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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 12th July 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 12th July 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

EC Environment Policies

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement of his policy on (a) EC proposals to ban the sale of fish contaminated with pesticides and (b) plans for the EC's own environmental protection agency.

The Prime Minister : The United Kingdom has consistently supported the concept of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and greatly regrets that the delay in deciding its location is holding up its establishment. We see the provision of objective, reliable and comparable environmental information at the European level, which is the aim of the EEA, as the only sound basis for formulating environmental policies. As to the first part of the question I am not aware of any EC proposals on this subject.


Marine Pollution

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of last year's conference of North sea states; what is his policy on (a) a ban on dumping of nuclear waste at sea and (b) a declaration to reduce output of pollutants blamed for blooms of toxic marine algae.

The Prime Minister : We made it clear at last year's North sea conference that we have no plans for disposing of radioactive waste from ships or seabed artificial structures into or beneath the seabed. We have always followed the recommendations of the competent international organisations on the dumping of waste and agree that this disposal option is not suitable for the North sea. Nevertheless we have not completely ruled out sea disposal for large items such as boilers from decommissioned power stations and are keeping under review whether this disposal option may be required at some further date.

Algal bloom, including toxic marine algae, occurs naturally in the marine environment, but, in slow-moving shallow water areas with a high proportion of freshwater from rivers, nutrients from agriculture and sewage discharges can be a determining factor. In the North sea these conditions occur along the eastern coastal seaboard particularly in the Wadden sea and Skaggerak. Given the circulation pattern of the North sea, discharges of nutrients from the United Kingdom do not contribute to this problem.


Arms Control

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what initiatives he plans to take to advance the aims of avoiding world over-armament as agreed in annex VII of the Presidency conclusions of the European Council meeting at Luxembourg on 28-29 June.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 July 1991] : We are actively pursuing a number of initiatives to encourage greater responsibility and transparency in the international transfer of conventional weapons, and to combat proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The five leading arms exporters met in Paris on 8-9 July and agreed to develop machinery for continuing consultations on arms transfers. A further meeting will be held in London.

The Paris meeting also endorsed our initiative to establish a United Nations register of arms transfers. The initiative has attracted wide support. The European Council on 28-29 June announced that the Twelve will present a resolution to set up such a register at the next United Nations General Assembly.

These issues are on the agenda of next week's London economic summit.


Eastern Europe

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out the arrangements in place for the assistance by the United Kingdom of environmental clean-up, environmental protection and industrial development for countries of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 July 1991] : The know-how fund is the main focus of the United Kingdom's environmental and industrial assistance to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. On 21 June we announced an environmental programme for eastern Europe worth £5 million over three years. Multilaterally we co-ordinate our efforts through the G24 with participation by all OECD countries and relevant international organisations. There are separate G24 sub-groups which address environmental issues and investment and economic/industrial restructuring. In addition to EC's Poland and Hungary aid for economic reconstruction (PHARE) programme has so far made available some £152 million for economic/industrial restructuring and £71 million in environmental help.


G7 Economic Summit

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what environmental initiatives (a) he intends to raise and (b) Her Majesty's Government have been informed that other heads of state and Governments intend to raise at the forthcoming G7 economic summit in London.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 July 1991] : The summit is an informal meeting between Heads of Government. I hope that the summit will give impetus to the run-up to the UN conference on environment and development, in particular on climate change, the protection of biological diversity and the conservation of forests.

Mrs. Currie : To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with representatives of international businesses concerning the G7 summit; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 11 July 1991] : I met representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on 2 July to exchange views on the issues likely to arise at the London economic summit. The ICC endorsed the importance which the Government attach to low inflation as a necessary condition for sustained growth in the world economy and shared the Government's wish to secure early progress in the Uruguay round of GATT talks. We also discussed the ICC's ideas on technical assistance to the Soviet Union and the countries of central and eastern Europe.