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Written Answers

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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Written Answers

Thursday, 3rd September 1998

Firearms Legislation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is their intention to introduce further controls, by changes to licensing or otherwise, in respect of the possession and use of (a) firearms, (b) shotguns, (c) air weapons, in the next Session of Parliament, and in particular whether they intend to do so by means of either a Firearms Bill or an amendment to some other Bill. [HL 3235]

The Government have no plans at present to introduce any further legislation on firearms controls. The existing controls will, however, be kept under close scrutiny to see whether other measures are needed to safeguard the public.

Firearms Control Measures

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether Mr Graham Widdecombe of the Home Office Operational Police Policy Unit has a brief which includes the further curtailment or abolition of the private ownership and use of firearms, shotguns

Initial Refusals1 on applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, 1990 to 1997 and Adjudicator asylum appeal outcomes.
Year2Total initial asylum refusalsTotal Adjudicator asylum appeals allowed3 4Total Adjudicator asylum appeals dismissed3 4Total Adjudicator asylum appeals withdrawn3 4
1990705
19913,380
199218,465
199310,690
199416,5001051,935260
199521,3002305,5651,035
199631,67051510,7852,360
199728,9451,18018,1451,720
1 Refusal decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period.
2 Figures rounded to the nearest 5,—indicates figures not available.
3 Appeal outcomes do not necessarily relate to refusal decisions in the same period.
4 Estimates based on information collected by the Asylum Directorate.

Asylum Applications: Medical Evidence Of Torture

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, if an asylum seeker claims that he or she has been tortured, additional time beyond the five days laid down in the White Paper on Immigration and Asylum will

or air weapons in any or all parts of the United Kingdom. [HL 3243]

Part of the brief of the Operational Policing Policy Unit is to ensure that statutory controls on firearms are in line with Ministers' objectives. The Government have indicated that they have no plans at present to introduce any further legislation on firearms. However, we will keep under close scrutiny all existing controls to see whether other measures are needed to safeguard the public.

Asylum Applications And Appeal Outcomes

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many people were refused asylum in England and Wales in each year since 1990; how many of these in each year were subsequently granted (a) refugee status or (b) exceptional leave to remain; and what percentages these figures represent of those refused asylum in the year concerned; and [HL 3139]How many asylum appeals were withdrawn because the Home Office conceded the case in each year since 1990. [HL 3140]

The available information regarding asylum applications refused, 1990 to 1997, and asylum adjudicator appeal outcomes, 1994 to 1997 is given in the table. I regret that equivalent information on asylum appeals prior to 1994, appeals withdrawn because the Home Office conceded the case and grants of asylum or exceptional leave following an initial refusal, could only be obtained through the examination of individual case files and, therefore, at disproportionate cost.be allowed to enable a full medical examination to sustain, or otherwise, this claim. [HL 3246]

The normal time limit for the submission of further material by an asylum applicant following interview may be extended where there are exceptional circumstances, and such circumstances could, depending on the case, include the need to obtain a medical report.

Disabled Prisoners: Facilities

asked Her Majesty's Government:What facilities for disabled prisoners have been incorporated in the new blocks brought into operation since 1 May 1997 or under construction as at 31 July 1998; and whether, pending the issue of a new Prison Service Order giving further guidance on the management of prisoners with physical, sensory or mental disabilities, they will re-examine current building projects with a view to ensuring maximum flexibility of use for prisoners with disabilities. [HL 3221]

The new houseblocks are a standard modular design which incorporates external access for wheelchairs. However, the cell doors are not wide enough for a wheelchair and there are no specific facilities for disabled prisoners provided in the cells. The feasibility of modifying the standard houseblock design to include a small number of cells designed for disabled prisoners is being investigated and, if this proves successful, the option would be available in appropriate circumstances.Where current building projects are not contractually committed, consideration is being given in appropriate cases to meeting the needs of disabled prisoners in the light of the facilities already available at the particular establishment.

Prison Rules

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will incorporate the European Prison Rules in any future revision of the Prison Rules for England and Wales. [HL3222]

There are no plans to incorporate the European Prison Rules in the Prison Rules for England and Wales.

Prisoners: Cases Of Ill Treatment

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many cases of ill treatment of prisoners were drawn to the attention of the Secretary of State by Boards of Visitors under Prison Rule 94 in each of the years 1993 to 1997 inclusive and in 1998 to the latest convenient date. [HL3223]

The information requested is not recorded centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Refugee Legal Centre: Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:What information they have received from the Refugee Legal Centre about the number of cases they are having to turn away because of a lack of resources; whether, in the interests of ensuring that fewer cases are dealt with by unscrupulous or incompetent immigration practitioners, they will increase the centre's resources; and what comparison they have made of the cost of representation by the centre and other practitioners. [HL3226]

The Refugee Legal Centre have advised us that, because of a lack of resources, they will have to turn away in excess of 2,500 appellants in this financial year. We have increased the centre's core funding by 3 per cent. for 1998–99 to £3.2 million. Funding levels for future years have yet to be decided. We have made no comparison between the cost of representation by the centre and other practitioners.

Rough Sleeping In Westminster

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 27 July (

WA 152), whether they will give in full "several reasons" that they believe make "the areas around Victoria Street and Westminster Cathedral … popular with rough sleepers, unlike the areas around Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey". [HL3148]

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police tells me that rough sleepers favour the areas around Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street for the following reasons:

  • Rough sleepers tend to congregate and frequent "traditional" rough sleeping areas, which include Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street;
  • Traditional areas are served by outreach workers from the various charities and voluntary organisations who provide advice and practical assistance, such as clothing, bedding, medical aid and nightly food runs;
  • The areas around Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street have a wide variety of shops and food outlets, some of which have extended opening hours;
  • Victoria Street has many shops and doorways with covered entrances. These are a good source of warmth and shelter for those sleeping rough; and
  • Rough sleepers feel that it is a safe and relatively crime-free area.
Rough sleepers do not favour the areas around Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace for the following reasons:
  • These areas are not "traditional" areas for rough sleepers and so do not offer the same level of support from outreach workers; and
  • Both areas are isolated and lonely at night.

Cs Sprays

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether police officers who carry CS spray when on duty inside football grounds are given special training as to its use; and [HL3099]What action they consider is appropriate following the research carried out by the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital into the effects of CS sprays upon incoming patients and their treatment; and [HL3100]What is the current position with regard to operational trials of the water-based CS spray which have been developed by Surrey; and whether there has been any advance on the development of a synthetic pepper spray which could be used as an alternative to CS; and [HL3101]Whether the use of CS spray has caused the number of attacks on police officers to drop significantly; and whether it has proved to be a valuable tool for women police officers targeted for attack by criminals; and [HL3102]What action they believe is appropriate following the views expressed by the National Association for Mental Health (MIND) and the Mental Health Act Commission regarding the police use of CS spray to restrain psychiatric patients in their homes and on hospital wards; and [HL3103]Whether there is reliable evidence that the risk of injury from the use of CS spray is much lower than that from police batons. [HL3104]

Police officers are given special training on the use of CS spray but not particularly in respect of duty inside football grounds. Guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers on the use of CS sprays have general application to all of the circumstances in which an officer may need to use CS spray.Surrey Police have discontinued trials of a water-based CS spray. Hertfordshire Constabulary are continuing to research the possibility of a synthetic version of Oleoresin Capsicum.During operational trials of CS spray in 16 police forces between March and August 1996, it was found that no clear conclusions could be drawn from the data about the effect of carrying CS on assault rates. The officers who took part in the trials were clear that CS spray significantly improved their safety. Early indications within the Metropolitan Police Service are that the use of CS spray significantly reduces the risk of assault and injury. During the operational trails, CS was seen as easy for even the slightest officer to use, and was particularly welcomed by female officers for this reason. Female officers stated that it gave them confidence to ward off or arrest the most powerful subject.The effects of CS spray wear off relatively quickly and have no significant long-term effects. The physical impact involved in making a baton strike will inevitably carry a greater risk to the health of the person who is struck.

Regrettably, there may, be occasions when police officers need to use force against people suffering from mental illness, and the use of CS spray may well represent the most benign option. The treatment of patients suffering from mental illness who may have been sprayed with CS is a matter for health practitioners and nursing staff.

Asylum Applications From Victims Of Sexual Violence

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they intend to ensure that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' Guidelines for the victims of sexual violence are implemented. [HL3145]

Our current approach to asylum claims from women is generally compatible with that set out in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guidelines. We recognise the need for sensitivity in dealing with asylum applicants and this is stressed in the training and guidance provided to staff involved in the asylum process. This focuses particularly on the need to handle applications sympathetically so as to reduce anxiety, and on ensuring that caseworkers understand cultural differences and respond appropriately.Gender is taken into account in the assessment of individual claims where this is relevant. In practice, few asylum applications by women in the United Kingdom turn solely on gender issues. Applications normally involve claims of persecution on the grounds of race or religion or that a particular group of women face persecution.Rape and other forms of sexual violence may amount to persecution. Where the treatment of women generally in a particular country is discriminatory, whether such treatment amounts to persecution will depend on the circumstances of the individual case.Those who do not meet the requirements of the convention may nevertheless be granted exceptional leave to remain if there are compelling humanitarian reasons for doing so.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they plan to acknowledge rape as grounds of asylum where sexual violence has been used as a method of torture and persecution in another country. [HL3146]

Where rape or any other form of sexual violence or torture amounting to persecution is committed for one of the reasons set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the applicant would qualify for refugee status. If, in the individual case, the requirements of the 1951 convention are not met, consideration will be given to the grant of exceptional leave to remain.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How they will ensure that victims of rape abroad who seek asylum in this country receive the same standard of treatment as should be accorded to victims of rape in this country. [HL 3191]

The need for sensitivity in dealing with all asylum applicants is recognised and stressed in training and guidance to all staff involved in the handling of asylum claims. Interviewers are alert to the special needs of female asylum seekers who may be particularly vulnerable and will take this into account when interviewing applicants. Requests for female interviewers and interpreters are complied with as far as is operationally possible.

Asylum Applications: Harmonisation Of Procedures

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether European Union harmonisation could result in the system of processing asylum applications in the United Kingdom being assimilated to that in other European Union Member States and becoming less open; and whether harmonisation will be used as a reason for cutting the cost of processing asylum applications. [HL 3192]

The Council of the European Union has identified work on harmonisation of national procedures for granting the right to asylum as one of a number of priority areas pending the coming into force of the Amsterdam Treaty. There are no proposals presently before the Council for any substantive measures of this sort. The Amsterdam Treaty provides for measures to be adopted which would establish minimum standards in relation to the reception of asylum seekers, the qualification of asylum seekers as refugees and procedures for the grant or withdrawal of refugee status. The United Kingdom will be in a position to decide whether or not to participate in any such measures. There is no reason to believe that any

Table A: Percentage of offenders sentenced at all courts for indictable offences by sex and type of sentence or order, England and Wales, 1996 and 1997 (p)
Year & SexTotal sentencedImmediate custody1FineCommunity service orderProbation orderCombination orderDischarge2Other
1996
Males100232910103169
Females10010236183319
1997 (p)
Males100242810104168
Females10011227193308
(p) = provisional.
1 Immediate custody = detention in a Young Offender Institution and unsuspended sentence of imprisonment.
2 Discharge = absolute and conditional discharges.

minimum standards so established would require national asylum procedures to be less open. Member states will, of course, be alert to the resource implications of any proposals in this area, but their primary motivation is likely to be the need to ensure that those in genuine need of international protection receive it quickly and to prevent, as far as possible, abuse of asylum procedures.

