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Written Answers

Tuesday 13th December 1994

13 Dec 1994 : Column WA113

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BUILDING: COST

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The European Parliament's new chamber in Brussels is housed in a building which is part of the Espace Leopold complex, which is not yet completed. In 1992, the European Parliament (EP) signed a contract for a long lease on a complex of three buildings to be constructed, with an option to purchase. The total estimated investment cost under the contract is approximately 1 billion ecu (£755 million), before amortisation. The lease on each building in the complex is to run 27 years from the date of its handover. The annual budget payment for the building containing the new chamber is 13.9 mecu (£10.5 million).

The building is in regular use for office accommodation, committee meetings and other purposes. The new chamber within the building is used for plenary sessions, which are scheduled to take place on 12 days during 1995. Annual EP expenditure on buildings is decided in the context of the annual budget negotiations. The EP must ensure that its expenditure is consistent with the Treaty and the financial regulation.

NUCLEAR MILITARY EXERCISES

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is open to any non-nuclear-weapons state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to take action under the security assurances that they have been given if they wish to do so. North Korea has not approached us on this matter.

We have not been involved in discussions with Ukraine over possible Russian nuclear military exercises.

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OVERSEAS AID ALLOCATION

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With reference to their assurance that "excessive military expenditure" is taken into account when deciding levels of aid to individual countries (H. L Deb., 17 November, col. 30), how they define "excessive" and why aid to Indonesia is increasing while aid to sub-Saharan Africa is decreasing.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is not feasible to operate a simple definition of when military expenditure is excessive. Account must be taken of issues such as regional security situations; budgetary pressures; and the allocation of expenditure to key development sectors. It is within this context that levels of military expenditure of aid-recipient countries are taken into account, on a case-by-case basis, when deciding upon bilateral aid programme allocations.

The rising level of multilateral aid is placing pressure on the resources available for bilateral aid, including our programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, Africa remains a priority for British aid. In 1993–94 we spent £381 million—representing 42.5 per cent. of our bilateral aid programme allocable by region—in African countries. In addition, the European Union's aid programme to sub-Saharan Africa for the period 1990–95 amounts to the equivalent of some £7.6 thousand million, of which the UK share is £1.25 thousand million.

Our aid to Indonesia—amounting to £22 million in 1993–94—reflects the country's large population, its relative poverty, (despite an outstanding record of poverty reduction) and its sound economic management. In recent years aid to Indonesia has increased, due largely to support under the Aid and Trade Provision (ATP), for which Indonesia is eligible as a low-income creditworthy country, and to the undertaking of an enhanced programme of technical co-operation in the forestry sector, which is of high environmental importance. Indonesia's defence expenditure is under 2 per cent of its GDP.

HALIFAX AND LEEDS BUILDING SOCIETIES: PROPOSED MERGER

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the role of regulatory authorities in respect of the proposed merger between the Halifax and the Leeds Building Societies; and in particular whether the regulators can take cognisance of the effect of any merger on the remuneration of directors and chief executives.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence: Under the terms of the Building Societies Act 1986, the Building Societies commission must approve the statutory merger statement issued to members of both societies, and subsequently confirm the merger, before it can go ahead. The statement must include any changes proposed in the remuneration of directors and other officers.

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EUROPEAN UNION MEMBERSHIP: VALUE TO UK

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will itemise and give the present annual cash value of each of the benefits of membership of the European Community and the European Union.

Lord Henley: Public sector receipts to the United Kingdom from membership of the EU in 1993–94 were £3,864 million. In addition, the United Kingdom private sector obtained significant receipts from the EC Budget.

However, the benefits of membership to the United Kingdom are much wider than those which can be measured directly in quantifiable cash terms. They include the benefits in increased trade and inward investment in the United Kingdom from membership of a trading bloc of some 370 million people; the increased bargaining power in world trade negotiations that this brings, opening up markets to British exporters; the benefits from influencing the outcome of decisions taken at a Community level, such as subsidiarity, deregulation and state aids; and the political and economic benefits from the increased stability that the EU brings to Europe as a whole.

EXPORTS: REASONS FOR GROWTH

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they attribute the current success of British exporters to the devaluation of sterling following its enforced exit from the exchange rate mechanism.

Lord Henley: Recent strong growth in exports reflects both the recovery in the world economy this year and British industry's success in controlling costs.

EQUAL TREATMENT DIRECTIVE

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, and, if so, when, they intend to introduce legislation correctly to transpose the EC Equal Treatment Directive 76/207/EEC into national law, in the light of the decision of the Divisional Court of 17 December 1991 in R v Secretary of State for Defence, ex parte Lane and Leale, so that members and former members of the armed forces are able to ascertain the full extent of their rights under the directive in accordance with the principle of legal certainty.

Lord Henley: The intention is that appropriate legislation will be introduced in due course.

REVIEWING COMMITTEE ON EXPORT OF WORKS OF ART: 1993–94 REPORT

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, 1993—94, will be published.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): The Reviewing Committee's Annual Report, 1993–94, has been published today, and copies have been laid before Parliament.

POST OFFICE CHIEF EXECUTIVE: REMUNERATION

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans for the remuneration of the chief executive of the Post Office, given the effect of their decision not to proceed with privatisation on that officer's expectations.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): The Government have no plans to alter the remuneration of the Chief Executive of the Post Office.

RESEARCH COUNCIL FOURTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decisions were taken on the Fourth Framework Programme at the Research Council on 1 December.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Council reached agreement on the remaining aspects of the Fourth Framework Programme. This will enable the Commission to issue calls for proposals on most if not all the outstanding specific programmes in December. We believe that the Framework Programme presents United Kingdom researchers with a worthwhile challenge to which they will be able to respond fully, as they have done in the past.


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