Previous Section Home Page

Column 546

state schools rose by 0.5 per cent. from 389,100 full-time equivalent teachers in January 1993 to nearly 391,000. The estimated overall pupil to teacher ratio was 18.04 : 1.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

African Development Bank

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what shareholding he has in the African development bank ; how Britain's influence is exercised in the policymaking of the bank ; and what are the size of other countries' financial contributions to the bank.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : As at 31 December 1993 Britain had a 1.478 per cent. shareholding in the African development bank. Our pledge to the sixth replenishment of the African development fund, which covered commitments for the period 1991-93, was 4 per cent. of the total. We exercise influence over bank policies through our director in the bank, shared with Germany, Holland and Portugal ; through bilateral contacts ; and in negotiations to replenish the resources of the bank group.

Details of shareholdings of other members of the bank and of contributions to the fund are contained in the bank's annual report, copies of which are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what attitude he has taken to the replenishment of the African development bank's funding.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We have taken an active part in negotiations for the seventh replenishment of the African development fund, which lends on concessional terms to the poorest countries in the region. Progress was made in Nairobi, in the margins of the annual meeting of the African development bank, but a number of issues remain to be agreed relating to the way the bank's resources as a whole should be allocated. We hope the negotiations can be concluded soon.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Knox report on the operations of the African development bank.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We consider the report of the task force on project Quality headed by Mr. David Knox, a former vice-president of the World bank, to be a sound analysis of the operational and organisational weaknesses of the African development bank. We have urged management to prepare an action plan and to implement the recommendations in the report as a matter of urgency.

TRANSPORT

A64

Mr. Sykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice he has received in relation to the viability of the A64 upgrading.

Mr. Key : The recent review of the national roads programme assessed all schemes against economic,


Column 547

strategy and environmental criteria. Because of their lower priority compared with other schemes nationally, the A64 York to Malton and Malton to Seamer schemes have been categorised "longer term". They will be placed temporarily in abeyance until schemes with a higher priority have been delivered.

Air Traffic Control

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the air traffic control separation monitoring function at (a) Leeds-Bradford and (b) Humberside air traffic control centres can respond to aircraft final approach separation applied by controllers at the Leeds-Bradford and Humberside approach radar facility ; what plans there are to re-programme the separation monitoring function ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris : The air traffic control separation monitoring function is a facility developed and operated by the national air traffic services for use at locations where they provide the air traffic services. It is used to detect and investigate any occurrence which involves loss of aircraft separation. As Leeds-Bradford and Humberside air traffic services are provided by the airports, the NATS SMF is not available at those locations. The hon. Member may therefore wish to contact Leeds-Bradford and Humberside airports direct about their arrangements for monitoring aircraft separations.

Night Flying, Coventry

Sir Dudley Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will place restrictions on night flying at Coventry airport ; (2) if he will investigate night flying operations at Coventry airport.

Mr. Norris : No. Coventry airport is not designated under section 80 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 in respect of noise control, nor have we received any requests for the airport to be so designated. Currently, only Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are so designated.

Private Detection Agencies

Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the names of the private detective agencies employed by his Department since April 1991.

Mr. Norris : The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

A40/M50 Road Scheme

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what has been the cost to date of preparation of plans for the A40/M50 road scheme from Longford to Gorsley, now abandoned, since the proposals were first introduced in 1989.

Mr. Key : The question is an operational matter for the Highways Agency. The chief executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, has written to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Chris Smith, dated 16 May 1994 :

You have asked the Secretary of State for Transport, for the


Column 548

cost to date of preparation of plans for the A40/M50 road scheme from Longford to Gorsley, now withdrawn, since the proposals were first introduced in 1989. I have been asked to reply.

The total cost has been approximately £5 million which includes consultants fees, detailed surveying and hydraulic modelling and VAT.

Cenargo

Mr. Harris : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made with the European Commission with regard to the case of the ferry company Cenargo following the most recent meeting of the Maritime Council working group.

Mr. Norris : I understand that the Commission has decided to open infraction proceedings against Spain under article 169 of the treaty of Rome in this case.

Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 25 April, Official Report , column 42, if he will make it his policy to employ only those private detective agencies which are members of the Association of British Investigators.

Mr. Key : It is the Secretary of State's policy to financially approve and technically assess all suppliers and contractors employed by the Department. The membership of professional associations would be a factor for consideration in such evaluation, but non-membership would not rule them out.

Transport Research Laboratory

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he received from the trade unions regarding the future structure of the Transport Research Laboratory ; when he met them prior to his announcement on 30 March regarding privatisation of the Transport Research Laboratory ; and what consideration he has given to the proposals received.

Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend and I met the trade unions on 22 March having previously received representations from them about the plans for privatisation of the Transport Research Laboratory. The representations included a proposal that the Laboratory should remain in the public sector, but with its non-Government work separately accounted for in a commercial subsidiary. We gave careful consideration to the proposal before concluding that it was not practicable or in the best interests of the laboratory's future.

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the representations his Department has received on the subject of privatising the Transport Research Laboratory (a) in the three years before the announcement in May 1992 of his wish to privatise the Transport Research Laboratory and (b) since that date ; and if he will give the number in categories (a) and (b) which (i) oppose privatisation of the Transport Research Laboratory, (ii) express worries about privatisation and (iii) support privatisation.

Mr. Key : My right hon. Friend and I have, since the announcement in May 1993 that the Transport Research Laboratory could, in principle, be privatised, received 28 representations on this subject from organisations and individuals representing the motor transport industry,


Column 549

academic institutions, staff and other groups. We have also received correspondence from 50 right hon. and hon. Members. No representations were received on this subject prior to the announcement in May 1993.

The representations received do not lend themselves to the categorisation requested by the hon. Member. A variety of views were expressed for and against privatisation. The majority of representations came from those who have concerns about aspects of the proposed sale of the laboratory.

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what written communication from his Department was sent to the departmental trade union side during the three months prior to the setting up of the Transport Research Laboratory Agency regarding the drafting of the framework document ; what reference was made to decisions by Ministers regarding the privatisation of the laboratory ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key : My Department wrote to the trade unions about various aspects of the Transport Research Laboratory framework document, including consultation arrangements with the trade unions, equal opportunites, health and safety and procurement. The Department also reported on my right hon. Friend's consideration of the option of privatisation and the conclusion then reached that the laboratory should be retained as an agency subject to the future re-examination of all options.

Consultants

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the expenditure on management and financial consultants by his Department in 1992-93.

Mr. Norris : The amount spent by the Department of Transport and its agencies in 1992-93 on management and financial consultants was £19.65 million.

North Wales Coast Line

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to ensure that undertakings made by him and his fellow Ministers, at the time of the passage of legislation to privatise British Rail, will be fulfilled with regard to maintaining the quality of services along the north Wales coast.

Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State issued objectives, instructions and guidance to the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising on 22 March. Delivery of those objectives should secure an overall improvement in the quality of railway passenger services on the north Wales coast, and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Channel Tunnel

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure the security of the channel tunnel and its users ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : The Secretary of State for Transport has, under the terms of the Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994, directed the concessionaires--Eurotunnel--and other channel tunnel users to take appropriate security measures to protect the tunnel system, the trains and associated facilities, people and property against acts of violence.


Column 550

The Secretary of State has also authorised officials from the Department of Transport's transport security division to inspect the security arrangements in place to ensure that the required security standards are, and continue to be, met.

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what authorisations for commercial operations have been given to Eurotunnel.

Mr. Freeman : The United Kingdom/French Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission has, on the advice of the United Kingdom/French Channel Tunnel Safety Authority and the maitre d'oeuvre for the project, authorised Eurotunnel to bring the channel tunnel into operation for through freight trains and heavy goods vehicle shuttles. I am placing copies of Eurotunnel's application and the authorisation in the Library.

Traffic Signs

Mrs. Browning : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will consider relaxing his Department's policy that traffic signs should not normally be provided to direct vehicles to named commercial premises.

Mr. Key : I am seeking views from the local authority associations and other interested organisations on proposals that highway authorities should have greater flexibility to provide signs appropriate to local needs. Any relaxation of the existing policy would be accompanied by Department of Transport guidance on the management of signing to ensure safety, clarity and continuity of signing and to prevent sign clutter.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Inheritance Tax

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the average age of purchaser-operators of working farms in the year preceding and each year since the passing of the Finance Act 1992 giving qualification to inheritance tax relief at 100 per cent. on agricultural land.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I regret that this information is not available.

Forestry

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what day the Government will publish their preferred options on the future of forestry in England ; what form the subsequent consultations will take and over what time scale ; and which organisations will be invited to take part in the consultation process.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland plans to make an announcement during the summer about our conclusions from the forestry review, and to publish a document which will form the basis of consultation on our preferred options. The form and timing of the consultation will depend on the conclusions that Ministers reach.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the number of day visits made to the Thetford forest park last year.


