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29 Jul 1998 : Column WA197

Written Answers

Wednesday, 29th July 1998.

Security Commission: Membership

Lord Davies of Coity asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest membership of the Security Commission.[HL3159]

The Leader of the House (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Prime Minister has recently appointed Sir John Foley and Sir Clive Whitmore to serve as members of the Security Commission. They have succeeded Sir Derek Boorman and Sir Christopher Curwen.

The current membership of the Commission is:

    The Rt Hon The Lord Lloyd of Berwick (Chairman)

    The Rt Hon Lady Justice Butler-Sloss DBE (Alternative Chairman)

    Sir John Blelloch KCB

    Sir John Foley KCB OBE MC

    Lord Tombs of Brailes

    Sir Clive Whitmore GCB CVO

    Lord Wright of Richmond.

Continental Coach and Lorry Drivers

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the drivers of Continental tourist coaches and heavy goods vehicles are required to show a reasonably thorough knowledge of United Kingdom traffic law and the Highway Code before being allowed to drive in this country.[HL3070]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): Drivers of coaches and lorries from other countries, whose driving licences are valid for temporary visits to the UK under long-standing international arrangements, must abide by British road traffic law and the conventions set out in The Highway Code. As with British drivers in other countries, foreign drivers are expected to familiarise themselves with the traffic rules of the country they are visiting. The Department issues advice for visitors to this country. A leaflet, available at entry points, stresses to visiting drivers the importance of understanding the rules of the road in the UK, and explains some of the most fundamental of them. Copies of the leaflets are in the Library.

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Vehicle Recalls

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action, if any, they are taking to ensure that all vehicles recalled by manufacturers for safety checks are checked.[HL3081]

Baroness Hayman: I have asked Mr. Maurice Newey, the Chief Executive of the Vehicle Inspectorate Agency, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Viscount Simon from the Chief Executive of the Vehicle Inspectorate, Mr. Maurice Newey, dated 28 July 1998.

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about what action is taken to ensure that all vehicles recalled by manufactures for safety checks are checked.

The Vehicle Inspectorate's Vehicle Safety Branch is responsible for monitoring the vehicle recall system under the terms of voluntary Codes of Practice agreed between the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and representative bodies of the motor manufacturing and retail industry. A copy of the Code of Practice on Vehicle Safety Defects (the Code) is enclosed for your information.

Vehicle manufacturers are required to notify Vehicle Safety Branch of their intention to recall vehicles and to provide information about the nature of the defect, the estimated number of vehicles involved, the nature of the safety hazard and the action planned to rectify the defect. Upon officially registering an intended recall, a manufacturer can obtain details of the owners of the affected vehicles from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and all owners are contacted in writing by the manufacturer.

There is no requirement under the terms of the Code for recalled vehicles to be presented for official examination to confirm that the rectification work has been carried out. The vehicle recall schemes launched in 1997-98 involved a total of 839,999 cars, light goods vehicles and motorcycles and it would be impractical for this number of vehicles to be checked independently. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that their approved dealers carry out the necessary rectification work satisfactorily.

Manufacturers must inform Vehicle Safety Branch of the response rate at three monthly intervals until the recall is complete, or until it is accepted that any remaining vehicles are unlikely to be traced. The campaign may then be closed. In cases where the response rate is considered to be low, a further letter is sent by the manufacturer to owners by recorded delivery. In 1997-9 the average response rate for recall campaigns affecting cars was 77 per cent. and for light goods vehicles and motorcycles the average response rate was 57 per cent. and 63 per cent. respectively. Campaigns rarely achieve 100 per cent. because owners are under no obligation to respond to the manufacturer's recall notification and other factors such as owners failing to notify DVLA of a change of address, vehicles being stolen, written off or exported also affect the response rates.

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To further publicise manufacturers' recall campaigns Vehicle Safety Branch produces a six monthly Recalls Bulletin which is issued to public libraries, the Police, other government departments and is available to any other bodies or members of the public upon request.

Allotments: Report

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will produce a formal response to the 5th Report of the House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, The Future of Allotments (HC 560), published on 11 June 1998.[HL3085]

Baroness Hayman: The Government aim to respond to this report, which was published on 24 June 1998, before the end of September.

Customs and Immigration Facilities: Cost

Lord Cadman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide figures listing the annual cost of providing Customs and Immigration facilities at the principal international seaports, airports and railway stations in the United Kingdom; and by how much these costs are reduced by charges levied on the operators of those installations.[HL2814]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As part of the port or airport approval process, carriers or port-airport operators are required to provide, at their expense, accommodation for passenger and cargo control facilities to enable Customs and the Immigration Service to carry out certain statutory duties. The operators do not provide Customs or the Immigration Service with details of the costs of these control facilities.

In addition, Customs pay for other facilities (primarily office accommodation and other operational facilities in terminal buildings). The cost of these facilities at the principal international seaports, airports and railway stations in the United Kingdom is about £5.7 million a year. The equivalent cost for providing Immigration Service facilities at all ports and airports at which the Service operates is about £8.4 million a year. These accommodation costs are not reduced by any charges levied on the operators of ports, airports or railway stations.

Entry Clearance Refusals: Independent Monitor's Report

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to lay before Parliament the Report covering 1997 by Dame Elizabeth Anson, the Independent Monitor, of refusal of Entry Clearance where there is no right of appeal.[HL3153]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Foreign Secretary has arranged for copies of Dame Elizabeth's Report on 1997 to be placed in the Libraries of the House today. I welcome the Report and note Dame Elizabeth's recommendations, which will receive careful consideration.


Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest situation in Burma.[HL3154]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government continues to deplore the authorities' disregard for human rights and democracy. Ministerial statements have unequivocally condemned abuses. We continue to exert pressure on the regime to engage in substantive dialogue with opposition leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. We used our Presidency to renew EU measures against Burma and to draft the tough resolution agreed by the UN Commission on Human Rights in April.

We do not encourage trade with or investment in Burma: in present circumstances we will include in any responses to enquiries about the market from British companies a very clear statement about the nature of the regime; and any briefings will emphasise the Burmese political and human rights situation and the state of the economy.

We also wish to draw attention to the views of the pro-democracy leaders in Burma that it would be inappropriate for tourists to visit Burma at present.

Wilton Park Executive Agency

Lord Grenfell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Wilton Park Executive Agency performed against the targets agreed for 1997-98; and what are the agreed targets for the current year.[HL3155]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Wilton Park exceeded all four of the agreed targets set for the 1997-98 financial year, for the number of conference participants, income, cost recovery and cost per head to the FCO overall. The 1997-98 targets were:

    Income: £1,554K

    Recovery of costs from commercial activities: 78%

    Number of Wilton Park Conference participants: 1,750

    Costs to FCO per conference participant: £247

The following key targets have been agreed for the financial year, 1998-99.

    To increase overall income to £2,051K.

    To increase cost recovery to 81%.

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    To increase the target for the overall number of Wilton Park Conference participants to 2,000.

    To reduce the average cost to the FCO of each participant to £240.

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