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Miss Widdecombe : The Government have decided to give residents of pilot foyers exemption from the basic eligibility conditions for jobclub, job interview guarantee, job search seminars and work trials. This means that these foyer residents, who have particular disadvantages, can now join these programmes on or after their first day of unemployment. In addition the minimum age for joining these programmes has been lowered to 17 for residents of the pilot foyers. The exemptions for 17-year-olds will apply only after the guaranteed offer of a place on youth training has been made, and their education and training options fully and urgently explored by the local training and enterprise council. These conditions will apply from now to residents of the YMCA's foyers in Nottingham, Norwich, St. Helens, Romford and Wimbledon, and are intended to apply to the foyers being newly built in Camberwell, Birmingham and Salford. The Government will keep the effect of the changes and the extra help they give foyer participants under review.
The Attorney-General : No central record is maintained of cases prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989. I understand that the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised two prosecutions under section 4 of the Act relating to civil servants.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the Attorney-General if he gave legal advice to the Secretary of State for Wales concerning the payment of grants from the Welsh Development Agency to the Development Board for Rural Wales.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Attorney-General what provision his Department makes for child care facilities for staff ; what is the extent of subsidy to nursery places and holiday play schemes ; if his Department (a) subscribes to "Childcare Solutions" and (b) makes child care vouchers available ; and if he will make a statement.
The Attorney-General : It is the policy of the Law Officers' Departments to provide child care facilities for staff where there is a need and arrangements can be justified on value for money grounds. The Crown Prosecution Service provides a subsidy of up to 50 per cent. for nursery places and holiday play schemes. The service also contributes to extra child care expenses incurred by staff when attending training courses. The Treasury Solicitor's Department provides a subsidy of 50 per cent. for the Westminster holiday play scheme. Both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office subscribe to "Childcare Solutions". No Department makes child care vouchers available.
Mr. MacGregor : We have decided that British Rail's passenger rolling stock leasing companies should be sold during 1995. The three rolling stock leasing compaies were established as subsidiaries of British Rail, as part of the reorganisation of the railways introduced in April this year, to lease rolling stock to British Rail's 25 passenger train operating units. It was made clear at the time the companies were set up that they would be transferred to the private sector as soon as practicable. Detailed leases with
Column 278each of the train operating units will now be put in place in final form by the end of this year. The companies will then be offered for trade sale as early as possible in 1995.
The privatisation of the rolling stock leasing companies will be a major step in the rail privatisation programme. Freed from the constraints of operating in the public sector, the three companies will be able to bring private sector expertise and commercial practice to the supply of rolling stock to train operators. In particular, they will be free to raise private capital for new investment. I look forward to the development of a thriving competitive market in the provision of passenger rolling stock.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provision his Department makes for child care facilities for staff ; what is the extent of subsidy to nursery places and holiday play schemes ; if his Department (a) subscribes to "Childcare Solutions" and (b) makes child care vouchers available ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norris : Department of Transport staff have access to nursery facilities in Bristol, Hastings and Swansea. Places at holiday play schemes are available to staff in Bedford, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Swansea.
The Department has discretion to provide assistance with child care where this can be justified on value for money grounds, and within overall running cost constraints. The Department's general practice is to assist with start-up or "pump-priming" costs from central funds, leaving local budgets to assist with continuing costs where that is necessary and justified on value for money grounds. Details are not held centrally. The Department does not make child care vouchers available.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received in relation to the figures collected by the Royal Automobile Club in relation to carbon monoxide and other noxious car exhaust emissions and the table of different cities in the United Kingdom in order of emission gases concentrations ; and if he will make a statement on the effect of noxious exhaust emissions on (a) road users, (b) pedestrians and (c) others.
Mr. Key : I have received no representations on this matter. The Department is liaising closely with the Department of Health on the studies and research now under way into the possible health effects of air pollutants. Future action, in addition to measures already in place or proposed, for reducing motor vehicle pollutants, will be considered in the light of these considerations.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had with the Royal Automobile Club in relation to the position of Cardiff in the league table of car exhaust-related emissions of carbon monoxide and other noxious gases ; and if he will make a statement.
Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the latest research which has been carried out with Government support in the reduction of emissions from motor vehicles.
Mr. Key : The reduction of motor vehicle pollutant emissions remains a major policy objective. My Department spent £830,000 on research on this topic in 1993-94. New vehicle petrol engine pollutant emissions are much reduced and good progress is being made on future reductions for diesel engines. More research is being undertaken to understand the health hazards of particulates from motor vehicle exhausts.
