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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 6 December 1988

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Human Rights (China)

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South of 28 November, Official Report, column 108, what cases of human rights in China were discussed with the Chinese Foreign Minister during his visit to the United Kingdom in March.

Mrs. Chalker : The question of human rights arose in the context of discussion on Tibet. Specific cases were not mentioned.

Health Services Review

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the terms of reference of the desk review of health services in the dependent territories ; when he expects it to be completed ; and if the House will be informed of the action to be taken in consequence of the review.

Mr. Chris Patten : The terms of reference of the desk review of health services in the Caribbean dependent territories are : 1. Assemble existing information including the current health plans and any readily available related statistical information from each of the four territories, WHO/PAHO reports, and reports by ODA medical advisers during 1983 to 1988, and other relevant information from ODA files. ODA medical advisers will provide guidance on the material to be examined and will provide oral briefing on the situation in the territories ;

2. Write a preliminary report covering

a. the evidence on the state of health of the population establishing and ranking the main health problems which need to be addressed and their main causes (nutrition, sanitation, health care services, etc) ;

b. the extent to which these health problems are being addressed by current policies and programmes of health services, public and environmental health, and nutrition ;

c. the costs of providing the health and environmental services identified under b. and assessing their cost effectiveness and value for money ; examining how the provision of these services is financed and identifying implications for quantity and quality of services supplied and demanded and for other factors relevant to the study ; d. recommendations for future health and environmental services, and measures to improve nutrition, which optimally address the main health problems identified under a. These recommendations should cover :

(i) appropriate levels of health care and other services ; (ii) division of services between those provided on island and those provided off island ;

(iii) sources of finance for services ;

(iv) the means of delivering health and other services ; (v) levels of staffing and equipment for on island services taking account of financial, medical, physical, institutional and manpower constraints in a manner which makes optimum use of the available resources ; and where relevant to identify options where choices can be made.


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e. recommendations for future ODA-funded assistance, with particular attention to manpower, training and advisory services ; an analysis of alternatives and recommendations for the administration of ODA programmes with particular attention to professional monitoring and supervision to the extent that existing information so permits.

3. Identify the main gaps in information ;

4. Prepare a work plan and timetable for gathering the missing information and completing the work required by i. to v., with attention to the order of priority between countries, specify the inputs required for this work from the main professional disciplines ;

5. Prepare an outline for the final report, covering the main chapter and section headings with notes on what is to be covered by each.

This desk study was completed last August. It was the first step, preliminary to a field study, in each of the Caribbean dependencies, for which consultants are at present being engaged. Their report should be available by about next spring ; I shall keep the right hon. Member informed.

Nigeria

Mr. Page : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about financial relations with Nigeria.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The Nigerian Government's efforts to overcome the country's economic difficulties have been severely affected for some time by the fall in the oil price and its heavy debt burden. Foreign exchange earnings have fallen sharply. This has made it increasingly hard for Nigeria to meet its commitments and to rebuild its economy.

Nigeria is now embarking on a series of important adjustment measures. It has reached agreement with the managing director of the IMF on a new standby arrangement and is negotiating for new loans from the World Bank.

It will be seeking a further restructuring of its official debt in the Paris Club, to supplement the agreement already being negotiated with the commercial banks.

In addition to this, it is clear that Nigeria will require further bilateral assistance in 1989. This will require a concerted effort on the part of the international financial community. I have therefore decided, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to offer a grant of US$100 million in 1989, on condition that the standby is approved and that other donors are prepared to make a substantial contribution.

Over two thirds of the cost of the United Kingdom share will come from the reserve and the balance from the existing agreed aid programme.

These arrangements demonstrate the strength of the United Kingdom's interest in the health of the Nigerian economy and our willingness to assist the Nigerian adjustment programme.

WALES

Elderly Initiative

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much money has been allocated by his Department to the elderly initiative ; and what projects have been financed by the elderly initiative in Wales, listing each project and the amount allocated thereto on a county basis.


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Mr. Grist : £2,625,000 during the first two years. The projects funded so far, together with the amounts allocated to date, are :


                                        |£              

--------------------------------------------------------

Clwyd                                                   

Rhuddlan Elderly Mentally Ill Team      |141,158        

Special Project Workers:                |22,500         

Community Care for Elderly People                       

                                                        

Dyfed                                                   

Integrated Care Relief Scheme,          |27,878         

Llanelli                                                

Care Cross Foundation Community         |39,740         

House Project                                           

Night Hospital for Elderly              |47,286         

Mentally Ill                                            

                                                        

Gwent                                                   

Bridges Community Centre Project        |76,190         

Practical Case Finding and              |6,736          

Surveillance of Elderly People at Home                  

Demonstration model for the Discharge   |22,165         

and Aftercare of Elderly Patients                       

Home from Home Short Term Fostering     |35,250         

for the Elderly                                         

The Way Home, Islwyn                    |9,300          

                                                        

