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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 3 March 1993


Charterline Telephone Service

Mr. Simpson : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what budget he has set aside for the Charterline telephone information service he intends to set up in the east midlands pilot project ; what charges will be made for the service ; how it will be vetted to guarantee that it is politically impartial ; and whether he will also fund other citizens' rights information lines which are not under his political control.

Mr. Waldegrave : The citizens charter unit is still negotiating the contract for this service. Revealing the budget would undermine the charter unit's negotiating position.

Callers will be charged at the local call rate for using the service. The service will direct callers to a contact in the public service organisation which is best placed to answer their query or deal with their complaint. It will therefore be a politically impartial service.

It would not be right to fund other independent information lines which might have other purposes than the provision of information about public service organisations.



Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will set out the terms of the agreement for the forces of NATO to operate outside the areas previously agreed ; and what measures are necessary to amend the North Atlantic treaty.

Mr. Garel-Jones : NATO Foreign Ministers agreed in June and December 1992 that the alliance should support, on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with its own procedures, peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe or the United Nations. NATO Defence Ministers agreed in December that support for UN and CSCE peacekeeping should be among the missions of NATO forces and headquarters. Copies of the communique s from all these meetings are in the Library of the House.

There is no need for the North Atlantic treaty to be amended to permit NATO to operate outside its own area in pursuit of these decisions ; the treaty obliges members of the alliance to respond to an armed attack on one of them within the North Atlantic area, but it does not prevent NATO members from acting collectively outside the North Atlantic area if they so agree.

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Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on current relations with Taiwan.

Mr. Goodlad : For well-known reasons, diplomatic relations do not exist between the United Kingdom and Taiwan. There are many unofficial links, reflecting widespread recognition of Taiwan's growing economic weight. The Anglo-Taiwan trade committee and the Anglo-Taiwan education centre respectively promote commercial and educational exchanges. United Kingdom exports to Taiwan in 1992 totalled £545 million. There is scope for expanding business co-operation in many areas including financial services, investment and joint ventures--such as that between British Aerospace and Taiwan Aerospace Corporation. A new air link between the United Kingdom and Taiwan was recently announced.

EC Social Chapter

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what effect the non-incorporation of the opt-out on the social chapter in the Maastricht treaty into United Kingdom law would have on the competence of the European Court of Justice with regard to the rights of British workers and fair competition between United Kingdom companies and their continental counterparts ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Garel-Jones : Non-incorporation of the protocol on social policy into United Kingdom law would have no effect on the competence of the ECJ to interpret the Treaty on European Union, including the clause of the protocol which states that

"Acts adopted by the Council shall not be applicable to the United Kingdom".


Mr. Dowd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what informal or formal representatives from his Department attended the round table meeting held by UNESCO on 23 February in Paris to bring together artists, writers, journalists and ex-politicians from all sides of the ethnic divide in former Yugoslavia ; and what assessment he has made of the effect of an application by the United Kingdom to rejoin UNESCO on such peacemaking and peacebuilding initiatives.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The round table was not attended by any United Kingdom representatives. We welcome Se nor Mayor's initiative in organising the meeting. We have made no decision on a resumption of UNESCO membership. The work of UNESCO in this and other fields will obviously be taken into account in reaching any decision.

Council of Ministers

Mr. Clappison : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the forthcoming business in the European Community's Council of Ministers.

Mr. Garel-Jones : The following meetings are planned :

2 March--Consumer Affairs Council

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8 to 9 March--Foreign Affairs Council

15 March--Economic and Finance Council

15 March--Transport Council

16 to 17 March--Agriculture Council

18 March--Fisheries Council

22 to 23 March--Environment Council

The following subjects are likely to be discussed :

(a) Consumer Affairs Council--2 March

Directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts

Directive on protection of purchasers of timeshares

Future action on labelling of products

Community system on information on accidents

Exchange of information on products which may jeopardise consumer health or safety

Action plan for consumer policy (1990-92)

Proposal for an EC Directive on Comparative advertising amending Directive 84/450/EEC concerning mis- leading advertising

(b) Foreign Affairs Council--8 to 9 March

Relations with Central and Eastern Europe

Association Agreement with Bulgaria

EEA--Protocol of adaptation

Cohesion Fund

Former Yugoslavia

GATT and other trade issues

Commercial Defence Instruments

FSU Textiles Agreement

(c) Economic and Finance Council--15 March

Annual Economic Report and national actions to promote economic recovery in Europe

Convergence programme for Greece (possible)

Carbon/Energy taxation

Progress report

Report of the Court of Auditors for 1991

Travellers' allowances

(d) Transport Council--15 March

Debate on Transport White Paper (11011/92)


External relations (5080/90) (4146/93)

Computer reservation systems

Air traffic management equipment and systems (8420/92)

Land Transport

Transport Infrastructure Programme (1993-1994) (8065/92) (10437/92)

