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1992 - PMQT Written Answers 7th July 1992

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 7th July 1992.


PRIME MINISTER:

Darwin Initiative

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer of 24 June, Official Report, columns 200-1, if he is now able to say what funding for the Darwin initiative will be; if he will make a statement on his plans to set up the initiative; how it will relate to the United States biodiversity project based in New York; what further action he plans to conserve biological diversity; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

We are asking interested parties to come forward with ideas on how best to develop a framework for the Darwin initiative and to set priorities for action. We will consider the appropriate level of funding once we have decided those priorities. The Darwin initiative is based on United Kingdom expertise in the field of biodiversity, but we will be looking at action which other countries are taking. In addition to launching this initiative I have also written to my EC and G7 colleagues urging them to take follow- up action to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, including taking forward the convention on biodiversity.


Global Technology

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his speech at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, when he plans to hold the global technology partnership conference; where it will be held; who will be the invitees; which British companies will be involved; what discussions he held with British companies prior to announcing the conference; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

The technology partnership initiative will extend the work of the United Kingdom throughout the preparations for the Earth summit to promote the role of technology co-operation in achieving sustainable development. It will provide developing countries with the opportunity to gain direct access to information on environmentally sound technologies, know-how, best practices and case studies available in the United Kingdom and will open up direct channels of communication with British companies.

The initiative will be launched by a conference and exhibition in the first half of 1993. Officials are currently working on the details of both. We propose to invite representatives of developing countries and to approach United Kingdom companies and others who have experience in providing environmental solutions for developing countries.


Non-governmental Organisations

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister which non-governmental organisations he will be inviting to the global forum in June; if NGOs from developing nations will be involved in the preparation for the forum; where the forum will be held; what consultations he held with NGOs before announcing the forum; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

We are discussing the arrangements with non-governmental organisations. Overseas NGOs will be invited to attend and we expect them to be involved in the preparations.


UNCED

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his speech at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, what extra amounts he intends to give to the following areas, stating for each over what time period the donation will be made and in what form (a) forestry conservation, (b) biodiversity, (c) energy efficiency, (d) population planning and (e) sustainable agriculture; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at Rio, we are planning to make available substantial extra resources for these areas. New commitments will be made as part of the planning and management of our overseas aid programme.


Debt Burden

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister if he has any plans to reduce the debt burden on developing countries and extend the Trinidad terms to other G7 nations; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

The Government are fully committed to the agreed international debt strategy, and have given a strong lead in tackling the debt burden of the poorest and most heavily indebted countries. In addition to relieving developing countries of over $1 billion of aid loans, this Government have been responsible for both the Toronto and Trinidad initiatives. These were the first initiatives to result in the partial cancellation of the more substantial and burdensome debts owed by the poorest countries to export credit agencies.

The Paris club began implementing Trinidad terms in December, and seven countries have already benefited. The agreed terms give a 50 per cent. reduction in debts falling due in the course of the debtor country's IMF programme of economic reform, and commit creditors to consider reducing the whole stock of debt in three to four years' time if the debtor keeps to its IMF and Paris club agreements. The Government hope that Trinidad terms can be further developed in the direction of our original proposals, which were for a benchmark figure of two thirds reduction applied immediately to the whole stock of debt. It would also be an important step forward if all creditors, without exception, were to implement debt reduction under Trinidad terms.


Next Steps Agencies

Mr. Higgins : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to ensure that (a) letters from hon. Members to Ministers concerning next steps agencies which are concerned with political rather than administrative or commercial matters and (b) letters concerning the planning inspectorate will be replied to by Ministers and not chief executives.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

The Government's policy on dealing with letters from hon. Members on agency matters was most recently set out in the Government's reply to the Treasury and Civil Service Committee's 1990 report on the next steps initiative, Cm 1263, which said :

"It is for Ministers responsible for particular Agencies to respond in the way they consider most helpful and appropriate to inquiries raised by Members. Ministers will normally ask the Chief Executive to reply to letters which concern day-to-day operational matters delegated to the Agency".


Royal British Legion (Training Centre)

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 18 June, Official Report, column 620, if he will make it his policy for any grant from PERIFRA II in respect of the Royal British Legion's bid for the establishment of a training centre at Tidworth, for the purpose of giving specific training to service personnel and dependants for employment in civilian life, to be treated as additional to the Ministry of Defence existing budget, to the extent necessary; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

The matter will be dealt with in accordance with the arrangements for grants from the European regional development fund set out in my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade's statement of 30 June at columns 525-26.


Subsidiarity

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister what is his policy on applying the principle of subsidiarity to the work of local government within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

It is for Parliament to decide on the distribution of functions between central and local government.


Intervention Wheat

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister how many tonnes of common wheat held in intervention by the European Commission to which he referred in his answer of 25 July 1991, Official Report, column 782, were released as emergency food and (a) in 1990 and (b) in 1991 and in each half of 1991 and (c) in the first half of 1992; and what is the predicted level for the whole of the current year.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Aid will write to the hon. Member as soon as the information requested is available from the European Commission.


Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 7 July.

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 7 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the economic summit in Munich.


Child Health

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer on 24 June, Official Report, column 219, if he will make a statement on the implementation of declaration 76 of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Harare in October 1991, relating to the framework for collaboration to put children first, particularly through co-operation programmes devised to enhance health and literacy levels among children; what priority is being given to enhancing child health in the developing countries in Commonwealth programmes; and what funding has been allocated to these programmes.

Mr. Newton [holding answer 2 July 1992] : I have been asked to reply.

Paragraph 76 of the Harare declaration endorses the declaration and plan of action of the survival, protection and development of children adopted by the World Summit for Children, which we support. The commitments undertaken at the summit to improve child health and security and to develop appropriate education are already among the basic concerns of the British aid programme.

We are making a significant contribution through our aid programme of some £45 million a year to health and population programmes in Commonwealth countries. A breakdown of the likely beneficiaries between adults and children is not available, but a considerable proportion of this assistance will directly benefit child health.