Monday, 14 March 2005.
Northern Ireland: Teachers
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Lord President on 15 December 2004 (
WA 84) and 27 January ( WA 175) on Northern Ireland teachers, what they mean by a "balance of opportunity in employment"; whether there is at present a balance of opportunity in employment for teachers in Northern Ireland; when such a balance was first achieved; how such a balance is assessed; and whether the reconciliation of historical divisions between the major religious communities is best furthered by segregated or integrated religious education. [HL1117]
The phrase "In order to maintain a balance of opportunity in employment" which was used in the Written Answer by the Lord President dated 15 December 2004, is taken from Article 15 of the European Equal Treatment Directive 2000/78/EC and was inserted as the Government and the Commission were keen to ensure that the unique situation in Northern Ireland was taken into account.Teachers in schools are currently not included in the monitoring requirements of the fair employment and treatment legislation. Consequently, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland does not hold statistical information on the religious breakdown of teachers employed in schools. The various employing authorities that are responsible for employing teachers hold this information. However it is not readily available and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.The schools sector in Northern Ireland reflects parental choice with children attending maintained schools (mainly Catholic pupils), controlled schools (mainly Protestant pupils), integrated schools and Irish-medium schools. The exemption in relation to the recruitment of teachers recognises the complexion of these schools including the developing integrated sector.Views on the exemption were invited in the context of the single Equality Bill consultation and responses will be considered along with the investigation report on the teachers' exemption which has been published recently by the Equality Commission. Copies have been placed in the Library.The Government respect parental choice in education. They also recognise the significance of education in preparing children for their role as adults in a shared society and the important contribution that all schools can make to this.
Northern Ireland: Northern Bank Robbery
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the police have been able to establish, within a timescale of a few hours, when the £55,000 of proceeds from the Northern Bank robbery was allegedly planted at the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Newforge Sports Club. [HL1545]
The investigation into the £50,000 of proceeds from the Northern Bank robbery recovered at Newforge Country Club is ongoing. As enquiries are continuing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
WA 221), whether they believe that the Real Irish Republican Army as well as the Irish Republican Army were involved in the Northern Bank robbery of December 2004. [HL1597]
The Chief Constable has publicly stated that in his professional opinion, and based on the intelligence to hand, responsibility for the Northern Bank robbery must be attributed to the Provisional IRA. That is still his view.The Government fully accept the Chief Constable's judgment which has been further endorsed by the Independent Monitoring Commission in its report of 10 February 2005.
WA 218), what are the agreed procedures for investigating allegations of bullying at Waterways Ireland made against the chief executive and senior management. [HL1567]
A copy of the Waterways Ireland bullying and harassment procedure is available in the Library. This document includes procedures for investigating all such allegations.
WA 219), whether the appointment of the director of corporate services in Waterways Ireland was announced in an e-mail to all staff from the human resources department dated 29 January 2003. [HL1568]
I am advised by the chief executive at Waterways Ireland that an internal e-mail, relating to a number of staff matters and circulated on 29 January 2003, advised that Mr McTeggart had formally accepted the post of director of corporate services.
WA 219) concerning Waterways Ireland, why only 2 per cent. of overtime paid was allocated to staff in the United Kingdom. [HL1596]
Overtime is only authorised and paid by Waterways Ireland as necessary to meet the agreed objectives within their corporate and business plans.
Northern Ireland: Child Protection
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a child protection policy; and what steps it takes to monitor safeguarding and child protection arrangements in next steps agencies and non-departmental public bodies. (HL1586]
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) does not have a child protection policy because it does not have staff working in positions that involve significant and supervised contact with, or supervision over, children. One of DCAL's agencies, Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, does not have a child protection policy for the same reason. However, DCAL's other agency, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), is in the process of developing a child protection policy as some PRONI staff occasionally come into contact with schoolchildren in the course of their duty. The department plans to monitor safeguarding and child protection arrangements in its non-departmental public bodies via accountability meetings.
North/South Implementation Bodies
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 1 March (
WA 10) concerning cross-border bodies, whether the policy of care and maintenance only relates to new policies and not to cost; and why the Ulster-Scots Agency closed down some operations in 2004 due to a lack of funding. [HL1592]
In relation to care and maintenance I have nothing further to add to the answer given on 1 March 2005 (Official Report, col. WA 10).The Ulster-Scots Agency has advised me that it did not close down any operations during 2004. However, I understand that as a matter of financial propriety, the agency introduced a moratorium on the acceptance of new grant applications between June and October 2004. In addition the agency decided not to publish one scheduled issue of the
Ulster-Scot newspaper in 2004.
