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2 Apr 1996 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Tuesday, 2nd April 1996.

Global Environment Facility: Annual Report

The Earl of Clanwilliam asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If copies of the first annual report of the Global Environment Facility have been received and, if so, whether the report will be placed in the Library of the House.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Copies of the first annual report of the Global Environment Facility have recently been received. A copy has been placed in both Libraries of the House.

Zanzibar: Aid

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current position on aid to Zanzibar.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have decided that, in present circumstances, we should not continue with our programme of development assistance to Zanzibar. This reflects our concern about the way in which the outcome of the Zanzibar Government elections in October 1995 was handled, and disturbing reports of post-election political polarisation and harassment of some sections of the community. We do not believe that the current environment is conducive to the effective implementation of a development programme. This decision does not preclude the resumption of further assistance to Zanzibar when circumstances have improved.

Central and Eastern European States: Policing and Law Enforcement Training

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that policing and law enforcement methods which are being taught to central and eastern European states and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States include methods other than those practised in the United States.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Know How Fund provides advice and training in British policing and law enforcement methods to police forces in several countries in central and eastern Europe.

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Cyprus: Missing Persons

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the admission by Mr. Rauf Denktash in an interview with Sigma TV on 1st March that Greek Cypriot civilians captured by the Turkish army during the invasion of 1974 were handed over to irregular forces and executed, they will urge Mr. Denktash to explain why he concealed his knowledge of these war crimes for 22 years and to provide full details to the UN tripartite committee on missing persons in Cyprus.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The UN Committee on missing persons is best placed to investigate the fate of all the missing in Cyprus. We have noted Mr. Denktash's recent statement on this subject and deplore the atrocities that have been committed in Cyprus. We would expect Mr. Denktash to pass on any relevant information to the UN Committee.

Saudi Arabia: Arrests of British Nationals

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British citizens were arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia in 1995; in respect of how many were the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations not fully complied with; how many of them have since been charged and how many have been the subject of unsupported allegations but released as "a gesture of goodwill" without the allegations being rescinded.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We know of 18 British nationals who were arrested and detained in Saudi Arabia in 1995. Out of the 18, seven were formally charged and the rest released.

The Saudis recognise their obligation under the Vienna Convention to inform us of arrests and to grant access to detainees. However, news of arrests can often reach us more quickly through friends or relatives of the detainees than through official channels.

The Saudi authorities take their own decisions on whether to proceed with a prosecution. It is not for us to weigh the evidence.

Passenger Railway Service Provision

The Viscount of Oxfuird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the provision of subsidy for socially necessary passenger railway services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): We remain firmly committed to providing the subsidy needed to support socially necessary passenger railway services at broadly the present level of service provision. In the instructions of my right honourable Friend the

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Secretary of State for Transport to the Franchising Director, he made clear that, when setting passenger service requirements for services being franchised for the first time, he should take as his starting point the service being provided at the time. The passenger service requirements which will be incorporated in franchise agreements will set out the services which franchisees will be contractually committed to operate. We are committed to providing support for at least those levels of service.


Lord Harlech asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest view on the CrossRail project.

Viscount Goschen: We believe that CrossRail has the potential to bring worthwhile benefits to London's transport system. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport indicated in his recent statement in another place on Thameslink 2000, we expect CrossRail to come after the Jubilee Line Extension, Thameslink 2000, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. That is a sensible sequence of major new rail projects for London.

My right honourable friend has therefore asked the Chairmen of London Transport, Railtrack and British Rail not to proceed for the time being with an application under the Transport and Works Act for powers to build CrossRail. He has also invited the Chairman of Railtrack to consider the project further with his board once Railtrack is in the private sector, in the light of the Government's continued firm policy that CrossRail should proceed only as a joint venture with a substantial private sector contribution.

Light Dues

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the level of light dues will be in the coming financial year.

Viscount Goschen: We are pleased to announce that light dues for 1995-96 will remain at the level set in April 1993 for the third year in succession. Accordingly no changes to the Light Dues Regulations are needed.

Once again we commend the General Lighthouse Authorities for their continuing commitment to the achievement of greater efficiency in their work.

Thameslink 2000

Baroness Flather asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How Thameslink 2000 will enhance access to airports.

Viscount Goschen: My right honourable friend's statement on 27th February (Official Report, col. 723)

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indicated that Thameslink 2000 would enhance access to Stansted and Gatwick airports. Thameslink 2000 is a project to enhance existing infrastructure and expand the current Thameslink network. The benefits include a significant increase in capacity, a substantial reduction in journey times, the provision of direct access to the City of London from a greater number of destinations north and south of London, an interchange with Channel Tunnel Rail Link services and with the services of seven train operators and eight London Underground lines (including the Jubilee Line Extension).

Gatwick Airport and Luton Airport are both on the Thameslink route and thus are well placed to benefit from the increased opportunities Thameslink 2000 provides. However, access to Stansted Airport will not, as the statement suggested, be enhanced by the project. Direct links to Stansted, and to Heathrow, would require additional infrastructure, electrification and junction changes. These are not part of the current Thameslink 2000 plans. It would be a matter for Railtrack, its customers and the Franchising Director to examine the case for such enhancement and to take worthwhile proposals forward.

Transport Research Laboratory: Sale

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to complete the privatisation of the Transport Research Laboratory.

Viscount Goschen: The sale of the Transport Research Laboratory to the Transport Research Foundation for some £6 million was completed on 31st March.

Railways Act 1993: s.139 Grants

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they require in support of applications for grants under Section 139 of the Railways Act 1993 in respect of: (a) forecasts of traffic to be transferred from road to rail; (b) evidence of commitment from potential operators; (c) classes or descriptions of goods to be carried.

Viscount Goschen: The information required is as follows: (a) evidence that the traffic concerned will materialise and is likely to be retained on rail for an agreed period of time; (b) evidence from the prospective rail operator that agreement has been reached with the applicant for the traffic to be carried for the life of the project; (c) detailed information on the nature of the particular product to be carried, any special features associated with its handling and the

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annual quantities to be carried by rail for the duration of the traffic commitment.

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