Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 30 July 1998

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers

Thursday, 30th July 1998.

Agricultural Chemical Residues

asked Her Majesty's Government:What research they are undertaking on the build-up in the human body of residues of agricultural chemicals in food and the effect of a cocktail of such residues. [HL2914]

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

The Working Party on Pesticide Residues carries out surveillance for pesticide residues, including regular surveys of residues present in the human body. The working party's most recent published report, for 1996, includes the results of a survey of human fat. The 1997 annual report, which is to be published in September 1998, will include the results of a survey of human milk.Any residues detected in such surveys are usually of organochlorine pesticides, most of which are no longer approved in the UK but which can persist in fatty tissues. The results have shown a continuing trend of reduction in residues over the last 35 years.Currently we are not undertaking any research into the effects of multiple residues of agricultural chemicals in the human body.

North Sea Drift Netting

asked Her Majesty's Government:To what extent has the North Sea drift netting practice been reduced during each of the past five years; and what further consideration is being given to banning such operations. [HL2992]

The number of net licences issued to salmon fishermen operating in the north-east coast drift net fishery during the past five years, together with the total number of days fished by licence holders, are as follows:

19931994199519961997
Number licenses124114998981
Number days fished5,1875,5055,3033,5813,200
Following recent ICES advice about the state of salmon stocks throughout the North Atlantic, the Government are urgently considering what action should be taken to reduce levels of exploitation of salmon in Great Britain, including possible restrictions on both rods and nets.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the estimated cost of compensation to buy out the North Sea drift net fishermen; and whether they have discussed such compensation with the fishermen. [HL2993]

No public funds are available to compensate fishermen holding salmon drift net licences for surrendering their licences, and the cost of any buy-out would be a matter for negotiation between interested parties and the licence holders. In these circumstances we have not discussed the question of compensation with licence holders or sought to establish the cost of a buy-out.

Oecd Convention On Bribery And International Business Transactions

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they propose to ratify the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions signed in December 1997. [HL2831]

It is intended that the text of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions will be placed before both Houses during October. We are confident that the UK will meet the deadline for ratification set by OECD Ministers for 31 December this year.

Computer Software: Intellectual Property Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their policy on the protection of intellectual property rights in computer software in the United Kingdom and overseas. [HL305l]

Under current UK law (Patents Act 1977), computer programs as such are excluded from patent protection. This is also the position elsewhere in Europe.The United States (and perhaps Japan) takes a more liberal approach to the patentability of software. Under the UK Presidency, the Patent Office, supported by the European Commission, held a major conference to discuss the issue. The European Commission is currently considering whether there is a need to make proposals to revise the policy on software patents. The UK Government will consider carefully any proposals made by the Commission and take an active part in any subsequent debate.

Coal Subsidies In Germany And Spain

asked Her Majesty's Government:What specific measures they have taken to combat anti-competitive coal subsidies in Germany and Spain; and what benefits have been achieved as a result of these actions. [HL2722]

In the case of Spain we have formally complained to the European Commission about discriminatory application of limits on the sulphur content of coals from different ECSC resources and have received assurances that UK coal will be treated on the same basis as Spanish coal. This should open the Spanish market to a range of English deep-mined coals.We have also laid a formal complaint against Spanish state aid for coal questioning whether the required criteria of ultimate viability has been fulfilled for all those producers receiving operating aid under the ECSC Coal State Aid code. We are pressing for confirmation from the Spanish Authorities that a subsidy of 1 peseta per kilowatt/hour available to Spanish power-station operators burning Spanish coal is equally available in respect of UK coal.In the case of Germany, we conveyed a complaint to the European Commission on behalf of Celtic Energy Ltd. setting out how state aid provided to Sophia Jacoba and Ibbenburen mines led to a distortion in the anthracite market in the ECSC and particularly in the UK. Following an investigation the Commission found there had been abuse of state aid and reached a decision on 29 July requiring repayment of nearly DM 20 million state aid by the German producers. This decision provides UK producers with an assurance that such unfair practices will not recur and should help to open up continental markets for competitive UK exports of anthracite.The Government are monitoring closely the commercial negotiations UK producers are conducting on the export of power-station coal and briquettes to the German market in competition with state-aided German coal. They have also drawn to the Commission's attention possible elements of state aid in the proposed merger of the main German coal producers.

Strategic Defence Review, Development And Strategic Exports

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the policy implications of the interrelationship between the Strategic Defence Review, the White Paper on development, the new criteria on arms export controls and the Department of Trade and Industry White Paper on strategic exports. [HL2900]

Policies set out as a result of the exercises referred to have all been developed in consultation between relevant government departments to ensure that they are consistent with each other.

Lambeth, Southwark And Lewisham Health Authority: Surgical Policy

asked Her Majesty's Government:Why patients in south-east London are being forced to have operations for varicose veins, lipomas and sebaceous cysts done privately. [HL3017]

Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority has no blanket restrictions on any surgical procedure. Those procedures identified by the noble Earl have been agreed locally to be of low priority given their limited clinical effectiveness on some patients. Treatment is therefore restricted to individuals who meet locally agreed eligibility criteria. These take into account the individual's clinical need and the effectiveness of the treatment in meeting that need.

Cerebral Palsy: Conductive Education

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many children with cerebral palsy have attended British conductive centres over the last five years; and how this compares with the numbers of British children who have had a similar education overseas. [HL2934]

The Government do not collect statistics either on the number of children with cerebral palsy attending conductive education centres in the United Kingdom or on the number of British children receiving such education abroad. However, the Peto Institute in Budapest provided information in March 1997 indicating that they had cared for a total of 942 British children up to that date.

Conductive Education: Financial Support

asked Her Majesty's Government:How much financial support has been given to the United Kingdom based conductive educational establishments over the last five years; and how this compares with the financial support given to their overseas counterparts over the same period. [HL2935]

The total amount of government funding of conductive education establishments in the United Kingdom over the financial years 1993–94 to 1997–98 was £1,878,112. This was provided by the Scottish Office to the Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments (£1,838,112) and by the Department of Health to the National Institute for Conductive Education (£40,000): £1,750,000 paid by the UK in 1991 together with accrued interest is currently being used to extend and refurbish the Peto Institute in Budapest under an inter-governmental agreement of March 1997 with the Hungarian Government.

Gps: Conscientious Objection To Abortion

asked Her Majesty's Government:What consideration has been given to requiring general practitioners who hold a conscientious objection to abortion on religious or ethical grounds to include this information in their practice leaflets. [HL2977]

Referrals under the Abortion Act are part of the general medical services provided by general practitioners. Guidance issued by the British Medical Association states that practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion who fail to refer on to another practitioner quickly could be alleged to be in breach of their terms of service. In these circumstances public statements about the GP's personal views on abortion are neither necessary nor appropriate.

Abortion Services: Inequality Of Access

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps are being taken to reduce the inequality of access to abortion services in England and Wales. [HL2978]

The level of gynaecological provision including abortion, like other provision within the National Health Service, is decided by individual health purchasers.The White Paper

The New NHS outlines a number of steps which the Government will be taking to improve the consistency of service provision throughout the NHS. Health improvement programmes (HIPs) will be drawn up by health authorities in consultation with NHS trusts, primary care groups, primary care professionals, the public and other partner organisations such as local authorities. The HIP will set out the strategic direction on improving health and on delivering better health and social care as well as setting out the framework for action on commissioning services. We will aim for maximum consistency while still allowing appropriate local and individual responsiveness.

Food-Borne Outbreaks Of Illness: Food Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish tables for each year from 1992 to 1997 showing the food vehicles in food-borne outbreaks of illness confirmed by microbiological, statistical or descriptive evidence. [HL3021]

Aggregate information for 1992–94 on food vehicles associated with outbreaks for this period can be found in a review of general outbreaks published in the Public Health Laboratory Service's (PHLS) Communicable Disease Review, vol. 6, R57–63. Data for 1995 and 1996 are available in a table which has been placed in the Library. Since 1996 data on general outbreaks of food-borne illness has been reported on a quarterly basis in PHLS' Communicable Disease Report. Quarterly outbreak reports can be found in the weekly Communicable Disease Reports: vol. 7, No. 37 (January—March 1997 published on 12 September 1997), vol. 7, No. 50 (April—June published on 12 December 1997), vol. 8, No. 11 (July—September 1997 published on 13 March 1998) and vol. 8, No. 24 (October—December 1997 published on 12 June 1998). Copies of the Communicable Disease Review and Communicable Disease Report are available in the Library.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Risks

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will give their best estimate of the relative risks of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from (a) eating beef on the bone and (b) receiving a blood transfusion before July 1998. [HL2996]

The Government's decisions on banning the sale of beef on the bone and on the extension of leucodepletion for all blood for transfusion were both taken in the light of advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), taking account where appropriate of the views of the Chief Medical Officer. This advice together with the Government's response is published and copies are available in the Library.

