Mr. Michael Forsyth : Provision is included in the Self-Governing Schools Etc. (Scotland) Bill to enable education authorities in Scotland to pay all or part of the fees, travelling, maintenance and other expenses in respect of a child's attendance at an establishment which makes provision wholly or mainly for persons with pronounced, specific or complex special education needs. The Peto Institute in Hungary is such an establishment. The assistance can include, where appropriate, the expenses of parents or another accompanying person.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : My right hon. and learned Friend is pleased to announce that a first report on environmentally sensitive areas in Scotland was published today and a copy placed in the Library. The report sets out the background to the designation of ESAs in Scotland, the main characteristics and objectives of each of the Scottish ESAs and the arrangements for monitoring the scheme.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the last advice he received from the Nature Conservancy Council concerning the practice of blocking of badger setts and digging of fox earths by fox hunters on Forestry Commission land.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend has received no advice from the Nature Conservancy Council on this subject, although it is possible that council staff have given informal advice to the Forestry Commission on a local basis. I understand, however, that the Nature Conservancy Council is preparing a report which will include discussion of the issue.
Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to give instructions to the Property Services Agency with regard to the erection of a proposed fence around HMS Cambridge at Wembury, Plymouth.
Mr. Neubert : The Property Services Agency, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, submitted a notification under the provisions of circular 18/84 to the South Hams district council of a proposal for the erection of new boundary fencing around the gunnery school at HMS Cambridge. The district council has objected to this proposal. No instructions will be given to the Property Services Agency for the erection of the proposed fence until the matter has been determined in accordance with normal planning procedures.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Attorney-General what is the average time from an appeal being notified to his Department from (a) Bombay high commission, (b) other Foreign Office outposts, (c) the Foreign Office itself, (d) the Home Office to (i) the date of the appeal being set and (ii) the hearing taking place.
The Attorney-General : This information is not recorded in the form requested. Currently, however, it is estimated that the time taken from receipt of the notice of appeal by the immigration appellate authorities in London to the despatch of the appeal papers to both parties' representative in the United Kingdom is four to eight weeks. Appeals cannot thereafter be listed for hearing until both parties' representatives indicate that they are ready to proceed : this is in the hands of the parties, and times vary from a few weeks to several months. If no response is received within nine months the appeal is automatically listed for hearing.
When both parties have indicated their readiness to proceed, the IAA are generally able to list the case for hearing within the following eight weeks, although where a party requests an expedited hearing such requests can usually be met. However, where a party seeks an adjournment, the hearing may take place more than eight weeks after the parties have indicated their readiness to proceed.
Mr. Luce : Full details of private funding of new exhibitions are not held centrally but notable examples of such funding over the last 12 months are The British museum's "Treasures for the Nation" exhibition attracting £150,000 from British Gas. The Tate gallery successfully raised £423,000 in sponsorship for exhibitions, and the
Column 131Science museum's new "Food for Thought" gallery has attracted over £950,000 in commercial sponsorship. Such initiatives are to be encouraged.
Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will introduce regulations to control the use of mechanically recovered meat in food products ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : Mechanically recovered meat is used in a number of meat products. The Food Labelling Regulations 1984 already require that a treatment given to a food, or food ingredient, should be shown in the appropriate place on the label if the omission of such an indication would mislead the purchaser.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total amount spent by the European Economic Community and by member states in subsidising the exports of food and wine in the most recent annual period for which figures are available ; and if he will include in the total the moneys spent on exporting food and wine from intervention stores.
This includes refunds on exports of commodities from the free market and from intervention stocks. The breakdown between member states is shown below.
|mecu |£ million --------------------------------------------- Belgium |297 |201 Denmark |689 |467 Germany |1,543 |1,047 Greece |76 |52 Spain |395 |268 France |2,577 |1,748 Ireland |317 |215 Italy |557 |378 Luxembourg |0 |0 Netherlands |2,698 |1,830 Portugal |2 |1 United Kingdom |636 |431 |------- |------- Total EC |9,787 |6,638
Mr. Ryder : Yesterday, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, handed over to Mr. Raymond MacSharry the EC Commissioner for Agriculture a case to the EC Commission for an extension of the United Kingdom's less-favoured areas by 95,000 hectares of land in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This extension will require the agreement of the Commission before payment of any benefit can be considered. At this stage, I cannot say how
Column 132long it will take to secure that agreement. The form of the submission follows from the initial discussions we have held with the EC Commission, which has made it clear that it will be examining our submission rigorously against the criteria on economic and demographic performance laid down in directive 75/268.
I am arranging for copies of the results of our application of these criteria, together with an illustrative map of the areas submitted to the Commission, to be placed in the Library at the House and in local Ministry offices in the areas concerned. Farmers, who made representations following the 1984 extension, will be notified individually whether their land has been included in the submission.
