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Mr. Atkins: The CITES conference on the parties agreed new measures to strengthen the operation and effectiveness of the convention. Twenty- seven species presently included on appendix II will be uplisted to appendix I, and 25 species presently on appendix I or II will be downlisted, including seven which will be deleted from the appendices altogether. The current listing of a further eight species will be unchanged but attached conditions will be relaxed. Thirty-seven species will be added to the convention for the first time.
The United Kingdom was instrumental in securing progress on several important issues. A new enforcement resolution identifies priorities for funding including the
Column 242secondment of law enforcement officers to the CITES secretariat; the development and implementation of regional law enforcement agreements; additional training and technical assistance; and closer international liaison between CITES, national enforcement agencies and existing international bodies, particularly the World Customs Organisation and Interpol.
There was overwhelming support for a United Kingdom proposal that a group be established to find solutions to technical problems associated with the listing of timber species on CITES, and to address other related matters. The group will bring producing and importing countries together to discuss issues of timber in trade in preparation for the next CITES conference in 1997.
Through our scientific authorities, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the United Kingdom played a prominent role in drawing up new criteria to guide CITES parties in deciding what level of control to apply to species in the future. No parties voted against the new criteria which will introduce more objectivity while allowing flexibility in some cases. There was a constructive debate on South Africa's proposal to downlist its elephant populations to allow trade in hides and meat only. The debate produced a strong commitment to continuing the dialogue among African range states begun at the recent meeting in Botswana organised by the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union. In the absence of support from other African range states, South Africa withdrew its proposal.
Germany withdrew its proposals to include a number of African and one Asian timber species on appendix II, but there was a full and considered discussion of the Netherlands proposals to list American mahogany-- Swietenia macrophylla. The United Kingdom voted in support but the proposal failed by a small margin to secure the necessary two thirds majority. However, a number of producer countries announced their intention to list the species on appendix III.
The conference agreed a proposal to allow trade in live white rhinos from South Africa for conservation purposes only. In addition, a resolution on rhino conservation in Asia and Africa was adopted to strengthen law enforcement co-operation and to encourage the development of recovery plans for endangered populations. Tiger range states collaborated with countries where trade in tiger parts persists to produce a resolution call for greater co-operation and stronger legislation to combat illegal trade. On behalf of my right hon. Friend, the United Kingdom announced £50,000 to assist in the work of the recently formed global tiger forum. This is additional to the £97,500 previously announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for a study into the Asian medicine trade to find ways of eliminating illegal trade and reducing demand for medicinal products derived from endangered species such as rhinos, tigers and bears.
The conference agreed to expand membership of the convention's standing committee to make it more representative of the 126 parties. The United Kingdom and the Russian Federation were chosen as the European representatives on the committee which is chaired by Japan. The United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago are vice-chairmen. The committee can expect a heavy work
Column 243load and we will play an active part in progressing key issues between now and the next conference which is to be hosted by Zimbabwe.
(2) if he will list those countries currently in arrears with their payments to the CITES secretariat.
Mr. Atkins: At the recent CITES meeting in the USA it was reported that for the four years 1990 93, 53 parties owed a total of 530,000 Swiss francs in outstanding contributions to the trust fund. For the current year, 1994, only 34 per cent. of contributions due had been received. Details of individual parties in arrears or with contributions overdue were not made available to the meeting but only to the budget committee chaired by the United Kingdom. It would not therefore be appropriate to publish this information. The United Kingdom is not among those countries which are in arrears or whose contribution is overdue.
Mr. Atkins: My right hon. Friend decides before each conference whether the United kingdom delegation should be led by a Minister. Ministerial representation at CITES conferences is rare among delegations from most of the parties.
`Support for the implementation of CITES in the Uinted Kindom' carried out by TRAFFIC International and jointly funded with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF);
The appointment of a scientific co-ordinator for the African Rhino Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN); and Assistance to the IUCN's African Elephant Specialist Group for a scientific/programme officer.
In addition, we provide strategic funding to Wildlife and Countryside Link, which fields a CITES liaison group, at a cost this year of £17,450.
