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Written Answers

Volume 592: debated on Tuesday 28 July 1998

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Written Answers

Tuesday, 28th July 1998.

Kosovo Liberation Army

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether NATO or any other international grouping knows (a) where the arms now reported to be reaching the "Kosovo Liberation Army" are coming from; and (b) who is paying for them. [HL2773]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

It is clear that the Kosovo Liberation Army has procured significant quantities of arms in Albania. Media and other reports also suggest that Kosovo Albanians living in Europe and elsewhere are actively involved in fundraising for the KLA. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1160 adopted on 31 March 1998 condemned all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo and decided that states should prevent arming and training for terrorist activity there. At its meeting in Bonn on 8 July, the Contact Group requested all states to pursue, as a matter of urgency, all means consistent with their domestic laws and relevant international law, to prevent funds collected on their behalf being used to contravene the resolution.

Un Security Council Members: Nuclear Force Readiness

asked Her Majesty's Government:In what state of readiness the nuclear weapons of each of the United Nations Security Council member states are held. [HL2062]

With one submarine always on patrol, our Trident force currently operates in a state of reduced readiness at several days notice to fire. Its readiness state could, however, be quickly increased if required. Exact details of the readiness states of the nuclear forces of the other members of the UN Security Council are matters of which Her Majesty's Government have no precise knowledge.

Un Staff: Peacekeeping Training

asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the Strategic Defence Review, whether they will now provide resources and facilities for training international staff in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. [HL2880]

There are already a range of facilities for training the UN's international staff in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, including the UN's own staff college in Turin. The Ministry of Defence's contribution to peacekeeping training is concentrated on staff training for peacekeeping operations in general, training for specific operations, and the development of peacekeeping capabilities in Africa. Much of this training is already directed towards overseas service personnel or is open to them. We will continue to keep under review how best the UK—and the MoD in particular—can contribute to peacekeeping training.

Nato, Weu And The United Nations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the future operational and policy implications of the commitment to NATO, Western European Union and the United Nations as emphasised in the Strategic Defence Review; and what is their policy towards the relationship between NATO and the United Nations. [HL2882]

The Strategic Defence Review reaffirmed that NATO is the foundation of the security of Europe and of the United Kingdom, and will continue as the cornerstone of our defence planning. The Western European Union has an important role in fostering defence co-operation amongst its members, in particular in conflict prevention and peacekeeping. The United Nations remains of central importance to the planning of peace support and humanitarian deployments. The reshaping of forces set out in the Strategic Defence Review will enhance the effectiveness of the United Kingdom's operational contribution to each of these international organisations. NATO is ready to support, on a case by case basis, United Nations peacekeeping and other operations, under the authority of the UN Security Council.


asked Her Majesty's Government:In view of the recent reports of official United States policy towards NATO, what contingency plans they are making and how such plans would affect the role and significance of Western European Union. [HL2883]

The Strategic Defence Review reaffirmed that NATO is the foundation of the security of Europe and of the United Kingdom, and will continue as the cornerstone of our defence planning. The transatlantic link remains fundamental to the Alliance. The Strategic Defence Review also reaffirmed the important role of the Western European Union in fostering defence co-operation among its members, in particular in conflict prevention and peacekeeping.

British Forces And The Un

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the precise meaning of the words "potentially available to the United Nations" with reference to what is described as "a much larger proportion of our readily available forces" in the Strategic Defence Review. [HL2958]

The inclusion of forces in the planned Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations is without prejudice to the right of Ministers to decide whether to commit any of those forces to a particular UN operation.

As90 Regiments

asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the Strategic Defence Review, where the proposed six AS90 regiments will be based and train. [HL2961]

The five existing AS90 regiments will continue to be based at Tidworth and Topcliffe in the UK, and at Hohne, Gütersloh and Osnabruck in Germany. No decisions have yet been taken on where the new sixth regiment will be based, but it will be within the UK. Training for UK AS90 regiments will take place on Salisbury Plain and at Otterburn, while regiments based in Germany will train at Bergen Hohne and Graffenwehr and in Poland. All units will also train in Canada.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the Strategic Defence Review, how many guns each of the proposed six AS90 regiments will have; and how many gun battalions there will be in each regiment. [HL2960]

Following the implementation of the Strategic Defence Review, the three AS90 regiments based in Germany will each have three batteries and a total of 18 guns. The three AS90 regiments based in the UK will each have four batteries and a total of 24 guns.