Northern Ireland: St Louis Order Property
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 1 March (
WA 10) concerning the St Louis order's property in Middletown, for how much per year the convent and chapel on the site have been leased back to the St Louis order. [HL1593]
I refer the noble Lord to the purchase agreement containing the terms of the leaseback, copies of which are available in the Library.
Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve
asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to pay a gratuity to former part-time members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve. [HL1594]
There are no plans to pay such a gratuity.
Northern Ireland: St Gerard's Education Resource Centre
asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the reason for the delay in transferring land for the development of the group housing scheme for travellers at Monagh Road, Belfast. [HL1632]
The Department of Education is currently working with the architect appointed by the trustees of St Gerard's education resource centre to resolve the ongoing problems of access to the proposed sites for St Gerard's education resource centre and North and West Housing Ltd. The proposals are currently with the planning service and it is expected that a response will be received shortly confirming whether or not the plans put forward by the school's architect are acceptable. Subject to the planning approval being received, the Department of Education can then approve the sale of the land to North and West Housing Ltd.The North and West Housing Ltd also wishes to acquire a separate small piece of land from the Department for Regional Development's roads service for access purposes. The sale was agreed in November 2003 subject to the sale of the St Gerard's education resource centre land to the North and West Housing Ltd.
Northern Ireland Department Of Education
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Northern Ireland Department of Education possesses vacant property; and, if so, what it is; and where. [HL1651]
The Department of Education does not possess any vacant properties.
Iraq: Legality Of Armed Force
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Attorney-General has discussed the content of his legal advice to Government with the Prime Minister's Director of Government Relations, Baroness Morgan of Huyton; and, if so, when these discussions took place. [HL1496]
It is not the practice of the Government to disclose the dates of ministerial meetings which is information relating to the formation of government policy.However, it is known from the report of the Butler Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction that I had a meeting with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff (Mr Powell), his foreign policy adviser (Sir David Manning) and his Director of Government Relations (Baroness Morgan of Huyton) at the end of February 2003. (It has been drawn to my attention that there is a minor error in the information provided by my office to the Butler Review on Intelligence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The meeting referred to in paragraph 378 of the Butler Report took place on 27, not 28, February 2003.) I had a further meeting with Baroness Morgan and Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 13 March 2003. No minutes were taken of those meetings.My advice was not modified in light of the discussion at these meetings. The advice I gave was my own genuinely held, independent view of the legal position.
WA 1), whether he discussed the substance of his views on the legality of the war with the Lord Falconer of Thoroton and the Baroness Morgan of Huyton on 28 February 2003, as suggested in paragraph 378 of the Butler report; whether a minute was kept of that meeting; and whether he modified his previous advice on the legality of the war in any way following that meeting; and [HL1553]
What official or unofficial meetings were held between the Attorney-General and the Lord Falconer of Thoroton during the two weeks commencing 3 March 2003; and whether minutes of any such meetings were taken; and [HL1557]
What official or unofficial meetings were held between the Attorney-General and the Baroness Morgan of Huyton during the two weeks commencing 3 March 2003; and whether minutes of any such meetings were taken. [HL1558]
It is not the practice of the Government to disclose the dates of ministerial meetings which is information relating to the formation of government policy.
However, it is known from the report of the Butler Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction that I had a meeting with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff (Mr Powell), his Foreign Policy Adviser (Sir David Manning) and his Director of Government Relations (Baroness Morgan of Huyton) at the end of February 2003. (It has been drawn to my attention that there is a minor error in the information provided by my office to the Butler Review on Intelligence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The meeting referred to in paragraph 378 of the Butler Report took place on 27, not 28, February 2003.) I had a further meeting with Baroness Morgan and Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 13 March 2003. No minutes were taken of those meetings.
My advice was not modified in light of the discussion at these meetings. The advice I gave was my own genuinely held, independent view of the legal position.
WA 1), whether his Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3) was discussed unofficially with any other official, Minister or Member of either House of Parliament. [HL1554]
I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave the noble Baroness Hanham on 28 February 2005 (WA 1). As I made clear in that reply, my Written Answer of 17 March 2003 was not discussed with anyone other than the persons mentioned in that reply.
