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Mr. Moss: Options for new charging arrangements for water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland are still being examined. I intend to publish a policy document in advance of the introduction of new arrangements and I will make an announcement at that time.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the terms of the contract between Scottish Power and Northern Ireland Electricity in respect of denial of and third party access to the Scotland-Northern Ireland electricity interconnector for 15 years.
Mr. Ancram: The terms of the contract between Northern Ireland Electricity plc and Scottish Power plc are primarily a matter for the two private companies concerned. NIE considered that a term covering its exclusive use of the electricity interconnector for the first 15 years was necessary in order to secure a reasonable return on its considerable capital investment. Government endorsed this arrangement in granting a transmission licence to NIE.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the relative economic efficiency of power production for Northern Ireland of (a) an indigenous generator and (b) the Moyle interconnector.
Mr. Ancram: None. Following the privatisation of the electricity industry in Northern Ireland, responsibility for assessing the merits of new generating capacity rests solely with Northern Ireland Electricity plc.
Mr. Ancram: The Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland is currently undertaking a feasibility study into possible options for refurbishment works on sea defences on Strangford lough. These sea defences, known as the Newtownards, Ballyurnanellan and Kilnatierney dykes, are designated in accordance with the terms of the Drainage (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 to provide protection against flooding from the sea to the town of Newtownards at its most northerly end, and to other valuable land and property on the Ards peninsula. It is not possible to confirm any plans for flood defence works at Strangford lough until the feasibility study has been completed and all necessary consultations have taken place with environmental and other interests in this area, which is recognised as an area of high conservation value.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria his Department applies when considering for designation as areas of special scientific interest those locations that are primarily being considered for their (a) ornithological and (b) marine life values; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moss: The criteria used when considering for designation of areas of special scientific interest for ornithological reasons are largely based on the numbers of each species of bird using the site. For marine sites an assessment is made of the naturalness, diversity, size and rarity of the habitats occurring at the site.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advice he has received about the predicted scale of deterioration in respect of areas of special scientific interest due to (a) non-enforcement of management agreement conditions and (b) lack of monitoring; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moss: Management agreement conditions are generally respected, and there is little evidence of significant deterioration of the scientific interest of areas of special scientific interest due to non-compliance. However, it is accepted that, if management agreement conditions were not enforced, the scientific value would be likely to deteriorate significantly.
Monitoring is important in the management of ASSIs, but in itself it has no direct effect on whether or not a site deteriorates.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many management agreements with landowners and land occupiers have been established in (a) areas of special scientific interest and (b) prospective areas of special scientific interest; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moss: Conservation plans which will set out the monitoring requirements of individual areas of specific scientific interest are currently being prepared for some of the largest and most important sites, and it is planned to extend these to cover all areas by 1997. A trial monitoring exercise has just been completed, and it is planned to extend this work. In addition, it is intended to recruit more staff to help with the monitoring and management of ASSIs in the near future.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which areas of special scientific interest (a) have been designated in Northern Ireland (b) are being examined for possible future designation.
Mr. Moss: A list of declared areas of special scientific interest is set out in the following table. Other sites are being examined for possible future designation, but it is not our policy to publish these. It is the Government's intention to declare the remaining sites known to qualify as ASSIs by the year 2001.
Number |Site name --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 |Carrickbrawn 2 |Gortnagory 3 |Moneygal Bog 4 |Garry Bog 5 |Teal Lough and Slaghtfreedan 6 |Black Bog 7 |Glenarrif 8 |Cleggan Valley 9 |Monawilkin 10 |Lough Beg 11 |Beagh Big 12 |Garvros 13 |Moneendogue 14 |Lergan 15 |Drumlisaleen 16 |Inner Belfast Lough 17 |Glenburn 18 |Strangford Lough Pt 1 19 |Ballymacormick Point 20 |Strangford Lough 21 |Kiltubbrid Lough 22 |North Woodburn Glen 23 |Dunloy Bog 24 |Strangford Lough Pt 3 25 |Moninea Bog 26 |Fairy Water Bogs 27 |Annacramph Meadows 28 |Rathlin Island-Coast 29 |Rathlin Island-Ballygill North 30 |Rathin Island-Kinramer South 31 |Rathlin Island-Ballycarry 32 |Loughkeelan 33 |Horse Island 34 |Dernish Island 35 |Sheep Island 36 |Corraslough Point 37 |Lough Neagh 38 |Lackan Bog 39 |Innishroosk 40 |Slievenacloy 41 |Crockaghole Wood 42 |Glenmore Wood 43 |Ness Wood 44 |Ervery Wood 45 |Drumlea and Mullan Woods 46 |Altmover Glen 47 |Strabane Glen 48 |Owenkillew and Glenelly Woods 49 |Deroran Bog 50 |Portmore Lough 51 |Banagher Glen 52 |Culnafay 53 |Pettigoe Plateau 54 |Garron Plateau 55 |Upper Lough Erne-Crom 56 |Knockballymore Lough 57 |Kilroosky Lough 58 |Summerhill Lough 59 |Burdautien Lough 60 |Cuilcagh Mountain 61 |Mill Lough 62 |Killymacken Lough 63 |Derryleckagh 64 |Magilligan 65 |Slieve Beagh 66 |Ballynahone Bog 67 |Upper Lough Erne Galloon 68 |Teal Lough Part II 69 |Murlough 70 |Upper Lough Erne-Belleisle
Mr. MacKinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what environmental impact assessment is being carried out on actual and projected engineering works in and around the environs of Strangford lough; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram: The Government are conscious of the high conservation value and the protected status of Strangford lough and its environs both as an area of outstanding natural beauty and area of special scientific interest. Any engineering operations currently undertaken or proposed by the Department of Agriculture on the designated sea defences on Strangford lough or on designated watercourses discharging into the lough are subject to rigorous assessment of the environmental impact. Where any environmental effects are considered significant, a full environmental statement will be prepared and made available for public comment, before the designs for any proposed works are finalised and works commence.
18. Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with representatives of the Indonesian Government regarding the issue of human rights in that country.
Mr. David Davis: The negotiations for a comprehensive test ban treaty began in the conference on disarmament in January 1994. A draft text containing the elements of a treaty has now been completed. The United Nations General Assembly has welcomed this progress. The conference on disarmament continues to work to achieve consensus on both the treaty text and on an international monitoring system to verify compliance with the treaty. The United Kingdom is playing a full part. We remain committed to negotiating an effective and verifiable comprehensive test ban treaty.
23. Mr. Waller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about relations between the United Kingdom and Pakistan.
26. Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart about the situation in Chechnya.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: The process of assessing the UN's role in the settlement of disputes is a continual one. In the last few years we have come forward with a number of initiatives designed to strengthen UN capabilities and improve the UN's performance in this field.
29. Mr. Riddick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if border controls will be one of the issues on the agenda of the next meeting of EU Foreign Ministers which he will attend.
30. Mr. Rathbone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he is preparing for members of the Government to visit the Lebanon to discuss the middle east peace process.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: Members of the Government meet regularly with their Lebanese counterparts to discuss the middle east peace process and other issues. My noble Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning will be visiting Lebanon in April.
33. Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the United Kingdom Government have made of the latest report of the United Nations special rapporteur on Iraq.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We welcome Mr van der Stoels' report and share his condemnation of the Iraqi regime for the continuing abuses of human rights. We will continue to press Iraq to comply in full with the terms of all United Nations Security Council resolutions. 38. Lady Olga Maitland: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United Nations in respect of Iraqi compliance with resolutions seeking the release of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing persons.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We attach great importance to the resolution of this issue. We take every suitable opportunity to raise it at the United Nations--for example, at each 60-day Security Council review of sanctions against Iraq.
34. Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Moroccan Government regarding access to United Nations vote identification centres in Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We have made no representations to the Moroccans on this issue. The United Nations is responsible for organising the referendum in the Western Sahara. As a member of the informal Security Council
Column 633group of friends of the UN Secretary-General in relation to the Western Sahara, we remain in close contact with the UN about all aspects of the organisation of the referendum.
Mr. David Davis: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Welsh Affairs will lead a group of business men to Argentina from 13 to 17 May. He is considering going to Patagonia as part of the visit, which will aim to improve trading relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina in general.
37. Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps British embassies are taking to promote United Kingdom interests in information technology and the information super-highway.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: UK posts offer support, advice and briefing to UK companies doing business overseas in all fields. They also monitor market conditions and opportunities and send information back on a regular basis for onward distribution to industry to help them take advantage of business opportunities. FCO commercial staff in the US, Canada, France and Germany are working closely with the DTI to research the commercial opportunities for UK companies in multi-media and information highway products in these countries.
39. Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what practical steps the Government will implement to fulfil its commitment in achieving the goals set by the 1990 world summit for children.
Column 634industrialised countries to publish a national response to the summit. The needs of children in developing countries are also a priority goal of the British aid programme.
40. Mr. Canavan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received about the United Kingdom rejoining UNESCO; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has received 38 letters from both MPs and members of the public in the last five months about the United Kingdom rejoining UNESCO. In addition, there have been 10 parliamentary questions in the same period, the most recent in this House having been answered by me on 1 February 1995.
We are continuing to keep this issue under review but as of yet have taken no decision.
We continue to consult frequently and closely on all issues of mutual concern.
Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the establishment of a UN anti-personnel mine clearance fund.
Mr. Douglas Hogg: We welcomed the UN Secretary-General's decision last year to establish a voluntary trust fund for assistance in mine clearance. The UK made the first financial contribution to the voluntary trust fund in September 1994 when we gave $150,000 for de-mining in the Yemen.