Column 551

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : In the year to 31 March 1994, an estimated 1.5 million people made day visits to Thetford forest park.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what account the Government will take, in selecting their preferred options for the future of forestry in England, of the submissions received by the forestry review group from commentators opposing privatisation.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The representations made to the forestry review group are being taken into account as we consider options following the review.

Cereal Production

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is her most recent estimate of the yield factor per hectare for cereal production.

Mr. Jack : My Department's most recent estimate of the average yields per hectare for the 1993 United Kingdom cereals harvest is as follows :


Tonnes per hectare (        

standardised to 14.5 per    

cent. moisture content)     

              |Tonnes       

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

Wheat         |7.25         

Barley        |5.16         

Oats          |5.19         

Other cereals |4.70         

Overgrazing

Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response she has received to paragraph 3.57 of the Government's paper Cm. 2428, "Biodiversity : The UK Action Plan" concerning overgrazing ; and if she will now consider introducing new measures to reduce the effect on moorland and upland habitats of over grazing of sheep.

Mr. Jack : We have not received any response to paragraph 3.57 as such. However, we have already introduced upland environmentally sensitive areas and environmental restrictions under the hill livestock compensatory allowances scheme, both of which contribute in different ways to discouraging the overgrazing of moorland and upland habitats. We have also carried out consultations on proposals to introduce a moorland scheme and to attach environmental protection conditions to payments unde the sheep annual premium scheme.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Human Rights

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what rights of citizens are specified in the treaties of the European Communities and the European Union ; and what measures have been adopted to give effect to these rights.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The treaty of Rome, as amended by the treaty on European Union, confers a number of rights on citizens of the European Union. These, and the measures adopted to give them effect, include :


Column 552

the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states, subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaty (essentially governed by Articles 48, 52 and 59 of the Treaty of Rome and a number of Regulations and Directives, including Council Regulation 1612-68 and Council Directives 90/364 EEC, 90/365 EEC and 93/96 EEC) ;

the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which the citizen resides (measures were adopted in Council Directive 93/109 EC. These were implemented in the United Kingdom by the European Parliamentary Elections (changes to the Franchise and Qualifications and Representatives) Regulations 1994) ;

the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections in the Member State in which the citizen resides (implementation of these rights is still under discussion) ; the right to protection by the diplomatic and consular authorities and another Member State in foreign countries where the Member State of which the citizen is a national is not represented (subject to the Guidelines for the Protection of Unrepresented EC Nationals by EC Missions in Third Countries, which took effect on 1 July 1993) ;

the right to petition the European Parliament (as set out in Article 138d of the Treaty. This right has long been accepted by the Parliament and was reflected in the Parliament's rules of procedure long before the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union) ; the right to apply to the European Ombudsman to investigate allegations of maladministration by the Community institutions (as set out in Article 138e of the Treaty and the Decision adopted by the European Parliament in September 1993 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties, subsequently approved by the Council in its decision on February 1994).

Azerbaijan and Armenia

Mr. Elletson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to use the United Kingdom's membership of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe to encourage the Minsk group to assume the leading role in seeking a resolution of the conflict which respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We continue to support the CSCE's plans to convene a conference in Minsk to achieve a political settlement of the dispute. We keep in close contact with the Swedish chairman of the Minsk group and have offered a Russian-speaking British diplomat to assist his team.

Council of Ministers (Documents)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy in regard to the decision of the European Parliament on 26 April in respect of the release by the Council of Ministers of documents discussed at meetings of the Council.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have noted the recommendation by the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament that the Parliament should support the Dutch Government's legal challenge of the treaty base under which the code of conduct on access to information was adopted. We consider that the code was adopted under the correct treaty base, and fully support its objective of greater openness and transparency.


Column 553

Rwanda

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to raise the issue of Rwanda in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We supported the proposal for a special session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to discuss Rwanda. The session will take place on 24 and 25 May.

United Nations (Military Equipment)

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent proposals he has considered relating to improving the cost-effectiveness of the United Nations military procurement system ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Current measures being pursued by the United Nations to improve the cost-effectiveness of United Nations procurement procedures include the development of appropriate standards and specifications for incorporation into contracts, and establishing standby contracts for the supply of common user items, material and services. An improved system for handling air transport contracts is also being introduced. These measures are based on the need to achieve a timely response while ensuring cost-effectiveness and compliance with United Nations financial regulations.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the quantity and quality of military equipment that has been stockpiled by the United Nations at its depot in Pisa, Italy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Nations maintains a depot at Pisa, which comprises serviceable items from completed missions. As part of its efforts to improve its ability to mount new peacekeeping missions the United Nations is planning to use the depot as a logistics base where "start-up kits" will be held and maintained at readiness for deployment. The current plans call for up to five such kits which might be deployed either singly or in combination.

