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Mr. Jim Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the Foreign Minister of Bosnia to discuss the latest position in the former Yugoslavia ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs last met the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the European Union meeting with the Bosnian parties on 29 November 1993.
Mr. Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has received from UNPROFOR and NATO on the situation in the Bihac pocket as concerns reports of a resumption of hostilities between Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Government forces.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We receive regular reports on the situation in Bosnia from UNPROFOR through the United Nations. These include the Bihac pocket, where fighting has been reported between both Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Government and Bosnian Government and local Muslim forces.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Our relations with Poland are already close and friendly. There are strong and growing commercial links. I believe the one problem between us, the air services dispute, is close to resolution. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary hopes to visit Poland later this month.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The continuing ceasefire in Sarajevo, and the recent ceasefire agreement between Bosnian Government and Bosnian Croat forces, are welcome steps towards an end to the fighting. We also welcome the agreement between the Bosnian and Croat Governments initialled in Washington yesterday. This is an important step towards a formal negotiated settlement in Bosnia. We are now working intensively with other interested countries to build on these developments. We still believe that a negotiated settlement between the parties is the only way to end the killing.
39. Mr. Connarty : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Bosnia.
Column 751including permanent Security Council members, and with other partners. The most recent formal meeting of the Security Council took place on 14 February.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : On 1 March, Sweden, Finland and Austria reached political agreement with the European Union on their terms of entry. European Ministers also made progress in the negotiations with Norway. There are still difficult institutional questions to be resolved among the present member states before formal agreement can be completed. But we remain committed to concluding the negotiations at the 7-8 March Foreign Affairs Council.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Air strikes cannot enhance international security by themselves. However, in certain circumstances, as in the case of the UN/NATO operation to end the bombardment of Sarajevo, readiness to undertake air strikes can play a useful role as part of a strategy to bring about a peaceful resolution of conflict.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans at present to meet the Israeli Foreign Minister, but we expect to continue to have regular contacts with Mr. Peres to discuss the middle east peace process.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : During his visit to the region from 3 to 7 January, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had useful discussions with key players in the peace process. There are no plans at present for a further visit.
We welcome the announcement in Moscow yesterday that the Bosnian Serbs have agreed to allow Tuzla airport to be opened to humanitarian supplies in the near future.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister took the lead at the NATO summit in proposing that NATO urge the
Column 752United Nations to draw up plans to open Tuzla airport to humanitarian supplies. UNPROFOR has drawn up these plans, which include the possibility of calling for NATO close air support if necessary. These have our full support. As a first stage the Nordic battalion of UNPROFOR is to take possession of Tuzla airport from the Bosnian Government within the next few days. We have offered up to 15 specialists to help to operate the airport.
31. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his United Nations Security Council partners on the subject of policy towards Iraq ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Iraq is discussed regularly by the Security Council. We remain determined that Iraq must comply fully with all its international obligations as set out in Security Council resolutions.
32. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received from the British high commissioner to India and the British high commissioner to Pakistan on the recent allegations of brutality by the Indian security forces against men and women in the Indian-occupied area of Kashmir ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We receive regular information from Her Majesty's High Commissioners in New Delhi and Islamabad about allegations of human rights abuses by the security forces in Kashmir. We remain concerned that abuses continue to take place.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Good progress has been made and the United Kingdom is giving substantial assistance to the transition process. Multi-party elections are to be held on 17 May and voter registration began on 21 February. Political exiles have been allowed to return, and opposition parties legalised. The National Consultative Council is overseeing the transition to multi-party democracy, including the drafting of a new constitution and bill of rights.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has recently made to, or received from, opposition parties in Malawi about the creation of a multi- party democracy in Malawi ;
(2) what representations he has recently made to, or received from, the Government of Malawi about the creation of a multi-party democracy in Malawi ;
(3) what representations he has received from, or made to, individuals, organisations or political parties in other African countries about the creation of a multi-party democracy in Malawi.
Column 753the parties, including the ruling Malawi Congress party, which will be contesting the multi-party elections on 17 May. Most recently my right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Chalker of Wallasey met members of all parties during her visit from 27 to 29 January.
We have responded to requests for help by allocating £270,000 towards the United Nations' electoral assistance project, including the provision of constitutional and boundaries experts. We have had no recent representations from other African countries over Malawi.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Accession negotiations are continuing with Norway after the marathon ministerial session which started on 25 February. Although there are still some difficult issues to be resolved, we remain committed to concluding the negotiations at the 7-8 March Foreign Affairs Council.
36. Mr. Waterson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Kuwaiti Government about delays in dealing with claims against Kuwaiti nationals who sought refuge in the United Kingdom following the Iraqi invasion ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : No representations have been made to the Kuwaiti Government on such matters. Claims against foreign nationals formerly resident in the United Kingdom should be pursued by claimants through such legal means as are available.