Gwynedd                                                 

Hybrid Domicilliary Care Worker         |38,250         

                                                        

Mid Glamorgan                                           

Diabetic Liaison Nurse                  |9,000          

Merthyr and Cynon Valley                                

Community Services Elderly Support      |92,760         

Team, Rhymney Valley                                    

Social Care Worker Scheme for           |125,408        

Elderly Mentally Infirm and their                       

Carers, Ogwr                                            

                                                        

Powys                                                   

Powys Initiative for the Care of the    |58,542         

Elderly in Rural Wales                                  

                                                        

South Glamorgan                                         

Community Memory Project                |73,468         

Development Team for Elderly Mentally   |58,275         

Infirm Services                                         

Practical Case Finding and Surveillance |9,446          

of Elderly People at Home                               

Elderly Persons' Support Unit, Grand    |113,988        

Avenue                                                  

Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme  |15,262         

Carers Information and Support Officer  |15,695         

Daybreak Homecare and Companion Service |35,048         

Alzheimers Disease Society: Community   |22,860         

Support Project                                         

                                                        

West Glamorgan                                          

Staying at Home Initiative              |515,448        

Good Care Campaign                      |20,948         

Business Headquarters

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he proposes to take to encourage the presence of business headquarters in Wales in advance of the single European market ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker : Since I became Secretary of State I have increased the Welsh Development Agency's provision by more than 50 per cent. so enabling WINvest to intensify its efforts in attracting new business, including headquarter operations, to Wales.


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Health Authorities

Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to increase the funding allocations to the health authorities in Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Grist : We will be making an announcement about the resources available to the NHS in Wales in 1989-90 very shortly. An announcement of the allocations to individual health authorities will be made early in the new year.

Free Food Scheme

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of foodstuffs distributed in the United Kingdom under the free food scheme is being made available to eligible applicants in Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker : Designated organisations based in Wales have been authorised to withdraw 176 tonnes of butter and 332 tonnes of beef from intervention stores in 1988. These amounts represent 7.15 per cent. and 18.74 per cent., respectively, of the total withdrawals authorised in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to see that foodstuffs available free under the European Economic Community free food scheme are available to all eligible people in Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker : Produce is being distributed within the rules of the scheme to eligible recipients in Wales by the organisations designated to carry out the distribution. Given the voluntary nature of the scheme it is not possible to ensure that foodstuffs are available to all eligible people.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will identify the distribution centres for free food in Wales ; and how much of each product is being made available per centre.

Mr. Peter Walker : Local distribution arrangements are a matter for the designated organisations to determine within the rules of the scheme.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list those voluntary organisations participating in the free food scheme.

Mr. Peter Walker : My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced to the House on 21 April that 127 organisations had been designated to distribute surplus produce to the most needy. A list of those organisations was placed in the Library on that day.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Bleaches

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) whether he has plans to restrict the use of chlorine bleached pulp in disposable nappies ;

(2) whether he has plans to restrict the use of coffee filters treated with dioxin producing bleaches.

Mr. Forth : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of


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Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 28 November, at column 96 . I understand that the quantities of dioxin which may occur in these products are very small. I will consider the matter further when the expert advice from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the committee on toxicity at the Department of Health is available.

Manufacturing Industry

Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what are the present and projected levels of investment in manufacturing industry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : Investment in manufacturing industry, including leased assets, in the first three quarters of 1988 is provisionally estimated to have been £8,232 million in 1985 prices and seasonally adjusted. In his Autumn Statement, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer forecast that the volume of manufacturing investment in 1988 would be 18 per cent. higher than in 1987 and would rise by a further 10 per cent. in 1989.

VAT

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessments he has made as to the likely effect on (a) his Department's capital building programme and (b) the rent the Department will pay under occupational leases of implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on value added tax on non-domestic buildings.

Mr. Forth : Implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on VAT will have no effect on my Department's capital building programme since compensating adjustments have been made to the relevant expenditure provisions. At this stage, before landlords have decided whether to exercise their option to tax rents, it is not possible to offer meaningful estimates of the effects of the judgment on rental costs.

Society of British Aerospace Manufacturers

Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he last met representatives of the Society of British Aerospace Manufacturers.

Mr. Atkins : I last met the president and representatives of the Society of British Aerospace Manufacturers in September 1988 during the Farnborough air show.

Elstree Film Studios

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assurances he has (a) sought and (b) received in relation to the continued use of Elstree film studios for film production following the recent deal for the disposal of the studio properties.

Mr. Atkins : No such assurances have been sought or received. It is the Government's view that the future use of the site is a matter for the new owners to determine, subject to any consents which may be required from the planning authorities.