The environmentally sensitive areas scheme has been warmly welcomed by conservation bodies and farmers alike. Since going to press we have received further applications from over 300 farmers wishing to bring over 9,000 hectares (22,230 acres) of their land into the scheme this year. Overall, this gives us a total of 2,708 applications and agreements covering 110,495 hectares (273,000 acres) of land in England alone since the scheme was introduced in 1987. This represents over 90 per cent. of the land which we considered likely to enter the scheme and shows overwhelmingly the farming industry's commitment to environmentally conscious farming. It points to real progress in conserving some of our most beautiful countryside.
My colleagues the Secretaries of State for Wales and Scotland have made similar announcements. The report sets out how the scheme operates in each of the designated areas and how we intend to assess its impact. I hope it will add to a wider understanding of environmentally sensitive areas and what they are designed to achieve.
Copies of this report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available from HMSO bookshops.
Mr. MacGregor : The main item on the agenda of this Council, at which I represented the Government, was the Commission's proposal for changes to the support arrangements for sheep. The Commission indicated ways in which it might be prepared to adjust its proposal. I emphasised the main points which would be necessary for the proposals to be acceptable to the United Kingdom including the conditions which are necessary for a unified regime. Discussion showed that major differences of view persist and the Council will return to the matter at a subsequent meeting.
Column 133The arrangements for the import of New Zealand butter into the United Kingdom, which some member states regard as closely linked to progress in the support system for sheep, were rolled forward for a further month (July) on the basis of unchanged quantities and prices.
The Council adopted a directive laying down health and hygiene standards for egg products. This will bring legislative standards for pasteurised egg in the Community as a whole up to the level of the best practices already applied by the major United Kingdom egg producers.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the United Christian Broadcasters letter to him on the White Paper, "Broadcasting in the 1990s" ; and if he will place a copy in the Library.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of his Department as to the requirements of each prison in England and Wales to report the finding of drugs ; and how often such reports are required to be made.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : All prison service establishments are required to report to their regional office every find which is made of an illicit drug. A report on each incident should be submitted as soon as possible after the find is made.
Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to introduce legislation giving full voting rights indefinitely to Britons abroad for both United Kingdom elections and European Parliament elections, in line with the rights accorded to other European nationals.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has reached any conclusions, in the light of responses to Home Department consultation papers No. 1 Representation of the People : British Citizens Overseas, issued on 29 April 1988, and No. 2 Representation of the People : Absent Voting, issued on 2 March 1989 ; and if he has any proposals to amend electoral law ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : The Representation of the People Act 1985 brought the United Kingdom into line with most other western democracies by making provision for British citizens to vote whilst living abroad. This step was greatly welcomed by many British citizens worldwide. The detailed arrangements represented a cautious, evolutionary approach. They had the effect, amongst other things, of limiting in time the right to be registered as an overseas elector to five years from the date for which a British citizen was last registered as a United Kingdom resident ; requiring the applicant to make a declaration, including a prescribed statement about residence intentions ; requiring
Column 134the declaration to be attested by a consular official ; and requiring the overseas elector to make a fresh declaration annually. These provisions, stricter than in many other countries, considerably restricted the numbers abroad who could have access to the franchise and imposed significant burdens on those who did. The Government made a commitment, at the time the legislation was passing through Parliament, to review the new arrangements once they were in operation, and, in particular, to reconsider the five-year time limit.
It is evident from the under-use of the franchise during its first three years of operation, and from replies to consultation paper No. 1, that the measures introduced in 1985-86 are unduly restrictive. They exclude from the franchise British citizens working on longer-term contracts abroad, often in the United Kingdom's interests, and they exclude completely anyone who left the United Kingdom before he was old enough to have been included in a register of electors. In addition, applicants are discouraged by the procedures for registration, and they are not reminded of the need to be registered annually, as are their counterparts resident in the United Kingdom.
The overseas electors' franchise deprives too many British citizens abroad of the right to vote and the existing application procedures should be simplified. I am presenting today a Representation of the People Bill to amend the law relating to overseas electors. This would extend to 25 years the period abroad during which British citizens may apply to be registered to vote in United Kingdom parliamentary and European Parliament elections. The Bill would extend the overseas franchise to include those not previously registered as electors in the United Kingdom by reason of age ; and it would remove from the declaration which overseas electors must now make the statement about residence intentions. Proposals to amend the relevant representation of the people regulations, so as to simplify further the registration procedures for overseas electors, will be brought forward.
