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15 Feb 1999 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Monday, 15th February 1999.

Gypsy Caravan Sites

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give an estimate of the number of caravans owned by gypsies and other travellers on "tolerated" sites, where no planning permission has been given but the local authority does not intend to take enforcement action.[HL939]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Local authorities carry out a biannual count of caravans occupied by "gypsies", defined in statute as "persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin . . . ". At the time of the latest published count in England in July 1998, there were 317 caravans occupied by gypsies on privately owned sites without planning permission, on which local authorities have indicated that they are not currently intending to take planning enforcement action.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give details of appeals against refusal of planning permission for gypsy sites decided in each of the years 1993 to 1998 inclusive, giving in each case the location of the site, the number of caravan pitches and the decision of the Secretary of State.[HL940]

Lord Whitty: Copies of these details for England and Wales have been placed in the House Library. No details are available yet for December 1998. There were no appeals against refusal of planning permission for gypsy sites decided in the years 1993 to 1998 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Except for England, this is a matter for which the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Assembly will be responsible after devolution.

West Coast Main line

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the terms of reference of the capacity study on the West Coast Main Line being undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Franchising Director of Passenger Rail Franchising; and[HL950]

    What organisations have been consulted in connection with the study of capacity of the West Coast Main Line; and what is the expected completion date of the study; and[HL951]

    Whether they intend to publish the capacity study of the West Coast Main Line.[HL952]

Lord Whitty: Railtrack is shortly to provide the Rail Regulator and Franchising Director with a report on a number of strategic reviews of capacity to meet

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the needs of all users of the West Coast Main Line. In carrying out the reviews Railtrack was required to consult the train operating companies and identify options for meeting future demand and improving services. We expect to see the conclusion of these reviews reflected in Railtrack's Network Management Statement due to be published next month (March 1999).

Her Majesty's Government are not carrying out any independent capacity study on West Coast Main Line.

Transport Safety Review

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the terms of reference of the cross-modal transport safety review, announced by Dr. John Reid, Minister of Transport, on 8 December 1998; and[HL985]

    Whether sea, rail, road and air transport, as well as cycling and walking, will be included in the transport safety review; and[HL986]

    In carrying out their transport safety review, what plans they have to consult with operators, customers and users of transport.[HL987]

Lord Whitty: I refer my noble friend to the reply I gave to my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel on 9 December 1998 (WA 98-99), in which I set out the terms of reference of the review, and explained that it would embrace all the transport modes and that there would be a consultation in the Spring.


Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In which of the votes pertaining to Sudan at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank they have participated since 1996; what the substantive nature of those votes was; and which way the United Kingdom voted.[HL754]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank operate on the principle of consensus rather than through formal voting.

I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by the Economic Secretary (Ms Hewitt) on 19 November (Official Report, col. 839) which set out the UK Government's position on the openness of the international financial institutions.

Zimbabwe: IMF Loan

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the International Monetary Fund is currently considering a major loan to the Government of Zimbabwe; and, if so, whether satisfactory guarantees about human rights will be a necessary precondition of any such loan.[HL839]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The IMF is due to release two suspended tranches of an existing loan as soon as the Government of Zimbabwe satisfy two prior actions. Firstly, the Government must make public a comprehensive and authoritative statement on land reform, and, secondly, they must show that military expenditures associated with the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be met within the defence provision of the 1999 budget.

No new IMF lending to Zimbabwe is planned for the immediate future. Any such loans would be subject to customary IMF consideration of the economic performance and governance of the country. The UK Government believe that high standards of governance are essential to the success of economic reform programmes and to ensure that economic benefits are shared by all. We welcome the increased emphasis that the fund now places on governance issues, and will continue to argue that measures to promote good governance should be a condition of IMF programmes.

TUC Budget Submission

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent submissions they have had from the Trades Union Congress on its view of economic policy priorities; and what action they have taken, or will be taking, in response.[HL938]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor has received the TUC's Budget submission and will be considering it along with other submissions in the normal way in the run-up to the Budget on 9 March.

Opinion Polls: Government Spending

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much has been spent by each government department on opinion polls, surveys and focus groups since 1 May 1997.[HL850]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested is not held centrally.

The "Amsterdam"

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent discussions there have been with the Dutch Government about the preservation of the wreck of the "Amsterdam" at Hastings.[HL887]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No recent discussions have taken place with the Dutch Government over the "Amsterdam" designated wreck site at Hastings. The "Amsterdam" is the property of the Dutch Government which is therefore primarily responsible for decisions about the site's future. The Department for Culture,

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Media and Sport has asked the Dutch Government's Cultural Heritage Department to keep it informed of any proposals they may have for the site.

Mentally Disordered Offenders

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 1 February (WA 184), whether they will publish a table showing the percentage of prisoners surveyed in 1997 who displayed evidence of each of the disorders, and each combination of the disorders, listed in the Answer together with an indication of the size of the sample surveyed.[HL920]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): This information is included in the report of a survey of psychiatric morbidity among prisoners in England and Wales undertaken by the Office for National Statistics for the Department of Health, a copy of which was placed in the Library on publication in October 1998.

Prisoners: Visitors and Drugs

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, under the new policy announced on 25 January, a prisoner whose visitor has attempted to smuggle drugs will be banned from receiving visits from all visitors for three months followed by closed visits for three months, or whether this applies only to visits from the offending visitor; and what arrangements will be made in appropriate cases for visits from the prisoner's children to continue.[HL929]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The ban on visiting will apply only to the visitor who is found to be bringing drugs into the prison. Other visitors will be free to continue to make visits to the prisoner but, if the prisoner is known or believed to be involved in bringing in drugs, these visits will for a period be held in closed or non-contact conditions. In considering whether or not to impose a ban and in determining the duration of a ban, governors will take into account the rights of the prisoner and visitors to respect for their family life.

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