Mr Atkins: We are keen to see enforcement and implementation issues properly addressed in the new draft regulation on wildlife trade and continue to encourage progress in the negotiating process. The European Commission helped to provide funding for the recent meeting in Botswana on the African elephant and, resources permitting, we will encourage it to consider further financial support for CITES issues, for example in assisting further dialogue on elephant issues among the range states.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy to convene a donor range state liaison forum to develop mechanisms within CITES for the disposal of the elephant products currently stockpiled in African countries.
Mr. Atkins: At the recent CITES meeting in the USA there was general agreement that African elephant range states should continue their recently renewed dialogue on elephant issues within CITES and this process was set in hand by meetings of the African regional group. In addition, the CITES standing committee, of which the United Kingdom is vice-chairman, was asked to consider the issue of stockpiles in liaison with the African range states and to report to the next conference on the parties. The United Kingdom does not therefore need to take a specific initiative but expects to be involved in the relevant discussions via the standing committee.
Mr. Atkins: Our annual subscription to CITES is currently £130, 000. In addition, we provide a contribution of £10,000 per annum to support the attendance at CITES meetings of delegates from developing countries.
Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effect on stockpiles of vicuna products resulting from the downlisting of vicuna from A1 to A2 of CITES; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins: The downlisting will not take effect until 90 days after the conference of the parties. We shall be discussing with other European Union member states how the Community should implement the downlisting in so far as current stockpiles are concerned.
Mr. Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what proportion of recycled demolition waste is included within the concrete structures of the new Department of the Environment headquarters building in Bressenden place, London SW1.
(2) what steps his Department has taken to ensure recycled demolition waste is used in the main structure of its new headquarters building in Bressenden place, London SW1.
(3) what proportion of the concrete arising from the demolition of the building on the site of the Department of the Environment's new headquarters in Bressenden place, London SW1 has been re-used for aggregate purposes.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The redevelopment of Eland house is being undertaken by Land Securities plc. The Department has signed an agreement to take a 25-year lease with a 15-year break provision against an agreed performance specification.
The recycling of demolition waste in the construction of a building is one of the criteria of the building research establishment environmental assessment method. The developers of the new headquarters building are under contractual obligation to use reasonable endeavours to maximise its rating under BREEAM. Uncontaminated demolition materials were specified by the developers for fill and hardcore and, where possible, used. The proportion of reuse is likely to be less than 50 per cent. by volume because concrete made from such
Column 245materials has an inappropriate strength- weight ratio in the context of this building's design.
The demolition of the building previously on the site of the new headquarters building was a matter for the developers. Figures relating to the proportion of concrete taken off site for crushing and re-use are not available but I understand from the developers that approximately 18,000 tonnes were dealt with in this manner.
Mr. Atkins: The Environment Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech last week, will contain a number of environmental measures including provisions to meet our commitments to the future care and protection of the national parks.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: The Secretary of State's current liability for legal costs arising on this case is provisionally estimated to be in the order of £150,000. This is contingent upon the outcome of his appeal to the House of Lords.
Mr. Gummer: The Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office have today published a paper, "Framework for Contaminated Land", which sets out the Government's proposals for the machinery for dealing with contaminated land and of liabilities and concludes the review into these subjects set up last year by my right hon. Friends and then Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales-- Official Report; 24 March 1993, columns 633 34.
The Government remain committed to the "suitable for use" approach to the control and treatment of existing contamination relating to any requirement for remedial work to the presence of any unacceptable risks to health or the environment and to the actual or intended use of the site. This was widely supported in the consultation responses. It provides the basis for tackling real hazards where they exist in an orderly and controlled fashion. By not imposing unnecessary financial and regulatory burdens, we will not discourage enterprise, which is itself a major contributor to the reinstatement of contaminated land.
We have already issued guidance about the treatment of contaminated land in the planning process, and shall continue to publish a series of research reports and guidance notes designed to help businesses and regulators determine when remediation is required and to what level, striking an appropriate balance between the costs and the environmental benefits of any action.
Column 246Subject to parliamentary approval, we propose that the Environment Agency should take over this programme of research and guidance, providing a nationally coherent framework for remedial action. It will also be asked to oversee progress.
