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Endangered Species

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many prosecutions were entered as a result of articles relating to rare and endangered species seized by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in the year to 31 March 1990.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 8 February 1991] : During the year in question four prosecutions, involving five persons, were instituted under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, for attempted evasion of the endangered species restrictions. All related to live creatures or plants, rather than to articles derived from them.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, further to his answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 678, if he will give details of the 1,546 live animals and birds seized by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in the year to 31 March 1990 ; and what is Her Majesty's Government's policy in respect of the disposal of such creatures.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard [holding answer 8 February 1991] : The total of 1,546 live animals and birds was made up of the following categories :


Category      |Number seized              

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

Monkeys       |8                          

Wild feline   |1                          

Snakes        |171                        

Tortoises     |48                         

Turtles       |90                         

Lizards       |571                        

Frogs         |40                         

Toads         |50                         

Salamanders   |12                         

Parrots       |22                         

Other birds   |533                        

As to disposal of such creatures, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 21 July 1990 at column 417. Policy in this area remains unchanged.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Latin America

Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new policies Her Majesty's Government are proposing for the improvement of co-operation with the democratic Latin American Governments in their efforts to (a) consolidate democracy, (b) restore or improve freedoms, (c) promote social justice and (d) gain better access to the EC markets.

Mr. Garel-Jones : We take every opportunity to strengthen our excellent relations with Latin American countries, encourage respect for democratic freedoms and human rights and foster trade and investment. In allocating development aid, we increasingly apply the good government criteria outlined by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth


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Affairs in his speech to the Overseas Development Institute on 6 June 1990. We are also working for an early and successful conclusion of the GATT round.

Hong Kong

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements he has made to safeguard the position after 1999 of Catholics in Hong Kong who do not join the Patriotic Chinese Church ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The Sino-British joint declaration on the future of Hong Kong, the Basic Law for the Hong Kong special administrative region and the international covenant on civil and political rights, which will continue to apply to Hong Kong after 1997, all make provision for the continuation of freedom of religious belief and practice in Hong Kong after 1997.

Ex-prisoners of War

Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have received from British ex-prisoners of war about their treatment while working for I.G. Farben during the second world war.

Mr. Garel-Jones : We have received a number of representations. Some cases of mistreatment by individuals were investigated after the War with a view to war crimes proceedings, but, as a general matter, we do not consider that treatment of prisoners of war who worked for I.G. Farben can be shown to have been contrary to the 1929 Geneva convention. There is no basis to raise this matter with the German authorities.

China

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of the People's Republic of China regarding the imprisonment of Catholics at Baoding and Yixian in Hebei province.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are seeking details of the specific cases referred to by the hon. Member. We have raised our concerns over the treatment of Catholics in China on a number of occasions. Together with our European partners, we made representations about the imprisonment of Catholics in China in February 1990. My hon. Friend the then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also raised this with the Chinese Government during his visit to Peking in July.

Third Geneva Convention

Dr. Twinn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if there are any conditions under which a signatory to the third Geneva convention may be permitted to refuse to observe any or all of its obligations under that convention.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. The third Geneva convention does not have a provision for derogation and is binding on all its parties, which include Iraq.


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The Gulf

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussion he has had with the Government of Jordan about bombing of the Iraq-Jordan highway.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have received reports from the Jordanian Government of bombing incidents on the highway in late January.

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to that part of United Nations Security Council resolution 678 referring to the restoration of international peace and security as being applicable to a wider area than that covered by Arab Gulf states.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 30 January at column 525. Security Council resolution 678 is concerned with the illegal Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait and measures taken to restore international peace and security in that area.

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what approach he has received from the Iranian Government about their peace plans for the Gulf ; and what response he has sent.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Iranian Government are reported to have put forward to Iraq certain suggestions for achieving a peaceful solution to the current crisis. The details have not been disclosed, but we would support any proposal based on a complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and full compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on surveys conducted by the United Nations, or any international body of which the United Kingdom is a member, into the efficacy of sanctions against Iraq up to 16 January.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 17 December to the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Mr. Young), at column 71. The UN has not published any survey on the efficacy of sanctions against Iraq up to 16 January. We are not aware of any such survey published by other international organisations to which we belong.

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to propose the permanent sitting of the United Nations during the Gulf war so that all peace proposals can be examined on the international stage.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : As required under article 28 of the charter, the UN Security Council is so organised as to enable it to function continuously.

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has received from the United Nations Secretary-General about bombing of vehicles on the main Iraq-Jordan highway ; and what response he has made.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have received no communications from the UN Secretary-General on this subject.


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Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on statements made by or reports issued from United Nations senior officials or its offices, as to the level of casualties, military and/or civilian, in Iraq and Kuwait.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have no information on casualty levels in Iraq or Kuwait from United Nations sources. The Amnesty International report published in December describes conditions and civilian casualties in Kuwait under Iraqi occupation.