WA 1), what were the positions of the officials involved in drawing up his Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3). [HL1555]
I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 28 February 2005 (WA 1). There were two officials from my office and three from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All the officials were legal advisers.
WA 1), why Christopher Greenwood QC was involved in drafting the Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3); and what advice he gave. [HL1556]
Professor Christopher Greenwood QC was instructed to assist the Government in relation to legal issues arising from the Iraq conflict, including the preparation of my Statement to Parliament on 17 March 2003. It is quite appropriate and unexceptional for counsel to be consulted on issues of this nature.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the statement by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 17 March 2003 (
Official Report, col. 117) that "the Attorney-General has been more open-handed than any of his predecessors in publishing his advice in the way that he has", when and how the Attorney-General has published his advice on the legality of the use of armed forces in Iraq. [HL1612]
On 17 March 2003 (Official Report, cols. WA 2–3), in Answer to my noble friend Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, the Attorney-General set out his view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq. This was not a summary of the Attorney-General's confidential legal advice to Government, but went beyond what previous governments have done by setting out the Attorney-General's conclusions regarding the legality of proposed military action in Iraq.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the visit by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Bill Rammell, to Peru in December 2004, in what ways (a) Peru will be enabled to move further towards remedying the ills inflicted by the internal conflict during the 1980s and 1990s; and (b) co-operation between the United Kingdom and Peru on eliminating the trafficking of narcotics from Colombia has been enhanced. (HL1533]
During his recent visit to Peru, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Bill Rammell) raised the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and emphasised the support that the British Government have given to it, along with human rights projects more generally. He also expressed our strong interest in working closely with the Peruvians to counter drug trafficking.It is clear that the implementation of many of the TRC recommendations present the Peruvian Government with logistical and resource difficulties. Nevertheless, President Toledo has shown support to the TRC and confirmed that his Government are providing collective reparation through a social and infrastructure investment programme in the areas worst affected by the internal conflict.We work closely with the Peruvian authorities on counter-narcotics activities with whom we have excellent co-operation.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have considered the recommendations of the Atlanta consultation on the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and, if so, what is their response. [HL1559]
We have recently received a copy of the Atlanta consultation document from the chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative, the organisation that conducted the consultation, and have had the opportunity to discuss its recommendations with him. We do not intend to make a more formal response.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether an agenda has yet been agreed for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in May 2005; whether they wish to add items to the agenda; if so, which; and whether states possessing nuclear weapons, which are not parties to the NPT, will be invited to attend. [HL1560]
The last session of the preparatory committee for the 2005 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) did not finalise all the procedural arrangements for the NPT and did not agree an agenda. It is now for the review conference in May to consider and agree on this issue. The UK made no proposals for items to be added to the draft agenda which was discussed at the last meeting of the preparatory committee. It is for the review conference to decide whether any state not party to the treaty, and which has applied for observer status to the Secretary-General of the conference, may be granted that status.
asked Her Majesty's Government:To what extent each of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has implemented the priorities agreed at the 2000 NPT review conference. [HL1561]
We are not in a position to say to what extent other signatories to the treaty have implemented the steps agreed in the 2000 final document. However, many states' parties have issued reports on their activities within the framework of the NPT strengthened review process as agreed in 1995. The United Kingdom will be making a national statement, including on our progress on treaty related issues, at the review conference in May.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether each of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have matched the Government's reduction of 70 per cent in the explosive power of their nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War; and, if not, what steps they are taking to persuade them to do so. [HL1562]
We are proud of our record on disarmament and the substantial reduction in our own nuclear explosive power since the end of the Cold War. It is for other states to comment on their own nuclear weapons policy, but we continue to support mutual and balanced reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons worldwide. Progress on nuclear disarmament by states parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will be discussed at the treaty's forthcoming review conference, to take place in New York from 2 to 27 May. The UK will participate fully in all aspects of the conference.
