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EDITIONS
Blair years Monday, 6 May, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Labour's pledges: Foreign and defence
The following page details Labour's activity in government on foreign and defence matters, based on what it committed itself to in the manifesto. Some pledges have been omitted for the sake of brevity. No judgement has been made to the inherent value of the pledge, but important criticisms are included where applicable.

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Introducton and explanation
Economy
Health
Education
Home affairs
Environment
Welfare
Constitution
Foreign/Defence

WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Urgent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. It is costly, vulnerable to fraud and not geared to environmental protection."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
In the last round of CAP negotiations in 1999, the way was paved for reform to the EU-wide system of agricultural subsidy. Agenda 2000 (as the reforms are known) makes provision for a gradual shift of subsidies from food production to rural development. Members states are now entitled to redirect up to 20% of their EU money towards rural development schemes.
CRITICISMS AND QUALIFICATIONS
Many conservationists, including the authors of the government-commissioned Curry Report, are concerned that the reforms still do not go far enough to prevent industry inefficiency and environmental degradation. Furthermore, the aftermath of the Foot and Mouth crisis has again highlighted the campaign for wider agricultural reforms.

WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"We will seek a thorough overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy to conserve our fish stocks in the long-term interests of the UK fishing industry."
CONCLUSION: PARTIALLY MET
UK Ministers take part in annual negotiations with other EU Fisheries ministers to set fishing quotas. In the most recent such meeting, the UK delegation managed to argue successfully for some of the quotas to be greater than those suggested by the Commission.
CRITICISMS AND QUALIFICATIONS
There is, however, some concern that the EU Common Fisheries Policy is unworkable in its current form and radical reform is needed. The Commission have published proposals which have received broad support.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Greater openness and democracy in EU institutions with open voting in the Council of Ministers and more effective scrutiny of the Commission by the European Parliament."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE NOT MET
This issue has only recently been addressed within the European Union with a deal to form a convention to examine the gap between Brussels and the people. The convention has a year to come up with proposals that will probably be put to the governments in 2004.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"We have long supported a proportional voting system for election to the European Parliament."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
Voting arrangements were changed in the European Parliamentary Elections Act passed in January 1999. Critics have attacked the "closed-list" form of proportional representation. The further down a party list a candidate appears, the less likely they are to be elected for that party.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Retention of the national veto over key matters of national interest [in Europe]."
CONCLUSION: DEBATABLE
During the Nice Summit in 2000, Britain made it clear that it would not abandon the veto on six key areas: taxation, social security, border controls, defence, treaty changes and the UK's own resources. However, in a joint letter signed in February 2002, Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for a further reduction of the national veto in European Union policymaking. In a speech in The Hague in February 2002, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw suggested Britain might accept an end to the use of the national veto in asylum and immigration policy.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"There are three pre-conditions which would have to be satisfied before Britain could join [the Euro] during the next Parliament: first, the Cabinet would have to agree; then Parliament; and finally the people would have to say 'Yes' in a referendum."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
In effect the government has kept to this pledge by not actually doing anything at all. No decision on EMU entry has been taken as yet. By June 2003, however, the Treasury must decide whether there is a "clear and unambiguous" economic case for entry on the basis of its five tests. The government must then win a referendum and apply for eurozone membership. Its European partners will have to agree that the UK meets the Maastricht criteria.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Labour will conduct a strategic defence and security review to reassess our essential security interests and defence needs..."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
The Strategic Defence Review was published in July 1998. The Government has also begun further consultations to take account of international developments since 11 September 2001.
CRITICISMS AND QUALIFICATIONS
There have been many critics of the outcome of the review. The most critical question has been the issue of over-stretch. Conservatives have warned that the British armed forces have been under pressure because of commitments that have ranged from Sierra Leone to the Balkans.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Labour will ban the import, export, transfer and manufacture of all forms of anti-personnel landmines. We will introduce an immediate moratorium on their use."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
In 1997 the International Mine Ban treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada. It became binding under international law in 1999. Britain signed up immediately, and the Landmines Bill received Royal Assent on 28th July 1998.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"Labour will not permit the sale of arms to regimes that might use them for internal repression or international aggression."
CONCLUSION: DEBATABLE
The government did permit the sale of Hawk jets to Indonesia when it was still a dictatorship. It said that it was obliged to permit the sale because the licences had been granted by the previous administration. Critics say that the government has used a generous interpretation of its own guidelines. Among the more controversial decisions, ministers allowed parts for Hawk jets to be shipped to Zimbabwe in February 2000. It later stopped further exports to the country.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"We will increase the transparency and accountability of decisions on export licences for arms."
CONCLUSION: PARTIALLY MET
Since 1997, the government has published an annual report on strategic arms export controls, detailing all of the export licence decisions from the previous year, significantly improving the transparency of the arms export licencing system. The Export Control Bill establishes the right of parliamentary scrutiny of secondary legislation and export control policy.
CRITICISMS AND QUALIFICATIONS
However, despite repeated calls from select committees, the government has refused to permit Parliament to scrutinise applications for export licenses before a decision is made on them.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"We will make the protection and promotion of human rights a central part of our foreign policy."
CONCLUSION: DEBATABLE
Robin Cook famously said that there should be an "ethical dimension" to UK foreign policy and then promptly found himself under fire when he was perceived by critics to have not lived up to his word.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
"We will work for the creation of a permanent international criminal court to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
In July 1998, 160 countries decided to establish a permanent International Criminal Court to try individuals for the most serious offences of global concern, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court Act 2001 meant that the UK was officially signed up for it.
WHAT THE MANIFESTO SAID:
" In government we will strengthen the British aid programme and bring [international] development issues back into the mainstream of government decision-making ... A Cabinet minister will lead a new department of international development."
CONCLUSION: PLEDGE MET
The government created a cabinet-level Department for International Development on coming to power in 1997, headed by Clare Short. Legislation since then has placed the reduction of poverty at the centre of UK decisions on international assistance. British contributions to international aid do, however, fall short of the United Nations target of 0.7% of national income.

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