The Representation of the People Act 1985 also extended, for the first time, the right to a postal or proxy vote to any United Kingdom resident, registered as an elector, who cannot reasonably be expected to vote in person at his allotted polling station at a particular election. This reform meant that holidaymakers, people who had fallen ill, and those whose work took them away from home on polling day could nevertheless exercise their right to vote. Detailed conditions, which applicants for the new absent voting facility must satisfy, are specified in regulations. These include a requirement that applications for an absent vote at a particular election must be attested and, for the most general case, that the attester must not be related to the applicant and shall not have attested any other application in respect of the election for which the application is being made. The general election in 1987 provided the first major test of these new absent voting arrangements, and the attestation requirement gave rise to considerable difficulty with many applications being rejected as a result. We have already greatly simplified the application forms in the light of that experience, but it is clear from the response to consultation paper No. 2 that there should be some easing of the application procedures themselves. Accordingly, proposals to amend the relevant regulations will be brought before this House ; it will be convenient to deal with them at the same time as the regulations relating to overseas electors.
Column 135The Bill which I am presenting seeks also to deal with a pressing difficulty which has developed over the limits on candidates' expenses at parliamentary by-elections. Electoral law makes no distinction for the purposes of such expenses between a parliamentary general election and a by-election. The character of parliamentary by- elections has changed considerably since the law on which the existing scheme is based was passed, over a century ago. They are, increasingly, national events which focus the attention of political commentators and the media and which, consequently, attract the close involvement of the various party organisations. This trend, which is unlikely to be reversed, has implications for the system of controls on candidates' expenses set out in the Representation of the People Act 1983. I propose to review these implications, in consultation with the representatives of the political parties and the returning officers who have responsibility, under the law, for conducting parliamentary elections. As a first step, I am putting in hand the preparation of a public consultation paper which will set out the background and promote consideration of the issues and options involved. Such a review will take time. In the interim it is important that the limits on candidates' expenses at parliamentary by-elections are realistic and take account of the campaigning activity which takes place. Accordingly, the Bill I am presenting today sets a new limit on candidates' expenses at parliamentary by-elections. The new limit, which is four times the one currently specified (which will continue to apply at general elections), is without prejudice to the outcome of the longer-term review I have described.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey who have arrived since the beginning of May were refused admission at airports and removed immediately ; and to which countries they went.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey have arrived since the beginning of May ; how many are currently held in (a) prison, (b) Harmondsworth detention centre and (c) elsewhere ; and if he will list the institutions where they are being held.
Mr. Renton : The information is not readily available in the precise form requested since records do not identify different ethnic groupings. As of midnight on 19 June, 2,838 Turkish nationals had arrived since the beginning of May and had sought asylum ; 81 were detained in prison establishments at Winchester, Dorchester, Exeter and Gloucester ; 92 were detained in Harmondsworth detention centre, Gatwick beehive and Latchmere house remand centre.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Kurdish asylum-seekers from Turkey who have arrived in Britain since the beginning of May have been interviewed about their claim for asylum ; and how many of these have been (a) given refugee status, (b) given exceptional leave to remain, (c) refused leave to remain and removed and (d) refused leave to remain and are awaiting removal.
12 : met the criteria of the 1951 UN convention and have been recognised as refugees ;
38 : have been given leave to remain in the United Kingdom on an exceptional basis ;
5 : are receiving further consideration ;
3 : departed voluntarily before a final decision was reached ; 61 : have been notified of a provisional decision that they do not qualify for asylum and any further information/representations are awaited ;
19 : did not qualify for asylum or leave to enter under the immigration rules, were refused entry and have been returned to Turkey.
In addition, 128 have made voluntary departures after withdrawing their claims for asylum.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the Council of Ministers did not approve the broadcasting directive on 14 June ; and what plans the Commission has to pursue the matter.
Mr. Renton : The directive was not approved on that occasion because not enough member states were in a position to adopt it. It is proposed that the discussion of the Commission's re-examined proposal on the directive will continue under the French presidency.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many overseas visitors were initially refused entry to the United Kingdom in (a) January to May 1988, inclusive, and (b) January to May 1989, inclusive, and what were their nationalities ;
(2) how many Jamaican citizens were initially refused entry into the United Kingdom as not being genuine visitors in (a) January to May, inclusive 1988 and (b) January to May, inclusive, 1989.
Mr. Renton [holding answer 15 June 1989] : The total numbers of passengers by nationality who were refused leave to enter and removed from the United Kingdom between January and April of 1988 and 1989 are given in the table ; figures for May 1989 are not yet available. It is not possible from the information available centrally to ascertain how many sought entry as visitors.
Of the 113 Jamaican citizens removed between January and April 1988 and the 307 removed between January and April 1989, 108 and 273 respectively failed to satisfy the immigration officer that they qualified as genuine visitors under paragraph 17 of the rules. Some of the remainder may also have sought entry as visitors but have been refused for other reasons.
