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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government of China contributed $100,000 to the UNFPA Population Award in 1983. Copies of the acceptance speech of Dr. Qian Xinzhong and statements from the UN Secretary-General and the Chairman of the Population Award at the Population Award ceremony will be placed in the Libraries of the House.
Lord Lucas: To know the dose-response relation is a great help in the control of any toxic substance. The usefulness of epidemiological information is greatly increased if it can be used to establish one.
The Government do not accept that it is impossible to establish exposure levels for organophosphates. The take-up of organophosphates by the human body immediately following exposure can be assessed by measuring the effects on relevant biochemical processes. Moreover, a key objective of the major new epidemiological study on organophosphate sheep dipping, which the Government announced on 26 October will be to develop a method for estimating exposure directly from the characteristics of the dipping operation. The final results of the study should enable a dose-response relation to be constructed. In particular, they should reveal whether any such relation is one which all exposed people show some effects, increasing progressively with dose, one in which a small proportion of the population is highly sensitive to small exposures and the rest relatively unaffected; or takes some other intermediate or quite different form.
Even if it proves difficult to develop a method for estimating exposure accurately, the study is designed still to yield valuable information. It will still establish whether there is a causal link between low level exposure to organophosphate sheep dip, even if unquantified, and the neurological indicators being measured. It will also usually examine what such neurological effects mean in terms of actual ill-health.
What was the cost to the public of the consultation exercise concerning the A.303 that took place two years ago, and why the proposals that were then agreed by Ministers to be "non-starters" were re-issued by the Highways Agency; and
Whether written evidence is not to be considered during the present consultation exercise on the routeing of the A.303 near Stonehenge, and, if so, what effect this is expected to have on the participation of those who participated in the first exercise; and
Whether the Highways Agency had the explicit approval of Ministers for their omission to consult the National Trust, given that inalienable National Trust land is affected by some of their proposals; and
Whether the Ministry of Defence approves of the Highways Agency's proposals which affect its land and its interest near Stonehenge; and
What costs the Highways Agency has incurred to date in mounting a second consultation exercise and "brochure drop", what further costs are anticipated; and whether the agency's procedures represent value for money for the taxpayer; and
Whether it was with Ministers' explicit agreement that the Highways Agency's September 1995 brochure omits mention of the "long tunnel" for the A.303 where that road passes through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and close to Stonehenge itself, which Ministers earlier undertook to "examine seriously" and which alone met with general approval, both national and international, in the course of the last (Department of Transport) consultation exercise; and
Whether they will instruct the Highways Agency to publish the cost benefit analyses it or its consultants have done in relation to each of the routes mentioned in the agency's 1995 brochure (including those previously rejected by Ministers) and specifically the "long tunnel" alternative, which Ministers undertook to have "seriously" examined; and
Whether they will now require the Highways Agency to disclose (a) the "value" they have put on Stonehenge, on the other monuments in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, and on the World Heritage Site itself in their cost benefit calculations, (b) how these figures were reached and (c) whether the figures were subjected to informed external examination and if so by whom; and
Whether a public inquiry under planning law is precluded by the various "consultation" exercises being conducted on the future of Stonehenge, and specifically of the A.303 "improvement" where that road passes close to Stonehenge and through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The conference on the A.303 Amesbury to Berwick Down improvement scheme is a non-statutory procedure and has no formal status under planning law. The aim of the conference is to give all interested parties an opportunity to explore and debate possible ways of overcoming the traffic problems on this length of trunk road. Conferences on other schemes have been successful in identifying a consensus on the major issues and possible ways forward.
The consultation which was held in 1993 cost about £32,000 for the exhibition, the brochure and the archaeological seminars. This figure does not include the salaries of the Highways Agency staff and consultants who would have been working on the scheme even if the consultation had not taken place. The possible routes which have been considered thus far were shown at the public exhibition for no other reason than to provide information for those who will be attending the conference. It was made clear in the conference brochure that the Yellow and Grey routes were withdrawn in July 1994; and that the conference will not be restricted to the routes illustrated.
Written submissions can be made to the chairman of the conference. All written submissions received by the chairman will be made available to those who attend the conference but they will only be debated and considered by the conference at the chairman's discretion.
Throughout the preparation of the scheme, the Highways Agency have consulted the National Trust on all issues of interest to them, including the possible effects on inalienable land. The National Trust have indicated that they will attend the conference.
The costs incurred so far on the conference and exhibition are £44,000. The Highways Agency anticipate further costs amounting to £34,000. We are satisfied that the procedures do give the taxpayer good value for money, in view of the importance of the issues being debated and the very high costs of some of the solutions suggested.
