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Written Answers

Volume 597: debated on Wednesday 10 February 1999

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Written Answers

Wednesday, 10th February 1999.

Civil Service Fast Stream Recruitment

asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have for recruitment to the Civil Service Fast Stream Development Programme. [HL1003]

Management of the Fast Stream recruitment process was contracted out to the Capita Group plc as part of the decision to privatise the former Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency in October 1996.A review of the operation of the recruitment process took place during 1998. As a result of this review, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office has decided in principle that, on the expiry of the current contracts, the selection stages of the process will return to direct Civil Service management. I expect specialist services, including advertising, publicity, response handling and psychology support, to continue to be supplied by the private sector following competitive tender.

Prison Service Quantum Project: Review

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will publish the conclusion of the Prison Service's review of the Quantum project. [HL1001]

The Prison Service's six-month review of the Quantum project announced on 10 August 1998 has been concluded. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has seen the review report. The Director General and the Executive Committee of the Prison Service endorse the recommendation made in the report to take the project forward by means of a framework agreement in partnership with one of the two short-listed suppliers. The contract will cover an information technology (IT) infrastructure service, joint development of a strategy for IT-based business change and an agreed mechanism for implementing business change on a partnership basis.

General Pinochet

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether letters addressed to General Pinochet being carried by members of his staff were opened by Special Branch on Tuesday 29 December 1998; if so, why; and who gave the authorisation. [HL595]

I refer the noble Lord to the reply given to a Question from him on 2 February (Official Report, Vol. 596, col. WA 201). My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has received an assurance from the Metropolitan Police that no searches were undertaken by their officers in this case nor were any letters opened.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Home Secretary will instigate regular medical reports on the effects of detention on General Pinochet. [HL896]

It is not for the Home Secretary to instigate regular medical reports. He took a decision, on 9 December, to issue an Authority to Proceed. The case has been passed to the Bow St. Magistrate, pending a decision by the House of Lords on immunity. The Home Secretary will consider reports on Senator Pinochet's health if and when he comes to exercise his final discretion under Section 12 of the Extradition Act 1989 at the end of the extradition process.

Royal Commissions

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list Royal Commissions set up since the war, with the date on which each was set up and on which each reported. [HL858]

The following Royal Commissions have been set up since the end of the Second World War:

TitleAppointedReported
Awards to Inventors15 May 194613 December 1948
Justices of the Peace24 June 19465 May 1948
Press14 April 19473 June 1949
Lotteries, Betting and Gaming28 April 194916 March 1951
Capital Punishment4 May 19495 September 1953
Taxation of Profits and Income2 January 195113 February 1953 9 April 1954 20 May 1955
Dundee (University College) and Relationship with St. Andrews University3 May 195124 April 1952
Marriage and Divorce8 September 195120 December 1955
Scottish Affairs25 July 195221 July 1954
Land and Population in East AfricaJanuary 195316 May 1955

Title

Appointed

Reported

Pay and Conditions of Service in the Civil Service16 November 195310 November 1955
Law Relating to Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency20 February 19547 May 1957
Common Land1 December 195511 July 1958
Remuneration of Doctors and Dentists27 March 195710 February 1960
Local Government in Greater London10 December 19573 October 1960
Police25 January 196015 November 1960 24 May 1962
Press1 March 19615 September 1962
National Incomes5 November 19625 February 1965
Penal System in England and Wales15 August 1964Wound up May 1966
Prices and Incomes8 April 1965Wound up 1967
Trades Unions and Employers' Associations8 April 1965June 1968
Medical Education6 August 1965March 1968
Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 192128 February 19661 November 1966
Local Government in England31 May 1966June 1969
Local Government in Scotland31 May 1966September 1969
Assizes and Quarter Sessions7 November 1966September 1969
Industrial Relations1 March 1969Wound up 1971 (Reconstituted as a statutory body)
The Constitution15 April 196910 October 1973
Environmental Pollution*20 February 1970First 1971
Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury19 March 1973March 1978
Press16 July 1974July 1977
Distribution of Income and Wealth23 August 1974First 1975 Final 8 October 1979
Standards of Conduct in Public Life6 December 1974July 1976
Gambling24 February 1976July 1978
National Health Service19 May 1976July 1979
Legal Services20 July 1976October 1979

Title

Appointed

Reported

Criminal Procedure3 February 1978January 1981
Criminal Justice14 March 1991July 1993
Long Term Care for the Elderly17 December 1997Will report shortly

* As a standing body the Commission reports from time to time.

