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Column 762Weymouth & Portland
Windsor & Maidenhead
Total England and Wales--242
Mr. Sainsbury : There are 104 St. Helenians in Britain on work permits, who are employed in semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, mainly in the hotel and domestic service sectors. In addition, it is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 people of St. Helenian extraction currently in the United Kingdom, many of whom are second or third generation residents.
Mr. Sainsbury : Seventy-one people are presently receiving unemployment benefit in St. Helena. In addition, 105 are working three days per week as part of a community scheme for the unemployed. In 1988 a total of 125 people were working in the latter category. No other figures are available.
Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's current proposals for measures of information exchange at the conventional forces in Europe talks required each party to provide information on the types of each of the main categories of weapon equipment holdings.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Vietnamese Government concerning the political prisoners detained without trial in prison in Vietnam.
Mr Sainsbury : We have, with our partners in the European Community, raised the question of political prisoners with the Vietnamese authorities. The Twelve have also raised at the United Nations continuing reports of abuses of human rights in Vietnam, and have called on the Vietnamese to release, without delay, those prisoners detained without a fair trial.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Government Ministers last met the Dalai Lama ; and what plans they have to meet him to discuss the position in Tibet.
Mr. Mullins : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what changes Her Majesty's Government have made to their plans to send a representative to Phnom Penh in view of representations from the United States Government ;
(2) what representations have been received from the United States Government regarding Her Majesty's Government's intention to send a delegation to Phnom Penh ; and what has been Her Majesty's Government's response ;
(3) when the recently announced diplomatic mission to Phnom Penh will take place.
Mrs. Chalker : The Government regularly exchange views with the Government of the United States. As indicated by my answer on 23 November to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) two officials, one from the British embassy in Bangkok and the other from the Overseas Development Administration are currently in Cambodia. The dates of their visit are 8 to 17 December.
Mr. Key : To ask the Minister for the Arts what representations he has received following the decision of the Victoria and Albert museum to call in and store (a) the Recording Britain collection of paintings commissioned in 1939 and (b) the 67 paintings from that collection on public display in Wiltshire ; and what will be his response.
Column 764Victoria and Albert museum has recalled the watercolours currently out on loan in order to ensure their long-term preservation. The paintings will be available for anyone to see on request and the museum will look favourably on requests for loans for specific displays provided the environmental and security conditions are satisfactory.
Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to announce (a) the current year's transport supplementary grant determination and (b) his conclusions on the representations made to him by the hon. Member for Stockton, South about the Thornaby bypass.
Mr. Atkins : We plan to announce details of the 1990-91 transport supplementary grant settlement for England within the next few days. All hon. Members will be informed individually of decisions relating to their constituency.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many contracts over £92,500 have been let by his Department in the 1988-89 financial year and in the current financial year to date ; and how many of these were (a) automatically renewed and (b) open to competition by advertisement throughout the European Community.
Mr. Atkins : The number of contracts awarded by the Department of Transport and covered by the provisions of the EC supplies directive, for which the current threshold is £92,000, was 35 in the calendar year 1988, and 45 so far in this calendar year. Of these 31 were awarded following advertisement in the EC Journal, and 49 were considered to be exempt from advertising.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many outside accountancy firms are employed by his Department ; whether such employment is subject to guidelines ; and whether he takes steps before employing an accountancy firm to discover whether the firms have been censured by Department of Trade and Industry inspectors in their inquiries under the Companies Act.
Mr. Atkins : The Department is currently taking advice from five accountancy firms on various subjects including financial and management consultancy, audit and information technology. In appointing firms the Department follows Treasury guidelines and consults the Treasury on each individual case, before a commission is awarded. No separate consultation is generally undertaken with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Mr. Bernie Grant : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department consulted the European Commission regarding the special protection area in the Lee Valley which could be affected by the road proposals in the east London assessment studies ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 765Mr. Atkins : No.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the extent of contamination of the exchange land in Wanstead for common land proposed to be taken for the M11 link road ; when the assessment was made and with what result ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : The only exchange land on offer in Wanstead in connection with this scheme is for land which would be taken from Epping forest. An assessment of part of the site was made in 1982 for an earlier road scheme. It showed that the land was suitable for use as public open space.