Prisons: Mother And Baby Units

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many of Her Majesty's prisons have mother and baby units; how many places are there in each unit; and how many mothers and babies are currently accommodated in them. [HL3072]

There are now four mother and baby units in the female prison estate, located at Holloway, New Hall, Askham Grange and Styal prisons. Holloway has places for 13 mothers with their babies; Styal has places for 22; Askham Grange, which is an open prison, can take a maximum of 20 mothers with their babies; and New Hall has places for nine.On 20 July 1998, 51 women had their babies with them in the four mother and baby units.

Indictable Offence Sentences By Gender And Type

asked Her Majesty's Government:What percentage of male and female offenders respectively sentenced for indictable offences in 1997 received (a) prison sentences, (b) fines, (c) community service orders, (d) probation orders, (e) combination orders and (f) discharges. [HL3073]

Available information for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is given in the attached tables.

Table B: Percentage of offenders with charge proved for cases heard in High and Sheriff courts1by sex and main disposal, Scotland, 1996
Year & SexTotalCustodyFineCommunity service orderProbation orderCombination orderAbsolute discharge2Other
1996
Males10019587791
Females10075659212
1 No direct equivalent to indictable offences.
2 Absolute discharge also includes admonition or caution.
— Not applicable in Scotland.
Table C: Percentage of offenders convicted at all courts for indictable offences by gender and disposal, Northern Ireland, 1996 and 1997
Immediate
Year & SexTotalcustody1FineSupervision in the community2Conditional dischargeOther3
1996
Males1002425171123
Females100622262620
1997
Males1002425181122
Females100825242320
1 Immediate custody = Prison, YOC and Training School.
2 Supervision in the community = Probation, Community service Order and Attendance Centre Order.
3 "Other" includes suspended custody, recognizance and absolute discharge.

Female Prisoners: New Accommodation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which (a) new prisons, (b) former men's prisons and (c) wings in men's prisons have been opened as women's prisons since 1994 or are currently planned; and how many places each provides; and [HL3074]Which women's prisons or women's wings within men's prisons have been closed since 1994 or are to be closed under current plans. [HL3075]

The information requested is given in the tables.

Accommodation for Female Prisoners Opened since 1974
EstablishmentAccommodationOpened
WinchesterFemale training wing providing 66 places, replacing the male training wing which was closed in December 1994.March 1995
Brockhill1. A wing outside the main prison perimeter (42 places) was re-roled for female use.1. October 1995
2. The remainder of Brockhill was re-roled to female use providing an additional 117 places.2. September 1996
Eastwood ParkFemale prison providing 135 places to replace development at Pucklechurch.March 1996
HighpointHighpoint North re-roled for female use, providing 207 places.November 1996
Foston HallRe-roled to females providing 134 places.August 1997
SendRe-roled to femaleJune 1998

Accommodation for Female Prisoners Opened since 1974

Establishment

Accommodation

Opened

providing 80 places. More places will be provided over time.
DurhamH Wing will re-role to female providing an additional 80 places.Before end of 1998
Low NewtonThe work required to re-role Low Newton is currently being assessed.End of the financial year 1998–99

Accommodation for Female Prisoners closed since 1974

Establishment

Accommodation

Closed

PucklechurchThis establishment was closed and replaced with accommodation at Eastwood Park.February 1996
RisleyThe female accommodation at Risley will close and the new houseblock at Styal will provide accommodation for female prisoners currently held at Risley.August 1998

Prisons Opened/Reopened Since 1995

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which new prisons have been opened or reopened since 1995; how many places there are in each; and what are the capital and running costs of each. [HL3063]

The table lists those prisons which have opened or reopened since 1995. In each case, the prison's opening date, current number of places, capital costs and net operating costs in 1997–98 have also been shown.

Prisons Opened or Reopened since 1995
Prison1Date openedCurrent number of placesCapital costs (£m)Net operating costs 1997–98 (£000)
AltcourseDecember 199760088
Colchester2February 199732nil913
Eastwood ParkMarch 1996255144,454
Foston HallAugust 199715042,999
Lowdham GrangeFebruary 199850032
ParcNovember 199780075
WeareJune 1997400135,822
1 These prisons were newly opened, with the exception of Eastwood Park, which was closed as a male establishment and then reopened to house females in March 1996; and Foston Hall, which was formerly part of Sudbury male prison and has now been reopened as a female prison.
2 Colchester was open for a period of 14 months as a pilot scheme for young offenders. The prison closed at the end of March 1998.
3 The capital costs given for the newly opened DCMF prisons are the project costs. These include capital expenditure before the prisons' opening and consist mainly of construction costs. Operating costs for these three establishments in 1997–98 are unavailable due to the short period during which they have been open. The cost of building and running each prison is borne by the prisons' operating company, who are repaid annually by the Prison Service over the lifetime of the contract. This annual fee is in the order of £26 million for Altcourse, £25 million for Parc and £13 million for Lowdham Grange.

New Prisons

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which new prisons are currently planned; what are their planned opening dates; how many places each will provide; and what are the planned capital and running costs of each. [HL3064]

The Prison Service is planning to open four new prisons at:

  • the site of the former Pucklechurch prison near Bristol—a 400-place male young offender institution, to open in November 1999;
  • Agecroft, near Salford—an 800-place multi-functional male prison, to open in January 2000;
  • Marchington, near Stafford—an 800-place prison, including a 200-place therapeutic unit, to open in October 2000; and
  • the site adjacent to Onley prison, near Rugby—a 600-place male adult training prison, to open in October 2000.
These prisons will be designed, constructed, managed and financed by the private sector. The cost of building and running each new prison will be borne by the contractor, who will be paid an annual fee by the Prison Service for the provision of this service over the lifetime of the contract. The projected annual fee is in the order of £17 million for Agecroft, £11 million for Pucklechurch, £23 million for Marchington and £18 million for Onley.

Additional Prison Places

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many additional places have been provided in existing prisons since 1995; how many such places are currently planned; and what is the cost of this provision. [HL3065]

Since January 1995, the Prison Service increased the certified normal accommodation at existing prisons by 6,300 places. Plans are in place to build a further 1,900 places at existing establishments, at a cost of £119.5 million.

Overseas Domestic Workers

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will be proposing changes to the immigration rules in respect of domestic workers coming to the United Kingdom from overseas; and the regularising of the immigration status of those who have suffered abuse or exploitation. [HL3054]

I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave to my noble friend Lady Lockwood on 23 July (WA 131).

Cirea: Asylum Information Exchange

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the functions of the Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on Asylum (known as "CIREA") in the context of policies and practices governing asylum seekers within the European Union; and to what extent and in what manner does the Government participate in the activities of CIREA. [HL3057]

The Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on Asylum (CIREA) was established in 1992 as an informal meeting point for the exchange, documentation and dissemination of information on matters relating to asylum in member states of the European Union. Following the Treaty on European Union in Maastricht in 1992, the CIREA mandate was legally adopted. CIREA's role is to contribute to the development of policy on asylum matters within the European Union. Member states provide information, documentation and statistics on asylum and related issues. Since June 1993, CIREA has shared information about the political, social, religious and economic situations in the countries of origin of asylum seekers.

The United Kingdom is regularly represented at CIREA meetings at official level. Reports are made to the Justice and Home Affairs Council as necessary. During the United Kingdom Presidency, CIREA conducted detailed examinations of member states' experiences, including the prevailing country conditions of a number of countries of origin of asylum applicants and brought a number of previous studies up to date.

Under the United Kingdom Presidency, CIREA continued its work in consultation with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in studying country conditions.

Probation Officers Seconded To Prisons

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many probation officers were employed in Her Majesty's prisons on 30 June in the years 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. [HL3060]

The numbers of probation officers working in prisons on 30 June each year from 1995 (the earliest date for which half year figures are available) to 31 December 1997 (the latest date for which figures are as yet available) are as follows:

Seconded probation officers working in prisons
(whole-time equivalents).
DateNumber
30 June 1995645
30 June 1996586
30 June 1997483
31 December 1997560
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has announced new funding of over £200 million to deliver the Government's manifesto commitment on constructive regimes. It is probable that some of that additional funding will pay for an increase in the number of seconded probation officers.

Prison Officers

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the current number of prison officers; and what was the number of prisoners per staff member in each year from 1993 to 1998. [HL3061]

The total number of prison officer grades in post as at 30 June 1998 was 23,631. Staff to prisoner ratios are listed below. These figures include all grades of staff in publicly managed prisons, but exclude staff and prisoners in contractually managed prisons.

YearStaff: Prisoner Ratio
19931:1.17
19941:1.24
19951:1.26
19961:1.33

Year

Staff: Prisoner Ratio

19971:1.53
199811:1.47

1 Figures as at 30 June 1998

Prisons: Education Data

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many of Her Majesty's prisons reduced the number of hours of education in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998; and what proportion of the total number of prisons this represents for each of those years. [HL3062]

The information requested is given in the tables. The figures for reduction in education hours are based on the 121 prisons for which data are available for the whole period. The reduction in hours is, in part, a reflection of increased efficiency in education provision. More education is delivered as time-limited courses to address specific needs, or is part-time rather than full-time.

Prison Service: Reduction in Education Hours
Number of prisons reducing the number hours of educationProportion of prisons of the total number that this represents
1996–97 on 1995–9610284%
1997–98 on 1996–976856%
1998–99 on 1997–98186171%
1 Data for the first quarter of 1998–99 has been annualised and remains provisional.
Prison Service: Average education output
Education Hours Per Prisoner Per Week
1995–964.9
1996–974.3
1997–984.1
1998–99 First Quarter13.8
1 Data for the first quarter of 1998–99 has been annualised and remains provisional.

Asylum Applications Backlog

asked Her Majesty's Government:How long they anticipate that it will take, following the guidance given in their White Paper,

Fairer, Faster and Firmer—a Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum, to clear the backlog of the 10,000 individuals seeking asylum who made application prior to 1 July 1993 and have not yet received a response. [HL3218]

As indicated in the White Paper, Fairer, Faster and Firmer—a Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum, we are aiming to clear all the backlog of undecided asylum claims before April 2001 so as to achieve our target, on current forecasts of asylum claims, of decision times of two months or less by that date. We will start by clearing the undecided cases which date from before 1 July 1993, and hope to be able to decide most of these by early 1999.

