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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 19 January 1994

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Loans

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list, for each scheme operated by his Department under which loans are available, the objectives of the scheme, the number of unrecovered loans, the total value of unrecovered loans, the average number of unrecovered loans for each year since 1990, the average value of unrecovered loans for each year since 1990 and the annual cost of recovering loans.

Mr. Goodlad : The diplomatic service operates five loan schemes for staff. In all cases, beneficiaries sign an undertaking to repay, and unless otherwise stated officers repay by deduction from salary. The schemes and their objectives are as follows :

(i) Housing Assistance Scheme

DS officers returning from service overseas to an appointment in the United Kingdom are faced with the problem of needing to find rented accommodation, or buy a property at a time not of their own choosing : officers are eligible for a salary-related advance, subject to a maximum of £10,500. Repayments are deferred for the first three years, and then repaid over a maximum of nine years. (ii) Overseas Allowances

In order to assist staff in purchasing equipment and establishing their household overseas, advances of allowances are available to officers which are repayable over two years. Advances of up to one month's cost of living allowance--COLA--may be taken by staff who have completed a posting in the United Kingdom : for some difficult postings a three-month advance of COLA is available. Advances of six months representational allowances are available to heads of mission and other senior grade staff.

(iii) Car Loans

Officers need private cars overseas for domestic and operational reasons. A salary-related advance is available to officers appointed overseas after a tour of duty in the United Kingdom, repayable over two years.

(iv) Recreational Advances

This is a small advance made available to junior staff by our missions overseas to help them with the initial cost of joining a local sports club. The loan is repaid to the accountant at the overseas mission within one year.

(v) Season Ticket Advances

This advance is available to staff in the United Kingdom to purchase an annual season ticket for home to office journeys. This enables the Department to widen the recruitment catchment area, and alleviates recruitment and retention problems.

The following loans have not been paid by the due date and recovery action is in hand :


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Scheme   |Year    |Number  |Amount           

                  |of loans|£                

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

Housing  |1989    |1       |1,279            

Housing  |1991    |1       |3,000            

Car      |1993    |1       |531              

                                             

Total    |-       |-       |4,810            

The Overseas Development Administration operates three loan schemes, the objectives and the arrangements for which are similar to those for the diplomatic service.

(i) House Purchase

To assist staff who are transferred to a new location in UK at the Department's behest.

(ii) Overseas Salary Advance

Available to staff and technical co-operation officers on first taking up an overseas appointment to purchase a new vehicle and to stock up on essential equipment.

(iii) Season Ticket/Bicycle Advances

To assist staff with home to office travel.

The following staff loans were not repaid. In both cases, staff resigned without prior notice. ODA initiated recovery action, but on the basis of legal advice, this was not pursued.


Scheme        |Year     |Number of|Amount             

                        |loans    |£                  

                                                      

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

Season Ticket |1990     |1        |547                

Season Ticket |1991     |1        |213                

                                                      

Total         |-        |-        |760                

Two overseas salary advances paid to aid personnel--technical co-operation officers--have failed to be recovered since 1990. One officer has agreed to repay £7,848 over a three-year period. The other has an outstanding balance of £3,400 and recovery action is being pursued by the Treasury Solicitor.

The outstanding loans due to the Department are a minute proportion of the total advanced and recovered without difficulty. Outstanding loan recovery forms a very small part of the responsibilities of a number of officers : it is not possible to quantify in financial terms the amount of manpower expended on pursuing loans with a disproportionate amount of research.

Christmas Cards

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many official Christmas cards were sent out in 1993 by (a) Ministers, (b) civil servants and (c) staff of Government agencies working in or to his Department or the Overseas Development Administration ; and how much these cards cost (i) to buy, (ii) to post and (iii) in staff time to sign, address and place in envelopes.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : A total of 2,410 Christmas cards were sent out in 1993 by Foreign and Commonwealth Ministers. The cards cost £778.25. The other information is not centrally recorded or readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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EC Development Council

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith) of 6 December, Official Report , column 76 , what were the voting figures recorded in the meeting of the European Community's Development Council held on 2 December.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The resolutions of the Development Council on 2 December were adopted by consensus, as is the normal practice.

Iraq

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's Iraq note prepared in the summer of 1990.

Mr. Waldegrave : I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave in reply to a question from the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) on 11 January 1994, Official Report , column 154 .

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Global Commission on Population and Development

Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who are the members of the global commission on population and development ; how many meetings the commission has held ; what is the proposed timetable for its work ; and what is the Overseas Development Administration's contribution to its work.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Two meetings of the Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life have been held. The commission will conduct regional consultations and other activities during 1994 and aims to launch its final report in June 1995. The ODA is providing a grant of £150,000. This includes covering the costs of seconding an ODA population adviser to the commission secretariat for two years. The commission members are :

President Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo --Former Prime Minister, Portugal.

Montique-Begin --Dean of Health Sciences University of Ottawa, Canada. Former Minister of National Health and Welfare.

