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Mr. Gummer : The national forest is an ambitious and imaginative environmental project to create a new forest in the heart of the country, in an area where much of the land has been despoiled by mineral working. The consultation exercise carried out earlier this year by the Countryside Commission confirmed that there is overwhelming local support for the venture. I am now announcing my intention to set up a new lead body to take the project forward. The establishment of this body marks a milestone towards achieving our manifesto commitment to development of the national forest. The forest will bring many benefits to the area through improved landscapes and other environmental benefits, economic and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development-- environmental improvement which will also bring economic regeneration. In the longer term the forest will provide a national asset of the same kind as the ancient forest of Dean or the New forest, to be enjoyed by future generations.
The Countryside Commission national forest development team has provided a firm foundation for the new body to build on. The creation of the forest will require the participation of several partners, including the Forestry Commission, the Countryside Commission, local authorities and private landowners. A new independent body will be able to co-ordinate and promote new partnerships and act as a catalyst for local and national initiatives in the forest area.
Column 502The body will be a company limited by guarantee. The members of the company will be myself and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We shall appoint a chairman and directors in due course. It is my intention to seek parliamentary approval, through an amendment to section 153 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to provide financial support for the company's administration and special project initiatives.
Our long-term aim for the forest is to create new woodlands covering about one third of the 200 square mile area. All the planting in the forest will be voluntary. There is no question of compulsory land purchase. In addition to forest planting, the body will encourage the development of leisure and recreation, rural enterprise, habitat protection, restoration of mineral workings and community involvement. These ventures will be funded through the body's project funds and through existing forestry and other grant mechanisms.
Urban development |Amount (£) |Year corporation ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Birmingham Heartlands |Nil |- Black Country |Nil |- Bristol |Nil |- Central Manchester |350,000 |1992-93 Leeds |Nil |- London Docklands |Nil |- Merseyside |184,700 |1982-83 Merseyside |130,000 |1983-84 Merseyside |125,000 |1984-85 Merseyside |605,000 |1985-86 Merseyside |55,000 |1986-87 Plymouth |Nil |- Sheffield |Nil |- Teesside |276,500 |1987-88 Trafford Park |Nil |- Tyne and Wear |Nil |-
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the total amount of urban and regeneration expenditure listed for each separate urban programme area in each year since 1980-81 at (a) cash prices and (b) current prices.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will report on the progress of the private sector advisory forum ; and what further plans he has for strategic contracting out of civil service functions.
Mr. Waldegrave : The private sector forum met on 8 July to discuss issues emerging from the competing for quality programme. The forum provided an opportunity for the Government and the private sector to exchange experience on the progress of the competing for quality programme so far. No individual market tests were discussed, nor any specifics of Departments' future plans. We will be considering how to take these discussions forward with the private sector. I do not prejudge whether an activity should be contracted out strategically. For each activity which is examined in the competing for quality programme, a number of options, including abolition, privatisation, contracting out, market testing with an in-house bid, and securing in-house efficiencies are considered.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has received the report of the efficiency unit scrutiny of Government research establishments ; and if he will ensure its publication before the end of July.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the full report of the efficiency unit's scrutiny of the use of consultants in Government Departments will be published ; and whether the unit intends to draw up good practice guidance for Departments along the lines of that issued recently by the Audit Commission to local authorities.
Mr. Waldegrave : The report of the efficiency unit's scrutiny on the Government's use of external consultants will be published shortly. It is a key task of the efficiency unit to disseminate "best practice" to Departments and agencies, and the scrutiny is likely to make recommendations which will assist in sharing and promoting good practice in the purchasing and managing of external consultancy.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which organisations, agencies and other bodies relating to his departmental area of responsibility have been privatised since 1990 ; and what plans he has for further privatisation.
Mr. Waldegrave : None of the organisations, agencies or other bodies under my departmental responsibility has been privatised since 1990. Plans for privatisation involving my departments will be considered on their merits as part of a prior options exercise and the results will be announced as appropriate.
Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the next steps that he will propose to the European Union for a resolution of the crisis in Greek-Macedonian relationships.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Member states of the European Union regularly discuss the dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We support the European Commission's action in referring to the European Court of Justice the unjustified trade restrictions placed by Greece on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We were disappointed by the Court's decision not to indicate interim measures, although the main case continues. We support the United Nations mediation process under Mr. Vance, and urge both parties to re-engage constructively in negotiations with him.
Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of rejoining UNESCO might be if (a) the United Kingdom rejoined without the United States of America and (b) the United Kingdom and the United States of America both rejoined ; what the benefits of rejoining might be ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The annual cost of resumed United Kingdom membership of UNESCO would be around £8 million if the United States also rejoined, or £11 million if it did not. The principal benefit to the United Kingdom of rejoining UNESCO would be the enhancement of our ability to participate in the work of the organisation, but any benefit must be weighed against the financial costs. We keep the issue of resumption of membership under close review. No decision has yet been reached.
Mr. MacShane : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to offer protection to critics of the Government of China currently resident in Hong Kong after 1997.
Mr. Goodlad : The Sino-British joint declaration, which is a legally binding international treaty, provides that the rights and freedoms provided for by Hong Kong's present laws shall be maintained after 1 July 1997. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to demonstrate will remain protected.
Mr. MacShane : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will meet Mr. Han Dong Fan, chairman of the independent Chinese trade union movement, on his forthcoming visit to Britain.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Our objectives for the world summit on social development are to strengthen effective international cooperation and co- ordination around the three core issues of the summit, which are :
(i) the enhancement of social integration
(ii) the alleviation and reduction of poverty
(iii) the expansion of productive employment
non-proliferation treaty of Tlatelolco.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Kingdom ratified the two additional protocols to the treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Latin America, treaty of Tlatelolco, on 11 December 1969. Under article 1 of additional protocol 1, the United Kingdom agreed to apply various articles of the treaty, including article 1--denuclearisation in respect of warlike purposes--in those territories for which it is internationally responsible within the treaty zone. This includes the Falkland Islands.
Although there is no nuclear activity in the Falkland Islands, the Legislative Council of the islands, as required by the protocol, passed a Bill entitled "The Nuclear Safeguards Ordinance 1993" on 16 November 1993. This ordinance will give effect, in the Falklands, to an agreement between the United Kingdom, the IAEA and Euratom for the application of safeguards as envisaged in the treaty of Tlatelolco.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which organisations, agencies and other bodies relating to his departmental area of responsibility have been privatised since 1990 ; and what plans he has for further privatisation.
Mr. Goodlad : We have decided to privatise the Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations as an independent foundation (Cm 2376) and to study options for the future ownership of the Natural Resources Institute. A "Prior Options" study of Wilton Park executive agency will commence in September 1994.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list any provisions of the treaty for enlargement of the European Union signed in Corfu on 24 June which change the powers, constitution, or procedures of the institutions of the European Communities other than by changes of numbers.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The following provisions in the treaty of accession change the powers, constitution or procedures of the institutions of the European Communities other than by numerical change to allow for the representation of the new member states in these institutions :
Article 2(2) of the treaty gives the Council (acting unanimously) power to decide upon indispensable adjustments in the case that not all the applicant states deposit their instruments of ratification in due time.
Article 12 of the Act of Accession alters the second paragraph of the EC Treaty and the corresponding Articles of the other Community Treaties, to give the Council (acting unanimously) power to determine the order in which the office of the President shall be held by each member state.
Column 506Articles 154, 155, 156 and 157 of the Act of Accession give the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Justice respectively, powers to make such adaptations to their rules of procedure as are rendered necessary by accession.
Article 4 of Protocol 8 to the Act of Accession gives the European Parliament the power to verify the credentials of representatives elected to the Parliament in the Member States in the period between ratification of the Treaty and its entry into force.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made on behalf of the United Kingdom Government to the Government of Canada, concerning conservation in Clayoquot sound.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 8 July 1994] : The decision on land use in the Clayoquot sound area of Vancouver Island was for the Government of British Columbia to make. The Canadian Government and the British Columbia authorities are well aware of public concern in the United Kingdom about logging in the Clayoquot sound region.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretaryof State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what study Her Majesty's Government have been making with the European Commission of late to the expansion of waterways allowing Bolivia access to the Atlantic ; and what help is being given through EC sources or directly.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The Mercosur countries--Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay--and Bolivia are working together to design the Hidrovias project to re-condition the navigation and port facilities along a stretch of waterways between Caceres in Brazil and Nueva Palmira in Uruguay. They have approached the European Community for assistance in implementation. Following the agreement between the Hidrovia intergovernmental committee and the Inter-American Development bank, the Commission is considering a request to meet the costs of technical feasibility studies for development of ports, incluing Puerto Bush and Puerto Quijarro in Bolivia.
