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15 Jun 1995 : Column WA119

Written Answers

Thursday, 15th June 1995.

China: Population Control Policies

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the reasons for the disproportionate proportion of boys born in China compared with the World's natural birth ratio; and

    What is the situation of Chinese Roman Catholics who conscientiously object to Chinese population control policies; and what assurance they have received from the Chinese Government that conscientious objection will be respected; and

    How many ultra-sound machines are now operating in China; what assistance has been given by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) or the Chinese Family Planning Association in respect of supplying, operating or training the operators of such machines, and what information they have on the purposes to which such machines are put; and

    What amounts were donated to China from the core funds of the UNFPA and the IPPF for each of the last 16 years.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I will write to my noble friend about these issues. Copies of my letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

UN World Conference on Women, Beijing: Briefing Material

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What briefing notes they have produced or intend to produce for persons attending the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing and whether they will place copies in the Library of the House.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: A background brief is being prepared and will be deposited in the Libraries of the House in due course.

Turkey: Use of Kurdish Language

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that Turkey has failed to comply with Article 39 of the Treaty of Lausanne, and in particular with the provisions that "no restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by any Turkish national of any language ... in commerce, religion, in the press or in publications of any kind or at public meetings", and that "adequate facilities shall be given to Turkish nationals of non-Turkish speech for the oral use of their own language before the courts"; and, if they do consider that Turkey has failed to comply with these provisions, what steps, if any, they have taken to persuade Turkey to comply.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In discussing human rights with the Turkish Government, we consistently make clear that we expect them to respect and abide by the terms and conditions of the international treaties and conventions to which they are parties.

We have noted the continuing restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language in Turkey. We have made clear to the Turkish authorities our view that there should be greater scope for the legal use of the Kurdish language in Turkey.

Access to Justice: Woolf Report

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When Lord Woolf's report on the civil justice system will be published.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Lord Woolf's interim report on his Access to Justice inquiry will be published tomorrow, and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Chinook Crash: Inquiry Findings

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the findings of the Inquiry into the Chinook crash on 2 June 1994.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): I would like to express to the widows and family members of those who died the Government's deep regret and condolences for their loss.

I have this afternoon placed in the Library of the House a summary of the findings of the inquiry into this tragic crash, which claimed the lives of 29 people. After an exhaustive inquiry into all the circumstances, the possibilities of major technical or structural failure, hostile action or electromagnetic interference with navigation equipment were eliminated as possible causes. On all the evidence, it was concluded that the cause of the accident was that the two pilots had wrongly continued to fly towards the Mull of Kintyre below a safe altitude in unsuitable weather conditions. This constituted a failure in their duty and regrettably, therefore, it was concluded that both pilots had been negligent.

I confirm that the Ministry of Defence will pay compensation to the next of kin where this is due. Legal advice is that in the particular circumstances of this accident, the Government's legal liability to the passengers on board is limited by the terms of the 1967 Order (the Carriage of Air Acts (Application of Provisions) Order 1967), which derives from the relevant international conventions. The Government have, however, previously made clear their view that the limit of 100,000 Special Drawing Rights (approximately £100,000) arising from these conventions is out of date. Accordingly, the Ministry of Defence will consider claims in this case above 100,000 SDR. In doing so, they will take account of the discussions already in progress within the civil airline industry about the right limit for airlines' liability. These discussions will inform, but not necessarily determine, the Government's decision on

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whether the Chinook passenger claims should be subject to an upper limit on compensation and, if so, at what higher figure.

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the Government's response to last year's consultation on proposed nitrate vulnerable zones under the EC Nitrate Directive.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): On 25 May my right honourable friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Wales and my honourable friend the Minister for Environment and Countryside issued our response to last year's consultation. As with the original consultation document, the response document was sent to farmers in parishes and communities containing a proposed nitrate vulnerable zone, and to other interested groups.

A major purpose of the consultation was to confirm the accuracy of the proposed zones, using farmers' local knowledge, before their formal designation. Over 500 sets of written comments were received, in the main from farmers in the proposed zones, and in each case an individual response has been sent out. In addition, many points have been addressed directly at a local level by the National Rivers Authority and the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service.

The response document indicated how the Government propose to proceed with designations in the light of comments received. In all, the proposed boundaries for 31 of the 72 zones have been altered and it is proposed that two small groundwater zones should be deferred for further consideration. Maps of the revised zones are available free from MAFF Regional Services Centres and WOAD divisional offices.

As foreshadowed in last year's consultation document, we have set up an Independent Review Panel, chaired by Mr. Terence Etherton QC and assisted by Dr. Richard Downing and Mr. Alastair Allcock. The panel will assess whether the Government's published methodology has been correctly and consistently applied in drawing up boundaries in those cases where consultees are dissatisfied with the amended boundaries as set out in the response. In addition, because of the uniqueness of the proposed surface water zone at Nayland, we have asked the Independent Review Panel to consider the case for and against its designation.

Copies of the response document have been placed in the Library.

International Investment in UK Science: Select Committee Report

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on International Investment in UK Science (HL Paper).

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Government response to the House of Lords Select Committee's report is published today. Copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses. The Government are most grateful to the Committee for its thoughtful and detailed report.

Royal Parks Review Group

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the role of the Royal Parks Review Group; what does it review; and whether it publishes any report.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): The Royal Parks Review Group was set up to consider and make recommendations on the role and use of the Royal Parks, whether they meet the needs of today and how they can meet the demands of the future. It takes as its starting point that the Royal Parks should be places where people can enjoy the open air. The group has regard for any statutory limits on the use of the parks in order that any recommended changes can be reconciled with traditional activities.

The review group has published three reports. The first, on Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, was published in 1992. The second, on St James's Park, The Green Park, Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, was published in 1993. The third, on Greenwich Park, was published in 1995. A further report, on Bushy Park and Richmond Park, is expected to be published later this year. Each report is discussed at a public conference before the recommendations are made to Ministers.


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