15 Dec 1998 : Column: 417

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 15 December 1998

SCOTLAND

Departmental Staff

Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the special advisers in his Department and the issues on which they specialise; and to what level they have been security cleared. [62847]

Mr. Dewar: My Department employs 3 Special Advisers, Ms Wendy Alexander, Mr. Murray Elder and Mr. David Whitton. Ms Alexander advises specifically on health, the Arts, social work, child care, housing and European affairs. Mr. Elder advises on issues relating to agriculture, the environment, forestry and fisheries, home affairs, devolution, local government and transport matters. In addition, both Ms Alexander and Mr. Elder deal with matters relating to business, industry and education. Mr. David Whitton has particular responsibility for the presentation of policy and relations with the media. Special Advisers are subject to the usual security clearance arrangements. It is not appropriate to give details about particular individuals' level of security clearance.

Highlands and Islands

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the (a) landing capabilities and (b) designated sites associated with his announcement of expansion to the Highlands and Islands air ambulance service; and if he will make a statement. [63309]

Mr. Galbraith: The announcement concerned the recent contract awards made by the Scottish Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which has secured the continuing provision of Patient Air Transport Services for the people of Scotland. In addition to sustaining the high quality Air Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance High Dependency Service, both of which traditionally use fixed wing aircraft, significant improvements have been made to the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.

The 2 new helicopters that are being commissioned into service are roomier, faster and quieter than their predecessors. Fully equipped for patient care, the aircraft are built for flying in more adverse weather conditions and in hours of darkness. Both will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with air crew supported by ambulance paramedics and technicians and will be capable of landing at any of the 226 Civil Aviation Authority approved airports, landing strips and other landing sites located across Scotland. Outwith hours of darkness helicopters can land at any site so long as it is safe to do so. I shall write to the hon. Member with a detailed list of all of these locations as soon as possible, and will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library.

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Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the forecast payment from the European Union with regard to the Highlands and Islands Objective I area for (a) 1997-98 and (b) 1998-99; and if he will make a statement. [63152]

Mr. Macdonald: In 1997-98, the amounts received from the European Commission with regard to the Highlands and Islands Objective 1 area totalled £24.3 million, while the forecast receipts for 1998-99 amount to £78.9 million. These payments include those made for the purposes of the Highlands and Islands Objective 1 Programme as well as those made in pursuance of various Community Initiatives using the European Union Structural Funds. The amounts shown do not include certain payments made from the Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund where separate information for the Highlands and Islands Objective 1 area could not be identified except at disproportionate cost. Nor, for the same reason, do they include any payments made by European institutions other than the European Commission.

The amounts received from the Commission as shown do not necessarily correspond in terms of their timing either with the commitment of funds or the payment of funds to individual projects under the Objective 1 Programme or with the Community Initiatives.

Dounreay

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Scottish Environment Protection Agency report into fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel in the Dounreay local environment will be received. [64389]

Mr. Galbraith: The report was submitted to my right hon. Friend by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency on 10 December 1998. Copies are available in the House of Commons Library. We have noted the recommendations contained in the report. These are:






Accordingly, the two kilometre fishing restrictions will remain in force. Clearly these restrictions cannot be lifted until UKAEA find and quantify the extent of contamination in the local marine environment, and this work should proceed as a matter of urgency. I have asked SEPA to ensure that there is sufficient monitoring in place to ensure that any particles finding their way to the public beach at Sandside are promptly detected and removed.

15 Dec 1998 : Column: 419

Television Licence Fees (Non-Payment)

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many prosecutions arose from non-payment of television licence fees in the last year for which figures are available; if he will estimate the number of such prosecutions against women; what was the average fine for non-payment; how many people are currently in prison for non-payment, and how many of these are women; and if evidence from television detector vans or hand-held detectors has been successfully used in any such prosecutions. [62441]

Mr. McLeish: The available information is set out in the table. Custodial sentences for non-payment of a television licence are not available to the courts as a first disposal. Information on the method of detecting such offences is not collected centrally.

In 1996, there were 30 fine default receptions (21 of which involved females) into Scottish penal establishments for non-payment of fines for offences committed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.

Persons proceeded against where the main offence was under the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1) 1949, Scotland, 1996

Main disposalMalesFemalesTotal
Persons proceeded against1,9173,8175,734
Persons with a charge proved1,8413,7625,603
Of which:
Persons fined1,5753,2074,782
Average fine (£)605456
Persons admonished251540791
Other disposal151530

(1) Most prosecutions under this Act relate to non-payment of a television licence. Where known, prosecutions for other offences under this Act have been excluded from the table


FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Iraq

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral statement of 1 December 1998, Official Report, column 668, if he will take steps to seek to refer the Government of Iraq for breaches of the UN Convention on Genocide to the International Court in The Hague. [64113]

Mr. Fatchett: This question has been considered in the past. I will write to the hon. Member on the subject. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral answer of 1 December 1998, Official Report, column 668, what action he has taken in support of the INDICT campaign to date. [64110]

Mr. Fatchett: We have fully supported the INDICT campaign since its launch in the House last year. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister sent a message to INDICT's press conference earlier this month reconfirming that support. Foreign Office officials keep in regular contact with the INDICT campaign and offer advice and support where needed.

15 Dec 1998 : Column: 420

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral answer of 1 December 1998, Official Report, column 668, if he will take action to indict Tariq Aziz, the Foreign Secretary of Iraq, for war crimes. [64111]

Mr. Fatchett: As the hon. Member will be aware, the INDICT campaign is calling for charges to be brought against key members of Saddam Hussein's regime, including his Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. HMG fully supports the INDICT campaign as it works toward the day when such people can be brought to book for their crimes.


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