Israel And Palestine
asked Her Majesty's Government:By what means they will convey their conclusions on the Palestine meeting held in London on 1 March to the government of Israel; and what steps they are taking to encourage reciprocal initiatives from the Israeli Government. [HL1563]
I visited Israel on 3 March to brief the government of Israel on the conclusions of the London meeting. My visit included meetings with Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Vice-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.We will continue to urge Israel to recognise the efforts that the Palestinian Authority is making and to respond in kind to implement its road map commitments and to co-ordinate its disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank with the Palestinians.
asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to consult other quartet partners on the next steps, following the London meeting on Palestine on 1 March, leading to a full road map peace conference and durable negotiations between Palestine and Israel. [HL1606]
Quartet principals held a meeting in the margins of the London meeting on 1 March. They welcomed the conclusions of the London meeting and reaffirmed their commitment to help both parties make progress towards the two-state solution through the road map. They also encouraged the two parties to continue on the path of direct dialogue and negotiation. Principals agreed to meet again before the start of disengagement in the summer.The UK agrees with the quartet that the road map remains the political framework for progress. We will continue to consult quartet members on their views about the way forward. And we will continue to encourage both the Palestinians and Israelis to implement their commitments under phase one, to put in place the conditions needed for a successful road map peace conference.
asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the terms of reference of the United States-led security co-ordinating group being set up to reform and retrain the Palestinian security services; what will be the extent of the United Kingdom's participation; what liaison the new security co-ordinating group will have with the Israel Defence Force (IDF); and whether its remit will take account of the need for retraining of young IDF soldiers in their contacts with Palestinians. [HL1631]
The quartet called for the establishment of a US-led security co-ordinating group in its statement of May 2004. On 1 March this year, the participants of the London meeting on supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) set out its goals. It will work with the PA to oversee the restructuring and retraining of its security services. The security services' goals are to end attacks against Israelis and to ensure law and order within areas that the PA controls.The security co-ordinating group will consist of countries and organisations that play a major role on security issues. The group will consult Israeli security services when applicable in order to assist the PA's work. The US is still working on the precise make-up and remit of the group.
Eu Constitutional Treaty
asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will next hold talks with the French Government on the campaigns for referendums on the European Union Constitutional Treaty in both countries; and what issues they will highlight in such talks. [HL1565]
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in regular contact with French Government officials and Ministers to discuss a wide range of European Union issues.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether law enforcement agencies are receiving adequate funding to combat cybercrime, in the light of the comments of Detective-Constable Tony Noble of the Surrey Police computer crime unit at the recent computer and Internet crime conference. [HL1026]
I understand that at this conference Mr Noble made comments concerning the resourcing of his force's computer crime unit, and stated that some reports of computer crimes were not investigated further.
The provision for policing in England and Wales has increased by over £2.3 billion or over 30 per cent between 2000–01 and 2004–05. The recent spending review settlement will allow us to continue with this significant investment in policing. There are now record numbers of police officers.
Practical decisions on how the police allocate the additional resources and manpower we have made available rests with the police themselves.
A decision as whether to investigate and prosecute a possible offence is a decision which is taken by law enforcement, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service as appropriate.
Criminal Proceedings: Use Of Intercept Material
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 February (
WA 102–103) concerning the use of intercept material in criminal proceedings, which of the countries' legal regimes are subject to constitutional guarantees equivalent to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. [HL1338]
The legal regimes of the Netherlands and France are subject to the European Convention on Human Rights. Australia and the US both have their own procedures for ensuring fair trials.
Domestic Violence: Arrests
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide arrest figures for acts of domestic violence in each police force area, over the most recent period for which figures are available. [HL1486]
Numbers of reported domestic violence incidents where an arrest was made have been collected from police forces since 31 March 2003 as one of the suite of best value performance indicators for police forces. Not all forces have been able to provide the information on domestic violence arrests. Those that have are listed in the following table.
|Police force area||Domestic violence arrests year to 31 March 2004|
|Avon and Somerset||1,936|
|Devon and Cornwall||3,665|
|Police force area||Domestic violence arrests year Police force area to 31 March 2004|
|London, City of||23|
Heroin: Register Of Addicts
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 3 March (
WA 36), why a register of addicts is no longer kept in England and Wales; when the decision was made to end the register; how the decision was communicated to Parliament and the public; and whether the register included all types of drug addicts or just heroin users. [HL1615]
Until 1997, doctors throughout the United Kingdom treating persons they considered to be addicted to a drug in a specified list were statutorily required to notify that person's details to the Chief Medical Officer at the Home Office.Following a review, in 1996, of the operation of the register and of other statistical information relating to drug misusers it was decided to end the system of doctor notifications. The decision was communicated to Parliament in response to a Written Question on 20 March 1997 (
Official Report, col. 837) and, more widely, through a press release.
