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7 Dec 1994 : Column WA83

Written Answers

Wednesday 7th December 1994


Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have agreed to reach the UN aid/GNP target as soon as possible, but are not prepared to set a timetable for reaching it. The increased funding for the aid programme announced by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 29 November demonstrates our commitment to a substantial aid budget.


Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We received the report in September. Since then we have agreed to provide £365,000 to Save the Children Fund for a further village rehabilitation project, which includes special measures for assisting female-headed households, and for a pilot income-generation project for very poor urban households, many of which are headed by women. We have distributed the report widely to other aid agencies, in particular the UN agencies, who have welcomed it as a basis for targeting food aid and other assistance.


Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister did not raise this matter with President Moi during his conversation with him on 15 November.

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Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that Ministers and civil servants, in discharging their public functions, have a duty to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: International treaties are binding on states and not on individuals. The United Kingdom is party to both treaties and it must comply with its obligations under them. In so far as acts of Ministers and civil servants in the discharge of their public functions constitute acts which engage the responsibility of the United Kingdom, they must comply with the terms of the treaties.


Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the use or threatened use or possession and deployment of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Many states have accepted international obligations not to possess nuclear weapons (for example, by becoming non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the non-proliferation treaty). Otherwise there is no general prohibition of the possession of nuclear weapons. Whether the use or the threatened use of nuclear weapons was unlawful in any individual case would depend on the particular circumstances of that case.


Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken to support the proposal by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 21 November last that "a United Nations peacekeeping operation, set up in accordance with normal procedures, to establish security progressively in the camps, area by area, over a period of time" should be urgently mobilised to deal with the deteriorating security situation in the refugee camps in Zaire.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The President of the United Nations Security Council issued a statement on 30 November in response to the Secretary-General's report on the situation in the refugee camps in Zaire and the proposals put forward in that report. We fully support that statement, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.


Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to restore the funds so far expended on the Pergau Dam in Malaysia to the Overseas Aid Programme.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, on 28 November at cols. WA 26–27.


Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contribution they are making to the development of international co-operation against illicit drug production and trafficking.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government's consultative paper Tackling Drugs Together, launched on 19 October, demonstrates the Government's firm commitment to tackling the menace of illicit drugs both at home and abroad.

In his reply of 24 November to my honourable friend the Member for Swindon, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary set out the action the Government is taking to improve the effectiveness of international co-operation against drug traffickers. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is actively involved in supporting these activities.

In this context, we have raised the profile and priority of drugs in our bilateral contacts with other countries, taking advantage of ministerial contacts where this would be useful and through our diplomatic missions abroad.

At the multilateral level, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary stressed at the United Nations General Assembly on 28 September that "the international community needs to give full support to the UN International Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP), which has responsibility for leading the global effort in this field. The UN is the best resource for tackling this global menace". We are providing an extra £1.2 million to fund UNDCP projects. This will bring total United Kingdom assistance to other governments (including through UNDCP) to £8 million in this financial year.

The United Kingdom, as Chairman of the group of UNDCP major donors, will continue to encourage others to increase their contributions to UNDCP. We are moreover actively encouraging the international financial and development institutions to give higher priority to drugs and crime in their country programmes.

We also play a prominent role in other international meetings—for example, in the Dublin Group of donors, which seeks to develop a dialogue with governments of producer and transit countries on drugs issues. We are also encouraging the EU to be more active in combating drug trafficking, particularly in areas of intergovernmental co-operation. We have, for example, been at the forefront of efforts to associate countries of central and eastern Europe with EU work on drugs and organised crime; and we have taken a leading part in EU efforts to develop co-operation with other neighbouring countries in the Mahgreb and Levant. We are furthermore encouraging the Commonwealth to give the issue of drugs and crime a higher political priority.

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Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy with regard to arms sales to Syria.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The EU arms embargo on Syria was lifted on 28 November. All applications for the sale of arms will be considered on a case-by-case basis in the light of the international guidelines to which we are committed. These include whether a proposed transfer would be likely to increase tension in the region or contribute to regional instability.


Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What matters were discussed at the European Union Development Council in Brussels on 25 November.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I represented the United Kingdom at the Council. There was extensive discussion of the situation in Rwanda. an action programme totalling 67 mecu (c£52 million) was endorsed and the importance of national reconciliation underlined. Further progress was made on co-ordination between Community and member state aid programmes, notably through agreement on joint guidelines on food security and education. There were also useful exchanges of view on the state of play on the mid term review of the Lomé Convention, future assistance to South Africa and evaluation.


Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are proposing to provide streetlighting for the whole, or part of the A.2/M.2 trunk route, and whether they have undertaken an economic assessment to justify the cost on grounds of increased safety; and Whether they undertook an environmental impact before introducing streetlighting on the A.2/M.2 trunk route, and what environmental bodies, if any, they consulted.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): These are operational matters for the Highways Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Northbourne from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. L. Haynes, dated 6 December 1994:

Viscount Goschen has asked me to write to you in reply to your recent parliamentary Questions about street lighting on the A.2/M.2 trunk route.

The Highways Agency's contractors are currently installing lighting on a 7-mile (11 km) length of the A.2 from its junction with the A.296 almost to the M.2 (Junction 1). With the completion of the work—

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hopefully by Christmas—the A.2 will be lit to modern standards over a continuous length of 14 miles (22 kms) starting from the boundary of the London Borough of Bexley at the River Gray. A 200-metre section close to the M.2 (J1) will remain unlit for the time being, but lighting proposals for this will form part of the planned future widening of the M.2 between Junctions 1 and 4. The Agency has no plans at the present time to implement further lighting schemes on this route.

The present lighting scheme is justified economically on the basis of a projected 30 per cent. reduction in the night-time accident record. The scheme, which complies fully with the latest Department of Transport design standards, involves the installation of lighting columns providing a 15-metre mounting height for lanterns of 'flat glass' construction using high pressure sodium lamp sources. This type of equipment minimises lighting spillage beyond the highway and is considered to be the most environmentally friendly currently available.

Although it is not our practice to carry out full environmental assessments in respect for road safety schemes on existing unaltered road, we are careful to ensure that any adverse effects are kept to an absolute minimum. This applies particularly in environmentally sensitive urban areas. The department's publication Road Lighting and the Environment sets out the policy on this. The A.2 lighting scheme was discussed with members of the Landscape Advisory Committee, who made special day and night-time inspections of the lit and unlit sections of the road. Their recommendations were incorporated into the design. A full environmental assessment has been carried out in respect of the M.2 widening scheme.

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