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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Monday 2 June 1986

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Written Answers

Broadcasting: Peacock Committee Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have now received the conclusions of the Committee on Broadcasting chaired by Professor Peacock, and when they expect to publish the report and their own recommendations upon it.

I understand that the committee intend to submit their report to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary tomorrow, 3rd June. He intends to publish the report before the Summer Recess, at which time he will give the Government's initial response to it.

Prison Standing Orders: Publication

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish a list of the prison standing orders published so far, together with the dates on which they were published, and an estimate of when the remainder of the standing orders will be published.

Standing Order 5 (Communications) was first published in 1981. Standing Orders 3c (Calculation of Sentences), 4 (Privileges) and 12 (Civil Prisoners) were published in 1985. Work is in progress on the revision of all the remaining standing orders and they will be published, individually, as each is completed. It is not possible to give a precise estimate for completion of the process of revision.

Prisons: Workshop Closures In South-East Region

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (1) how many workshops have been closed in the prisons and institutions of the South-East region to 30th April 1986;
  • (2) what specific alternative provision has been made in each of the relevant institutions and prisons; and
  • (3) what effect has the 15 per cent. reduction in education budgets in the Prison Department had on the provision of education classes in those same prisons and institutions in terms of hours of instruction available for prisoners, and on the numbers of teachers or instructors employed—
  • (a) in the year 1985–86; and
  • (b) in the budget for the year 1986–87.
  • On the question of workshop closures and alternative regime activities, I announced the outcome of the recent review of prison industries by the Prisons Board in response to a Question by my noble friend Lord Morris [HL Debates, 25th March, cols. 1491–2]. A copy of the summary of the Prisons Board recommendations for rationalisation is in the Library. Apart from that review, during the past year six workshops in prisons in the South-East region have been closed. At Albany, three were closed because of staff and work shortages, and plans for alternative activity are under consideration. A workshop at Northeye was closed because of shortage of work, and before the recent disturbances vocational training courses were planned to replace it. At Standford Hill, two workshops were closed because there had been changes in the prison population and they were no longer required.Financial provision for education services in Prison Service establishments in 1986–87 has been increaed. Subject to some minor reallocation of resources between establishments, the intention is to maintain the 1985–86 level of education services in this financial year.

    Prisoners: Offences After Early Release

    asked Her Majesty's Government:To list the offences committed within two years of their release by prisoners released before the expiry of their sentences on the advice of the Parole Board since 1980; and what percentage the persons so convicted represent of the total number of prisoners so released.

    This informaton is not available in the form requested. The table below, derived from successive annual reports of the Parole Board, gives the number of prisoners serving determinate sentences who were recommended for parole in each of the years in question and the number of offenders convicted of further offences during the period of their parole licence who were either recalled to prison or sent warning letters in the course of those years.

    Number recommended for paroleNumber convicted of further offences while on licence
    England and WalesNumber of persons
    Type of original offenceType of offence on reconvictionTotal
    ViolenceSexual offencesBurglaryTheft and handling stolen goodsFraud and forgeryCriminal damageOther indictable offencesOther standard list offences

    Deaths From Livestock Attacks

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many people in England and Wales were killed in the most recent five years for which figures are available as a result of attacks or injuries caused by:

  • (a) bulls;
  • (b) cows or heifers;
  • (c) pigs; and
  • (d) sheep.
  • The numbers of people in England and Wales killed after attacks or injuries caused by livestock during the last five years are shown in the table below.

    Cows or Heifers2None1None1

    * The minimum qualifying period for parole was reduced from 12 to 6 months in the course of 1984.

    Life Sentence Prisoners: Convictions After Release On Licence

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will break down into categories according to seriousness of offence the 12 per cent. of life sentence prisoners released between 1973 and 1980 who were convicted of a further offence within two years (col. 828).

    Dental Clinical Waste: Disposal Facilities

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether dental practitioners are encountering difficulties in obtaining access to adequate disposal facilities for clinical waste and, if so, what they should do about it.

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
    (Baroness Trumpington)

    It is the responsibility of each general dental practitioner to ensure that the clinical waste generated in his practice premises is properly disposed of. Some Family Practitioner Committees have established schemes for the disposal of such waste from medical and dental practices but, where no scheme exists, the general dental practitioner should contact the local authority or a private contractor to arrange for collection and disposal in a proper manner. I am not aware of any area where practitioners are unable to make satisfactory arrangements.

    Blindness Causes: Statistics

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will revive the statistics which were issued until 1979 on the causes of blindness.

    The department intends to publish in the summer a statistical bulletin which will provide an analysis of the BD8 returns which show the causes of blindness and partial sight for persons aged under 16 for the years 1976–77 to 1983–84. Analysis of the returns which show causes of blindness and partial sight for other age groups will be published separately at a later date.

    Nurses' Homes: Notice To Quit

    asked Her Majesty's Government.Whether instructions at ministerial level will be issued to stop the eviction of nurses and midwives from nurses' homes in regions where this policy is pursued.

    Yes, a circular advising health authorities that no staff may be given notice to quit without the prior approval of the department is to be issued within a few days.

