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Written Answers

Monday 16th January 1995

TURKEY: AID FOR METRO PROJECT

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government: What factors influenced their decision in 1990 to give £22 million for a metro project in Turkey which was known to be uneconomic.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The decision took account of both commercial and political factors.

The key commercial consideration was the potential loss of both the immediate and any potential future contracts in Turkey. The political considerations took account of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait the previous month and Turkey's positive stance following the invasion.

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether the £22 million donation to the Turkish metro project has been paid in full and if not, how much of the Aid and Trade Provision (ATP) funds it has consumed.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: To date £10.6m has been expended from the Aid and Trade Provision on the Ankara Metro Project.

INDONESIA: AID FOR TELEVISION STUDIO PROJECT

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether political and commercial considerations were instrumental in the decision to grant the £9.3 million soft loan for a television studio in Indonesia in 1986 and what these considerations were.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to the Answers given in another place by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the honourable Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and the honourable Member for York on 10 January at cols. 14 and 16–17.

ATP: MAJOR PROJECTS

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they can list all ATP projects over £5 million since 1992, and those ATP projects which have been deemed unacceptable by the Overseas Development Administration's Projects and Evaluation Committee, including each project's value.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Since 1992 agreements have been concluded on the following ATP projects with an ATP value of over £5 million.

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Country Project ATP value £million
China Urumqi PTA (Petro-chemical plant) 33.745
China Fushun Heat and Power 11.694
China Urumqi PX (Petro-chemical plant) 13.045
Philippines Navigational Aids 6.435
Turkey Ankara Metro 22.250
Morocco Tetouan Gas Turbines 10.925

All the above projects were approved before the requirement for consideration by ODA's Projects and Evaluation Committee (PEC) was introduced in June 1993 for projects with an ATP grant of £5 million and above. Since that date the PEC has considered five ATP projects, none of which it deemed unacceptable. None of the projects recommended for approval by the PEC has, however, yet reached the stage of formal agreement with the recipient government.

LONG-STAY PATIENTS: TRAINING IN USE OF MONIES

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government: In the light of the decision to issue revised guidance on the use of patients' monies for the benefit of long-stay patients, whether they will sponsor a training video for staff (as proposed by Age Concern, MENCAP and MIND) on the lines of the video already produced in Scotland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Department of Health is always ready to consider applications for funding of innovative projects under our Section 64 grant programme. We do, however, receive a large number of bids under this scheme and any proposed project would have to be assessed on its individual merit and in the light of available resources.

BREAST SCREENING

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to improve quality in the breast screening programme.

Baroness Cumberlege: The National Health Service breast screening programme is achieving good results in terms of screening coverage and of cancers detected. The Public Accounts Committee has praised the programme and singled it out as an example on which any future health screening programmes should be modelled. The programme is achieving targets set for it in terms of women taking up screening appointments and numbers of cancers detected.

One of the main strengths of the programme lies in its robust quality assurance systems, which have identified a higher than expected rate of breast cancers being detected in the interval between screening appointments. In order to enhance further the sensitivity

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of breast screening and to ensure that we detect more cancers at an early stage, the Department of Health is taking action to:


    require two views to be taken of each breast for all women being screened for the first time in the future. Research evidence produced from within the NHS breast screening programme shows that this will increase the number of cancers detected;


    require screening centres to increase the optical density (contrast) of mammograms. Research from within the screening programme has shown that when pictures of the breast are darker, small cancers can be detected more easily; and


    ensure the provision of focused clinical update training for radiologists to improve further the detection of particular types of cancers which are proving most difficult to see on mammograms.

An Executive Letter setting out this action in more detail will be sent to health authorities within the next few weeks.

PALACE OF WESTMINSTER: HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATION

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked the Chairman of Committees: On whose authority it was decided that the health and safety standards of the Palace of Westminster should be set by European Community Regulations and whether such decision contravened the 1935 judgment in the Kings Bench Division concerning Palace of Westminster privileges.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): United Kingdom health and safety legislation is not considered as applying to the Palace of Westminster, having regard to the 1935 decision in R. v. Graham-Campbell ex parte Herbert [1 KB 594]. This decision indicates that the courts will not, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication, treat the provisions of an Act of Parliament as binding on the two Houses themselves, so far as those provisions would affect the internal affairs of the Houses. The Palace

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authorities do, however, try to comply fully with the relevant legislation as if it were binding on them in the same way as on the Crown.

The Government are committed to applying the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to the Palace of Westminster as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity arises. The House of Lords Offices Committee agreed to this in principle in its Sixth Report, Session 1992–93, HL Paper 109, to which the House agreed on 27 July 1993.

No relevant EC legislation is directly applicable: European directives on health and safety are usually implemented by regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 applied to the two Houses provisions on compensation to employees who are disadvantaged as a result of health and safety activities. These provisions gave effect to EC Directive 89/381/EEC on measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

PALACE OF WESTMINSTER REFURBISHMENT: HEALTH AND SAFETY-RELATED COSTS

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked the Chairman of Committees: What was the cost of the internal refurbishment carried out in the Palace of Westminster during the summer recess, and what proportion related to the necessity to renew furniture in accordance with the health and safety regulations.

The Chairman of Committees: Internal refurbishment is carried out throughout the Palace of Westminster on a continuing basis. The cost of the majority of work is shared with the House of Commons on a 40:60 basis and the expenditure on internal refurbishment during this financial year will be in the region of £950,000. It is, however, difficult to arrive at a figure which relates to internal refurbishment alone during the summer recess 1994. Most of the furniture in the Parliamentary Estate meets current British Health and Safety recommendations but £30,000 will be spent this financial year to bring it up to standard.

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