The register operated in respect of the following drugs:
cocaine, dextromoramide, diamorphine (heroin), dipipanone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, levorphanol, methadone, morphine, opium, oxycodone, pethidine, phenazocine and piritramide.
Although it covered diamorphine (heroin) and cocaine it did not include current drugs of misuse such as amphetamine, ecstasy, LSD and cannabis. Its utility as a research and epidemiological tool was, therefore, severely limited as was its use in enforcement terms. Better information is now available through sources such as the Department of Health's regional drug misuse databases and the drug seizure and offender statistics published by the Home Office.
British Expeditionary Forces: Assessed Air Threat
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will place in the Library of the House documents relating to the assessed air threat to British expeditionary forces in the period 2005–15. [HL1167]
For security reasons, copies of such documents will not be placed in the Library of the House.
Raf: Hercules C130
asked Her Majesty's Government:How many C130 Hercules transport aircraft are in service; on what date each of them was brought into service; how many air miles each has flown; how many times each of them has taken off and landed; and when each was most recently assessed for potential metal fatigue. [HL1413]
There are 25 Hercules C130K and 25 Hercules C130J aircraft currently in service with the Royal Air Force.Structural fatigue on the each of the Hercules C130K aircraft is assessed every 14 days. The Hercules C130J is a more modern aircraft and is fitted with an on-board structural health monitoring (SHM) system. The SHM assesses structural fatigue damage after every flight.In the following table "flying hours" is used instead of "air miles" because the former more accurately reflects the usage of the aircraft. The distance travelled by an aircraft does not form part of the data used to maintain the Hercules C130 fleet.
|Tail number||Version||Date in service||Flying hours||Landings|
|XV196||C130K Mk1||Aug 67||25,962||20,159|
|XV200||C130K Mk1||Oct 67||25,266||23,055|
|XV295||C130K Mk1||May 68||24,512||23,620|
|XVI77||C130K Mk3||Feb 67||26,769||17,957|
|XVI84||C130K Mk3||May 67||28,682||23,429|
|XV188||C130K Mk3||Jul 67||26,744||20,724|
|XV197||C130K Mk3||Aug 67||27,915||20,890|
|XV199||C130K Mk3||Oct 67||28,898||22,115|
|XV202||C130K Mk3||Nov 67||28,610||20,672|
|XV209||C130K Mk3||Nov 67||26,465||17,282|
|XV212||C130K Mk3||Jan 68||29,280||19,559|
|Tail number||Version||Date in service||Flying hours||Landings|
|XV214||C130K MK3||Jan 68||27,095||18,404|
|XV217||Cl30K MK3||Mar 68||29,396||20,885|
|XV220||Cl30K MK3||Feb 68||29,732||20,930|
|XV221||C130K MK3||Feb 68||28,048||19,199|
|XV290||Cl30K MK3||Mar 68||28,821||18,454|
|XV294||Cl30K MK3||Aug 68||26,659||18,963|
|XV299||Cl30K MK3||Aug 68||28,252||20,004|
|XV301||Cl30K MK3||Jun 68||27,696||19,468|
|XV303||Cl30K MK3||Jul 68||29,198||19,150|
|XV304||C130K Mk3||Jul 68||28,922||18,913|
|XV305||C130K MK3||Sep 68||27,760||16,574|
|XV307||C130K MK3||Aug 68||29,755||19,391|
|ZH865||C130J MK4||Aug 98||3,749||1,838|
|ZH866||C130J MK4||Aug 00||4,493||2,618|
|ZH867||C130J MK4||Aug 00||4,264||2,440|
|ZH868||C130J MK4||Jun 01||3,007||1,473|
|ZH869||C130J MK4||Jul 00||4,205||2,269|
|ZH870||C130J MK4||Apr 00||4,087||1,707|
|ZH871||C130J Mk4||Nov 98||314||569|
|ZH872||C130J MK4||Mar 00||3,967||1,607|
|ZH873||C130J MK4||Apr 00||4,150||1,979|
|ZH874||C130J MK4||May 00||4,150||2,143|
|ZH875||C130J MK4||Nov 99||3,948||1,667|
|ZH876||C130J MK4||Dec 99||4,217||1,808|
|ZH877||C130J MK4||Dec 99||4,218||1,911|
|ZH878||C130J MK4||Nov 99||3,041||1,298|
|ZH879||C130J MK4||Jun 00||3,875||1,843|
|ZH880||C130J MK5||Apr 99||675||1,317|
|ZH881||C130J MK5||Sep 00||2,872||1,868|
|ZH882||C130J MK5||Oct 00||3,091||1,773|
|ZH883||C130J MK5||Mar 01||2,639||1,752|
|ZH884||C130J MK5||Mar 01||1,560||1,276|
|ZH885||C130J MK5||Apr 01||2,372||1,918|
|ZH886||C130J MK5||May 01||1,244||946|
|ZH887||C130J MK5||May 01||1,938||1,632|
|ZH888||C130J MK5||Oct 00||674||452|
|ZH889||C130J MK5||Nov 00||916||924|
Royal Navy: Trafalgar Class Submarines
asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the Current Planned decommissioning dates for the Trafalgar class submarines. [HL1599]
The Planned decommissioning dates are listed below:
Military Police: Mp7
asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect deliveries of the Heckler and Koch MP7 carbine to the military police to start; when they expect deliveries to be complete; how long they expect training in the use of this weapon to take; and when they expect all members of the military police to be equipped with this weapon and trained in its use. [HL1616]