British Servicemen In Cyprus: Assaults

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many assaults have been reported (a) by British servicemen and (b) on British servicemen in Cyprus in (i) 1995, (ii) 1996, (iii) 1997; and (iv) 1998 to date, and how many of these incidents have resulted in people being charged and found guilty. [HL2323]

This information is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.Central records are kept for assaults committed by and against members of the Resident Infantry Battalions and other permanent units in Cyprus, with the exception of British units attached to the UN, but do not include incidents involving members of units visiting Cyprus.I am therefore providing centrally held information in the table below.

Assaults by British personnel attached to Resident Infantry Battalions and other permanent units in Cyprus, excepting British units attached to the UN.120162110
Assaults on British Service personnel attached to Resident Infantry Battalions and other permanent units in Cyprus, excepting British units attaching to the UN.2742459
1 Includes 18 incidents reported as involving Royal Green Jackets, which may not have led to charges.
2 Includes five cases which are still under investigation or have yet to be heard in court.

Youth Fm

The Times on 16 July, when the radio station "Youth FM" was set up by the Department for Education and Employment; at what cost; and who has control over editorial content and policy. [HL2943]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment
(Baroness Blackstone)

Youth FM is an initiative of Youth Clubs UK, a national voluntary youth organisation. It is a radio station aimed at young people and run by young people. The Department for Education and Employment gave Youth Clubs UK a grant of £20,000 in 1997–98 to help provide training for the young broadcasters involved. This sum represents less than a third of the total cost of the project. Youth FM operates within the guidelines set down by the Radio Authority. Editorial control is exercised by the young broadcasters, with the support and guidance of youth workers and broadcast professionals.

Medical And Dental Officers: Pay Recommendations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the latest report and recommendation about the pay of Medical and Dental Officers in the Armed Forces. [HL3129]

The Armed Forces Pay Review Body has made recommendations on the pay of medical and dental officers in the Armed Forces. The review body recommends that all medical and dental officers, in the ranks of major and above, should receive a 5.2 per cent. increase, and officers in the rank of captain and below should receive a 4.2 per cent. increase, from 1 April 1998. The review body further recommends that the pay scales for qualified general medical practitioners and general dental practitioners in the rank of major should be restructured to ensure broad comparability of earning with their civilian counterparts, particularly in the first half of a career. The review body also considers that the pay of service general dental practitioners has fallen behind their NHS counterparts and recommends that those officers should receive an additional £1,000 per annum.The Government have decided to accept the review body's recommendations. In line with all awards to Pay Review Body remit groups, the award will be paid in two stages; 2 per cent. of the award will be payable from 1 April 1998 with the remainder payable from 1 December 1998.

Advisory Committee On Business Appointments

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have received the first report of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. [HL3130]

The committee has submitted its first report to the Prime Minister and today he placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses. Since 1975 the committee has advised the Prime Minister of the day on the propriety of business appointments that Crown servants wish to take up when they leave Crown service. Following a recommendation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, it now also provides advice directly to former Ministers on their business appointments. The committee's first report offers an account of its work in advising former Ministers from the time they took on this role in November 1995 through the post-election period until the end of March 1998. The report similarly covers the business appointments of senior Crown servants for a two-year period from April 1996 when a number of changes were made to the rules which included bringing special advisers into the system. The committee gave advice to former Ministers on 175 appointments and made recommendations to Ministers on 128 applications from Crown officials.The committee's new responsibilities for giving advice to former Ministers have made its task more onerous. The Prime Minister is very grateful to all the members for devoting their time freely to this important role. The chairman, the right honourable Lord Carlisle of Bucklow QC, has served with distinction for a number of years and will be stepping down shortly, as will the right honourable Lord Thomson of Monifieth, General Sir Charles Huxtable and Sir Robin Ibbs. They kindly agreed to extensions of their appointments to see through the introduction of the business appointment system for former Ministers. The Prime Minister thanks them warmly for the valuable contribution they have made.

