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7 Mar 1995 : Column WA9

Written Answers

Tuesday 7th March 1995

World Summit for Social Development

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will represent the UK at the forthcoming social summit in Copenhagen and what the role of the Prime Minister will be.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I shall head the United Kingdom delegation to the summit. Officials from the Foreign Office, the Overseas Development Administration, the Department of Employment and the Department of Social Security will also participate.

Due to pressure of other business, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister will not attend.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be their position at the forthcoming social summit in Copenhagen on the United Nations Development Programme's proposal that 20 per cent. of overseas development aid by donors and 20 per cent. of the budgets of recipient countries should be devoted to basic education and health.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We support the aim of increasing resources for basic human development priorities; and welcome the recognition in the social summit draft declaration of the responsibilities of developing countries' governments to provide services to their people. But we have doubts about the value of assigning specific targets to either donors or recipients of aid, not least because of data measurement and comparability issues. The quality of basic services is as important as their coverage. For these reasons we shall not support the 20/20 proposal.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be their position at the forthcoming social summit in Copenhagen on the early ratification by participating governments of existing core human rights instruments (and/or, where appropriate, the removal of reservations which undermine the intervention of relevant treaties) and of International Labour Organisation conventions, including the Covenant for the Protection of Migrant Workers and their families.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We fully support references to the ratification of human rights instruments which appear in the declaration and programme of action to be agreed during the summit. We will continue to encourage all those wishing to improve their position towards basic human rights to look at the principles embodied in existing human rights instruments and, where appropriate, to ratify them.

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Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, at the forthcoming social summit in Copenhagen, they will support moves— (i) to ensure that social development objectives form an integral part of all international macroeconomic policy; (ii) to ensure that national governments fulfil their obligations to secure basic social and economic rights; (iii) to institute internationally agreed targets for the eradication of poverty and indicators to measure progress in social development; (iv) to ensure that structural adjustment programmes are based on careful analysis of their impact on poverty, and contain specific social development goals; (v) to act on recent research by the World Bank which indicates that current social safety nets which it funds may reach only 1 per cent. of those in need; (vi) to give special consideration to those developing countries where multilateral debt constitutes an important part of their total debt, and to sell limited quantities of IMF gold stocks to help meet this problem.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: On approach to the social summit in Copenhagen on these will be as follows: (i) stable macroeconomic policies and price incentives are the key to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The pattern of growth is also an important consideration; (ii) we will continue to encourage all those countries which have ratified international instruments which address social and economic issues to meet their obligations; (iii) we will support the adoption of internationally agreed targets on eradication of extreme poverty and indicators of social development, but only those which are relevant, practical and useable; (iv) we continue to stress the need for economic reform programmes to take full account of the social dimensions of development in their design and implementation; (v) we are not aware of such research findings. To be effective, safety net programmes need to be well targeted. Performance by individual countries in the design and implementation of such programmes varies widely; (vi) my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made this proposal at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Madrid last autumn.

Rights of the Child Convention, Hong Kong

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recommendations the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child made, at its January 1995 meeting, on the implementation of the

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    convention in the dependent territory of Hong Kong, and what steps are they taking to comply therewith.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: After the examination last January of the initial report of the United Kingdom under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that information on implementation of the convention in Hong Kong be submitted by 1996. We intend to submit an initial report on Hong Kong during 1996, in time for it to be examined by the committee before 30 June 1997.

Light Dues

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest situation on light dues.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): I am pleased to announce that light dues for 1995/96 will be frozen at the levels set in April 1993 for a second year in succession. I have decided to remove the supplementary roll-on/roll-off charge levied on tonnage in excess of 1,000 tons for any vessel whose liability is assessed by an International Tonnage Convention 1969 certificate. The surcharge will remain for any vessel unable for any reason to offer such a certificate. I have concluded that all other rates should remain unchanged.

I commend the General Lighthouse Authorities on their continuing achievement of efficiency savings.

M.25, Junctions 12 to 15: Improvement

The Earl of Munster asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will end the uncertainty as to the future of the M.25 link road (J12-J15) project, in view of the stress caused to local residents by this uncertainty; and

    Whether they will appoint an inspector to consider the M.25 link road project and set a date for a pre-inquiry meeting in order to discuss a timetable and appearances.

Viscount Goschen: Draft orders for the further improvement of M.25 between Junctions 12 to 15 were published in April 1994. An announcement on the arrangements for the Public Inquiry will be made in due course.

Traffic Flow Predictions: Inputs

The Earl of Munster asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Highways Agency, when preparing "design year" traffic flow predictions and promoting projects, should take into account:— (a) the principal measure for meeting government targets for stabilising CO2 emissions;

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    (b) the impact of road pricing schemes; and (c) the potential for traffic management.

Viscount Goschen: In designing trunk road schemes, the Highways Agency take these matters into account where they are relevant and material. I have asked the Chief Executive; Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my noble friend.

Letter to the Earl of Munster from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, dated 7 March 1995:

As you know, Viscount Goschen has asked me to reply to your parliamentary Question asking Her Majesty's Government whether the Highways Agency, when preparing "design year" traffic flow predictions and promoting projects, should take into account:— (a) the principal measure for meeting government targets for stabilising CO2 emissions; (b) the impact of road pricing schemes; and (c) the potential for traffic management. (a) National road traffic forecasts are used for predicting possible design year flows. These forecasts cover a range of possible growth in traffic which encompasses the predicted impact of proposed annual increases in fuel prices of 5 per cent. above inflation. (b) The previous Secretary of State for Transport announced (in December 1993) that changes would not be made to national road traffic forecasts to take into account the assumed impact of motorway tolling and other road pricing schemes, until factors that would have a major impact on the traffic effect of these policies had been more clearly established. If, however, a situation should arise where a local pricing scheme, or some other aspect of road pricing, seemed likely to be crucial for the proper assessment of a trunk road scheme, sensitivity testing might be a possible solution. (c) In developing schemes, the potential for introducing traffic management to form part of the solution to local problems should be considered whenever this may be appropriate.

World Summit for Social Development

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that the forthcoming social summit in Copenhagen addresses the need to curb agricultural export dumping in the Third World.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The primary focus of the Copenhagen summit is to discuss people-centred development issues within a UN context. For this reason the issue of agricultural dumping has not surfaced in the negotiations.

The recent GATT agreement on agriculture contained measures to reduce the subsidised export of agricultural products over a six-year period, starting in 1995. Within

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the EU, the reforms of the common agricultural policy begun in 1992 have already gone a long way towards reducing surplus agricultural production, which led to the subsidising of exports to world markets. The UK continues to press for further reforms, including continuing reductions in support prices, leading to a more market-oriented CAP.


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