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12 Jul 1995 : Column WA109

Written Answers

Wednesday, 12th July 1995.

EU Council: Forthcoming Business

Lord Glenarthur asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will report on forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The following meetings are planned:

    July 17/18: Agriculture Council

    Foreign Affairs Council

    July 24: Budget Council

The following subjects are likely to be discussed:

July 17/18: Agriculture Council

    Bananas (possible)

    Wine (possible)

    Nectarine and peach grubbing scheme

July 17/18: Foreign Affairs Council

    Agenda not yet available

July 24: Budget Council

    First reading of draft 1996 Community Budget

    Commission financial management (possible)

Foreign Office Papers: Release

Lord Glenarthur asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the review of previously withheld papers for which the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is responsible.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Since the review was announced in 1992, some 5,500 previously withheld papers have been released into the public domain. These represent some 80 per cent. of the total reviewed, and have included material on Rudolf Hess, the Russia Committee, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Suez, the Cuban missile crisis and the Malayan emergency. A first tranche of papers relating to the Information Research Department (IRD) of the Foreign Office is about to be released.

Wilton Park Executive Agency

Lord Glenarthur asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Wilton Park Executive Agency performed against the targets which were agreed for 1994–95; and if targets have yet been agreed for the current year.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: According to provisional figures which are subject to full audit, Wilton Park exceeded all four of the agreed targets set for 1994–95 financial year, for the number of

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conference participants, income, cost recovery and cost per head to the FCO overall.

The Wilton Park departmental board met in April. We have agreed to the recommendation of the board that the following key targets be adopted for this financial year:

To increase overall income from £1.157 million in 1994/95 to £1.203 million;

To increase cost recovery from 78.2 per cent. in 1994/95 to 80.3 per cent.;

To reduce the overall number of Wilton Park Conference participants from 1,363 in 1994/95 to 1,350;

To reduce the average cost to the FCO of each participant from £237 in 1994/95 to £219.

It has also been agreed that for 1995/96 Wilton Park will aim to recover 73 per cent. of the cost of Wilton Park Conferences (1994/95: 64 per cent.).

Hong Kong: "Eligible Children" Quota

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children eligible to join parents in Hong Kong do they estimate will remain in China on 1st July 1997, and within what period after that date they will be able to enter Hong Kong.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The daily quota of one-way permits for mainland Chinese to come and settle in Hong Kong rose from 105 to 150 on 1 July 1995. This increase was proposed by the Hong Kong Government and agreed to by the Chinese authorities. Thirty extra places will be for mainland children of Hong Kong residents who will gain the right of abode in Hong Kong on 1 July 1997 ("eligible children"). The other 15 will be for persons separated from their spouses for over 10 years. The proportion of eligible children entering Hong Kong under the existing quota will be maintained.

In the first year, the extra quota for eligible children will go only to those aged 0-5 and 16-20. This will ensure that extra school-aged children will not come until Hong Kong's schools are ready for them.

With these changes we estimate that only 29,000 eligible children will remain in mainland China on 1 July 1997, and that all will be able to enter Hong Kong within a further 15 months.

Road Pricing in London: Report

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which organisations were awarded contracts to undertake the London congestion charging research programme, and when they submitted their reports in the Department of Transport: and

    Further to the Answer of Viscount Goschen on 28th March (HL Deb., WA 86), whether a date has now been set for publication of the findings of the London congestion charging research programme.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The organisations that were awarded contracts are shown below. A number of other organisations participated in the programme as sub-contractors. Where appropriate a contractor's report was submitted to the Department of Transport as work assignments were completed. These individual reports have been used by the MVA Consultancy, who are managing the programme for the department, in the preparation of a full report covering all aspects of the study. No specific date has been set for publication, but it will be as soon as practicable.

    The MVA Consultancy

    The Transport Studies Group Polytechnic of Central London.

    Transport Studies Unit University of Oxford

    Department of Civil Engineering Newcastle University

    Accent Marketing and Research

    Halcrow Fox and Associates

    The John Fearon Consultancy

    Transport Research Laboratory

    Marcial Echenique and Partners Ltd.

    Colin Buchanan and Partners

    Cranfield Institute of Technology

    Steer Davies Gleave

    The TAS Partnership

    PA Cambridge Economic Consultants

    Touche Ross and Co.

Social Fund: Decisions Referred for Review

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many social fund decisions were referred to the Independent Review Service between 1 April 1994 and 31 March 1995, and how were these referrals resolved.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The information requested is in the Secretary of State's Report on the Social Fund 1994/95 (Cm 2885) published on 11 July this year. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Community Care Grants and Budgeting Loans

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the average amount awarded for community care grants and budgeting loans between 1 April 1994 and 31 March 1995.

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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The information requested is in the Secretary of State's Report on the Social Fund 1994/95 (Cm 2885) published on 11 July this year. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Sex Tourism

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans for dealing with the problem of "sex tourism".

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Government shares the abhorrence felt by the vast majority of people about the sexual exploitation abroad of young children. The introduction, by Lord Hylton, of his Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill has done much to highlight the issue and we have listened very carefully to all that has been said both inside Parliament and more generally. We are anxious that effective action should be taken to deal with this problem. That must involve action by the foreign governments concerned, but that alone is not enough. We must also do all that we can.

Despite its admirable aim, Lord Hylton's Bill is, in the Government's view, seriously flawed and does not provide a workable or effective solution to the problems posed by sex tourism. The Government cannot support it therefore.

We are, however, urgently examining the scope of the law in each of the UK jurisdictions to see what steps could be taken to deal with those who, in this country, conspire or incite others to commit offences abroad. This would enable us to deal with those who organise sex tours or encourage others to travel abroad for the purpose of sexually exploiting children.

Any legislation which might be brought forward to achieve this aim would need careful thought to ensure that it would be effective. We would hope to have proposals for legislation ready as soon as the details can be satisfactorily resolved.

Gurkha Battalion: Brunei Agreement

Lord Fanshawe of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date they renewed the Gurkha agreement with His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei regarding the stationing of the infantry battalion and support units in Brunei; on what date it becomes effective; who signed on behalf of the United Kingdom; the number of years that it will be in force; and whether they will set out the details of the Exchange of Letters and Agreement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): On 19 June the Prime Minister and the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam signed an agreement which will extend the stationing of a Gurkha battalion in the Sultanate for a further five years from 29 September 1998. The substance of the agreement is confidential between governments.

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