The Cabinet Office

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the future of the Cabinet Office. [HL3131]

The Government faces many new challenges, and it must be ready to operate in new ways to meet them. So, in January, the Prime Minister asked the Secretary of the Cabinet to review the effectiveness of the centre of government.The role of the Cabinet Office has traditionally been to help the Prime Minister and the Government as a whole to reach collective decisions on government policy. Since the election, the three principal parts of the centre—the Prime Minister's office, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury—have worked closely and effectively together, and with other departments, to take forward the Government's comprehensive and ambitious policy agenda.However, Sir Richard Wilson identified a number of weaknesses that need to be addressed. He concluded that the linkage between policy formulation and implementation needed further improvement. He found that cross-departmental issues of policy and service delivery are often not handled well. He diagnosed a weakness in looking ahead to future opportunities and threats, and in reviewing the outcome of government policies and the achievement of government objectives. Sir Richard confirmed one impression of the Prime Minister's own; that, while the Civil Service has many outstanding staff, it has not always implemented the best systems to invest in their development. Sir Richard found that there was scope to improve the performance of the centre of government in promulgating best practice and innovation in government and in the corporate management of personnel, IT, government communications and scientific advice.We have already taken some steps to address the weaknesses identified by Sir Richard. The Social Exclusion Unit is an example of our innovative approach to tackling cross-departmental issues. And the new Cabinet Committee on Public Expenditure, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will play a key role in monitoring departments' performance in meeting objectives. However, Sir Richard has identified an important agenda for reform. The Prime Minister today announced key reforms to address the problems he has identified. Further details will be announced in the autumn.First, the Prime Minister proposes to merge the Office of Public Service with the rest of the Cabinet Office from today. The main purpose of the Cabinet Office is to help departments formulate policy collectively. The main purpose of the Office of Public Service is to help departments find ways to improve the implementation and delivery of policies and services on the ground. Yet policy formulation and delivery are two sides of the same coin. A unified organisation will help ensure that concerns about policy implementation are properly analysed in the process of developing policy, and help to contribute to more effective follow-through when policies are agreed.

Second, a new Performance and Innovation Unit will be set up in the Cabinet Office. It will complement the Treasury's role in monitoring departmental programmes and will have two principal functions. First, it will focus on selected issues that cross departmental boundaries and propose policy innovations to improve the delivery of the government objectives. Second, drawing on the work of the successor to the Committee on Public Expenditure, and other sources, it will select aspects of government policy that require review, with an emphasis on the better co-ordination and practical delivery of policy and services which involve more than one public sector body. The unit will be a resource for policy development for the whole of government, building on the experience of the Social Exclusion Unit.

The new unit will not carry out these roles in isolation from other departments. It will assemble teams from inside and outside the Civil Service to carry out studies of areas where cross departmental working needs to be improved, or innovative approaches to delivery put in place, if the Government's objectives are to be delivered. The first group of projects to be carried out by the unit will be announced in the autumn. They will include studies of the Government's presence in cities and the regions, and of how older people can play a more active role in the community.

Third, the Prime Minister has decided to establish a new Centre for Management and Policy Studies in the Cabinet Office, incorporating a reshaped Civil Service College. If the modernisation of government is to be successful, and Ministers are to get the support they need in finding new approaches to policy and its delivery, we will need to ensure that the Civil Service continues to be a learning organisation, open to new ideas, and that staff at all levels get the training they need. The new centre will also provide an entry point at the heart of government for the best new thinking on current issues and new approaches to management. It will commission research into innovation in strategy and delivery. It will act as a repository for best practice in the public sector and elsewhere and be the focus for training the senior civil servants of the future.

