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10 Jun 1996 : Column WA147

Written Answers

Monday, 10th June 1996.

Passport Agency: Performance Targets

The Earl of Balfour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What performance targets they have set for the United Kingdom Passport Agency in 1996-97.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Kirkhope, has set the agency the following key targets:

1. to process properly completed straightforward applications within a maximum of 15 working days between April and October 1996 and 10 working days from 1st November 1996 onwards;

2. to reduce unit costs by a further 3 per cent. in real terms in comparison with the outturn for 1995-96.

The chief executive will remain directly accountable to him for the performance of the Passport Agency. An advisory board, including two private sector members with experience of delivering services to the public, will continue to provide him with an independent assessment of the agency's performance.

ODA: Expenditure Review

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which recommendations of the Fundamental Expenditure Review of the Overseas Development Administration they will accept and which they will reject.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Government have accepted most of the recommendations of the Fundamental Expenditure Review. These have now been implemented or are in the process of implementation. The significant exceptions or modifications are as follows:

    (i) Ministers accepted that ODA's mission statement should be revised. The mission statement agreed is a refinement of that recommended.

    (ii) The proposal to have aim "promoters" was accepted but the title changed to "aim directors". The aim directors were appointed on 18th December last year.

    (iii) Ministers agreed that country programme resources should be more concentrated, and under current plans the largest bilateral recipients will account for a gradually increasing share, but no target has been set for the number of focus countries or the proportion of aid which goes to them.

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    (iv) The FER recommended the transfer of all of British Council staff and building core costs to the Diplomatic Wing of the FCO, with ODA providing an accountable grant for identified activities of benefit to development activities. Ministers decided, however, that the existing arrangements for two separate grants-in-aid to the British Council, one from each wing of the FCO, should continue.

    (v) The FER proposed a number of changes in scholarships programmes designed to strengthen integration with country programmes. Ministers agreed to modify some of these recommendations. As a result, central allocations for the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Programme will continue. The allocations of Chevening Scholarships will be agreed by geographical departments on a country basis, although financial administration will continue centrally. The position of the ODA Shared Scholarship Scheme is under review with the universities concerned and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

EU Council: Forthcoming Business

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

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

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The information requested is as follows: Subject: Monthly forecast of business for June 1996

    1. The following Councils are scheduled:

    3rd June: ECOFIN

    3rd June: Agriculture

    3rd June: Social Affairs

    4th June: Agriculture

    4th June: Social Affairs

    4th June: Justice and Home Affairs

    5th June: Justice and Home Affairs

    10th June: Fisheries

    10th June: General Affairs Council

    11th June: Fisheries

    11th June: General Affairs Council

    11th June: Culture/Audiovisual

    17th June: Transport

    18th June: Transport

    21st June: European Council

    22th June: European Council

    24th June: Agriculture

    25th June: Agriculture

    25th June: Environment

    26th June: Environment

    26th June: Research (to be confirmed)

    27th June: Telecommunications

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2. The following subjects are likely to be discussed:

3rd June: ECOFIN Council

    Approval of the agenda

    Approval of the "A" points

    Preparation for European Council in Florence

    broad economic guidelines for 1996-97

    progress report on preparation for stage 3 of EMU

    appointment of president of the emi

    interim report on employment

    Excessive deficits procedure

    EIB lending to Asia and Latin America

    VAT--taxation of agricultural outputs


    Jordan (possible item)

    preview of the Irish Presidency

    financial repercussions of Commission's BSE measures

    revision of the Financial Perspective

3rd/4th June: Agriculture Council

    Adoption of the agenda

    Approval of the list of "A" points (possible item)

    Beef and Veal:

    proposal for a Council decision amending Commission decision 96/239/EC on emergency measures to protect against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)*

    implementation of paragraph 7 of the conclusions of the Agriculture Council on 29th and 30th April 1996 (support measures in the Beef and Veal sector)

    Fruit and Vegetables:

    proposal for a Council regulation on the common organisation of the market in fruit and vegetables*

    proposal for a Council regulation on the common organisation of the market in processed fruit and vegetables*


    organisation of future work

    *denotes item on which a vote may be requested. 3rd/4th June: Social Affairs Council

    Approval of the agenda

    Approval of the list of "A" points

    Adoption of Parental Leave Directive (likely "A" point)

    Adoption of Posted Workers Directive (likely "A" point)

    Council Recommendation on the Balanced Participation of Men and Women in Decision-making (likely "A" point)

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    Essen follow up: interim report on employment for Florence European Council

    Follow up to Peking UN Conference on Women

    Draft Decision on a European Year against Racism (1997)

