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Column 278made a statement on behalf of all the members of the council, including the United Kingdom. The statement considered the
"continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the General Protocol".
On 3 December 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution referring to the Geneva protocol, calling for compliance with "existing international prohibitions on chemical and biological weapons"
and condemning actions contravening such obligations. The United Kingdom voted in favour of this resolution.
United Kingdom controls on the export to Iraq of chemical precursors and dual-use equipment were introduced in 1985. Following the Gulf war and the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 687, Iraq was required to accept the destruction of all its chemical and biological weapons and all related subsystems, components and research facilities. Iraq is now subject to long -term monitoring by the UN special commission--UNSCOM.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will bring forward proposals to add to the third paragraph of article 189 of the EC treaty a provision that directives shall have no legal consequences except in so far as they are implemented in national legislation;
(2) if he will propose for the intergovernmental commission a review of the European Court of Justice with an intention to limit a priori application of directives and to overcome the expression "independently of the legislation of member states" in the judgment Van Gend en Loos--ECJ 1963.
Mr. Goodlad: We are considering ways of addressing concerns we have about some ECJ judgments, particularly where they have had unforeseen or disproportionate cost implications. But it is important that any changes to the treaty articles relating to the European Court of Justice should maintain or strengthen the rule of law in the Community, which is in the interests of all member states, including the United Kingdom.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he intends to put forward at the world summit on social development to prevent the dumping of subsidised European Union agricultural products in developing countries.
Mr. Hogg: The world summit on social development will deal with issues relevant to all UN members and not focus on specific EU policies. We believe it is important to reduce EU surpluses which damage the agricultural economies and industries of developing countries. The reforms of the common agricultural policy, begun in 1992, have already gone a long way towards reducing surplus agricultural production which led to the subsidising of exports to world markets. The United Kingdom continues to press for further reforms, including continuing reductions in support prices, leading to a more market-oriented CAP.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings have been held with
representatives of the Chechen people since last November; what contact they have been able to have with Her Majesty's ambassador in Moscow; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: In January, a meeting was organised under the auspices of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation between an official at our embassy in The Hague and a citizen of the Chechen republic. There have been no meetings in London or Moscow.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what policy his Department has in respect of self- determination for Chechnya.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We continue to press the Russian Government to pursue a peaceful settlement which allows the Chechen people to express their identity within the framework of the constitution of the Russian Federation.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Government of China concerning the use of child labour; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad: We regularly raise human rights issues with the Chinese authorities, both bilaterally and with our European partners. China is a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child. We have seen reports both of exploitation of child labour and of action taken by the authorities to tackle the problem.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Mrs. Ghazalah Yaqoob--Ref: C5009--applied to the United Kingdom post in Islamabad to join her husband in the United Kingdom; when she was interviewed; when a decision is to be taken on her application; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: I have asked the entry clearance officer in Islamabad to let me have a report on the application from Mrs. Ghazalah Yaqoob. I shall arrange for the hon. Member to receive a substantive reply from the migration and visa correspondence unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as soon as possible.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the letter, dated 9 February, from the migration and visa correspondence unit of his Department to the hon. Member for Bradford, West, how many of the 31 entry applications with solicitors Aurangzeb Iqbal and Co. of Bradford asked the entry clearance manager at Islamabad to review have to date been reviewed; how many decisions have been maintained; how many decisions have been varied; if the solicitors have been informed of all decisions after review; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: I have asked the entry clearance officer in Islamabad to let me have a report. I shall arrange for the hon. Member to receive a substantive reply from the migration and visa correspondence unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as soon as possible.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he is putting forward at the world summit on social development to request the World Trade Organisation to pursue objectives that help the poor in poor countries.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: One of the core issues which the summit will discuss is the alleviation of poverty; the UK has contributed a number of proposals for action in this area. Although we do not think it is for the summit to advise the World Trade Organisation on its work programme, we believe developing countries and their populations should benefit substantially from the effects of implementation of the Uruquay round agreements, which is the World Trade Organisation's main task.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now announce the leadership and composition of his delegation to the world summit on social development.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: A final decision on attendance at the summit will be made shortly.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on the recent international conference concerning the use of child labour that was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and what response he made to the declaration.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: There was not an international conference as such.
Representatives of the International Labour Organisation, UNICEF and the US Government recently had discussions with the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association about child labour in Bangladesh. The member companies of BGMEA have undertaken to try to end child labour in their factories.