37. Mr. Gunnell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the United Kingdom last raised the issue of the civil war in Sudan at the United Nations Security Council ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have not ruled out recourse to the United Nations Security Council but would not want to pursue this option unless we were confident that this would be constructive. We deplore the latest outbreak of fighting in the south, and condemn the bombing by the Sudanese air force of civilian targets. On 21 February we and our European Union partners issued a declaration to this effect, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.
assembly/demobilisation of forces. The parties must address these delays urgently so that the elections can take place on schedule in October 1994.
Column 754The United Kingdom has made a crucial contribution by training 540 Mozambican instructors to train the unified Mozambican army. We shall continue, in the United Nations and elsewhere, to actively support the Mozambican peace process.
Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what is the total cost of United Kingdom aid and assistance to Government and Renamo political and democratic training in Mozambique ;
(2) what assistance he is giving to Renamo in respect of democratic training and the development of political structures.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We have made no direct contribution to democratic training in the development of political structures in Renamo or to political and democratic training in Mozambique. We have, however, provided from diplomatic wing funds £18,000 worth of office equipment for Renamo's office in Maputo, and small amounts for three other parties--PCN, PPPM and UNAMO.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : British Army instructors trained 540 instructors for the new unified Mozambican army, FADM, from October to December 1993. The latter have now returned to Mozambique, where they will train the main infantry battalions of FADM. A small British Army training team is assisting them. Formation of FADM is a crucial part of the peace process.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The Renamo leader met my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Chalker of Wallasey during his visit to London on 22 February 1993 and had talks with officials. Our ambassador in Maputo has travelled to the Renamo base in Mozambique several times and my right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Chalker of Wallasey met Mr. Dhaklama there on 10 December 1993. We continue to maintain regular contacts with Renamo officials in Maputo, and our ambassador met Mr. Dhaklama there on 27 February.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The United Kingdom is a member of all four commissions set up under the general peace agreement between the Government of Mozambique and Renamo and responsible for overseeing implementation of the peace process. We are active in these commissions to help move the process, including demobilisation, forward. In addition, our ambassador regularly meets both senior Mozambican officials and members of the Government of Mozambique as well as Renamo leaders.
Column 755in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, each year since 1980, expressed in money terms, real terms in 1980, and as a real term percentage increase or decrease on the previous year.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current NATO information service budget ; what are the comparable figures in real terms within each of the past three years ; what are its main uses ; and if he will make a statement.
Allowing for an estimated inflation rate over the period of between 2.7 and 4 per cent., there was a real budget increase of 6.4 per cent. in 1993 over 1992, and a real decrease of 5.2 per cent. in 1994 over 1993. Over the whole period the budget increased in real terms by 0.8 per cent.
NATO organises and sponsors multinational information programmes on various aspects of the alliance with the objective of explaining the aims and achievements of the alliance to public opinion in NATO member countries, and improving public understanding and knowledge of the alliance in the countries of central and eastern Europe. Activities directed towards these ends are : visits to NATO by groups from NATO and co-operation partner countries, seminars, speaking tours, workshops, conferences in NATO and co- operation partner countries, the publication of the bi-monthly "NATO Review" and other publications designed to support NATO objectives, film, television and photographic coverage of NATO events and general support for the media in their coverage of NATO developments.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : According to information provided by the institutions, there were 520 Libyan students at United Kingdom higher and further academic institutions in the public sector in 1991-92--the latest year for which there are figures.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We do not maintain records of United Kingdom students studying in other countries. However, we believe that currently there are few, if any, United Kingdom students studying in Libya.
Mr. Hurd : We fully support the efforts to achieve a peaceful transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa. We have stepped up our help for the process and will be making a major contribution to election monitoring. We keep in close touch with all sides at the highest level and remain prepared to help South Africa's transition to democracy in any way South Africans feel can be useful.
(2) what guidelines are available to general practitioners and consultants on the medicinal application of cannabis and as to how patients may obtain it ;
(3) in what circumstances cannabis may be prescribed to patients.
Mr. Bowis : The availability of cannabis is covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Under section 7 of that Act it is unlawful for a medical practitioner to prescribe it to a patient. There are no guidelines for general practitioners or consultants on its application. If it were shown that there were indications for the use of cannabis in specific medical conditions, we would look at it carefully and would not rule it out as a prescribed drug. The supporting data would need to be presented to the Medicines Control Agency for assessment with a view to licensing the preparation. A drug called Nabilone, which contains the main active ingredient of cannabis, is already licensed in the United Kingdom for the treatment of nausea in patients with cancer. A doctor may prescribe Nabilone for other conditions on his own
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures she plans to introduce to educate patients not to demand unnecessary home visits from doctors ; and if she will make a statement.