In response to representations at the current public inquiry the Department's consultants made investigations of the remainder of the site on 22 November last. Their preliminary findings are expected in the next few days. I shall put a copy in the Library.
Mr. Watts : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what amounts of borrowing approval have been granted to Berkshire county council for highways purposes on each of the last five financial years ; and how much was used by the council in each of those years for highways purposes.
Column 766power. The latter can be supplemented by the use of capital receipts. Details of actual borrowing are not available ; the table compares highways capital allocation with total highways expenditure.
£ million |Highways |Total capital |highways allocation |expenditure ------------------------------------------------ 1985-86 |10.280 |<1>6.003 1986-87 |11.060 |<1>4.773 1987-88 |9.110 |<1>10.978 1988-89 |10.540 |<2>11.021 1989-90 |4.880 |<3>9.068 <1> Actual. <2> Provisional. <3> Budgeted.
Mr. Watts : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what amounts of transport supplementary grant have been allocated to Berkshire county council in each of the last five years ; and how much of the allocation was used by Berkshire county council in each of those years.
Mr. Atkins : Transport supplementary grant is paid at a flat rate of 50 per cent. on an accepted programme of named major (over £1 million) schemes and on an undifferentiated block of minor (under £1 million) works. The table compares Berkshire county council's expenditure accepted for grant in each of these categories with the equivalent outturn information.
£ million Accepted expenditure on mEquivalentesAccepted Equivalent |outturn |expenditure|outturn expenditure |on minor |expenditure |works 1985-86 |5.570 |<1>4.176 |0.332 |<1>0 1986-87 |6.269 |<1>2.868 |0.339 |<1>0.230 1987-88 |6.704 |<1>5.753 |0.300 |<1>0.046 1988-89 |7.226 |<2>6.119 |0.300 |<2>0.845 1989-90 |3.911 |<3>3.629 |0.479 |<3>1.285 <1>Actual. <2>Provisional. <3>Budgeted.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will approach Governments of technically advanced countries with proposals to provide sophistica-ted airport security equipment to developing countries, free of charge or at reduced charge.
Mr. McLoughlin : The provision of sophisticated equipment can be ineffective and wasteful unless the necessary supporting administrative framework is in place. We are assisting developing countries to introduce the organisation, legislation and training to support their own aviation security programmes. We are paying the salaries of two security specialists within the International Civil Aviation Organisation who have the specific task of helping states to do this.
Column 766caused by shortages of diesel multiple units and maintenance staff ; what action is being taken by British Rail to rectify these problems ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : As it happens, I am meeting the West Yorkshire passenger transport authority today. I understand that BR has taken action including pre-planned cancellations, short formations of some trains and operating some loco-hauled trains. BR is keeping the local passenger transport authorities fully in the picture regarding its problems, plans and solutions.
Mr. Lee : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has about the British Railway Board's proposals for passenger and freight services through the Channel tunnel ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 767section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987. This plan sets out the board's current proposals for commercially viable passenger, freight and parcels services through the Channel tunnel serving various parts of the United Kingdom.
In addition to the board's proposals for passenger services between London and Paris and between London and Brussels, the plan includes proposals for a number of direct through services between destinations beyond London and mainland Europe providing over 3 million seats a year. The amount of traffic that will be attracted to such services is difficult to judge exactly before the Channel tunnel opens, and the board's proposals are intended to test the market for them. The initial service level may be expanded if the actual traffic exceeds expectations. If on the other hand the actual traffic level is insufficient to justify some of the services proposed, the board will need to reconsider the case for continuing to provide them. I am, however, optimistic that passengers will be keen to take advantage of this exciting new opportunity to travel directly between the regions and mainland Europe without having to change trains in London.