Firearms: National Register

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the names and qualifications of the members of the working group which has been set up to establish the central database for the establishment of a central register of firearms holders required by Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997; when the working group was established; and what are the dates on which it has met. [HL3046]

I understand from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that a working group to consider the possibility of setting up a national firearms register was first established on 28 August 1996, and was attended by the following members:

Mr. M. CurtisPolice Information Technology Organisation (Local Police Systems Directorate)
Mr. J. PhillipsChief Constable, Kent County Constabulary
Mr. A. BurdenChief Constable, Gwent Constabulary
Mr. J. TwiggPolice National Computer Directorate
Mr. M. ReedPolice Information Technology Organisation (Local Police Systems Directorate)
It was agreed at the meeting of the ACPO Administration of Firearms and Explosives Licensing Sub-Committee held on 18 March 1998 that a revised working group should be set up to review the work which had been done by the earlier group and on an

ad hoc basis since. Their aim is to finalise a detailed user requirement for submission to the ACPO Police National Computer (PNC) Steering Committee and the Police Information Technology Organisation. The members of this group are:

Mr. D. WinserAssistant Chief Constable, Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Mr. I. McCollFirearms Licensing Officer
Mr. J. BrearFirearms Enquiries Officer
Sgt. C. LockeMetropolitan Police Firearms Enquiry Officer
Supt. I. BrownACPO PNC Steering Group
Ch. Insp. J. ThompsonPNC Directorate

This group is scheduled to meet in September when all the current information has been marshalled.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 22 July (

WA 118), whether it is a statutory requirement of Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 to establish a central register of firearm holders or whether the creation of such a register is dependent on the Association of Chief Police Officers' assessment of its operational priority. [HL3125]

The establishment of a central register of all persons who have applied for a firearm or shotgun certificate, or to whom a firearm or shotgun certificate has been granted, or whose certificate has been renewed, is a statutory requirement of Section 39(1) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. Sub-section (2)(b) further requires the register to be kept by means of a computer which provides access on-line to all police forces. The legislation does not specify when the requirement must be met.

Firearm And Shotgun Certificates

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 22 July (

WA 118–120), when they expect to be able to update the statistics on firearm and shotgun certificates issued in England and Wales for 1996 given in that Answer, to show the position on 31 December 1997. [HL3047]

I understand that the Firearm statistics for England and Wales for the year ending 31 December 1997 will be ready for publication by late September or early October.

Immigrants And Asylum Seekers: Reference Numbers

asked Her Majesty's Government:What identifying numbering system, if any, is used to record the arrival of immigrants or asylum seekers in the United Kingdom; and whether the numbers so allocated are notified to any other government departments. [HL3230]

Persons subject to control who are seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom are given a unique port reference number if they are required to submit to further examination by an immigration officer. This will include port asylum applicants, who will also attract a separate and individual Home Office reference number. These numbers do not in themselves identify such persons as asylum seekers, and they may be quoted in correspondence with other government departments.

Surrendered Handguns: Disposal

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many handguns have been handed in to each police force under the provisions of the Firearms Acts; how many of these have been destroyed; and what records police forces are required to keep of the identification numbers, or other particulars, of firearms handed in and destroyed. [HL3231]

Under the terms of the Firearms (Amendment) Acts 1997, a total of 162,198 handguns were surrendered to the police in England, Wales and Scotland. A breakdown of these figures by police force area is contained in the table. A proportion of the 3,607 firearms surrendered or otherwise disposed of under the terms of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 will also have been handguns but details of these were not recorded centrally.Figures for the number of handguns destroyed are not collected centrally. The vast majority of handguns surrendered to the police have been destroyed, or will be when the relevant compensation claims have been settled and disposal instructions issued by the Firearms Compensation Section. A small number of handguns will be retained by the police for official purposes or will be given to suitably authorised museums.The way in which the details of firearms surrendered to the police were recorded is a matter for individual chief officers. Serial numbers for such firearms should have been given on the compensation claim forms submitted to the police at the time of surrender, and should have been checked by the police against the serial numbers appearing on the firearms themselves and in the relevant firearm certificates or dealers' registers of transactions.

Handguns Surrendered under the Firearms Acts 1997
Constabulary/Police1997 Act1997 (No. 2) Act
England & WalesLarge CalibreSmall Calibre (ex gratia)TotalSmall CalibreCombined Total
Avon & Somerset3,2275663,7937024,495
Bedfordshire9922321,2241501,374
City of London733010330133
Cambridgeshire1,1763651,5412531,794
Cheshire2,2503612,6113672,978
Cleveland7002429421231,065
Cumbria8631501,0132741,287
Derbyshire1,7914762,2672872,554
Devon & Cornwall3,6255734,1988925,090
Dorset2,2075452,7523483,100
Durham1,0203131,3331081,441
Dyfed Powys1,3202341,5542391,793
Essex4,8401,2686,1086586,766
Gloucestershire1,1022801,3823181,700
Greater Manchester3,8341,0934,9275955,522
Gwent1,1122891,4011631,564
Hampshire3,7577664,5236495,172
Hertfordshire1,9984352,4332412,674
Humberside1,1693521,5212161,737
Kent3,7458224,5676035,170
Lancashire2,2806712,9513403,291
Leicestershire2,5153772,8922023,094
Lincolnshire1,3083381,6461621,808
Merseyside2,9076503,5574083,965
Met Area 169917787689965
Met Area 22,8526293,4814993,980
Met Area 33,2647494,0134734,486
Met Area 44,1768685,0448205,864
Met Area 53,3245733,8976314,528
Norfolk2,2245542,7783503,128
Northamptonshire1,0483331,3812261,607
Northumbria1,8234592,2822792,561
North Wales1,2672871,5542631,817
North Yorkshire3,1057943,8991264,025
Nottinghamshire3,5715554,1266284,754
South Wales2,8627843,6463373,983
South Yorkshire2,1256632,7882193,007
Staffordshire2,9426413,5833643,947
Suffolk1,5985272,1252162,341
Surrey3,1146683,7826804,462
Sussex Thames3,2865023,7885304,318

Handgun Surrendered under the Firearms Acts 1997

Constabulary/Police

1997 Act

1997 (No. 2) Act

England & Wales

Large Calibre

Small Calibre (ex gratia)

Total

Small Calibre

Combined Total

Valley3,8068074,6131,0135,626
Warwickshire8322151,0471761,223
West Mercia2,5886083,1964913,687
West Midlands5,0118255,8366406,476
West Yorkshire3,7026544,3565884,944
Wiltshire1,3523201,6722041,876
Sub Total for E and W110,38224,620135,00218,170153,172

Scotland

Central Scotland28910339217409
Dumfries and Galloway2368331933352
Fife2937636961430
Grampian65714980685891
Lothian and Borders1,2532451,4981941,692
Northern9583071,2651731,438
Strathclyde1,9226332,5553782,933
Tayside65415580972881
Sub total for Scotland6,2621,7518,0131,0139,026
Overall total for E, W and S116,64426,371143,01519,183162,198

Prison Service: Additional Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the additional £112 million funding for the Prison Service announced by the Home Secretary on 13 February 1998 was inclusive or additional to the £43 million additional funding announced on 24 July 1997; and whether the additional £66 million announced on 21 July 1998 is inclusive of or exclusive of these amounts. [HL 3096]

The £43 million additional funding announced on 24 July 1997 comprised £17 million for 1997–98 and £26 million for 1998–99.The £112 million announced on 13 February 1998 was for the 1998–99 year. This sum included the £26 million announced previously. The Home Secretary, in the same announcement, explained that the Prison Service had done well in containing costs in 1997–98, and had not had to call on extra provision made available for that year.

Prisoner Population Data

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many male and female prisoners respectively in each ethnic group were (a) British nationals and (b) foreign nationals on 30 June 1997 and (if available) 30 June 1998. [HL 3097]

The information requested is given in the table.

Population in prisons in England and Wales by sex, ethnic group and nationality1
Ethnic group/Nationality30 June 1997 MalesFemales30 June 19982MalesFemales
White48,1512,01351,2782,369
British Nationals46,6071,91949,5632,241
Foreign Nationals1,429861,597123
Black7,0625237,449564
British Nationals5,6532935,938315
Foreign Nationals1,3932301,492248
South Asian1,841251,98331
British Nationals1,211121,34518
Foreign Nationals6261163512
Chinese and Other1,6841111,897156
British Nationals8385291266
Foreign Nationals8405997889
Unrecorded57
British Nationals26
Foreign Nationals3
Total58,7952,67262,6073,120
British Nationals54,3352,27657,7582,640
Foreign Nationals4,2913864,702472
1 Includes persons of unknown or unrecorded nationality.
2 Provisional figures.

Indictable Offence Sentences: Analysis

asked Her Majesty's Government:What proportion of (a) all offenders, (b) adult male offenders, (c) adult female offenders, and (d) male offenders of all ages sentenced for indictable offences were sentenced to custody at all courts, Crown Courts and magistrates' courts

Table A: Average sentence length and proportion of offenders sentenced to immediate custody for indictable offences1by sex and court, England and Wales, 1992 to 1997
Category of offender19921993199419951996As a wholeFirst quarter19972Second quarterThird quarterFourth quarter
Average sentence length3(months)
Magistrates' courts
Males aged 21 or over2.73.23.12.82.72.62.82.62.62.6
Females aged 21 or over2.22.62.52.42.32.22.22.22.32.1
The Crown Court
Males aged 21 or over21.121.821.622.023.624.224.223.924.324.4
Females aged 21 or over17.717.718.517.720.019.619.920.517.120.8
Proportion sentenced to custody (percentages)
All courts
All offenders of which15151720222222222223
All males16171822232424242425
Males aged 21 or over18182024252626262627
Females aged 21 or over67810121312131414
Magistrates' courts
All offenders of which5679101010101111
All males5689101110111112
Males aged 21 or over5679111211121213
Females aged 21 or over2345686899

respectively in each year from 1992 to 1997 and each quarter of 1997 and 1998; and [HL3094]

What was the average sentence length passed on (a) adult males and (b) adult females by the Crown Courts and magistrates' courts respectively in each year from 1992 to 1997. [HL3095]

Available information for England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is given in the tables.

Table A: Average sentence length and proportion of offenders sentenced to immediate custody for indictable offences

1

by sex and court, England and Wales, 1992 to 1997

Category of offender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

As a whole

First quarter

1997

2

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter

The Crown Court

All offenders of which44495256606061605960
All males46515458636263636262
Males aged 21 or over47515458636364636363
Females aged 21 or over24283032363637373634

1 The data are based on the sentences given for the principal offence.

2 Estimated.

3 Excludes life sentences.

Table B1: Average determinate sentence

1

(months) given to adult

2

males and females convicted of any offence and given immediate custody by type of court, Northern Ireland, 1992 to 1997

Type of court/Category of offender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Magistrates' courts

Adult males555555
Adult females454434

Crown Court

Adult males455845483134
Adult females523942291117

1 Figures exclude life and SOSP prisoners.

2 Adults are defined as those aged 17 years plus (inclusive).

Table B2: Proportion of all offenders, adult

1

male offenders, adult

1

female offenders and all male offenders sentenced to custody for indictable offences by type of court, Northern Ireland, 1992 to 1997

Percentages

Type of court/Category of offender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Magistrates' courts

All offenders151615151515
All male offenders161816171617
Adult males181917181718
Adult females445555

Crown Court

All offenders506253535457
All male offenders536556555660
Adult males536657565761
Adult females20218241622

All courts

All offenders192219202021
All male offenders212421222223
Adult males232523242324
Adult females655757

Note: 1997 and 1998 data by quarter are not available.

Table C1: Average sentence length given

1, 2

(months) for males and females aged 21 or over in Scottish courts, 1992 to 1996

Court type/gender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Stipendiary Magistrates' courts

Males aged 21 or over2.93.03.53.73.8
Females aged 21 or over2.73.13.33.13.6

District Court

Males aged 21 or over0.80.70.80.90.8
Females aged 21 or over0.70.80.70.60.7

Sheriff Summary Court

Males aged 21 or over3.43.43.73.73.6
Females aged 21 or over2.93.03.43.03.2

Sheriff Solemn Court

Males aged 21 or over13.715.115.816.517.0
Females aged 21 or over9.412.512.815.916.2

High Court

Males aged 21 or over57.252.457.857.061.1
Females aged 21 or over32.431.238.634.839.6

All courts

Males aged 21 or over8.08.17.98.38.5
Females aged 21 or over3.44.04.34.55.2

1There is no direct equivalent to indictable offences in Scotland. The figures in the table relate to all types of crimes and offences for which a charge was proved.

