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1991 - PMQT Written Answers 11th July 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 11th July 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Official Visits

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Prime Minister, when he will next pay an official visit to south London.

The Prime Minister : I am making plans for a series of visits to all parts of the country and very much hope to include south London among them.


Share Shops

Mr. French : To ask the Prime Minister which Departments have participated in the Government's review of high street share shops as a distribution method for privatisation issues and other equities.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is considering, in consultation with interested colleagues, proposals from the private sector for a retail share distribution network.


China (Visit)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he intends to raise the matters of global warming and climate change, and ozone layer depletion, when he meets members of the Chinese Government during his forthcoming visit to China.

The Prime Minister : Plans for my visit to China are still at an early stage of preparation. The Government are in regular contact with the Chinese authorities to discuss climate change, ozone layer depletion and other international environmental issues.


Environmental Conferences

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government were represented at the Ecoasia '91 conference held in Japan in early July.

The Prime Minister : No.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the new policy proposals on the environment he made to the conference on global problems and solutions on 8 July.

The Prime Minister : Copies of my speech are available in the Library.


World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what use is made by departments of Her Majesty's Government of the world conservation monitoring centre in Cambridge ; and what funds are provided by Her Majesty's Government to support the centre.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Member to page 52 of the Environment White Paper (Cm. 1200), where attention is drawn to the Government's five-point plan for the conservation of biological diversity in developing countries. The first of the five points relates to a major study on the status of the world's biodiversity which is being carried out for the Overseas Development Administration by the world conservation monitoring centre. The centre is an independent charity established by leading agencies in the conservation movement including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations environment programme (UNEP), both of which are supported financially by Her Majesty's Government.


United Nations Bodies

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what annual contributions have been made by the United Kingdom since 1979 to the man and biosphere interdisciplinary sciences and natural resource programme of the United Nations Education and Science Organisation ; and what benefits have accrued to the United Kingdom from the contributions made.

The Prime Minister : Until the United Kingdom withdrew from the United Nations Education and Science Organisation (UNESCO), in December 1985 no separate contribution was made from aid funds to the man and biosphere (MAB) programme. An assessed contribution was made annually to the UNESCO programme of which MAB is an integral part. Since our withdrawal from UNESCO research related to the MAB has been maintained through a grant from the Overseas Development Administration to the National Environment Research Council (NERC). The sums given over the past five years are as follows :

        |£             

------------------------

1986-87 |89,185        

1987-88 |98,600        

1988-89 |98,700        

1989-90 |100,000       

1990-91 |100,000       


Work on the MAB within NERC is undertaken by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology. The institute benefits from these contributions by being able to maintain its research capacity in areas overseas which might not qualify for funding from its other sources. This strengthens the United Kingdom institutional capacity to maintain a broad experience in environmental disciplines and increases our knowledge of the environmental problems affecting other countries, whose perspectives and priorities in addressing environmental issues may differ from those of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to propose to the United Nations that a new agency for the promotion and establishment of new and renewable energy sources be set up under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister : The United Nations already has a committee on new and renewable sources of energy, which has achieved little of value. The question of future United Nations institutions in this area is likely to form part of the subject matter of the United Nations conference on environment and development to take place in Rio de Janeiro next year.


Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister when he expects Her Majesty's Government to publish the results of its monitoring of the implementation of carbon dioxide emission reduction policies ; and if he will indicate the cost to date of such monitoring.

The Prime Minister : United Kingdom carbon dioxide emission figures are published annually in the Department of the Environment's "Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics". The first set of measures to curb emissions was published last September in the Environment White Paper (Cm 1200). We will publish a report in the autumn on progress towards our carbon dioxide target.

It is not possible to estimate separately the cost of monitoring progress on carbon dioxide as monitoring forms part of a wider programme of work on the United Kingdom's response to the threat of climate change, involving a number of departments.


Our Common Future

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister when Her Majesty's Government intend to publish their review of progress in the implementation of the action points set out in the White Paper "Our Common Future" and what has been the total cost to date of the actions taken to implement the proposals and commitments.

The Prime Minister : The first full progress report on the Environment White Paper (Cm 1200) will be published later this year. The essence of the White Paper commitments is the integration of environmental concerns throughout Government policies. The cost of implementation is therefore reflected across a wide range of spending priorities and an all- inclusive figure for the costs of the action taken to date is not readily available. Among the more substantial expenditure committed is :

Water investment by the water companies of £28 billion from 1990 to 2000 ;

An extra £23.1 million grant-in-aid in 1991-92 for the National Rivers Authority ;

£30.2 million representing a rise of 35 per cent. grant-in-aid to the Countryside Commission for 1991-92 ;

Increase of £4 million for research on renewable energy ; An extra £133 million credit approval for local authorities over the next three years to improve recycling and waste disposal.


Rain Forests

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to enhance biodiversity and the protection of the rain forests in south America, south-east Asia and Africa.

The Prime Minister : On biodiversity, our activities are summarised in "Biological Diversity and Developing Countries : Issues and Options", which was published last month and which is in the Library.

British bilateral aid contributions to forest projects in progress or under consideration as at early 1991 are as follows :

 | Number of projects | Estimated aid | Programme costs | (£ million)                         

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

South America      |12                |10.5                                

South East Asia<1> |9                 |9.4                                 

Africa             |74                |28.2                                

<1> Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand.                                         


Environmental Protection and Enhancement Agency

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to publish the consultation paper on his proposals for an environmental protection and enhancement agency, announced on 8 July.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 8 July 1991 at column 279 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Mrs. Roe).


Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 11 July.

The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.