Thursday, 18th January 2001.
European Union: Forthcoming Council Business
asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for January; and what are the major European Union events between 1 February and 20 June. [HL350]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)
See attached.To date we have received the detailed agendas for the following Council meetings in January:
January 19—Brussels—ECOFIN Council
- Adoption of the provisional agenda
- Approval of the list of "A" items
- Report on Public Finances
- Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact EMU statistics
January 12—Brussels—Fisheries Council ( Possible)
January 22–23—Brussels—General Affairs Council
January 29—Brussels—Budget Council ( Possible)
January 29–30—Brussels—Agriculture Council
No agendas for the above are yet available.
The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 February and May 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue).
|8–9||Brussels||JHA Informal Council|
|12||Brussels||Education/Youth Council (possible)|
|15–17||Brussels||Informal Employment/ Telecommunications Council|
|25||Brussels||Informal Trade Ministers' dinner|
|26–27||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|6||Brussels||Employment and Social affairs Council|
|12||Brussels||Internal Market/Consumer Council|
|15||Brussels||Justice and Home Affairs Council|
|16||Brussels||Justice and Home Affairs Council|
|19||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|20||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|20–21||Brussels||Fisheries Council (possible)|
|31–1||Brussels||Meeting of Environment Ministers|
|8–10||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|8–10||Brussels||Agriculture Council (Informal)|
|7||Brussels||Employment and Social Council (possible)|
|14–15||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|14–15||Brussels||Industry and Energy Council|
|28–29||Brussels||Justice and Home Affairs Council|
|28||Brussels||Education and Youth Council|
|5||Brussels||Internal market/Consumer Council|
|11–12||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|11||Brussels||Employment/Social Affairs Council|
|18||Brussels||Fisheries Council (possible)|
|19||Brussels||ECOFIN Council (possible)|
|25–26||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
International Criminal Court Bill: Consultation
asked Her Majesty's Government:What were the results of the consultation on the draft International Criminal Court Bill published on 25 August 2000. [HL349]
Baroness Scotland of Asthal
I have placed in the Library a report on the consultation which summarises the main points raised on the draft International Criminal Court Bill and how the Government are responding to them. The Government are most grateful to those noble Lords and others who gave comments. Valuable suggestions were received and many changes have been made to the Bill as a result.
State Retirement Pension Uprating For Recipients Living Abroad
Lord Shore of Stepney
asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their policy for the uprating of National Insurance retirement pensions received by United Kingdom citizens now living abroad; which are the countries of residence where uprating of such pensions takes place and which do not; and what principles govern the distinction made between the two categories of United Kingdom pensioners. [HL216]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)
United Kingdom state retirement pensions are paid anywhere in the world, to anyone who has fulfilled the contribution conditions, not only to UK nationals. Since they became payable world-wide in 1955, state retirement pensions have never been increased annually where people live permanently outside the UK, except in those countries which are either members of the European Economic Area or countries with which the UK has long-standing reciprocal social security agreements which allow for payment of upratings. These countries are listed below:EEA countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), Sweden, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.Countries with the appropriate legislation: Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Guernsey, Mauritius, Philippines, Israel, Jamaica, Jersey, Malta, Sark, Switzerland, Slovenia, Turkey, USA.No agreements providing for upratings have come into force in recent years and none is planned.Our priority is to focus the resources available on pensioners in the UK, especially those who are in greatest need. There are no plans to unfreeze pensions in countries where upratings are not payable.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans have been made to conduct a Quinquennial Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [HL315]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman)
The Government are today announcing the Quinquennial Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.Kew is managed by the Board of Trustees established by the National Heritage Act 1983 and has the status of an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body. We are today announcing the Quinquennial Review of this body which will evaluate its performance and status. The review also meets a commitment under the Government's Better Quality Services initiative, which requires departments to review their services and activities over a five-year period to decide how best to improve quality and value for money.The terms of reference for the review are as follows:
- to conduct an evaluation of the performance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since the last review in 1995;
- as part of the evaluation, to pay particular attention to the effectiveness of postgraduate horticultural training and the quality of public education education activities; and to take account of the conclusions of the science audit being carried out in March 2001;
- to consider in the light of this evaluation and the views of customers and other stakeholders whether NDPB status remains the most cost effective way of achieving its own and departmental aims, as well as government-wide aims such as those relating to science policy and Modernising Government;
- if the review concludes that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew should continue to function as a NDPB, then to consider what changes, if any, are required to its operating framework in the light of the findings of the review. If, however, the review concludes that a different delivery system would provide high quality, more effective and better value for money services, to set out the rationale and to recommend appropriate options to Ministers.
The review will be conducted by a review team attached to MAFF's Chief Scientist's Group, working in consultation with the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and other government departments as appropriate.
Interested parties are invited to submit their views to the review team by Monday 9 April 2001. Details of how to contact them are contained in the MAFF press notice issued today or on our website (http://www.maff.gov.uk).
"View Of Hampton Court Palace": Ex Gratia Payment
Baroness Gould of Potternewton
asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will publish the Government's proposals in response to the claim concerning the "View of Hampton Court Palace" by Jan Griffier the Elder at the Tate Gallery. [HL399]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts has received the report, which is published today as a Parliamentary Paper, of the Spoliation Advisory Panel's examination of the claim in relation to the Griffier painting in the Tate Gallery. We welcome the panel's report and we will implement the recommendation which is addressed to us.In setting up the panel we recognised the duty to do what the Government can to play its part in righting these historic wrongs and the need to ensure that questions of ownership of works of art arising from the terrible events of the Nazi era are resolved. Although the report makes clear that the family, who wish to remain anonymous, have no legal title to the painting, and that there is no criticism whatsoever of the Tate Gallery, we accept the panel's advice that there is a moral strength to the claimant's argument and that, in the spirit of the Declaration of Principles agreed at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets held in December 1998, this justifies an
ex gratia payment of £125,000.