2Excludes life sentences, indeterminate retention and recalls.

Table C2: Percentage of persons with a charge

1

proved in Scottish courts who were sentenced to custody, 1992 to 1996

Court type/gender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Stipendiary Magistrates' courts

All offenders1922221816
All male offenders1923221916
Males aged 21 or over2225232018
Females aged 21 or over1921261816

District Court

All offenders11111
All male offenders11111
Males aged 21 or over11111
Females aged 21 or over00011

Sheriff Summary Court

All offenders1212131415
All male offenders1213141516
Males aged 21 or over1112131415
Females aged 21 or over56656

Table C2: Percentage of persons with a charge

1

proved in Scottish courts who were sentenced to custody, 1992 to 1996

Court type/gender

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Sheriff Solemn Court

All offenders5861646568
All male offenders6064666771
Males aged 21 or over6265687074
Females aged 21 or over2030293738

High Court

All offenders7879808385
All male offenders8081828486
Males aged 21 or over8182848687
Females aged 21 or over3949495754

All courts

All offenders89101011
All male offenders911111212
Males aged 21 or over910101112
Females aged 21 or over34544

1There is no direct equivalent to indictable offences in Scotland. The figures in the table relate to all types of crimes and offences for which a charge was proved.

Vitamin B6

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 29 June

(WA 57) signifies that the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, in considering the safety limit for vitamin B6, concluded that there were no risks of underdosage for vulnerable subpopulations, or alternatively that the consideration of such risks was outside their remit. [HL3245]

The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) was not asked to consider the risks of underdosage of vitamin B6 for vulnerable subpopulations as it was outside their remit. The issue of nutritional requirements of vitamins is a matter for the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). The COT was aware of COMA's advice that 1.4mg of vitamin B6 is sufficient or more than sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of practically all healthy people. Surveys show that average intakes of vitamin B6 in the United Kingdom from food (excluding supplements) are well above the Reference Nutrient Intake of 1.4mg. The COT recommended that the maximum daily intake of vitamin B6 from dietary supplements should be 10mg, which is more than seven times the nutritional requirement.

Fluoridation Of Water

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 10 June

(WA 95) and having regard to the indirect character of the studies cited therein,

whether they consider that an up-to-date pilot study addressing directly the issue of toxicity to humans of artificially fluoridated water should now be conducted. [HL3182]

The Medical Research Council, which commissions most of the Government's research into bio-medical and clinical issues, is always open to new sound scientific proposals in competition with other applications. However, the cited studies demonstrate that the absorption and effects of fluoride ions at relevant concentrations in drinking-water are identical, whether occurring entirely naturally, or partly supplemented. Assessment of the efficacy and safety of water fluoridation is based on the extensive and continuing studies of the effects of fluoride in drinking-water on human, in addition to laboratory studies in other animals and test systems.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 18 December 1997

(WA 103) and 2 March 1998 (WA 126), whether:

  • (a) they now accept that those who fluoridate the public water supply should be aware of the total fluoride exposure of the population before doing so, as advocated in the World Health Organisation Technical Report Series 846, Fluorides and oral health (WHO, 1994);
  • (b) they will indicate by whom and by what means such monitoring will be carried out; and
  • (c) they will ensure that health authorities are currently giving and will in future give publicity to advise people of the situations in which they no longer need topical fluoride. [HL3183]
  • We agree with the World Health Organisation that "periodic assessment of total fluoride intake in a population, as well as regular monitoring of fluorosis prevalence and severity in children, enable the public health administrator to determine whether further action is called for to reduce" the prevalence of dental caries. Such periodic assessments are undertaken here. For example, analyses of fluoride are currently being conducted for the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group as part of a study of halides in the Total Diet Study samples collected in 1997. Also, concentrations of fluoride in drinking water are regularly reported by water undertakers and the Department of Health sponsors regular surveys of oral health.Our policy on fluoridation is under review but, in the light of the existing monitoring arrangements, we are not inclined to advocate local surveys of exposure to fluoride. However, as indicated in Baroness Jay of Paddington's reply on 18 December 1997

    (WA 103), we do intend to require health authorities to advise people in areas newly fluoridated that they no longer need to use topical fluorides.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether any studies have been done to test the specific properties and long-term biological effects of sodium hexafluorosilicate when added to drinking water. [HL3184]

    Sodium hexafluorosilicate, added to water to supplement the fluoride concentration, dissociates to produce sodium ions, silica, and fluoride ions. There is extensive information on the properties and biological effects of all of these products. Fluoridation produces no significant increase in the concentrations of sodium or silica in drinking-water.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why fluoride drops and tablets are licensed as medicinal products whereas fluoride when placed for health purposes in the public water supply is subject to no such procedures, whether under food or medicines law. [HL3185]

    We consider that the public are adequately protected by the provisions in the Water Industry Act 1991 which require water undertakers to supply water that it is wholesome and ensure that, in areas which are artificially fluoridated, the concentration of fluoride supplied to the consumer is, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintained at one milligram per litre.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 12 November 1997

    (WA 34–35), why they continue to support the fluoridation of the public water supply when the American review cited by the Minister concluded that there are "inconsistencies in the fluoride toxicity data base and gaps in knowledge. Accordingly, it recommends further research in the areas of fluoride intake, dental fluorosis, bone strength and carcinogenicity". [HL3186]

    Extensive studies and more than half a century of experience indicate that fluoridation is an effective and safe measure capable of producing significant improvements in public health by contributing to the prevention of dental caries. The Committee on Toxicology of the US National Research Council did not recommend the curtailment of fluoridation in the United States of America; on the contrary, it concludes that the current Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4 milligrams fluoride per litre, set by the US Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health, remains appropriate as an interim standard to be reviewed when results of new research become available. This MCL is more than twice the concentration permitted in drinking water in the United Kingdom, and four times the target concentration for water fluoridation schemes.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether in the matter of water fluoridation they consider that a group should now be commissioned which is seen to be independent of any particular viewpoint in order to draft a protocol, to be endorsed by both supporters and opponents of fluoridation, for a scientifically defensible systematic review of the available evidence (published and unpublished), and that the results of such a review should be made public. [HL3187]

    The efficacy and safety of fluoridation has been under almost continuous and intensive review since it was first proposed in the late 1930s, and introduced in North America in 1945. Currently the International Programme on Chemical Safety, jointly sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organisation, is revising its review of Fluorine and Fluorides in the series of Environmental Health Criteria. The Department of Health monitors these studies and would also be willing to consider proposals for a review from a United Kingdom based research organisation.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 23 March (WA 234), whether they can now give, or arrange for the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy to give, a full and relevant explanation of the continuing discrepancy between the Department of Health advice on excessive intake of fluoride contained in

    Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom (20–80 mg/d over 10–20 years) and the corrected advice given by the author of that figure in 1979 and followed by some other authorities since that date (10–20mg/d over 10–20 years). [HL3244]

    It is generally agreed that excessive intakes of fluoride over a prolonged period of time (20–80 mg/d for 10–20 years) can lead to skeletal fluorosis, resulting in ossification of the ligaments and fusion of the spine, as stated in the cited report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. Quotation of this range is appropriate in a brief summary intended to provide guidance relevant to dietary intakes (rather than occupational exposure) in the United Kingdom. The relationship between daily intakes lower than 20 mg and clinical skeletal fluorosis is less certain.

    Artificial Limbs: Nhs Supplies

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are proposing to modernise National Health Service artificial limbs to close the technological gap between them and privately bought artificial limbs. [HL3143]

    The Government will, as part of its modernisation programme, strive to ensure that all patient care is delivered quickly, consistently and at the highest possible standards. The provision of artificial limbs is very specialised. Each limb is designed to fit the individual user in a way which takes account of their lifestyle needs.Our priority is to ensure that in this, as in other NHS services, products both meet the needs of the individual concerned and offer value for money. To this end NHS Supplies have recently set up a group of all those involved in the supply of prosthetics, including users, to determine good practice and improve performance throughout the NHS Supply function.

    Primary Case Groups

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they anticipate that all Primary Care Groups will be operational by the due date. [HL3279]

    We have made clear in the White Paper "The new NHS Modern—Dependable" published on 9 December 1997 that, by 1 April 1999, all general practitioners (and their patients) will be represented within a primary care group. The final shape, the functions and the level at which primary care groups will perform will reflect local circumstances. All appropriate mechanisms will be in place to allow primary care groups to become operational on 1 April 1999.

    Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What definitive research the Department of Health has commissioned into the physical causes of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME); and what plans it has to commission such research. [HL3277]

    The main Government agency for funding research into the causes and pathogenesis of health problems is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department of Trade and Industry.The MRC is funding one study which is about to be completed at the University of Manchester entitled

    The role of noradrenaline in the neuropsychological pathogenesis of the chronic fatigue syndrome. The MRC also supports a considerable amount of basic research that would underpin any search for the pathophysiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis.

    The Department of Health has not commissioned any research in this area, and has no present plans to do so. We are however working with the Linbury Trust on issues related to the treatment and management of the problem.

    Patient's Charter: Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect the Review of the Patient's Charter under Mr. Greg Dykes to be completed and published. [HL3276]

    We expect Mr. Greg Dyke's report and recommendations to be delivered to Department of Health Ministers later this year.

    Nhs Direct

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the detailed timetable for setting up NHS Direct by the year 2000; and what resources, beyond the £14 million recently announced, are planned to be made available for the service when it is fully operational. [HL3278]

    The first three pilots of NHS Direct were set up in March 1998. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Health announced a second wave on 4 August, which will be up and running in the first half of 1999 and take coverage of NHS Direct up to over 40 per cent. of the population. Fourteen million pounds has been allocated to funding NHS Direct in this financial year and at least £35 million will be spent during the 1999–2000 financial year on the second wave. A third wave will follow before national roll-out in the year 2000. We will be examining suitable funding levels for NHS Direct as part of our evaluation of these pilots and, on current estimates, we expect NHS Direct to cost something between £1 and £2 per head of the population annually.

    Child Labour

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, having drawn attention to the widespread child labour in the Third World, they will now examine and report on the situation in the United Kingdom. [HL3247]

    Exploitative child labour, wherever it occurs, is unacceptable. Current domestic legislation on the protection of children who work is being updated to ensure conformity with European standards. Furthermore, a review of these arrangements will address particularly the protection of working children's health, safety, welfare and general development. This review will report by the end of the year.

    Oecd Convention On Combating Bribery

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the provisions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions for monitoring and follow-up are of importance to the implementation of the convention; and whether the United Kingdom delegation to recent meetings in Paris of the OECD Working Group on Bribery opposed arrangements for such monitoring and follow-up. [HL2832]

    The provisions for monitoring and follow-up are, of course, very important in ensuring that the provisions of the Convention are both implemented, and adhered to, by all parties.The UK delegation did not oppose arrangements for such monitoring and follow-up. Rather, it expressed a preference for one of three tabled options. The majority of OECD Member States preferred an alternative option, which was accepted by the UK without demur.