The Highways Agency have carried out cost benefit analyses. The estimated cost of the "long tunnel alternative" passing north of Stonehenge and under the Cursus and Fargo Plantation as suggested was between £250 and £300 million with a benefit cost ratio of 0.3 (where 1 represents break-even).
The values shown in the cost benefit analyses known as COBA are measurable savings in such things as accidents, time and vehicle running costs. We do not believe it is possible to put a monetary value on a unique monument such as Stonehenge. COBA is only one element considered in the overall assessment, which takes account of other non-measurable benefitssuch as improvement in the setting of Stonehengeand disbenefits. The assessment of the routes identified so far is contained in the Preliminary Assessment Reports, which are available to the public. These issues will be open to debate at the conference and would be subject to close scrutiny at any future public inquiry, should a preferred solution be identified.
The planning conference is in addition to the normal statutory procedures under the Highways Act 1980 and will not affect the rights of individuals and organisations to object to or make representations about any subsequent proposals which may be published by the Highways Agency.
The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): None that I am aware of. An employee may claim a deduction for tax purposes from his remuneration for expenses he is necessarily obliged to incur travelling in the performance of his duties. He may also claim a deduction for any other expenses which are incurred wholely, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of his duties.
Whether the Inland Revenue wishes to treat as taxable all travel and subsistence expenses of employees who are temporarily required to work at another location for a period exceeding 12 months.
Lord Mackay of Arbrecknish: The general rule is that tax relief is not available for the normal costs of home to work travel. But if an employee travels to a temporary place of work, relief is available for the cost of the journey from home or from the normal place of work, whichever is the lower.
|Night Subsistence Allowance||Discounted||Undiscounted|
|Day Subsistence Allowance||Over 5 hours||Over 10 hours|
|Classes 1 and 2||£32.45|
|Classes 1 and 2||£31.00|
|Allowance rates shown are pence per mile|
|Single Standard Rate|
|Public Transport Rate|
|All vehicles (including motor cycles)||23.8p|
Discounted rates are payable to Inland Revenue employees who stay in hotels with which the Inland Revenue have negotiated special accommodation rates. There are many of them at locations around the country. If Inland Revenue employees can find no accommodation available at a suitable hotel on the list, then they may claim the "undiscounted" rate.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Two types of £2 coin have been issued this year. The first commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the second the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. In 1996, a commemorative £2 coin will be issued to mark the European Football Championship to be held in England.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the availability of texts on criminal law and procedure in prison libraries to assist inmates in preparing petitions to the Home Secretary and appeals to the Courts.
Prison libraries are provided by the local Public Library Authority (PLA). They are regarded as branches of the public library service. Every Prison Service establishment now has a chartered librarian, employed by the PLA, working in the prison library. Prisoners can make special requests to the Librarian for the loan of stock which is not held in the prison library. The requests will be met from a stock held elsewhere in the PLA or beyond. This service is used extensively. The chartered librarian is available to all prisoners to offer advice and guidance on book selection.
Whether they intend to give effect to the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee (UN Document CCPR/C/79/Add.55 of 27th July 1995) that the United Kingdom should give wide publicity to the Government's report and to the reporting procedure and should distribute the committee's comments and information about the dialogue with the committee to interested non-governmental groups and to the public at large.
Baroness Blatch: The Concluding Observations issued by the Human Rights Committee on 27 July, following the United Kingdom's oral examination on its Fourth Periodic Report, have been made available in the Library of the House. The corrected summary records of the hearing will be made similarly available, once these have been issued by the committee. Both documents are published by the United Nations, and copies may be obtained from that source. Copies are also freely available from the Home Office on request.
Baroness Blatch: The Government do not intend to make any changes to current arrangements for the use of contractually managed prisons and immigration centres, or private companies for court or immigration escort services, which already adequately protect the rights of those detained.
The Government has noted the observations of the Human Rights Committee following its oral examination of the United Kingdom on our Fourth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, we do not plan any further measures in the light of the Committee's views.
Baroness Blatch: The Government do not accept that the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 on inferences from silence, or the comparable legislation in Northern Ireland, contravene in any way the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Baroness Blatch: The Government have recently considered whether they can withdraw any of their reservations to the covenant but have concluded that these remain necessary. The reservations are kept under review, and will be withdrawn as soon as they are no longer needed.
Baroness Blatch: The United Kingdom already has a good record on race relations which is significantly better than that of most comparable countries. Through the Commission for Racial Equality, it funds a number
Baroness Blatch: There are currently 110 executive agencies established under the Next Steps programme. Agencies are established as a matter of departmental organisation by the Minister who heads the parent department and who is responsible for the function; and
Baroness Blatch: My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has today placed in the Libraries of both Houses guidelines on the acceptance of appointments outside government by former Ministers of the Crown. The guidelines will come into effect from the start of the next Session of Parliament.