I assume the noble Lord is referring to the procurement of the Heckler and Koch MP7 personal defence weapon for the Ministry of Defence Police. Deliveries of the MP7 are scheduled to start in March 2005 and be completed during July 2005. Training in the use of this weapon takes between three to four days depending on the role of the individual officer. All members of the Ministry of Defence Police who require an MP7 will be equipped and trained by June 2006.
Chief Of The Defence Staff
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Mr Adam Ingram, on 1 March (
Official Report, Commons, col. 1141W), what criteria they will use in preparing the "short narrative … setting out how the Chief of Defence Staff has contributed to delivering the Government's objectives for defence over the past year". [HL1617]
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence's short narrative will cover the Chief of Defence Staffs personal contribution to the delivery of military operational effectiveness and his management of the senior officers that report directly to him.
asked Her Majesty's Government:How many properties in England are currently in each council tax band; and how many properties they estimate will be in each council tax band following the council tax revaluation with effect from 1 April 2007. [HL1425]
Numbers of properties in England in each council tax band as at 11 October 2004 are tabled below.
|Band||Number of properties on valuation lists as at 11 October 2004 (million)|
The distribution of dwellings to bands after revaluation will depend on property values as at 1 April 2005 and on decisions yet to be taken on the number and values of council tax bands. The report of the independent inquiry into local government funding by Sir Michael Lyons which is due by the end of this year will inform the Government's decisions on council tax bands.
asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their estimate of the total costs to public funds to date of maintaining the Millennium Dome (both gross and net) since its official closure; and what is the present weekly cost. [HL1540]
From July 2001, when English Partnerships took ownership of the Dome, to the end of December 2004, the total cost to English Partnerships of the management, maintenance and security of the Dome, including English Partnerships' staff costs, was £9.38 million gross, or £7.98 million net, after deduction of income of £1.4 million from interim events.The average monthly cost over the six months from July to December 2004 was £163,000. This will significantly reduce further from January 2005, but final figures for January and February are not yet available.
Freedom Of Information Act 2000
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 24 February (
WA 230), whether they regard the presumption that all information held by the Government should be available to the public applies to official ministerial diaries, subject only to the specific exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [HL1541]
The Freedom of Information Act operates on the presumption that all information held by public authorities, including information held in official ministerial diaries, should be available, subject to the 23 exemptions of the Act.
General Election: Foreign Observers
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will invite, through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe or the Council of Europe, foreign observers to observe any forthcoming British general election. [HL1578]
As a participating member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, we would normally invite its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to send election observers to any elections held in the UK. I fully expect us to repeat our previous practice of doing so once the date for the next general election is announced.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they agree with the chair of the Arts Council, Sir Christopher Frayling, in his Royal Society lecture 2005, that "public subsidy of the arts in this country still lags behind our European counterparts by a very wide margin"; and, if not, what the relevant comparative data indicate about the current position. [HL1544]
There are no up to date comparative data available for public subsidy of the arts in European countries, given the different structures of national and regional government that exist.We have increased national funding to the arts in real terms by 60 per cent. since 1998–99, from £199 million to £367 million in 2004–05.
