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Slaughterhouses: Appeals against Closure

The Earl of Onslow asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): Yes.

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Mandatory Life Sentences: Administrative Changes

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the changes made in the administration of the mandatory life sentence for murder to conform to judgments of the domestic courts in cases brought by way of judicial review and of the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, and the dates when new procedures were introduced.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): There have been two such judgments, both in the domestic courts.

Following the Divisional Court judgment in March 1987 in the case of Handscomb (which strictly applied only to discretionary life sentence prisoners), it was decided that the views of the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice about the requirements of retribution and deterrence would be obtained in all life sentence cases as soon as possible after sentence. This was introduced in October 1987. At the same time it was decided that the date of the first formal review of the cases of prisoners serving mandatory life sentences would also be fixed as soon as practicable after conviction.

The House of Lords judgment of 24 June 1993 in Doody and others required the Secretary of State to inform mandatory life sentence prisoners of the recommendations made by the judiciary as to the period necessary to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence, and of the substance of any opinions expressed by the judiciary which are relevant to his decision as to the appropriate minimum period to be served to satisfy those requirements. In addition, the judgment required him to afford to the prisoner the opportunity to submit written representations. Although he is not required to adopt the judicial advice, the Secretary of State must give reasons where he decides to depart from it. New procedures to comply with the judgment were introduced on 4 November 1993 as outlined in my right honourable friend's Written Answer of that day in another place.

Homicide by Shooting

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many suspects were found guilty of murder in 1993 and 1994, how many currently recorded offences of homicide involved shooting in those years, and how many suspects were found guilty of murder involving shooting.

Baroness Blatch: In 1993, 212 defendants were found guilty of murder in England and Wales. The number of offences currently recorded as homicide which involved shooting during 1993 is 71. According to information available to me, 24 defendants have, to date, been found guilty of murder for offences of homicide involving shooting which occurred during 1993.

Information for 1994 is not yet available.

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Postage Stamps and Import Duties

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What duties are payable on the importation of postage stamps, covers and other postal collectables (not of current issue) from countries (a) outside the European Union and (b) inside the European Union.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Under the European Community Agreements all goods imported into the Community are, in principle, subject to Customs duty and VAT. The agreements do allow relief from payment of customs duty on importation for postage stamps, covers, and other postal collectables. However the standard rate of VAT applies to these items unless they qualify for relief as antiques or collectors' pieces of historical interest. From 1 June 1995 those items which are currently entitled to relief from VAT will instead be taxed at importation into the United Kingdom on a reduced value, giving an effective VAT rate of 2.5 per cent.

No Customs duties are chargeable in respect of goods in free circulation which are traded between member states. When postage stamps, covers and postal collectables are supplied by a trader registered for VAT in another member state to a trader registered for VAT in the United Kingdom, VAT need not be charged by the EC supplier on despatch of the goods. VAT is due from the United Kingdom trader on acquisition of the goods in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom trader would account for any VAT due, at the rate applicable to the goods, on his normal VAT return and would be able to claim this VAT as input tax on the same return, subject to the normal rules.

When postage stamps, covers and postal collectables are supplied by a VAT-registered EC supplier to a person not registered for VAT in the United Kingdom, VAT would be charged by the supplier in the country of despatch of the goods. No further VAT would be due on the arrival of the goods in the United Kingdom.

Postage Stamps and VAT

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, and in what circumstances, VAT is payable on the sale and purchase of postage stamps, covers and other postal collectables (not of current issue).

Lord Henley: VAT is not chargeable on unused stamps which are valid for postal use in the UK or the Isle of Man provided that the price of the stamp does not exceed its face value; if it does, VAT is chargeable on the excess.

Other stamps, covers and postal collectables are subject to VAT at the standard rate either on the full selling price or, if sold under the optional margin scheme, on the difference between the purchase and selling price.

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Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is evidence of an increase in tuberculosis, especially amongst homeless and impoverished people; and what action they propose to take to combat this problem.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Notifications of tuberculosis in England and Wales fell from 49,558 in 1950 to 18,937 in 1963 and 5,086 in 1987. They then levelled out and there has been a small increase in recent years. There were 5,961 notifications in 1993.

In response to the small increase in tuberculosis notifications, an Inter-Departmental Working Group to consider policies for control in this country and to recommend best practice has been established. The group will focus on improving screening, prevention and treatment for those groups known to be at higher risk, including the homeless and immigrants from countries with high tuberculosis prevalence.

Draught Shandy

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Units of Measurements Directive which prohibits from 1st October 1995 the sale of shandy in draught by the pint supports the Prime Minister's statement that "we have won the argument to ensure that Europe intervenes as little as possible in our everyday lives".

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): Draught shandy may continue to be sold in pint glasses from 1 October 1995.

Single Market and Multilateral Investment Rules

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the consideration by the Council of Ministers at their meeting on 1st April 1995 on the European Commission's proposal (Com (95) 42 final) concerning "a level playing field for direct investment"; what relevance, if any, the proposal has to the Single Market; and why they gave the proposal their "broad support" in their Explanatory Memorandum on 31st March 1995.

Earl Ferrers: The Council of Ministers broadly endorsed the Commission Communication at their meeting on 10 April 1995. A copy of the Council's conclusions is enclosed for the noble Lord and another has been placed in the Library of the House.

The negotiation of multilateral investment rules will have no direct relevance to the Single Market, but

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investors within the Community will benefit from the economic liberalisation of the Single Market.

The Commission Communication is generally in line with long-standing United Kingdom objectives on international investment policy, which are to achieve liberalisation of restrictions on investment and effective protection of United Kingdom investments overseas. The Commission envisages an early start to negotiations in the World Trade Organisation, whereas the Government are anxious that any early preparatory work there should not divert resources from work already under way in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Following is the note referred to:


    from: Permanent Representatives Committee

    on: 5 April 1995

    to: Council

    Subject: Trade questions

    — Start-up of the WTO and multilateral trade negotiations, with particular reference to trade and investment.

At its meeting on 5 April 1995 the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed to suggest that the Council, as an "A" item at its meeting on 10 April 1995, approve the draft Council conclusions annexed hereto.

II. Trade and Investment

1. The Council takes note of the current Commission communication and gives its political agreement to the following guidelines:

    —it recognises the value to the Community and its Member States of striving actively for the establishment of multilateral rules involving high standards of liberalisation and protection for direct foreign investment;

    —it hopes that negotiations will start at the OECD forthwith, with the participation of the Community and its Member States, in order to draw up of a multilateral agreement on investment, with which non-member countries will be associated;

    —it proposes that work should also commence within the WTO for the subsequent establishment of a multilateral framework.

2. Given that this agreement will include provisions covered by joint (Community and national) competence in relation to the Treaty, the Council requests the Commission to submit a formal recommendation for a directive authorising the latter to participate in negotiations opened at the OECD in respect of matters covered by Community competence.

3. These conclusions are without prejudice to the arrangements to be adopted for such participation and for the conduct of the negotiations. The arrangements will have to guarantee close co-operation between the Community and the Member States.

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