Fourth, there needs to be more emphasis on the corporate management of the Civil Service as a whole. The Prime Minister's objective is to meet the corporate objectives of the Government as a whole, rather than just the objectives of individual departments. The reorganisation of the Cabinet Office will give it a new focus as the corporate headquarters of the Civil Service. Ensuring that there is a coherent information technology strategy, and that personnel systems deliver the talent needed for modern government, are just two of the challenges. In order to involve departments in the work of the Cabinet Office as the corporate headquarters of the Civil Service, the Secretary of the Cabinet will establish a team, including a number of Permanent Secretaries, to act as a management board for the Civil Service. The Head of the Government Information and Communications Service will from now on be located in the Cabinet Office. The Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government will also work from the Cabinet Office as well as the Department of Trade and Industry.

So far as possible the new Cabinet Office needs to be located together. Its main base will continue to be in 70 Whitehall. Plans are being drawn up to locate the rest of the office, including the new Performance and Innovation Unit and the Centre for Management and Policy Studies, in the currently unoccupied accommodation in Admiralty Arch, Ripley House and Kirkland House.

The Cabinet Office will continue to report to the Prime Minister and Minister for the Civil Service. The Prime Minister will continue to account to Parliament for matters of collective Cabinet responsibility; the Minister for the Cabinet Office will report to Parliament on the management of the Civil Service and allied matters and, in particular, will oversee the major programme of reform the Prime Minister announced today.

The aim of this programme is to create a focus for the drive to modernise government to tackle the new challenges it faces. The broad outline of the programme is clear. A lot of work, and consultation with staff, is now needed to put in place the detail and implement the measures the Prime Minister has described. Further details will be set out in the Government's White Paper on Better Government, which will be published in the autumn.

Haemophiliacs With Hepatitis C: Financial Help

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will set out in the

Official Report their response to the points made in the Haemophilia Society's letter to the Department of Health of 24 June about the debate on 5 June concerning financial assistance for people with haemophilia infected with hepatitis C. [HL2944]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has today written to the Haemophilia Society in response to its letter of 24 June, which was addressed to the Baroness Ramsay. With their permission, I shall place a copy in the Library.

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to announce the outcome of the Secretary of State for Health's consideration of the case for financial help for people with haemophilia who were infected with hepatitis C by their NHS treatment; and whether the announcement will be made by oral statement to Parliament. [HL3058]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has today written to the Haemophilia Society explaining that, after lengthy and very careful consideration, we have concluded that haemophiliacs who have been infected with hepatitis C through National Health Service treatment should not receive special payments.

Government policy is that compensation or other financial help to particular patients or groups of patients is only paid out where the NHS or individuals working in it have been at fault. The needs of people whose condition results from inadvertent harm are met from benefits available to the population in general. On that basis, we have decided not to make an exception to the general rule in the case of haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C.

While the society makes a special case for haemophiliacs because the infection comes on top of a pre-existing serious long term medical condition, the same considerations apply to other individual patients and groups of patients, whether inadvertently infected with another illness or harmed as a result of another medical or surgical procedure, who can only obtain compensation if there has been negligence. The society also argued that, as government provides financial help to haemophiliacs infected with HIV, this scheme should be extended to cover people with hepatitis C. However our view is the circumstances were different: the stigma around HIV at the time the original decision was taken, the fact that it was generally considered a sexually transmitted disease and that haemophiliacs could inadvertently infect their partners were all important considerations which do not apply to hepatitis C.

The society was particularly concerned that young people were fearful of the possibility of passing on hepatitis C. That is a concern we share. The department is therefore working with the society to develop a project aimed at helping young people with haemophilia and related disorders who are infected with hepatitis C to understand their condition and so improve their future health, education and employment prospects. We will help with funding for this project.

In an earlier decision, we have already agreed that recombinant Factor VIII is made available to children under 16 and to new patients.