Smoking Education Campaigns

asked Her Majesty's Government:What measures they are taking to highlight the dangers of addiction to smoking, when the treatment of smoking-related disease costs the NHS between £1.4 billion and £1.7 billion per year. [HL2976]

The Government currently fund smoking education campaigns for both adults and teenagers, which includes information on the dangers of addiction to nicotine, at a cost of £6.5 million per annum.The Government's future plans to tackle smoking-related disease will be set out in the White Paper on tobacco control to be published later this year.

Mental Health Act Review

asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to review the Mental Health Act 1983. [HL3168]

We are setting up a review of the Mental Health Act 1983. The aim of this review will be to ensure that mental health legislation supports the safe and effective delivery of modern patterns of clinical and social care for people with a mental disorder and to ensure that we achieve a proper balance between individual rights and the requirements of the safety of both the individual and the wider community.As a first step in this process, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health is going to appoint a small team of experts to advise me on the areas of the current legislation which need to be revised or supplemented to support effective, modern mental health services. The group will comprise representatives from the legal profession, professional groups involved in the delivery of mental health services and user/public interests, and it will report to me next spring. We will specifically want their advice to include consideration of possible measures such as compliance orders and community treatment orders.We aim to ensure that the legal framework that we will put in place for the new millennium is appropriate to deliver a full range of services in line with our proposals for a national service framework for mental health services and will provide a prompt and effective legal basis to ensure individuals get supervised care if they fail to comply with their medication or if their condition deteriorates for any other reason.

Medical Devices Agency: Report And Accounts

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish the 1997–98 annual report and accounts of the Medical Devices Agency. [HL3166]

We have received the report and accounts of the Medical Devices Agency and copies were laid yesterday before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.

Nhs Pensions Agency: Report And Accounts

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will approve and publish the annual report and accounts of the NHS Pensions Agency. [HL3165]

We have approved the report and accounts which has been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.Copies have been placed in the Library.

Human Rights Bill: Appellate Committee

asked Her Majesty's Government:Who will determine the composition of any Appellate Committee of the House of Lords to decide each particular appeal under the Human Rights Bill. [HL2886]

Responsibility for determining the composition of the House of Lords in its judicial capacity, and of Appellate and Appeal Committees, lies with the Lord Chancellor. However, for many years it has been the policy of successive Lord Chancellors in practice to delegate this responsibility to the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. Thus it will be for him to determine which Lords of Appeal sit in the House of Lords to hear cases under the Human Rights Bill.

Scotland And Wales Bills: Privy Council Judicial Committee Appeals

asked Her Majesty's Government:Who will determine the composition of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for hearing each particular appeal under the provisions of the Scotland Bill and the Government of Wales Bill. [HL2885]

Responsibility for determining the composition of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council lies with the Lord Chancellor. However, for many years it has been the policy of successive Lord Chancellors in practice to delegate this responsibility to the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. Thus it will be for him to determine which members of the Judicial Committee sit in the Privy Council to hear cases under the provisions of the Scotland Bill and the Government of Wales Bill.

Northern Ireland: Reviews

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Northern Ireland Office will be published during the parliamentary Summer Recess. [HL2788]

It is planned to publish three reviews: the Elections Review; the Review of Strategic and Financial Management arrangements in respect of the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards; and a consultation paper on the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland.

Decommissioning Agreement: Statistics

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list the quantities of arms, explosives and other weapons which have now been surrendered or decommissioned under the Good Friday Agreement. [HL3030]

In accordance with the agreement the British and Irish Governments brought decommissioning schemes into force on 30 June. No terrorist weapons have yet been decommissioned.

Northern Ireland Referendum: Release Of Prisoners

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will state under which powers they released terrorist prisoners to campaign for a yes vote in the recent Northern Ireland Referendum campaign. [HL3031]

As I indicated to the noble Lord in my Answer to a related Question on 1 June (Official Report, col. 16), my right honourable friend the Secretary of State authorised the release of four prisoners to attend the reconvened Sinn Fein Ardfeish early in May. Rule 27 of the Prison and Young Offenders Centre Rules (Northern Ireland) 1995 governs the temporary release of convicted prisoners in Northern Ireland and provides the legislative authority for the Northern Ireland Prison Service's temporary release schemes.

Higher Education: Access Funds

asked Her Majesty's Government:When resources will be available for access funds for students in further and higher education institutions in England in 1998–99; and when they propose to issue new guidance on the use of the funds. [HL3167]

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

The Government are committed to widening participation and improving access to higher education. We are determined that students should have the support they need to take up or stay on courses of higher education. We are making available £56 million through the access funds for students in further and higher education in England for the academic year 1998–99. This includes £3 million (£2 million in 1998–99 financial year) which we are providing to help remit the fees of part-time undergraduate students who lose their jobs after their course has started.The total sum is being allocated between the two funding councils for England as shown below. The allocations take account of adjustments between the higher education access fund and the further education access fund to help part-time higher education students who are studying at further education institutions.

£ million
Higher Education Funding Council for England:45.76
of which: Undergraduate Fund39.44
Postgraduate Fund5.50
Further Education Fund0.82
Further Education Funding Council:10.24
Total56.00

Turkey: Conviction Of Mr Ragip Duran

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will support the Committee for the Protection of Journalists in their request for the release from prison in Turkey, of Mr. Ragip Duran, a journalist who has worked for the BBC World Service and Agency France Presse. [HL2815]

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

From the information currently available to us, it appears that Mr. Duran's conviction raises questions about Turkey's international commitments to uphold freedom of expression. The British Embassy will be discussing his case further with the relevant Turkish authorities.

Turkey: Conviction Of Mr Esber Yagmurdereli

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they consider that the sentence of life imprisonment, recently imposed in Turkey on Mr. Esber Yagmurdereli, a known campaigner for peace, constitutes a set-back for human rights in that country. [HL2839]

We share the widespread international concern at the plight of Mr. Yagmurdereli, who was re-imprisoned in June this year to serve various sentences including that of 23 years' imprisonment following his conviction for promoting separatism. As EU Presidency we raised his re-imprisonment with the Turkish authorities and urged Mr. Yagmurdereli's release. We shall continue to take every opportunity to remind the Turkish authorities of our concerns, and to point out that their actions sit ill with Turkey's commitments to uphold freedom of expression.

Treaties: Explanatory Memoranda

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 21 April (

WA 203), whether they will introduce a procedure to give Lords notice of the publication of explanatory memoranda relating to international treaties signed by or on behalf of Her Majesty's Government and laid before Parliament under the so-called "Ponsonby Rule" while awaiting ratification. [HL2889]

Notice of the publication of an Explanatory Memoranda (EM) is given in the Minutes of Proceedings and Votes with each entry for a treaty laid under the Ponsonby Rule. Paper copies are available in the Printed Paper Office on the day after the treaty is laid together with copies of the relevant Command Paper. In addition, as stated in my Written Answer of 21 April (WA 203), EMs are published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Internet Site.

Turkey: Allegations Of Torture

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are discussing with the Government of Turkey—(a) allegations that police officers sexually abused and tortured five children from the Haci Husrev district of Istanbul, while they were held in custody for three days in May or June; and (b) the events in a village near Kulp in the region of Diyarbakir, depopulated by security forces and then made uninhabitable in June. [HL3016]

We are concerned at recent reports suggesting that torture, including the use of sexual abuse, of five children occurred during their detention in police custody in the Haji Husrev area of Istanbul. We understand that appeals have been lodged with the relevant public prosecutor to investigate these reports. The British Embassy is following this issue closely, and will be discussing it with the relevant Turkish authorities.We are unable to confirm whether any villages near Kulp were depopulated by security forces in June.

