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Written Answers

Volume 590: debated on Thursday 11 June 1998

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Written Answers

Thursday, 11th June 1998.

Turkey And Greece And The Eu

asked Her Majesty's Government:What action is being taken to improve relationships between Turkey and the European Union and to persuade Greece to reconsider its approach to European Union financial support for projects within and involving Turkey. [HL2102]

As presidency of the European Union, we, supported by 13 other member states, continue to urge the Greek Government to release EU funding for Turkey to support economic restructuring under the Customs Union; and to allow the implementation of measures proposed by the Commission under the European Strategy for Turkey. We are also working closely with the Commission and the European Parliament to improve the flow of funds to projects in Turkey under the MEDA Regulation.

Overseas Police Services: Provision Of Training

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the current state of officially sponsored research into the actual results achieved by providing training to overseas police services and in particular into any consequent improvements in respect for human rights and civil liberties; and when they expect to announce their conclusions. [HL2099]

Training for overseas police services is funded under the FCO's Assistance to Support Stability through in-Service Training (ASSIST) programme, which my noble friend Lady Symons announced to the House on 26 March 1998 (Official Report, col. WA 255). Projects funded under this programme are to be evaluated internally at the end of the financial year against the criteria my noble friend announced.

Gibraltar And Spain: Air And Maritime Links

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress they have made, together with the European Commission and the Spanish authorities, for the resumption of commercial maritime operations and air links between Gibraltar and Spain. [HL2003]

There has been no progress. However, we would welcome any practical proposals to develop air and maritime links between Gibraltar and Spain, on which all parties could agree.

Gibraltar

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their position on the future of Gibraltar. [HL2001]

We are committed to ensuring the security of all UK overseas territories and to promoting their prosperity. In the case of Gibraltar, we have made it clear that there can be no change in sovereignty without the consent of its people.

Montserrat

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in preparing a sustainable development plan for Montserrat and what support the Department for International Development will provide for implementation.

Agreement has been reached between HMG and the Government of Montserrat on draft text which is now being made available for public consultation. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. We hope that agreement can be reached on the final version by August. DFID will make available up to a further £75 million over the next three years to support the plan. The scale of this pledge reflects the devastation to the island and the constraints imposed on the private sector by the continuing uncertainty about the volcano. If the volcano enters a permanent state of repose many of these constraints would be lifted, enabling the people of Montserrat to take greater responsibility for their livelihoods and the private sector to take a greater role in rebuilding the island.

Development Policy Forum

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in setting up the annual policy forum proposed in the Government's White Paper on international development.

The National Development Policy Forum will take place in Birmingham on 9 November. This will be preceded by a series of regional forums in 10 locations around the UK. The dates and locations are as follows:

DateLocation
Monday 7 SeptemberNorwich
Wednesday 9 SeptemberBirmingham
Monday 14 SeptemberBristol
Wednesday 16 SeptemberPortsmouth
Monday 21 SeptemberYork
Thursday 24 SeptemberCardiff
Monday 5 OctoberManchester
Wednesday 7 OctoberEdinburgh
Tuesday 13 OctoberBelfast
Friday 16 OctoberLondon

The forum is one of a number of ways in which we are seeking to share experience and strengthen analysis of development issues across different sectors of society and to broaden public awareness. This will be an annual process and full reports of the outcome will be available.

Our current estimate of the cost is between £200,000 and £300,000.

Turkey: Police And Security Co-Operation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have received requests for police and security co-operation from Turkey; and, if so, what response was made. [HL2097]

The security and intelligence agencies engage in liaison with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of a large number of countries where we have common interests and concerns. Such arrangements depend upon confidentiality and it is not the Government's policy to comment on them.Requests for police co-operation from Turkish authorities are usually processed through the offices of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), which is the principal channel of communication between police forces throughout the world. Inquiries have been made in respect of smuggling, drugs, fraud, forgery, art theft, missing persons and offences against the person. It is forbidden for the organisation to deal with offences of a political, military, racial or religious nature. Additional co-operation is provided by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, which responds to requests for details and circumstances surrounding the arrest of Turkish nationals for drug smuggling. Wherever possible, drugs intelligence is shared with the Turkish authorities and this has recently resulted in the seizure of a significant quantity of heroin in Turkey.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What police training they are currently providing to Turkey, specifying the numbers and degree of seniority of the officers receiving training, together with the subjects covered by the training. [HL2098]

None. However, the police staff college at Bramshill recently received a chief superintendent from Northern Cyprus who completed the International Commanders' Programme on 9 May. This programme lasts for 10 weeks, aiming to develop management and operational command skills and includes a strong element of human rights training.

Women In Prison: Childbirth

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have introduced into women's prisons in England and Wales the recommendations of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons about childbirth in

Women in Prison: A Thematic Review. [HL2096]

The Prison Service is committed to implementing, in partnership with the National Health Service and within the constraints necessarily presented by imprisonment, the principal recommendations of Changing Childbirth. However, the objective set out in Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prison's thematic review of implementing these recommendations by December 1997, itself an earlier target date than that to which the NHS was committed, could not be met. Progress is being made in line with developments in local NHS maternity services which provide antenatal and postnatal care for pregnant prisoners, as well as the necessary hospital facilities for childbirth.