Building Control Performance Standard

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they are taking to promote common standards across the public and private sectors of building control. [HL3132]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
(Baroness Hayman)

In March we welcomed the establishment by the Construction Industry Council, the Local Government Association and the Association of Corporate Approved Inspectors of a steering group to draw up recommended standards and monitoring arrangements for building control.The steering group has had two preliminary meetings, and has adopted the following terms of reference which we are happy to endorse:"To help achieve compliance with the regulations of the work supervised, the steering groups shall:

  • 1. draw up proposals for a common Building Control Performance Standard for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations;
  • 2. draw up proposals for monitoring the compliance of both local authorities and approved inspectors with the Building Control Performance Standard;
  • 3. draw up proposals and a timescale for implementing (1) and (2);
  • 4. consider other relevant issues; and
  • 5. submit proposals to the DETR for approval".
  • The steering group has set itself the target of submitting a report to us by the end of the year.

    Pilotage Act: Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will publish the report of the review of the Pilotage Act. [HL3133]

    The report of this review has been published today and we will place a copy in the Library of the House.We have concluded that harbour pilotage services should continue to be provided by harbour authorities but increasingly integrated into their overall safety systems. These systems need to be reviewed as a whole if the highest standards are to be achieved.We therefore propose to develop with the industry and other interests a "Marine Operations Code for Ports". We aim to set a national safety standard, and to create a guide for harbour authorities to prepare detailed safety policies. We look to them to consult local users and other interests in this process and to publish the resulting plans.

    Right To Buy And Buy-Back Of Former Council Housing

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will ensure better value for money for the taxpayer on right to buy sales; and whether they will help local authorities buy back ex-council housing from owners in financial difficulty. [HL3134]

    We have issued two consultation papers today setting out our proposals.We intend the Right to Buy scheme to continue, and that eligible tenants should continue to buy at substantial discounts. At present, however, tenants get up to £50,000 discount. The annual cost of Right to Buy is currently around £400 million a year.We plan, therefore, to introduce lower limits to discounts, which would take account of local authority property values in each Government Office region. Details are in our consultation paper

    Secure tenants' right to buy; proposals to change the maximum discount limit on right to buy and other home ownership incentive schemes, copies of which are in the Library of the House.

    Subject to consultation, we propose later this year to substitute a new regulation for the Housing (Right to Buy) (Maximum Discount) Order 1989, SI 1989 513, to bring the new discount levels into effect.

    Around 200,000 people in England have bought a council flat. These are mainly council tenants who bought under the Right to Buy scheme, and research shows that the great majority see this as good value for money. But a small proportion of buyers are in difficulty with high service charges, and some are unable to resell their flat on the open market: either they cannot find a buyer, or mortgage lenders refuse to give a loan.

    Local authorities have powers to buy housing, but their resources are limited and they have many other people needing help. So we propose to offer them a financial incentive. We plan to reduce the amount they have to set aside from their capital receipts from council house sales by 25p for every £1 they spend on buying back an ex-council property. This would effectively cover 25 per cent. of the cost of the buy-back. They could use this incentive to buy back houses as well as flats.

    In addition to this incentive, the authority would regain a capital asset which, sooner or later, would be available for reletting. Moreover, it would reduce the cost of managing its leasehold property—which, in the case of someone in arrears or unable to resell, could be considerable. And in some cases—e.g., an elderly or vulnerable person in mortgage arrears—it would be helping someone whom it might otherwise have to re-house.

    Local authorities are best placed to judge who is in greatest need and how they should use their resources to help them. So they would be free to decide whom to help, and on what terms. This could include someone who had bought under a local authority voluntary sale scheme.

    We propose to set just two conditions. These are designed to ensure that the concession is only available for buying back properties from individual occupants who want to re-sell. The concession would therefore only apply where the repurchase is from an individual, not an organisation; and it is not done under compulsory purchase powers.

    Copies of the consultation paper Buying back ex-council flats and houses are in the Library of the House. Subject to consultation, we propose to implement the change later this year by substituting a new regulation for regulation 104 of the Local Authorities (Capital Finance) Regulations 1997.

