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National Disability Council

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): I am delighted to announce that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Security has appointed *David Grayson, of Business in the Community, as the Chairman of the National Disability Council (NDC), and the following council members:

    Christopher Brocksom, Chief Executive of AXA Equity and Law

    Alan Dickson, Deputy Director of The Scottish Spastics Society

    *Ann Foster, Director of The Scottish Consumer Council

    *Tanni Grey, Chairman of the British Wheelchair Racing Association

    David Jenkins, General Secretary of the Welsh TUC

    *Colin Low, Vice Chairman of RNIB

    Jim McAllister, Divisional Director of Marks and Spencers

    *Bert Massie, Director of RADAR, and member of DPTAC

    *David Mills, Managing Director of Retail Banking Services, Midland Bank

    *Martin Reaveley, Director of Corporate Finance and Planning, Bass plc

    *Phillipa Russell, Director of the Council for Disabled Children

    *David Roberts, Founder member of Clwyd People First

    *Kevin Shinkwin, Parliamentary Advisor to the Muscular Dystrophy Group

    *Alan Smith, Chairman of NACEPD

    *Jenny White, Deputy Legal Advisor to the Electricity Association

(*indicates that the member is either a disabled person or the parent or guardian of a person with disabilities).

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He will also be inviting the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Disability Council to become a member once he or she has been appointed.

In making these appointments the Secretary of State has met the commitments given in Parliament that membership will be drawn from throughout Great Britain and sought to provide common membership with the National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities (NACEPD) and the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Council (DPTAC). More than half of the membership of the council are disabled people or the parents or guardians of people with disabilities. They will bring to the council a wide range of experience of disability. The disabilities represented include sensory impairments, mobility difficulties and learning disabilities.

The National Disability Council can make a great contribution to the reduction of discrimination against disabled people and the Chairman and members will be crucial to its success. I believe that we have achieved the right balance of experience of business and disability.

Identity Cards

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make available the responses they have received to the Green Paper on Identity Cards (CM 2879).

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): A copy of the Government's memorandum of evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which contains a summary of the responses to the Green Paper on Identity Cards, has been placed today in the Library.

Firearms: Central Register

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is a central computer register of all shotgun certificates and firearm certificates in force and therefore whether it is possible for any police force to discover rapidly the registered owner (if any) of any weapon which may have come into police possession, and, if such a facility is not available, what steps the Government propose to take to make it available.

Baroness Blatch: There is no central computer register of shotgun and firearm certificates in force. Any police force wishing to discover the registered owner of a particular firearm can make use of the Lost and Stolen Firearms Index available on the Police National Computer, and can ask other forces to check their records. The Government remain to be convinced that the substantial resource implications of establishing a central computer register for all firearms is justified, since most firearms that are recovered from use in crime have had their identifying numbers removed and therefore cannot be traced.

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Asylum Applications

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the last year for which figures are available, what was the number of asylum applications received per million of resident population in:

    (a) The United Kingdom;

    (b) France;

    (c) The Netherlands; and

    (d) Germany.

Baroness Blatch: Estimated information for 1995 is given in the table.

Asylum applications including dependants, received per million of resident population, 1995.

Estimated number/million resident population
United Kingdom1,000
The Netherlands1,900

This compares with information for 1994 and 1993 which is given below:

Estimated number/million resident population
United Kingdom700
The Netherlands3,400
United Kingdom500
The Netherlands2,300

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Baroness Blatch on 19 December (WA133-4), what are the performance indicators governing performance-related pay for executive officers and higher executive officers in the Immigration and Nationality Department of the Home Office, and in particular to those involved in taking decisions on asylum applications.

Baroness Blatch: The performance of civil servants in the Home Office is assessed continuously under the Performance Management and Promotion Report (PMPR) system. Every member of staff has to agree main tasks for the individual post against which performance is assessed. For Executive Officers these may include considering, deciding or making recommendations on asylum related casework; interviewing applicants; and managing support staff. The main tasks for Higher Executive Officers may include making decisions on asylum cases; managing casework flows; and managing staff and other resources. To receive performance pay, staff must be assessed as fully meeting the normal requirements of the post or better.

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BBC Charter and Agreement

Viscount Caldecote asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the draft BBC Charter and Agreement will come into effect.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): We have now had an opportunity to consider fully the contributions made by your Lordships in the debate on 9 January. It is clear that the general approach which we adopted following extensive consultation, and set out in the White Paper The Future of the BBC, continues to command wide support. Some Peers expressed general concerns about the future structure and operations of the BBC and we have carefully considered whether these suggest that the draft Charter and Agreement require amendment. We have concluded that the new framework we have proposed is robust and will deliver a structure for the BBC which will enable the Chairman and the Governors to operate effectively in the public interest, in line with the majority of views expressed in parliamentary and wider debate; and that the documents would not be materially improved by the various textual amendments proposed. Other proposals raised in debate have already been examined in depth during preparation of the White Paper and do not enjoy such a level of support as to warrant a change of policy. We have therefore decided that the Agreement should go forward to another place for approval and be considered in conjunction with the draft Charter. The new Agreement would come into effect only if approved in that place and is contingent on the grant of a new Royal Charter and issue of the relevant wireless telegraphy licences. We shall therefore have an opportunity to consider the position further in the light of that debate.

I have today written to all those who contributed to the debate explaining our decision and responding to specific points which I was unable to answer in debate owing to the lateness of the hour.

Painting of House of Lords in Session

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    How the figure of 330 Lords appearing in the painting of the House in session was arrived at, when this decision was taken and by whom.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): It was agreed by the Offices Committee on 28th March 1995 (2nd Report, HL Paper 43) that the painting of the House in session should be self-financing, and therefore the Lords who wished to be included should contribute to the cost. Three hundred and thirty is the number of Lords who expressed a wish both to be included in the painting and to contribute towards its cost.

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Nitrate Control, Scotland

Lord Lyell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    About implementation of the EC Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) in Scotland and, in particular, when they expect to announce their decisions regarding the designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): In June 1994 the Government consulted publicly on two areas proposed as candidates for designation as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) in Scotland--the catchments of the Balmalcolm groundwater borehole in Fife and the River Ythan in Grampian. One hundred and eighty-nine replies were received.

Following careful consideration of the responses and the extent to which each of these areas meet the criteria laid down in the directive, it has been decided to designate the catchment of the Balmalcolm borehole as an NVZ.

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Since a final link between higher levels of nitrate and the increased growth of the algae enteromorpha has yet to be determined scientifically, the Government have decided not to designate the catchment of the river Ythan as an NVZ on this occasion. There will, however, be continuing research into the extent of any link between the growth of the algae in the estuary and nitrate from agricultural sources in the catchment. A further review of the case for designation of NVZs throughout Scotland will take place, as required by the directive, by 19 December 1997 and this review will take account of the additional research.

The Government will now make it a priority to promote good practice in the use of nitrates by farmers throughout the Ythan catchment in line with the code of good practice Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity.

I can also announce that the Government have today issued a consultation paper on regulatory proposals and the action programme necessary to give effect to the Directive's requirements in NVZs in Scotland. A copy of the proposals is available in the Library of the House. Comments are sought by 25 March 1996.

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