Ruth Cardoso --Professor and researcher in anthropology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Karina Constantion-David --President of the coalition of 3,000 development NGOs in the Philippines (CODE-NGO) Manila. Former Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Development.

Eleanor Holmes Norton --Congresswoman USA.

Bernard Kouchner --Founder and chairman of the Foundation for Humanitarian Action. Former Minister of Health and Humanitarian Affairs, France.

Ewa Letowska --Law professor, Polish Academy of Sciences. Former ombudsman Warsaw, Poland.

Hannan Mikhail -- Ashrawi official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation in the peace negotiations, Jerusalem.

Vina Mazumdar --National fellow of the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research, New Delhi.

Taro Nakayama --Member of the House of Representatives, Tokyo, Japan. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Olusegun Obasanjo --Founder and chairman of the African Leadership Forum. Former Head of State of Nigeria.

Jan Pronk --Minister of Development Co-operation, Netherlands. Former Member of the Brandt Commission.


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Augusto Ramirez Ocampo --Special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in El Salvador. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Colombia.

Pu Shan --President of the Chinese Society of World Economy, Beijing.

Juan Somavia --Ambassador of Chile to the United Nations, President of the United Nations, President of the United Nations ECOSOC. Aminata Traore -- Social science researcher. Formerly regional co-ordinator UNDP water resources initiative, Cote d'Ivoire. Former President of the Population Council, Mali.

Beate Weber --Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany. Former Member of the European Parliament.

Anders Wijkman --Director General of the Swedish Agency for Research Co- operation with Developing Countries (SAREC).

Alexander N. Yakovlev --Vice-president of the international fund for socio- economic and political research, Moscow.

Ex-Officio, Pierre de Senarclens, Executive Secretary of the Commission, professor of international relations, Lausanne university, Switzerland.

Family Planning

Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contributions for 1994 are being made to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Health Organisation Human Reproduction Programme.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Decisions on the 1994 contributions to these agencies will be made shortly. I will write to my hon. Friend once the agencies have been informed.

Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations have taken place with United Kingdom and other non-governmental organisations on constructing an EC policy on family planning projects in developing countries ; and how many and which non-governmental organisations in the United Kingdom and in other member states have been consulted.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : ODA officials have participated in initial discussions with officials of the European Commission and other member states on the need for an effective consistent EC policy on reproductive health and family planning. The Government would welcome the views of United Kingdom non-governmental organisations once discussions start on substantive issues of policy and strategy.

Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what were the total bilateral disbursements on population activities, and to which countries, for 1993.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : New bilateral commitments totalling £11.2 million were made to Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi in 1993. The figures for bilateral disbursement in 1993 are not yet available.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations have taken place with United Kingdom non-governmental organisations on the issues to be considered by the April 1994 third preparatory committee meeting for the international conference on population and development.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Since the second preparatory committee meeting for this conference, there have been five meetings of the NGO forum convened to engage


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United Kingdom NGOs in United Kingdom preparations for the conference and three workshops. The Government are, as a result, well informed of the views of United Kingdom non-governmental organisations on issues to be considered by the third preparatory committee meeting.

Mr. Robathan : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and which budget lines in the EC development budget are allocated for expenditure on population and family planning projects in developing countries; what was the budget allocation in 1991, 1992 and 1993 for population and family planning projects; and what is the projected budget for 1994.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : One EC budget line, B7-5050 "Financial assistance to family planning programmes in developing countries" is expecially devoted to financing of population projects. In addition, another budget line B7-5047 "Mother and Child Health" includes family planning. A number of other EC budget lines for co-operation with developing countries also finance family planning projects, but it is not possible to disaggregate spending from those lines.

The allocation--in million ecu--for budget line B7-5050 was 1.5 in 1991; 2 in 1992; and 4 in 1993. Five million ecu has been allocated in 1994.

TRANSPORT

MV Braer

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the report of the marine accident investigation branch on the loss of the Braer will be published.

Mr. MacGregor : The report of the marine accident investigation branch's investigation into the loss of the Braer will be published tomorrow, 20 January. Copies of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report of my Department's marine pollution control unit on the loss of the Braer and the lessons to be drawn from it, which has already been made available to Lord Donaldson's inquiry, will also be published tomorrow and copies of it, too, will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Bob Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what agreement has been reached with Eurotunnel concerning the extension by 10 years of the channel tunnel concession period.

Mr. Freeman : I have today placed copies of the agreement in the Library of the House.

Rail Freight

Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether surplus BR freight assets will be made available to companies wishing to operate their own rail freight services.

Mr. Freeman : British Rail's freight businesses will need to retain sufficient assets to enable them to operate safely, effectively and economically and to discharge their obligations to customers.


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However, where assets are identified as surplus to operational requirements, these will be offered for sale by British Rail on a competitive basis. Companies or individuals interested in purchasing such assets should register their interest with British Rail's vendor unit.

