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14 Mar 1995 : Column WA39

Written Answers

Tuesday 14th March 1995

Palestinians: Aid

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to provide further aid to the Palestinians.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister today announced a new £7 million bilateral aid package for the Palestinians. Two million pounds of this will be provided for UNRWA's Peace Implementation Programme. Five million pounds will be allocated to a Know-How Programme covering assistance for management training for the ministries of the Palestinian Authority, small scale water and sewage treatment plants and water leak detection, health management, and education including English language teaching. We are also hoping to promote joint projects with UK private sector companies to help generate exports and employment in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Basic training for the civil police will also be considered. In addition 1 million dollars will be given towards the costs of UNRWA's moving offices to Gaza.

This will bring our total aid to the Palestinians in support of the peace process to £82 million.

Hong Kong One-Way Immigration Scheme: Quota for Children

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Hong Kong Government have now reached agreement with the Chinese authorities on an increase in the quota of admissions, to allow the children in the People's Republic of China of parents in Hong Kong to join them in the remaining 28 months before the territory reverts to Chinese sovereignty.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Hong Kong Government continue to discuss with China the one-way permit scheme for immigration from China, and to consider the case for a further increase in the daily permit quota. We believe that any increase in the quota should make special provision for children who will gain the right of abode in Hong Kong in 1997.

Tuzla Airfield: NATO Report

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the report compiled by "an American officer" and issued by NATO Southern Command Headquarters in Naples, (International Herald Tribune, 2 March 1995), claiming the United Nations officers had been "inept and confused" in their accounts of possible covert operations in breach of

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    the UN embargo around Tuzla airfield in Northern Bosnia, was formally agreed by all NATO members, as well as by US Admiral Leighton Smith.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is not our policy to comment on press reports purporting to draw on internal NATO documents.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Legislative Review

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

    Further to their Written Answer of 1 March 1995 (HL Deb., col. WA 97), when the review of legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands respectively began; by whom it is being conducted; and by when it is expected to have been concluded.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The governments and legislatures of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are considering the inclusion in their constitutions of a Bill of Rights. Once that is agreed, they will then review their legislation. A precise timetable cannot be given at this stage.

Inghushetia: Aid for Displaced Populations

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What international aid is being provided to the Republic of Inghushetia (normal population 250,000) for the care and resettlement of 60,000 displaced Ingush and over 100,000 Chechens.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Most of the international relief programmes responding to the needs of those displaced by the Chechnya conflict are trying to cover all the affected republics: it is not therefore possible to give details of assistance to Inghushetia in isolation. However, much of the assistance provided to date has concentrated on the displaced populations west of Chechnya. Total international relief assistance to the affected populations stood at 41,014,669 US dollars as at 2 March 1995.

Bethnal Green City Challenge: Grant

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Pursuant to the Written Answer by Viscount Ullswater on February 28th (WA 96), on what date the Department of the Environment requested a report from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the Bethnal Green City Challenge grant; on what date the City Challenge Company commissioned a report from independent auditors; when they expect to receive these reports and whether copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The Government Office for London wrote to the London Borough of

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Tower Hamlets, requesting information on its enquiries into payments made by the Bethnal Green City Challenge to the Community Development Trust, on 17 February.

The City Challenge Company commissioned a report from independent auditors on 16 February. The report was submitted to the company's chairman on 10 March and is now being considered by the company and by the local authority's Chief Internal Auditor. Enquiries on the audit investigation should be addressed to the local authority.

Peat: Planning Guidance Note

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If they will make public the results of consultation responses to the draft Mineral Planning Guidance Note Guidelines for Peat Provisions in England, including the Place of Alternative Materials, issued by the Department of the Environment in September 1994.

Viscount Ullswater: Yes. I have today placed copies of a list of all those who responded to the consultation together with a summary of their views in the Libraries of the House. A copy of any individual response can be inspected in the Library of the Department of the Environment.

Radioactive Waste Repositories: Study Group Report

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the RWMAC/ACSNI Joint Study Group report examining site selection for radioactive waste repositories will be published.

Viscount Ullswater: Sir John Knill, the Chairman of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC), was invited last year to chair a joint study group drawn from members of RWMAC and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (ACSNI) to consider the approach to site selection for radioactive waste disposal facilities and the criteria for ensuring the protection of human health.

The study group's report has been published today, together with the minority views of two members. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. We welcome the report and minority views as a valuable contribution to the debate on this issue. They represent advice to the Government and are not a statement of policy. The Government's response will be published in due course, together with the final conclusions of the review of radioactive waste management policy.

Community Forest Programme: Planning Implications

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the land use planning implications of the community forest programme.

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Viscount Ullswater: The designation of a Community Forest has no direct statutory implications for the planning process. It does not confer a more restrictive, or more permissive, land use planning designation on the area. The planting of trees and the provision of public access are voluntary. The statutory role and responsibilities of the local planning authorities are unaffected. Local Community Forest teams do not have any status within the statutory land use planning system.

Planning applications are determined in accordance with the statutory development plan, and any other material considerations. Each Community Forest has a non-statutory Forest Plan, which describes how the Forest Team working with a variety of partners proposes to create the Forest. Since new woodlands on a significant scale may have implications for other land uses, local planning authorities should take approved Community Forest Plans into account in formulating their policies and proposals for development and use of land in development plans. Although an approved Community Forest Plan might be a material consideration in deciding a planning application within a Forest, policies and proposals that are likely to provide the basis for deciding such applications or determining conditions to be attached to relevant planning permissions should be set out in the development plan, which is subject to statutory procedures.

Community Forests should be shown on structure plan key diagrams and on local plan proposals maps. Development plans should facilitate the establishment of agreed Community Forests and provide that any development proposals within them should respect the woodland setting. Local planning authorities should be flexible in their approach to negotiating planting and landscaping requirements with developers. Any planting or landscaping required, whether on-site or off-site, should be directly related to the particular development proposal and should be no more than is necessary to overcome planning objections to it. Conversely, planning permission should not be granted simply because applicants are prepared to plant trees.

Any development proposal within Community Forests in the Green Belt should be subject to the normal policies controlling development in green belts. Community Forests provide an effective mechanism for achieving the positive objectives for the use of green belt land set out in PPG2 (revised January 1995).

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