Trans European Networks :

Guidance for roads (8065/92)

Inland waterways (8065/92)

Combined transport (8066/92)

Fiscal harmonisation (heavy goods vehicles)

Road haulage cabotage (10038/91) (4943/92) (5334/92) (7662/92) (8315/92) (10855/92) (10881/92)

Transport agreement with Slovenia (5033/93)

Transport of dangerous goods (4954/93)

Road transport external relations (11234/92)

Maritime Transport

Maritime safety communication

Aviation agreement with Switzerland (possible)

Inland waterway external relations (possible)

(e) Agriculture Council--16-17 March

Price fixing proposals (Com(93) 36)

Milk quotas

GATT Agriculture

Processed tomatoes (10485/92 ; 4185/93)

Greek tobacco (possible)

Potatoes (possible) (10483/92 ; 4613/93)

(f) Fisheries Council--18 March

Control system for the Common Fisheries Policy (9019/92) Spanish/Portuguese Accession (4158/93)

Harmonised technical conservation measures in the Mediterranean (11229/92)

High seas fisheries (possible)

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Market situation of fisheries products

European fisheries research (possible)

Third country agreements (possible)

(g) Environment Council--22-23 March

ECO Audit regulation (5218/92)

CO2 monitoring decision (7569/92)

Carbon/Energy tax (7018/92)

Ratification of Climate Change Convention (11233/92)

Ratification of Biodiversity Convention (4593/93)

Volatile Organic Compounds emissions directive (VOCS) (Stage I) (8348/92)

Hazardous waste incineration directive (5761/92)

CITES regulation (10500/91)

Emissions from motor vehicles (4142/93)

The Consumer Affairs Council will meet on 2 March. The directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts will be discussed by Ministers in the hope that it may be adopted. Discussion will also focus on : a directive on the protection of purchasers of timeshares ; future action on the labelling of products ; the possible extension of the European home and leisure accident surveillance systems (EHLASS) for a further five years ; the exchange of information on products which may jeopardise consumer health or safety and the action plan for consumer policy (1990-92). The proposal for an EC directive on comparative advertising, on subsidiarity grounds, will also be discussed by the Council.

The Foreign Affairs Council will meet on 8 and 9 March. The Council will discuss the EC's relations with central and east European countries and sign an association agreement with Bulgaria. Ministers will be asked to agree a protocol of adaptation to the EEA agreement which would allow it to come into force without Switzerland. Ministers will than discuss the cohesion fund ; former Yugoslavia ; progress on the GATT negotiations ; Commercial defence instruments and a textiles agreement with former Soviet Union states. The Economic and Finance Council will meet on 15 March, when Ministers will consider formal adoption of the Commission's annual economic report. Further discussion will take place on actions to promote economic recovery in the Community and there is also expected to be a brief discussion of a progress report on the Commission's proposal for carbon/energy tax. The Council will examine the report of the Court of Auditors on the 1991 budget with a view to making a recommendation to the European Parliament on giving the Commission a discharge with respect to the implementation of the 1991 budget. Ministers may also discuss the economic convergence programme for Greece and increases in the current allowances for travellers from third countries.

The Transport Council will meet on 15 March. The Council will discuss aviation external relations and trans-European network guidelines. Other subjects for discussion by Ministers include : the transport infrastructure programme ; inland waterways and combined transport ; road freight fiscal harmonisation ; road haulage cabotage ; the transport of dangerous goods ; road transport external relations and the transport agreement with Slovenia. Additional aviation items include : computer reservation systems and air traffic management equipment and systems. Ministers may also discuss inland waterway external relations and a proposed aviation

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agreement with Switzerland. There will also be a Commission presentation on the maritime safety communication.

The Agricultural Council will meet on 16 and 17 March. Ministers will discuss the 1993-94 price-fixing proposals ; milk quotas ; the agricultural aspects of the GATT negotiations and processed tomatoes. They may also discuss Greek tobacco and the review of the potato regime.

The Fisheries Council is due to meet on 18 March. Ministers will discuss the proposed control and enforcement regulation ; review of the accession arrangements for Spain and Portugal ; harmonised technical conservation measures in the Mediterranean and the market situation for fisheries products. They may also discuss the Community policy on high seas fishing ; European fisheries research and negotiating mandate for a fisheries agreement with the Russian Federation.

The Environment Council will meet on 22 and 23 March, when Ministers hope to reach agreement on the ECO-audit regulation, the volatile organis compounds (Stage 1) emissions directive, the CO monitoring decision and ratification of the climate change convention. The Council will also discuss : carbon/energy tax ; ratification of the biodiversity convention ; the hazardous waste incineration directive and the CITES regulation. The Commission will present its communication on marine pollution and may make presentations on substances that deplete the ozone layer (hydrochlorofluorocarbons and methyl bromide) and emissions from motor vehicles.

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