Bae Systems: Warship Export Licences
asked Her Majesty's Government:How many licences to export new warships over 500 tonnes displacement have been granted to BAE Systems, or its predecessor yards, over the last 10 years, giving details of size and type in each case. [HL275]
The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)
Licences to export arms and other goods whose export is controlled for strategic reasons are issued by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry acting through DTI's Export Control Organisation (ECO). The ECO's computer databases have been searched for details of Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) issued between 1 January 1991 and 2 January 2001, and Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) issued between 1 January 1994 and 2 January 2001 to BAE Systems and Marconi (Projects) Ltd, using the Military List entries ML9 and PL5033, which relate to warships. Computer records for OIELs are only available from 1 January 1994. Before then, the ECO only kept paper records of OIELs, and it would entail disproportionate cost to examine these to determine which, if any, were issued to BAE Systems or its associated companies. The search has been carried out on BAE Systems and Marconi (Projects) Ltd in the light of the recent amalgamation of British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems. However, this search may not cover all BAE Systems' predecessor yards. The ECO records the details of the company applying for a licence, and is able to amend its records or reissue a licence, as appropriate, in the event of a change of name or ownership. However, ECO does not systematically maintain records of such changes in name or ownership, and it is not therefore able to search its computer records to establish the information in the form requested.In the light of the search results, inquiries are being made under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. As confidential information is involved, the party concerned is being asked if it objects to its disclosure. I will write to the noble Lord in the light of the reponse, and will place a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.
Great Britain Bus Timetable
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are taking any steps to secure the continued publication of the Great Britain Bus Timetable until the national information scheme PTI 2000 is working to a high standard. [HL338]
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston)
The Great Britain Bus Timetable is a commercial venture by Southern Vectis and as such decisions about its future are a matter for the company. However, the Government regard the timetable as a useful tool for those travelling by bus around the country, and as a reference work for tourist information offices, libraries and so on. We have given financial support in the past, as have others in the transport industry, and would be disappointed if publication were to cease. DETR officials are in discussions with Southern Vectis about the options, in the light of other initiatives, including the advent of traveline (formerly PTI 2000).
Sea Harrier Fa2 And Harrier Gr7: Replacement
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether an aircraft has been selected to meet the requirement to replace the Sea Harrier FA2 and Harrier GR7 aircraft of the joint force Harrier. [HL379]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)
The MoD noted in the Strategic Defence Review that the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was a strong contender to meet the requirement to replace the Sea Harrier FA2 and Harrier GR7 aircraft of the joint force Harrier in the early years of the next decade.In the light of further work on the various alternatives to meet the Future Carrier Borne Aircraft requirement, and of the successful progress of the JSF Concept Development phase, it has now been concluded that JSF is the option with the best potential to meet our needs. It has accordingly been decided to join the US as a collaborative partner in the next stage of the programme (Engineering and Manufacturing Development)—subject, of course, to the decisions of the incoming US Administration on the future of the programme.JSF is a single seat, supersonic aircraft, incorporating advanced "stealth" technology, capable of performing multi-role operations from aircraft carriers and land bases. Analysis of the available options demonstrated that, on a through life basis, JSF should meet most cost-effectively our military requirements. It promises to be an oustanding aircraft.
The UK has been a full collaborative partner with the US in the Concept Development phase of the JSF programme since 1996. On Wednesday 17 January in Washington, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the US Government that covers the next phase of the programme, Engineering and Manufacturing Development.
On current plans, contracts are expected to be awarded for this phase of the programme later this year. Signature of the MoU will enable the UK to participate in the selection of the prime contractor, for which two consortia, one led by Boeing and the other by Lockheed Martin, are competing. Demonstrator aircraft from both consortia have successfully completed a series of intial flight trials.
The MoU covers only the next development phase of the programme. Defence Secretaries Cohen and Hoon have therefore agreed a set of principles that will provide a framework for UK involvement in the JSF programme in the longer term. The principles we have agreed will safeguard UK national interests, ensuring that we retain the military and industrial capability to manage the aircraft effectively through life.
UK participation as a full collaborative partner in the JSF programme will represent a significant opportunity for UK industry. UK companies have already played a significant role in the programme to date. They are well placed in both of the bidding consortia to win, on merit, substantial high quality work, both in the next phase and over the life of potentially the largest military procurement programme ever. Some 70 British companies, including BAE SYSTEMS, Rolls Royce. Smiths Industries, Messier Dowty International, Cobham PLC, TRW ASG (Lucas Aerospace) and the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company, are well placed in the bidding consortia to win subcontracts on merit.
The cost to the UK of the next programme phase will be of the order of £1.3 billion, plus a further £600 million worth of work to meet UK national requirements.
A number of our European allies are considering participation in the JSF programme. JSF will play a crucial part in developing the transatlantic partnership, in enhancing NATO interoperability and in improving European military capability.
JSF will form a major part of the UK's future offensive air capability, along with Eurofighter and other air systems, for several decades to come. It has not yet been decided how the total capability requirement will be met over that period. Nor has it been decided at this stage what JSF variant will best meet the UK's requirements, nor the numbers of aircraft that might eventually be purchased. For the Future Offensive Air Systems project, the MoD are continuing to study a range of options, including manned aircraft, cruise missiles and uninhabited combat air vehicles. Allied to these studies will be a programme of technology demonstration, some of which may be collaborative, offering scope for work by the UK aerospace industry.
We shall place in the Library, and on the MoD website, copies of the MoU relating to the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of JSF, and of the exchange of letters with Defence Secretary Cohen.