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Licensing Hours

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to review legislation governing hours of licensing for public houses. [42410]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 18 March 2002]: This issue was thoroughly reviewed between 1997 and 1999. Following our review, the White Paper "Time for Reform: Proposals for the Modernisation of Our Licensing Laws (Cm 4696)", published on 10 April 2000, set out our plans for reforming the alcohol and public entertainment licensing laws, including the hours during which alcohol may be sold or supplied to the public. To counter and minimise public disorder resulting from fixed closing times, we intend to introduce flexible opening hours as a condition of the licences of each venue, with the potential for some to operate up to 24 hour opening on each day of the week, subject to consideration of the impact on local residents. We intend to introduce primary legislation to implement these proposals as soon as parliamentary time permits.

Golden Jubilee

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many non-domestic visitors she estimates will visit London during the week of the Queen's Golden Jubilee; and if she will make a statement. [44590]

Tessa Jowell: No estimate has been made of the number of non-domestic visitors likely to visit London during the week of the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

The Queen's Golden Jubilee is a great opportunity to encourage more people to visit the UK this year and it is central to the British Tourist Authority's current overseas promotional campaigns.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps have been taken to publicise the Queen's Jubilee internationally; and if she will make a statement. [44587]

Tessa Jowell: The British Tourist Authority (BTA) is a member of the Golden Jubilee Communications Group and is working closely with other members to promote the Jubilee abroad.

The Jubilee is central to the BTA's campaigns this year with all its main publications carrying features on the Jubilee. The BTA is undertaking a range of other promotional activities, such as producing a Royal Heritage map highlighting 50 locations throughout the country with royal connections; running a competition with BBC World Service in the US with winners securing tickets for the two Buckingham Palace concerts and bringing travel journalists and tour organisers to the UK to showcase Royal Heritage.

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Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of 22 January 2002, Official Report, column 727W, on stolen equipment, whether the computer equipment stolen from her Department was (a) new and unused and (b) used; and what was the nature of the data stored on such items in each case. [42653]

Dr. Howells: The personal computer base units and personal computer monitor were new and unused and contained no departmental data.

The laptop was a recent procurement and contained only a small amount of correspondence, none of which was protectively marked.


Flexible Working

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what proportion of the staff of his Department are (a) job sharing, (b) term working and (c) engaged in another form of flexible working. [42413]

Angela Eagle: Home Office staff are able to take advantage of a variety of flexible and non-traditional working patterns, including job sharing and term working. The working pattern is decided in conjunction with local management to suit an individual's preferences and the requirements of their work.

We estimate that 11 per cent. of staff work part-time in a range of ways, for example reduced days per week, working alternate weeks and term time working, but we do not hold central records of the details of these arrangements. Many other staff work full time, but have flexible hours. 38 staff are currently recorded as being job sharers in the Home Office, United Kingdom Passport and Records Service and Forensic Science Service. Information on staff in the Prison Service who are job sharers is not held centrally and could not be provided without disproportionate costs.

Press and Public Relations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were employed in a press or public relations function in his Department on 1 January in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000, (e) 2001 and (f) 2002. [39941]

Angela Eagle: The information requested is shown in the table:

Number of press officers at 1 January

(13) At April—the nearest figure available.

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This includes eight people employed as press officers for the Prison Service whose media relations operation moved to the Home Office in August 2001.

In addition at various times chief immigration officers and policy officials were on six-month attachments to the press office.

No one was employed in a general public relations function.

However as has been explained in previous answers, the expansion of the Home Office press office followed an external consultant's review of its staffing and operation and recommended the increases. Staff levels in the press office had been static for some years despite the enormous changes in the media and their increasing demands for a 24 hours service.

The figures for 1997 through to 2000 of 13 or 14 press officers do not reflect vacancies and the complement would have been nearer 17 or 18. The office was in fact supplemented by secondments, loans and attachments.

