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27 Mar 1995 : Column WA81

Written Answers

Monday 27th March 1995

Inhumane Weapons Convention

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have not ratified the Inhumane Weapons Convention, which bans landmines, and whether they intend to do so.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The United Kingdom permanent representative to the UN in New York deposited the United Kingdom's instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary-General on 13 February. We will be bound by all three protocols to the convention, which cover the use of non-detectable fragments, landmines and booby-traps, and incendiary weapons.

Protection of National Minorities Convention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to ratify the Council of Europe's Convention on the Protection of Minorities (approved in November 1994) and when they expect that it is likely to come into force.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United Kingdom was among the 21 Council of Europe member states which signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities when it opened for signature on 1 February 1995.

The convention must be ratified by twelve states before it can come into force. None has yet done so. We intend to ratify the convention in due course.

Turkey: Measures to Enhance Democratic Freedom

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament English translations of the package of measures aimed at enhancing democratic freedom, now under discussion by the Turkish Parliament referred to in a letter of 27 February from the Minister of State at the Foreign Office to Lord Hylton.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We do not have an English translation of the document referred to by the noble Lord.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library copies of any expert professional opinion upon which the Home Secretary of the day based proposals for framing the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The following organisations and groups offered advice to the Government, mainly through meetings and letters:

    All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare

    British Veterinary Association

    The Kennel Club

    League Against Cruel Sports

    National Canine Defence League

    Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

    World Society for the Protection of Animals

    Dr. Roger A. Mugford and Associates

The organisations should be approached directly for any information they are prepared to release about the views which they submitted.

Pit Bull Terrier Control Schemes

Lord Houghton of Sowerby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library a summary of the pit bull terrier control schemes in operation in member countries of the European Union.

Baroness Blatch: I regret that the full information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. I have had placed in the Library the results of a comparative survey of dangerous dogs legislation recently carried out by the Israeli authorities. This indicates the position in a number of countries of the European Union.

Car Crime: Control Initiatives

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the debate on 16 February 1994, (a) what progress has been made to promote the fitment of visible vehicle identification numbers to all new cars; (b) what similar initiative is being adopted by the manufacturers of commercial and heavy goods vehicles; and (c) what proposals there are to ensure that new plant and equipment is fitted with a secure and unique identification number.

Baroness Blatch: A survey of passenger cars offered for sale in the United Kingdom, conducted in May 1994 by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), revealed that visible vehicle identification numbers were provided on 43 per cent. of the 881 models surveyed. Of the aforementioned, 68 per cent. were on the structure of the vehicle, with the remainder etched into the window glass.

The Government are supporting the development, by the British Standards Institute, of a standard for visible vehicle identification numbers which may, in due course, be used as the basis of a UK Government proposal to the European Commission to amend the current EC directive on vehicle identification numbers.

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A draft has been prepared and will shortly be issued for public consultation.

The major manufacturers of trucks sold in the United Kingdom have, at the request of the police, Home Office and vehicle operators, recently agreed to move to increasing the security of their vehicles to help combat the problem of commercial vehicle theft. Included as one of the minimum measures to be progressively adopted is the fitment of visible vehicle identification numbers on chassis rails.

The construction industry has itself set up a number of voluntary registration schemes using serial, chassis, engine, transmission and other numbers, whose purpose is to assist the police in the identification of plant and equipment. The Vehicle Crime Prevention Group, a sub-committee of the National Board for Crime Prevention, has identified unique identification numbers for construction plant as an issue which needs to be addressed as a matter of some urgency and will be making recommendations to the Government on possible ways forward once it has given the matter close and careful consideration.

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made with car park operators, and other interested parties, in reducing the risk and incidence of crime in car parks.

Baroness Blatch: The problem of car crime in car parks is an area which the Government have been keen to address as part of their car crime prevention strategy.

Following the publication of Home Office research in 1992 into this subject, Home Office Ministers met major car park operators in 1993 and 1994 to consider what could be done to make car parking facilities more secure and to keep up pressure on the parking industry. Ministers have been particularly keen to promote the police-backed "Secured Car Parks" scheme.

In October 1994 the chairman of the vehicle crime prevention sub-group of the national board, met car park operators to monitor what progress had been made. There was general support for the Secured Car Parks scheme at this meeting and operators are responding positively to the need to improve security.

To date, nearly 300 car parks in the United Kingdom have won awards under the Secured Car Parks scheme and there is evidence to suggest that it and the work of operators in improving security generally has helped reduce the incidence of car crime;

    in King's Lynn in Norfolk, where all 16 of the town centre's car parks have received gold awards, there were seven reported vehicle crimes in 1993 compared with 150 in 1991.

    British Rail reported a 15 per cent. reduction in car crime in car parks in 1993 and there are likely to be further reductions in 1994.

    Two refurbished car parks in Croydon have reported reductions in car crime of 70 per cent. and

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30 per cent. respectively in 1994 compared with 1993.

The police are looking at ways of promoting and extending the Secured Car Parks scheme and we shall continue to monitor developments in this area.

Hazardous Waste: Special Waste Regulations

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for implementing Council Directive 91/689/EEC on Hazardous Waste.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The Department of the Environment has today issued for public consultation draft special waste regulations and accompanying guidance, together with an assessment of compliance costs and a paper on charging proposals. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The existing regulations date from 1980, and set out additional controls over the most dangerous wastes designed to ensure that they are monitored and safely managed from "cradle to grave". The new proposals implement the 1991 Hazardous Waste Directive, and the EC list of hazardous wastes adopted by the Council of Ministers in December. They also introduce other desirable changes. The key details are:

    —a new definition of special waste which embraces both the EC list of hazardous waste and any other waste which is special under the current regulations. New technical guidance will be the subject of a separate consultation exercise later in the spring;

    —pre-notification to waste regulation authorities of waste movements will be simplified. Wasteholders will be able to prenotify a series of repetitive movements, and carriers will be able to prenotify collection rounds. Where movements cross authority boundaries, wasteholders need no longer notify both authorities. A redesigned consignment note should help wasteholders provide descriptions of their waste and its associated hazards so as to assist sound management;

    —fees will be payable when movements are pre-notified, as part of the policy of charging for local authority services, and in line with the "polluter pays" principle. The fees should recover authorities' supervisory costs;

    —restrictions are introduced on mixing by carriers and consignees of different special wastes and of special with non-special wastes.

Subject to the outcome of public consultation, our aim is to introduce the new regulations and associated guidance this summer. The Government believe that the proposals will introduce a useful measure of deregulation, with no diminution of the controls which help to minimise the risk that these wastes can pose to human health and the environment.

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