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21 Jul 1995 : Column WA61

Written Answers

Friday, 21st July 1995.

Poverty Reduction

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any discussion took place at the Halifax Summit about structural adjustment and the need for re-examination of its application, particularly in the light of the decision to encourage the multilateral institutions to direct a substantially increased proportion of their resources to attack the roots of proverty.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): In addition to calling for an increase in resources directed to basic social programmes and other measures which attack the roots of poverty, the G-7 Summit communinqué underlines the importance of policies which contribute to sustainable development. Adjustment programmes are designed to support such policy reforms and their design should adequately reflect poverty reduction objectives.

Mr. Douglas Hurd: Reported Comment

Lord Rankeillour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Mr. Douglas Hurd, when Foreign Secretary, was correctly reported as saying "Britain has no allies in Europe", and if so what he meant.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I have consulted my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd). He has no recollection of making any such statement.

Community Law: Compliance

Lord Rankeillour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the rate of success in infraction proceedings brought against the United Kingdom in the European Court of Justice compares with the same rate for the other Member States of the European Union, and whether they are satisfied with the United Kingdom's record in this matter.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: In the five years to 1993, Britain was taken to court under Article 169 infraction proceedings on 10 occasions. The average for all member states was 29 occasions per member state. A table giving the figures for each member state can be found on page 104 of the Commission's 1993 Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of Community Law, a copy of which is available in the Libraries of both Houses. The 1994 report will be published shortly. These figures demonstrate that the United Kingdom has a good record of compliance with its Community obligations.

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European Legislation: Public Understanding

Lord Rankeillour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that public understanding of European Union institutions and policies is sufficient to sustain popular assent to the increasing regulation of everyday British life by European law; and, if not, what steps they propose to take to improve it in advance of the Inter-Governmental Conference in 1996.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Where European legislation intrudes unnecessarily into everyday British life, this can provoke popular resentment. That is why the Government have worked to establish the principle of subsidiarity, that action should only be taken at the European level where there is a real need for it. That policy is now delivering impressive results—with 185 new legislative initiatives in 1990, for example, and only 51 in 1994.

Public understanding of the European Union and its policies is a good thing in its own right, and the Government are keen to promote such understanding. We have published a number of booklets to this end; we produce and support the production of resources and curriculum support material to assist schools in dealing with Europe, and are working with the National Network of Relays to ensure the effective provision of appropriate information on European issues to the public. This work takes on ever greater importance as the Inter-Governmental Conference takes shape.

Sub-Saharan Africa: UK Aid

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept the analysis by OECD and others that between 1990–91 and 1993–94 United Kingdom aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by 20 per cent. while aid to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union rose by 34 per cent. and how far this meets their stated objectives for the overseas aid programme.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: According to our figures (shown in the attached table), UK aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by 11 per cent. between 1990/91 and 1993/94, while in the same period aid to countries in transition in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union rose from a very low base by 330 per cent. But Africa remains by far our largest regional recipient of bilateral aid, and its share of our country programmes is planned to rise by 1997/98 to 46 per cent. In comparison our modest programme of assistance in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union still only accounted in 1993–94 for around 5 per cent. of our bilateral aid. It is in our and the global interest that we help these countries to make the transition to market economies and pluralist democracies as swiftly and effectively as possible. Several countries are now well on the way with this process, and as they make progress we expect the need for assistance to decline.

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UK Bilateral Aid

1990/91 1993/94
£m £m
Sub-Saharan Africa 485 433
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (countries in transition) 14 61

Source:

British Aid Statistics 1989/90–1993/94.


Africa and the Middle East: UK Aid

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what percentage the United Kingdom's bilateral aid to Africa and the Middle East will have increased or decreased in real terms by 1997–98 and what is the rationale for this change in the context of their stated objectives for the overseas aid programme.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Our latest planning figures show that bilateral aid to Africa and the Middle East will decline by 16 per cent. in real terms between 1993/94 and 1997/98 (in 1994/95 prices). However the true decline is likely to be somewhat less in view of the rising unallocated reserve in future years which will be allocated to spending programmes nearer the time. The trends in the growth of multilateral—and particularly EU—aid means that the resources available for bilateral aid will be under considerable pressure in the coming years. Nevertheless we shall maintain as substantial and effective a bilateral aid programme as possible, concentrating on the poorest countries in Africa and Asia. The planning figures published in the Departmental Report show a rise in Africa's share of ODA's planned country programmes from 44 per cent. in 1995/96 to 46 per cent. in 1997/98.

Mr. Ian Henderson

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the circumstances of the appointment of Mr. Ian Henderson as Head of the Public Security and Intelligence Division in Bahrain.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: As I informed the House on 5 June, Mr. Henderson is an employee of the Government of Bahrain. However, Her Majesty's Government assisted with his appointment in 1966 since at that time we were responsible for Bahrain's external security. In common with other governments, we continue to have dealings with Mr. Henderson's department, for example over physical security arrangements for visiting VIPs.

London: Tourism Capacity

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as reported in The Times of 6th July 1995, the London Tourist Board has drawn up plans for providing 10,000 more tourist bed spaces in London; what additional number of tourists will these beds cater for; whether these plans are based on any concept of "sustainable tourism"; whether London's transport system can sustainably carry the extra tourists intended to be catered for; and which London tourist attractions

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    can sustainably cater for more tourists than they already do.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): The plan that the noble Lord is referring to is an initiative by the London Borough of Southwark, which is supported by the London Tourist Board, to cater for 10,000 more tourist bed spaces in the borough over a ten-year period. This is therefore a matter for the Leader of the Council at the London Borough of Southwark. However, the promotion of London is crucial to the success of Britain's tourism industry and I welcome any moves to increase capacity. I do believe that London has the appropriate infrastructure, and its continuing development will enable it to cater for increased visitor numbers.

Railway Industry: Preservation of Records and Artefacts

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What powers the Railway Heritage Committee has in designating for preservation records and artefacts in the privately owned successor companies to the British Railways Board; whether those powers are in their view adequate and what steps they are taking, and with what urgency, to strengthen those powers in the light of the Government's objective of achieving a significant transfer of the publicly owned railway to the private sector within the life of this Parliament.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The present powers of the Railways Heritage Committee under Section 125 of the Railways Act 1993 apply only to the records and artefacts of the railway industry remaining in the public sector. The Government are considering how to extend the powers of the committee to apply in relation to records and artefacts of the railway industry owned by companies which are not in the public sector.


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