asked Her Majesty's Government:How much it cost the National Insurance Fund to index the guaranteed minimum pension in each year from 1975 to 2004; and how much of this amount was spent in each year on (a) public service pensions, and (b) private sector pensions. [HL1552]
The indexation of members' guaranteed minimum pensions as required under the contracting-out legislation is the responsibility of contracted-out occupational pension schemes themselves, not the National Insurance Fund.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they intend the Equality Bill to be debated during the current parliamentary session. [HL1613]
I am pleased to say that the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 2 March. It will be proceeded with in the normal way, in accordance with demands on the parliamentary timetable. We hope that the Bill will be enacted with the minimum delay in order to bring greater equality, diversity and respect for human rights to benefit individuals and contribute to our goal of a fair, prosperous and cohesive society.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
asked Her Majesty's Government:What effect the various methods so far employed in the United Kingdom to reduce sexually transmitted diseases have had; how the Government measure their impact, if any; and whether the increase in known cases indicates that the situation is out of control. [HL1477]
Addressing the rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is at the heart of the Government's work on sexual health, boosted recently by an additional investment of £300 million over the next three years. The public health White Paper, Choosing Health, announced a new high profile media campaign, acceleration of the roll-out of the chlamydia screening programme across England by March 2007, a review of contraceptive and genitourinary medicine (GUM) services and investment to modernise and improve access, including a new maximum waiting time of 48 hours for GUM clinics by 2008.To further strengthen delivery at local level, sexual health is being included in primary care trusts' local delivery plans for the first time. In addition there are recommended standards and good practice documents published by the Department of Health.The Health Protection Agency collects data on waiting times for sexual health clinics, and ongoing surveillance data on STIs and HIV (published at
www.hpa.org.uk). Data for 2003 show that the rate of increase for many STIs has slowed or decreased, for example gonorrhoea decreased by 4 per cent. Teenage conceptions have also decreased by 9.8 per cent since 1998.
Separate sexual health strategies are in place, or in development for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
asked Her Majesty's Government:How many treatment courses of antivirals they had in stock when Dr Shigeru Omi, head of the World Health Organisation in Asia, made his statement in February that the world is facing the "greatest possible danger" of a bird influenza pandemic and that a major global outbreak is now "overdue"; by when they expect to have the 14.6 million courses, the purchase of which they announced on 1 March; and on what basis that figure was decided. [HL1618]
The United Kingdom has maintained a limited stockpile of amantadine for several years, and purchased 100,000 treatment courses of antiviral drugs for emergency use last year.Of the 14.6 million courses, the purchase of which was announced on 1 March, we expect 7.3 million courses to be available by the end of 2005–06 and the rest to follow as soon as possible during the next financial year.The number of courses ordered is based on an assessment of the likely impact of pandemic influenza in the UK.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the increase in the incidence of tuberculosis can be attributed to any of their policies; and, if so, which ones. [HL1633]
The Government's policies are firmly committed to tackling rising rates of tuberculosis (TB).The Department of Health launched the TB Action Plan in October 2004. The plan is a commitment to tackle rising rates of TB through 10 key areas of work, and identifies the underlying reasons for the rise in TB rates. Other factors underlying rising rates of TB were identified in a previous report from the Chief Medical Officer,
Getting Ahead of the Curve, published in 2002. Details of the plan, and of Getting Ahead of the Curve can be found on the DH website www.dh.gov.u1c/assetRoot/04/09/04/56/04090456.pdf and www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/06/ 03/38/04060338.pdf respectively. Copies are also available in the Library.
Nhs Foundation Trusts: Accommodation For Patients
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Warner on 2 March (
WA 28), whether they will state by what date they will be in a position to report the outcome of the collation of reports in respect of single-sex and related accommodation standards by National Health Service (NHS) foundation trusts and NHS trusts; and, if they are not able to report by 14 March, whether they will state the reasons why they are not able to report by that date. [HL1642]
The data collection is still under way. We will publish a full report on the outcomes of this data collection in May 2005.
Pest Bird Species
asked Her Majesty's Government:What level of damage they calculate is done to agricultural production and biodiversity from pest bird species. [HL1608]
Information on the costs to agriculture or impacts on biodiversity are available for certain pest bird species. In the 1980s it was estimated that annual damage to oilseed rape crops by wood pigeons amounted to £2.5 million. For Canada geese, no cost estimates are available, but they are recognised as causing significant agricultural damage in certain situations, and often damage amenity grasslands through fouling and trampling. Fouling by feral pigeons and gulls can constitute a health hazard at grain stores and livestock feeding areas, although costs have not been collated. Gulls and corvids are recognised as egg predators of gamebirds and may have impacts on other species of conservation concern, such as nesting seabirds although we are not aware of any research relating to this.