The plan also sets out the board's current proposals for freight and parcels services. I have asked the board to consider how they might improve the financial performance of their non-bulk freight sector to maximise the involvement of the private sector, and to reshape the business to seize the new opportunities presented by the Channel tunnel. I expect the board's proposals to develop, as their non-bulk strategy develops. Over 70 per cent. of the forecast rail freight traffic through the Channel tunnel will begin or end its journey beyond London, and the board's freight proposals reflect this emphasis. The detailed pattern of services is still under discussion with the board's freight customers and with potential private sector partners, but it is clear that the board's plans are based on the operation of fast through freight services between the United Kingdom regions and mainland Europe. These services will transform the opportunities available to United Kingdom manufacturers and traders for sending their goods through to the rest of Europe. Goods from Scotland and the north of England will be able to reach some continental destinations within 24 hours, and more distant places such as Munich and Milan within 48 hours, compared with the current transit time by road and ferry of at least 72 hours.
British Rail announced on 3 November that it had selected Eurorail, comprising Trafalgar House and BICC, as its preferred partner in a joint venture for Channel tunnel rail services. In addition to operation of the initial pattern of rail services through the tunnel, the joint venture will be responsible for constructing a new rail link between London and the tunnel ; there is already a very high standard of rail infrastructure on the lines beyond London. Through services between the United Kingdom regions and mainland Europe are not, however, dependent on the construction of the new link. The proposals set out by British Rail in its plans are intended to come into effect as soon as the tunnel opens, and British Rail is confident that its existing network will have sufficient capacity for the additional Channel tunnel traffic for a number of years before the new link is needed.
I welcome the publication of this plan, which sets out clearly British Rail's proposals for making the most of the opportunities offered by the tunnel. Others will now want to express their views on the proposals put forward. The
Column 768plan can do no more than set out British Rail's current view of the opportunities, and I have no doubt that British Rail will continue to develop its plans, both during the period up to the opening of the tunnel and thereafter, as the pattern of demand and the associated commercial opportunities become clearer.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many market research and sample surveys were carried out by or for his Department in the last 12 months ; what was the cost of each ; what was the total cost ; how many were carried out in house ; how many were carried out for his Department by outside organisations ; and what percentage of the total expenditure was paid to outside organisations.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 11 December 1989] : In the 12 months ended November 1989, a total of 79 market research and/or sample surveys were carried out by or for the Department of Transport. The total cost of this work was £2.7 million.
Of the 79 surveys, 12 were carried out in house and 67 were undertaken by outside organisations. The total cost of surveys contracted out was £2.5 million, or 93 per cent. of the cost of all such work.
The Prime Minister : We greatly welcome current developments in Poland, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia which are moving towards democracy and freedom. We are also closely watching developments in Bulgaria and hope that they will lead in the same direction. We are taking many practical steps to help this process and are prepared to do more.
Column 769The Prime Minister : No. Field sports are a matter for the decision of the individual.
Q165. Dr. Godman : To ask the Prime Minister what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to stop industrial waste dumping in the North sea, by 31 December, in line with its written declaration at the second ministerial conference on the protection of the North sea in 1987 ; and if she will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom is fully meeting international agreements reached unanimously by the North sea countries. Ministers at the second North sea conference agreed that disposal at sea of industrial wastes should not be prohibited if there were no practical alternative means of disposal on land and if it could be shown to the Oslo commission that the materials caused no harm in the marine environment. The Oslo commission in 1989 agreed the procedure by which a country would show that a waste met these criteria.
