Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 March 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 12:00, 27 March 2001

May I remind the House and the hon. Gentleman of what we have done in the past year? We have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe; we have stopped the supply of Land Rovers to the Zimbabwean police; and we have cut the aid that we give to Zimbabwe and focused entirely on humanitarian aid, such as combating AIDS. We have used the Commonwealth to condemn what has been happening in Zimbabwe and to send observers to the elections; we now have dialogues with the European Union under the Cotonou agreement, which provides the possibility of restricting aid to Zimbabwe.

That is a formidable list of action that has been taken. On the question of freezing assets, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Emergency Powers Act 1964 makes provision for us to freeze assets only where there is a threat to the welfare of the United Kingdom. It has been used only twice since 1964—once against Iraq and once against Argentina, and on both occasions we were at war with those countries. That is the very reason why the previous Conservative Government considered the question, but ruled out an assets freeze against General Abacha, when he was in power in Nigeria.