Wildlife And Countryside Act: General Licences
asked Her Majesty's Government:What changes they have made to the general licences issued under Section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. [HL1627]
On 10 February 2005 Defra announced the removal of the house sparrow and starling from general licences. This was supplemented at the time by a press release and a table of proposed changes to be made to general licences. This included reference to a condition regarding the use of non-lethal alternatives.The press release and table can be accessed via the following link,
On 9 March 2005 in order to clear up misunderstanding in relation to the obligation to consider appropriate non-lethal methods Defra amended the wording of the general licence condition to read, "This licence can only be relied on in circumstances where the authorised person is satisfied that appropriate non-lethal methods of control such as scaring are either ineffective or impracticable".
A press notice was issued and the revised licences were immediately published on the Defra website. A copy of the press notice can be accessed via the following link, www.defra.gov.uk/news/2005/ 050309c.htm.
Shooting Licence Wlf 18
asked Her Majesty's Government:On what date the current general shooting licence WLF 18 came into force. [HL1685]
The current general licence WLF 18 came into force on 1 March 2005.
However, on 9 March 2005 in order to clear up misunderstanding in relation to the obligation regarding appropriate non-lethal methods Defra amended the wording of the general licence condition to read,
"This licence can only be relied on in circumstances where the authorised person is satisfied that appropriate non-lethal methods of control such as scaring are either ineffective or impracticable".
A press notice was issued and the revised licences were published on the Defra website. A copy of the press notice can be accessed via the following link. www.defra.gov.uk/news/2005/050309c.htm.
The revised general licence can be accessed via the following link: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/regulat/forms/cons_man/w1f18.pdf.
asked Her Majesty's Government:On what date the current version of general shooting licence WLF 18 was issued. [HL1686]
The current version of general licence WLF 18 was issued on 9 March 2005 when Defra amended the wording in relation to the obligation regarding appropriate non-lethal methods.The revised general licence can be accessed via the following link:
asked Her Majesty's Government:On what date and time the current version of general shooting licence WLF 18 first appeared on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' website. [HL1687]
The current version of general licence WLF 18 first appeared on the Defra website on 9 March 2005 when Defra amended the wording in relation to the obligation regarding appropriate non-lethal methods.The revised general licence can be accessed via the following link:
asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they have taken to publicise the changes to general shooting licence WLF. [HL1688]
Between 31 March and 14 July 2004 a pre-consultation exercise was undertaken by Defra on the review of general licences to kill or take so-called "pest species" of birds. This pre-consultation, on a number of proposed changes to general licences, included reference to other satisfactory solutions, involved key interests and was also published on the Defra website. The pre-consultation document can be accessed via the following link: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/bird-licence/index.htm.The responses to the pre-consultation were carefully considered and further discussions took place between Defra officials and organisations representing shooting and conservation interests.On 10 February 2005 Defra announced the removal of the house sparrow and starling from general licences. This was supplemented at the time by a press release and a table of proposed changes to be made to general licences. This included reference to a condition regarding the use of non-lethal alternatives.The press release and table can be accessed via the following link:
On 9 March 2005 in order to clear up misunderstanding in relation to the obligation to consider appropriate non-lethal methods Defra altered the wording of the general licence condition to read,
"This licence can only be relied on in circumstances where the authorised person is satisfied that appropriate non-lethal methods of control such as scaring are either ineffective or impracticable".
A press notice was issued and the revised licences were published on the Defra website. A copy of the press notice can be accessed via the following link: www.defra.gov.uk/news/2005/050309c. htm.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the old general shooting licence WLF 18 complied with the requirements of the birds directive; and whether the new general shooting licence WLF 18 complies with the directive. [HL1689]
The old general licence WLF 18 complied with the EC birds directive as does the new version.
Media And Voice Training
asked Her Majesty's Government:How much was spent on all forms of media training, including voice coaching, on each member of the Cabinet, broken down by individual, in each of the past 12 months. [HL1525]
Media and voice training is not provided centrally and no information on it is held centrally.