We applaud this, but understand that the immediate effect has been to increase hardship as many thousands of children have been laid off with no provision for their welfare. Many of the children, instead of working in garment factories, are now working elsewhere.
This reinforces our view that the best approach to the problem of child labour is to try to tackle the poverty which is often its cause. Our aid programme seeks to address poverty, and includes funding for projects to help children in employment. We also encourage other Governments to help children, both through dialogue and by funding activities such as slum improvement schemes in south Asia.
Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Government plans to ratify the 1981 United Nations weaponry convention, in particular protocol II in relation to the use of land mines.
Mr. David Davis: The United Kingdom permanent representative to the UN in New York deposited the United Kingdom's instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary-General on 13 February. We will be bound by
Column 281all three protocols to the convention which cover the use of non-detectable fragments, land mines and booby-traps, and incendiary weapons.
Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support has been given to the far eastern prisoners of war and civilian internees who are seeking compensation from the Japanese Government.
Mr. Goodlad: The Government have the deepest respect for all those who suffered as prisoners of the Japanese during world war two, and the greatest sympathy for their families.
The question of compensation was legally settled, in the Government's view, by the San Francisco peace treaty of 1951, and we are precluded from raising it formally with the Japanese Government. British Ministers have drawn the attention of their Japanese counterparts to the strong feelings which the treatment of the prisoners continues to arouse in this country. When the Prime Minister visited Japan in September 1993, he discussed the matter with the then Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hosokawa, and Mr. Hosokawa expressed his
"deep remorse as well as apologies for the fact that Japanese past actions had inflicted deep wounds on many people including former prisoners of war".
The Prime Minister informed Mr. Hoskawa that we were examining whether non- governmental measures would assist in solving this problem. Mr. Hosokawa agreed this approach was worth examining. The British Government then brought together a small group, led by Sir Kit McMahon, to develop one such proposal--for a foundation financed by the private sector which could provide practical help to former prisoners. Last November, however, after Sir Kit had visited Tokyo to sound out the reactions of the Japanese private sector, it became clear that this approach was unlikely to succeed in present circumstances.
At the end of August, the present Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Murayama, announced a £650 million initiative involving exchange visits and historical research. The United Kingdom is one of the countries included in this scheme.
We have not given up. The Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Murayama about these matters at the end of the last year. We are continuing regular discussions with the Japanese Government.
Our embassy helped the FEPOWs who recently visited Japan to meet a representative of the Japanese Government and to pay tribute to their fallen comrades at the commonwealth war graves cemetery.
Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he will reply to the British Retail Consortium's letter regarding its concern that the
Column 282provisions of the Jobseekers Bill may discriminate against unemployed people who take up part-time vocational training.
Mr. Roger Evans: I wrote to the director general of the British Retail Consortium on Wednesday 15 February, explaining that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment would be responding on behalf of both this and his own Department shortly. I understand that my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Employment sent a full reply on 19 February.
Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, (1) what is his estimate of the projected annual cost of the child care allowance for 1995 96 at current levels of take-up;
(2) what are the latest figures for take-up of the child care allowance; and what percentage of those eligible for child care allowance he estimates this constitutes.
Mr. Roger Evans: It is not possible to be precise about percentage take-up levels or costs so early in the life of the new child care allowance. It will take some time for the new help to take full effect. Existing family credit recipients can claim the child care help only when their 26-week award which was current at the end of September 1994 expires, while many potential beneficiaries need to find work of 16 hours or more and to make appropriate child care arrangements.
By 31 January 1995, the latest date for which figures are available, 10,500 families had been awarded higher family credit as a result of the new help with child care charges. This figure will increase as claims made but not decided by that date are awarded. No information is yet available about the number of housing benefit and council tax benefit recipients. In the long term, we expect that, in total, around 150,000 families will benefit from the new help at an annual benefit cost of around £60 million.
Source: Five per cent. sample of family credit awards made between 1 October 1994 and 31 January 1995.
Mr. Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 30 November, to the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes), Official Report , column 747 , how many of those refused benefits under the habitual residence test have received crisis loans.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information is not available.
Mr. Ron Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, (1) if he will list by county in Wales (a) how many applications have been made to the social fund for a payment for rent in advance and (b) how many of these applications were successful for each year since the social fund came into operation;
(2) how many (a) grants and (b) loans have been awarded with respect to applications made to the social fund for a payment for rent in advance in each county in Wales for each year since the social fund came into operation.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Ron Davies, dated 22 February 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions requesting information on the number of applications made and grants and loans awarded in respect of rent in advance for each county in Wales.
