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4 Dec 2003 : Column 169W—continued

New Millennium Experience Company

Alan Keen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what he estimates the surplus will be of the unutilised grant, which is expected to result from the solvent liquidation of the New Millennium Experience Company. [140491]

Keith Hill: This is a matter for the Millennium Commission as grant-funder. However, I understand that it is currently estimated that the surplus of unutilised grant, resulting from the solvent liquidation of the New Millennium Experience Company, is expected to be £25 million.

Quasi-Judicial Decisions

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what factors are taken into account when he takes a decision in a quasi-judicial capacity; and how these differ from the factors he takes into account in decisions taken normally. [141925]

Keith Hill: Quasi-judicial powers are administrative powers which must be exercised in accordance with the rules of natural justice. In taking quasi-judicial decisions, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister must act and be seen to act fairly and even-handedly, by bringing an unbiased and properly directed mind to his consideration of the matter. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister must take into account all relevant matters and not take into account irrelevant ones. These factors do not necessarily differ from the factors to be taken into account in other decisions but there may be a different degree of scrutiny by the courts.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received on Merton Borough Council's policy PE14 on renewable energy, formally adopted on 31 October; and if he will make a statement. [141381]

Keith Hill: As the hon. Member will know, Merton's UDP policy PE14 (now renumbered PE13 in the Plan as adopted) encourages the incorporation of various environmentally friendly measures into buildings, and indicates that:


This policy was introduced into the Plan in post-inquiry modifications, an objection was made. Representations were made to the Office of the Deputy

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Prime Minister by Councillor Andrew Judge, Council Leader of the London Borough of Merton, and from Rebecca Willis, of the Green Alliance, with members of the Energy Entrepreneurs Network as co-signatories. In both cases the representations pointed out that a viability test had been introduced by the Council to address the Government's concerns, and asked that the Government should not intervene to direct the removal of the policy from the Plan.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Colombia

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what military aid is being provided to Colombia; and of what (a) type and (b) value. [141508]

Mr. Ingram: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 October 2003, Official Report, column 322W, to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock).

Ethiopia

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to implement sanctions against Ethiopia in the event that it does not accept the Algiers agreement; and if he will make a statement. [140917]

Mr. Mullin: We have underlined to the Ethiopian authorities that the Boundary Commission's decision on the border, provided for in the Algiers Agreement, is final and binding. We are working with the rest of the international community to encourage Ethiopia and Eritrea to begin a political dialogue on all the issues separating the two countries, including the implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision. The Government have no current plans to implement sanctions against Ethiopia.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent meetings he has had to discuss ways of preventing the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea escalating. [140918]

Mr. Mullin: When I met the Ethiopian ambassador on 16 October, I emphasised to him that the Boundary Commission's decision is final and binding and that dialogue is essential for the normalisation of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia. I conveyed this same message to the Eritrean ambassador at a meeting on 25 November and to the Eritrean Foreign Minister at a meeting on 1 December.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what actions have been undertaken by his Department to ensure that the Commission's resolutions on the future border between Ethiopia and Eritrea are adhered to; and if he will make a statement. [141618]

Mr. Mullin: We have emphasised to both parties that the Boundary Commission's decisions are final and binding. The Government are working with other

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members of the international community to encourage Ethiopia and Eritrea to begin a political dialogue on all the issues separating the two countries.

EU Constitutional Treaty

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many copies of the proposed EU Constitutional Treaty have been purchased by (a) Government bodies and (b) others. [140802]

Mr. MacShane: In August 2003 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Command Paper 5897 The 'Draft Constitutional Treaty on the European Union', which included a full copy of the text, was published by the Stationery Office. 53 copies of the paper were subsequently purchased by the FCO; some of which were forwarded to other Government Departments. In total 729 copies have been sold by the Stationery Office.

Copies of the draft Treaty are also available free of charge from the European Commission.

European Constitution

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the additional policy areas to be subject to majority voting in the latest draft of the European Constitution. [140897]

Mr. MacShane: The latest redraft of the Constitution, in CIG 50/03, does not include any fundamental changes to the Convention text, but does incorporate some legal clarifications on the basis of the work of Council lawyers.

The Presidency have issued some proposals for amendment in CIG 52/1/03. These are still under discussion. They include a new proposal for the use of qualified majority voting when adopting a European decision on a proposal put forward by the European Foreign Minister. The British Government have made it clear that they cannot accept this proposal.

European Union Accounts

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his response to the refusal of auditors to approve the accounts of the European Union. [140819]

Mr. MacShane: It is disappointing that the Court of Auditors (EGA) has again been unable to give a positive Statement of Assurance, though we note that the ECA did find the accounts to be reliable overall, as it has every year. We will be working with the ECA to address the specific problems they identified. But it is important to note that revenue, commitments, administrative expenditure and pre-accession aid did receive a positive Statement of Assurance. In addition, it noted improvements in the management of the agriculture budget, especially in the area of payments and in the Integrated Administration and Control System. The Government believes that the entry into force of the new Financial Regulation on 1 January 2003 will produce further improvements in financial management and accountability. The ECA also commented favourably on the progress made to reform financial management in the Commission—and noted the ambitious timetable

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for this. We expect the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee to debate the report in the usual way in February 2004.

Food Supplements

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the EU meetings held in 2003 which (a) Ministers and (b) officials from the Department have attended where the maximum permitted level of nutrients in food supplements was discussed; and if he will make a statement. [141410]

Mr. MacShane: The Food Supplements Directive 2002 lays out a framework for the setting of maximum permitted levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. Following this, the European Commission has to make a proposal listing EU maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. It has not yet done so and we do not expect it to do so for another two-three years. Until such time it is unlikely that there will be any EU meetings dedicated to the discussion of these levels and there have been none in 2003.

The UK has taken every opportunity to argue that maximum levels should be set on the basis of food safety. In 2003, Food Standards Agency officials attended two scientific meetings at which maximum permitted levels were discussed in the context

of risk assessment.


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