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18 Oct 1995 : Column WA93

Written Answers

Wednesday, 18th October 1995.

ODA Concessional Loans: Reports to Parliament

Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give details of the three Departmental Minutes which the Overseas Development Administration laid before the House during the summer Recess.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Departmental Minutes refer to projects which are being supported by the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) under the Aid and Trade Provision (ATP) soft loan financing arrangements which enable the banks to lend at concessional rates. Under new arrangements for ATP agreed in 1992, the ODA pays the aid portion of a soft loan to the bank or banks making the loan during the implementation period of the project, rather than, as previously, during the period over which the soft loan is disbursed. The former is much shorter than the latter. As a result the banks would be exposed to additional charges if the tax regime relating to the lump sum payments were to change over the disbursement period of the loan. To safeguard the banks against such a potential liability, the ODA provides an indemnity against possible tax changes. This indemnity creates a contingent liability on the aid programme, which therefore falls to be reported to Parliament.

The Departmental Minutes reported the estimated cost of these contingent liabilities as a result of making concessional loans to developing countries to finance the following projects:

Country Project Amount of liability £
1 Thailand Mini Hydros 1,346,909
2 Indonesia Samarinda Power Plant 3,856,568
3 Indonesia Samarinda Transmission Line 500,778
4 Indonesia Piston Engine Research Laboratory 1,436,633
5 China New Nanjing Airport 2,657,844

The contingent liabilities for Projects 1 and 2 were incurred in, respectively, August 1994 and March 1995 and it is regretted that they were not brought to the attention of the House at the proper time. Those for Projects 3, 4 and 5 were incurred during the summer Recess. It was necessary to give the indemnities urgently to avoid delaying the start of the projects. The Minutes were placed in the Libraries of both Houses and copies were sent to the Public Accounts Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Regional Development Fund Grants and Privatised Undertakings

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any enquiries being made by the European Commission into the use of regional aid by nationalised businesses already privatised or those expected to be privatised.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): The Secretary General of the Commission wrote to all member states earlier this year requesting details of European Regional Development Fund grants to companies which were subsequently privatised. A list of such grants in the UK was sent in reply.

Appeals to House of Lords: Fee Increases

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked the Chairman of Committees:

    In respect of the new fees payable for petitions for leave to appeal to the House of Lords, (a) what is the amount of the new fees, (b) upon what basis they have been calculated, and (c) what measures are proposed to ensure that the new fees do not operate unjustly or unreasonably to restrict access to justice.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham: (a) From 1 November 1995 the fees payable on petitions for leave to appeal will be:

    Presentation £500

    Entering Appearance £100

(b) I refer the noble Lord to paragraph (c) of my Answer to the next Question.

(c) As the noble Lord will be aware, the House agreed to a new Judicial Standing Order on 17 October the purpose of which is to give the Appeal Committee power to waive, modify or suspend fees, either wholly or in part, in any case where the Committee are of the opinion that the requirement to pay such fees might cause hardship.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked the Chairman of Committees:

    In respect of the new fees payable for petitions of appeal to the House of Lords, (a) what are the amounts of the new fees, (b) what percentage increase do they represent over the previous scale of fees, (c) upon what basis the new fees have been calculated, and (d) what measures are proposed to ensure that the increased fees do not operate unjustly or unreasonably to restrict access to justice.

The Chairman of Committees: (a) and (b)

The following fees will be payable on appeals from 1 November 1995; the percentage of the increase over the previous fees is indicated in square brackets:

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£ Percentage
Petitions of appeal—(mandatory fees)
Presentation (following successful petition for leave to appeal) 500
Presentation (not following petition for leave) 1,000 [1,370]
Entering appearance 200 [2,400]
Lodging statement and appendix and setting down 3,000 [726]
Petitions of appeal—(occasional fees)
Waiver of security 100 [488]
First petition for extension of time 200 [488]
Second petition for extension 300 [782]
Third or subsequent petition for extension 500 [1,371]
Other interlocutory petition, if agreed 200 [488]
Any interlocutory petition, if opposed 500 [1,150]
Judgment Order 0

(c) The new scale of fees is intended to reflect the perception that previous fees were too low in relation to the average of all costs of an appeal to this House. I refer the noble Lord to the debate on the previous uprating (13th June 1994, H.L. Deb., col. 1438). In setting new levels the intention is that the fees should not, on average, represent more than 5 per cent. of the total costs to the paying party, but that they should contribute significantly to the costs of the administration of the judicial functions of the House.

(d) I refer the noble Lord to paragraph (c) of my Answer to his previous Question.

Breast Cancer Services Report: Response

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to respond to the House of Commons Health Committee's Third Report on Breast Cancer Services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Government have today laid their response to this report in the House. The Government warmly welcome the committee's report, particularly its commendation of the achievements of the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme and its support for the new strategic framework for the development of cancer services.

The Government are very concerned about the United Kingdom's high mortality rate from breast cancer, and are fully committed to reducing the number of deaths. That is why we introduced the national breast screening programme—one of the first of its kind in the world—and have included this as a target in the Health of the Nation. Through our strategic framework for cancer services we aim to ensure the delivery of high quality treatment and care.

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Roger Casement: Review of Records

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If the review of the records relating to Roger Casement has been completed.

The Earl of Courtown: The review of the Roger Casement records, requested by the Institute of Contemporary British History under the Open Government Initiative, has been completed. I am pleased to announce that my department's records will today be released at the Public Record Office.

National Lottery: Directions to Board

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What directions they have given to the National Lottery Charities Board on how it is to consider applications for grants and how lottery money should be spent.

The Earl of Courtown: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has issued directions to the National Lottery Charities Board under the terms of Sections 26 and 39 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 in respect of various policy and financial matters. The policy directions are meant to ensure, inter alia, that the board achieves over time the distribution of money to a reasonably wide spread of recipients, including small organisations and those operating purely at a local level, and across a reasonably wide range of charitable (whether or not charitable in law), benevolent and philanthropic activity.

The directions also require the board:

    to have regard from the outset to: the interests of the United Kingdom as a whole; the interests of the different parts of the United Kingdom; and the relative population sizes of, and appropriate socio-economic factor applicable to, the different parts of the United Kingdom;

    to consider the interests of organisations with a base in the United Kingdom and working overseas;

    to distribute grants in the light of these considerations.

The financial directions regulate the payment of grants and put in place safeguards to ensure that grants are used for the purposes for which they were given.

My right honourable friend has today placed in the Library copies of the policy and financial directions.

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