    Shrimp Imports: Protection Of Sea Turtles

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether a panel of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has decided that the United States may not prohibit shrimp imports from countries that fail to protect sea turtles from being killed by shrimping boats; and, if so, what steps they will take to ensure that the WTO in future abides by appropriate environmental principles and rescinds this particular decision. [HL2954]

    The United States prohibits the import of shrimps from countries which do not apply a regulatory programme comparable to its own for the protection of sea turtles from shrimp fishing nets. In May 1998, a WTO dispute settlement panel upheld a complaint made by India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand against the United States that this prohibition was inconsistent with GATT rules. On 13 July the US lodged an appeal against this finding. Appeal proceedings should generally be completed within 60 days and always within 90 days.

    Junk Faxes

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What proposals they have to deal with the nuisance and cost of junk faxes, used to send unsolicited advertising material to domestic premises. [HL3052]

    The DTI will shortly be carrying out a public consultation on draft Regulations to implement the Telecoms Data Protection Directive (97/66/EC). The Directive requires that unsolicited direct marketing faxes to natural persons should not be allowed without the consent of the recipient.

    Short-Term Engine Shut-Off: Pollutant Emission

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 19 May (

    Official Report col. 1434) whether, having regard to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (S.I.1986 No. 1978) as amended by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use Regulations) 1998 (S.I.1998 No. 1), they accept the advice of the Automobile Association that if a car with a catalyst is to be stationary for four minutes or more it is less polluting to switch off the engine; whether in the case of a non-catalyst car they stand by the advice given in a Department of the Environment leaflet published in July 1995 (95EP110) that "if you expect to be stuck for more than a couple of minutes in a traffic jam the engine should be switched off'; and whether they will now instruct drivers of Government cars to switch off their engines when parked. [HL3220]

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

    I refer the noble Lord to the reply given by Baroness Hayman to Lord Berkeley on 11 June 1998 (WA 103) and the letter from the Chief Executive of the Government Car and Dispatch Agency to Lord Berkeley on 16 June 1998 (WA 125).

    Roads Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Statement on the Roads Review by the Lord Whitty on 31 July (

    Official Report, cols. 1741–45), what financial support will be made available to regional planning conferences which undertake consideration of the 28 schemes mentioned in Annex C to the White Paper A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England. [HL3273]

    Following the roads review, 44 schemes have been put on hold pending consideration by the regional planning conferences in developing draft regional planning guidance. To assist them in preparing sustainable transport strategies and identifying priorities for trunk road investment the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be commissioning and funding a number of studies to identify multi-modal solutions to the most urgent problems on the trunk road network. The regional planning conferences will be consulted on these study proposals.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Statement on the Roads Review by the Lord Whitty on 31 July (

    Official Report, cols. 1741–1745), what funds will be made available for major road maintenance and small safety projects, (a) this financial year and (b) in each successive year up to and including 2001–02. [HL3274]

    In 1998–99, the Highways Agency plans to spend approximately £193 million on routine and winter maintenance (including communications maintenance) and approximately £35 million on small safety schemes.In accordance with the CSR settlements, the Highways Agency plans to spend, for the years 1999–2000, 2000–01 and 2001–02, £247 million, £249 million and £250 million respectively on routine and winter maintenance (including communications maintenance). Budgeted CSR expenditure on small (less than £5 million) safety projects for the years 1999–2000, 2000–2001 and 2001–2002 are £40 million, £45 million and £50 million respectively.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Statement on the Roads Review by the Lord Whitty on 31 July (

    Official Report, cols. 1741–1745), what level of traffic in terms of vehicles per lane, per hour or per day, was used to justify the widening of the M.25 between Junctions 12 and 15. [HL3275]

    The decision to widen the M.25 between Junctions 12 and 15 was based on an appraisal of the scheme against the criteria of integration, environment, safety, economy and accessibility using the new approach to appraisal developed as part of the Roads Review and not just on traffic flow data. However, current average traffic flows on this section can reach to over 181,000 vehicles a day with weekday flows up to 200,000 per day between Junctions 13 and 14. Peak hour traffic levels in terms of vehicles per lane/per hour reach 2,200. The problems between these junctions remain immediate and acute despite the use of traffic management measures including controlled motorway operations. We, therefore, concluded that widening this section of the motorway is an essential part of an integrated strategy to make this vital part of our core network function acceptably.

    Westminster Underground Station

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the new Westminster underground station, escalators will be fitted for access to the platforms. [HL 3217]

    Yes. The new station at Westminster, currently under construction, will be fitted with escalators linking the ticket hall with the Jubilee Line Extension platforms, from where there will also be escalator access to the District and Circle lines. Direct access from the ticket hall to the District and Circle Line platforms will be by fixed staircases.

    Single Vehicle Approval

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they are taking to ensure that all vehicles produced or constructed, which are submitted for single vehicle approval testing under the Motor Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 1996 for use on the highway, also comply with the appropriate standards of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1996. [HL3232]

    The Single Vehicle Approval inspection assesses the design and construction of a vehicle that has not been type-approved at the manufacturing stage. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 in addition cover the condition of a vehicle. The condition of a vehicle continues to be assessed by the annual MoT test, which is required for cars and light goods vehicles over 3 years old. Vehicles over 3 years old submitted for Single Vehicle Approval also have to pass the MoT test before they can be licensed and registered.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In which countries of the European Union a Vehicle Inspectorate, British National Type Approval, Minister's Approval Certificate is accepted for—

  • a. first registration in one of those European Union countries of a vehicle produced in the United Kingdom; and
  • b. re-registration in another member state of the European Union of a vehicle produced or constructed, issued with a Minister's Approval Certificate, and first registered in the United Kingdom. [HL 3233]
  • Single Vehicle Approval is not harmonised at European level, so there is no specific obligation to recognise a Minister's Approval Certificate issued by the Vehicle Inspectorate in either case. We do not know if any other member states do recognise British single Vehicle Approval Certificates. We would not expect most of them to do so because the British scheme only establishes that a vehicle is fit to enter service in left-hand traffic.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to produce a consolidated and definitive Single Vehicle Approval Regulations Manual, following the coming into force of the regulations on 1 July. [HL3234]

    The Single Vehicle Approval Test Manual is in ring-binder form and can therefore be readily modified by replacing outdated sections when necessary. Two major revisions have occurred since the Manual was first issued in 1996. The lattermost was issued on 27 April this year to reflect changes to some of the technical standards introduced by the Motor Vehicles (Approval) (Amendment) Regulations 1998, which became effective on 30 April.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 19 November 1997 (

    WA 83–84), which kit car and replica car manufacturers received Single Vehicle Approval by 30 July 1998, giving the date of approval and re-test where appropriate; which manufacturers have not yet received approval, but have submitted for a re-test, and on which dates; at which centres tests can be carried out; and what vehicles had been so tested by 30 July at each appointed test station. [HL3236]

    I have asked the Chief Executive of the Vehicle Inspectorate Agency to write to the noble Lord.

    Letter to the Earl of Haddington from the Chief Executive of the Vehicle Inspectorate Agency, Mr. Maurice Newey, dated 10 August 1998.

    Single Vehicle Approval: Kit/Replica Vehicles tested November and December 1997

    Location

    Test Date

    Kit/Replica

    Model

    Retest Date

    Certificate Issued

    Exeter15–12–97YesHunter06–01–9806–01–98
    Beverley4–12–97YesStrikerNo Application
    Leicester19–11–97YesRossa K319–11–97
    Gillingham23–12–97YesCat09–01–9809–01–98
    London (Yeading)05–12–97YesSprite09–12–9709–12–97
    Southampton12–12–97YesSprite23–12–97

    Single Vehicle Approval: Tests of Kit/Replica Vehicles January to June 1998

    Station

    Test date

    Test type

    Make

    Model

    Kit/Replica

    Test result

    Southampton01–04–98RetestDominoMini CooperKitPass
    Southampton06–04–98TestFrogeyeSupersprintKitPass
    Southampton30–04–98TestFrogeyeSupersprintKitPass
    Southampton01–06–98TestFrogeyeSuperspriteKitPass
    Southampton26–06–98TestDuttonMarinerKitFail
    Leicester28–04–98TestGardner DouglasGD427KitFail
    Leicester08–05–98RetestGardner DouglasGD427KitPass
    Heywood20–04–98TestBeaufordTourerKitFail
    Heywood22–04–98RetestBeaufordTourerKitPass
    Yeading16–06–98TestChesilSpeedsterKitFail
    Yeading25–06–98RetestChesilSpeedsterKitPass
    Gillingham10–08–98TestTigerSuper 8KitPass

    Premium Bonds: Holding Limits

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the current limit on an individual holding of Premium Bonds; on what date it was set; what the limit would be today if adjusted in line with inflation

    The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions, further to the Written Answer given by the Baroness Hayman on 19 November 1997, about which kit car and replica car manufacture received Single Vehicle Approval by 30 July 1998, giving the date of approval, and retest where appropriate; which manufacturers have not yet received approval, but have submitted for a re-test and on which dates; at which centres tests can be carried out; and what vehicles have been so tested by 30 July at each appointed Test Station.

    Single Vehicle Approval Tests (SVA) may be carried out at 16 Goods Vehicle Testing Stations located in Aberdeen, Beverley, Bristol, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Exeter, Gillingham, Heywood, Leicester, Leighton Buzzard, Llantrisant, Newcastle, Norwich, Shrewsbury, Southampton and Yeading.

    Data relating to the SVA tests of kit/replica vehicles carried out since VI's previous reply up to the end of June 1998 is contained in the attached tables. Information relating to the vehicles seen since 1 July is not yet available. You will notice a slight change in the way in which the data is presented from January. This is due to the introduction of a new computerised record system.

    since it was set; whether they will adjust the limit for inflation, and, if not, why not. [HL3227]

    The holding limit for Premium Bonds is £20,000. It was increased from £10,000 to £20,000 on 13 April 1993.Using the "all Items RPI", the limit adjusted for inflation would be £23,243.

    There are no current plans to increase the holding limit. Limits on this and other National Savings products are kept under review and adjusted from time to time for reasons such as funding requirements, rather than solely on the grounds that the real value of a limit should be maintained.

    Banknotes

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many £50, £20, £10 and £5 notes, respectively, are currently in circulation, to what face value the £50 note would have to be adjusted to have the same purchasing power as when it was first introduced; whether they will make such an adjustment, and if not, why not. [HL3228]

    The number of each denomination of banknote in circulation as at the end of February 1998 was:

    £
    5206,911,326
    10595,982,214
    20531,028,262
    50 (Series E)72,717,662
    The £50 note was introduced in March 1981 and would have to be adjusted to £190 to have the equivalent purchasing power.

    * But see Written Answer, Official Report, 21/10/98, col WA 178.

    The Bank of England has no plans to issue notes of alternative denominations to those currently in circulation.

    Banknotes: European Union

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the face value of the highest value banknote currently in circulation in each of the countries in the European Union (indicating in each case the sterling equivalent value at current exchange rates); and what face value is planned for the highest value euro note. [HL 3229]

    The face value of the highest value banknotes in circulation at May 1998 in each of the European Union countries is set out in the table below. The table also shows, rounded to the nearest £5, the sterling equivalent value at the market exchange rate as at 31 July 1998.It has been agreed that the highest value euro bank note will be a 500 euro note.