Nuclear Disarmament: Multilateral Talks

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are their plans to reinvigorate multilateral talks on disarmament; and [HL2904]What is their policy towards the establishment of a Five Power Nuclear Forum to discuss nuclear weapons safety, verification, transparency and related matters; and what they would envisage to be the relationship between any such forum and India, Pakistan and other nuclear or potentially nuclear powers. [HL2959]

We are working for the early adaptation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.We are pressing for the early conclusion of negotiations on a Protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and working to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.We are actively considering how best to follow up internationally the initiatives on nuclear disarmament set out in the Strategic Defence Review. We would not rule out the possibility that a forum of all the Nuclear Weapon States could make a constructive contribution to the process of nuclear disarmament. The relationship between such a forum and other states, including India and Pakistan, would be one of the issues to be considered in its establishment.The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) clearly defines Nuclear Weapon States as those which exploded a device before 1967. Only five states come into this category, India and Pakistan are not nuclear weapon states as defined by the NPT and will not therefore be treated as such. We are pressing India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Foreign And Commonwealth Office: Sponsorship Money

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which organisations and companies have contributed sponsorship money to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the last two years. [HL2916]

As sponsorship acquisition by the FCO is carried on not only in the United Kingdom but by posts overseas the information requested can, at present, only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Under what terms and conditions sponsorship money is received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. [HL2917]

The terms and conditions under which sponsorship money is received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is agreed between the parties on a case by case basis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently working up a standard model sponsorship contract which could be used to form the basis of future sponsorship arrangements.Separate conditions apply to jointly funded scholarship schemes, which involve co-sponsorship arrangements, normally on an equal cost sharing basis, by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its partners in the private, charitable and higher education sectors.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How does the Foreign and Commonwealth Office choose sponsors. [HL2918]

The selection process is tailored to the needs of individual projects.

asked Her Majesty's Government:To what use is sponsorship money put by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. [HL2919]

Sponsorship is used to provide financial and in kind support for activities which enhance and extend the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Areas in which such support has been sought include jointly funded scholarships for overseas students, major conferences, expositions, information and public diplomacy material.

Iraq: Economic Sanctions

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the purpose in 1998 of the economic sanctions against Iraq; and whether, since they were initiated, the original purpose has been achieved. [HL3026]

The sanctions regime was imposed by the UN in August 1990 after Iraq's illegal invasion of Kuwait. The purpose of these sanctions is to ensure that Iraq complies with its obligations under the relevant UN resolutions, including the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction under international supervision. Iraq remains far from compliance. At the most recent review of sanctions on 25 June the Security Council agreed unanimously that Iraq had failed to fulfil its obligations under the UN resolutions and that the sanctions regime should therefore remain in place unchanged. Sanctions have contained Iraq for eight years, thus preventing it from threatening its immediate neighbours and the wider Middle East region.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their estimate of the number of children (a) malnourished and (b) dead in Iraq as a result of sanctions; and on what evidence is that estimate based. [HL3028]

The Government of Iraq have provided no epidemiological research data on either the number of malnourished children or the mortality rate in Iraq before and since 1990. The Government are therefore not in a position to make an assessment of whether or not incidences have increased since 1990.Since sanctions were imposed, the international community has done its utmost to protect the Iraqi people from the effects of sanctions. Food and medicine have never been subject to sanctions and the UN "oil for food" programme now permits Iraq to export $5.3 billion worth of oil over a six month period. Since 1991 the UK has donated £74 million to Iraq in bilateral aid and a further £27 million via the EU.

Export Of Goods: End-Use Control

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will clarify the extent to which the end-use control, relating to goods which may be used in connection with the development of weapons of mass destruction, applies to the supply of goods to destinations subject to binding United Nations arms embargoes. [HL3152]

Council Regulation (EC) No. 3381/94 and the Dual-Use and Related Goods (Export Control) Regulations 1996 prohibit the export from the UK to any destination of dual-use or other goods which the exporter has been informed by a competent authority are or may be intended, wholly or in part, or which the exporter knows are intended, wholly or in part, to be used in connection with the development, production, handling, operation, maintenance, storage, detection, identification or dissemination of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or the development, production, maintenance or storage of missiles capable of delivering such weapons, and also where the exporter has grounds for suspecting that the goods might so be used. These provisions are known as the end-use control.Under UK law, all binding UN embargoes are implemented by Military List which forms Part III of Schedule I to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, as amended.In addition, the Orders in Council implementing in UK law the binding UN embargoes against Liberia, Somalia, Libya, Angola and Rwanda also prohibit the supply by persons in the UK or by UK nationals or companies overseas of goods which are or may be intended to be used in connection with the development, production, handling, operation, maintenance, storage, detection, identification or dissemination of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or the development, production, maintenance or storage of missiles capable of delivering such weapons.This statement supplements the information given to the House on the scope of arms embargoes observed by the UK by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Baroness Chalker of Wallasey in another place, on 20 March 1997 (

Official Report cols. WA 75–77); and by myself on 28 January 1998 ( Official Report cols. WA 36–39). An updated version of the list of the Government's commitments regarding the application of strategic export controls, covering this point and other recent changes, has been laid in the Library.

Diplomatic Missions: Outstanding Balances

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which are the diplomatic missions and international organisations who have outstanding balances of over £10,000 as at 31 March 1998 in respect of national non-domestic rates. [HL3156]

Most missions meet their obligations. However, at 31 March 1998 the following owed over £10,000.00 for national non-domestic rates:

CountryAmount outstanding up to 31 March 1998
Afghanistan32,920.71
Algeria38,344.90
Angola27,019.13
Cameroon28,760.56
China250,049.83
Cote d'Ivoire30,403.94
Cuba72,330.14
Czech Republic77,069.41
Egypt54,735.90
IMO28,208.89
Iran101,439.09
Libya23,547.10
Morocco20,932.01

Country

Amount outstanding up to 31 March 1998

Mozambique30,559.79
Nigeria332,218.53
Pakistan25,098.33
Philippines15,904.97
Saudi Arabia510,377.34
Senegal10,610.23
Sierra Leone73,585.31
Slovak Republic43,389.27
Spain74,666.12
Thailand77,226.28
Uganda15,335.25
Yemen Republic34,759.24
Yugoslavia50,021.78
Zambia21,683.65
Zimbabwe193,842.88

Information Vulnerability

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have discussed United States Presidential Decision Directives 62 and 63, on the subject of Infrastructure Vulnerability, with the United States authorities; and what are the implications of these directives for the Strategic Defence Review. [HL2403]

I refer my noble friend to the reply I gave him on Monday 27 July (WA 174). We have noted Presidential Decision Directives 62 and 63. Although directives themselves have no direct implications for the Strategic Defence Review, the wider issue of Information Vulnerability was considered carefully, as explained in the SDR Supporting Essay on the Impact of Technology.

Vulnerable Infrastructures

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the figures included in Mr. Spellar's Answer on 29 July 1997 (HC Deb., cols. 185W–186W) on the subject of departmental expenditure on major and medium scale computer-related systems included possible costs incurred in the course of co-operation between the United Kingdom, the United States and other allies on the protection of "vulnerable infrastructures", as adumbrated in United States Presidential Decision Directive 63 of June 1998. [HL3023]

The figures to which the noble Lord refers do not include costs incurred in the course of co-operation between the United Kingdom, the United States and other allies on the protection of "vulnerable infrastructures". They do, however, include costs incurred by all computer-related projects in addressing their security requirements to counter vulnerabilities and threats, in accordance with MoD policies.MoD officials are, in the course of their normal activities, co-operating with the US and other allies on the protection of "vulnerable infrastructures". This work is being led by the Cabinet Office.

