some default text...

5 Nov 1996 : Column: 407

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 5 November 1996

NATIONAL HERITAGE

Greyhound Racing

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) what assessment she has made of the impact on greyhound racing of the decision to allow a second weekly national lottery draw, in respect of (a) attendances (b) the number of greyhound tracks (c) employment in the industry (d) total revenue accruing to greyhound racing (e) greyhound racing profitability and (f) taxation revenue; [2318]

Mr. Sproat: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made no such assessment. Under section 4 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, the Director General of the National Lottery has a duty to exercise his functions in the manner he considers most likely to secure that the national lottery is run with all due propriety, that the interests of participants in the lottery are protected, and subject to these to maximise the revenue to the good causes. The director general judged that the introduction of a midweek draw would be consistent with these duties.

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans she has to meet representatives of the greyhound racing industry to discuss the impact of a second weekly national lottery draw on off-course and on-course betting. [2237]

Mr. Sproat: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no plans to meet the greyhound racing industry. Responsibility for greyhound racing and the gaming industry in general is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

BBC

Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on the publication of the BBC's statement of promises to viewers and listeners. [2768]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: I welcome the publication today of the BBC's first statement of promises to viewers and listeners. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. The BBC is a unique broadcaster and has a unique relationship with its audience. The new charter and agreement came into effect on 1 May this year. They reaffirm the BBC's independence. That independence requires direct accountability to licence fee payers. The statement of promises forms a new link between the BBC and its audience. It sets out the standards of service that all viewers and listeners can expect from the BBC and the standards against which the BBC board of governors will

5 Nov 1996 : Column: 408

carry out its annual assessment and report on the corporation's performance. The statement of promises brings to the BBC the principles of the Prime Minister's citizens charter initiative. A summary version will be available to licence fee payers.

Female Staff

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many women are currently employed by her Department; and what proportion this is of the total. [1248]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 4 November 1996]: My Department, excluding its executive agencies, currently employs 178 women. This is 49 per cent. of the total staff employed by the Department.

Child Care

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what proportion of the (a) women who are mothers and (b) men who are fathers who are employed by her Department have received any assistance from the Department with child care. [1289]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 4 November 1996]: Although the civil service collects statistical information on staff employed in Government Departments and executive agencies, we do not collect information on the parental status of individual staff. It would be inappropriate for us to request this information from staff and difficult to justify the collection of such data. However my Department, as part of its equal opportunities policy, offers a range of child care facilities including a subsidised nursery place, a subsidised holiday play scheme and standard civil service maternity and paternity provisions; staff also have the opportunity to take extended leave due to family commitments.

Public Houses

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what steps she is taking to protect the historical heritage of public house names; and if she will make a statement. [1886]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 4 November 1996]: The names of public houses are entirely matters for their owners to decide. Where a change of name of a public house which is listed as a building of special architectural or historic interest involves an alternation to its fabric which would affect its character as such a building, listed building consent would be required from the local planning authority.

DEFENCE

Land Mines

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the (a) maximum timed life and (b) self-destruct reliability of (i) area denial and (ii) land mine systems presently in active service with British forces. [391]

5 Nov 1996 : Column: 409

Mr. Arbuthnot: The systems concerned are the HB876 sub-munition of the JP233 area denial weapon and the MLRS AT2 scatterable mine. Self-destruction will normally take place in a matter of hours for the HB876; its self-destruct reliability is currently being assessed. The AT2 mine self-destructs within days and has a reliability which has been evaluated as over 99 per cent. Additionally, in each case mine detonation relies on a short-life battery, and any mine that fails to self-destruct will deactivate within a further short period. Precise self-destruction timings for both mines are classified.

There is no other area denial weapon in service with the British armed forces, and no other land mine system in service which has a maximum timed life or a self-destruct capability.

Unidentified Flying Craft

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the reports of encounters by Royal Air Force pilots with unidentified flying craft since 1966 which have not been released to the public; on what grounds they have been retained; and if he will make a statement. [2201]

Mr. Soames: The information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the Royal Air Force's practice as regards investigating sightings of unidentified flying craft which correlate with radar information; if there is a requirement to investigate such phenomena by scrambling aircraft; and if he will make a statement. [2200]

Mr. Soames: Unidentified contacts penetrating UK airspace or the UK air defence region are identified by all available means, including interception.

Gulf War Veterans

Mr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the people who are currently employed on his Department's Gulf veterans medical assessment programme. [1687]

Mr. Soames: The personnel currently employed by my Department's Gulf veterans medical assessment programme are:


In addition, the Middlesex hospital undertakes diagnostic testing at the request of the MAP consultants.

5 Nov 1996 : Column: 410

Married Quarters Estate

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the sale of the married quarters estate to Annington Homes. [2750]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Contracts for the sale were exchanged on 24 September. The transaction was completed today.

Menwith Hill RAF Station

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what right of access the Health and Safety Executive has to Menwith Hill station; if it makes regular health and safety checks; and how many times it has made official visits to the Menwith Hill station. [2153]

Mr. Soames: The Health and Safety Executive has the same right of access to RAF Menwith Hill as at any other MOD establishment. The Health and Safety Executive have visited the site once in June 1996.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what systems are in place to monitor levels of non-ionising electro-magnetic radiation at Menwith Hill station; who is responsible for such monitoring; if their reports are made available to the public; and what precautions are being taken to protect the health and safety of (a) the base population, (b) the local community and (c) the local environment from the effects of non-ionising electro-magnetic radiation emitted by operations at Menwith Hill station. [2157]

Mr. Soames: There is no specific legal requirement to monitor non-ionising electro-magnetic radiation. However RAF Menwith Hill observes and operates in accordance with the National Radiological Protection Board guidelines and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will commission a report on the state of the environment at Menwith Hill station, similar to the internal US environmental compliance status survey of 1992; on what occasions his Department has commissioned similar reports in the past; and if he will commission and publish such reports on a regular basis. [2158]

Mr. Soames: No. The commissioning of compliance status surveys is the sole responsibility of the US authorities. These surveys are carried out to US criteria and I am satisfied that the standards applied fully meet those applicable in the UK. Therefore my Department has not commissioned any similar reports and does not intend to do so.


Next Section Index Home Page