    Draft Resolution on the Transparency of Training Certificates (possible item)

    Orientation debate on the Commission Communication on Information and Consultation (possible item)

    Commission report on the demographic situation

    Commission information on the state of play on the two Social Protocol dossiers: Burden of Proof; and Part-time, Fixed-time and Temporary Work


    Presidency information on the French Memorandum for a European Social Model

    Joint lunchtime discussion with ECOFIN Ministers about the employment situation

4th/5th June: Justice and Home Affairs Council

    Draft External Frontiers Convention: progress report

    Draft Recommendation on combatting illegal employment of third country nationals

    Eurodac: progress report

    Europol Drugs Unit: report on 1995 budget, draft 1997 budget, computer system

    Terrorism: draft joint action on directory of competences, threat assessment report, statistics of racist offences

    International Law Enforcement Academy

    Relations with third countries

    Crime prevention: results of Stockholm seminar

    Draft Resolution on priorities for cooperation 1996-1998

    Financing of Title VI

    ECJ jurisdiction in Europol and other Third Pillar Conventions

    Draft Extradition Convention

    Fraud: draft Corruption Convention and Second Protocol to Convention on protection of Community's financial interests

    Draft Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters: progress report

    Draft Convention on service of documents

    Common Position on draft Hague Convention on Protection of Minors

    Accession of new Members States to Brussels (and Rome) Convention(s)

10th/11th June: Fisheries Council

    Adoption of the agenda

    Approval of the list of "A" points (possible item)

    Proposal for a Council regulation laying down for 1996 certain conservation and management

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    measures for fishery resources in the technical area of the convention as defined in the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the North East Atlantic Fisheries (allocation of the NEAFC Redfish quota)*

    Proposal for a Council regulation amending for the second time regulation (EC) No. 3090/95 laying down for 1996 certain conservation and management measures for the fishery resources in the regulatory area as defined in the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the North West Atlantic Fisheries (allocation of the NAFO 3M Redfish quota)*

    Proposal for a council regulation amending regulation (EC) No. 3074/95 fixing, for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, the total allowable catches for 1996 and certain conditions under which they may be fished (Sprat Fishery in the Skagerrak and Kattegat)*

    European Fisheries Research: further discussions

    Proposal for a Council regulation on technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources: Presentation by the Commission Multiannual Guidance Programmes 1997-99: Communication from the Commission

    Communication on the organisation of the second conference on the management of fishery resources in the Mediterranean (Venice, November 1996)

    Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on small-scale coastal fishing (Budget heading B2-521)

    Proposals for the conclusion of fisheries agreements with:




    (possible items)

    FAO: proposal for a Council decision on accession of the European Community to the agreement to promote compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas* (possible item)

    Proposal for a Council decision on the signature of the agreement for the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations

    Convention on the law of the Sea of 10th December 1982 relating to the conservation and management of straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks* (possible item)

    Report from the Commission on the establishment of a system for monitoring community fishing vessels by satellite: presentation by the Commission (possible item)

    Proposal for a Council regulation amending regulation (EEC) No. 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy: presentation by the Commission (possible item)

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    Proposal for a Council regulation amending for the 4th time regulation (EEC) No. 3699/93 laying down the criteria and arrangements regarding community structural assistance in the fisheries and aquaculture sector and the processing and marketing of its products (possible item)

    Commission report on the activities of third countries in Community waters

    Adoption in the languages of the Community of:

    a Council regulation amending Council regulation (EC) No. 3078/95 allocating, for 1996, certain catch quotas between Member States for vessels fishing in Faroese waters*

    a Council regulation amending Council regulation (EC) No. 3077/95 laying down, for 1996, certain measures for the conservation and management of fishery resources applicable to vessels flying the flag of the Faroe Islands*

    adoption in the official languages of the community of a council regulation amending council regulation (EC) No. 3090/95 laying down, for 1996, certain conservation and management measures for fishery resources in the regulatory area as defined in the convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the North-West Atlantic Fisheries*


    situation on the salmon market (requested by the Irish delegation)

    organisation of future work

*denotes items on which a vote may be taken

10th/11th June: General Affairs Council

Provisional agenda is as follows:

    Mediterranean Policy:

    follow-up to Barcelona

    decision to conclude Euro-Med Association Agreements

    MEDA Regulation

    Relations with Syria: common position for Cooperation Council (likely "A" Point)

    Preparation of Florence European Council

    EEA: common position for EEA Council (likely "A" Point)

    Relations with Chile (likely "A" Point)