Design Initiative

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will publish a table showing the


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design initiatives which have benefited from the design initiative and the amount of money committed to each initiative.

Mr. Forth : Reasons of commercial confidentiality preclude giving details of the assistance offered to individual companies. However, since 13 January 1988 over 700 assisted design consultancies have been completed, over 700 are in progress and about 600 are subject to agreement of terms of reference before proceeding. The average contribution made by the Department towards the cost of completed consultancies is currently £2,387.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many staff are employed on the design initiative.

Mr. Forth : Administration of the design initiative is contracted out to the Design Council. Within the Department, policy on and management of the design initiative forms part of the duties of five full-time staff. DTI regional office staff both help promote and receive applications for enterprise initiative consultancies, including the design initiative.

British Steel (Privatisation)

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what has been the cost of advertising (a) in the press, (b) on television, (c) on radio, (d) on posters and (e) by other means in relation to the privatisation of British Steel.

Mr. Atkins : The marketing costs of the British Steel flotation will be reported in due course in the usual way together with the other costs of the flotation.

EC Research Council

Mr. Curry : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress was made at the meeting of the Research Council of European Community Ministers on 17 November, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I represented Her Majesty's Government at the meeting of the Community's Council of Ministers (Research) in Brussels on 17 November.

The Council agreed common positions on three programmes within the overall provisions of the Community's 1987-91 framework programme for R and D :

ECLAIR, a programme covering agro-industrial technologies which is aimed at improving links between agriculture and industry with Community funding of 80 mecu (£53 million) over five years ; SPES, a programme with Community funding of 6 mecu (£4 million) over four years, which is intended to promote European collaboration in economic science by improving the training, communications and mobility of economists within the Community and stimulate economics research networks at the European level ; and the large facilities programme designed to facilitate wider access by European researchers to large-scale European scientific facilities.

The programme will provide Community funding of 30 mecu (£20 million) over four years for contributions to the operating costs of selected facilities, and, if necessary, to the costs of adaptations or enhancements needed to increase access together with expenditure incurred by visiting scientists.


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The Council discussed a presidency paper on the technological gap between the developed and less developed regions of the Community. There was agreement that although Community R and D policy should take account of the need to strengthen the cohesion of the Community, the need for European industrial competitiveness and technical excellence should be the priority for EC R and D programmes. The Council also received a Commission presentation on proposed Community involvement in European space development.

TRANSPORT

Motorway Maintenance

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is currently taking effectively to monitor the way that maintenance repair work is carried out on motorways so as to avoid unnecessary inconvenience being caused to motorists.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : We avoid unnecessary inconvenience by the programming of essential maintenance work so as to minimise traffic disruption, by giving wide publicity to motorway lane closures, and by special measures such as lane rental schemes and mobile lane closures.

M69 (Roadworks)

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what temporary road signs were erected prior to and including 5 November informing motorists approaching the M69 of the total closure of the south- west-bound carriageway on 5 November.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Temporary road signs were displayed on all approaches to the M69/M1 junction on 5 and 6 November advising motorists of the closure and to follow the diversion route indicated by a circle symbol. No signs were displayed prior to 5 November.

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advance warning or notice was given to motorists advising them of the intention to close the whole of the south-west-bound carriageway of the M69 on 5 November.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The Department issued a press notice on 1 November giving full details of the proposed closures between the M1 near Leicester and the A5 at Hinckley.

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the policy of phasing motorway repair work was not followed on 5 November in respect of the south-west-bound carriageway of the M69 so that at least one lane was kept open to vehicular traffic.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The main works were being carried out on the two-lane section of the M69 near its junction with the M1. There was insufficient space to allow the safe passage of vehicles and provide a safe working environment for the workmen in accordance with the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. As the works were of short duration and there was a reasonable alternative route for the traffic volume involved, expensive contraflow traffic management could not be justified.


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Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the whole of the south-west-bound carriageway of the M69 was closed on 5 November.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : It was closed to enable the removal and replacement of a cracked running surface close to the M1 junction. During the closure other routine maintenance works were carried out along the full length of the motorway between Leicester and Hinckley.

The resurfacing work required the removal and replacement of the wearing course to both traffic lanes close to the M1/M69 roundabout. Due to physical constraints it was not possible to use the hard shoulder as a running lane. The joint report by the Department of Transport and County Surveyors Society provides notes for guidance about the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as they affect personnel required to undertake work on motorways and trunk roads (revised 1985). It requires that a safety zone is provided between the works and live traffic. On motorways this is normally 1.2 m wide.

