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15 Oct 1999 : Column WA95

Written Answers

Friday, 15th October 1999.

Temporary Social Housing Programme

The Earl of Harrowby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why a scheme similar to the Scottish Homes Lead Tenancies-Empty Property Lease Scheme is not available in England.[HL4137]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): In England, the Housing Corporation, which regulates the work of Registered Social Landlords, has a Temporary Social Housing Programme which is similar to the Scottish Homes Lead Tenancies Scheme. It is designed to bring empty properties back into use and provide temporary accommodation for people who would otherwise be housed in bed and breakfast accommodation.

In 1999-2000, £17.62 million has been allocated to the Temporary Social Housing Programme in England.

Utilities' Street Works

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are in a position to implement the undertaking, given in last year's White Paper on the Future of Transport A new deal for transport: better for everyone, to consult on options for an incentive system, with penalties, to minimise disruption to all road users, and to encourage improved co-ordination of utilities' street works.[HL4218]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): We are pleased to say that the consultation document Reducing disruption from utilities' street works was published today. It has been distributed to interested parties, and we have also arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Firearms Consultative Committee

The Earl of Denbigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to continue the Firearms Consultative Committee after January 2000.[HL4192]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Government will make an announcement on the future of the Firearms Consultative Committee in due course.

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The Earl of Denbigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have appointed a chairman of the Firearms Consultative Committee following the resignation of the previous chairman; and, if so, what qualifications the present incumbent has.[HL4191]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has appointed Mr David Penn as Chairman of the Firearms Consultative Committee. Mr Penn is the Keeper of Exhibits and Firearms of the Imperial War Museum, a member of the British Shooting Sports Council, and has a wide range of experience of firearms matters. He is also one of the longest serving members of the Firearms Consultative Committee.

Mr Anwar Ibrahim

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have protested about the treatment of Mr Anwar Ibrahim, presently on trial in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[HL4140]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We are monitoring the trial closely and continue to take all appropriate opportunities to raise our concerns with the Malaysian authorities.

Gibraltar Airport

Lord Merrivale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any exchanges are taking place between themselves and the Governments of Gibraltar and Spain towards an agreement with Spain on the joint use and commercial development of Gibraltar Airport.[HL4112]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The subject of Gibraltar airport has been raised in discussion with the Governments of Spain and Gibraltar, but there have been no detailed exchanges aimed at a new agreement on the joint use and development of the airport. We would welcome a fresh look at the issue. Her Majesty's Government continue to see potential benefits to the people of Gibraltar and of the neighbouring regions of Spain in such an agreement.

Euro-Atlantic Area

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any areas are held definitely not to be in the Euro-Atlantic area; and whether all former member states of the Soviet Union are deemed to be within it.[HL3464]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The term Euro-Atlantic area has not been defined.

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Iraq: Humanitarian Situation

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any information that contradicts the opinion that a humanitarian catastrophe is in the process in Iraq as a combined result of the policies of Saddam Hussein, the low price of oil, the condition of the Iraqi infrastructure (including that of Iraqi oil industry) and sanctions.[HL4072]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The humanitarian situation in Iraq is serious. We continue to do all we can to help improve it, in stark contrast to the indifference of the Iraqi regime to the welfare of its people. Our bilateral aid programme is one of the largest. And we are working to secure agreement on a new resolution which would include a range of

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measures aimed at providing more revenue for the UN humanitarian programme and improving its implementation.

Iraq is now pumping almost as much oil as it was before the Gulf War. With the recent recovery in oil prices, Iraq is expected to export approximately $6.5 billion-worth during the present six-month phase of the “oil for food" programme, about $2.5 billion more than in the previous phase. The Security Council has recently decided to allow Iraq to exceed the present $5.26 billion ceiling in the interests of providing additional humanitarian relief to the people of Iraq, and improvements to its infrastructure.

The “oil for food" programme, which we engineered, remains the best way of addressing the needs of the Iraqi people while sanctions remain in place--which they must do, until Iraq fufils the obligations imposed on it by the UN.

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