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take action to place the costs of the Gulf war to individual members of the European Community to joint European account in relation to the dependence of individual Community members on Gulf oil.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No.

AEA Fuel Services

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Newport, West on 21 January 1991 at column 50, if the United Kingdomn embassy ián Oslo promoted any services offered by the United Kingdom AEA Fuel Services.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : UKAEA Dounreay has sought and received from the British embassy in Oslo advice on marketing services relating to offshore oil installations, but the embassy has not been engaged in the promotion of its services.

Israel

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Israel about the curfew imposed upon Palestinians in the west bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem ; and what replies he has received.

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what immediate action he intends to ensure that Israel removes the curfew currently imposed on the Palestinians of the west bank and Gaza strip.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Twelve have agreed to make an early demarche to the Israeli authorities to press for an easing of the curfew. Meanwhile, we understand that the Israelis are taking steps to ease the curfew.

Phnom Penh

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department visited Phnom Penh between 1981 and 1990 inclusive ; and if he will give the dates of the visits in each case.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : No Foreign and Commonwealth Minister visited Phnom Penh between 1981 and 1990. Officials from the British embassy in Bangkok and the ODA have twice visited Phnom Penh from 8 to 16 December 1989 and from 31 August to 6 September 1990.


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Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish a list of the equipment stolen from his Department in the last three years for which information is available ; and what was the approximate value of each item.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The following items of equipment have been reported stolen from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the past three years :


                             |£ each|£              

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

Two desk fans                |20.00   |40.00            

Two answer phones            |60.83   |121.66           

Two telephones from lifts    |7.00    |14.00            

One tape recorder            |-       |47.50            

Two office cleaning machines |250.00  |500.00           

                                      |---              

  Total                      |-       |723.16           

Ambassadors

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the number of Her Majesty's ambassadors currently in post who do not come from the ranks of career diplomats ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : There are currently no ambassadors or high commissioners who are other than career members of Her Majesty's diplomatic service.

Beirut

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made this year concerning the Christian community in Beirut.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have frequently urged the Lebanese Government to pursue a policy of peace and reconciliation. Further bloodshed will only cause more suffering.

Middle East

Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take through the United Nations to ensure that any long-term plans to make the middle east a region free from weapons of mass destruction would apply to Israel in the same way as they would to Arab countries.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Any middle east zone free from weapons of mass destruction would by definition have to include Israel as well as Arab states. President Mubarak proposed such a zone in 1990. We understand that the Egyptians are considering how to take their initiative forward. We would look carefully at any further proposals. In the meantime, we shall continue to pursue controls on nuclear and other sensitive technologies through the respective international fora.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

The Gulf

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to introduce a know-how programme for middle east states,


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similar to that available to Poland and other central and eastern European states, following the conclusion of hostilities in the Gulf war.

Mrs. Chalker : The Government already have technical co-operation programmes under the overseas aid programme providing know how to a number of middle east states.

Ethiopia

Mr. Aitken : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will specify the nature of the economic co- operation with Ethiopia which the Minister for Overseas Development discussed in Addis Ababa with President Mengistu last month.

Mrs. Chalker : I had discussions with Ethiopian Ministers about their economic reform programme. I urged them to reach full agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, since this will be necessary in order to attract additional flows of development aid from the international community. I drew attention to the fact that the United Kingdom makes its contribution to Ethiopia's development through our participation in the European Community's development programme.

Commonwealth Development Corporation

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans to increase the funding of the Commonwealth Development Corporation during 1991.

Mrs. Chalker : No final decision has yet been taken on the level of funding of the Commonwealth Development Corporation for 1991-92.

Third World Debt

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at which conferences dealing with third world debt reduction he was represented during 1989 and 1990.

Mrs. Chalker : The Secretary of State attended the Houston economic summit in 1990. Sir Geoffrey Howe as Secretary of State attended the Paris economic summit in 1989. The permanent secretary of the Overseas Development Administration was a member of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's delegation for the 1989 and 1990 annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World bank, and the six-monthly meetings of their interim and development committees. He also attended the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meetings in Jamaica in 1989 and in Trinidad in 1990, where Britain launched new proposals on reducing the official debt of the poorest countries. I have attended a number of international gatherings at which debt has been discussed, including the United Nations special session on economic recovery and development in April 1990.

Bilateral Aid

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average level of per capita aid to (a) former British colonies and (b) other nations.


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Mrs. Chalker : The average level of British bilateral aid per capita to former British colonies in 1989 was £0.50 and to other developing countries £0.09.

African Refugees

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department intends to provide for African refugees during 1991.

Mrs. Chalker : The aid programme is managed in a way that allows us to respond quickly to refugee needs as they arise.

