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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): As I made clear in my Answer of 21 June, the UK is not in a position to dispute or confirm the amount of the UK's contribution of research and development as a proportion of that of other US allies.
Lord Henley: Collaboration between the UK and US Governments in respect of ballistic missile technology is undertaken under the terms of the 1985 Strategic Defence Initiative Memorandum of Understanding, which requires each participating nation to seek the other's agreement should one wish to pass data to a third party. No such agreement has been entered into. The terms under which the US has supported Israel in the development of Arrow are a matter for the governments of those countries.
Lord Henley: The form of collaboration between the US and Israel is a matter for those governments. As I said in my answer of 21 June, collaborative research into ballistic missile technology between the US and the UK is undertaken under the terms of the 1985 Strategic Defence Initiative Memorandum of Understanding, which requires each participating nation to seek the
Lord Henley: There are no collaborative arrangements between my department and the US Department of Defence to supply defence equipment to Saudi Arabia. Many British defence systems supplied to Saudi Arabia are likely to include US sub-systems, however, and vice versa. Details of such industrial collaborations are commercially confidential.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The Government's policy is that local authorities which are granted unitary powers should be capable of undertaking the full range of functions entrusted to them. Our guidance to the Local Government Commission reflects this aim and we have carried it through in our decisions.
Under Section 14(5)(c) of the Local Government Act 1992, the Local Government Commission may recommend that joint arrangements are made in relation to local authority functions in an area affected by structural change. It has recommended joint arrangements for structure planning in a number of areas. We have endorsed those recommendations and look to the authorities concerned to make voluntary arrangements accordingly.
Section 21 of the Local Government Act 1992 contains backup powers for the Secretary of State to establish a statutory joint authority where voluntary arrangements have not been made, or have broken down. Previous ministerial statements about joint working have suggested that the power granted by this section may be exercised in any case where, having regard to the recommendations of the Commission, the Secretary of State had requested authorities affected by a structural change order to carry out a function jointly and those arrangements had failed or had failed to materialise.
We are now advised that this power will be available only in those cases where joint working is to take place between authorities all of which have acquired the relevant function as a result of a structural or boundary
This new understanding does not affect local authority powers to enter into voluntary joint arrangements. We continue to support the recommendations of the commission in respect of joint working on structure plans by unitary authorities and existing county councils. We look forward to the authorities concerned making suitable voluntary arrangements for the maintenance of an up-to-date strategic planning framework for each of the joint structure plan areas indicated. Following reorganisation, the Secretary of State's powers of intervention in the structure plan process under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 remain unchanged. He will consider the availability and use of those powers in the usual way in order to achieve effective strategic planning.
Viscount Ullswater: The Drinking Water Inspectorate published its fifth Annual Report today. Once again it shows that drinking water in England and Wales is of a very high quality. In 1994, 99.3 per cent. of the 3.5 million tests carried out by water companies on drinking water met the relevant standard, compared with 98.9 per cent. in 1993.
The report provides a detailed picture of water quality in England and Wales, which has been tested against the stringent criteria of the water quality regulations, which incorporate the limits in the EC Drinking Water Directive.
The inspectorate also published today two leaflets for consumers. How Good is Your Drinking Water?, summarises the main points of the report. About Your Water Company gives brief details of the quality of drinking water supplied by individual water companies.
Viscount Ullswater: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment represented the UK at the Environment Council in Luxembourg held on 22 and 23 June. Agreement was reached, subject to a parliamentary scrutiny reserve, on four key measures.
There was a short discussion of the proposal for a directive on Ambient Air Quality Assessment and Management and a common position was agreed unanimously. My right honourable friend joined colleagues from all member states in welcoming the proposed directive, which will help to tackle the problems of air pollution across Europe and is in line with existing UK practice.
A common position was also achieved by unanimity on the proposal for the Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances (amended Seveso Directive). The proposal closely reflects UK philosophy and practice.
The Council reached a common position unanimously on a new regulation to replace the existing CITES measures. We welcome the regulation, which will require all member states to control trade in endangered species more effectively. The Council also agreed to a UK proposal to retain the existing 1981 regulation banning commercial imports of whale products.
Agreement was also reached on Council Conclusions on the follow-up to the Berlin Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention. My right honourable friend made it clear during the discussion that the UK continued to oppose a mandatory EU-wide carbon energy tax. There were discussions on many other issues, including the disposal of disused oil installations, motor vehicle emissions and the proposal for a directive on the ecological quality of water.
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