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Written Answers

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 6 May 1998

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Written Answers

Wednesday, 6th May 1998.

Millennium Dome: Executive Responsibility

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether there is any person in full-time executive charge of all aspects of the Millennium Dome. [HL1588]

The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) has responsibility for developing, delivering and operating the Millennium Experience—which includes both the Dome at Greenwich and the associated nationwide Millennium Challenge of events and activities. The company has a full time chief executive, Miss Jennifer Page, who is also a member of the company's board, who has overall executive responsibility for all aspects of the Millennium Experience. The chief executive is supported by a full time executive managing director and six full-time functional directors. The managing director and the finance and corporate services director are also board members.

Millennium Dome: Local Impact

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are satisfied that there is no likelihood of problems of atmosphere, pollution or sound arising in the Millennium Dome when it is opened. [HL1589]

The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) has been working closely with the relevant statutory bodies, and in particular, the Health and Safety Executive and Greenwich Council, to ensure that the operation of the Millennium Experience in the Dome meets all legal requirements in these matters, minimises the potential for any adverse impact on the local community, and provides a safe and pleasant environment for visitors.

Hallé Orchestra

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 12 February (

WA 229), how much of the funding the Arts Council is providing for the Halle Orchestra in 1998–99 has so far been paid; when the remainder will be made available, and according to what criteria such decisions are taken. [HL1559]

The Arts Council of England will core-fund the Hallé Orchestra this year at £1,251,000. The Arts Council agrees with each of its clients a schedule for the payment of grant through the year. Details of these arrangements are commercially sensitive; however I understand that an initial grant payment for 1998–99 has been made to the Hallé.

Asia: Financial Turbulence And Speculative Investors

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, following the second Asia-Europe meeting, it has been decided that the international community should take measures against speculative international investors, as reported by President Kim Tse-chung of South Korea on 5 April, and if means to this end will now be sought in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment negotiations; and, if not there, where. [HL1622]

Discussion of the recent financial turbulence in Asia dominated the second Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM2) in London on 3–4 April. Asian and European leaders offered their full support for the reform programmes that are being implemented in Asia. There was also a constructive discussion of how the international financial system might be strengthened, including greater openness and transparency. Measures aimed specifically at "speculative" investors are not under consideration either generally or in the MAI, where the intention of the Government is that all investors should be entitled to the benefits of the agreement.

Oxtail Sales

asked Her Majesty's Government:Why it is illegal to sell oxtails for the making of soup but legal to sell soup made from oxtails. [HL1596]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Lord Donoughue)

The Beef Bones Regulations 1997 prohibit the sale of oxtails to consumers for the making of soup because of the possible risk of BSE infectivity from bone marrow reported by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) in December 1997. However, the commercial manufacture of oxtail soup may continue, provided the oxtail meat which it utilises is removed from the tail by a process which leaves the bones intact, thus preventing the release of bone marrow into the soup. The bones must then be discarded and disposed of in accordance with the regulations.

Election Mail

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether political parties have no means of redress in the event of the Royal Mail failing to deliver election literature as is their duty; and, if so, what steps they propose to take to remedy this situation. [HL1549]

I understand from the Post Office that election mail is treated by Royal Mail in the same way as any ordinary letter in Royal Mail's pipeline, and the sender is entitled to the same rights to compensation in the event of loss or damage to items as set out in the Post Office Inland Letter Post Scheme 1989 (as amended). Political parties would be no exception to this position.

Women Prisoners

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (a) how many women are currently in prison in England and Wales;
  • (b) how many women they estimate will be in prison in England and Wales in 2005. [HL1603]
  • The number of women in prison on Friday 24 April was 3,086.The female prison population in 2005 is projected to average 5,200. This is according to the regression projection published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 2/98

    Revised Projections of Long Term Trends in the Prison Population to 2005. A copy of this is in the Library.

    Alternative scenarios are possible, and the bulletin illustrates how the female prison population in 2005 could lie between 3,000 and 5,500, depending on the assumptions made.