Conventional Weapons: Export Policy

asked Her Majesty's Government:What assessment was made during the Strategic Defence Review of the threats posed to United Kingdom armed services by the proliferation of and trade in conventional weapons; and what are the implications of any such assessment for United Kingdom arms export control policy. [HL2899]

The Strategic Defence Review assessed that contingencies arising from the United Kingdom's vital stake in European security, our very important interests in the surrounding regions and our wider international responsibilities could each involve us in modern conventional warfare. In all three cases, because of the increasing proliferation of conventional weapons and technology, we concluded that we could face opponents equipped with the most powerful modern equipment.The risk of their use against UK forces is one of the factors that we take into account when considering export licence applications for defence equipment, in accordance with the criteria announced by the Foreign Secretary on 28 July 1997 and the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports adopted on 8 June this year. The Ministry of Defence provides advice to other departments on current and emerging security threats as part of the MoD input to export licensing decisions.

Emergencies: Mod/Dfid Collaboration

asked Her Majesty's Government:How the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development will in future work together to ensure that the military and civilian components of the United Kingdom's response to complex emergencies are dovetailed to the maximum effect. [HL2902]

We are eager to see our Armed Forces used to alleviate the effects of disasters or in response to other complex emergencies where they can make an appropriate and effective contribution to complement the efforts of the civil sector.To co-ordinate better our response to emergencies, we have been reinforcing our links with the Department for International Development, DFID, in this area. Senior officials in DFID have visited our Permanent Joint Headquarters for talks with the Chief of Joint Operations, and, in addition, there have been policy discussions between senior officials of the two departments. There is now a regular dialogue between MoD and DFID, including frequent contacts between our respective operational planning staffs. We are confident that these would lead to an effective co-ordinated response to an emergency in the event that the use of military assets was appropriate.

Apache Regiments

asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the Strategic Defence Review, how many Apache helicopters the three proposed Apache regiments will have; and [HL2962]Following the Strategic Defence Review, where the three proposed Apache regiments will be based and train. [HL2963]

The three Apache regiments will each comprise two squadrons of eight aircraft, giving a front line strength of 48 aircraft. The current plan is for two regiments of Apache to be based at Wattisham, and one at Dishforth, with initial individual training conducted at Middle Wallop, and continuation training conducted at the operational bases. However, this arrangement is being examined as part of the Joint Helicopter Command implementation study. The scale and locations required for collective training are also under study.

Trident

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in discussions with the United States of America on the decision not to proceed with the United Kingdom's planned final Trident missile purchase. [HL3213]

Our decision not to proceed with the planned final Trident missile body buy will have implications for the UK/US procurement programme and the long term Trident support arrangements of both countries. We have, therefore, agreed with the United States that, to safeguard production capabilities, we will continue with the planned procurement of missile components. Some of these will be required by the UK as in-service spares; the remainder we will sell back to the United States in future years for use in their continuing production programme. This arrangement has been enshrined in a Memorandum of Understanding that the US Deputy Secretary for Defense and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence have signed.Overall, our decision to maintain our Trident missile inventory at 58, rather than increasing it to 65 as previously planned, will require the write-off of surplus expenditure to the value of some £40 million, over half of which results from advance commitments to the final buy by the previous government. Our decision is expected to save in the region of £50 million.

Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme

asked Her Majesty's Government:When will they announce a new head of the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme [HL3214]

Following an open competition, we have now appointed Professor Harry Lee to be the head of the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme, MAP. Professor Lee has had a distinguished medical and academic career specialising in general medicine, renal medicine and infectious diseases. He is scheduled to take up his post at the MAP on 1 September.

Telecommunications Masts: Planning Controls

asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations they have received about the current planning controls on the erection of telecommunications masts. [HL3173]

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

We have received a number of representations from local authorities, from industry and from the working group which has been considering the effectiveness of our Code of Best Practice for telecommunications prior to approval procedures.After careful consideration, we have concluded that the use of permitted development rights continues to be appropriate for this type of development but that there is scope for improving procedures in order to address a number of concerns.In doing this, we aim to strike the right balance between facilitating a competitive national telecommunications network and protecting our environment. We have today published a consultation paper on proposals for changes to the control of development by licensed telecommunications operators under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Library.The main change proposed is a new two-stage procedure for ground-based masts erected under permitted development rights, to allow time for greater public consultation over their siting and appearance. This will give the public a clear opportunity to comment upon the installation of a mast in sensitive cases where such development would impact upon their amenity. We also propose to increase the protection currently afforded to sites of special scientific interest in this context by making telecommunications development in these areas subject to similar constraints as already apply in areas such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. This would include development such as the installation of masts and antennas being made subject to a full planning application in SSSIs.

Planning Guidance Note 17 On Sport And Recreation

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they proposes to revise Planning Guidance Note 17 on Sport and Recreation. [HL3174]

We will shortly be publishing a research report which examines the Effectiveness of Planning Policy Guidance on Sport and Recreation. The findings and recommendations in that research point clearly towards the need to revise PPG17. We agree. The PPG, which dates from September 1991, urgently needs to be brought up to date, not least to take account of the Government's sustainable development objectives. Work on a revision will therefore start later in the summer, and we hope that a draft revised PPG17 will be issued for public consultation around the turn of the year.

Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre Executive Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:What performance targets they have set the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre Executive Agency for 1998–99. [HL3177]

The Agency's principal financial target for 1998–99 is to achieve a minimum contribution to the Exchequer of £963,000.Operational targets have been set to increase occupancy of the Churchill Auditorium to 190 days; the Fleming Room to 210 days; and the Mountbatten Room to 165 days.The Agency is also being required to achieve additional room hire revenue from banqueting of £75,000, and has the following key customer service targets to meet:

  • 1. An overall score for quality of service from client questionnaires of at least 78 per cent.
  • 2. 98 per cent. of clients to report that they would use the centre again.
  • 3. The number of complaints received to be less than four per 100 events.
  • 4. An average response time when answering complaints of less than four working days.
  • 5. An overall score for quality of service by the catering staff of at least 88 per cent.
  • Regional Development Agencies: Chairmen

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they propose to appoint chairs for the boards of the proposed regional development agencies. [HL3175]

    Formal appointments to the boards of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) cannot be made until the Regional Development Agencies Bill, currently before Parliament, has received Royal Assent. However, we propose to engage a chairman designate for each RDA on an advisory basis prior to Royal Assent to assist in preparations for the establishment of the RDAs.

    Our choices are as follows:

    Eastern RDAVincent Watts—Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia
    East Midlands RDADerek Mapp—Formerly Chairman of Tom Cobleigh plc. Currently part-time Executive Chairman of Leapfrog Day Nurseries
    North East RDAJohn Bridge—Chief Executive of the Northern Development Company
    North West RDALord Thomas of Macclesfield—Formerly Managing Director of the Co-operative Bank and founding Chairman of the North West Partnership
    South East RDA Ltd.Allan Willett—Chairman and founder of Willett International
    South West RDASir Michael Lickiss—Chairman of Edexcel Foundation (previously BTEC)
    West Midlands RDAAlex Stephenson—Managing Director of Rover Group Power Train
    Yorkshire and Humber RDAGraham Hall—Chief Executive of Yorkshire Electricity Group plc

    There was a strong list of candidates in each region and we were able to appoint people of the highest calibre to lead each RDA. Candidates for chairman of each RDA were sought from a wide range of sources, including a public advertisement, nominations from regional and national stakeholders, and details of people who had previously expressed an interest in public service. Independent assessors were involved both in the short listing process and in interviews. All appointments have been made on merit and in accordance with guidance issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

    There will also be a development agency in London. The creation of the London Development Agency will take account of the new arrangements for the government of London including the way that appointments are made.

    Detr Rural Programmes

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will set out the spending plans for the countryside and rural programmes of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) following the Comprehensive Spending Review. [HL3179]

    The review of countryside and rural policy, conducted jointly by the DETR and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has concluded that there is a strong case for Government intervention to support rural communities, protect the landscape and wildlife resources of the countryside, and promote access to and enjoyment of the countryside. This Government wants to see a living, working and sustainable countryside, and is determined both to increase resources towards meeting these objectives, and to improving the co-ordination and delivery of countryside and rural programmes in the future.