Nacro Report: Government Response

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are studying the Report from the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NACRO)

Too Many Prisoners? of April 1998; whether they will respond direct to NACRO; and when they expect to publish new proposals for reducing the use of imprisonment as a sentence and for other improvements in the criminal justice system. [HL2101]

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already written to the Chief Executive of NACRO on 4 June in response to receiving a copy of the report Too Many Prisoners?. As he made clear in his response, some of the proposals in the report are similar to measures—such as sentencing guidelines, home detention curfew and the drug treatment and testing order—which are already being taken forward by the Government in the Crime and Disorder Bill [H.L.].There is a great deal of interest in this whole area at present, not least because of the current inquiry into the alternatives to prison sentences being conducted by a Select Committee in another place. The Government await the report of the Select Committee with interest and will consider whatever proposals it may make for reducing the use of imprisonment. We will, of course, publish a response to the Select Committee's report in the normal way.

Rough Sleeping In Westminster

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April (

WA 200) and the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 18 May ( WA 139), how many beds for the homeless are available within a one-mile radius of Westminster Cathedral: and how many have been unoccupied on average as a percentage of those available in the most recent year for which figures are available. [HL2113]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
(Baroness Hayman)

This information is not held centrally.

Privately Operated Ambulances

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether privately operated ambulances are exempted from any legislation to which private motorists are subject. [HL2154]

Privately operated ambulances are exempt from vehicle excise duty if they are used for no purpose other than the carriage of sick, injured or disabled people to or from welfare centres or places where medical or dental treatment is given. There are other areas, including traffic signs and speed limits, where private ambulances as well as those operated with the NHS may qualify for special provisions.

Short-Term Engine Shut-Off: Pollutant Emission

asked Her Majesty's Government:What advice they give to car drivers in serious traffic jams about switching off their engines if they are likely to be stationary for a prolonged period. [HL2139]Further to the Written Answer by the Chairman of Committees on 1 June (

WA 12), whether they have carried out an environmental assessment of emissions from cars fitted with catalytic convertors to demonstrate the benefits of keeping engines running for different lengths of time as compared to switching them off; and, if so, whether they will place a copy of the assessment in the Library of the House. [HL2140]

Advice is regularly given to drivers in official publications recommending that a vehicle's engine should be switched off if the vehicle is likely to be stationary in traffic for more than two minutes.Research carried out in Germany shows that the benefits of switching off the engines of catalyst equipped cars for a given time can vary according to the pollutant under consideration—a matter of seconds with respect to oxides of nitrogen and fuel consumption but over five minutes with respect to hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. In view of the fact that such times will vary further for different vehicle types and different levels of emission control technology, the Government have concluded that the general advice which they issue is appropriate for most vehicles in most situations. I have placed a copy of the report (in German with English abstract) entitled

Schadstoffemissionen und Kraftstoffverbrauch bei kurzzeitiger Motorabschaltung (Pollutant emission and fuel consumption with short-term engine shutoff) in the Library of the House.

London: Strategic Road Network

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they intend to consult on which roads should form the strategic London road network for which the Greater London authority will have responsibility. [HL2250]

We have today published our consultation document on a strategic London road network. Copies have been placed in the Library and sent to the London local authorities, the Association of London Government, London Transport and others with an interest in the movement of people and goods in London.This fulfils an undertaking in the White Paper,

A Mayor and Assembly for London (Cm 3897 published on 25 March 1998), to consult about precisely which roads should be part of the strategic London road network. The White Paper made clear that we start from the presumption that this network should be based upon the present primary and red route networks. This comprises about 220 miles of trunk roads and 105 miles of borough roads. The transfer of the trunk roads to the GLA will represent a major shift in responsibilities from central to local government.

The consultation document sets out possible additions to and deletions from the primary and red route networks in order to form the strategic network for which the Greater London authority will take responsibility. Comments on the proposals are invited by 7 August.

Compulsory Purchase And Blight

asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of consultation on the final report of the Indepartmental Working Group on Blight and what proposals they have to change the law relating to compulsory purchase and blight. [HL2249]

The results of the consultation have shown that blight is just one issue which needs to be reviewed in relation to compulsory purchase and land compensation. We have, therefore, commissioned an fundamental review of the law and procedures which relate to the compulsory acquisition of land. We have placed a copy of the terms of reference of the review in the Library of the House. We would expect to have a interim report on this by the end of the year.My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will consider separately the case for reform of the law in Scotland.

Bristol: Free Exhaust Emission Tests

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the choice of Bristol as a centre for free exhaust emission tests was influenced by the city council's decision to allow a large bus depot to be built in the heart of a residential area on Creswicke Road playing fields. [HL2079]

No. We are seeking to arrange free emission checks over the summer months for motorists in each of the seven areas involved in the trial scheme for involving local authorities in the enforcement of vehicle emission standards at the roadside. These areas include Bristol, Birmingham, Canterbury, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Westminster. We understand free emission checks are also being arranged in Belfast, although they are not involved in the enforcement trial. A detailed announcement will be made about this shortly.

Heysham-To-M6 Link Road

asked Her Majesty's Government:Why Lancashire County Council was able to adopt the green (western) route for the M.6-to-Heysham link road for incorporation into its structure plan, notwithstanding that the route had been turned down previously by planning inspectors of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. [HL2150]

The final decision on the route of the Heysham-to-M.6 link road has not yet been made. We will have to wait for the final decision to emerge from the Lancaster local plan inquiry which starts in October this year.