We shall at the same time propose legislative amendments to the provisions whereby regulators--the Environment Agency and the borough and district councils, or unitary authorities--can require the prevention or abatement of contamination. We do not believe that there is a need for radical change to the effect of these provisions nor to the underlying incidence of financial liability. There is, however, a need for greater clarity and certainty, based on the principle that costs should as far as possible follow responsibility.
The overall aim will be for the regulatory authorities to work with private and public sector organisations to promote the treatment of contaminated land and, where possible, the productive re-use of such sites. English Partnerships and the Welsh Development Agency will continue to have important roles in tackling dereliction and the treatment of contaminated sites.
Home owners and small firms may face particular difficulties both in assessing their potential liabilities for contamination and in meeting any liabilities which they might have acquired unwittingly. We are keen, therefore to see improvements in the effectiveness of the conveyancing process. Guidance published by the Department of the Environment and the proposed agency should also make it easier for people to both predict and address their problems. Regulatory authorities will also be required to consider questions of hardship resulting from their enforcement of environmental obligations. Financial institutions expressed concerns during our review that they might be held responsible for the actions of their clients or the companies for which they act. We have no intention of pursuing a "deep pockets" approach to liability. Whilst financial institutions should not be shielded from normal commercial risks, they should not be subject to potentially open-ended liabilities resulting from damage for which they were not responsible. To the extent that there are any uncertainties in the existing statutory provisions, we shall clarify them.
In "Paying for our Past" we said that, in the light of the emerging conclusions of the review, we would re-assess the justification for the present unique statutory exemptions in respect of water escaping from abandoned mines which pollutes controlled waters. In view of the concerns that have been expressed about water pollution from abandoned mines, we shall propose legislative amendments to remove the existing statutory defence and exemptions for mines abandoned after the end of 1999 so that the agency will have the same powers for those mines as for other discharges.
We shall also propose a duty on mine operators to give the agency six months' notice of any proposed abandonment. This will provide an additional safeguard to ensure that when mines are abandoned this is done in a responsible manner with full regard to the effects on the water environment.
These provisions on abandoned mines will end a long-standing anomaly and enhance the agency's ability to tackle and prevent pollution.
The regulatory authorities will have the task of identifying problems caused by contamination and
Column 247establishing priorities for dealing with them. In the light of this, we do not consider that a general register of land subject to potentially contaminative uses is warranted, and we propose to repeal section 143 of the Environment Protection Act 1990.
At the time that the review was announced, there were also concerns about the application of the common law to civil liabilities for contamination. Following the House of Lords judgment in the case of Cambridge Water Company v . Eastern Counties Leather plc we believe that the law in this area is now better understood and provides a sensible balance between the interest of all potential parties. Accordingly, we do not propose legislative amendments to the common law.
We are very grateful to the 349 individuals and organisations who responded to our consultation paper, "Paying for our Past". A summary of the responses and a list of those who agreed for their responses to be made public has been placed in the Library of the House, and reference copies of their responses have been placed in the DOE library. Responses relating specifically to Wales have been placed in the Welsh Office library.
The Government's proposals are set out in detail in the paper, "Framework for Contaminated Land", which I have placed in the Library of the House and the Vote Office. They should lead to greater certainty and confidence in the market, helping ensure that contaminated land is brought back into productive use and that environmental hazards are removed.
The necessary legislative provisions will be published shortly in the Environment Agencies Bill.
Conditions of service for the staff of my Department incorporate the general principles of conduct that require civil servants not to misuse information which they acquire in the course of their official duties; to be impartial in carrying out their official duties; not to make use of their official position to further their private interests or those of others, and not to accept favours or benefits of any kind from a third party which might be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity. These principles and guidance are set out in the Department's "Staff Handbook" and are in accord with the requirements of the civil service management code.
Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list and date those occasions over the last two years when Ministers or officials in his Department have met lobbying companies prior to a decision being made on the subject of the meeting with the lobbying company.