We have not been involved in these activities bilaterally, but will play an active role in discussions in Brussels of the proposals.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Latin America benefits from both DG XII's life science and technology for developing countries programme and the international scientific co-operation initiative. United Kingom laboratories, principally in universities and Govenrment centres, participate actively in both programmes. In both cases, the focus is on joint scientific research.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : For 1994, the total value of the European Community's budget lines for "Technical and Financial Assistance" and for food aid for Latin America is 232.5 mecu, about £182 million. Technical and financial assistance in Latin American developing countries includes operations concerning the environment, women, drug abuse control, democratisation, regional co-operation and disaster prevention and reconstruction measures.
The Commission does not earmark funds to specific sectors but high priority is given to aid projects designed to alleviate urban poverty. Projects of this kind are at present under preparation for Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Guatemala. Projects for Brazil and Guatemala have recently been approved.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the value of the Alpha programme, designed to update the curriculum of Latin American universities ; and what is the value of the United Kingdom's contribution to the programme.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The ALFA programme is worth 40 mecu, about £31 million, over five years, of which 32 mecu, about £25 million, will come from the European Community economic co-operation programme with Latin America. The United Kingdom contributes to this by means of its contributions to the Community budget.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the value of (i) British and (ii) EC aid to anti-pollution projects on (a) the Sao Paulo river, (b) the Tiete river cleaning project and (iii) the Nitecoy bay cleaning project ; what consideration has been given to the public health and environmental impact of both projects ; and what encouragement has been given to private capital in Europe to invest in the projects.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : There is no British bilateral or European Community aid to any pollution projects on the Sao Paulo river, Tiete river or in Nitecoy bay. Several bodies encourage private investment in the region, including : the European Community investment partners scheme, the European Investment bank and the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Neither the Overseas Development Administration nor the European Commission is aware of any application to these schemes for financing projects in those areas.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library the papers to be presented from the United Kingdom to the Indo-British forestry initiative workshop to be held in New Delhi in July.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 8 July 1994] : Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly. I will also include the papers being presented to the workshop by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, which were prepared with British assistance.
(2) what representations he has made to the European Commission on the subject of the taxation of luxury cars in Italy ;
(3) what representations he has received on the effect of the Italian taxation system on exports of luxury cars to Italy.
Mr. Needham : Officials have made written and oral representations in Brussels in support of a formal complaint to the Commission by a British car manufacturer. The British embassy in Rome has raised the issue with the Italian Government. We have made clear our willingness to discuss further action to help British car manufacturers affected by the Italian tax.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what non- military products from eastern and central European countries are subject to restrictions on imports into the European Union in the form of (a) quotas, (b) tariffs, (c) certificates of quality or (d) other requirements.
Mr. Needham : Details of the trading arrangements between the Community and the eastern and central European countries are set out in the association agreements and their annexes and protocols concluded between the EC and Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Romania and Bulgaria. Copies of these agreements have been placed in the Library of the House.
In addition, anti-dumping remedies exist against certain imports of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel products and polyester fibres. There are also Community-wide tariff quotas in place on imports of certain steel products from the Czech and Slovak Republics. Goods supplied to the Community market are subject, product for product, to common testing, certification,
standardisation and safety requirements as appropriate and necessary whether imported or of domestic EC manufacture.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made on the development of free trade between the European Union and (a) Russia, (b) other CIS states, (c) the Baltic republics, (d) the Visegrad group, (e) Romania, (f) Bulgaria, (g) Slovenia and (h) Albania.
Mr. Needham : The European Union recently signed partnership and co- operation agreements with Russia and Ukraine. Each of those agreements provides for the parties to examine in 1998 whether circumstances allow the beginning of negotiations on the establishment of a free trade area between the EU and Russia and Ukraine respectively. Similar agreements now under negotiation with other republics of the former Soviet Union are not so specific but allow for development of the trade provisions as circumstances permit. Negotiations for free trade agreements have recently been concluded with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These should enter into force on 1 January 1995.
Column 509The trade provisions of the association agreements signed between the EU and the Visegrad countries, Romania and Bulgaria envisage free trade with all those countries by 2002 at the latest. The EU is committed to opening its market first, and has put into effect a number of further concessions agreed at the European Council in Copenhagen in June 1993. From 1 January 1995, nearly all imports of industrial products from the Visegrad countries will enter the EU without restrictions.
The EU will shortly begin negotiations with Slovenia for a similar association agreement with free trade as one of its aims. The EU has a bilateral trade and co-operation agreement with Albania. There are no plans at present to go beyond this by entering into a free trade agreement.
Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 5 July, Official Report, column 116, which body at Community level will define the list of reserved services made available to the operators of the universal postal service under the proposed reserved services directive of the European Union.
Mr. McLoughlin : I understand that the European Commission has not yet reached a view on whether the legal basis for its proposed directive defining the set of services which may be reserved at national level should be article 90 or article 100A of the treaty of Rome. In either event, we would expect the European Council and the European Parliament to play a full part in the process.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the final cost to Her Majesty's Government of the Seville Expo '92 ; and if he will separately identify costs and contingent liabilities consequent upon the liquidation of Joanna Bickerton Associates.
Mr. Needham : The final costs have yet to be settled. As stated in my answer of 3 May 1994, Official Report, column 415, I will write to the hon. Member when they are. The final costs will include the ex gratia payments of £220,307 made by the Department, without any admission of liability, to the liquidator of Joanne Bickerton Associates and certain suppliers of Joanna Bickerton Associates.
Mr. Duncan : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) when he expects to be able to renegotiate the size of the United Kingdom's EC quota for the import of silk and silk products from China ; (2) what representations he has received about the size of the United Kingdom's EC quota for the import of silk and silk products from China ;
(3) what plans he has to increase the size of the United Kingdom's EC quota for the imports of silk and silk products from China ; (4) what percentage of the EC's imports of silk and silk products from China is allocated to the United Kingdom.
Column 510an allocation based on a percentage of their trade in 1992, while newcomers receive a small fixed amount. Following over 2,000 complaints about the quotas from United Kingdom traders, the Government have been pressing hard for an increase in the levels for this year and the Commission is expected to make a proposal to this effect shortly. For 1995, the Commission has already opened negotiations with China for a bilateral agreement on silk imports as part of which the Government will be looking for a significant increase in future access levels.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy on answering parliamentary questions which seek information previously published in the monthly review of external trade statistics.
Mr. Needham : The CSO is resuming publication of the monthly review of external trade statistics, this month, as "Business Monitor MM24". All the statistical series published in it are available from the Central Statistical Office's central shared database, access to which is available from the Library of the House. The policy on questions seeking information published in the monthly review will be consistent with that for other publications which are available in the Library of the House, or whose contents are available on the central shared database.
Mr. Morley : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what documentation his Department has received from the Canadian Government in support of their application for a one-year suspension of the fur import ban provided for in EC Regulation No. 3254 ; (2) if he will give details of the representations he has received during the last year from (a) the Canadian Government, (b) the Canadian fur trade and (c) the British fur trade regarding EC Regulation No. 3254 banning the import of certain furs ;
(3) how many times he or his officials have met members of (a) the Canadian Government and (b) the Canadian fur trade during the past year to discuss the effects of EC Regulation No. 3254.
Mr. Needham : EC Regulation 3254/91, which was due to come into force on 1 January 1995, has been suspended for one year. Work is continuing in the international standards organisation on a trap standard. Ministers and officials in my Department regularly meet our Canadian opposite numbers. We have met the Canadian Government over the last year on a number of occasions to discuss trade issues, including the EC leghold trap regulation. In the course of those contacts, Canada provided information on the progress made in replacing leghold traps with alternative trapping methods. The Government took this information into account when preparing the United Kingdom position on the Commission proposal to suspend the regulation. Neither the Canadian nor the United Kingdom fur trade has made any representations to my Department during the last year.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, 4 July, Official Report, column 10, who will serve on the health care sector group ; and when he expects it to be operational.
Mr. Needham : I intend that membership should be drawn from a wide cross section of the health care sector. I hope to appoint a chairman in the near future and that the group will be operational in the autumn.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what examination his Department, consultants to his Department or the Atomic Energy Authority has re-conducted of the analysis conducted by the European bank for reconstruction and development for the G7 nations into the future visibility and capacity of Goskomatom, Ukraine's civil nuclear operator, safely to manage its nuclear plants ; and if he will arrange for a copy of the EBRD study to be placed in the Library.
Column 512to assess the options for, and cost of, improving nuclear safety in Ukraine. It would not be normal practice to place a report of such a mission in the Library of the House.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to promote environmentally clean technology on his forthcoming visit to South Africa ; and whether any representatives of the British Nuclear Industrial Forum will accompany him on his trip.
Mr. Needham : My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has no plans specifically to promote environmental clean technology on his forthcoming visit to South Africa. No representatives of the British nuclear industrial forum will accompany him on his trip, although two member companies will be represented.