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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Discussions have been held with the organisations mentioned, and the sheriffs' association put forward detailed proposals toward the end of last year. These are currently under consideration, and I intend to make a further announcement setting out my conclusions and plans in this area before Easter.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): The proposed ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle is being sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, through its local enterprise company Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, and also by Moyle District Council in Northern Ireland. Consideration of such projects is an operational matter for the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network and I have asked the chairman to provide a reply.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): Yes. Both members of Lloyd's and those who have resigned from the Society are technically carrying on insurance business under the Act until all the outstanding liabilities on policies underwritten by them while active underwriting members of the society have been extinguished. Ongoing members of Lloyd's are excluded from the regulatory provisions of Part II of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 provided that they comply with the requirements set out in Section 83 of that Act. This exclusion is not available to former members of the Society and it is intended that they will be regulated in the manner described in the Written Answer given by my honourable friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs on 31 October 1995, Official Report, Commons, cols. 210-211.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: No. The company mentioned is one of many organisations and individuals which have been in correspondence with my department about Lloyd's and the proposal to establish the Equitas company. There is no reason to select the contents of this correspondence for deposit in the Library of the House.
In view of the attractions of rural life, appreciated by both urban and county dwellers, why they consider it is desirable for mentally handicapped people to be forced to live in "a normal house, in a normal street; going to the pub; going to the shops;" (H.L. Deb., 13 December 1995, col. 1271).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): No deadline has been set centrally for the closure of the old long stay mental handicap hospitals. The pace at which alternative community based services are developed will depend on local circumstances and resources. It is for health and local authorities to ensure that residents are offered appropriate care which reflects their individual need and preferences.
If this principle is followed, we are confident that our community care policy offers people with learning disabilities a better quality of life, whether in rural or urban areas, than was hitherto possible in the old long stay mental handicap hospitals.
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.
Lord Lucas: The Countryside Stewardship scheme applies to land throughout England, including open moorland, except that in environmentally sensitive areas or that in areas covered by agreements under the Moorland Scheme. Both Countryside Stewardship and the ESA scheme provide payments for bracken control.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Copies of the franchise agreements for Great Western Trains and South West Trains have today been placed in the Library, together with the Disabled, Senior and Young Persons Railcard schemes, the staff travel scheme, the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement, the Association of Train Operating Companies' LRT Scheme, the Travelcard Agreement and the Through-Ticketing (non-Travelcard) Agreement. Certain provisions of these documents have been deleted in line with Section 73 of the Railways Act 1993.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): In considering applications for new grant-aided Irish medium primary schools, the Government require that the school should be able to demonstrate an ability to reach an eventual enrolment of at least 100 pupils by achieving and sustaining an annual intake of 14/15 pupils. Other factors which are taken into account are indications of parental demand, historical and estimated future enrolments, distances from other similar schools, educational standards, and overall costs.
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