United Nations

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent consideration his Department has given to policy relating to the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations ; what discussions he has had with his United Nations counterparts on this issue ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The costs of United Nations peackeeping operations are shared among member states according to the United Nations peacekeeping scale of assessments. The United Kingdom pays 6.373 per cent. of costs on the scale. The United Nations peacekeeping scale of assessment is in need of reform, as the 1992 report by the high level expert group-- Volcker/Ogata--made clear. Some limited changes were agreed at last year's general assembly. We are now working with other like-minded states to try and identify a more general solution to the problems of the scale.


Column 554

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration he has given to the United Nations study on a proposed International Satellite Monitoring Agency contained in United Nations document A/AC. 206.14.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Nations study on a proposed international satellite monitoring agency was considered by the 38th general assembly in 1983. The proposal was not adopted.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent consideration he has given to article 24 of the United Nations charter ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The changed situation of the world following the ending of the cold war has enabled the Security Council to carry out its duties more effectively than before. The council has already made arrangements to make its annual report to the general assembly more timely and readable.

Privatisation (Consultants)

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the cost of employing consultants in connection with privatisation programmes in which his Department has been engaged since 1980.

Mr. Goodlad [holding answer 4 May 1994] : Estimated expenditure on studies carried out since 1987 for the Overseas Development Administration on the future status of the Crown agents for overseas Governments and administrations, and future ownership options for the Natural Resources Institute, is £208,000, net of VAT. Figures for any expenditure in earlier years are not available. The British aid programme has also paid for consultancy studies related to the privatisation programmes being pursued by overseas governments. An estimate of expenditure on these could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Octav Botnar

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further efforts his Department will make to secure the return to the United Kingdom of Octav Botnar.

Mr. Maclean : I have been asked to reply.

The offences for which Mr. Botnar is wanted in the United Kingdom are offences against tax legislation. Because of that, they are not extraditable from Switzerland, where Mr. Botnar now is. Switzerland is one of several countries which will not extradite for such "fiscal" offences. Mr. Botnar has on several occasions indicated that he will return to this country voluntarily and I hope that he will do so.

HEALTH

Mental Health

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are her plans for major awards for health districts which are remodelling their mental health services ; and if she will make a statement.


Column 555

Mr. Bowis : The Department, in conjunction with the mental health task force, is contributing £319,000 over three years to an initiative organised and administered by the Sainsbury centre for mental health. The centre will award grants of between £100,000 and £250,000 to between five and eight district health authorities to help them develop their mental health services. Initial awards will be announced this autumn. The selected projects will be evaluated and the results widely disseminated.

Drugs

Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the savings to the NHS budget if NHS doctors were under an obligation to prescribe, and pharmacists to dispense, the cheaper available forms of the compound they considered most clinically appropriate for their patients.

Dr. Mawhinney : No such estimate has been made by the Department. General practitioners are encouraged to prescribe cost-effectively and to be discriminating about the use of more expensive preparations where there is no significant clinical benefit.

Drug Abuse

Mr. Robert Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many youngsters aged under 18 years have attended hospitals in the north Yorkshire area for treatment for drug abuse over the last five years.

Mr. Bowis : Monitoring substance misuse by young people in the North Yorkshire area is a matter for the North Yorkshire district health authority, to which I refer my hon. Friend.

General Practitioners

Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement about the progress of the negotiations with the medical profession on general practitioners' out-of-hours services.

Dr. Mawhinney : I am announcing today--after nine months of negotiation--agreement between the British Medical Association and the Government on changes to general practitioners' terms of service. The patients charter confirmed the 24-hour nature of the GP service and both the BMA and I confirmed that again today. Patients will continue to receive emergency treatment when and where they need it--including a home visit if necessary--at any hour of the day or night.

What we have agreed is a sensible clarification and modernisation of the GPs' terms of service which :

make clear that all patients will continue to be able to speak directly to a doctor out of hours and that they will still receive promptly the emergency care they need ;

make it possible for GPs and practices to work on a more co-operative basis, spending less time on call, but working more intensively when they are on call ;

clarify the GP's responsibility for deciding whether an individual needs to be seen immediately at home and, if not, when and where treatment can most appropriately be given ;

support the development of an additional new way for family doctors to provide out of hours emergency care--the primary care centre. A press release, including comments from Dr. Ian Bogle, chairman of the General Medical Services Committee of the BMA, will be issued and copies placed in the Library and the Vote Office.


Next Section

  Home Page