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8 Jun 1995 : Column WA97

Written Answers

Thursday, 8th June 1995.

Family Credit

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the statistical basis for the statement, in paragraph 25 of their response to the First Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Employment, that "families are already £23 a week better off on Family Credit than on Income Support"; and whether that statement takes account of the loss of passported benefits and of the tapering of housing benefit and council tax benefit, and, if so, on what statistical basis.

Lord Inglewood: The figure of £23 derives from the Policy Studies Institute's 1993 publication Families, Work and Benefits, which compared the incomes of 2,300 low income families either in or out of work. The figure took account of the effects on other benefits.

Paternity Leave

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For what reason they consider that the introduction of paternity benefit would be "inappropriate", as stated in paragraph 14 of their response to the First Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Employment.

Lord Inglewood: The Government firmly believe that it would be inappropriate to legislate for paternity leave because to do so would jeopardise the wide range of voluntary leave arrangements already in place in the UK, increase employers' costs, place further burdens on employers and in the end cost jobs. Paternity leave can be considered at the workplace as part of the overall package of pay and benefits.

Birds of Prey

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is planned to examine the growth in populations of birds of prey and their impact on game bird management and racing pigeons.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): On 24 April, Environment Department officials met interested parties to discuss these issues. Following broad agreement reached at that meeting, the Government propose to establish a regular forum to consider the implications of the growth in the populations of birds of prey and to set up a working group to examine the facts and identify possible action.

The working group will:—

    consider population status of birds of prey;

    identify species alleged to be causing problems;

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    identify, in particular, the impact of such species on game birds and moorland management and on racing pigeons;

    identify gaps in research and future needs, and identify possible sources of funding;

    consider statutory and other mechanisms for the resolution of problems;

    and report back to the forum within one year.

The working group, which will be chaired jointly by officials from the Department of the Environment and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, will reflect a wide range of interests. It will be set up as soon as possible.

European Convention on Human Rights: Breaches

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

    What is the total number of cases in which the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has found at least one breach of the Convention on Human Rights by the United Kingdom and by each of the other Contracting States.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave him on 5 June, col. WA86–90.

EU Development Council Meeting, 1 June

Lord Glenarthur asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What matters were discussed and what matters decided at the European Union Development Council Meeting on 1st June; and what matters were voted upon.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Development Council decided on a political and technical dialogue with the Government of Rwanda, which will enable EC aid to be resumed. The Council also agreed resolutions on complementarity, structural adjustment and regional integration, and a declaration providing guidelines for research. The Council also set priorities for EC aid to South Africa in 1995, and launched a joint evaluation of EC aid programmes to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the Mediterranean, and Asia and Latin America. There were exchanges of view on EC humanitarian aid, rehabilitation, migration and development, and the UN world conference on women.

No votes were taken.

Cyprus: EU Accession

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the recent decision by the European Union that accession negotiations with Cyprus will begin six months after the conclusion of the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference, what steps they are taking (as a guarantee power of the Republic of

    Cyprus with vital interests in the stability and security of the island and its neighbouring region) in the intervening period before the start of the accession talks to help in the funding of a viable and permanent solution of the Cyprus problem in the interests of both of the island's communities.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We want to see the process of EU accession contribute to a settlement of the intercommunal dispute. In the meantime we are giving full and active support to the UN Secretary General's efforts. Exploratory discussions between representations of the two communities in Cyprus took place in London on 21–23 May. We are encouraging both sides to approach future negotiations positively and flexibly.

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Inter-Governmental Conference: UK Approach

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, if their policy were to achieve a repatriation of British sovereignty at the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference, they would still be approaching that conference in a positive frame of mind.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We want to increase Britain's influence and promote Britain's interests by co-operating at a European level where it makes sense to do so. We also want the European Union to do less but to do it better. Both these aims are positive.

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