    Support for individual DETR agencies or programmes will be as follows:

    • English Nature's allocation will rise from £38.5 million in 1998–99 to £44.6 million in 1999–2000. This will allow the agency to continue and develop its nature conservation work, deliver obligations under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, improve the management of sites of special scientific interest, and accelerate the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan's species and habitats plans. We have asked English Nature to assist its smaller voluntary partners to play a full part in the Biodiversity Action Plan process.
    • The merged agency to be formed on 1 April 1999 from the Rural Development Commission and the Countryside Commission will receive an increase of £8.68 million in 1999–2000. This will give the agency an effective start by strengthening its work protecting and conserving the natural landscape, supporting rural communities, and promoting access to and enjoyment of the countryside, and will also provide for pilot projects. Part will be used for necessary restructuring costs.
    • The National Parks and Broads Authority grant will increase from £17.412 million in 1998–99 to £19.277 million in 1999–2000.
    • Support for the National Forest Company will increase from £2.5 million in 1998–99 to £3.1 million in 1999–2000, to help meet its planting targets, increase the resources available for partnership formation and bidding, and begin to develop the tourism potential of the forest.

    Funding for DETR's countryside research will grow from £1.527 million in 1998–99 to £l.727 million in 1999–2000, and countryside publicity from £0.257 million in 1998–99 to £0.317 million in 1999–2000.

    In addition to increasing resources, we also intend to improve the delivery and co-ordination of programmes for the countryside. The regional development agencies, which will begin operation in April next year, will be responsible for developing an integrated approach to economic development and regeneration in rural areas, in a way that contributes to sustainable development. At the centre, DETR and MAFF already work closely together in many ways, but there is room for improvement in the way the Government deliver rural policy in an integrated way. Together with the decision already taken to merge the Rural Development and the Countryside Commissions from 1 April 1999, we will be taking forward steps to improve co-ordination of the countryside programmes across the two departments, to ensure that our countryside and rural policy objectives are fully met

    Further decisions on the level of resources for the following two years will be announced in 1999 in the light of the joint financial planning to be developed by DETR and MAFF.

    Environment Agency And Scottish Environment Protection Agency

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will undertake public consultation on the review of legislation relating to the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. [HL3178]

    We previously announced that we would review the legislation relating to the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, with a view to identifying any barriers preventing the agencies from taking an integrated approach to the environment. We are issuing the relevant consultation paper today, copies of which have been placed in the Library. We are sending it to a wide range of bodies, and publishing it on the Internet.

    Sewage Treatment And Disposal

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they intend to publish the response to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's Report on Sewage Treatment and Disposal, HC 266-I of Session 1997–98. [HL3173]

    We have laid before the House the Government's formal response to the Second Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee on Sewage Treatment and Disposal. Copies have been placed in both Libraries of the House.Within days of taking office, we called a Water Summit to signal our intention to ensure a world-class, water efficient, environmentally sustainable water industry. We remain firmly committed to that goal. We welcomed the publication of the Select Committee's report as an important contribution to the debate.Within our broad objective, the Government's response to the Select Committee will set out significant elements of our approach to the quality of the water environment. Our approach will strike a balance between the need for and value of environmental improvements by the water industry and the need to protect consumers from large increases in their water bills as a result of those improvements.

    Transport White Paper: Contribution Of Minister For Women

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What contribution the Minister for Women made to the Government's Integrated Transport White Paper; and whether they will place a copy of any such contribution in the Library of the House. [HL3068]

    We have taken advice on the content of the White Paper from a variety of sources, both within and outside Government, including the Minister for Women. This advice is reflected in The New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone.

    Civil Aircraft: Qualified Maintenance Engineers

  • (a) a decline in qualified maintenance technicians and engineers in aviation; and
  • (b) increased pressure on existing engineering staff owing to the increase in air traffic. [HL3080]
  • The number of people qualified to maintain civil aircraft in the UK does appear to be reducing. This is due to a combination of reductions in manning levels of the armed services, a traditional recruiting ground for such personnel, and in the number of apprenticeships and training places on offer within the aviation industry. However, there is no evidence of a widespread skills shortage in the civil aviation industry other than in some highly specialised areas, for example avionics, where the skills involved are in demand by other industries.The number of UK licensed maintenance engineers, who certify maintenance work on civil aircraft, has remained relatively constant for several years while during the same period the industry has seen substantial growth. Such engineers therefore must have a greater workload but there is no evidence to suggest that this workload is unmanageable or that it is having any significant effect on the quality of the work carried out.Public transport aircraft must be maintained by organisations which have been approved in accordance with the requirements set by the Joint Aviation Authorities in JAR-145. A JAR-145 approved maintenance organisation must employ sufficient personnel to plan, perform, supervise and inspect the work in accordance with their approval. The CAA monitor all organisations it has approved under JAR-145 to ensure continued compliance with its requirements.

    Rural Poverty And Social Exclusion

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What actions they have taken to deal with social exclusion in the countryside and rural poverty since May 1997. [HL3053]

    A broad range of Government policies address the problems of social exclusion in the countryside and rural poverty. National initiatives, such as the welfare-to-work programme, will be of benefit to rural communities just as much as their urban counterparts. At a regional level, our decision to create regional development agencies will help to create a new strategic focus for regeneration and economic development, taking full account of the needs of rural areas. We have also targeted specific rural problems— for example, by announcing an extra £50 million a year for rural transport. We will continue to ensure that the rural dimension is built into our policies.

    Genetically Modified Crops: Monitoring

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the trials of genetically modified crops, currently being undertaken in the United Kingdom, are subject to comprehensive post-release monitoring systems which encompass their effect on biological processes and their indirect effects. [HL3019]

    All trials of genetically modified crops currently being carried out in the United Kingdom are subject to a comprehensive post-release monitoring system to ensure that any adverse effects to human health and environment are minimised or prevented. The submission of monitoring reports to the Secretary of State on the outcome of each release forms part of this post-release monitoring system.Most experimental trails are transient and small scale. The principle purpose of the post-trial monitoring is to confirm that any assumptions made in the risk assessment were valid and to ensure that methods used to terminate the trial are effective.Since 1995, the Government has been funding research to monitor commercial-scale releases of herbicide tolerant oilseed rape to measure gene transfer to wild relatives and changes in agronomic practice. The Government recognise that at a commercial scale indirect effects such as changes in agronomic practice on biodiversity may be important and are currently discussing these wider issues with colleagues in other Government departments and conservation bodies.

    Road Traffic Humps

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are satisfied that exceptionally severe road traffic humps, such as those found in Warrington Crescent, London W9, present no danger to ambulance patients, motorcyclists or car occupants with spinal conditions. [HL3071]

    The height and shape of road traffic humps on public roads is prescribed by law. The humps referred to by the noble Lord were installed in February 1994 by Westminster City Council. They are of a design which is no longer recommended. I will convey the noble Lord's concern to the city council.

    Prisoners Ill-Treatment: Boards Of Visitors' Duty

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the light of the number of cases of ill-treatment of prisoners being reported to the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Prisons Ombudsman, they are satisfied that Boards of Visitors are effectively discharging their duty under the Prison Rule 94, to "inform the Secretary of State immediately of any abuse which comes to their knowledge". [HL2926]

    Boards of Visitors are required, under Prison Rule 94, to draw to the attention of the Secretary of State any ill-treatment of prisoners which comes to their knowledge. In dealing with such allegations, Ministers would expect the board to seek an explanation from the governor of the establishment and, if they remain unsatisfied, to draw this to the attention of the Secretary of State.A prisoner does not have to use the services of the Board of Visitors in seeking a resolution to his or her grievances. Thus some cases will by-pass the Board of Visitors entirely and go to the Prisons Ombudsman.Individual chairmen of Boards of Visitors can and do raise issues of concern directly with Ministers or the Director General of the Prison Service, who will make themselves available to discuss such issues if required. The Prisons Ombudsman will also take such action if he should wish to raise any issue of concern.

    Legislation: Human Rights Compatibility

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 20 July

    (WA 72), whether there is any reason why, as a matter of good public administration, as distinct from legal duty, they will not undertake that a Minister of the Crown in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament will, before Second Reading of the Bill:

  • (a) make a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights; or
  • (b) make a statement to the effect that, although he or she is unable to make a statement of compatibility, the Government nevertheless wish the House to proceed with the Bill. [HL2974]
  • Such an undertaking, although different in form, would be identical in its effects to Clause 19 of the Human Rights Bill [H.L.]. We believe that the best course is to await final parliamentary approval of this and other provisions of the Bill and then to decide when they should be brought into force.

