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Written Answers

Volume 417: debated on Wednesday 25 February 1981

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Written Answers

Borstal Trainees: Segregation

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many trainees were segregated in the interests of good order and discipline during 1980 in Dover, Everthorpe and Feltham borstals respectively; what was the average number of days spent in segregation in each case, and how many trainees spent more than 31 days in segregation in each case.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

DoverEverthorpeFeltham
Total number of trainees segregated in the interests of good order of discipline during 1980141660
Average number of days spent by each trainee in segregation10½2
Number of trainees segregated for more than 31 days2NilNil

Bnoc: Gas Liquids Mandate

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, and if so under what circumstances, the British National Oil Corporation has a mandate from the Government to be the major trader in all gas liquids, including ethane, which will be carried by the proposed gas gathering pipeline in the North Sea.

Replying on 17th December in another place to the honourable Member for Sheffield (Mr Hallam), my honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy said that he would not stand in the way of the exercise by the British National Oil Corporation of the rights to natural gas liquids which it enjoys under participation agreements. He stated that the British National Oil Corporation and the British Gas Corporation would co-operate in the arrangements for the disposal of the gas liquids from the proposed gas gathering line. The corporations will make their own arrangements about the form of their co-operation. I understand that, while the two corporations will be jointly responsible for determining sales policy and the conditions of sale, the British Gas Corporation is to take responsibility for sales contracts for ethane, while the British National Oil Corporation will have responsibility for sales contracts for the other liquids.The quantities subject to the British National Oil Corporation's participation rights, together with the volume available to the two corporations as licensees of gas liquids expected to be carried through the proposed line and any further quantities acquired in commercial negotiations, will in practice make the corporations the major trader in these gas liquids including ethane.This should facilitate the prompt entry into disposal negotiations necessary to the project. However, my honourable friend made it clear that there is no obligation on licensees to sell through an intermediate agency that part of their natural gas liquids which they will retain after the exercise of participation rights.

Hospital Laboratory Reagents

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their present estimate of the cost to public funds of hospital laboratory reagents currently supplied by publicly financed manufacturing units; and what would be the corresponding cost if these materials were purchased from commercial manufacturers.

The manufacture of various reagents is an integral part of the work of a number of NHS and centrally financed units, and its cost is not separately identified. I regret that the cost of replacing them, where possible, by commercial products cannot be estimated on the basis of information which is available centrally.

Diego Garcia: Nuclear Weapons Presence

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the lease of Diego Garcia to the USA includes permission to station nuclear weapons on the island and whether this has been done as reported by the newspaper

Témoignages, published in the nearby French dependency of Réunion.

The noble Lord will know that it has been the practice over many years of successive British and United States Governments neither to confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons in any particular location.

Mi6 Appointment: Student's Statement

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether their attention has been drawn to a statement in

Cherwell by an Oxford student that he was told when interviewed for an appointment in MI6, that he would be posted to an embassy under diplomatic cover after service in London; whether this is the practice; and whether it is desirable in view of the deepening of international tensions caused by the frequent expulsion of diplomats of different Governments on charges of spying.

Successive Governments have considered it inappropriate to comment on matters of this kind. I propose to maintain that practice.

Ministerial Visits Abroad

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many Ministers have travelled abroad in each of the last five years; where each trip has been; the number of people accompanying the Minister on each occasion; the number and cost of interpreters on each occasion; and the cost of each trip.

Information in this form is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. It is for departmental Ministers to account to Parliament for managing their travel arrangements in the most economical and efficient way possible.

Hm Chief Inspector Of Prisons, Scotland

asked Her Majesty's Government:If they will make a statement about the work of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.

Mr. D. A. P. Barry, CBE took up the new Crown appointment of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland on 1st January 1981. The principles and procedures which he and his team will adopt in inspecting penal establishments in Scotland are set out in a document, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

Bracken: Experiments Into Use Or Eradication

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made during the last twelve months, to the latest convenient date, with experiments into the eradication of bracken or into finding some worthwhile use to which bracken can be put.

In 1980 ADAS completed studies undertaken in northern England on the degree and duration of bracken suppression by asulam treatment, and in Wales on the effect of varying rates of application of asulam and glyphosate, the efficacy of aerial spraying and post-spraying management. The Weed Research Organisation is at present engaged in work commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the significance of bracken and other weeds in grass/legume swards. We are aware of no recent work on uses to which bracken might be put.

Sheep: Post-Dipping Lameness

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are aware of reports of miserable damage to flocks of sheep in the West country caused by the dip brand Top Clip recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture and what steps are being taken to avert further losses from this source.

We are aware of a number of reports involving post-dipping lameness in sheep and these are being followed up. There is at present no evidence to implicate this dip or any other: where appropriate, advice on flock management is being given.

Nato Forces Deployment

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they will take in co-operation with the European members of the Atlantic alliance plan so as to allow the United States, if need be, to free some of their forces in Europe to take part in the other parts of the world, without jeopardising the security of Western Europe.

There are currently no plans to redeploy any of the United States' forces permanently stationed in Europe outside the NATO area. However, the alliance fully recognises the importance of compensating for the possible diversion of United States' reinforcement forces and NATO planning is taking this into account. A number of short- and medium-term measures to improve force capabilities in Europe have been agreed and the United Kingdom is playing its part in these programmes.House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past nine o'clock.