Monday 12th December 1994
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Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:
Where the additional £146 million earmarked for the aid budget will be spent, and whether they can guarantee that the £234 million owed to the Overseas Development Administration will be repaid in full as an additional source of finance to that so far pledged.
The Minster of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The distribution of aid resources for the Public Expenditure Survey period is currently being considered. The broad allocations will be published in the ODA's Departmental Report in March 1995.
With regard to the implications for the aid programme of funding for the Pergau project, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I have given him today.
PERGAU DAM FUNDING
Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:
How they intend to fund the Pergau dam project in the light of the recent High Court judgement.
Whether they will reallocate the aid money originally allocated for completion of the Pergau dam project to the bilateral aid programme for the alleviation of poverty, which now faces cuts of more than £100 million.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government received the Court's written judgement on 6 December and are carefully studying it. The House will be informed about the implications for the aid programme of funding for the Pergau project when the Government have decided whether or not to appeal against the judgement.
The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware of the impending closure of one of St. Dunstan's two homes for the war blinded, and that this will mean relocating the residents against their wishes and will have the effect of loss of employment for the carers; and whether they will order some form of enquiry into the financial crisis which necessitated the closure.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Government are aware of, and regret, the difficulties being experienced by St. Dunstan's charity. However, in law, decisions about charity operations are matters for the trustees of that charity and not the Government. I understand that representatives of the charity have discussed the current situation with the
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Charity Commission, which has found no grounds to intervene; but I understand that it will continue to monitor the charity's financial position.
REFUGEES: NOTIFICATION TO UNHCR OF DETENTION IN CUSTODY
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they notify the United Nations High Commission for Refugees when a person who has been recognised as a refugee in another country is held in a British prison pending the hearing of an extradition application.
Baroness Blatch: The Government would not normally expect to notify the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in these circumstances.
OVERSEAS DOMESTIC WORKERS
Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will introduce further safeguards for overseas domestic workers admitted to the United Kingdom with their employers.
Baroness Blatch: We have been considering in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Employment Department the arrangements under which overseas domestic workers are admitted to the United Kingdom. The Government believe that the majority of employers make satisfactory arrangements for the maintenance and accommodation of such employees while in the United Kingdom, but we have been concerned about cases where employers have failed to do so. We have therefore introduced additional requirements at the entry clearance stage in order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about employers' obligations to their domestic workers:
employers must give a written undertaking to provide adequate maintenance and accommodation (in particular a separate bedroom) for their domestic workers;
employers must confirm that they have read and understood the note to employers and the leaflet for servants;
employers must set out in writing the main terms and conditions of employment in the United Kingdom;
domestic workers must be given a copy of the statement of the main terms and conditions of their employment at the entry clearance interview, with an explanation of them, and must confirm that they agree to those terms and conditions;
the minimum qualifying age for domestic workers has been raised from 17 to 18.
These measures build on requirements already in place that all domestic workers must obtain entry clearance before coming here; must have been in continuous paid employment with the employer abroad for at least the previous 12 months before coming here with a visitor, or at least two years in all other cases, and must be
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interviewed (at least on their first visit with a particular employer) by the entry clearance officer separately from that employer and receive and understand a leaflet setting out their legal rights and where to go to for help. We believe that the new measures will provide valuable additional safeguards for domestic workers entering the United Kingdom.
BRITISH AEROSPACE: UNDERTAKINGS
Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have received assurances from British Aerospace plc that in the event of that company acquiring any more companies they will consult Her Majesty's Government before selling any of them abroad; and, if not, whether they will seek such assurances, with particular respect to shipbuilding companies.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): British Aerospace has hitherto given assurances that the company will consult the Government before disposing of any major asset to foreign interests. In connection with the bid for VSEL plc by British Aerospace plc, the Secretary of State for Defence has made it a condition of his consent, as holder of the Special Share in VSEL, to the amendment of the Articles of Association which is necessary to permit an acquisition of the company, that he receives satisfactory undertakings from British Aerospace regarding specific issues, such as British control of the facilities associated with the production of nuclear submarines. I understand that the Ministry of Defence is in the process of securing these undertakings.
Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:
In what sense Trident is a "minimum deterrent"; who it is deterring and whether it would be a minimum deterrent if acquired by a non-nuclear country.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Trident will enable the United Kingdom to deploy, well into the next century, the minimum nuclear capability judged necessary to deter aggression against us. Our nuclear forces operate within, and contribute to, a stable deterrence environment. We believe that the proliferation of nuclear weapons elsewhere would be dangerously destabilising.
Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many submarines the proposed Trident fleet will consist; how many warheads it will be capable of carrying; and what would be the estimated number of people killed if each warhead achieved a death rate equivalent to that of the one bomb dropped on
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Hiroshima, which is now estimated as being responsible for the death of 200,000 people.
Lord Henley: The Trident fleet will consist of four VANGUARD class submarines. While each submarine is technically capable of carrying a maximum of 192 warheads, they will deploy with no more than 96, and may carry significantly fewer. Trident will provide a continuing deterrent to aggression against the United Kingdom and a significant contribution to NATO's strategy of war prevention.
LEGAL AID ABROAD
Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether legal aid is available for the defence of British subjects arrested in foreign countries.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Legal aid is available under the Legal Aid Act 1988 only for proceedings in courts in England and Wales. A person charged with a criminal offence in another country may be able to get help from that country's legal aid scheme.
Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have considered the evidence submitted to the Department of Health by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy providing examples of damage suffered by patients from unregistered physiotherapists; and what action they propose to protect the public.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): In order to practise within the National Health Service or local authorities, physiotherapists must be registered under the provisions of the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960.
The Government are considering what action may be needed in the light of the profession's concern about the activities of unregistered practitioners.
Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many cot deaths there have been during 1994; and what examination is being given to any link between cot deaths and chemicals in mattresses.
Baroness Cumberlege: The figures on the number of cot deaths (also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS) in 1994 are not available. The latest available figures for England and Wales are 1992, when, of nearly 700,000 births, there were 493 deaths where SIDS was recorded as the sole cause of death and 531 deaths recorded as SIDS with a contributing factor. The 1993 figures are expected to be published on 15 December.
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Dr. Kenneth Calman, the Chief Medical Officer, has set up an expert group to steer further work by the department on cot deaths. The group will be chaired by Lady Limerick. Its terms of reference are:
To review the findings of the report on "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" (the "Turner Report", 1991) and any subsequent data on hypotheses
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linking antimony with unexplained deaths in infants; and to advise the CMO on what further studies should be undertaken to investigate postulated causal relationships between chemicals and cot deaths.
The group has been asked to review the available material and to provide the department with advice as quickly as possible.