    Preparation of EU/Turkey Association Council (possible item)

    Former Yugoslavia

    Agricultural GSP (possible item)

    Commercial Questions

    Maritime transport

    Commission Communication on Market Access (preparation for Singapore)

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    EU/Africa Summit

    Relations with Canada

    Middle East Peace Process

    Relations with US

    KEDO (possible item)

    New Council building

11th June: Culture/Audiovisual Council

    Approval of the draft agenda

    Approval of the list of "A" points

    Proposal for a directive modifying Directive 89/552/EEC of 3rd October 1989 "Television without Frontiers": draft common position

    Proposal for a Council decision setting up a European Guarantee Fund to encourage cinema and television production: state of work

    Preparation of joint work between the Council and the PECO countries

    Proposal for a Council decision establishing an action programme in the field of cultural heritage (RAPHAEL): draft common position

    Cultural goods: proposal for a Council Regulation modifying the annex of Council Regulation No. 3911/92 on the export of cultural goods, and proposal for a EP/Council Directive modifying the annex of Directive 93/7/CEE on the return of cultural goods unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State

    Access to culture for all: draft Resolution

    Electronic publishing and libraries: draft Resolution

    First report of the Commission on the consideration of cultural aspects in European Community action: general debate


    prize for politically persecuted authors (Austrian delegation)

    encouragement of access of the young to culture: lowering of VAT on records, CDs and tapes (French delegation)

17th/18th June: Transport Council

    Trans European Network Transport Guidelines (possible item)

    Aviation relations with the US: adoption of mandate

    Negotiations with Switzerland on air and land transport: Commission report

    Negotiations with EUROCONTROL and ESA on global satellite navigation: adoption of mandate

    Commission White Paper on air traffic management: debate

    Proposed amendment to driving licences directive: harmonisation of codes: political agreement on common position

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    Proposed directive on summertime: political agreement on common position

    Commission Green Paper on fair and efficient pricing in transport: debate

    Commission Green Paper on the Citizen's Network: debate

    Commission document on maritime strategy: debate

    Proposed Directive on safety rules for passenger ships: political agreement on common position

21st/22nd June: European Council

    Agenda not yet available

24th/25th June: Agriculture Council

    Reform of the fruit and vegetable regime

    Price fixing

    Bananas (possible item)

    Set-aside rates for 1997-98 (possible item)

    Amending Directive 64/432 on intra-community trade in bovine animals and swine

    Plant health: solidarity and responsibility (possible item)

    Veterinary and fish fees

    Italian memorandum on the Single Market in veterinary matters

    BSE (possible item)

25th/26th June: Environment Council

    Biocides: adoption of a common position

    Emissions from off-road vehicles: adoption of a common position

    5th action programme: orientation debate

    Climate change: conclusions

    Convention on Biological Diversity: state of play

    Biosafety Protocol: conclusions

    Water policy: debate

    Auto-oil programme proposals: presentation

    Leghold traps (mandate): adoption (if not already done)

    Leghold traps: debate

    CO2 emissions: conclusions

    Genetically modified organisms (revision of 90/219): state of play

    Zoos: debate

    Trade/Environment (at lunch)

    Mandates if necessary

    2nd reading (landfill/air quality/PCB/IPPC/ Vans/Loo "CE"/LIFE)

    Transfer of waste to non-OECD countries: state of play


    Structured dialogue (Cyprus/Malta): information by the Presidency

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26th June: Research Council (to be confirmed)

    Proposals for decisions adapting the 4th RTD Framework Programme (EC) and the EURATOM Research Framework Programme (1994-98): financial supplement

    Green Paper on Innovation: information from the Commission S/T cooperation with Mediterranean third countries: information from the Presidency

    S/T cooperation agreement with USA: adoption of negotiating mandate (possible "A" point)

    Decision modifying the specific programme on RTD cooperation with third countries and international organisations (INTAS) (possible "A" point)

    Supplementary Research Programme on the High Flux Reactor (HFR) (possible "A" point)

27th June: Telecommunications Council

    Directive on a common framework for general authorisations and individual licences in the field of telecommunications services: common position

    Directive on common rules for the development of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service: common position

    Directive on the processing of personal data and protection of personal privacy in the telecommunications sector, in particular ISDN and digital mobile networks: common position

    Directive amending ONP Directives 90/387 and 92/44 to adapt them to a competitive environment in telecommunications: common position (possible item)

    Decision on the adoption of a multi-annual programme to promote linguistic diversity in the information society: decision (possible item) Council Resolution on the development of universal service for telecommunications in the EU.

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