Baroness Blatch: The period of further consultation on the draft Civil Service Code, published in The Government's Response to the First Report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2931), has ended. Subject to the required Order in Council, the Government now propose to bring the new code into operation from the start of 1996, and will finalise the necessary amendments to the Civil Service Management Code and arrangements for implementation in consultation with the Council of Civil Service Unions. The intended final text of the Code is as follows: 1. The constitutional and practical role of the Civil Service is, with integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity, to assist the duly constituted Government, of whatever political complexion, in formulating policies of the Government, carrying out decisions of the Government and in administering public services for which the Government is responsible. 2. Civil servants are servants of the Crown. Constitutionally, the Crown acts on the advice of Ministers and, subject to the provisions of this Code, civil servants owe their loyalty to the duly constituted Government. 3. This Code should be seen in the context of the duties and responsibilities of Ministers set out
together with the duty to familiarise themselves with the contents of this Code. 4. Civil servants should serve the duly constituted Government in accordance with the principles set out in this Code and recognising:
he or she should report the matter in accordance with procedures laid down in departmental guidance or rules of conduct. A civil servant should also report to the appropriate authorities evidence of criminal or unlawful activity by others and may also report in accordance with departmental procedures if he or she becomes aware of other breaches of this Code or is required to act in a way which, for him or her, raises a fundamental issue of conscience. 12. Where a civil servant has reported a matter covered in paragraph 11 in accordance with procedures laid down in departmental guidance or rules of conduct and believes that the response does not represent a reasonable response to the grounds of his or her concern, he or she may report the matter in writing to the Civil Service Commissioners. 13. Civil servants should not seek to frustrate the policies, decisions or actions of Government by declining to take, or abstaining from, action which flows from ministerial decisions. Where a matter cannot be resolved by the procedures set out in paragraphs 11 and 12 above, on a basis which the civil servant concerned is able to accept, he or she should either carry out his or her instructions, or resign from the Civil Service. Civil servants should continue to observe their duties of confidentiality after they have left Crown employment.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): Detailed discussions with the Commission are proceeding well and we are expecting clearance of that support of Her Majesty's Government for the Jaguar X200 project soon.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): No. My department is currently examining proposals to upgrade the weapon systems of the Tornado F3 air defence fighter. As a routine part of our evaluation procedure, we are comparing the costs and operational effectiveness of this option with various alternatives, including procurement or leasing of F-16s. A decision will be made as quickly as possible on whether to proceed with the Tornado F3 upgrade.
Earl Howe: We are aware of the similarity between some of the claimed symptoms of chronic exposure to agricultural organophosphates and those of the alleged Gulf War Syndrome. However, national medical statistics indicate that these non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle weakness and general debility, are also commonly reported among members of the general population. In addition there was no widespread use of organophosphate pesticides by British Forces in the Gulf theatre of war. Therefore, while we remain open minded about areas of future investigation, we currently have no plans to commission specific research into any possible connection between organophosphates and the alleged Gulf War Syndrome.
We have recently issued guidelines for independent researchers which explain the degree of assistance the Ministry of Defence is able to give to those proposing their own research into Gulf health issues, a copy of which I am arranging to have placed in the Library of the House.
Earl Howe: The American Open Skies OC-135 aircraft are national assets which will be based in the USA. The information obtained from any sensor used under the Open Skies regime will be available on request to all signatory states to the Open Skies Treaty.
Earl Howe: The annual operating costs of individual University Air Squadrons are only available from financial year 1993/94, when the UAS task was rationalised within Commandant RAF Cranwell's budget. However, as there has been no significant variation in either the UAS establishment or flying task during the last five years, the cost of operating the squadrons would have been of a similar order in the three prior years to those for FY 93/94 and FY 94/95, which are detailed below:
|University Air Squadron||9394||9495|
|Aberdeen, Dundee & St Andrews||536,000||412,000|
|Glasgow & Strathclyde||546,000||518,000|
|Manchester and Salford||700,000||748,000|
Earl Howe: In addition to the military and civilian specialist doctors and consultants directly employed by my department, a number of civilian doctors are appointed as honorary consultants to the Armed Forces. These appointments are generally unpaid, other than for travel expenses. The number of honorary consultants by Service is as follows:
|Royal Air Force||52|
(b) how many of these have applied for premature voluntary retirement (PVR); and
(c) how many of those who have applied for PVR have been accepted unconditionally.
|Royal Air Force||21|
(c) None of the PVR applications has been accepted unconditionally.
Surgeon Vice Admiral
Surgeon Rear Admiral
Air Vice Marshal
Surgeon Lieutenant Commander
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