To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his letter of 8 October (MR/PSO/10894/97), what action is being taken in response to the call from Arctic countries for new international controls on mercury; and what progress is being made on a protocol concerning Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. 
There are already a range of measures in place to reduce emissions of mercury in the UK. Because of these and the fact that wider international action is required to deal with the problem, no specific UK response to the call from the Arctic countries is envisaged. The UK is, however, actively participating in the negotiations to develop a protocol under the UNECE's Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution to reduce European emissions of mercury and other heavy metals. Negotiations are at an advanced stage. It is expected that the protocol will be opened for signing at the Fourth Pan-European Conference of Environment Ministers on "Environment for Europe" in Aarhus, Denmark from 23 to 25 June 1998.