    Highest value banknoteSterling value (rounded to the nearest £5)
    BelgiumBEF10,000165
    DenmarkDKK1,00090
    GermanyDEM1,000345
    GreeceGRD10,00020
    SpainESP10,00040
    FranceFRF50050

    Highest value banknote

    Sterling value (rounded to the nearest £5)

    IrelandIEP10085
    ItalyITL500,000175
    LuxembourgLUF5,00085
    NetherlandsNLG1,000305
    AustriaATS5,000245
    PortugalPTE10,00035
    FinlandFIM1,000115
    SwedenSEK1,00075
    United KingdomGBP5050

    Tax Credits On Dividends: Amounts Reclaimed By Non-Taxpayers

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is (a) the smallest, (b) the average and (c) the largest amount reclaimed by non-taxpayers for tax credits on dividends in 1996–97. [HL3242]

    The information is not yet available for 1996–97.The latest available information is derived from 1995–96 Survey of Personal Incomes. It is estimated that 630,000 non-taxpayers made claims averaging £75 for payment of the tax credit on dividends paid in 1995–96.Information is not available about the smallest and largest amounts claimed.

    Vat On Hotel Accommodation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they believe that a reduction in VAT on hotel accommodation might boost tourist traffic and so increase Exchequer revenues. [HL3267]

    A reduction in the VAT rate on hotel accommodation would lead to a fall in VAT receipts. Even if the reduction were passed on to customers the fall is not likely to be offset by additional VAT arising from increases in tourist traffic or by other tax receipts. There would be a net loss to the Exchequer.

    National Museums And Galleries: Trustees

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are considering a review of the system of appointing the chairman and trustees of the national museums and galleries; and [HL2973]What criteria are used for appointing the chairman and trustees of the national museums and galleries; and what criteria are used to determine the balance of a board of such trustees. [HL2941]

    Appointments in the gift of Government to the public bodies sponsored by this Department are based on the principles set down by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Procedures are kept under review and may be revised from time to time in light of new guidance from the Commissioner's office.All appointments are governed by the overriding principle of appointment on merit following scrutiny by an independent panel. Careful consideration is given to the experiences and qualities of successful candidates to ensure that they match the needs of the museum or gallery in question with the aim of ensuring a balanced and representative board.

    Kensington Gardens: Memorial Garden

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 7 July (

    Official Report, col. 1090), whether they will provide monthly (or failing that, quarterly) figures for visitors to Kensington Gardens for the last two years; and [HL2754]

    Which authority would be responsible for providing information to the planning authority in connection with the creation of one or more Princess Diana Memorial Gardens in Kensington Gardens on—(a) traffic implications, within Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and central London generally, including the implications for public transport (buses and underground trains and stations) for regular (timetabled) coaches and for tour coaches (including loading and unloading and parking facilities); (b) public lavatories; (c) visitors' centres and gift shops; (d) refreshment facilities (fixed and mobile); (e) existing children's playgrounds and areas where skating is allowed; (f) policing; on whom would the costs of providing all of these services fall; and to whom would profits (if any) accrue. [HL2756]

    Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

    Letter to Lord Kennet from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Viviane Robertson, dated 31 July 1998:

    In the absence of the Chief Executive, Mr. David Welsh, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Questions about the numbers of people visiting Kensington Gardens in the last two years and who will provide information relating to different aspects of the proposal for a memorial garden to Diana, Princess of Wales, to the planning authority.

    We do not take monthly or quarterly counts of visitors in the Royal Parks in the normal course of events; we could not justify the considerable expense of conducting the surveys that would be necessary. The last annual visitor count was carried out in 1995. This estimated that 2.8 million people a year visit Kensington Gardens. We did carry out a visitor count in March as part of a survey to establish people's views on a proposed memorial in Kensington Gardens and we are carrying out a further count this month to find out how many people visit the Gardens in the summer. The total number of visitors for March was estimated to be 340,000.

    The Royal Parks Agency will commission an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will cover the services and facilities to which you refer. The results of the study would be submitted to the local planning authorities as part of any planning notification.

    It is likely that a number of different bodies would be involved in providing services which might be required for the proposed memorial garden and thus in benefiting from any potential profits. The Royal Parks Agency would only be responsible for services within Kensington Gardens. The preliminary consultation exercise and the EIA are yet to be completed, but it is not at present envisaged that sales outlets for souvenirs, a visitor centre or additional catering concessions would be established in Kensington Gardens.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:By whom a "full Environmental Impact Assessment" is being carried out regarding a possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, in Kensington Gardens; and why this assessment is being carried out in advance of the result of the public consultation on the desirability or otherwise of such a garden being established in Kensington Gardens. [HL2820]

    The Royal Parks Agency are commissioning an environmental impact assessment in parallel with the consultation exercise. Expressions of interest have been sought, but the response to the preliminary consultation exercise will be available to the Memorial Committee before the contract is let. Nonetheless, it is clear that many local concerns relate to environmental issues which need to be professionally assessed.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the implications for the possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, of the inclusion of Hawksmoor's Orangery, the formal garden to the south of the Orangery, and the sunken garden, in "Area 3" of the map on the leaflet accompanying the questionnaire issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. [HL2821]

    The proposals which are currently the subject of a preliminary consultation exercise clearly set out the principles which should guide the proposals, as advised by English Heritage, the Royal Parks Agency and the Historic Royal Palaces trust, which is responsible for the Orangery and sunken garden. The preliminary consultation document recognises that any design for area 3, which extends up to the Bayswater Road, would be constrained by the historical framework in the area lying between the Orangery and Kensington Palace.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the questionnaire on the possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been sent to all residents round Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, or only to "householders"; if so, whether "householders" include the offshore landlords of property in these areas, who may never or only infrequently reside there; why the consultation should be thus limited; whether they will now consult all individuals on the electoral register in the relevant parts of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster; and, if not, why not. [HL2822]

    I understand that the leaflets and questionnaires have been distributed in addresses closest to Kensington Gardens in postal areas W1, W2, W8, W11 and W14 and SW1, SW3, SW5, SW7 and SW 10. The principal purpose of the leaflet is to inform people of the exhibition, where they can see the full information on the proposals. The aim is to gain a broadly representative sample of views and suggestions, and this exercise provides a very much greater opportunity for public comment at a much earlier stage than normal. Posting to all persons on the electoral register would have been expensive, excessive and inappropriate for a preliminary exercise of this nature.

    Commercial Radio: Services For People Over 55

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and his department have received about neglect by commercial radio stations of the demand from radio listeners aged over 55 for more choice of listening; what replies have been sent; and whether they will be taking any action. [HL2829]

    My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has received several representations from one company about the provision of commercial radio services for people aged over 55 years and officials have met the company concerned. However, decisions on the award of commercial radio licences are solely a matter for the Radio Authority under the terms of broadcasting legislation.

    Millais' "Mariana At The Moated Grange"

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What market testing took place to establish the true value of Millais' "Mariana at the Moated Grange" before it was accepted for the nation in lieu of tax. [HL2866]

    In general, when the Museums and Galleries Commission has been informed of the offer of an object in lieu of tax by the Capital Taxes Office, it is required to provide the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with an opinion of the value of the object on the open market. The Commission in turn consults the appropriate experts both in museums and the art trade. Because of taxpayer confidentiality, it would not be appropriate to comment on any particular case.

    Palestine: Tourism

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are considering appropriate guidance for tourists organisations in the United Kingdom to support tourism in Palestine in the context of the Millennium Jubilee and of the Bethlehem 2000 project. [HL2984]

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

    The Palestinian authorities are very active in bringing these and other events to the attention of tourist, cultural and business organisations around the world. The Palestinian Delegate General in London is an energetic and effective part of that exercise. He is aware that he and his colleagues have the support of the UK and its EU partners for these efforts.These events are likely to generate significant interest in travel to the region at the time of the millennium, and we will continue to ensure that our consular guidance to tourist organisations and individual travellers is accurate and relevant.

    Republic Of The Congo: Policy

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their reaction to the "white book"

    Civil Wars in Congo Brazzaville handed to them by the Foreign Minister of that country on his recent visit to London; and what is their policy on future relations with the Republic of the Congo. [HL3076]

    We have read with interest the white book, handed to the Foreign Office on 30 June 1998 by Mr. Adada. This claims that former President Pascal Lissouba was guilty of genocide during the 1997 civil war in the Republic of the Congo. We have seen no independent evidence to that effect.We have diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Congo. We remain concerned at the reliance of Congolese authorities on the continued presence of foreign forces in the Republic of the Congo. We will continue to press for the return to an inclusive democracy that allows all the key players to participate.

    Space And International Law

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they consider, in the light of the increasing uses being made for political, social, economic and military purposes of space, it may now be desirable to set up an internationally agreed framework to develop and enforce international law in space. [HL3117]

    An international framework governing such activities in space already exists and is primarily based upon the United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.Details of this treaty and other relevant international agreements are contained in the United Nations publication

    Treaties and Principles on Outer Space a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

    Korea: United Nations Command

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in pursuance of the policy expressed by the Foreign Secretary on 17 July (HC Deb, col. 682) that "key decisions on peacekeeping and conflict prevention are taken to the United Nations", they will take steps to place the United Nations Command in Korea under full United Nations Security Council control and to update the mandate of that Command, especially as regards anti-personnel landmines. [HL3119]

    Following the United Nations Security Council's resolution of 27 June 1950, the Security Council delegated responsibility for United Nations Command operations in Korea to the United States of America, as its executive agent. This remains the position, with the United Nations Command reporting to the United Nations on a fixed annual and "as-required" basis. We are satisfied that this arrangement allows adequate UN supervision.We are aware of the positions of the US and Republic of Korea on the deployment of anti-personnel landmines in Korea. As one of the first countries to ratify the December 1997 Ottawa Convention, the United Kingdom continues to use its contacts with all countries to encourage their early accession to the convention. However, three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, as well as the Republic of Korea, have not signed the convention, and there is at present little or no prospect of agreement to revise the mandate of the UN Command in Korea, to take account of the convention's provisions.

    Kosovo

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they agree with Ambassador Chris Hill of the United States that an all-party executive including persons representing the Kosovo Liberation Army should be formed under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, to be based in Prishtine, and to conduct negotiations with the Serbian authorities on "enhanced status for Kosovo and much, much greater self-government for the people of Kosovo"; and whether the European Union Troika received the assent of President Milosovic to this proposal. [HL3224]

    We remain committed to the statement by the Contact Group on 8 July that the Kosovo Albanian leadership should urgently establish a negotiating team which is fully representative of all political opinion in Kosovo. We welcomed the announcement by Dr. Rugova on 13 August of the establishment of a negotiating team, and we continue to urge those political parties who are not represented on it to align themselves with the team. President Milosovic told the EU Troika mission to the FRY in July that Belgrade remained willing to negotiate with the Kosovo Albanians. We will continue to press both sides for an early start to this negotiating process.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, pending the establishment of an all-party executive in Prishtine, the Serbian authorities in Kosovo have agreed to stop destroying civilian property and displacing non-combatants from their homes; and whether the Government will develop contingency plans with NATO allies for military action to stop further attacks on villages and towns, and promote a Security Council Resolution authorising the use of force if necessary to prevent harm and loss of life to civilians. [HL3225]

    The FRY Authorities continue to insist that they are not targeting civilians and their homes in Kosovo, but that their forces are only responding to attacks by the Kosovo Liberation Army. We do not accept this explanation and have repeatedly urged the Belgrade Authorities to end the wanton destruction of civilian property in Kosovo which has resulted in the displacement of many citizens. NATO military planning is at an advanced stage. The legal base for any military action against the FRY will need to be decided upon taking full account of the circumstances at the time.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Office: Sponsorship Money

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer to Question HL2916 by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 30 July (