Animal Experiments

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to establish a Royal Commission into animal experiments; and if he will make a statement. [43993]

Angela Eagle: The Government have not ruled out a Royal Commission but strongly believe that resources can best be used to make immediate improvements to the operation of the 1986 Act and to promote the fullest application of the three Rs—replacing the use of animals with alternative methods; reducing the number of animals needed for a particular purpose and refining the procedures to minimise suffering.

In this context, the Animal Procedures Committee is currently considering the responses to a public consultation paper as part of its review of the cost/benefit assessment of applications for authority to use animals in scientific procedures. As part of this work, the committee plans to produce a statement on the validity of animal experiments. I expect to receive its report in the next few months.

The House of Lords has also established a Select Committee on the use of animals in scientific procedures and is currently gathering evidence.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce a programme of investment involving companies that profit from animal experimentation in the development of non-animal experimentation alternatives. [43995]

Angela Eagle: The Government do not believe that setting mandatory requirements for investment into research into alternatives to the use of animals in scientific procedures is either desirable or necessary.

Nonetheless, every year the Home Office makes available to the Animal Procedures Committee (APC) a budget for research aimed at developing or promoting the use of alternatives which replace animal use, reduce the number of animals used, or refine the procedures involved to minimise suffering (the three Rs). Details of completed

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research projects are published in the annual report of the Animal Procedures Committee, which is available from The Stationery Office.

The amount made available to the Committee for 2001–02 for this specific purpose has increased to £280,000. However, this is not the only money spent by the Government on seeking to develop alternatives, as other Departments also fund such work. It is estimated that the total spent on this by the United Kingdom Government is in the region of £2 million each year. Industry also spends many millions of pounds each year on the search for and development of alternatives. To take this further on an international level, the United Kingdom Government will continue to support the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) through contributions to the European Union.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to regulate the breeding of animals specifically for experiments; and if he will introduce further legislation on this issue. [43996]

Angela Eagle: Breeding and supply of animals for use in experimental or other scientific procedures are regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Such animals, as described in Schedule 2 of the Act (which lists the commonly used species), may generally only be obtained from designated breeding and supplying establishments.

These establishments are only designated if, on the advice of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Mr. Blunkett) is satisfied that they meet minimum animal welfare standards. The standards are set out in the Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals in Designated Breeding and Supplying Establishments, presented to Parliament in 1995 under section 21 of the Act (HC 125, available—along with a recently published supplement—in the Library).

There are no plans to introduce further legislation. The Code of Practice will, however, continue to be supplemented and updated as required, to take account of any additions to Schedule 2 of the Act and of any new developments in the field of animal care.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a mandatory control database to stop unnecessary experiments involving animals. [43994]

Angela Eagle: To meet the requirements of section 5(4) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, any application to use protected animals in research must be the subject of a detailed cost/benefit assessment by Home Office inspectors. The likely adverse effects on the animals concerned must be weighed against the benefit likely to accrue as a result of the proposed programme of work. All procedures are strictly regulated and all applications for licenses to use animals are assessed to ensure that the work is necessary.

For that purpose the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, who offer professional advice and recommendations on licence applications made under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, use a range of resources to keep abreast of developments and results in

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animal research, and the scientific community have established and maintained their own databases to the same end.

A mandatory central database would be problematic for a number of reasons. There would, in particular, be significant difficulties in ensuring the completeness and quality of the data and in ensuring that intellectual or commercial confidentiality were not compromised. We do, however, believe that there is scope for further reducing the risk of duplication of animal testing by encouraging companies to engage in data sharing. To this end, in August 2000, we announced an inter-Departmental concordat on data sharing to enable Government Departments to reduce the duplication of tests on animals. The concordat commits United Kingdom regulatory authorities to help resolve legal and other obstacles and encourage data sharing between clients and thereby reduce animal tests. Progress in implementing the concordat will be reviewed in the next few months.

In addition, there are a number of international and national initiatives to encourage data sharing. International assessment programmes have well-established and effective methods for data sharing, ensuring mutual acceptance of data and dissemination of information on chemicals. This also extends to dissemination of data to developing countries.

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