    Leasehold Enfranchisement: Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When the research on Flatdwellers' Experiences of Leasehold Enfranchisement and Lease Renewal will be published. [HL3135]

    The results of the study to monitor the implementation of the leasehold provisions of the 1993 Act have been published today. Copies of the report have been placed in the House Library. The findings support our proposals for a review of the enfranchisement process, which will be included in our forthcoming paper on leasehold reform.

    Planning Inspectorate: Annual Report And Accounts

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to publish the Planning Inspectorate's annual report and accounts for 1997–98. [HL3136]

    We have today together with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales published the Planning Inspectorate's Annual Report and Accounts. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.The inspectorate has just completed the second of a three-year programme to restore appeal handling times to optimum levels. Although it has not yet met its timeliness targets, it has improved handling times significantly. We expect them to improve further during 1998–99.The agency has also maintained the programme of development plan inquiries to a high standard, helping to create a greater certainty for all involved in the planning process as more areas are covered by up to date development plans.The inspectorate's quality target was met and exceeded, with reduced numbers of justified complaints against decisions issued. Surveys have continued to show that its decisions are widely respected. It has also produced an outstanding financial performance during the last year. The inspectorate is very much involved in initiatives to develop the Government's proposals for the modernisation of the planning system. In the climate of a rapidly changing environment it is always ready to take on new areas of work in dispute resolution.In December 1997 the inspectorate achieved Investors in People status—the first agency within the merged Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to do so. We congratulate all its staff on the very substantial effort that this involved.

    Ghana: External Debt

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they agree with the opinion of the International Monetary Fund that the burden of Ghana's external debt is unsustainable; whether Ghana qualifies for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC); and, if so, when it will receive relief. [HL2841]

    Since the start of its Economic Recovery Program in 1983, Ghana has neither received nor requested a rescheduling from the Paris Club. If and when it does so, its request will be treated on its merits.The International Monetary Fund Debt Sustainability Analysis carried out in 1996 and updated in March 1998 concluded that Ghana's external debt burden is sustainable in the medium term.

    Kensington Palace: Memorial Proposals

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 7 July (H.L. Deb., col. 1090) suggesting that the imaginative changes were now intended for the north of Kensington Palace, rather than to the south of it, whether this is compatible with government statements that no decision has yet been taken and with the process of public consultation. [HL2824]

    It is compatible. I was describing proposals which are currently the subject of a preliminary consultation exercise. No decisions will be taken on these proposals until the results of this exercise have been fully considered by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee. Should they continue to support the proposals, the process of commissioning a design would start. Any preferred design would in due course be subject to the formal consultation processes which apply to developments on Crown land as set out in Department of the Environment Circular 18 of 1984.

    Millennium Dome: Commonwealth Presence

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What place the Commonwealth will have within the Millennium Dome. [HL2833]

    The New Millennium Experience Company recognises the significance and rich diversity of the cultures of the Commonwealth and is exploring ideas for how these might be represented in the Millennium Experience at Greenwich and its linked programme of events and activities around the country. To this end, discussions are under way between the company, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and bodies representing Commonwealth interests.

    Emu: Preparations

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What assessment has been made of the state of preparations by businesses and other organisations in the UK for the implication of EMU. [HL3091]

    The Government today publish their first six-monthly report on preparations for EMU, Getting ready for the euro: first report July 1998. Copies have been placed in the Library.

    Education: Government Spending

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What has been the contribution from the Treasury for each of the last five years for maintaining education services, other than in the universities, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and what this means per capita of population. [HL2553]

    Figures for identifiable general government spending on education for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the five years to 1996–97 were published in April 1998 in Public Expenditure: Statistical Analyses 1998–99 (Cm 3901).

