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24 Jan 1996 : Column WA71

Written Answers

Wednesday, 24th January 1996.

Bahrain: Foreign Ministers' Discussions

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What matters were raised by the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheik Mohammed bin Mubarak al-khalifa when he saw the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 13 January 1996; what was understood by his request, reported in Al-Hayat newspaper, 'to assist in maintaining security of the Gulf' and what information they have about the arrest on 15 January of Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Several issues of bilateral and regional concern were discussed, including Gulf security.

The article in the Al-Hayat newspaper of 13 January makes no reference to a request to assist in maintaining security of the Gulf.

I understand that Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain's arrest reportedly followed a warning from the Bahraini authorities not to use mosques for political activities which might lead to civil disorder.

Former Yugoslavia: Lifting of Arms Embargo

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What statements from the UN Secretary-General are required in the UN Security Council before the embargo relating to the former Yugoslavia may be lifted, in part and wholly; and whether these events are subject to the veto of permanent members of the Security Council.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to the Answers I gave on 14 December (col WA 115) and 9 January (col WA 5). These require further clarification. I will write to the noble Lord and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.

The position is that, in accordance with paragraph 1 of UNSCR 1021, the UN Secretary-General informed the Security Council in a letter dated 14 December that the Parties had formally signed the Bosnia Peace Agreement. This triggered the phased lift of the UN arms embargo. The embargo will terminate finally 180 days after 14 December and after the submission of a report from the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of Annex 1B (Agreement on Regional Stabilisation) of the Peace Agreement, unless the Council decides otherwise. Neither the submission of this report nor the termination of the embargo is subject to a further decision of the Security Council or to the veto.

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Bosnia: US Policy on Arms

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether President Clinton's undertaking to the US Congress to secure the arming of the Bosnians has the approval of the United Nations Security Council; how this rearming is to be effected; what weapons and intelligence will be provided, by whom and at whose expense, with whose agreement and what purpose.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: UN Security Council Resolution 1021 describes the phased lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina, in accordance with the provisions of Annex 1B of the Peace Agreement signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. Within this framework, United States policy on arming the Bosnians is a matter for them.

Treaties Entered into Since 1991

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

    How many treaties they have entered into since 1 January 1991 which have become binding upon the United Kingdom on signature or exchange of diplomatic notes.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Treaty records show that since 1 January 1991 some 280 treaties have entered into force for the United Kingdom, either on signature or by a notification contained in an exchange of diplomatic notes.

Treaties: Ponsonby Rule

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

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 13 December 1995 (WA 108), whether each of the 72 treaties ratified by them since 1 January 1991 has been laid before Parliament under the Ponsonby rule before being ratified.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: All treaties ratified since 1 January 1991 have been laid before Parliament under the Ponsonby rule before ratification.

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

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 13 December 1995 (WA 108), which of the 72 treaties ratified by them since 1 January 1991 has been debated by Parliament before being ratified.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The number of treaties ratified since 1 January 1991 which have been debated by Parliament before being ratified is not centrally recorded and details could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

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Motorways and Trunk Roads: Cleaning

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the state of cleanliness in those roads which are the direct responsibility of central government and what consideration has been given to using Community Service Orders to require offenders to keep such roads clear of litter.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my noble Friend.

Letter to Lord Marlesford from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, dated 24/1/96.

Viscount Goschen has asked me to write to you in reply to your recent parliamentary Question about the cleanliness of those roads which are the direct responsibility of central government and what consideration has been given to using Community Service Orders to require offenders to keep such roads clear of litter.

The Highways Agency takes a positive approach and is satisfied that it is fulfilling its obligation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in keeping the motorways and certain trunk roads in England clear, so far as is practicable, of litter and refuse. Our maintenance agents carry out regular safety inspections and patrols during which they report litter accumulations and, if debris is observed which could present a hazard to traffic, it is removed as soon as possible. Other offending material is removed in accordance with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, issued under the Act.

Community service is unpaid work by offenders for the benefit of the community, which would not otherwise be undertaken by paid employees and which can involve demanding physical outdoor work. As the maintenance agents of the Highways Agency are contracted to undertake cleaning debris from motorways and trunk roads, the use of offenders under Community Service Orders for such work is therefore not feasible. In addition, we would not wish to have untrained personnel carrying out work in a potentially hazardous environment, where we have statutory responsibilities for health and safety.

Domiciliary Care of Elderly People: Supervision

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any cases of exploitation of elderly people in receipt of domiciliary community care by employees of local authority social services departments or private providers; and

    Whether employees of private organisations providing domiciliary community care are required to

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    be security screened before they are allowed to work in the homes of elderly people; and

    Whether there is any legal minimum qualification required by employees of private providers of domiciliary community care.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Although the Government are not aware of any recent incidents of exploitation, they do recognise that abuses may happen in any setting. The Government are therefore supporting the work of "Action on Elder Abuse". There are no legal requirements with regard to screening or qualifications. In any work involving vulnerable people, employers should be aware of the need to take up adequate references and ensure that prospective employees have suitable training or experience.

HIV and AIDS: Incidence Forecast

Baroness Jay of Paddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assumptions they have made about numbers of new HIV infections and total numbers of live AIDS cases in 1996-97 compared with 1995-96 and how they are distributed between health authorities.

Baroness Cumberlege: For the financial year 1996-97 the Government have used the estimates of the number of people alive with AIDS and other severe HIV disease contained in the latest report on The incidence and prevalence of AIDS and prevalence of other severe HIV disease in England and Wales for 1995 to 1999, published in the Communicable Disease Review on 5 January 1996. The allocations for 1995-96 were based on similar data contained in the previous Predictions Report published in 1993. Copies of the documents are available in the Library.

Distribution of resources to health authorities is based on the latest data on cumulative numbers of people reported by and resident in each Regional Health Authority to the Public Health Laboratory Service under the AIDS (Control) Act 1987.

HIV/AIDS: Combination Drug Therapy

Baroness Jay of Paddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the additional costs to the NHS in England in 1996-97 and 1997-98 of combination drug therapy in treating individuals with HIV/AIDS, in the light of the Delta trial, and how much additional funding has been provided in the Public Expenditure Settlement for the NHS in England in 1996-97.

Baroness Cumberlege: The findings published on the Delta clinical trial remain preliminary. We will be studying the detailed results when they are available. We do not yet know what the likely take-up will be of

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the combination drug therapies, but we are keeping the issue of new treatments for HIV/AIDS under review. Health authorities receive funding which allows for significant drug therapy costs, including the costs of AZT, which is one of the drugs used in combination therapies. National Health Service current spending will grow by £1.3 billion in 1996-97, a 1.6 per cent. real terms increase.


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