    Passports: Grounds For Withdrawal

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether British citizens are entitled to expect that passport facilities will be withdrawn only in clearly defined circumstances which have been reported to Parliament; and, if so, what are the current circumstances in which the Government would exercise the right to withdraw passport facilities. [HL3055]

    The circumstances in which a British passport would be withdrawn have been reported to Parliament on a number of occasions, the last being 7 February 1995, and have not changed. Withdrawal of a passport would be considered:

  • (a) if it came to the Passport Agency's attention on replacement that it had been issued incorrectly; and
  • (b) on the same basis as the refusal of an application. That is in the case of:
  • (i) a minor whose journey was known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority in whose favour a residence or care order had been made or who had been awarded custody; or care and control, or to the provisions of Section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by Section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, or Section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976, as amended by the Children Act 1989;
  • (ii) a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued in the United Kingdom, or a person who was wanted by the United Kingdom police on suspicion of a serious crime;
  • (iii) in very rare cases, a person whose past or proposed activities were so demonstrably undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities would be contrary to the public interest;
  • (iv) a person repatriated from abroad at public expense until the debt has been repaid.
  • asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider giving the present arrangements for issuing and withdrawing passports a statutory basis. [HL3056]

    The Government have no plans to change the present system under which passports are issued in the United Kingdom at the discretion of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in overseas posts, both exercising the Royal Prerogative.In practice, refusal and withdrawal of passport facilities to United Kingdom nationals is confined to certain well defined categories, of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. Although the issue of passports is a discretionary power under the Royal Prerogative, it is constrained as any statutory power might be, and the exercise of the discretion may be reviewed by the courts. The system has worked well and it has been generally accepted, under successive Administrations, that the exercise of the Royal Prerogative has not been abused.

    Youth Justice Task Force

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What advice they have received from the Youth Justice Task Force. [HL3207]

    The Youth Justice Task Force delivered its final report, which incorporates all the advice it has given, this month. That advice has helped frame the youth justice measures now reflected in the Crime and Disorder Bill [HL] and provides a steer for the early work of the new Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. Copies of the task force's final report have been placed in the Library and will be made available on the Internet. The task force has now been wound up.

    Terrorism Legislation: Consultation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When the consultation paper on future legislation against terrorism will be published. [HL3208]

    Work on the preparation of the consultation paper is well advanced and we now envisage that it will be published in the autumn.

    Prison Service: Annual Report And Accounts

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they intend to lay before Parliament the Prison Service's Annual Report and Accounts. [HL3211]

    I am pleased to report that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today laid before Parliament the Prison Service's Annual Report and Accounts. Copies have also been placed in the Library.

    Prison Service Agency: Quinquennial Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to conduct a quinquennial review of the Prison Service Agency. [HL3209]

    The Prison Service was established as a Next Steps Executive Agency on 1 April 1993. Since then there have been a number of changes to the relationship between the service and the main Home Office. Most importantly, as promised in the Labour Party manifesto, since the general election the Government have acted to take proper ministerial responsibility for the service. Against this background, and taking the opportunity of the quinquennial review of Next Steps Agencies which is now due, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is today announcing an evaluation of the performance of the agency, reconsideration of Prior Options relating to Agency Status and, if appropriate, a review of the existing framework document.The terms of reference for the review are as follows:

    • to conduct an evaluation of the performance of the agency since its inception;
    • in the light of this evaluation to consider whether, among the available options, agency status remains the most cost effective way of achieving Home Office aims within the context of proper ministerial responsibility; and
    • if the review concludes that the Prison Service should continue to function as an executive agency, to consider what changes, if any, are required to the framework document and financial memorandum in light of the findings of the review and the changes we have made to the arrangements for ministerial responsibility for the service. If, however, the review concludes otherwise, to recommend the transitional arrangements necessary to facilitate transformation of the service from executive agency to another organisational entity.

    The review will be conducted by officials from the main Home Office working with officials in the Prison Service. It will draw on and take account of other relevant work, for example, the Prison Service Review which was published earlier in the year and the Prison-Probation Review.

    We welcome the views of all interested parties and, in particular, the review team will seek the views of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Probation, the Parole Board and the Prison Ombudsman. I am today writing to the Chairman of the Boards of Visitors National Advisory Council, the Home Office Trade Union Side, the Prison Service Trade Union Side, the Prison Officers' Association, the Prison Governor's Association, the Secretary of the Prison Service Joint Industrial Council, the Association of Chief Probation Officers, the National Association of Probation Officers, the Central Probation Council and the Directors of the Prison Reform Trust, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, inviting their views. We shall also be seeking the views of the Criminal Justice Consultative Council and organisations associated with it.

    It is hoped to publish the outcome of the review around the end of the year.

    On-Line Lotteries: Legislative Control

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of consultation on the draft Bill to restrict the operation of on-line lotteries. [HL3212]

    We published the draft Lotteries (Frequent Draws) Bill on 7 January for comments. We received responses on behalf of 127 organisations and individuals.Among those we consulted, 46 respondents supported legislation. These included other gambling sectors, churches, regulators and organisations concerned with problem gambling. Seventy-four respondents opposed legislation, predominantly charitable organisations which had hoped for an additional source of finance for their sector. The remaining 7 respondents were neutral or expressed no overall view.Most of those in favour of legislation supported or accepted the draft Bill's proposal for a limit of one draw a day in all premises. Most of those against it suggested that we should await research on the effect of rapid on-line lottery draws or a general review of gambling legislation.We have concluded that on-line lotteries do need to be brought under proper statutory controls. We intend to legislate when the legislative programme allows.As previously proposed, the legislation will be used to limit on-line lottery draws to one a day in any particular premises, with the detailed provisions being amended in the light of points made in consultation.We also consulted on possible increases to stake and proceeds limits. As previously indicated, it will not be appropriate to proceed with that matter until legislation restricting the frequency of on-line lotteries is in place. In the light of the consultation, we will further consider whether such increases are desirable in due course.We are making available an analysis of the responses to the consultation and a paper setting out the Government's views on the main points raised. I have placed copies of these documents in the Library, together with the responses.

    Contributions to and receipts from the EC budget in 1996
    Gross contribution (mecu)Receipts (mecu)Net contribution/receipt1 (mecu)Population (millions)Number of households (millions)Grass contribution per head (ecu)Grass contribution per household (ecu)Receipts per head (ecu)Receipts per household (ecu)Net contribution per head (ecu)Net contribution per household (ecu)
    Belgium2,743.01,996.8746.210.24.0269.1693.9195.9505.173.2188.8
    Denmark1,359.91,553.3-193.45.22.3259.2598.0296.0683.1-36.9-85.0
    Germany20,766.99,872.010,894.981.835.2253.8589.2120.6280.1133.1309.1
    Greece1,107.15,039.8-3,932.710.53.2105.1345.5478.61,573.0-373.5-1,227.4
    Spain4,538.910,511.1-5,972.239.311.8115.5383.5267.4888.1-151.9-504.6
    France12,410.911,951.1459.858.421.5212.6576.1204.7554.87.921.3
    Ireland710.22,970.5-2,260.33.61.0198.2690.2828.82,886.8-630.7-2,196.6
    Italy8,935.27,532.91,402.357.419.9155.7448.8131.3378.424.470.4
    Luxembourg163.283.979.30.40.1397.11,125.5204.1576.6192.9546.9
    Netherlands4,435.71,988.92,446.815.56.2285.5719.8128.0322.8157.5397.1
    Austria1,872.61,600.4272.28.03.0232.7621.5198.9531.233.890.3
    Portugal906.13,680.4-2,774.39.93.191.9288.0373.41,169.9-281.5-881.8
    Finland961.3988.4-27.15.12.0187.5471.9192.8485.2-5.3-13.3
    Sweden1,957.41,204.9752.58.93.8219.4511.1135.1314.684.4196.5
    UK8,227.15,951.12,276.058.722.4140.2366.9101.4265.438.8101.5
    1 (-) denotes net recipient.

    Notes:

    (1) Sources: Contributions and receipts data taken from Court of Auditors' Report on 1996 Community Budget. Population data, relating to 1996, taken from the European Commission's document European Economy. Information on number of households relates to 1991, the latest available, and is taken from the Eurostat yearbook 1997.