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much money his Department has set aside in its 1994-95 budget for making freight facilities grants under the Railways Act 1993 ; how much of this sum has been allocated to date ; and who has been told to date that they will receive such grants ;

(2) how much section 8 grant was paid to encourage the transport of freight by rail in 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 ; how much it is estimated will be paid in 1993-94 ; and how much is budgeted for such grants in 1994-95.

Mr. Freeman : Expenditure on freight facilities grants under both section 8 of the Railways Act 1974 and section 36 of the Transport Act 1981 has been as follows :


Year      |£ million          

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

1990-91   |3.500              

1991-92   |1.239              

1992-93   |1.718              

As grant can be claimed only on receipted invoices submitted during the construction of the rail or inland waterway facilities, it is too early to estimate how much will be expended in 1993-94.

Under the Railways Act 1993 both the existing rail and inland waterway freight facilities grants will be considerably enhanced and a new track access grant for freight service operators introduced. All three measures will be effective from the commencement of the new fiscal year on 1 April 1994 and administered from a single budget which, in 1994-95, has been set at £13.3 million with a present estimate of £43 million over three years. As formal applications cannot be considered until after this date it is too early for my Department to award any grants under the new provisions and I am not in a position to say how the funds will be taken up. Any commitments falling in 1994-95 as a result of previous awards under section 8 of the 1974 act would be met from the new single budget but the amount due will be determined largely by the timing of claims.

Stratford International Station

Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has had on the case for Stratford international passenger station being developed ; what work his Department has done on the transport implications of such a station for Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and I have received representations from the promoters of the station at Stratford, from Ipswich borough council and Norwich city council, and from a number of other organisations, individuals and hon. Members. The comparative analysis in Union Railways' October report includes forecasts of patronage at each prospective intermediate station on the rail link, taking into account likely origins and destinations and the results of detailed transport modelling. We are considering Union Railways' report, together with the representations received, and will announce our decisions shortly.


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Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make an announcement on the route of the high-speed channel tunnel rail link and the stations to be built along the new line ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend expects to make a statement in the next few weeks.

Rail Privatisation

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if a condition will be imposed on companies obtaining franchises to run rail services to provide facilities for through ticketing with providers of other rail services.

Mr. Freeman : Yes.

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if a condition will be imposed on companies obtaining franchises to run rail services to collaborate with other providers of rail services to offer cheap fares at off-peak times.

Mr. Freeman : No. We expect franchise operators to offer discounted off-peak travel as British Rail does now, because it will be in their commercial interest to do so.

Newcastle Bypass

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the diagramatic

representations of starting and end points for journeys based on road traffic surveys in respect of the Newcastle upon Tyne Cradlewell bypass scheme, set out in the same format as the published documentation contained in annex B of the Newcastle city council's case for the Newcastle western bypass scheme.

Mr. Key : The Cradlewell bypass is a local road scheme promoted by Newcastle city council from which the required information should be sought. The Newcastle western bypass was promoted by my Department as a trunk road proposal.

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the key assumptions underpinning the cost- benefit analysis for the Newcastle upon Tyne Cradlewell bypass scheme ;

(2) what assessment he has made of the conformity with his Department's guidelines of the cost-benefit analysis for the Newcastle upon Tyne Cradlewell bypass scheme prepared by Newcastle upon Tyne city council.

Mr. Key : It is not practicable to organise a comprehensive check on the background information supporting every application for transport supplementary grant--TSG. The standard of the Cradlewell bypass submission was within the normal parameters for schemes of this type. The system relies on good practice by local highway authorities. The Department operates a series of scheme audits by independent consultants. It will eventually look into all aspects of TSG submissions, including the reliability of cost and other information and whether the forecast scheme benefits have been realised. This is done on the basis of a sample cross section of schemes. Any significant shortcomings that this initiative throws up will be addressed by refining the control the Department applies, and the advice it offers.


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Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what are the key assumptions underpinning the cost-benefit analysis for the Newcastle upon Tyne Cradlewell bypass scheme ; (2) if he will place a copy of the cost-benefit analysis for the Newcastle upon Tyne Cradlewell bypass scheme in the Library ; and if he will provide the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East with a copy.

Mr. Key : This information is held by Newcastle city council as the scheme promoter.

Bypass Guidelines

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidelines are given by his Department to local authorities in respect of the publication of the cost-benefit analysis for bypass schemes.

Mr. Key : The Department gives no guidance to local authorities about the publication of cost-benefit analysis on any of their road improvement schemes. This is a matter to be decided by the authorities themselves. There is no requirement for authorities to publish any background information to their schemes outside the statutory framework of current legislation.

The annual transport policies and programme submissions which the Department invites authorities to make are available to the public. They contain considerable detail about each major scheme for which the authority seeks transport supplementary grant--TSG. The Department specifies the information it needs to assess applications for TSG in an annual circular issued both to local highway authorities and to district councils that do not have that status. The circular is on sale to the public. The latest edition is local authority circular 2/93, issued on 29 April 1993.

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidelines are given by his Department to local authorities when preparing cost-benefit analysis for bypass schemes.


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