Mr. Freeman My right hon. Friend has no powers to control Railtrack's wage agreements. As with any Government-owned body it is, however, expected to follow the Government's approach to public sector pay which was set out clearly last autumn by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if disciplinary action will be taken against officials in his Department responsible for the losses identified by the National Audit Office in respect of acquisition and management of land and property purchased for road construction.
Mr. Key : The Department and the Highways Agency are giving this report full and careful consideration, but, by convention, substantive comments on National Audit Office reports are not made before the Public Accounts Committee has had an opportunity to take evidence from the Department.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the running costs of the traffic area offices for the financial year 1993-94 in (a) total, (b) staffing costs, (c) accommodation, (d) consultant fees, (e) information technology purchases, (f) stationery, (g) works and maintenance and (h) other.
X Running costs £ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (a) |Total |12,373,007 (b) |Staffing costs |6,896,695 (c) |Accommodation |2,007,852 (d) |Consultant fees |119,455 (e) |IT purchases/services|1,147,906 (f) |Stationery |114,831 (g) |Works and maintenance|202,887 (h) |Other |1,883,381
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what statutory and other environmental bodies were consulted by his Department at the early stage of route development of the M11 link road ; and if he will place in the Library a summary of the parts of the advice from the statutory bodies which was not accepted by his Department.
Mr. Norris : This information about the A12 Hackney Wick to M11 link road is available from the inspector's report of the 1983 public inquiry, except that it will not show the instances, if any, where a body had been consulted but not responded. The hon. Gentleman received a copy of the report when it was published in 1985.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the speech of the chief executive of the DSA to the Scottish Driving Examiners Conference on 28 June in respect of the applicability of his Department's efficiency saving target to his agency represents Government policy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Key : In the context of a presentation to the Scottish Driving Examiners Conference, the chief executive of the Driving Standards Agency acknowledged that the Secretary of State was requiring the Department to find a 20 per cent. efficiency gain, but said that he was not yet in a position to comment on the implications for the agency. That was an accurate representation of the position.
Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he received a copy of the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment report on traffic generation ; and when it will be published.
Mr. Key : I refer the hon. Member to the replies that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) and the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), on 20 May 1994, at columns 596-99 .
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what contribution she expects days-at-sea restrictions to make towards achieving the United Kingdom's multi-annual guidance programme target by the end of 1996 ; and if she will make a statement.
Column 281National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations sought judicial review of the United Kingdom legislation and the High Court has referred a number of questions to the European Court of Justice as our legislation was based on Community regulations. The Euroepan Court is unlikely to respond until 1995. In those circumstances, the Government decided to suspend the days at sea restrictions pending clarification of the legal position.
Currently we are moving towards our targets via decommissioning and licence penalties. We are also having discussions with the Commission on the possible contribution to effort reduction from technical conservation measures.
Mr. Jack : My Department provides racks for 20 bicycles in its Whitehall buildings, 25 in its Millbank buildings and 15 in its Albert Embankment building, all of which are under cover. There are free standing areas, too, which can be used. Visitors are welcome to use these facilities during office hours and subject to security checks.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what provision her Department makes for child care facilities for staff ; what is the extent of subsidy to nursery places and holiday playschemes ; if her Department (a) subscribes to "Childcare Solutions" and (b) makes child care vouchers available ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Jack : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 7 March 1994 to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman), Official Report, column 67, which gave details of child care provision for staff in the Department. Most places are subsidised, but the extent of the subsidy varies according to the nursery or play scheme.
The Department does not subscribe to "Childcare Solutions" or make child care vouchers available.
Mr. Hain : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many representations she has received from (a) specialist consumer organisations and (b) members of the public concerning the ban on comfrey products since the ban was announced ; and how many of these representations supported the ban.
Mr. Soames : I have received roughly 100 similar representations objecting to the trade withdrawal. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain supports greater controls on the availability of comfrey products. The National Consumer Council and Consumers Association welcomed the voluntary withdrawal.
Mr. Hain : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultation was held with (a) the Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy and (b) specialist consumer groups before the introduction of the ban on comfrey products ; what plans she has to review the ban ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Soames : All interested parties were informed at the same time of my intention to seek a voluntary withdrawal of comfrey products on health grounds. Any review of the situation will be based on the best scientific advice available.
Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will urge the World Bank and the Governments which are scheduled to send representatives to the forthcoming meeting of the consultation group on Indonesia in Paris to postpone the meeting.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government have approached the president or any member Governments of the World bank, asking for a postponement of the consultative group on Indonesia meeting in Paris on 7 and 8 July, in the light of the human rights situation in Indonesia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Indonesia's human rights record over the past year has improved. We were therefore surprised and concerned to learn of the recent banning of three journals, a decision which appears inconsistent with the greater spirit of openness that has prevailed in Indonesia recently. But we do not believe the Indonesian action warrants a postponement of this week's consultative group meeting.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what has been his response to the Commonwealth Institute's relaunch plan as discussed at the board's executive committee meeting on 21 June ;
(2) what has been his response to the proposals for the relaunch plans for the Commonwealth Institute, Scotland as discussed at a meeting where his representatives were present on 21 June.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : As Her Majesty's Government's representative indicated at the meeting of the executive committee on 21 June 1994, we hope to give our response to the various proposals by the middle of this month.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what information he has on (a) incentives to conform with the Chinese population control programme, including access to land, better housing, reduction in taxes and extra payments and (b) the content of the eugenics laws enacted by Gansu and Liaoning provinces ; and what progress has been made in enacting a national Chinese eugenics law ;
(2) what information he has on the number and nature of Chinese population control projects sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities under the memorandum of understanding between China and the UNFPA in 1979 ;
Column 283(3) what reports he has received from Her Majesty's Government's representatives in China concerning the population control programme and in particular the practice of killing children during or immediately after birth ;
(4) what information he has on (a) the number of United Nations Fund for Population activities staff present in China and their duties in relation to the Chinese population control programme ; (b) how many Chinese personnel involved in the Chinese population control programme have received training from the UNFPA ; and (c) how many UNFPA officials based in China work with the Chinese State Family Planning Commission ;
(5) what information he has on the steps taken by the United Nations Fund for Population activities to ensure that management information systems and training in programme research and evaluation provided to the Chinese State Family Planning Commission have not and are not being used to enforce birth quotas on the Chinese population ;
(6) if he will make a statement on his Department's policy regarding the Chinese national eugenics policy and the forced sterilisation of those regarded as physically or mentally deficient or their partners ;
(7) what information he has regarding which Chinese provinces specify the legal insertion of inter-uterine devices into women ; and what exemptions are made for women for whom IUDs may not be medically appropriate ;
(8) what provision is made in China for couples who are opposed in conscience to artificial contraception, sterilisation and abortion ; (9) what information he has on the levels of fines specified in China for Chinese women in breach of provincial family planning legislation ; and how they are related to average rural and urban per capita incomes ;
(10) what information he has on the practice of destroying the homes of families in breach of Chinese provincial family planning legislation ;
(11) what information he has on the methods used to persuade Chinese women to undergo sterilisation in accordance with provincial laws ; and what information he has on the number of Chinese women who have been sterilised ;
(12) what information he has on the practice of fining women who refuse to be sterilised in China ; and what information he has on the practice in Fuijan province, China, of taking women for forcible sterilisation ;
(13) what information he has as to which Chinese provinces do not have laws obliging (a) one member of a married couple to be sterilised or (b) women to use contraception ;
(14) what information he has on the practice of making payments to Chinese women for being sterilised ;
(15) what information he has on the reasons for the percentage change in the number of sterilisations conducted in China in 1991 ; (16) what information he has on the use of ultrasound equipment in China to detect female unborn children ;
(17) what information he has on Chinese official rules requiring expectant mothers to present birth authorisation cards before being admitted to hospital delivery rooms in Canton ; and if he will make a statement ;
(18) if he will seek clarification from his Chinese opposite number about reports regarding the disappearance of female children ; and if he will make a statement ;
Column 284(19) what information he has on the practice of fining or sacking Chinese district and township officials if local family planning targets are not achieved ;
(20) what information he has on Chinese early birth shock brigades and their role in forcible abortions ;
(21) what information he has on the effects of the 1991 decision by the Standing Committee of the Chinese Politburo to tighten enforcement of the Chinese birth control programmes on the population of China ;
(22) if his officials consider data on the numbers of sterilisations and abortions in China before agreeing funds for his budget for the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities ;
(23) if he will make a statement on his Department's response to the information contained in the articles by Michael Weisskopf from the Washington Post on the Chinese population control programme deposited by his Department in the Library ;
(24) what information he has received on high-tides in the Chinese population programme from Her Majesty's Government's representatives in China ; and if he will make a statement ;
(25) what information he has on the reasons for the prevalence of third trimester abortions in China ;
(26) what information he has on the practices of killing babies (a) during birth and (b) when they are newly born, by doctors in Hohhot, China ; and if he will make a statement ;
(27) what consideration his Department gives to China's compliance with the right to freely found a family and decide the numbers of children when deciding on the allocation of aid in respect of family planning ;
(28) what information he has on the practice of awarding Chinese local officials cash bonuses if they achieve birth targets set by the authorities in Beijing ; and if he will make a statement.
