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1 Apr 1998 : Column WA35

Written Answers

Wednesday, 1st April 1998.

Peru: Population Control Programme

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the Government of Peru about its population control programme.[HL1163]

Lord Whitty: Peru is a priority country for health and population assistance from the Department for International Development. We are in regular dialogue with the Peruvian Ministry of Health concerning its policies and their implementation. In this dialogue we have indicated the potential for targets to reduce emphasis on service quality. The Government of Peru has recently announced that it will implement a number of reforms to its population and reproductive health programmes, as well as a comprehensive monitoring programme, to ensure compliance with international family planning norms and informed consent procedures.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development discussed these matters with the Peruvian Health Minister at the recent Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Cartagena.

Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 16 March (WA 103), whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the accounts of the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland and all other related documents submitted to the Government when they considered their contribution of £141,000 in respect of the Association of Chief Police Officers' staff salaries and administration costs for the financial year 1997-98.[HL1212]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The accounts of the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland are contained in the association's annual report. I have arranged for a copy of the latest available report, for 1996-97, to be placed in the Library of the House, together with a copy of the letter of 11 July 1996 submitted to the Scottish Office Home Department by the association in respect of its estimated expenditure on staff salaries and administrative costs for the financial year 1997-98.

Staff and administration services for the association's secretariat are provided by Lothian and Borders Police Board and the department's contribution is paid direct to the board and not to the association.

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Angola

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest analysis of the political and security situation in Angola; to what extent they believe UNITA has demobilised; what arms may be being supplied to rebel-held areas, from where and via which African countries; how secure the frontiers of Angola are proving to be; and what future role for the United Nations they are proposing, together with their fellow members of the United Nations Security Council.[HL1148]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We are encouraged by recent progress in the peace process, including the demobilisation of UNITA personnel, and have urged both sides to implement the remaining provisions of the Lusaka Protocol by the 1 April deadline. We are aware of reports of arms being supplied to UNITA through Zambian airspace; the Zambian authorities have given their assurance that they will work to prevent this happening. The United Nations has an important continuing role to play in promoting national reconciliation and socio-economic development, particularly with regard to human rights.

EU Structural Funds and CAP: Reform

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representation they are proposing to make concerning the European Union's proposals to change the basis of allocation of structural funds and common agricultural policy funds.[HL1132]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The Commission's proposals for the structural funds and for other cohesion policies for the years 2000-2006 and reform of the common agricultural policy were published on 18 March.

The Government believe that the structural funds need to be fair, affordable, durable, simpler and more efficient. The overall budget should be well below the 0.46 per cent. of Community GNP proposed by the Commission, both before and after enlargement. The current member states, including the UK, should be prepared to see reductions in their receipts after 1999, but the burden should be distributed fairly. The Government will argue for flexibility for member states to target funds at areas of greatest need.

Reform of the common agricultural policy is a major UK Government objective, and the Commission's proposals go very much in the direction the UK has advocated. The proposed cuts in support prices could save UK consumers over £1 billion per year, the environment would gain from reduced production incentives and the creation of an integrated rural development policy, while farmers would benefit from a move to a more sustainable and market-led policy.

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However, the proposals are not as radical as we wish. For example, they entail a significant increase in CAP spending. We shall be pressing to minimise the cost of compensation payments to be digressive and decoupled from production. EU-wide ceilings on direct aids to farmers above certain thresholds would also discriminate against the UK.

Our overriding concern in the long negotiations ahead is to ensure that the outcome is fair and sustainable to the UK, other member states, and those states being considered as part of the enlargement process.

Khat

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider adding the khat plant to the list of Class C controlled drugs.[HL1178]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The khat plant is not controlled under the international United Nations drug conventions and we have no current plans to bring it under the controls of the misuse of drugs legislation. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs considered the misuse of khat in 1988 and advised that there was little evidence of a social problem arising from its misuse in the United Kingdom to justify bringing the plant under the controls of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. We continue to keep its misuse under review with a view to the introduction of controls, if necessary.

The active ingredients of the khat plant are cathinone and cathine, which are controlled under the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971. The United Kingdom has been a party to this Convention since 1986 and both substances were controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in 1987. Cathinone and cathine are classified as Class C drugs.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Khat plant is classified as a controlled drug in any member state of the European Union.[HL1179]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We understand that the khat plant is classified as a controlled drug in the following European Union member states: Belgium; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Ireland; Spain; and Sweden.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any information as to which countries in the European Union have companies selling khat plants or magic mushrooms by mail order.[HL1180]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: There were some reports in the media in 1990 of the sale in the United Kingdom of magic mushrooms by mail order. However, we are unaware of any companies selling magic mushrooms or khat plants by mail order within the United Kingdom since then. Information is not available on the position in other European Union member states.

Animals Kept for Experiments: Reports

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the reports prepared by Home Office inspectors concerning the keeping of animals for experiments under the provisions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and the Protection of Animals Act 1911.[HL1278]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, inspectors have a duty, inter alia, to:


    advise the Secretary of State on applications for licences and certificates; on requests for their variation or revocation; and on the periodical review of licences; and


    report to the Secretary of State on any breaches of the Act or of any condition of licences or certificates.

This advice and these reports are based on and contain information given in confidence and cannot be disclosed under the terms of Section 24 of the 1986 Act.

The Protection of Animals Act 1911 applies more generally and can be invoked in cases of abuse or failures of care to laboratory animals. Home Office inspectors have no specific locus under the 1911 Act; if they were involved in reporting under its provisions, their reports to the police would have the status of evidence in any subsequent proceedings and any reports to the Home Secretary would be covered by Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.


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