No deadline has been set internationally for termination of sea disposal. However, the Government are seeking to end sea disposal of these wastes at the earliest possible time. Of the 20 licences issued in 1987 for disposal of liquid industrial waste at sea more than half will not be renewed next year. The remainder will be terminated as soon as environmentally acceptable alternative means of disposal have been identified and implemented. The Oslo commission agreed earlier this year that even when an alternative disposal option is identified a transitional period will be needed before sea disposal can end, to give time for introduction of the alternative arrangements.
The Prime Minister : Homelessness is a major concern to us all. The Government's hostel initiative has produced 21,000 hostel bedspaces since 1981 ; and some of the special £250 million homelessness package announced on 15 November will directly help vulnerable single people at risk of becoming roofless.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list, for each of the countries of the Warsaw pact what technical and administrative assistance Her Majesty's Government are making available or can offer to assist the conduct of free general elections.
The Prime Minister : Help to prepare for fully democratic elections is a central objective of the know-how Funds for Poland and Hungary. Hungarian and Polish parliamentarians have visited Britain to study democratic procedures. We are also helping with local government training. We hope that other eastern European countries will qualify for such help in due course.
The Prime Minister : I was kept aware throughout of the progress of the negotiations with British Aerospace and was of course aware of the basic terms and conditions of the agreements reached with British Aerospace. This major privatisation has provided an excellent return for the United Kingdom taxpayer, for the Rover work force and dealer network and for the company's customers.
Mr. Sims : To ask the Prime Minister what representation she made to the President of Korea on his recent visit about the level of duties and taxes on Scotch whisky in Korea ; and what further steps Her Majesty's Government plan to take in this matter.
The Prime Minister : I made representations to the Korean President during his visit at the end of November about the discriminatory features of Korea's tax and tariff treatment of Scotch whisky and other imported spirits, as well as other restrictions on the import and distribution of these products. There has been some liberalisation which has benefited Scotch whisky but discriminatory treatment continues to hold back sales in Korea. The Government will continue to take every opportunity, both bilaterally and through the European Community, to persuade Korea to take the necessary actions.
The Prime Minister : I did not discuss Angolan unity with President Bush. The Government have consistently stressed the need for a political settlement in Angola. We support President Mobutu's work as mediator and trust that this will lead to an early end to the fighting and to negotiations without pre-conditions between the MPLA Government of Angola and UNITA.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Prime Minister when she last met the director of Friends of the Earth (UK) ; for how long they met ; what issues were discussed ; and what plans she has to meet other non-governmental organisation environmentalists.
The Prime Minister : I met Mr. Jonathon Porritt, together with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, on 1 December when we discussed a number of environmental issues of mutual concern. I meet representatives of other environmental groups from time to time.
Mr. Nellist : To ask the Prime Minister why Mr. Dennis Griffiths, of 25 Grant road, Stoke, Coventry, has not yet received a substantive reply to his letter of 24 June, following her acknowledgement of its receipt ; and if she will make a statement.
Column 771The Prime Minister : I receive an enormous number of letters each week from Members of Parliament and members of the public. It is not possible for me to deal with all these letters personally and I must accordingly refer most of them to the Minister and the Department with the responsibility for the policy in question.
Mr. Griffiths' letter of 26 June was sent an acknowledgement on 20 July and the letter was passed that day to the Department of Social Security for further action. I understand that a response was sent by the Department of Social Security on 13 December 1989. I very much regret the long delay.
The Prime Minister : I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment are in regular contact with our European counterparts and play an active part in developing constructive Europewide co-operation on a broad range of environmental matters. At the Environment Council on 28 November we supported the creation of a European Environment Agency to improve the quality of environmental information across Europe. The agency will be established initially on a European Community basis, but will subsequently be open to wider European participation.
The United Kingdom is playing an active role in preparations for the ministerial conference on sustainable development to be held in Bergen in May 1990 under the auspices of the United Nations Commission for Europe and we hosted an international preparatory workshop in 24 to 26 September.
My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Transport chaired the special session of the European conference of Ministers of Transport on 23 November, at which Ministers agreed on the need for environmentally sustainable transport policies.