The British Government are concerned about all human rights abuses, whether they occur in China or elsewhere. The Government's views are well known to the Chinese, and we have consistently urged them to conform with internationally recognised standards of behaviour. Questions 57, 63, 112, 118, 127, 130 refer to Chinese Government policies and their implementation. Questions 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 125, 135 refer to provincial population programmes, and the way in which they are implemented at provincial and local level. Questions 59, 119, 120, 121, 124, 126, 129, 131, 132 refer to allegations about practices which have a bearing on reproductive health and population issues, though these are not necessarily the results of central or provincial Chinese government policies. The issues raised in all these questions are complex. We do not have ready access to the detailed information that would be required to answer the questions raised. Assembling such information would involve a prohibitive cost.
Questions 58, 61, 62 refer to the work in China of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. My noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development will write to the hon. Member with the information that we have received from UNFPA. In answer to question 128, the Government take account of the efforts being made by the
Column 285International Planned Parenthood Federation and UNFPA to promote better reproductive health and children by choice throughout the world, including their efforts in China, when agreeing the level of support they are to receive from the ODA's budget. Both organisations oppose the promotion of abortion as a method of family planning and all forms of coercion in family planning programmes.
Regarding question 134, the Government do not directly finance family planning projects in China. We continue to advocate that all men and women should be able to choose when to have children, and that women, in particular, should be in a position to exercise this choice of their own free will, without pressure of coercion. Those views are well known to the Chinese authorities.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those communications he and his predecessors have received from the Governor of Hong Kong regarding the arms supply and related activities of the Rex Group of companies between 1981 and 1991 ; and what was reported to him in this matter by Mr. Layton and Mr. Pickin.
Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many judgments handed down by the European Court of Justice have gone (a) in favour of and (b) against each member country.
Mr. Heathcoat Amory : Cases can be brought before the European Court of Justice by various parties under a number of treaty articles. Many cases do not involve member states at all. It would involve disproportionate cost to identify all the cases since the Community was founded which involved member states directly. If the Commission considers that a member state has failed to fulfil its obligations under the treaty, it may take action under Article 169, which can lead to proceedings before the European Court of Justice. Details of judgments issued on cases brought since 1989 under article 169 can be found in the Commission's eleventh annual report on monitoring the application of Community law. A copy of the report is available in the House. The figures for these cases are as follows :
Member state |Number of |Number |Number still|Judgment for|Judgment for |referrals |withdrawn |in motion |commission |member state --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- United Kingdom |5 |0 |3 |2 |0 Belgium |24 |11 |4 |9 |0 Denmark |3 |1 |0 |2 |0 France |4 |0 |2 |2 |0 Germany |10 |0 |7 |3 |0 Greece |17 |6 |3 |7 |1 Ireland |13 |7 |1 |5 |0 Italy |39 |21 |10 |7 |1 Luxembourg |31 |18 |11 |2 |0 Netherlands |17 |4 |7 |6 |0 Portugal |4 |2 |0 |2 |0 Spain |11 |1 |5 |5 |0
It should, however, be borne in mind that, even though the Commission may bring a case against a member state based on several complaints, the Commission need only succeed on one complaint for the judgment to be recorded as being in its favour.
Mr. Jenkin : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current state of relations between Estonia and Latvia ; and if he will comment on the implications for the partnership for peace agreements.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We welcome the agreements signed by Latvia and Russia on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia by 31 August, which we hope will form the basis for good relations between the two countries. We are urging Russia and Estonia to conclude a similar agreement. We welcome Estonian, Latvian and Russian signature of the partnership for peace framework document. We look forward, with other NATO partners, to developing closer relations with all three countries through the Partnership for Peace programme.