Peers' Age Profile

asked the Chairman of Committees:What was the average age on 1 February 1999 of:

  • (a) those Members of the House who are Life Peers and active hereditary Peers;
  • (b) Life Peers;
  • (c) active hereditary Peers; and
  • what would have been the average age of Members of the House had the House of Lords Reform Bill, as now drafted, been in force on 1 February 1999. [HL977]

    If active hereditary Peers are defined as Hereditary Peers who attended at least one-third of the Sittings this Session, then the answers are as follows:

  • (a) the average age on 1 February of Life Peers and active hereditary Peers was 66 years and 10 months;
  • (b) the average age on 1 February of Life Peers was 69 years and 0 months; and
  • (c) the average age on 1 February of active hereditary Peers was 62 years and 0 months.
  • The average age of Members of the House on 1 February would have been 69 years and 0 months if the Reform Bill, as presently drafted, had been in force then.(Source: House of Lords Information Office.)

    Correction To Official Report

    asked the Chairman of Committees:Who asked for the correction of the

    Official Report of Tuesday 12 January (col. 85) which appeared in the Official Report of Monday 1 February (col. 1410); and what reason was given for this request. [HL989]

    I asked for the correction to be made, in order to bring the text into line with my recollection of what I had said.

    Nhs Boards: Peers Serving As Members

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many members of the House are currently serving as non-executive members of National Health Service trusts or health authorities. [HL892]

    Further to the reply to the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, on 27 January 1999 (Official Report, col. 1015) the information given was incomplete. On that date, eight, not seven, Peers were serving as non-executive members of the National Health Service boards—five are Conservative, two Labour, and one a Cross-Bencher.

    Iraq

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why they do not believe the reports of infant ill-health and mortality in Iraq made by Mr. Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations; whether they agree with Mr. Scott Ritter that a "Marshall Plan" for Iraq holds the best chance for a change of government in that country; and, if not, how long they propose supporting the present sanctions regime. [HL786]

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

    Mr. Halliday has never provided full details of the source of the data, the statistical methods used in their collation, and how the data have been interpreted.However, we note from the latest report by the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the UN "oil for food" programme that it is now bringing real benefit to the Iraqi people. Since the programme began in December 1996, $2.5 billion-worth of foodstuffs has arrived in Iraq; $440 million-worth of medicines have been delivered to Iraq, leading to marked improvement in availability of medicines; there has been a 33 per cent. increase in the number of surgical operations; and there is greater availability of drugs, which has led to an increase in patient attendance at health facilities.We also note from the same report that infant malnutrition has stabilised in Baghdad-controlled Iraq and has decreased in the northern governorates.

    Us Contacts With Iraqi Opposition In Uk

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the United States are exempt from the operation of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 which forbids any activity in this country aimed at the toppling by violent means of governments abroad; and, if not, whether United States officials have been conducting such activities here with some Iraqi opposition groups. [HL785]

    Sections 5–7 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 make it a criminal offence to conspire in this country to commit crimes abroad, providing that the crime in question is a criminal offence in both jurisdictions. Section 5(12) provides that it is immaterial to guilt whether or not the accused is a British citizen.

    We are aware that US officials regularly meet members of the Iraqi opposition in this country. Her Majesty's Government have no evidence that any criminal offence has been committed.

    Worshipful Company Of Scriveners: Monopoly

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans there are to end the monopoly in London of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners. [HL1004]

    The Govenment has concluded that the monopoly of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners over notarial work in the central London area should be ended. An appropriate amendment will be moved to the Access to Justice Bill.

    General Pinochet: Arrest Warrant

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), whether the concerns about the validity of the first warrant, referred to in the Lord Chancellor's reply, made the first warrant invalid. [HL776]

    Concerns as to whether a warrant may or may not be invalid are of no legal effect and have no bearing on its validity. However, the first warrant was quashed by the Divisional Court on 28 October 1998.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), whether an indefinite number of provisional warrants could be issued, following concerns about the validity of a previous one. [HL774]

    As a matter of law there is no statutory limit on the number of provisional warrants which may be issued under the Extradition Act 1989.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), why General Pinochet was not informed about the concern as to the validity of the warrant referred to in the Lord Chancellor's reply. [HL775]

    The issues canvassed trespass on areas of legal professional privilege and cannot therefore be the subject of a reply.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), what precisely were the concerns referred to in the Lord Chancellor's reply about the validity of the first warrant. [HL777]

    The issues canvassed trespass on areas of legal professional privilege and cannot therefore be the subject of a reply.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), on what date did the concerns referred to in the Lord Chancellor's reply about the validity of the first warrant emerge. [HL778]

    The issues canvassed trespass on areas of legal professional privilege and cannot therefore be the subject of a reply.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (

    WA 138–139), about the Crown Prosecution Service's involvement in the preparation of the warrant for the arrest of General Pinochet, who expressed the concerns, referred to in the Lord Chancellor's reply, about the validity of the first warrant. [HL779]

    The issues canvassed trespass on areas of legal professional privilege and cannot therefore be the subject of a reply.

