Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

26 Mar 1998 : Column WA247

Written Answers

Thursday, 26th March 1998.

Peru: Population Control Programme

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have funded any projects in Peru which have contributed to the Peruvian Population Control Programme.[HL1068]

Lord Whitty: This Government have not provided support to the Government of Peru's Population Control Programme and is opposed to any form of coercion that limits the rights of individuals to decide their own reproductive intentions.

The Department for International Development has identified Peru as a priority country for assistance in the health and population sector. As a consequence, our work has been directed towards enhancing capacity within the Peruvian Ministry of Health, specifically in health services management and reproductive health. The majority of our work in reproductive health has been focused upon increasing access and service quality, based upon the tenets of information and informed consent.

In 1994 we also provided funds through UNFPA to purchase a range of contraceptive commodities to increase choice for women and men. The majority of funds were for temporary forms of contraception.

Benefit Fraud

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 27 February (WA 117), whether the statement made by the Secretary of State for International Development in an interview in the New Statesman on 20 February to the effect that concealing earnings while receiving benefit should in some cases not continue to be treated as fraud represents government policy.[HL1048]

Lord Whitty: The noble Baroness appears to have misunderstood the Secretary of State for International Development's interview. That is not what she said, and it is not her view.

Transport Council, 17 March

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Transport Council held in Brussels on 17 March.[HL1192]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The first Transport Council of the current UK Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers met under the Chairmanship of my right

26 Mar 1998 : Column WA248

honourable friend the Minister for Transport, Dr. Gavin Strang, in Brussels on 17 March. My honourable friend the Minister for Transport in London, Glenda Jackson, represented the United Kingdom.

We particularly welcome the progress the Council was able to make on proposals for establishing a new European Aviation Safety Authority. There is strong support among member states for these proposals, and it was agreed that work should continue with the aim of adopting a Council decision in June. The Council also took note of progress on a draft negotiating mandate for Community membership of the EUROCONTROL air traffic management organisation, again with a view to adoption in June.

The Council discussed the Community's role in EC/US air transport negotiations, in the light of the Commission's existing mandate and a recommendation by the Commission for supplementary negotiating directives. It was agreed that officials should undertake further technical work with a view to more extensive discussion at the June Council. Several Ministers expressed regret that the Commission has recently sent Reasoned Opinions to a number of member states.

The Council reached a common position on a Regulation on vehicle national identification signs, under which member states would not require a separate national sign where one is already included (in specified form) in the vehicle number plate, and (with Germany abstaining) adopted a Regulation on the harmonisation of statistics on the movement of freight by road. The Council agreed Conclusions welcoming the Commission's recent Communication on satellite navigation systems.

The Council made significant progress in its consideration of the proposed directive on heavy goods vehicle taxation and charging. The Presidency put forward a compromise proposal, with further modifications in response to concern expressed by delegations, but agreement proved beyond reach.

The Commission reported on its negotiations with the Swiss Government on proposals for a land transport agreement between the Community and Switzerland. Following clarification of some outstanding points, a substantial number of delegations were broadly supportive. Presidency Conclusions reflecting the Council discussion were drawn. The General Affairs Council will take the final decision for the Community on a series of proposed agreements with Switzerland.

Several delegations requested a study into the employment effects of the abolition in 1999 of duty-free sales for intra-Community travel. We agreed to forward the comments raised to the Chairman of ECOFIN.

We made a short statement on the Presidency's plans to present a paper to the June Council on the subject of transport safety across the modes. This will set out proposals for exchanges of information and regular reporting by the Commission on safety in all modes and in all EU member states.

26 Mar 1998 : Column WA249

Road Humps

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the number of vehicles which have been damaged by road humps or speed ramps: whether they believe that these ramps have reduced the number of casualties and accidents: and whether they will place in the Library of the House any reports of studies that support that conclusion.[HL1090]

Baroness Hayman: Information on the first part of the Question is held only locally. TRL Report 215, Review of Traffic Calming Schemes in 20 mph zones, showed that the annual accident frequency fell by around 60 per cent. and child injury accidents were reduced by 67 per cent. Copies of the report can be obtained from the Transport Research Laboratory.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether local authorities are liable to compensate motorists whose vehicles are damaged by road humps or speed ramps.[HL1091]

Baroness Hayman: While it is for the courts to decide, it is unlikely that motorists would be eligible for compensation for any vehicular damage if the road humps over which they have driven accord with the specifications laid down in regulations.

Emissions: Reduction Costs

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the economic, environmental and social costs of reducing emissions from different sectors.[HL1157]

Baroness Hayman: Her Majesty's Government regularly undertakes the fullest possible assessment of both the costs and benefits of proposals to limit or reduce polluting emissions, from whatever source and to whatever medium.

Private Pilot Licence Regulations

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to implement the proposed changes to the regulations governing private pilot licences (including medicals) as set out in Joint Aviation Requirements--Flight Crew Licensing (JAR-FCL) by means of a variation to the Air Navigation Order (ANO) and, if so, when.[HL1143]

Baroness Hayman: Yes. It is our intention to implement JAR-FCL by 1 July 1999.

26 Mar 1998 : Column WA250

Right to Roam

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for consulting all landowners and farmers, including those who are not members of the Country Landowners' Association, whilst negotiating their policy on the right to roam.[HL1094]

Baroness Hayman: The Government's consultation paper, Access to the Open Countryside in England and Wales, issued on 25 February, invites views and comments from all those interested in its proposals. The Government will consider carefully all responses to the consultation paper before deciding how best to achieve their aim of giving greater freedom for people to explore open countryside. Preliminary discussions have been held with the National Farmers' Union, the Moorland Association, and other national organisations, as well as the Country Landowners' Association. There will be further meetings with national organisations representing landowners, farmers and other interests as consultation proceeds.

French Lorry Drivers' Strike: Compensation

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 3 March (WA 364) in relation to all claims made against the French Government by British transport companies who were caught up in the French transport strike, how many such claims have been settled and:

    (a) whether they have been paid in full;

    (b) on what dates they were paid;

    (c) what amounts are outstanding; and

    (d) what assistance the Government will give to those awaiting outstanding payment to receive interest on that outstanding payment.[HL1135]

Baroness Hayman: I regret that information is not available in the form requested. While our officials have worked closely with the French authorities on the treatment of claims, the settlement and payment of claims is a matter between the French authorities and individual claimants.

I understand that the French authorities have now responded to virtually all UK hauliers' claims for compensation following the 1996 French lorry drivers' strike. Over 100 British claimants have either received a firm offer of compensation, or have been told that they are eligible for compensation and have been asked to provide further information on which an offer may be based. Seventeen British claimants whose claims were initially rejected have now had them accepted as a result of their asking the French authorities to reconsider them.

During his visit to France on 24 March, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister raised the question of compensation with the French Prime Minister and

26 Mar 1998 : Column WA251

asked him to ensure that outstanding cases could be resolved quickly and sympathetically.

My officials remain in close touch with their French counterparts, and will do what they can to ensure that claims are considered as sympathetically as possible. They remain ready to take up individual cases if asked to do so. I remain confident that the French authorities will ensure that everyone entitled to compensation under French law will receive it.

As I pointed out in my previous reply, all claims must be dealt with under French law, which we understand does not provide for the payment of interest.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page