Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Land Ownership

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not received any direct representations from Survival International on International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 169.

The UK is concerned that many indigenous people do not enjoy their full human rights and is committed to helping to improve this situation. However, the convention cannot be applied in the UK, as there are no indigenous, tribal or semi-tribal people. To date, only 17 states have ratified this convention.

We are in contact with a number of non-governmental organisations on the UN draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In June 2006, the UK voted in favour of the declaration’s adoption at the UN Human Rights Council.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA43

Mobile Phone Charges

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The UK has been actively engaged in negotiating the international mobile roaming regulation, in line with the views of the Ministers concerned—the then Minister for Industry and the Regions, my right honourable friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth, and subsequently my right honourable friend the current Minster of State for Industry and the Regions. In parallel, the draft regulation was put before the scrutiny committees of both Houses and was subsequently cleared by both. Scrutiny was cleared in this House when the findings of the scrutiny committee chaired by the right honourable Lord Freeman were debated in this House on 24 May and by the Commons committee in its meeting on 6 June.

The origins of the international roaming mobile phone prices regulation are a sector inquiry carried out by the European Commission in 2000, which found that prices were unreasonably high. Despite a series of warnings by the Commission, the mobile network operators did not address the issue. The European telecommunications regulators group, of which Ofcom is a member, asked the European Commission to address this matter on a European level, as it felt that national Administrations would not be able to do so effectively as a result of the trans-border nature of the roaming market. As a result, after two rounds of consultation with stakeholders, including HMG, the Commission issued a draft regulation. The regulation, which was based on Article 95 of the treaty, was granted political approval last week at the Telecoms Council (at which the UK was represented by my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions) and is expected to come into effect by the end of June.

Police: Authorities

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Police Act 1996 sets out the current arrangements for membership of police authorities. These state that councillors from relevant councils in the force area must form 50 per cent plus

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA44

one of the authority members. Normally, there are 17 members on each police authority, of which nine are locally elected councillors, five are independent members from the community and three are lay justice members.

The Police and Justice Act 2006 allows amendment of this. The Act (Schedule 2) contains regulation-making powers that specify that police authorities should be made up of a majority of councillor members and “other persons” (currently referred to as independent members), including at least one lay justice. The Home Secretary has asked Sir Ronnie Flanagan to include in his review of policing announced on 27 March how local accountability arrangements may be improved and to report by the end of the year. Views should be forwarded to Sir Ronnie Flanagan at

Railways: Channel Tunnel Freight

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under the terms of the Channel Tunnel rail usage contract (RUC), and in line with the access charge provisions of the first European rail package, we agreed in November 2006 that the British Railways Board (BRB) should continue to bear the UK freight allocation of Eurotunnel’s “operational expenses” charges payable under the RUC. We did so because these represent overhead infrastructure costs not directly incurred as a result of operating the railway service.

To enable BRB to do this, we changed the arrangements by which those rights and obligations of the BRB previously delegated exclusively to English Welsh & Scottish Railway are now delegated to any international freight train operator.

These changes have kept trains running. Any further steps to increase the number of services are a matter for the signatories to the Channel Tunnel usage agreement; that is, the BRB, the French national railway (SNCF) and Eurotunnel.

Railways: First Great Western

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA45

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Appendix 3 of the franchise agreement lists the rolling stock available to operate the service at the start of the franchise. The list was created by the Department for Transport from the detailed First Group rolling stock plan constructed as part of its bid. First Great Western (FGW) is not allowed to reduce the fleet without the department's approval, although there is a mechanism by which it can increase it. FGW has increased the size of its fleet in response to operational needs, but details of the extra rolling stock are matters for FGW itself. Similarly, responsibility for delivering a service that meets the standards set in the franchise agreement is a matter for FGW.

A comparable appendix will be incorporated into the forthcoming West Midlands, east Midlands and new cross-country franchising agreements.

Roads: Pricing Schemes

Lord Methuen asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby are, with the counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, investigating the potential for radical transport improvements in the sub-region to reduce congestion. This work, which includes looking at the scope for road pricing, should be completed in March 2008, after which the authorities plan to consult locally on the options available to them.

Network Rail plans to deliver the East Midlands Parkway station by December 2008.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA46

Roads: Safety

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The report's recommendations are directed primarily at local agencies such as councils, emergency services and NHS bodies, and the Government will continue to support local partners in implementing these recommendations. The report made one recommendation on the supporting role of central government, and both parts of this are being acted on.

On the first part, about a consistent approach across all departments, the Department for Transport worked closely with many other departments in the recent second review of the Road Safety Strategy and is continuing to work with other departments, including the Home Office, on consistency of targets.

On the second part, about improving the availability of research findings, the Department for Transport has work under way to make its road safety research more accessible, including through a new contract for a programme of road safety research dissemination and action learning for national and local stakeholders.

Roads: Speed Cameras

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have not introduced hidden speed cameras. The national safety camera programme in England and Wales ended on 31 March 2007, and since then local road safety partnerships have had greater freedom and flexibility to deploy cameras in response to community concerns about speeding or at locations where there are speeding problems and a high risk that casualties will occur.

The department has issued guidance that sets out the Government's intention of continued high-visibility speed enforcement and encourages the continued use of the previous visibility and conspicuity rules, which were shown to reduce speeds and casualties at camera sites. However, the department's guidance does not restrict or fetter the discretion that the police have always had to enforce covertly anywhere at any time.

The guidance is contained in Department for Transport Circular 01/2007, New Guidance on the Deployment of Speed and Red Light Cameras, issued on 31 January 2007. The guidance was placed in the Library of the House and is also available on the department's website.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA47

Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Government of Sudan agreed in Addis Ababa on 12 June to the African Union (AU)-UN proposal for a hybrid peacekeeping force. This was based on a joint report produced by the AU and UN. The details of the plan agreed are contained within this report, which will be placed in the Library of the House.

Sudan: Presidential Visit to UK

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): President al-Bashir has not approached the UK Government about a visit to the United Kingdom in response to an invitation from Nadhmi Auchi, president of the Anglo Arab Organisation. Were he to do so, any request would be considered on its merits and in the light of the circumstances at that time.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The remit of the project is to assess the effects if longer and heavier goods vehicle combinations were to be permitted. It will look at whether potential demand would be sufficient to deliver worthwhile benefits that outweighed or justified mitigation of disbenefits. The study will, among other things, take full account of safety concerns and issues surrounding rail freight. Copies of the full work specification have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA48

The study was let following a process of competitive tendering: 15 organisations were invited to bid, four offers were received and the competition was won by TRL and Heriot-Watt University.

UK Borders Bill

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government are aware of the briefing written by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In the Government's view, the UK Borders Bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights for all parts of the United Kingdom. I have signed a declaration in the Bill to this effect.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government believe that the Bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. We will give careful consideration to any amendments that are tabled, including any that reflect the issues raised by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Visas: Foreign Leaders

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): All visa applications are considered in accordance with the Immigration Rules. Applicants accused or suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity or large-scale and systematic human rights violations may be refused entry clearance under Rule 320(19) on the basis that their presence in the United Kingdom would not be conducive to the public good.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA49

Waste Management: London

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Statistics compiled by Communities and Local Government from information supplied by boroughs show that there have been eight applications determined for waste facilities in the past five years. However, these appear to under-report the situation on the ground, as we are aware of at least three major facilities that have been approved during this time in Havering, Newham and Sutton.

19 Jun 2007 : Column WA50

Applications Determined





London Thames Gateway Development Corporation






Hammersmith and Fulham










Source: General development control statistical returns, Communities and Local Government.

Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page