    (2) The Court of Auditors uses ecu figures, the unit of account for the EC Budget.

    (3) Gross contribution figures are after account has been taken of the UK's abatement (including corrections, in respect of earlier years) and for adjustments to VAT and GNP-based contributions in respect of earlier years.

    (4) Receipts figures include European Commission payments made direct to the member state's private sector.

    (5) The Court of Auditors' Report does not allocate all Community spending to the member states so that the receipts figures in the table may not represent the full amount of expenditure by the Commission in each member state. Consequently the figures for net contributions/net benefits in the table are likely only to be indicative of the amount of member states' net positions. For example, if all administrative expenditure were allocated to the country in which it is paid, the net position of Belgium and Luxembourg would be substantially improved.

    Bbfc Annual Report

    asked the Leader of the House:Whether she has any plans to propose the appointment of a House of Lords Select Committee to examine the annual report of the British Board of Film Classification. [HL2809]

    It is for the Liaison Committee to propose the establishment of a House of Lords Select Committee. We have no specific plans at present to suggest that a committee to examine the Annual Report of the British Board of Film Classification for 1997–98 should be established, although we are happy to consider ways in which the accountability of the BBFC might be enhanced.

    Eu: Payments By And To Member States

    asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (a) to list for each member state net and gross contributions to the European Union budget for the last year for which figures are available, including net receipts; and
  • (b) to break down net and gross contributions for each member state by household and population. [HL3122]
  • 1996 is the latest year for which information about member states' contributions and receipts is available. The information requested, in respect of that year, is set out in the following table. The amounts shown are in European Currency Units, the unit of account for the EC Budget.

    The Euro

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are planning to allocate any money to promote the euro in 1998–99 or in 1999–2000; and, if so, what is the projected budget; and [HL3120]Whether any European Union funding is being provided for the promotion of the euro in the United Kingdom either in 1998–99 or in 1999–2000: and, if so, what are the projected sums. [HL3121]

    The Government's communication campaign on the euro is not aimed at promoting the euro but at ensuring that UK businesses are aware of the implications of the introduction of the single currency from 1 January 1999, and to provide them with the information they need.To this end, the Treasury Euro Preparations Unit has received Summer Supplementary Estimate provision of £7.5 million to help raise business awareness of the implications of the launch of the euro, and to provide business with practical help during 1998–99. No expenditure has been authorised beyond this.To date the Commission has agreed to provide £21,000 from the Community funds towards the costs of the publication and distribution of the Treasury booklet "EMU: Practical Information for Business", published last July. We will continue to talk to the Commission about the scope for further help with our campaign for raising business awareness for 1 January 1999.

    Eu: Uk Budget Rebate

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in view of M. Santer's forthcoming report on the European Union's budgetary resources, the question of the United Kingdom rebate is still set in stone. [HL3123]

    As the Prime Minister said on 17 June (House of Commons, Official Report, Cols. 368–385), he made it clear to the Cardiff European Council that the Government will maintain the United Kingdom budget rebate, which cannot be changed without the agreement of government and Parliament.

    Department For Culture, Media And Sports' Key Targets For Institutions

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether there are standards for the assessment of the "key achievements" listed for specific institutions in the annual report of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for 1997; if so, what they are; and what are the mechanisms for the formulation of these standards and the assessment of such key achievements. [HL2676]

    The institutions which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport funds vary greatly in size, function and history. Key achievements listed for specific institutions in the annual report are drawn from the funding agreements which the department negotiates each year with those institutions. Funding agreements include targets for key achievements, and progress towards targets is discussed with the institutions during the course of each year, and at performance review meetings.

    Cancer Research: Lottery Awards

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What proportion of National Lottery monies have been awarded for the funding of cancer research and in which specialties. [HL2801]

    To date, the 12 National Lottery distributors have given out a total of £5.1 billion.The National Lottery Charities Board has awarded over £2 million to 11 cancer research projects. This accounts for 0.04 per cent. of the National Lottery awards. The board also made a further 52 awards to cancer related projects totalling £4 million.

    OrganisationProjectTypeAward £
    Imperial Cancer Research FundTo establish a cancer registry in West Yorkshire and to study the medical and social factors causing delay in diagnosis of breast cancer.Breast103,916
    Radiotherapy Action Group ExposureA project to test whether high pressure oxygen therapy will reverse paralysis caused by radiotherapy in breast cancer treatment.Breast117,620
    TENOVUSTo investigate the role of a particular gene in the growth and progression of breast cancer.Breast264,056
    Women's Cancer Detection SocietyA research project to develop a means of identifying key features of cells as an aid to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.Breast159,052
    Cancer Research CampaignA project to create a national centre for research into common cancers. The grant, over two years, will cover the cost of refurbishing and fitting out the Strangeways Laboratory in Cambridge.General476,973
    Cancer Treatment and Research TrustThis project is to develop a new anti-cancer therapy which would work by cutting off the blood supply to tumours.General178,787
    Gray Laboratory Cancer Research TrustA project to test the potential of new radiotherapy techniques on Trust very resistant types of cancer.General138,328

    Organisation

    Project

    Type

    Award £

    Marie Curie Research InstituteA project to help correct malfunctioning genes by developing a method for introducing new genetic material into cells.General183,410
    Yorkshire Cancer Research CampaignA research project to determine the structure of a protein that contributes to the spread of cancer.General86,502
    Leukaemia Research FundA project to examine whether developments in blood-banking will contribute to safer and more successful transplants.Leukaemia90,465
    The Barts Foundation for Research Ltd.A research project to determine whether screening for ovarian cancer will save lives.Ovarian335,592
    Total Amount2,134,701

    The table has been constructed using information provided by National Lottery Charities Board.

    Somerset House

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When, and on what terms, the recent lease for Somerset House was agreed between the Inland Revenue and the government agency concerned. [HL3048]

    The Government assigned the whole of Somerset House to Somerset House Limited on a 128 year lease on 25 November 1997. Somerset House Limited has been established under the chairmanship of the right honourable Sir Timothy Sainsbury with the objective of restoring it fully, increasing public access and turning part of the building into an improved centre for art and culture.Under the terms of the lease, Somerset House Limited will pay no rent to the Government for five years; after five years, it will pay 25 per cent. of the income receivable from its tenants; and after 10 years, 50 per cent. Also on 25 November 1997, Somerset House Limited leased the East, West and New wings of Somerset House to the Inland Revenue for 25 years at an annual rent of £2.1 million. The Courtauld Institute will continue to occupy the North Wing as a tenant of Somerset House Limited. A further lease was signed on 25 November 1997 under which the Lord Chancellor's Department would continue to occupy the South Wing until 1 June 1998. That department has now vacated South Wing, part of which is being renovated and adapted to house the Gilbert Collection.

    Forestry Commission

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What effects the Comprehensive Spending Review has had on the Forestry Commission. [HL3142]

    Following the Comprehensive Spending Review, we have allocated an additional £94½ million to the Forestry Commission over the next three years. This has enabled us to put an end to the programme of large scale sales of Forestry Commission woods and forests, as promised in our manifesto. If we had merely rolled forward the budgets set by the previous government, the commission would have had to sell about 80,000 hectares, or 10 per cent., of our forests. The commission will now be able to safeguard public access to these woods for walkers, cyclists, horseriders and many others who use the commission's forests for recreation and enjoyment.The Forestry Commission will also develop and increase the opportunities for woodland recreation in our forests, entering into partnerships with the private sector where this is appropriate. For example, the commission's holiday cabins will be refurbished and expanded in association with the private sector, so that more people can enjoy holidays in the forests.The Forestry Commission will also continue to enhance the economic value of our forests, while at the same time conserving and improving their biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage. In addition, the commission will work to increase public understanding and community participation, and will target its support for the private forestry sector to secure a wide range of public benefits.The Forestry Commission manages over 800,000 hectares of woods and forests—about 4 per cent. of the land in Britain. This is a valuable resource, and the Comprehensive Spending Review has ensured that the commission can continue to manage these woods and forests sustainably, for the benefit of future generations and in line with our international commitments.

