceptable text. On 17 April 1997 we approached them about accession to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. We continue to press for their reply.
A priority of our Presidency of the European Union is to encourage countries that have not already done so to accede to the Convention. We will raise the subject again with the Venezuelan authorities at the earliest opportunity.