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the salary and other emoluments of the civil servant who did the work of, or work comparable to that of, the chief executive of each next steps agency established by his Department before the agency was established.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: This Department has five next steps agencies-- the Building Research Establishment, the Planning Inspectorate, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, the Security Facilities Executive and the Buying Agency. The salary of the official in the post equivalent to that of chief executive in the month before the creation of each agency was as follows:
BRE (March 1990) £39,300 (+£2,000 London Allowance)
PINS (March 1992 £48,000
QEII CC (June 1989) £32,826 (+£1,750 London Weighting)
SAFE (September 1993) £45,959 (+£1,776 London Weighting) TBA (October 1991 £39,402
All these officials were paid under the normal arrangements for their respective civil service grade, and were not in receipt of any other emoluments.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce measures to appoint the Scottish rating assessors for the purposes of valuation of properties for rating purposes in England and Wales.
Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the economic impact of the national voluntary environmental code of practice on businesses; if he will list the
Column 249businesses which have agreed to follow the national environmental code of practice; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins: The are a number of voluntary codes--promoted by, for example, individual industries, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CBI--through which a commitment to environmental management may be demonstrated.
The Government welcome such voluntary initiatives: the more industry chooses to operate in a sustainable manner, the less need there will be for Government to regulate.
Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when New Century house on Westminster Bridge road was vacated; what has been the cost of maintenance since then; and what plans his Department has for the building.
Negotiations with the landlord and the planning authority are in hand to enable the building to be used as an emergency shelter by the Construction Industry Relief and Assistance for the Single Homeless--CRASH--during the winter of 1994 95.
A Government Department has expressed some interest in using the building after then and refurbishment. Value for money studies are currently being undertaken. It is being offered to other Departments and will be placed on the open market if no long-term user can be found within Government.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the percentage of extra fuel which is required to heat identical houses in (a) Edinburgh, (b) Glasgow, (c) Aberdeen, (d) Dundee, (e) Lerwick and (f) Braemar, taking Bristol as the base; and if he will make a statement.
(a) Edinburgh +28 per cent., (b) Glasgow +23 per cent., (c) Aberdeen +41 per cent., (d) Dundee +32 per cent., (e) Lerwick +53 per cent. and (f) Braemer +66 per cent.
These figures have been calculated using the Building Research Establishment domestic model, BREDEM.
Mr. Curry: English Partnerships is making excellent progress, demonstrated by the launch today of its "Investment Guide", explaining how developers, and others in the public, private and voluntary sectors can
Column 250access its advice and resources to deliver effective and lasting regeneration.
English Partnerships was set up under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. Its remit, informed by the Secretary of State's guidance issued in April 1994, is to promote the regeneration of areas of need, across England, through the reclamation and development of derelict or vacant land and buildings.
English Partnerships was formed on 10 November 1993 and immediately assumed responsibility for administering the city grant programme; but only came into full operation on 1 April 1994, when it took over, in addition, the management of derelict land grant and the English Estates development programme, previously overseen by the Department of Trade and Industry.
In that short time English Partnerships, under Lord Walker's chairmanship, has made very substantial progress. It has announced a £122 million land reclamation programme; and has already approved 285 separate regeneration projects with a total English Partnerships investment of £200 million. This includes English Partnerships' key role in facilitating Samsung's £600 million inward investment at Cleveland, which will generate 3,000 jobs.
English Partnerships has now appointed six regional directors to a network of offices covering the whole of England. They will plan and deliver support for regeneration, working closely with the private sector, local authorities and communities; and liaising with the Government offices for the regions on projects within the single regeneration budget, main programmes relevant to regeneration and opportunities for European funding.
English Partnerships' "Investment Guide", a copy of which I am depositing in the Library, builds on that foundation. The guide explains the integrated approach which English Partnerships will follow and, in particular, its new unified regime for supporting regeneration strategies and projects, which will supersede the programmes it inherited. Building on the freedoms provided by the Government's private finance initiative, the new regime ensures that English Partnerships can operate as a strategic partner and investor in regeneration through a flexible mix of instruments- -including grants, loans, guarantees and joint ventures--tailored to the particular needs and opportunities each project presents. Existing city grant, derelict land grant and English Estates commitments will be met.
The guide marks an important milestone. English Partnerships will now be building on its success, working with private, public and voluntary sector partners to deliver the employment and environmental benefits flowing from successful regeneration.