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22 Feb 1995 : Column WA65

Written Answers

Wednesday 22nd February 1995

Western Sahara: Referendum

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the allegations made by Ambassador Frank Ruddy in testimony before the Subcommittee on the Department of Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary and Related Agencies of the US Congress on 25th January 1995, concerning the "mafia-like behaviour" and "thuggery" of Moroccan Ministry of the Interior personnel in the Western Sahara, and the case for restoring UN control over the process of identifying those eligible to vote in the proposed referendum; and what action they propose the European Union should take to restore confidence in the process.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We are concerned at the allegations made by Mr. Frank Ruddy before the US Congress Sub-Committee on 25 January 1995. We understand that a UN team has visited the Western Sahara to investigate Mr. Ruddy's allegations, and we await the report of their findings. The referendum process in the Western Sahara is a matter for the UN and not the EU.

HIV/AIDS

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps Britain has taken internationally since the Cairo Conference on Population and Development to promote the reduction of infant and maternal mortality levels caused by the HIV/AIDS virus.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Since the Cairo Conference we have been working with the WHO Global Programme on AIDS, UNFPA, the European Commission and other bilateral donors and non-governmental organisations on:— (1) raising awareness of reproductive health issues, including problems caused by HIV, and (2) developing prevention and care programmes.

We are supporting the establishment of a new joint and Cosponsored UN Programme on HIV/AIDS; have participated in the Paris Aids Summit; have pledged an additional £2 million over three years for targeted research, and have provided financial support for the forthcoming conference for people living with HIV/AIDS to be held in South Africa in March 1995.

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of bilateral and multilateral aid respectively is targeted at AIDS relief programmes in developing countries.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The percentage of British bilateral and multilateral aid targeted at HIV/AIDS programmes for the last two financial years was:

ODA HIV/AIDS expenditure as a percentage of total bilateral and multilateral aid

1992/93 1993/94
% %
Bilateral(70595.16") 0.2 0.2
Multilateral (WHO/GPA)(70595.17") 0.6 0.7

Notes:

(1595.16") The bilateral figures are for projects which are focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS and include contributions to National AIDS Control Programmes. ODA's contributions to reproductive health programmes, which help to reduce HIV transmission, are not included.

(2595.17") The multilateral figures include only ODA contributions to the WHO Global Programme on AIDS and do not include a proportion of UK funding of UNICEF, UNFPA and other agencies which also undertake HIV/AIDS programmes, as these figures are not available in a disaggregated form.


Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether money spent from the Overseas Aid budget on the AIDS epidemic is geared towards prevention or care.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: People whose communities are affected by HIV want help to avoid becoming infected with the virus; they also need support and care when they are infected. British aid, whether provided through multilateral, bilateral or NGO channels, establishes sustainable means to prevent people becoming infected and at the same time improves the quality of care for people who are infected.

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To list the AIDS programme they fund from the Overseas Aid budget and the funding levels for each of the co-sponsors.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The ODA has four main channels for funding of HIV/AIDS programmes:—

(1) Multilateral, where other bilateral donors serve as co-sponsors;

(2) Bilateral, co-sponsored by national governments and usually by the World Health Organisation;

(3) Non-governmental organisations, through the Joint Funding Scheme, with 50 per cent. co-sponsoring from each recipient organisation, and

(4) Research funding co-sponsored by other donors and research establishments.

A report of ODA expenditure in 1994 on HIV/AIDS through each of these channels is being prepared.

Mr. Bryce Taylor: Legal Aid

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether legal aid has been paid to Mr Bryce Taylor in proceedings involving photographs of the Princess of Wales; and if so, how much, and whether this will be recovered from Mr Taylor.

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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): No money has been paid from the legal aid fund on behalf of Mr. Bryce Taylor.

Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce proposals for the future of the taxi and private hire vehicle trades.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Government have today published their response to the Transport Select Committee's Fourth Report on taxi and private hire vehicles. The response, Command Paper 2715, forms the Government's official statement on the outcome of the taxi review.

The most important features of the response are:


    Taxis will continue to have the exclusive right to ply for hire (i.e., be hailed) in the street and at ranks. Private hire vehicles, including minicabs, will not be allowed to ply for hire in the street. They will have to be booked in advance as now.


    For reasons of public safety, particularly of vulnerable passengers, private hire vehicles (minicabs) in London will be subject to a form of control similar to that operating outside London. This will include criminal record checks for drivers, and may include a test to ensure they have an adequate knowledge of the roads in the area where they are based.


    A requirement will be introduced that all taxis shall be accessible to people who are wheel chair users. However, this requirement will be phased in over a period of several years, to give taxi owners time to replace their vehicles. In those places where there are existing target dates for taxis to become wheelchair accessible, they will still be expected to meet them. This requirement will not mean that all taxis will have to be London "black cabs"; local authorities will be able to license any vehicle which is wheelchair accessible and which meets such additional requirements as are considered necessary to meet local conditions.


    The power of district councils to restrict taxi numbers will be phased out over a number of years to give some protection to those who have made considerable investment in taxi plates (licences). However, there will be no reduction in quality control. Licensing authorities will be able to apply for a derogation from abolition of number of control from the Department of Transport in exceptional circumstances.

The aim is to replace the existing legislation in due course.

Copies of the response are available from the Printed Paper Office.

22 Feb 1995 : Column WA68

Fishing Fleet: British-owned Vessels

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many ships in Britain's registered fishing fleet are British-owned.

Viscount Goschen: This is an operational matter for the Marine Safety Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive, Mr. Robin Bradley, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Stoddart of Swindon from the Chief Executive of the Marine Safety Agency, Mr. R. M. Bradley, dated 22 February 1995.

Viscount Goshen has asked me to reply to your Question regarding the number of British owned fishing vessels in the UK registered fleet.

Following the introduction of the Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Regulations 1993 in March 1994, this information is no longer available. It is still possible to identify the nationality of individual owners but many fishing vessels are owned by companies and the nationality of the shareholders of these companies cannot be ascertained.

Prior to March 1994, the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 provided that corporate owners of fishing vessels registered in the UK had to be made up mainly of qualified shareholders. A company had therefore to complete a declaration that its shareholding complied with the Act. With the introduction of the 1993 Act, the only requirement for eligibility in respect of companies is that they be incorporated in a member state of the European Economic Area, and have a place of business in the UK. As a result of this change, it is no longer necessary to know the nationality of the shareholders and no such information is collected.


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