Information is not available in the format requested. Statistics are not collated in respect of the number of loan or grant applications made for specific purpose. However, information is available relating to the number of awards which have been made. The Secretary of State's directions do not allow a Community Care Grant to be made for rent in advance and, therefore, the information supplied relates only to Budgeting Loans.
The information that is available does not relate to counties. Benefits Agency boundaries do not correspond with county boundaries and I have therefore provided information relating to the Benefits Agency's offices in Wales. Data for the financial years 1988/89 and 1989/90 is not available at local office level. However, I have given information at local office level for 1990/91 at Annex A. With the advent of the Benefits Agency in April 1991, local offices were grouped into Districts and at Annex B the information has been provided from 1991/92 at District level.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Annex A: Number of awards made for rent in advance by local offices in Wales 1990-91 |Number of Local Office |awards ------------------------------------------ Aberdare |22 Aberystwyth |1 Ammnanford |4 Anglesey |1 Bargoed |13 Barry |20 Blackwood |8 Bridgend |24 Caernafon |18 Caerphilly |23 Cardiff Central |5 Cardiff West |3 Carmarthen |18 Colwyn Bay |8 Cwbran |9 Deeside |28 Ebbw Vale |9 Haverfordest |9 Llanelli |5 Merthyr Tydfil |4 Morriston |9 Neath |2 Newport Gwent |27 Newtown |43 Pembroke Dock |5 Pontypridd |3 Port Talbot |19 Porthmadog |20 Rhyl |1 Swansea |28 Tonypandy |6 Wrexham |29
Number of awards for rent in advance by Agency District in Wales from 1991-92 to 1993-94 |Number of District |Awards --------------------------------------------------- 1991-92 Cynon, Merthyr, Rhymney Valley |34 Gwyneddigion |47 Mid Wales and Maelor |116 North Gwent and Brecon |33 North Wales Coast |49 Ogwr Afan Nedd |13 South Glamorgan |37 South Gwent and Islwyn |87 Swansea |107 Taff Rhondda |6 West Wales |37 1992-93 Cynon, Merthyr, Rhymney Valley |16 Gwyneddigion |94 Mid Wales and Maelor |115 North Gwent and Brecon |67 North Wales Coast |65 Ogwr Afan Nedd |7 South Glamorgan |18 South Gwent and Islwyn |102 Swansea |156 Taff Rhondda |13 West Wales |41 1993-94 Cynon, Merthyr, Rhymney Valley |43 Gwyneddigion |86 Mid Wales and Maelor |105 North Gwent and Brecon |86 North Wales Coast |97 Ogwr Afan Nedd |20 South Glamorgan |25 South Gwent and Islwyn |55 Swansea |200 Taff Rhondda |33 West Wales |113
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what consideration his Department has given to evidence from the Scottish cancer research scheme on the number of women suffering from mesothelioma who are not recognised by his Department as doing so; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hague: I am advised on the list of occupational diseases by the independent Industrial Injuries Advisory Council which keeps developments in the field of all occupational diseases under review. I understand the council is aware of this research into asbestos-related diseases which it intends to review, together with other available new evidence, as part of its work programme for the next year.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list (a) the numbers of housing benefit claimants, split into rent rebate and rent allowance categories and the total amounts paid under each heading, (b) the numbers and amounts of housing benefit back-dated payments, regulation 72(15) and the amount paid as a percentage of each local authority's housing benefit expenditure, (c) the number, amount and
Column 285percentage of amount in relation to total housing benefit expenditure in relation to discretionary payments, regulation 69(8) and (d) the number and amount of housing benefit overpayments and the amount as a percentage of the authority's overall housing benefit expenditure for each district and metropolitan borough council in England and Wales for each available year since 1991 92.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people annually gain national insurance credits; and what estimate he has made of the cost of these credits if taxpayers contributed the sums which such individuals would have paid into the national insurance scheme from their own employer's contributions if they were on (a) two thirds and (b) average earnings.
Mr. Arbuthnot [pursuant to his answer, 13 February 1995, c. 541- 52]: I regret that the information provided was incorrect. The correct information is set out.
In 1992 93, the most recent year for which information is available, some 10.5 million people were awarded an average of 37 national insurance contribution credits. If these individuals were receiving earnings and paid employee's national insurance contributions at current rates, those on two thirds of average earnings would have paid £734.08 and those on average earnings would have paid £1,185.48 in contributions.