    WA 224), which United Kingdom-based organisations and companies have contributed sponsorship money to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the recent United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union; and how much was donated and what support was provided in kind in each case. [HL 3268]

    During the six months of the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union, sponsorship activity will have been undertaken not only in the United Kingdom but also at posts overseas and my Written Answer of 30 July (WA 224) applies.Information relating specifically to events held under the UK Presidency of the European Union and managed centrally by the FCO is provided as follows:

    Cash Sponsorship

    • Eurostar
    • Goldman Sachs
    • Paribas
    • ABN Ambro
    • UBS
    • British Telecom
    • Total: £188,333

    In-Kind Sponsorship

    • Canon: Photocopies & Facsimile machines
    • Dell: Information Technology
    • Group 4: Security Personnel & Equipment
    • Rover: Cars
    • Eurostar: Tickets for prize winners
    • Total: £367,727

    In addition the Cardiff Technology Exhibition was sponsored by the following companies:

    Cash Sponsorships

    • Cardiff Bay Development Corporation
    • Council for Welsh TECs
    • S4C
    • Hyder PLC
    • ICL
    • Welsh Development Agency
    • Total: £265,000

    In-Kind Sponsorship

    • Sony: Sound & Visual Equipment
    • British Telecom: Telecommunications Equip
    • Total: £70,191

    Individual figures detailing cash and in-kind sponsorship for the above companies are not available for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer to Question HL2917 by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 30 July (

    WA 224), on what terms and conditions sponsorship money from United Kingdom-based organisations and companies was received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the recent United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union; whether written sponsorship agreements were signed in all cases; if not, in which cases agreements were not signed; and whether they will place copies of such agreements in the Library of the House. [HL3269]

    All sponsorship was subject, as a minimum, to an exchange of letters setting out the sponsorship in cash or in-kind to be provided, the benefits allotted to the sponsor by the FCO in return for the sponsorship and the values attributed to these benefits. The details of these letters are subject to commercial confidentiality and cannot be placed in the Library of the House.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer to Question HL2918 by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 30 July (

    WA 224), how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office tailored the process of selection of United Kingdom-based sponsors to individual projects in the United Kingdom during the recent United Kingdom presidency of the European Union; whether any sector of British industry was prevented from offering its services as a sponsor; and, if so, whether that resulted in any company or companies that expressed an interest in being a sponsor being refused. [HL3270]

    During the six months of the United Kingdom presidency of the European Union, sponsorship activity will have been undertaken not only in the United Kingdom but also at posts overseas and my Written Answer of 30 July (WA 224) applies.The selection of United Kingdom-based sponsors for events held under the UK Presidency of the European Union and managed centrally by the FCO was undertaken by Integrated Communication Projects Ltd. under Contract to the FCO. Approaches were made to over 400 companies seeking sponsorship for the presidency events. Sponsorship was only sought to offset the cost of supplying goods and services that were essential to the running of events during the presidency and only where the demands of potential sponsors could be met without impacting on the dignity of the occasion and of the UK as hosts. For the UK presidency events no sponsor was refused other than where exclusive agreements for particular goods and/or services had already been reached.

    G8 Birmingham Summit: Sponsorship

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 14 July (

    WA 10), which companies provided the £500,000 sponsorship of the G8 summit in Birmingham referred to in that Answer. [HL3271]

    The following companies provided sponsorship valued at £500,000 towards the arrangements made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the G8 Summit in Birmingham: British Petroleum, British Telecommunications, Canon, Dell Computers, Group 4 and Rover Group.

    International Meetings: Costs Breakdown

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide a detailed breakdown of the costs of (a) the Asia-Europe meeting, (b) the European Conference and (c) the Cardiff European Council showing the sponsorship monies donated and the support provided in kind in each case. [HL3272]

    (a) The latest forecast cost of the arrangements made by the FCO for the Asia-Europe meeting is £5.4 million (excluding VAT). This breaks down as follows:

    £
    Summit venue costs2.9m
    Hotel Accommodation0.1m
    Security Staff and equipment0.03m
    Transport0.4m
    Media Facilities1.3m
    Administrative and other costs0.67m
    Total5.4m
    Cash sponsorship158,000
    In-kind sponsorship276,000
    Total434,000
    Total ASEM Cost less sponsorship4.97m
    (b) Expenditure on the European Conference was £1.2 million (excluding VAT) and was not sponsored in cash or in-kind. A breakdown of this figure can be provided only at disproportionate cost.(c) The latest forecast cost of the arrangements made by the FCO for the European Council in Cardiff is £6.5 million (excluding VAT).Cash sponsorship for the European Council was £33,333.In-kind sponsorship for the European Council was £239,428.A breakdown of the costs for the European Council can, at present, only be provided at disproportionate cost.

    Magistrates' Courts: Derbyshire

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 22 July (

    Official Report, cols, 876–878) on centralising magistrates' courts in Derbyshire

  • a) how many additional passenger miles will be made by staff and others attending court as a result of this proposal;
  • b) whether the availability or otherwise of public transport was taken into account in deciding to centralise the courts;
  • c) whether the centralised proposals comply with the Government's White Paper on Transport (CM 3950) which seeks to reduce the need for travel and, in paragraph 1.49 states "Government departments (should) take the lead in introducing 'green transport plans' which cut down on car use", and
  • whether the Lord Chancellor's Department plans to provide financial support for public transport to mitigate the effect of the cost and inconvenience of these proposals. HL3078

    Six appeals are outstanding against the local proposals but have yet to be fully considered:

  • a) no data have been collated about additional passenger miles for court users; there will be considerably reduced travel for court staff and for the Crown Prosecution Service as there will be fewer locations between which they must commute;
  • b) public transport was taken into account; both distance and travel time were considered; in addition a detailed survey of non-professional users was conducted to ascertain their travel arrangements;
  • c) in light of the user survey, the Courts' Committee do not believe its proposals will have a significant impact on "green issues": For my part, I am asked to decide appeals lodged against a given determination in accordance with Section 56 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997; I have the power to ask a courts' committee to review its determination in light of any new information; that courts' committee may then decide to rescind its earlier decision; if not the appeal continues; I do not have the power to rehear the entire case to take account of new information or policies.
  • My department does not plan to provide additional financial support as suggested; magistrates' courts are a locally managed service.

    Magistrates' Courts: Statistics

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 22 July (

    Official Report, cols. 876–878) on centralising magistrates' courts in Derbyshire, to list for each county—

  • a) the number of magistrates' courts planned to be closed;
  • b) the number of new magistrates courts planned to open. [HL3079]
  • a) This information is not held centrally and may only be provided at disproportionate cost by contacting each of the 96 magistrates' courts committees in England and Wales; Section 56 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 provides that my only role is to decide appeals made to me; thus, if no dispute arises, there is no requirement to inform me of plans to close any magistrates' courts;
  • b) there are five new magistrates' courts planned: one each for Southampton, Hereford, Worcester, Kidderminster and Redditch. All five are replacements of existing facilities. Older buildings will close as a result. My Department is also working on final bids for a further eight courts, including three in Derbyshire.
  • Breast Cancer: Compensation

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in respect of High Court proceedings involving plaintiffs in the Legal Aid Board's multi-party action seeking compensation for injuries caused by radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer. [HL3105]

    Ten cases were originally selected as test cases which would go to trial. Of these, two settled out of court in summer 1997. Five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three went to trial in January and February 1998 and, of those, one was settled during the trial and, in the other two cases, judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. In May 1998 there was a total of 105 cases. As at 6 August, 44 cases are continuing. Of the remaining 61 cases, in 20 the legal aid certificate has been discharged; and in 41 the continuation of the legal aid certificate is under consideration. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, what is the total number of plaintiffs presently involved in this multi-party action and how many have qualified for legal aid; how many cases have been brought to trial; how many have been settled in or out of court, rejected or withdrawn and in each case what damages and awards of costs were made; how many cases are still awaiting trial and what dates have been set for them. [HL3106]

    As at 6 August 1998 44 cases are continuing. In 40 of those the plaintiff is legally aided. Ten cases were originally selected as test cases which would go to trial. Of these, two settled in summer 1997, out of court. Five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three went to trial in January and February 1998 of which one settled during the trial and in the other two cases judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. The costs and damages awarded during the trial were not included in the order but were set out in an annexure to it and are not, therefore, in the public domain. Disclosing this information would be a breach of client confidentiality and prejudicial to the settlement negotiations on other cases which are pending. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, when it is expected that all cases listed in the multi-party action are going to be settled in or out of court and otherwise rejected or withdrawn. [HL3107]

    So far 10 test cases have been dealt with. Of those, two settled out of court in summer 1997; and five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three cases went to trial in January and February 1998 of which one settled during the trial and in the other two judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. As at 6 August 1998 cases involving 40 legally aided plaintiffs and four private clients are continuing. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, which hospital authorities and radiotherapy treatment centres are included in the list of defendants and how many cases are related to each one of them. [HL3108]

    The following list of defendant hospitals and number of cases related to each one was correct as at 24 March 1998.

    Defendant HospitalsNo.
    Addenbrookes (Cambridge Health Authority)2
    Bristol Royal Infirmary (Bristol & District Health Authority)2
    Charing Cross Hospital (NHS Litigation Authority)2
    Christies Hospital (South Manchester Health Authority)6
    Churchill Hospital (Oxfordshire Health Authority)1
    Clatterbridge Hospital (Wirral Health Authority)4
    Colchester & Essex Hospital (N.E. Essex Health Authority)1
    Cookridge Hospital (Leeds Health Authority)8
    Essex County Hospital (Essex Ribers NHS Trust)1
    Cheltenham General Hospital (Gloucester Health Authority)1
    Hammersmith Hospital (The NHS Litigation Authority)1
    Kent & Canterbury Hospital (East Kent Health Authority)1
    King's College Hospital (Camberwell Health Authority)2
    Middlesex Hospital (Camden & Islington Health Authority)5
    Mount Vernon Hospital (Hillingdon Health Authority)2
    Newcastle General (Newcastle Health Authority)1
    Norfolk & Norwich Hospital (East Norfolk Health Authority)2
    North Middlesex Hospital (North Middlesex NHS Trust)1
    North Ormesby Hospital (South Tees Health Authority)1
    Northampton General Hospital (Northampton Health Authority)1
    Oldchurch Hospital (Barking Havering & Brentwood H/A)5
    Freedom Fields Hospital (Plymouth Health Authority)2
    Poole Hospital (Poole Hospital NHS Trust)1
    Princess Royal (East Riding Health Authority)3
    Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham Health Authority)1
    Queen's Medical Centre (Nottingham Health Authority)1
    Royal Berkshire Hospital (Berkshire Health Authority)1
    Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Exeter & N. Devon H/A)2
    Royal Free Hospital (Camden & Islington Health Authority)3
    Royal London Hospital (E. London & City Health Authority)6
    Royal Marsden Hospital (NHS Litigation Authority)12
    Singleton Hospital (West Glamorgan Health Authority)1
    Southend Hospital (South Essex Health Authority)1
    St. Bart's (East London & The City Health Authority)1
    St. Mary's (Portsmouth & S.E. Hampshire Health Authority)3
    St. Thomas's (West Lambeth Health Authority)4
    Torbay Hospital (Plymouth & Torbay Health Authority)6
    Treliske Hospital (Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority)1
    Velindre Hospital (South Glamorgan Health Authority)4
    Weston Park Hospital (Sheffield Health Authority)2

    asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, what are the total costs incurred to date by the firm of solicitors acting for the plaintiffs under contract to the Legal Aid Board, covering generic and individual case issues, as well as damages and cost awards in cases that have been settled in or out of court and those that have been rejected or withdrawn. [HL3109]

    Total net costs paid to 10 August 1998 were £2.3 million. This sum includes the generic costs paid under the lead certificate together with costs paid to all solicitors involved in the action for individual case work. It does not, however, take account of any contributions which may be payable under each certificate. To give information on damages and cost awards raises issues of client confidentiality.

