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3 May 1995 : Column WA117

Written Answers

Wednesday, 3rd May 1995.

Sutton: Proposed new High School

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the statement in Department for Education Circular 23/94, appendix 3A, paragraph 133 that "It is the Secretary of State's intention to decide proposals within five months of publication...", why they have still not announced their decision on the proposal published by the London Borough of Sutton on 29th September 1994 to establish a Six Form Entry Co-Educational High School at Ventnor Road, Sutton, and when they expect to do so.

Lord Lucas: The proposals to meet the rising demand for secondary school places in Sutton, published by Sutton Local Education Authority for a new High School, have to be judged against recommendations put to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education by the Funding Agency for Schools to expand existing schools. In giving full consideration to all the educational and financial issues involved, which are complex, my right honourable friend has been unable in this case to decide the proposals within five months of publication. My right honourable friend will announce her decision as soon as possible.

Parental Responsibility Agreements

Lord Young of Dartington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make copies of parental responsibility agreements as provided for by Section 4(1)(b) of the Children Act 1989 available in the offices of Registrars of Births.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Government are considering whether a supply of forms for the making of parental responsibility agreements can and should be made available in register offices.

Abortion Act: Commission of Inquiry Report

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance they gave to the Commission of Inquiry into the Operation and Consequences of the Abortion Act in producing its report on The Physical and Psycho Social Effects of Abortion on Women: and whether they will place in the Library of the House details of any evidence they submitted or information they provided; and

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    Whether they agree with the conclusions of the report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Operation and Consequences of the Abortion Act on The Physical and Psycho-Social Effects of Abortion on Women: and whether they have any observations to make on that report.

Baroness Cumberlege: In November 1993, the Department of Health responded in writing to specific questions from Lord Rawlinson's Private Commission of Inquiry into the Operation and Consequences of the Abortion Act. In July 1994, the Department was invited to comment on the Commission's first report by the honourable Member for Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) and did so. Copies of the correspondence have been placed in the Library

Haslar Service Hospital: Development Costs

Lord Bramall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the estimated costs for the expansion of the core service hospital at Haslar, including the provision of necessary married quarters, and the opening of a Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) at Frimley Park, leaving an upgraded health centre at Aldershot.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): At present, expansion costs at Haslar are estimated at £12.048 million. Estimates for the requirement of an additional 85 officers' married quarters, which will be met in the short term by hiring property or payment of excess rent allowance, are not yet available, although these costs will be partially offset by savings at current locations. Initial setting up costs of the Frimley Park Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit are expected to be of the order of £1.6 million. These costs should be seen in the context of the anticipated annual saving of at least £55 million resulting from full implementation of the Front Line First recommendations for the future of the Defence Medical Services.

Upgrading of the Aldershot Health Centre is the responsibility of the Department of Health. The National Health Service estimate that the capital cost of refurbishing the Aldershot Health Centre will be in the order of £1.7 million; the capital cost of extending the health centre to provide additional accommodation is estimated to amount to some £2.5 million.

Air Passenger Duty: Revenue

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What revenue the new airport tax is expected to raise in its first full year of operation.

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Lord Henley: The latest published forecast shows that Air Passenger Duty is expected to raise £300 million in 1995–96, (its first full year of operation).

Single European Currency

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the statement by the Prime Minister of 12th December 1994 (HC Deb., col. 621) that "What is clear now is that, whereas before the Maastricht treaty many people had in mind the concept of a single currency right across membership of the European Union, that is plainly fatuous if the Union is to be extended to 27 members. It will be almost totally unlikely if it has 20 members and extremely unlikely for 15 members", they will now take steps to end funding by the United Kingdom taxpayer of preparation for this scheme.

Lord Henley: The Maastricht Treaty specifies the process of preparation for a single currency during stage two of economic and monetary union, in which the United Kingdom and all other member states are participants. The Government will continue to fulfil their Treaty obligations. Under the UK protocol to the Treaty any decision to seek to join a single currency would be a matter for the UK Government and Parliament.

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Financial Services Industry, Edinburgh: Employee Numbers

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of people employed in Edinburgh were employed in financial services (a) in 1990 and (b) at the latest available date.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): Information is not available centrally for 1990. As at September 1991 the latest date for which information is available, 26,500 employees were employed in financial services in Edinburgh District. The equivalent figure for September 1989 was 23,200. These figures represent 10.6 per cent. of all employees in Edinburgh District in 1991, and 9.5 per cent. in 1989.

Blasphemy: Scots Law

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the common law offence of blasphemy still exists in Scots law.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: The position is open to doubt. Blasphemy was certainly an offence under Scots common law in the early nineteenth century, but the last reported prosecution at common law was in 1843. Accordingly, some modern authorities are of the view that the crime can no longer be said to exist. Should such a prosecution be brought, the question would be one for the courts.

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