    Duich Moss Sssi

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of recent meetings between officials of the Scottish Office, the Nature Conservancy Council and representatives of the European Commission about the future of Duich Moss Site of Special Scientific Interest on Islay; and whether they have taken any decisions about how they intend to safeguard the future of this site, and comply with their obligations under the EC Birds Directive.

    Work on Duich Moss is to be suspended for the time being and the feasibility of an alternative site on Islay, at Castlehill, is to be examined. The results of the investigation, which is expected to take most of the summer, will be reported to the European Commission and taken into account in further consideration of their complaint that in granting planning permission to extract peat from Duich Moss the Government appears to have breached the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will confirm that the materials needed to block a large ditch, which Scottish Malt Distillers Limited have agreed in writing has been illegally dug on part of Duich Moss SSSI not covered by the planning permission granted to the company by the Secretary of State for Scotland, have been at Duich Moss for at least five weeks; and whether they will say when the work on blocking the ditch to prevent further damage to Duich Moss will start.

    This is a matter between Scottish Malt Distillers Limited and Argyll and Bute District Council which, as the planning authority, is responsible for considering appropriate action on any alleged breach of planning control.

    Water Authorities: Projected Capital Expenditure

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What, given their proposals to privatise the water authorities, is the meaning of their statement in their response to the report of the Commons Select Committee on Welsh Affairs on Coastal Sewage Pollution in Wales (1.1) to the effect that "The Government is ensuring that increased financial resources are available to the Water Authorities for capital works, including new and improved sea outfalls".

    The Government's Public Expenditure White Paper (Cmnd. 9702), published earlier this year, showed water authorities' capital expenditure in 1986–87 at £910 million, rising to £990 million in 1988–89. These figures are based on the Government's assessment of the water authorities' corporate plans.It is projected that the water authorities will, in aggregate, be funding the totality of their capital expenditure from internal resources by 1988–89. Privatisation will free the authorities from public expenditure controls, thus allowing them to decide how to fund their capital expenditure. Nevertheless, they will continue to be required to give effect to national environmental policies, including those derived from European legislation.Her Majesty's Government are even now consulting upon their proposals for environmental protection under a privatised water industry. The noble Lord may wish to read the relevant consultation paper—

    The Water Environment: the Next Steps—a copy of which is in the Library.

    Nato Computer Language

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they can confirm that ADA will replace CORAL 66 as the standard computer language for British Defence Systems from 1st July 1987, and if so whether it will at that time become the standard NATO language, and if not why not, and which countries will it be used by.

    I can confirm that ADA will replace CORAL 66 as the single preferred language for the implementation of defence real-time operational systems from 1st July 1987. ADA is already the approved single high order programming language for the NATO Command and Control Information Systems funded wholly or in part by the national members of the integrated military structure, and is to be used for NATO systems in accordance with the guidelines issued by the NATO Command, Control and Information Systems and Automatic Data Processing Committee.

    Average Surface Temperature Of The Earth: Monitoring

    asked Her Majesty's Government:On which Department of State falls the responsibility for examining and reacting to the possibility that the average surface temperature of the earth may increase within the next hundred years.

    The Meteorological Office of my department carries out research into the possibility of average surface temperatures rises. It plays a leading role in the World Meteorological Organisation's World Climate Research Programme, in which this problem is one of the main concerns. The Department of the Environment, which collaborates closely with the office, keeps a watch on measurements of the accumulation of trace gases in the atmosphere which it is thought might lead to such a warming, and is responsible for the representation of the United Kingdom interests in international discussions on the problem. Should positive evidence of a warming be forthcoming it would be for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to co-ordinate policy reaction to it.

    Udr And Ruc: Screening Of Applicants

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What inquiries and investigations are now made before new recruits are accepted for the Ulster Defence Regiment, and in what ways, if any, the procedures differ from those for recruits to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

    It is not the practice to disclose details of our procedures for checking the suitability of candidates who wish to join the Armed Forces. However, I am satisfied that the procedures provide thorough safeguards. Recruitment to the RUC is a matter for the chief constable.

    Artillery Fire Control System

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will explain the meaning of "The Artillery ADP system BATES" in paragraph 424 in the 1986 Statement of Defence Estimates.

    As shown in Table 5 on page 26 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1986, "BATES" is an acronym for Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System. It is an automatic data processing (ADP) based system for handling and disseminating target data which, as explained in the 1984 Statement (paragraph 424), will enable artillery fire to be more effectively controlled and directed on the highest priority targets.

    Residuary Bodies: Selection Of Members

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In considering appointments to residuary bodies following the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties:

  • (a) why only 10 women were considered out of 220 persons;
  • (b) why a further number of women were not then considered if the original 10 were unsuitable; and
  • (c) whether it is proposed to give further consideration to the appointment of women where boards are not up to maximum numbers.
  • In making appointments to the residuary bodies, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State took into account primarily a person's suitability and availability. No one was barred or recommended for appointment on grounds of their gender alone. If any further appointments to the RB's are thought desirable, the same factors will be taken into account.