Column 757of the "Help Us To Help You" campaign which will encourage the responsible use of general practitioner out-of-hours service by patients.
Mr. Mandelson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what new advice has been issued by her Department to national health service doctors regarding possible side effects of using the drug Depo-Medrone in epidural therapy ;
(2) what discussions have taken place between her Department and the relevant medical professional bodies about the use of the drug Depo-Medrone ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps she has taken to ensure that national health service staff are aware of the recommendation from the manufacturers of the drug Depo-Medrone that epidural administration of the drug may cause meningitis and arachnoiditis ;
(2) what steps she is taking to investigate the risks of epidural administration of the drug Depo-Medrone ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville : Officials of the Department have had discussions with representatives of the Pain Society and the British Society of Rheumatology. We are aware that the clinical affairs committee of the British Society of Rheumatology has issued a statement to its members on epidural injection of Depo-Medrone, a copy of which will be placed in the Library. The statement advises that, because of the risks attached, if a doctor wished to use Depo-Medrone, individual informed consent would have to be obtained in view of the potential serious complication ; and that it was desirable to use steroid preparations other than Depo-Medrone. We are considering what further action by the Department may be desirable in the light of this statement.
(2) what advice has been issued by the Medicines Control Agency on the epidural administration of the drug Depo-Medrone.
Mr. Sackville : No specific advice has been issued by the Medicines Control Agency or the Committee on Safety of Medicines. Depo-Medrone is not licensed for epidural administration. The data sheet produced by the manufacturer and authorised by the licensing authority carries a clear warning that Depo-Medrone should not be used for epidural administration.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will state in respect of the £300,000 loaned by West Midlands regional health authority to the company FIP (a) on what date the loan was made, (b) what percentage interest per annum is being paid by FIP and by what percentage this interest differs from that payable on an unsecured loan ; (c) who are the directors of FIP and (d) whether FIP is a public or a private company.
Dr. Mawhinney : The loan of £300,000 to Financial Information Project Ltd. by West Midlands regional health authority was made in January 1992. The loan is subject to indexation based on changes in the health service price index. Unsecured loans do not attract a "standard" rate of interest. Treasury loans to the public sector via the national loans fund or the Public Works Loan Board currently attract interest rates of 5 per cent.--for loans between one and two years--or 5er cent., for loans between two and three years. Focus Information Systems Ltd. is the new name for the company previously known as FIP Ltd. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Health Management Trust and has no directors. The trustees of HMT are : Mr. A. J. Bloore (Chairman), Mr. J. Overton, Mr. S. Sargeant, Mr. C. C. Ashton and Mr. A. J. Mills (director of finance at Warwickshire health authority). HMT is a registered charity.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for health what level of funding was made available to trusts in each region in each year since 1991 -92 ; and what these figures are as a percentage of the total NHS provider unit funding.
Mr. Sackville : Trusts are no longer funded directly but earn their income through contracts to provide healthcare services. The table shows the total contract income of trusts by regional area, by amount and percentage of total national health service provider contract income.
Region |1991-92<1> |Per cent. of |1992-93<1> |Per cent. of |1993-94<2> |Per cent. of |Trust income<3>|total provider |Trust income<3>|total provider |Trust income<3>|total provider |(£ million) |income<3> |(£ million) |income<3> |(£ million) |income<3> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Northern |106 |9 |366 |29 |637 |49 Yorkshire |299 |23 |643 |45 |1,320 |89 Trent |148 |9 |547 |30 |1,338 |69 East Anglian |37 |5 |130 |16 |624 |75 North West Thames |179 |13 |768 |52 |1,196 |79 North East Thames |363 |21 |801 |44 |1,346 |72 South East Thames |180 |12 |501 |30 |1,269 |76 South West Thames |264 |23 |388 |28 |805 |59 Wessex |68 |7 |369 |32 |771 |70 Oxford |20 |2 |175 |20 |506 |56 South Western |483 |39 |946 |74 |1,215 |92 West Midlands |107 |6 |316 |16 |876 |41 Mersey |402 |42 |711 |70 |973 |94 North Western |159 |10 |460 |27 |672 |37 |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- |------- England |2,815 |15 |7,121 |36 |13,548 |67 <1> Estimated outturn. <2> Forecast outturn at Quarter 3. <3> Income includes non-NHS income and income generation. Source: NHS Management Executive Management Accounts.
Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many trusts there were in each region in each year since 1991-92 ; and what are those figures as a percentage of the total number of health provider units.
Dr. Mawhinney : The table shows the total number of operational national health service trusts in each region in each year since 1991-92. The information required to calculate these figures as a percentage of the total number of health provider units is not available centrally for the years 1991-92 to 1993-94. The information for 1994-95 is shown in the table.