    Infectious Salmon Anaemia: Control Measures

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What actions they are taking on fish farm sites in the same area as sites which have had an attack of infectious salmon anaemia. [HL2949]

    Farms sharing the same water catchment or coastal area as those where the presence of infectious salmon anaemia has been confirmed are subject to similar controls which require approval to:

    • bring on to or remove from the farm any fish, whether alive or dead, eggs or gametes;
    • dispose of any dead fish or their offal except under the supervision of the official service;
    • bring on to or take from the farm any equipment, material or substance liable to transmit disease;
    • enter on to or exit from the farm;
    • bring a vehicle on to or take a vehicle from the farm.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have banned the movement of live salmon from any fish farm sites as a precaution against the spread of infectious salmon anaemia; and if so, how many sites have been affected by the ban. [HL2950]

    The controls placed on fish farms in the areas affected by Infectious Salmon Anaemia require official approval for any proposed movements of live fish. To date no movements have been banned.All movements of live salmon from fish farms sharing the water catchment or coastal area or from farms within the wider coastal area subject to a higher level of monitoring require departmental approval. There are 106 farms affected by this requirement.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How long they intend a site which has had an outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anaemia to remain fallow before new smolts are introduced. [HL2987]

    No final decision has been taken yet, but we are considering a requirement to fallow for a period of not less than six months following clearance and disinfection of all sites in a water catchment or coastal area where infectious salmon anaemia is found to be present.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the light of the outbreaks of infectious salmon anaemia, they intend to ban the import into Scotland of live salmon at any stage in their life cycle; and [HL2986]Whether they intend to ban the import of salmonid parr and smolt in order to prevent the spread of

    Gyrodactylus salaries into the salmonid population in the United Kingdom. [HL2989]

    The importation into Great Britain of live salmonid fish other than from Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland is prohibited. Salmonid eggs may be imported from certain parts of the EU because they have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Commission that they are free from serious fish diseases.Consignments of eggs must be certified as having been thoroughly disinfected. Salmonid eggs may be imported from outwith the EU under licence, but only when they come from a source with equivalent fish health status. There are no plans to change these arrangements in the light of the outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia.In order to prevent the spread of

    Gyrodactylus salaris within the European Community, European fish health requirements will be strengthened by the introduction of a system of health certification for movements of fish into areas which are free from the disease. In the meantime Great Britain has specific safeguard measures

    in place to prevent the introduction of Gyrodactylus salaris from other areas.

    Gyrodactylus Salaris

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether there is any evidence that

    Gyrodactylus salaris can be spread in salmon eggs; and, if so, whether they intend to ban the import of salmonid eggs. [HL2990]

    There is no evidence that Gvrodactylus salaris can be spread in salmon eggs. All imports of eggs must be certified as thoroughly disinfected.

    Salmon Farms: Relocation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider the removal of all salmon farming operations from estuaries of river systems on the west of Scotland to offshore locations, in order to stop sea lice, concentrated in great numbers around these farms, from attaching themselves to wild salmon and sea trout. [HL3011]

    There are approximately 230 finfish farms with multiple cages situated on the west of Scotland. The relocation of these to offshore locations to avoid passing sea trout and salmon is neither realistic nor practicable at this time. Indeed, given the current state of cage technology, this could lead to an increase in escapes, thereby giving rise to heightened concerns about interactions with wild species.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have carried out an economic impact study on the effect of moving salmon farms from their present inshore locations to ecologically safe offshore sites. [HL3014]

    No estimate has been made of the cost of moving the fish farming industry further offshore.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider implementing all measures already being undertaken in Norway and the Republic of Ireland in order to protect west of Scotland fisheries from further declines in the number of wild sea trout and salmon. [HL3012]

    We are always willing to learn from the experiences of other countries and there are exchanges between our respective scientific advisers.Guidance on the future location of fish farms will shortly be issued for consultation.

    Salmon And Sea Trout Catch Value

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their estimate of the economic effect of further falls in rod-caught wild salmon and sea trout on the rural economy of the Highlands and west coast of Scotland. [HL3013]

    The Scottish Salmon Strategy Task Force report contains estimates of the value of salmon/sea trout angling in various parts of Scotland but recognised that figures were not available for sea trout on the west coast. We understand that the Salmon and Trout Association has commissioned a study on the matter and look forward to seeing the results.

    Infectious Salmon Anaemia And Oysters

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In view of the fact that oysters are considered only potential carriers of infectious salmon anaemia and of the consequences of restriction on their movement for operators of oyster farms, when they will complete their review as to when compensation will be paid to oyster farmers. [HL3015]

    Oysters and other bi-valve molluscs feed by filtering particles from the water and there is evidence to show that they are capable of accumulating and subsequently depurating viruses. It follows that there is a risk of spreading infectious salmon anaemia if they are moved.Hitherto it has not been the policy of Government to pay compensation for losses as a result of fish or shellfish diseases, but the issues are being reviewed as a matter of urgency.

    Parliamentary Data And Video Network: Service Interruptions

    asked the Chairman of Committees:Whether he will list the occasions during 1998 when the Parliamentary Data and Video Network has been inaccessible to users, indicating the date, length of time and cause of the interruption to the service on each occasion. [HL2995]

    The requested information is listed below. Occasions during weekends when the service was interrupted for maintenance which was notified in advance are not included.

    DateService InterruptedDurationComments
    20.7.98Malfunction with Fibre Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) bridge router in Palace50 mins
    9.7.98Supervisor card at Norman Shaw South30 mins
    17.6.98Citrix server L0l50 minsNo effect on users. Down for maintenance.
    17. 6.98Citrix server L0250 minsNo effect on users. Server overloaded.
    5.6.98Router problems affecting whole PDVN1 hr 15
    4.6.98Router problems affecting whole PDVN50 mins
    3.6.98Router problems2 hrs 30Buildings affected—Canon Row, Norman Shaw, Deans Yard.
    2.6.98Router problems3 hrs 15
    1.6.98Server PDVN60045 minsAffected users in Norman Shaw.
    26.5.98Servers PDVN027, PDVN500 and FINANCE 013 hrsDue to flooding.
    15.5.98Norman Shaw Dragon Switch30 minsAffected users in Norman Shaw buildings and remote users dialling in via PDVN603 and PDVN024.
    14.5.98Problems logging on to Secondary Distribution Point (SDP)2015 minsAffected HoL— particularly 1st floor, west front and principal floor.
    11.5.98Dragon Switch at Norman Shaw40 minsAffected users in Norman Shaw buildings and remote users dialling in via PDVN603 and PDVN024.
    7.5.98Citrix servers25 minsAffected all Citrix users. Down for maintenance.
    5.5.98Secondary Distribution Point 5 Supervisor Card3 hrsAffected users in POW (mainly Upper Committee Corridor south).
    27.4.98Dragon Switch at Norman Shaw30 minsAffected users in Norman Shaw buildings and remote users dialling in via PDVN603 and PDVN024.
    27.4.98Citrix server6 hrs 30Affected all Citrix users.
    22.4.98Citrix server1 hr 45Affected all Citrix users.
    14.4.98Router at Norman Shaw South1 hr 30Affected users in Norman Shaw buildings.
    8.4.98Citrix server1 hr 15Affected all Citrix users.
    2.4.98Citrix server2 hr 15Affected all Citrix users.
    23.3.98Power cut at Canon Row6 hrsAffected all users at Cannon Row.

    Date

    Service Interrupted

    Duration

    Comments

    19.3.98Server DNP01 due to power cut at 7 Millbank1 hrAffected users at Millbank and transfer of mail between Groupwise and Library email system.
    3.3.98Server PDVN20250 mins
    27.2.98Server PDVN0251 hrAffected all users who log on via PDVN025.
    25.2.98Citrix server35 minsAffected all Citrix users.

    Email & Internet Outages (January 1998 to date)

    Date

    Service Interrupted

    Duration

    Comments

    14.5.98Netscape unavailable via Citrix30 minsAffected remote users only
    14.4.98Netscape unavailable via Citrix15 minsAffected remote users only
    8.4.98PDVN022 groupwise post office down20 minsAffected users whose post office is PDVN022
    31.3.98External web pages not available30 mins
    15.1.98External email5 hrs 10