    Legal Aid Board: Advice

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Legal Aid Board's practice of relying on the advice of the applicant's legal adviser in determining whether or not to grant civil legal aid properly discharges the board's legal duties in accordance with Section 15(2) of the Legal Aid Act 1988. [HL 3197]

    Yes. The purpose of the merits test in Section 15(2) is not to adjudicate on the issues, but to decide whether the applicant's case contains an issue of fact or law that is reasonable to submit to a court for decision. The Legal Aid Board's practice is to obtain the opinion of the applicant's legal representative about the case, and the representative has an obligation to inform the board of any difficulties there may be with it, for instance with obtaining evidence.The board does not, however, rely exclusively on this opinion. It assesses the merits of the application against a range of criteria, which are set out in Section 7 of the Notes for Guidance in the

    Legal Aid Handbook (Sweet and Maxwell, ISBN 0–421–60810–2). An assessment is made both of the legal merits of the case (the prospects of success for the claim) and its reasonableness, which is a wide and general test which can take into account all the factors which would influence a private client who was considering taking proceedings. It will include an assessment of the likely cost of the claim against the likely benefit. Benefit need not be exclusively monetary; it will include considerations of the importance of the case to the client. Each area office employs lawyers, who will assess the more difficult cases.

    In some circumstances, only a limited legal aid certificate will be granted, in order to establish more clearly the merits of the case. In a medical negligence case, for example, this may be to fund a medical report, and an opinion from counsel. The board may also, in exceptional circumstances, where a case is very complex and potentially very expensive, seek further information itself before making its decision on the merits, either in the form of commissioning its own legal or expert opinion on the case, or through inviting representations from the proposed opponent or third parties.

    It is always open to the other side in a case to make representations to the board if it believes that the applicant's case lacks the merits required for legal aid to be granted. But the board alone remains responsible for the decision whether to grant legal aid, and the determining factor is ultimately the judgment of its own experienced staff.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Legal Aid Board's practice of relying on the advice of the applicant's legal adviser in determining whether or not to grant legal aid leads to unrealistically optimistic advice being given to the Board, particularly in medical negligence litigation. [HL 3198]

    The Government believe that most legal advisers give fair and objective opinions on the merits of cases to enable the Legal Aid Board to decide whether to grant legal aid in accordance with the existing statutory criteria. The Bar Council has laid down guidelines that Counsel must follow when providing their opinions. The Government intend however, when the legislative opportunity arises, to strengthen the merits test, so that applicants' lawyers commit themselves in their assessment of the case to specific prospects of success, expressed as percentages, on the information available to them. This will be subject to an over-riding principle that the Legal Aid Board should only be recommended to support litigation which individual litigants, properly advised, and not eligible for legal aid, would support out of their own resources.Some cases, assessed initially as having particular prospects of success, lose at trial. This does not necessarily mean that the initial assessment of their chances was unduly optimistic. Nonetheless, the Government are concerned that applicants' legal advisers do sometimes give unrealistic advice. My plans to tighten the merits test and to monitor providers performances, as part of the legal aid reforms, will reduce this. In addition, I also plan to restrict representation in medical negligence cases to a panel of quality-assured providers.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Legal Aid Board's practice of relying on the advice of the applicant's legal adviser (who may have a direct financial interest in advancing the case) in determining whether or not to grant civil legal aid infringes a fundamental principle of natural justice, namely the rule against bias. [HL3199]

    No. The role of the Legal Aid Board is not to adjudicate on the applicant's case, but to decide whether the applicant's case contains an issue of fact or law that is reasonable to submit to a court for decision.

    The Board does not, however, rely exclusively on the advice of the applicant's legal representative. It assesses the merits of the application against a range of criteria, which are set out in Section 7 of the Notes for Guidance in the Legal Aid Handbook (Sweet and Maxwell, ISBN 0–421–60810–2). An assessment is made both of the legal merits of the case (the prospects of success for the claim) and its reasonableness, which is a wide and general test which can take into account all the factors which would influence a private client considering taking proceedings. It will include an assessment of the likely cost of the claim against the likely benefit. Benefit need not be exclusively monetary; it will include considerations of the importance of the case to the client. Each area office employs lawyers, who will assess the more difficult cases.

    In some circumstances, only a limited legal aid certificate will be granted, in order to establish more clearly the merits of the case. In a medical negligence case, for example, this may be to fund a medical report, and an opinion from counsel. The board may also, in exceptional circumstances, where a case is very complex and potentially very expensive, seek further information itself before making its decision on the merits, either in the form of commissioning its own legal or expert opinion on the case, or through inviting representations from the proposed opponent or third parties.

    It is always open to the other side in a case to make representations to the board if it believes that the applicant's case lacks the merits required for legal aid to be granted. But the board alone remains responsible for the decision whether to grant legal aid, and the determining factor is ultimately the judgment of its own experienced staff.

    Legal Aid Act 1988: Section 17

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the operation of Section 17 of the Legal Aid Act 1988 encourages health service defendants to settle low-value unmeritorious claims to avoid irrecoverable legal costs. [HL3200]

    The fact that assisted parties rarely have to pay costs if they lose can deter their opponents from pressing their cases fully, regardless of the nature of the assisted party's claim, its value, or its merits. However, the Government does not believe that removing assisted parties' protection from paying costs would be the right action to take. To do so would risk leaving assisted parties, who are among the poorest members of society, facing large debts that they would never be able to pay off, and could deter people from bringing important and meritorious cases. Nonetheless, I am considering ways of tightening the merits test, so that unmeritorious cases should not receive legal aid in future.

    Medical Negligence Claims And Legal Aid

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What proportion of the 17 per cent. of successful legally aided medical negligence claims were settled for commercial reasons regardless of merit to avoid irrecoverable legal costs. [HL 3201]

    The reasons why parties settle individual claims are entirely a matter for the parties.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:With regard to the Government's proposal to limit legal aid contracts for civil legal aid in medical negligence cases to lawyers who have shown competence in this area (as denoted by membership of panels such as those maintained by the Law Society and Action for Victims of Medical Accidents), what is the evidence that lawyers who are members of such panels achieve better results than lawyers who are not members of the panels. [HL3206]

    It is intrinsically probable that lawyers who are specialists in a specialist legal area will produce better outcomes. The lawyers who have gained accreditation to the panels operated either by the Law Society or the Association of Victims of Medical Accidents have demonstrated expertise in this area of law. In just the way that there are specialisms within medicine and patients are referred to those who demonstrate the relevant specialism, so too I believe that people in receipt of legal aid should similarly be directed towards those lawyers who have demonstrated specialism in litigating medical negligence cases.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:With regard to their proposal to limit legal aid contracts for civil legal aid in medical negligence cases to lawyers who have shown competence in this area, how they envisage that this will address the problem of legal aid "blackmail", whereby unmeritorious claims are settled to avoid irrecoverable legal costs occasioned by the operation of Section 17 of the Legal Aid Act 1988. [HL3215]

    In all areas of civil law I am considering ways of tightening the merits test, so that unmeritorious cases should not receive legal aid in future. The fact that assisted parties rarely have to pay costs if they lose can deter their opponents from pressing their cases fully, regardless of the nature of the assisted party's claim, its value, or its merits. However, the Government do not believe that removing assisted parties' protection from paying costs would be the right action to take. To do so would risk leaving assisted parties, who are among the poorest members of society, facing large debts that they would never be able to pay off, and could deter people from bringing important and meritorious cases.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:With regard to their proposal to limit legal aid contracts for civil legal aid in medical negligence cases to lawyers who have shown competence in this area, how they envisage that this will address the problem of unrealistically optimistic opinions provided by the applicant's lawyer who has a direct financial interest in advancing the case. [HL3216]

    It is acknowledged to be very difficult in the early stages of a medical negligence case to identify the prospects of success. That is why the Legal Aid Board often limits a certificate to allow only the obtaining of a medical report and obtaining counsel's opinion on the prospects of success. A large part of the problem of high failure rates in medical negligence cases is caused by lawyers without sufficient experience of this area of law undertaking investigations in cases which ought to have been disposed of sooner, because they either lack the expertise to identify the important issues soon enough, or fully to understand the implications of a medical report or the contents of medical records in relation to the prospects of success. I believe that by limiting representation to those who are experienced in this field of litigation and who have contracts with the Legal Aid Board, we will ensure that cases are not taken either at all where the prospects of success are poor, or are taken no further than is absolutely necessary to establish what are the prospects of success. Further, where lawyers are consistently over-optimistic it will be possible to withdraw the contract that allows them to take these cases.

    Incapacity Benefit Tracking Study

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the present status of the Incapacity Benefit Tracking Study by Mr. Kirby Swales mentioned on page 72 of the Department of Social Security Research Yearbook 1995–96; and in particular what information the DSS holds about Incapacity Benefit leavers. [HL3141]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security
    (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

    Two research projects are being conducted into people leaving Incapacity Benefit. The first is the Tracking Study, which is being carried out by the department in-house using administrative records. The second is a large scale survey carried out for the department by the Policy Studies Institute. We plan to publish the reports of both research projects in the autumn.

    Habitual Residence Test: Review

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to be in a position to announce the results of their review of the habitual residence test. [HL3193]

    Work on the review of the habitual residence test is ongoing. However we wish to take account of all relevant evidence and information before drawing any conclusions. This clearly needs to include the outcome of litigation which could have a significant impact on the scope for reform of the test, such as the case of Mr. Robin Swaddling currently under consideration by the European Court of Justice. We expect to bring forward our recommendations later this year.

    Report: No Entry: The Single Room Rent And Youth Homelessness

    No Entry: The Single Room Rent and Youth Homelessness by Adam Chugg for the National Rent Deposit Forum, in association with the Catholic Housing Aid Association. [HL3194]

    Yes. We intend to study all the available evidence on the impact of the Single Room Rent restriction before taking decisions on the way forward.

    Scottish Herring Fishing Industry

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they propose to take on the regulation of the Scottish herring fishing industry as a result of the recent decision at Lerwick Sheriff Count that it is unlawful to ban a boat from fishing both in western waters, west of the four degree line and in the North Sea, east of the four degree line, on the same fishing trip. [HL2947]

    Fisheries departments do not accept that they have acted in contravention of EU law and an appeal against the decision has been lodged. The existing licensing arrangements for herring fisheries will continue to apply, and be enforced, until the outcome of the appeal is known.

    Infectious Salmon Anaemia

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many fish farming sites have notified an outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia. [HL2948]

    The presence of infectious salmon anaemia has been confirmed on eight sites, three in Loch Creran, two in Loch Nevis, two in Loch Linnhe and one in Loch Snizort.In two instances the fish farm operator notified the Scottish Office that he suspected the disease; in all other cases it has been confirmed as a result of official surveillance and laboratory testing.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have established the source of infectious salmon anaemia; and, if so, what is the source so identified. [HL2951]

    The source has not yet been identified. An investigation, as required by European disease control legislation, is under way.