    Europol

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Under which instrument the principal officers of Europol are appointed; to whom they are personally or corporately accountable for the conduct and financial operations of that body; and what obligation is laid upon them to make confidential or public reports on discharge of their duties, and the operations of Europol. [HL1666]

    Article 29 of the Europol Convention provides for the director and deputy directors of Europol to be appointed by the European Council, acting unanimously. The director will be Europol's legal representative and accountable to the management board in respect of his duties. Article 29 provides that the director will be responsible for performance of the tasks assigned to Europol; day to day administration; personnel management; proper preparation and implementation of the management board's decisions; preparing the draft budget, draft establishment plan and draft five-year financing plan; and "all other tasks assigned to him in the Convention or by the Management Board".Article 28 of the Convention provides

    inter alia for general reports to be submitted to the European Council on Europol's activities during the previous year and on the organisation's future activities, taking into account member states' operational requirements and budgetary and staffing implications for Europol. The director and deputy directors, who are to be appointed for five years (director), four years (immediate deputy) and three years (second deputy) after entry into force of the Convention, may be dismissed by a decision of the Council, after obtaining the opinion of the management board.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:From which legal processes members of the organs of Europol or its members of staff are given immunity in the United Kingdom by any convention or protocol, agreed or proposed; and whether such immunities, in whole or part, extend to such persons subsequent to their membership of its organs or to staff; and for what purposes. [HL1668]

    The immunity from suit and legal process granted to Europol by the European Communities (Immunities and Privileges of the European Police Office) Order 1997 No. 2973 means that members of the organs of Europol or its members of staff will be immune from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom courts in respect of acts committed in the exercise of their official functions.This immunity does not extend to civil liability in case of damage arising from road traffic accidents caused by them. The Director of Europol would be required to waive immunity in cases where the immunity would impede the course of justice and could be waived without prejudice to the interests of Europol.Member states will be liable, in accordance with national law, for any damage caused to an individual as a result of legal or factual errors in data stored and processed in Europol. This means that individual citizens would have an avenue of redress through the courts of the member state in which the damage occurred.The immunity granted applies only to acts committed in exercise of the official functions of Europol. If any complaint was to arise with regard to acts by Europol officers which were outside their official functions, either in fact or in time, they would be subject to the legal process in the same way as any other individual.

    Prison Service Staff Of Afro-Caribbean Origin

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 9 April

    (WA 175–6), what steps the Prison Service intend to take to encourage persons of Afro-Caribbean ethnic origin to be recruited and trained as members of the Prison Service. [HL1607]

    As an equal opportunities employer, the Prison Service is committed to increasing the numbers of ethnic minority staff which it employs at all levels, consistent with fair and open competition and with recruitment and promotion on merit. Measures taken include the following:As part of the guidance on devolved recruitment, governors have been encouraged to take positive action to redress the current under-representation of people from the ethnic minorities;Job simulation and assessment centres (JSACs) for the recruitment of prison officers support the devolved recruitment of prison officers. Latest figures for the year to 31 March 1998 indicate that approximately 7 per cent. of people succeeding at JSACs are from ethnic minorities: a three-fold increase on previous figures for people joining the Prison Service;Prison Service staff are taking part in the national mentoring scheme, which seeks to benefit ethnic minority undergraduates by pairing them with management level staff who act as their mentors.In August 1997, the Home Secretary established a monitoring group on the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office with the following terms of reference: "To examine the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office, the measures taken to ensure their full representation and employment and to reduce real and perceived disadvantage and to make further proposals for action". The Prisons Board is fully committed to the monitoring group and is carrying out a comprehensive review in the Prison Service. This will lead to the development of a racial equality action plan which will recommend further measures to stimulate the recruitment of staff from ethnic minorities.

    European Convention On Human Rights: Family Law Legislation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April

    (WA 197), when they intend to introduce legislation to amend rules of family law in England and Wales so as to enable them to ratify Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights. [HL1650]

    We intend to legislate to amend these rules of family law as soon as a suitable opportunity occurs.

