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24 Feb 1998 : Column WA81

Written Answers

Tuesday, 24th February 1998.

International Criminal Court Proposal

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the proposed international criminal court.[HL749]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We fully support the creation of an effective international criminal court to try those accused of the most serious crimes of international concern. We are continuing to play an active part in the negotiations which aim to agree the establishment of such a court at the diplomatic conference in Rome this summer. To assist the negotiating process we are convening, as the EU Presidency, a group of EU experts on the subject at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 25-26 February. We are also contributing 100,000 dollars to a UN trust fund to assist representatives of the 48 least developed countries to attend the diplomatic conference and the remaining meeting of the preparatory committee. I have today placed in the Libraries of the House a paper setting out our policy on the court in greater detail.

DFID: Consultants

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many consultants are employed by the Department for International Development; what were the dates of their appointment; what is the duration of their contracts; what are the terms of reference of their employment; and what will be the total sum payable in fees to these consultants.[HL692]

Lord Whitty: The Department for International Development currently employs 5 consultants paid for from its running costs budget. The information you require on each including outline terms of reference is:

Name Outline terms of reference Start date DurationEstimated cost (£)
Philip Howardadvice on the competitive tender and selection of freighting agent11/09/9730 days12,000
Richard Curatonadvice on the development and introduction of (staff) assessment centres28/04/9740 days23,000
B I informfeasibility study on making available UK accounting systems to overseas offices16/02/9820 days16,000
London Economicsadvice on private sector investment in infrastructure01/11/973 months15,000
Sue Webbadvice on the Investors in People Initiative01/01/9724 days18,800

In addition to the above DFID engages a large number of consultants at the request of, and for the benefit of, overseas governments and institutions the costs of which are met from the aid programme. Information on these could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


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UK Round Table on Sustainable Development Report: Response

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the response to the United Kingdom Round Table on Sustainable Development's Second Annual Report will be published.[HL744]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Government's response to the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development's Second Annual Report has been published today. We have been able to respond positively to many of the Round Table's recommendations and that action has already taken in a number of areas, for example:


    the Government have announced a 10-point plan to help secure reliable, efficient and environmentally sustainable water supplies;


    draft guidelines have been issued to local authorities on meeting their obligations under the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997;


    the Government have consulted widely on proposals to develop an integrated transport policy and will issue a White Paper in the spring;


    the Government have published a statement on their strategy for modernising the planning system, and a consultation paper on reform of regional planning guidance;


    legislation has been proposed to establish regional development agencies;


    the Government have established a review of renewable energy policy.

The Government value the Round Table's important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development. I am placing copies of the response in the Library.

Travellers: Eviction

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will issue a circular to local authorities, extending the advice contained in Department of the Environment Circular 18/94 (Gypsy Sites Policy and Unauthorised Camping) dealing with evictions conducted under Sections 77 to 80 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, so that it applies also to Order 113 of the Rules of the Supreme Court: summary proceedings for possession of land.[HL729]

Baroness Hayman: I refer the noble Lord to my reply to Lord Lester of Herne Hill on 26 January 1998 (Hansard vol. 585, col. WA 16).

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London Taxicabs: Administration and Enforcement

Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the gross annual costs of the Public Carriage Office and the London Taxicab Enforcement Office respectively; and what proportion of those costs is offset by licence fees received in respect of London black taxis and their drivers.[HL682]

Baroness Hayman: The estimated gross annual cost of the Public Carriage Office in 1997-98 by each of its constituent sections is:

£
The Public Carriage Office2,001,900
Cab Rank Liaison Officer22,400
Lost Property Office307,600
Cab Enforcement Section278,900
Total2,610,800

The cost of the Public Carriage Office itself is entirely recovered from fees charged for taxi driver licences, taxicab licences and lost badges. The other costs are met from the Metropolitan Police Fund.


Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many persons are employed in the Public Carriage Office and the London Taxicab Enforcement Office.[HL683]

Baroness Hayman: The number of persons employed in the Public Carriage Office by each of its constituent sections at 18 February 1998 was:

Public Carriage Office65
Cab Rank Liaison Officer1
Lost Property Office12
Cab Enforcement Section5
Total83

Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the gross cost to the Public Carriage Office and the London Taxicab Enforcement Office of the extra staff and resources needed to regulate private hire passenger vehicles under the current provisions of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Bill.[HL684]

Baroness Hayman: The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Bill estimates the overall annual cost of administration and enforcement at about £4 million. Further work is being done on costs, but there must be uncertainty about any estimate, as there are no reliable statistics as to how many operators, drivers and vehicles there are in the London private hire vehicle trade. It is intended that the costs of administration of the London private hire vehicle licensing system and its enforcement by Public Carriage Office staff should be met by licence fees authorised by provisions in the Bill.

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Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the income from passengers using London's black taxis is derived from plying for hire, as distinct from bookings made in advance of the journey.[HL685]

Baroness Hayman: This information is not available.

London Private Hire Vehicles: MoT Test Frequency

Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the annual MoT test for motor vehicles will satisfy their requirements for the testing of London private hire vehicles under the current provisions of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Bill; or whether they recommend an MoT at more frequent intervals.[HL686]

Baroness Hayman: The Bill provides for testing of London private hire vehicles to be required up to three times a year. Decisions on the content and frequency of these tests would be taken if and when the Bill becomes law.

London Dial-a-Ride Service: Financial Target

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What financial target has been set for the London Dial-a-Ride service.[HL772]

Baroness Hayman: We have set a new financial target for the London Dial-a-Ride service for achievement for the financial year 1998-99. The new target will be £10.50 per trip at current 1997-98 prices and will replace the previous target set in 1996.

The new target will allow the Dial-a-Ride companies sufficient flexibility to provide a wider range of trips and ensure that the grant is spent in a way which improves services for users.

Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989: Operation

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the report from Mr. J. J. Rowe, QC on the operation in 1997 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989; and whether they will make a statement on the future of the Act in the light of Mr. Rowe's report.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My right honourable friend has today arranged for copies of Mr. Rowe's report to be placed in the Library. Mr. Rowe recommends that the legislation should be renewed in its entirety for a further 12 months. A draft order is being laid before the House today which

24 Feb 1998 : Column WA85

continues in force most provisions of the Act for a further 12 months. In accordance with the announcement my right honourable friend made in another place on 30 October 1997, he has decided not to renew the exclusion order powers under Part II of the Act. This recognises the limited use which has been made of the powers in recent years. Two hundred and forty eight orders were in force in 1982, falling to 74 in 1994. No exclusion order has been in force in Northern Ireland since February 1995. No order was made in 1996 or 1997 against anyone who had not been previously excluded despite the fact that the ceasefire had ended. By May 1997, 22 orders were in force. No orders are in force now. It has long been our view that the powers are of limited value and objectionable on policy grounds. There is nothing in Mr. Rowe's report which leads my right honourable friend to change that view, nor has it been the practice of this or previous administrations automatically to follow the recommendations of reviewers. In 1987, a recommendation by the noble Viscount Lord Colville, as part of his fundamental review of anti-terrorist legislation that exclusion orders were "draconian" and should be removed from the statute book was rejected by the government of the day. The consultation document which is being prepared on future permanent United Kingdom-wide counter-terrorism legislation will provide an opportunity for discussion on whether the powers should be retained permanently or abolished. Our overall aim will be a framework of laws that are both effective and proportionate to the threat. This Government will never drop their guard in the fight against terrorism.


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