On the two-lane section of the M69 it was not possible to carry out resurfacing works and provide a safety zone and therefore the decision was taken to close the motorway under a temporary traffic regulation order. The alternative of installing contraflow traffic management was not very practicable and would have been very expensive. Traffic flows on M69 are not as high as on other motorways, such as the M1, and therefore delays caused by diverting the traffic were not expected to be serious. The opportunity was taken to make the most of the closure by carrying out other works such as safety fence repairs, joint sealing, replacement of road studs and replacement of vehicle counting loops. Because there is limited access at junction 2 (A5070 at Hinckley) it was also necessary to close the section of motorway between junction 2 and junction 1 (A5 at Hinckley).

Manchester Airport (Singapore Flights)

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the availability of adequate capacity for north-western travellers wishing to fly to Singapore and about being able to fly direct from Manchester airport ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : I have received a number of representations this year about the level of capacity being mounted on the route between Manchester and Singapore.

United Kingdom and Singapore aviation officials will be meeting early next year to review the possibilities for liberalising air services arrangements between our two countries. This will include arrangements on the Manchester -Singapore route.

M20

Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to make an examination of the capacity of the M20 to the west of Ashford to determine if it has sufficient reserve capacity to accommodate future growth beyond the opening of the Channel tunnel in 1993.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : This will be done in the context of the current regular review of the national trunk road programme.


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Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the proposed starting date for the contracts to be placed late this year and in the spring of next year for the construction of the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford ; and how long this will take.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The first contract is expected to start in January, the second about one month after the contract is let next spring. The contract periods are 27 and 24 months, respectively.

Rating Reform

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the use of the driver and vehicle licensing centre facilities at Swansea for the preparation of Scottish poll tax forms ; and if he will give details of what consultations were undertaken with the driver and vehicle licensing centre unions and of who provided the manpower to operate the machinery and to load and transport the forms.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The supplier of DVLC's paper handling equipment asked to use one of the machines for 10 days to process community charge forms. The request was agreed as the machine was not needed for DVLC work at the time. The forms were processed by company staff, so that there was no reason to consult the DVLC trade unions.

Maritime Law

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will seek to change maritime law to provide for adequate compensation to structures damaged by ships.

Mr. Portillo : Under an international convention agreed in 1976, which came into operation under United Kingdom law on 1 December 1986, shipowners can limit their liability in respect of damage caused by ships. The International Maritime Organisation is to review the limits in the 1976 convention, and as part of that review we will be pressing for a significant increase in the present limits. Parliament decided on the liability regime to be applied to pilots and pilotage authorities as recently as 1987 with the passage of the Pilotage Act 1987.

M4 (Barrier Replacement)

Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the current progress on the programme of barrier replacement on the M4 ; and what information he has on the standard and quality of the original installations.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : In Wiltshire, the support posts for 10.6 km of safety barrier have already been replaced. A further 5.2 km is programmed for this financial year, and 3.4 km for next year. The remaining 26.8 km will be dealt with in subsequent years. Inspections have shown the original safety fence nowhere to be below the standard current at the time it was installed.

Ports

Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures the Government intend to introduce to ensure fair competition between British and foreign ports in 1992.


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Mr. Portillo : We are pursuing the need for open and fair financial relations between public authorities and port undertakings within the European Community. The completion of the single European market will not worsen the competitive position of our ports.

Railways (Deaths)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list by year from 1979 to date, including the total so far this year, the number of deaths that have occurred on the railways in Yorkshire in (a) accidents, (b) suicides and (c) trespassing ; and, of that total, how many were railway staff.

Mr. Portillo : Information on a county basis is not readily available.

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list by year from 1979 to date the number of deaths that occurred on the United Kingdom railways in (a) accidents, (b) suicides and (c) trespassing incidents ; how many have occurred to date in 1988 ; of the above totals, how many were railway staff ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : The table gives the information requested in respect of railways in Great Britain. Details of accidents on Northern Ireland railways are not reported to the Department of Transport. Deaths occurring on the railways of Great Britain--1979 to 1988 :


                    |Accidents (Staff,  |Suicides           |Trespassers                            

                    |included in total                                                              

                    |shown, in brackets)                                                            

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1979                |107 (43)           |180                |134                                    

1980                |69 (32)            |220                |140                                    

1981                |76 (27)            |222                |147                                    

1982                |57 (27)            |166                |130                                    

1983                |69 (28)            |212                |146                                    

1984                |76 (25)            |193                |146                                    

1985                |74 (25)            |168                |150                                    

1986                |72 (16)            |163                |162                                    

1987                |104 (16)           |173                |144                                    

1988                |55 (16)            |97                 |<1>185                                 

<1> Some may transfer to the suicides category when a coroner's verdict is received.                

M25 (Traffic Growth)

Mr. Speed : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the steps he is taking, apart from the construction of a Dartford bridge crossing and the current widening of the western sector of the M25, to ensure that there is sufficient capacity on the M25 and other orbital roads around London to cater for expected traffic growth over the next decade.


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