    Liberation Tigers Of Tamil Eelam

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have made any response to the speech by the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka at Chatham House on 15 April, in which he said that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorists were organising and funding their campaign of violence in Sri Lanka from London. [HL1653]

    No. The Sri Lankan Government is aware that we attach the highest priority to countering any activity in the United Kingdom by international terrorists and their supporters. Where there is credible evidence that organisations or individuals are involved in terrorism, action is taken. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced last year the Government's intention to publish a consultation paper on the future of the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism legislation. This will include proposals to increase powers to deal with fund-raising by terrorists. The Government also intend to bring forward legislation which will make it illegal to conspire in this country to commit terrorists acts abroad.

    Speaker's Conference On Electoral Law, 1965–68: Minutes Of Evidence

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, if the copies of the Minutes of Evidence of the Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law of 1965–68 in official hands have all been mislaid, they will enquire of any surviving Members or the heirs of Members, whether they still retain a copy, so that the official record can be reconstituted. [HL1654]

    A copy of these papers is held by the Speaker's Office and by the Home Office. Successive Speakers have directed that the unpublished papers of Speaker's Conferences should be publicly available only on the expiry of 50 years and then subject to the consent of the Speaker in office in respect of each application for access to them.

    Belfast Agreement: Release Of Prisoners

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Upon what powers they intend to rely to release certain categories of terrorist criminals before the expiry of their minimum sentences in accordance with the recent agreement on Northern Ireland. [HL1575]

    If the Belfast Agreement is endorsed in referenda to be held on 22 May, the Government would intend to bring forward new legislation to give effect to the commitments entered into in relation to prisoners which form part of that agreement.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they expect to undertake any consultation with the victims or families of victims of the terrorists to whom they propose to grant amnesty in accordance with the recent agreement on Northern Ireland. [HL1577]

    The Government do not intend to grant amnesty to those prisoners released as a consequence of the Belfast Agreement. Prisoners who are released will continue to serve their sentences on licence in the community and will be recalled should they breach the terms of their licence. The Government do not intend to consult victims or their families on those parts of the agreement relating to prisoners. The agreement in its entirety will be put to the peoples of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has previously commissioned a report and recommendations from Sir Kenneth Bloomfield on taking forward recognition of victims of violence. Sir Kenneth's report will be published on 13 May.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will define the word "paramilitary" as they use it in connection with terrorism in Northern Ireland; and in what respects they differentiate between terrorist and paramilitary criminal acts in Northern Ireland. [HL1578]

    Terrorism is defined in Section 20 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act as "the use of violence for political ends and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public in fear". The word "paramilitary" is not defined in legislation. In the Northern Ireland context, however, it is widely used to describe acts, including terrorist acts, committed by members of terrorist organisations.The Government do not differentiate between terrorist and paramilitary acts in Northern Ireland.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will set out the process, criteria and reasoning by which they intend to differentiate between crimes motivated by political considerations and those not so motivated in implementing the recent agreement on Northern Ireland. [HL1580]

    The paper referred to in my Statement to Parliament of 20 April and placed in the Library of the House on that day set out how the commitments in the Belfast Agreement in relation to prisoners would be implemented. Under the proposed arrangements, prisoners who qualify to be considered will be prisoners convicted in Northern Ireland of scheduled offences and sentenced to life imprisonment or to fixed sentences of five years or more as well as transferred prisoners serving sentences for similar offences committed in Great Britain.

    Non-Competitive Government Contracts: Profit Formula

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What decision they have made on the report by the Review Board for Government Contracts on its 1998 Annual Review of the Profit Formula for Non-competitive Government Contracts. [HL1773]

    The Government have accepted the overall target rate of return on capital employed as recommended by the Review Board in its report. The new rate will be 22.2 per cent. compared with the current rate of 20.95 per cent., both on the basis of historic costs. It will become effective immediately. The report has been printed and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

    Scottish Wind Power Schemes

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many megawatts of electricity will be produced by ScottishPower's proposed wind power schemes near Carradale in Kintyre. [HL1614]

    The two wind farms operated by ScottishPower, sited at Beinn an Tuirc and Cnoc Donn Arnicle to the west of Carradale, have a combined nominal capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and a combined Declared Net Capacity (DNC) of 12.78 MW.