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Written Answers

Monday, 5th February 1996.

Judgments: Control of Enforcement Agencies

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor's Department's detailed consultations with the Under Sheriffs' and Sheriffs' Officers' Associations and other relevant bodies regarding the regulation, licensing and control of those who enforce court judgments have now been completed and when it is likely that the outcome of these deliberations will be announced.

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.

Campbeltown/Ballycastle Ferry Service

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the reasons for the delay in the commencement of the operation of the ferry service between Ballycastle and Campbeltown.

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.

Satellite Sensors: Development Policy

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to provide money to the United States for the further development of satellite-sensing equipment for the use of the Central Intelligence Agency and the other United States intelligence services, which are now in process of consolidating space-derived information into one agency; whether, were the United Kingdom to help fund these American proposals, the information, military and other, obtained by such sensors would be available to the United Kingdom on equal terms with the United States (and if not on what terms); and whether it would be open to them to share it at their own discretion with their NATO and Western European Union allies.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): It is not our practice to comment on such matters.


Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether for the purposes of Section 96(1) of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 they regard an individual Name at Lloyd's, who has resigned and one who has not resigned respectively, who is no longer underwriting but who has open years on syndicates on which he was underwriting in previous years as carrying on insurance business.

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 Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will put in the Library of the House the correspondence with, and submissions to, Mr. Martin J. Brebner of the insurance division of the Department of Trade and Industry, from R. M. Fields & Company (UK) Ltd. on the regulatory requirements of the proposed Equitas solution to the problems of Lloyd's of London.

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.

Mentally Handicapped People: Community Care

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the question asked on 15 January 1996 (H.L. Deb., col. 421), whether they are confident that the 16,000 more severely mentally handicapped people can be properly cared for in the wider community, under the Government's "Community

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    Care" policy, after their enforced discharge before 31 December 1996 from long-stay institutions; and if so, why; and

    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.

Women Prisoners with Children

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many women in prison have children aged under five; between five and 10 years old, and between 10 and 16 years old, respectively.

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.

Letter to Baroness Mallalieu from the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 3 February 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about women prisoners who have children.

No information is held centrally on this subject. However, a study of women in prison was conducted in November 1994 by the Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate.

Of the 1,766 women interviewed, 234 had children aged under five, 304 had children aged five to nine and 434 had children aged 10 to 16.

Bracken Control Grants

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they propose to take, after the termination of the Farm and Conservation Grant Scheme in February 1996, to enable those farmers whose land lies outside the area eligible to participate in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (and in

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    particular whose land comprises over moorland) to obtain grant aid for bracken spraying.

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.

MAFF have offered to meet the Moorland Association to discuss the provision of grants for bracken control.

Passenger Rail Franchise Agreements

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the franchise agreements and related documents for the LTS Rail, Great Western Trains and South West Trains passenger rail franchises.

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 franchise agreement for the LTS Rail franchise will be placed in the Library in due course.

Bunscoil an Iuir: Grant-aid Application

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the "established criteria" for public funding of Irish language primary schools in Northern Ireland; and why Bunscoil an Iuir in Newry was deemed not to have satisfied them.

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.

The application for grant-aid by Bunscoil an Iuir was not approved because the school had not achieved, and thus could not yet demonstrate that it could sustain, the required enrolment level.

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