Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

23 Oct 1995 : Column WA101

Written Answers

Monday, 23rd October 1995.

Hong Kong: Entrenchment of International Covenants

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedures are envisaged to ensure implementation of Article 39 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China in view of the statement in that article that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong "shall remain in force" after 1997.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Basic Law, promulgated by China's National People's Congress in 1990, will replace the Letters Patent as Hong Kong's constitutional document when it comes into effect on 1 July 1997. It will entrench the ICCPR and the ICESCR as applied to Hong Kong through Article 39.

Hong Kong's Bill of Rights Ordinance, which fully reflects the provisions of the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong, provides the vehicle for substantive rights to be justiciable in Hong Kong.

The ICESCR contains a number of objectives which States Party are committed to achieving. It does not define certain minimum rights of the individual as the ICCPR does. For this reason, no States Party have incorporated the objectives set out in the ICESCR in domestic law. For Hong Kong after 1 July 1997, as for States Party, the primary obligation will be to achieve progressively the realisation of the objectives of the ICESCR.

Protection of National Minorities: Framework Convention

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will ratify the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities which they signed on 1 February 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was laid before Parliament on 20 September and will be ratified in due course.

23 Oct 1995 : Column WA102

Coarse Fishing: Close Season

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations were received concerning the proposed abolition of a coarse fishing close season; what were the organisations and the numbers of individuals who were for and against the proposed change; and what reactions have been registered since the changes were made.

Lord Lucas: In December 1994 the National Rivers Authority (NRA) applied for confirmation of new by-laws which would have introduced a uniform close season for fishing coarse fish on all rivers, streams and canals in England and Wales but dispensed with it on all lakes, reservoirs and ponds. The by-laws were intended to replace the widely varying rules which were then in place, under which it was possible to fish for coarse fish all of the year round in some waters in certain parts of the country but not in others.

The legislation under which the by-laws were made requires that notice of new by-laws be published and time allowed for the submission of objections to Ministers. It does not provide for the submission of expressions of support. Following publication 253 objections were received (74 from organisations and 179 from individuals). Of these, the majority (43 from organisations and 157 from individuals) expressed opposition to the proposal to dispense with the close season on lakes, reservoirs and ponds. A significant minority of objectors (28 organisations and 13 individuals) were opposed to the imposition of a close season on those canals where it had previously been dispensed with. Some of the objectors in this latter category also expressed support for the NRA's proposal to dispense with the close season on lakes, reservoirs and ponds. A number of the objections addressed other aspects of the NRA's proposals.

Although the statutory procedures provide only for the submission of objections, 10 letters supporting the NRA's proposals were received during the period allowed for objections.

The by-laws were subsequently confirmed subject to certain modifications on 13 March 1995. As modified they introduced a uniform close season from 15 March to 15 June on all rivers and streams; dispensed with the close season on all lakes, ponds and reservoirs except in the Norfolk Broads and on certain Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); and maintained the status quo for canals. Since the confirmation of the by-laws was announced, we have received representations from two organisations (one national and one local) which are opposed to the changes and about 12 letters from Members of Parliament and individuals expressing disquiet about various aspects of the new arrangements. We have also been in correspondence with a small number of owners and occupiers of fisheries in SSSIs who are seeking a review of the decision to retain the close season on their waters.

23 Oct 1995 : Column WA103

Agriculture Council, 25 September

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 25 September.

Lord Lucas: At this meeting the Council set the rate of rotational set-aside for arable crops to be harvested in 1996 at 10 per cent. It also set the rate for non-rotational set-aside at the same level. This compares with 1995 rates of 12 per cent. and 17 per cent. (12 per cent. and 15 per cent. in the United Kingdom) for the two types of set-aside respectively. The decision was taken by qualified majority vote, with Portugal voting against.

The decision is a good compromise between the aim of ensuring adequate supplies and avoiding a renewed build up of stocks with a risk of increased budgetary costs. A single set-aside rate will make the scheme simpler for farmers, which my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food welcomes as wholly in keeping with his desire for greater deregulation.

At my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's insistence, the Commission has promised, for the current marketing year as well as for 1996–97, to manage the market so as to ensure that cereals market prices are consistent with the aims of the 1992 reforms, and that priority in supply is given to consumers within the European Union, in particular livestock farmers. He intends to make sure this undertaking is properly fulfilled.

The Council also adopted a directive which will impose licensing and registration arrangements on manufacturers and users of a range of non-medicinal additives in animal feed, including farmers who incorporate these additives in feed mixed on the farm. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food voted against, on the grounds that no adequate justification has been given, in terms of risk to animal or human health, for introducing these requirements.

The Council had an initial exchange of views on the Commission's proposals for changes to the support system for rice.

The meeting was joined for part of the time by nine Ministers of Agriculture from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States. These Ministers explained the aims of their existing agricultural policies and their expectations for the development of their farm sectors, as well as their views on the common agricultural policy in the light of their hopes for the eventual accession of their countries to the European Union.

23 Oct 1995 : Column WA104

Highways Agency and Planning Policy Guidance

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Highways Agency is subject to Planning Policy Guidance 15 and 16, which deal, respectively, with development in World Heritage Sites and in archaeologically important areas.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Planning Policy Guidance Notes set out government policy on planning issues and are produced primarily to assist local planning authorities in preparing development plans. The Highways Agency as an executive Agency of the Department of Transport follows government policy.

Single Currency

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the Presidency Conclusion of the European Council at Cannes that the "introduction of the single currency will be the lasting solution to these ['currency turmoil'] problems."

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The European Council at Cannes concluded that " . . . it is important for all Member States to make the necessary efforts with regard to convergence, this being a precondition for introduction of the single currency, which will be a lasting solution to these [currency turmoil] difficulties."

This Government believe that proper economic convergence is necessary for sustained exchange rate stability. All governments need to concentrate on getting deficits under control and bearing down on inflation.

The UK's protocol, annexed to the EC Treaty, means that the UK cannot be forced to move to the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union. We will only agree to take part in a single currency if it is in our national interest to do so, given the circumstances at the time.

Foreign Nationals: Deportation without Trial

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek to enact legislation on the model of that used by other European Governments such as those of the Irish Republic, Belgium and Germany to deport disorderly foreign nationals without trial.

23 Oct 1995 : Column WA105

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The Immigration Act 1971 already provides for the deportation of foreign nationals without trial where the Secretary of State deems their deportation to be conducive to the public good.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page