Foreign Aid

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total level of British overseas aid in each of the past five years at constant prices.

Mrs. Chalker : The level of total United Kingdom gross public expenditure on aid in each of the last five years at constant prices was :


Year        |£,000                

            |Constant               

            |1989 prices            

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

1985        |1,641,558              

1986        |1,616,168              

1987        |1,476,461              

1988        |1,780,848              

1989        |1,787,863              

TRANSPORT

European Community (Representations)

11. Mr. Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in what areas there have been joint approaches by his Department and Irish Government officials to the European Community on transport matters.

Mr. Rifkind : There have been no such approaches, but I and my Department keep in close contact with Irish colleagues on all matters of common transport interest.

Anglo-Scottish Air Services

12. Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to transfer any of the existing Anglo- Scottish air services which operate in and out of Heathrow to any other airport in the south-east of England ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. and learned Friend has no such plans.

Vehicle Emissions

13. Mrs. Irene Adams : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to reduce vehicle emissions.

Mr. Chope : From the end of 1992, all new cars will have to comply with strict new Community standards to control their emissions. We also intend to introduce an emissions check in the MOT test later this year.


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The Government are also seeking to persuade the Community to adopt the strict US 1994 standards for emissions from trucks and buses.

A38

14. Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to conclude his investigations into the future status of the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth.

Mr. Chope : Consultants have still to be appointed for the assessment of the needs of the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth which was announced in "Roads for Prosperity".

The assessment is likely to take about 12 months. Once it is complete, further consideration can be given to the need for and form of any improvement scheme.

Waterloo Station (Suburban Services)

15. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent opportunities he has taken to travel officially on Network SouthEast's suburban commuter lines services into or from Waterloo station.

Mr. Freeman : I recently travelled with my hon. Friend on Network SouthEast services into Waterloo to see at first hand travelling conditions and to identify problems that commuters experience on these lines.

Air Traffic

16. Mr. Wilshire : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss the air traffic distribution rules.

Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. and learned Friend met the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority on 4 February ; the air traffic distribution rules were not discussed.

Second Severn Crossing

17. Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he is proposing to visit the site for the second Severn crossing.

Mr. Freeman : I have already visited the site proposed for the English landfall of the bridge.

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the recent meeting between his officials, representatives of Laing GMT, and English Stones Fishery Partnership regarding compensation for disturbance of fishing rights concomitant upon the construction of the second Severn crossing.

Mr. Freeman : A meeting has been held with the English Stones Fishery Partnership concerning the possible effects of the proposed second Severn bridge on the partnership's fishing rights. The partnership has now deposited a petition against the Severn Bridges Bill. It will now be for the Select Committee to consider that petition in the normal way.

Channel Tunnel

18. Mr. Moate : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the total investment by British Rail in improved rail services which will be in place for the proposed opening of the channel tunnel.


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Mr. Freeman : British Rail plans to invest £1.4 billion to enable international passenger and freight services to begin when the tunnel opens. However, as my right hon. and learned Friend told my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) on 5 December, at column 121, it is unlikely that the trains for the daytime north of London through passenger services will be ready until 1994.

Airport Security

19. Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his discussions on the current level of security at British airports.

Mr. McLoughlin : There is nothing I can add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) on 29 January at column 446.

Docklands Light Railway

20. Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for the future ownership of the docklands light railway ; and if he has given any direction to London Regional Transport in respect of its disposal.

Mr. Freeman : We have no plans to change the ownership of the docklands light railway and no direction has been given to London Regional Transport in respect of its disposal.

Train Doors

21. Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many young people have been injured or killed in accidents caused by falling from the doors of moving trains for each of the last five years.

Mr. McLoughlin : There have been some 270 casualties in accidents involving people falling from trains in the last five years, including provisional figures for 1990. Her Majesty's railway inspectorate does not keep separate records of accidents involving young people.

Greater Manchester Relief Road

22. Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to release the details he has received of a proposed alternative route for the Greater Manchester northern and western relief road.

Mr. Chope : This route is still at the initial stages of assessment. If it proves to be a viable proposition, details will be released when public consultation takes place. I cannot say yet when that will be.

British Rail (Disabled Access)

23. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he proposes to discuss station access for the disabled when he next meets the chairman of British Rail.

Mr. Freeman : The decision whether to improve access to stations lies with British Rail. It is for BR to design and plan improvements with the help of its disability adviser, and to judge any proposals against other schemes and the resources available.


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Freight Services

24. Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has received any proposals from British Rail about additional investment in freight services.

Mr. Freeman : British Rail's 1990 plan includes some £900 million investment in freight over the period 1990-91 to 1994-95. Since last spring, we have given approval for BR to invest over £120 million in new wagons and locomotives and the electrification of the line from Tonbridge to Redhill. There are currently no outstanding investment cases for rail freight investment with the Department.


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