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5 Jul 1999 : Column WA61

Written Answers

Monday, 5th July 1999.

Private Medical Insurance: OFT Report

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to receive the Office of Fair Trading's report on whether to make referral to the Competition Commission to investigate complaints of anti-competitive practices in the private healthcare insurance sector.[HL3296]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The decision to undertake an investigation into practices in the private medical insurance and healthcare market was taken independently by the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT). It is a matter for him to decide whether to make a referral to the Competition Commission.

Coal Imports

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether coal has been, and is being, imported at prices which are significantly below the cost of production and transport; and what action is being taken to prevent this practice.[HL2833]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government are concerned that aid approved by the Commission under existing ECSC rules should not distort the market against unsubsidised producers in the ECSC market including those in the UK. The Government have complained to the Commission about the unfair practices of two subsidised German anthracite producers. In July 1998, after a prolonged investigation, the Commission ordered repayment of aid by the German companies involved. The Commission is currently investigating a complaint made by CPL Industries against the French company Carbonnages de France concerning the sale of foundry coke.

In addition, the Government are encouraging the relevant authorities to look closely at imports of coal into the UK, where there is evidence of anti-competitive practices or unfair pricing behaviour. Complaints have been made by UK producers about the export of Polish house coal and industrial coal at prices below the relevant costs of production. The Government are discussing this with the Commission and the Polish authorities and exporters, and will consider what action is appropriate in the light of these discussions.

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RAF Aircraft Service Re-programming

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to restore the outstanding lives of Royal Air Force engines, airframes and electronics to levels pertaining before the recent action against Yugoslavia.[HL3220]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): With the air conflict now over, the Royal Air Force has begun to assess the implications of the intensive flying effort during the campaign, and to re-programme servicing to help to ensure that aircraft are able to achieve their forecast out-of-service dates.

NATO and the Kosovo Campaign

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO intends to carry out a detailed and comprehensive survey of the social, political and environmental effects of the bombing campaign in Serbia identifying the effects of the various weapons used and as far as possible estimating the costs of reconstruction and rehabilitation which will fall to the Allies.[HL3263]

Lord Gilbert: NATO will not be carrying out such an exercise. However, the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Commission on Human Settlements have set up a joint task force to assess the environmental and health effects of the conflict. The European Union and the World Bank are taking the lead in assessing regional needs for reconstruction and recovery.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO intends to carry out a detailed and comprehensive survey of the social, political and environmental effects of the bombing campaign in Serbia as far as possible to identify those aspects of the campaign which were not fully in accord with conventional humanitarian law.[HL3264]

Lord Gilbert: The air campaign was carried out scrupulously in accordance with international law. There is, therefore, no need to carry out such a survey.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO intends to carry out a detailed and comprehensive survey of the military effects of the bombing campaign in Serbia identifying the effects of the various weapons used.[HL3262]

Lord Gilbert: NATO intends to conduct a comprehensive internal lessons-learned exercise which will take into account the effects of the bombing campaign.

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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the quality and accuracy of the information promulgated by NATO during the Kosovo campaign, and consider how far departure from strict accuracy in such operations should be permitted.[HL3265]

Lord Gilbert: As far as the Government is aware, all statements made by NATO during the Kosovo campaign were based on the most accurate information available at the time.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NATO propose to revise any of the statements made by them about the proportion of the Yugoslav forces which were destroyed or put out of action.[HL3266]

Lord Gilbert: As far as the Government is aware, NATO has no intention of revising such statements, which were based on the most accurate information available at the time.

Kosovo Liberation Army: Demilitarisation

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which force present in Kosovo is to be responsible for demilitarising the Kosovo Liberation Army; what demilitarising will involve now, and in the longer run; and whether only the Kosovo Liberation Army's heavy weapons are to be removed from them.[HL2990]

Lord Gilbert: Under the terms of the undertaking signed with KFOR on 21 June, the KLA have agreed that they will follow the procedures established by COMKFOR for the phased demilitarisation of KLA forces in Kosovo.

The KLA agreed that, within seven days from 21 June, their forces would gather in Assembly areas. Within 30 days from the same date, all prohibited weapons with the exception of small arms will be handed in. Automatic small arms will be handed in in phases over 90 days, after which time the Assembly areas will come under the full control of COMKFOR, and all KLA members have to cease wearing their uniforms and insignia. The KLA will then be demilitarised.

Prohibited weapons are defined as any weapon 12.7mm or larger, any anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, grenades, mines or explosives, automatic and long barrelled weapons.

I am placing a copy of the undertaking in the Library of the House.

Environmental Spending

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What figures or estimates they have, for the most recent three years available, that might give some indication of the amount spent on health and safety measures, pollution control, and other measures to

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    improve the environmental or human costs and risks of production or employment.[HL3248]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Environmental spending by government, industry and households was estimated in 1990 to be £13,850 million, 2.5 per cent. of GDP. A survey of extraction, manufacturing, energy and water supply industries in 1994 suggested that environmental expenditure amounted to around £2,300 million. This survey is being repeated for 1997 and estimates will be published later this year.

No national figures are available for spending by industry on health and safety. Costs of implementing new regulations are estimated but no estimates are available for compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act and previous legislation, nor the costs of investments which may in part be for commercial reasons in addition to improving workplace safety.

Within government, the available information is:

£ million

1995-96 1996-97 1997-98
Health and safety spending through the H&S Executive 217 219 218
Environmental protection and conservation spending by DETR (including the Environment Agency) 490 504 490

This does not include spending by other departments on health and safety and environmental protection.


A.303 Stonehenge Improvement Scheme

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 22 June (WA 72), whether the Highways Agency used an assessment method for the proposed A.303 improvement scheme at Stonehenge which includes heritage value or sustainability among its criteria.[HL3290]

Lord Whitty: Yes. The Highways Agency used the New Approach to Appraisal announced in the report on the Roads Review, A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England. The criteria used were developed in consultation with the Government's statutory advisers, including English Heritage.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What figure for the heritage value of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site the Highways Agency used in their choice of a preferred route for the A.303 through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and how this compares with the figures proposed to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology document, Tunnel Vision--the Future Role of Tunnels in Transport Infrastructure, and in the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the

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    Global Environment study commissioned by English Heritage.[HL3291]

Lord Whitty: The POST report considered various methods of assessment of heritage value, including monetary methods. The department does not recommend a monetary approach to valuing heritage. The approach developed in the New Approach to Appraisal, which was used to assess this scheme, is broadly based on the concept of Environmental Capital, which involves making an objective and systematic record of the qualities and features of an area. The assessment score given to the heritage impact at Stonehenge, using the new appraisal method, was a large positive benefit.


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