(a) Calculations based on weekly male average earnings of £366--new earnings survey, April 1994.
(b) Calculations assume that contributions were paid at the not contracted out rate of 2 per cent. + 10 per cent.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what have been the 10 largest amounts of benefit recovered by the compensation recovery unit in this financial year; and what disease, sickness or disability the person paying benefit suffered from in each case;
(2) how many people have had to pay back benefits to the compensation recovery unit in this financial year, and what is the distribution by the size of the amounts recovered.
Mr. Roger Evans: This is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Tony Worthington, dated 22 February 1995:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions concerning the ten largest amounts recovered by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) this financial year; also how many people have paid back benefits to the CRU this financial year and what is the distribution by size of the amounts recovered.
I have provided at Annex A a table relating to the ten largest amounts recovered this financial year.
In the period 1 April 1994 to 31 January 1995 there have been a total of 32,829 cases in which benefit has been recouped. The range and number of recoveries within each band are provided at Annex B. I hope you find this reply helpful.
Annex A |Amount recovered Disease/injury |£ ----------------------------------------------------- Back/spinal injury |84,630.01 Multiple injuries |79,186.77 Multiple injuries |79,014.03 Multiple injuries |69,945.16 Miscellaneous<1> |69,835.23 Miscellaneous<1> |68,607.50 Chest injury |68,223.99 Multiple injuries |67,843.94 Head/facial injury |66,726.13 Multiple injuries |65,514.13 <1> Non-coded injury/disease-includes lacerations/cuts, bruising or any combination where no specific part of the body is mentioned.
G Annex B Range |Number of |Percentage of £ |cases |cases ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Up to and including 5,000 |27,982 |85,23 5,000.01-10,000 |2,075 |6.32 10,000.01-15,000 |1,192 |3.63 15,000.01-20,000 |654 |2.00 20,000.01-25,000 |418 |1,28 Recovery exceeding 25,000.01 |508 |1.54
Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Spanish flagships are not part of the British register.
Mr. Norris: The information requested is not available.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the environmental impact of channel tunnel freight trains in London; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Watts: The railway operators and the local authorities concerned have taken the lead in determining the environmental effects and dealing with them. My officials and I have followed this process closely and have visited some of the lines involved with local authority representatives and hon. Members.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many representatives he has received regarding the environmental impact of channel tunnel freight trains in London; and from whom.
Mr. Watts: Since January 1994 I have received 113 representations from hon. Members and members of the public, and a petition from residents of west London. We have also maintained close contact with local authorities and railway operators on the subject.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take, to reduce the environmental impact of channel tunnel freight trains in London.
Mr. Watts: It falls to the railway operators to take measures to mitigate environmental effects. The measures include installing continuously welded rail to reduce the
Column 287noise of wheels on the track; ordering a fleet of new wagons, which are quieter than existing stock; and working with local authorities to provide jointly funded noise barrier schemes for locations which remain noisy. Axle loadings of international freight trains are lower than for domestic, in accordance with internationally agreed standards.
The Government have assisted these schemes by providing supplementary credit approvals to the authorities. Noise will be further reduced by the introduction later this year of new electric locomotives, which will replace the diesels currently in use.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the volume of channel tunnel freight trains currently running through central London; and what volume of trains are projected for each of the next 10 years.
Mr. Watts: There are currently 11 trains a day in each direction. BR expects a gradual increase in frequencies to 27 a day each way by the end of 1996.
Mr. Mills: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish his response to the appeal by Colonel Owen and the effect of the judgment on those affected by planning blight created by developments proposed by Government Departments.
Mr. Watts: My Department will publish new guidelines for the discretionary purchase of property by the Highways Agency. These guidelines will take full account of the requirements of the judgment. The effect of the judgment on discretionary purchase of property by other highway authorities or by other departments will be for them and their legal advisers to consider.
Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the improvements now being made to Westminster tube station will provide full access for disabled people.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what reports he has received of the accident on the Barking Gospel Oak railway line on 18 February; and what information he has of plans for changing the signalling of the line.
Mr. Watts: The circumstances of the collision at Wanstead Park between the 12.30 Barking to Gospel Oak passenger train and a Freightliner train standing at a signal are being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive's railway inspectorate, and by Railtrack and British Rail. It is too early to say what caused the accident and what, if any, remedial action is necessary.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what train stations currently provide through ticketing facilities for services that do not require prior booking within (a) Hampshire and (b) South West Trains.