    Public Sector Research: Exploitation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How they are taking forward the commitment in the Competitiveness White Paper to making more of the commercial potential of the output of public sector research establishments. [HL1002]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry
    (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

    I am very pleased to announce that John Baker, who is Chairman of Medeva plc, has agreed to investigate the commercialisation of public sector research establishment (PSRE) outputs, with a view to making recommendations for increasing the rate of their exploitation. The study takes forward a commitment made in the Competitiveness White Paper, published last December. Mr. Baker will be working closely with HM Treasury, OST and DTI, which are collaborating on the initiative.

    It is time we took a close look at how we maximise the commercial potential of the high quality research that is carried out by the PSREs, where it is possible to do so. We need to identify the barriers to commercialising research and make sure that the PSREs share the best ways of overcoming them. The results should be of great benefit to the PSREs and the departments that sponsor them.

    The intention is that the study will look in particular at the coverage of commercialisation in research contracts between PSREs and their sponsors, the organisation of the knowledge transfer process and incentives for PSRE staff.

    John Baker will begin this work very soon; seeking the views of key people in the PSREs and sponsor departments. He is expected to report later this year.

    The terms of reference of this study are as follows:

    To investigate the commercialisation of research in the Government's public sector research establishments (PSREs) and make recommendations for increasing the rate at which PSRE research outputs are successfully commercialised, consistent with other government objectives for PSREs, with reference in particular to:

    • the role of sponsor departments/Research Councils in promoting the exploitation of research in their PSREs;
    • progress in improving the culture of entrepreneurship within PSREs—particularly through the adoption of new guidance on exploiting government assets;
    • the organisational capacity and expertise for managing and exploiting government IP effectively;
    • specific institutional barriers, and possible new incentives;
    • spreading best practice;
    • the scope for closer co-operation with the private sector.

    Electricity Supply From Eu

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Which member states of the European Union are able to supply electricity to the National Grid, and what steps are being taken to enable additional member states to do this. [HL903]

    Anyone can offer to supply electricity to the Electricity Pool. They would need to be an External Pool Member, but this is no harrier. In order to transmit the electricity from the member state concerned to the UK, terms for access to the transmission systems and interconnectors en route would have to be agreed with their operators. When the EU Electricity Directive is implemented on 19 February 1999, all transmission system operators will be required to grant such access.

    Bank Holidays

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Which Department of State is responsible for the determination of public holidays in the United Kingdom; and [HL675]Whether the determination of public and bank holidays will become a responsibility of the new devolved institutions within the United Kingdom. [HL676]

    The statutory bank holidays in the United Kingdom are set out in Schedule 1 to the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 or are proclaimed each year under that Act. Policy responsibility for bank and public holidays currently lies with the Department of Trade and Industry.Under Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, these matters will be within the responsibilities of the Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. There will be no change in the current responsibilities for determining bank holidays for Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Fish Movement Regulations: Infringement

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether any fish farm has been reported to the procurator fiscal for infringing the regulations on fish movement in 1998; and, if any, what prosecutions have been undertaken. [HL854]

    No report has been sent to the procurator fiscal for infringement of fish movement regulations in 1998.

    Thomas Hamilton: Sergeant Hughes' Report

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why the report of Detective Sergeant Hughes delivered to the procurator fiscal in Scotland on 6 September 1991, which included 10 charges drafted against Thomas Hamilton of Dunblane and reflected upon his suitability to possess a firearms certificate, and which was made available to the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into the Dunblane killings, is subject to a secrecy order for 100 years. [HL851]

    Sergeant Hughes' report was made available to the Cullen Inquiry as a production. The report contains sensitive information about children who attended a summer camp run by Thomas Hamilton in 1991 (not the children of Dunblane) and alleged offences against them. For these reasons it was considered appropriate that the production should remain closed for 100 years. This closure is in accordance with current Government guidelines published in the White Paper Open Government (Cm 2290 (1993)).

    Scotland: Shotgun Use

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the right to shoot on the foreshore in Scotland is extended to people who are not domiciled in Scotland. [HL837]

    Any person who is not domiciled in Scotland may shoot on the foreshore provided they hold a valid shotgun certificate or visitor's shotgun permit granted by the chief constable in accordance with the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended).

    Adult And Community Learning Fund: Award

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish the outcome of the second round of bidding to the Adult and Community Learning Fund. [HL975]

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

    Nearly 500 applications were received in the second round of bidding to the Adult and Community Learning Fund, which closed on 30 November 1998. Following consideration by the department's independent advisory panel, we are today announcing funding of £3.5 million for 96 projects covering a wide range of local activities to involve more people in learning relevant to their lives. A list of the successful projects has been placed in the Library.