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29 Mar 1995 : Column WA87

Written Answers

Wednesday, 29th March 1995

Bilateral Aid Programmes

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to ODA's published policy on Open Government, what information is now available on aid strategies for the UK's main bilateral country programmes.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Country Aid Programme Statements (CAPS) on the UK's bilateral programmes to Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Russia are now available from the ODA Library.

Further CAPS will be added to this list as and when the relevant country programmes are reviewed (those over £10 million per year); this process is carried out every other year.

Biodiversity: ODA Support

Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the Overseas Development Administration spent in 1994 in supporting biodiversity projects overseas, and how much it plans to spend in the current year.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In 1993/94 ODA expenditure under the bilateral aid programme where biodiversity was a principle or significant objective totalled £13.5 million. In 1993/94, 22 new commitments with a significant biodiversity component were entered into with a total value of £33.9 million. Expenditure figures for 1994/95 are not yet available. These figures do not include the UK's share of expenditure on such projects through the Global Environment Facility, which is the interim financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity, nor through other multilateral financial institutions or the European Community.

World Summit for Social Development: Work Bank and IMF Commitments

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What conclusions they drew from the Copenhagen Summit on Social Development about the World Bank's and IMF's programmes for structural adjustment; and whether they need to be reformed.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: At the summit, the Acting President of the World Bank acknowledged that, although the bank has worked extensively on measures to protect the poor and vulnerable groups during transitional periods of economic reform, it recognises that it must do more to help borrowing

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countries protect social expenditure; and, beyond this, to focus such expenditure on the poor. We will continue to press the bank, for example during the negotiations on the 11th replenishment of the International Development Association, on the need to ensure that poverty reduction concerns are effectively integrated into all aspects of their country assistance, including adjustment lending. At the same meeting, the Managing Director of the IMF reaffirmed his commitment to help member countries achieve high quality, sustainable growth.

China: Population Control

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had during the last year with the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Chinese Population Policy, with particular reference to compulsory abortion and sterilisation; what position Her Majesty's Government have taken in these discussions, and what was the response of the Chinese Government.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Through our regular contacts with the Government of China we have made clear our view that people should not be coerced to use contraception, accept sterilisation or undergo abortion, and that policies and programmes should conform to accepted international standards. In September 1994 the Chinese Government signed up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

Turkey: Alevi Minority

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they and the governments of the other members of the European Union and the Council of Europe have made to the Government of Turkey concerning religious and civil liberties for the substantial Alawite minority in that country.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware of any significant constraints on the religious or civil liberties of the Alevi minority in Turkey. We have expressed concern to the Turkish Government about police action against protesting Alevis on 13/14 March. We have been told that there will be an enquiry into police actions.

Nuclear Weapons and Stability in Europe

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the United States Government if it is their view that British nuclear weapons make a continuing contribution to the maintenance of stability in Europe.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United States, as a member of NATO, subscribed to the Alliance's

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Strategic Concept, agreed in 1991, which recognises the contribution to deterrence made by the United Kingdom's independent nuclear forces.

Tuzla Airfield: Alleged NATO Report

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the document reportedly compiled by "an American officer" and issued by NATO Southern Command Headquarters in Naples (International Herald Tribune 2 March 1995), claiming that United Nations officers had been "inept and confused" in their accounts of possible covert operations in breach of the UN embargo around Tuzla airfield in Northern Bosnia, was in fact so compiled and issued, and if so whether it was formally agreed by all NATO members, as well as by US Admiral Leighton Smith.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware of any NATO document which describes UN personnel in these terms. Following further investigations, both UNPROFOR and NATO accepted that there was no conclusive evidence to support initial UN reports of unauthorised flights in the vicinity of Tuzla's airfields and now consider the matter closed.

Carers: Support

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that those caring for elderly or disabled relatives receive sufficient financial compensation for the care they undertake; and, if not, what further financial provision will be made for such people.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits, depending on their individual circumstances. Expenditure on Invalid Care Allowance, which is specifically aimed at carers of sick and disabled people, has increased from £345 million in 1992/93 to an estimated £530 million in 1994/95, an increase of 46 per cent. in real terms, and is expected to increase by around 11 per cent. in real terms in the next financial year. We will continue to keep financial provisions for carers under review.

War Crimes

Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult the Australian Government on the subject of a revised policy for dealing with war crimes.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): No. The policy of each country in dealing with war crimes is a matter for that country's government.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    Whether they will take account of the fact that the Canadian Government last month announced that no further prosecutions under their War Crimes Act would take place, following the failure of 14 of the 15 cases pending to come to court.

Baroness Blatch: The policy of other countries in dealing with war crimes is a matter for those countries' governments. Our approach is reflected in the War Crimes Act 1991. Individual cases will continue to be considered on their merits under its terms.

Neighbour Noise

Lord Broughham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to deal with neighbour noise.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): Inconsiderate noisy neighbours can cause extreme distress and suffering to many. My concern about the steeply rising complaints about domestic noise and the effectiveness of the current legislation to deal with these problems resulted in the formation of a working party last October to review the situation.

My honourable friend the Minister of Environment and Countryside yesterday published a consultation paper which sets out the conclusions and recommendations of the working party. I am placing a copy in the Library of the House. The key recommendations are: —Good practice guidance should be made available to local authorities on the management of noise services. —Local authorities should be encouraged to provide information to residents about their authority's noise complaints service and to increase public awareness of neighbour noise issues. Government should consider supporting publicity initiatives to increase awareness of what constitutes unacceptable noise. —Consideration should be given to issuing general guidance on the sort of noise problems which might constitute a statutory nuisance. —Local authorities should be encouraged to provide services which respond to complaints outside working hours wherever such services are required. — Local authorities should be encouraged to establish streamlined local arrangements for obtaining warrants to enter domestic premises to confiscate temporarily noise-making equipment or silence intruder alarms. — Codes of good practice should be issued jointly by the professional representative bodies to police forces and local authorities to encourage effective local arrangements for dealing with noise complaints. — A specific power of temporary confiscation of noise-making equipment (to provide a stronger legal base for existing practice) should be

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introduced, with the power for local authorities to levy an administration charge for its return. — Local authorities should be encouraged to seek, where appropriate, deprivation orders for the permanent confiscation of noise-making equipment following prosecution. — Consideration should be given to the creation of a criminal offence, separate to the statutory nuisance regime, to apply to night-time neighbour noise disturbance.

The paper invites comments in particular on the options for creating a new criminal offence, including a direct noise offence based on the World Health Organisation guidelines of 35 dB(A) for acceptable indoor night noise levels. Such an offence has the potential to provide a swifter remedy than the current statutory nuisance regime for some of the most disturbing neighbour noise problems.

Copies of the consultation paper are being sent to all district, borough and island councils in England, Wales and Scotland, representative bodies for local authorities and the police, voluntary noise groups and a wide variety of other organisations. The consultation period lasts until 30 June.

Wherever possible, attempts should be made to resolve problems informally. However, it is vital that effective legislation is in place to deal with situations where a formal remedy is the correct course. I am grateful to the working party for producing what I believe is a worthwhile package of proposals which, if implemented, will strengthen current neighbour noise controls, improve the management of local authority noise services and improve liaison between local authorities and the police.

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