Column 137being illegal immigrants in the first five months of 1989, and in the corresponding five months in 1988 ; and what were their nationalities.
Mr. Renton [holding answer 15 June 1989] : The available information is of persons against whom action was commenced as illegal entrants, which is published quarterly in table 13 of Home Office statistical bulletin "Control of Immigration : Statistics", a copy of which is in the Library. The latest available figures relate to the fourth quarter of 1988 (in Bulletin 10/89). The figure for the first quarter of 1989 will be published in the next issue around the end of this month. A breakdown by nationality of the figures for the first and second quarters of 1988 is given in the following table.
Persons against whom action was commenced as illegal entrants by nationality Number of persons Nationality 1988 |1st Quarter|2nd Quarter ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Europe |182 |162 Austria |3 |2 Bulgaria |1 |- Cyprus |10 |4 Czechoslavakia |2 |- France |5 |- Federal Republic of Germany |- |2 Hungary |2 |4 Italy |2 |2 Malta |- |1 Netherlands |- |1 Norway |- |1 Poland |2 |4 Portugal |20 |51 Romania |1 |- Spain |15 |4 Sweden |3 |1 Switzerland |2 |1 Turkey |108 |72 Yugloslavia |6 |12 Americas |51 |55 Brazil |11 |6 Canada |3 |- Chile |- |4 Colombia |11 |13 Jamaica |12 |16 Mexico |1 |1 Peru |2 |4 Trinidad and Tobago |- |2 United States of America |11 |9 Africa |265 |287 Algeria |21 |23 Egypt |4 |10 Ethiopia |1 |1 Ghana |93 |112 Libya |- |3 Mauritius |5 |3 Morocco |15 |13 Nigeria |118 |111 South Africa |1 |2 Sudan |1 |4 Tunisia |3 |2 Uganda |1 |- Zaire |2 |- Zambia |- |3 Asia |210 |223 Bangladesh |43 |65 China |1 |1 Hong Kong BDTC |9 |3 India |63 |55 Iran |8 |4 Iraq |1 |4 Israel |3 |4 Japan |8 |2 Jordan |- |4 Malaysia |8 |15 Pakistan |33 |39 Phillipines |2 |2 Saudi Arabia |1 |- Singapore |1 |1 Sri Lanka |26 |20 Syria |1 |1 Thailand |2 |3 Australasia Australia |2 |3 Others |30 |38 British Overseas Citizens |4 |- Other countries not otherwise specified |14 |27 Stateless |12 |11 All Nationalities |740 |768
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list year by year for the last 10 years how many tonnes of radioactive material were imported to Sellafield ; what method of transport was used to convey the material to Sellafield ; and from what countries the radioactive material was imported.
Japan, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland.
The bulk of this material has been transported by sea in BNFL's own ships with the balance being sent by rail/sea from European countries. To break this information down by individual years would involve disproportionate effort.
Mr. Brandon-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, in the light of the remarks by the chief constable of Gwent, echoing those by petitioners in Nottingham, of 11 May 1987, Official Report, column 150, he will seek to review the ban against blood testing of unconscious persons involved in motor accidents.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : The White Paper "The Road User and the Law" (Cmnd. 576) published in February this year recorded in paragraph 2.41 the conclusion that the case for taking blood samples from unconscious drivers was not generally yet felt to be sufficiently strong to overcome the present serious legal and ethical issues perceived to be involved.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what powers he has permitted commercial bus companies to operate in the Greater London area which are not under the auspices of London Regional Transport ; and if he will state the conditions under which such services now operate.
Mr. Portillo : Local bus services in London other than those controlled by London Regional Transport are licensed by the metropolitan traffic commissioner under part II of the Transport Act 1985. Between October 1986 and March 1989, 101 licences for local services were granted together with 72 licences for excursions or tours. Conditions attached to licences vary according to the case, and are for the traffic commissioner to decide.
Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what records are maintained of accidents occurring on the public highway involving registered blind or visually handicapped persons ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Our records of injury accidents occurring on the public highway do not include details of the disabilities of people involved. The Department works closely with local authorities and with organisations of blind and partially sighted people to improve facilities available to those who are visually handicapped so that they can go out with greater safety and confidence.
Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will discuss with the chairman of British Rail the action he is taking to secure the route of the Great Central line as far as Rugby as a potential route for trains from the Channel tunnel.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any information on the terms and conditions set out by Pakistan that need to be met before Pakistan would sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will take steps to ensure that holders of Hong Kong British passports are given equal treatment with holders of full British passports in the matter of exit in emergency situations from the People's Republic of China ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : Our policy is to give Hong Kong people holding British nationality exactly the same treatment for consular purposes as any other British national. This approach was demonstrated by the help and advice given to Hong Kong people by the British embassy in Peking and the consulate general in Shanghai during recent weeks.