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The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, do Her Majesty's Government recognise that the continuing extreme poverty of a great many Sudanese peoplepoverty recently seen by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he visited the areacan create a fertile seedbed for Islamic extremism? Can the Minister say whether the Government will allow non-governmental organisations to engage in development rather than just supplying emergency aid?
Lord Chesham: My Lords, the visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury was a great success and he was extremely candid in his views on the situation in Sudan. We are concerned about the situation. Where blocks are being placed on humanitarian aid, we are doing everything we can to free them up. The first thing we must do is to ensure that the aid reaches the people who need it.
Baroness Cox: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there are increasing reports, not only of widespread slavery as such, but that the Sudanese Government are actively encouraging the enslavement of African women and children while at the same time denying that it exists? Will my noble friend reiterate his assurance that the Government will put pressure on the regime in Khartoum to allow access by human rights monitors to all parts of Sudan, with particular reference to ascertaining whether or not slavery exists? If it exists, will the Government press for the urgent release of all people who are enslaved at the present time?
Lord Avebury: My Lords, though the authorities in Khartoum continue to pay lip service to the IGADD process, does not the Minister agree that the ability of neighbouring countries to play any role in solving the conflict in the south has been seriously undermined by Sudanese aggression, particularly against Uganda and Eritrea? As a permanent member of the Security Council, will the United Kingdom consult with its
Lord Chesham: My Lords, we have not ruled out action at the Security Council. However, we must be certain of total support. If divisions occurred in the Security Council or efforts to agree a resolution failed, it would be to Khartoum's benefit.
Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos: My Lords, does not the noble Lord agree that we are dealing with one of the most wicked and cruel regimes in the world today? The noble Lord said that the Government are taking what action they can. Will he tell the House precisely what they are doing to bring an end to this dreadful regime?
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I can only repeat my original Answer. We are continuing to express our concerns directly with the Sudanese Government bilaterally, with our European Union partners and through the United Nations.
Lord Judd: My Lords, does not the Minister agree that as with all Commonwealth affairs, rhetoric on human rights without effective action begins to diminish human rights themselves? Can he therefore at least assure the House that the Government will be tireless in their commitment to gaining access for monitoring teams to Sudan on behalf of its people?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): My Lords, it is intended to commence the main works on the Newbury bypass as early as possible in 1996 with some site clearance work in advance of that. Construction work is expected to take two years to complete.
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Is he aware of the urgency of dealing with the appalling traffic situation in Newbury? It was demonstrated last week when two people were killed and a number injured when the traffic got together in the middle of Newbury and overwhelmed a car and its occupants.
Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, bearing in mind the recent press reports that there will be savage cuts in the road construction programme, can the Minister tell the House what criteria will be used for making such cuts? We do not want all the cuts to occur in one place, such as the North West, where I come from.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, whenever we consider the road programme, we look at each scheme on its merits; we establish our priorities and of course pay due regard to keeping public expenditure under proper control.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, bearing in mind that the Government have asserted over and over again that their bypass programme plays a major role in improving conditions in towns and villages, can he indicate how many bypass schemes which had been planned were abandoned over the course of the past 12 months, and whether there is any indication as to how many will be abandoned in the coming 12 months?
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord the information he requests. We consider our programme of expenditure in the light of the money available. We shall be considering carefully which schemes should be given top priority. The noble Lord is right that we believe that bypasses provide good value for money; they target our resources into relieving congestion where it is at its worst and produce considerable safety benefits. We shall continue to give bypasses top priority.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the Government take drivers' hours enforcement extremely seriously. We already exceed the EEC tachograph requirements. In July 1993 the Vehicle Inspectorate's traffic examiner effort on drivers' hours enforcement was increased. In addition, funding for the inspectorate's investigative work was increased this year by £350,000. A significant proportion of that additional funding will be spent on drivers' hours enforcement.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree with the conclusion reached by Loughborough University recently, that driver fatigue accounts for at least 20 per cent. of accidents involving heavy goods vehicles and coaches on British roads? Does he agree also that the European
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that fatigue is an important factor in road accidents. It is extremely difficult to quantify and I therefore do not take issue with his figures. I dare say that considerable research went into producing them. We must concentrate on the enforcement of the rules. They provide good standards. We must put all our efforts into making sure that those standards are upheld. That is why, as I said in my original Answer, Her Majesty's Government put considerable resources into the Vehicle Inspectorate to ensure that the rules are complied with.
Lord Mowbray and Stourton: My Lords, can my noble friend tell me how often the police and the Ministry of Transport inspectors examine the tachographs? Is it the case that tachographs are not being inspected sufficiently or that they are frequently altered? I should like to know the answer to that.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the answer is that we put considerable effort into checking tachographs. The suggested level across the Community is to inspect 1 per cent. We inspect somewhere in the region of 1.5 per cent., which equates to about 1.7 million checks. The tachograph is extremely important, but my noble friend is quite right to identify the fact that we are battling against the issue of tampering. Some road operators and drivers have been known to tamper with their equipment. That is why we are taking forward research on producing better types of tachograph.
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