    Association Of Chief Police Officers

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the annual reports of the Association of Chief Police Officers, England, Wales and Northern Ireland for each year since 1986. [HL2907]

    As I indicated in an earlier reply to the noble Earl (20 July, WA 72), copies of the reports from 1992 to 1997 have already been placed in the Library. Copies of the reports for the years 1986 to 1991 can be obtained direct from the Association of Chief Police Officers.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they intend to call for the accounts of the Association of Chief Police Officers, England, Wales and Northern Ireland for each year since 1986 to be re-audited; and whether they will provide any reports compiled by the National Audit Office into the financing and finances of the association. [HL2908]

    The accounts of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and their audit are a matter for ACPO and its members. There is no intention to call for re-audit. We have no reports from the National Audit Office on ACPO and its finances.

    Foreign Motorists: Speeding Penalties

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the procedure for recovering fixed penalties levied on foreign motorists caught on speed cameras; and what proportion of such fines is paid. [HL2915]

    The fixed penalty system is not used for enforcement purposes in the case of foreign drivers whose vehicles are filmed by speed cameras. Where traffic offences have been detected by cameras, the option to pay a fixed penalty instead of being summonsed to appear in court cannot be offered by post to drivers until they have been traced by the police with the aid of records held at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. As the police do not have ready and easy access to other countries' vehicle and driver records, it is not practicable to issue fixed penalty notices to foreign drivers who are detected by speed cameras. There is also no facility for endorsing foreign driving licences with penalty points. Other considerations are relevant, such as the short time many foreign drivers are here before returning abroad and the difficulty, if no resident United Kingdom address exists, of taking effective enforcement action when there is no response to the police's initial notification of an alleged offence.

    Indictable Offences: Crown Court Trial Election

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish a consultation paper on the question whether defendants in either-way cases should continue to be able to elect Crown Court trial. [HL3128]

    In the consultation exercise on the report of the Review of Delay in the Criminal Justice System last year, the responses to its recommendation that defendants in either-way cases should no longer be able to decide to elect Crown Court trial demonstrated sufficient support to warrant further consideration. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary therefore announced that the Government would look at the proposal in longer time with a view to publishing a separate consultation paper on it.We are publishing such a paper today. It describes the current arrangements whereby defendants can be tried summarily for indictable offences only with their consent, and discusses two possible options for change: the abolition of election, as recommended by both the Review of Delay and the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, and reclassification of minor theft, which is often put forward as an alternative. The paper is concerned not with the merits of jury trial, but only with whether defendants should be able to choose to be tried by a jury in cases which magistrates have indicated that they would be content to hear. In forming a view on this question, the Government will take account of responses to the paper, which are invited by the end of September.

    Boards Of Visitors: Publication Of Annual Reports

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will require that the annual reports of Boards of Visitors at prisons in England and Wales be published. [HL2927]

    The response to the consultation paper Opening up Quangos indicated that there is widespread agreement to the Government's proposal that all advisory Non Departmental Public Bodies, as well as executive bodies, should produce and make publicly available an annual report. The Government will now consider with Boards of Visitors how these proposals might be introduced for Boards of Visitors who are currently required to submit an annual report to the Home Secretary on the state of the prison and its administration.

    Passenger Arrivals In Britain 1990–97

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 6 July (H.L. Deb., cols. 951–3) on numbers of arrivals in Britain from elsewhere within the European Union and from the rest of the world, what are the comparable figures for arrivals in Britain from Western European states and from the rest of the world for 1995, 1990, 1980, 1970 and 1960. [HL2859]

    The figure of 80 million given in col. 952 is a rounded figure relating to total passenger arrivals in 1997 from outside the Common Travel Area. It includes the 11 million non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals admitted. The available data for the years requested, and 1997, are given in the table.

    Passenger arrivals1 in the United Kingdom, by nationality (millions of journeys)
    YearBritish CitizensOther EEA nationals2OthersTotal
    —not available.
    1 Excluding arrivals from the Irish Republic and elsewhere in the Common Travel Area.
    2 Nationals of other countries of the European Economic Area. The historical data relate to the EEA as constituted now.
    3 Including passengers of all nationalities in direct transit who did not pass through immigration control.
    4 Excluding Commonwealth citizens (who were not subject to immigration control until 1 July 1962).