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Written Answers

Wednesday, 17th July 1996.

Cameroon Republic: Voting List

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Government of the Cameroon Republic has given them any reasons for the recent cancellation of the national voting list.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Cameroon's voting list was opened on 1st January and remains open until 31st July, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 96/097 of 7th May 1996.

Bosnia: US Train and Equip Programme

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the full details of the United States 800 million dollar "equip-and-train" programme for the Bosnian armed forces have yet been passed to (a) the various governments who have committed troops to IFOR (b) the Organisation for Security and Co-operation Europe (OSCE); and (c) the British and French Governments, whose own forces are due to be withdrawn when US troops are withdrawn.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United States has given public assurances that the train and equip programme will be fully transparent to the international community. We have been briefed regularly on the details of the programme.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will be treating the "former US military personnel" being provided by the United States for the "equip-and-train" programme under the name of "Military Professional Resources" of Alexandria, Virginia, USA, as United States personnel or as mercenaries, and if the latter, on whose behalf will they consider them as operating.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The equip and train programme will be managed by the private, US-based firm MPRI, who will be under contract to the Bosnian Federation. We have been assured that no serving military personnel will be involved.

Educational Low-Priced Books Scheme

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in providing a replacement for the Educational Low-Priced Books Scheme, which will cease operating in March 1997.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: ODA's Education Division has had extensive discussions with various

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interested parties in the UK, including publishers, booksellers, the BBC and the British Council; consultations have also been initiated with relevant officials in Ministries of Education in three countries in Central Africa with a view to starting pilot book projects in this current year.

In order to develop these projects further we have commissioned a bibliography of key publishers' low-priced textbooks for developing countries.

We shall continue to examine various methods of getting books to needy students, which will enable us to target books and information provision more effectively than under the former Educational Low-Priced Books Scheme.

We shall consult further with publishers and other interested parties through the ODA-convened Books Working Group.

India: Sex Selection Tests Ban

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will obtain from the Government of India details of their recently passed law which outlaws the use of sex selection tests; and whether they will place any such information in the Library of the House.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are arranging for a copy of the Act to be placed in the Library of the House.

Northern Ireland: Compensation for Terrorist Activities

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much financial compensation has so far been paid in respect of terrorist activities in Northern Ireland and Great Britain respectively.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): Responsibility for compensation in Northern Ireland has been delegated to the Compensation Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Dennis Stanley. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given, a copy of which is attached. There is no comparable scheme for Great Britain.

Letter to Lord Dean of Beswick from the Chief Executive of the Compensation Agency, Mr. D. A. Stanley.

I have been asked, as Chief Executive of the Compensation Agency in Northern Ireland, to reply to your Question about the amount of financial compensation so far paid in respect of terrorist activities in Northern Ireland.

You may be aware that there are two statutory schemes in Northern Ireland which compensate for loss or injury resulting from criminal activities. They operate

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at present under the Criminal Damage (Compensation) (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 and the Criminal Injuries (Compensation) (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 and apply to loss or injuries sustained within Northern Ireland. In neither of the schemes is compensation restricted solely to loss or injury resulting from terrorist activities. There is a long history in Northern Ireland of previous legislation of a not dissimilar nature.

Unfortunately, information does not exist on the specific cost of criminal injuries compensation resulting form terrorist activities. However, as part of the process of validating an individual criminal damage claim, the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary may issue a certificate indicating that in his opinion the damage was "committed maliciously by a person acting on behalf of or in connection with an unlawful association". Using this as a basis, the agency has calculated the value of criminal damage compensation claims as a result of terrorism which were paid in the financial years 1978-79 to 1995-96 to total £507 million. Unfortunately, records prior to 1978-79 are no longer available.


The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there has been any incidence of BSE reported among cattle in Libya and Saudi Arabia as a result of ruminant feed containing meat and bone meal exported to those countries from the United Kingdom.

Lord Lucas: We have no record of any cases of BSE being reported in Libya or Saudi Arabia.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they account for the fact that there are few recorded incidents of BSE in cattle fed with UK manufactured feed which included meat and bone meal in countries other than the United Kingdom.

Lord Lucas: Epidemiological studies in Switzerland have identified meat and bone meal imported directly or indirectly from Great Britain as the most likely source of infection. Similarly meat and bone meal imported into Ireland accounts for a proportion of cases. Detailed studies have not been carried out in France but imported meat and bone meal has been suggested as the source.

Exports of meat and bone meal from the UK were small relative to UK consumption and, as in Great Britain, the majority of exports would have been incorporated in pig and poultry rations. We would therefore expect to see a lower incidence of BSE outside UK, reflecting this low potential exposure, but we do not have the data necessary for us to offer an opinion as to the number of exported feed-borne cases that should have been expected.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they account for the apparent variation in susceptibility to BSE of cattle exposed to the same rations; and

    What research they are conducting to establish whether there is a genetic predisposition for susceptibility or resistance to BSE among cattle; and

    Whether they have investigated any possible links between the sires of cattle infected by BSE and the incidence of BSE infections, and if not whether they will do so.

Lord Lucas: Our best hypothesis to account for the fact that some calves in a year cohort become infected while others do not is that feedstuffs were not homogeneously infected. This is consistent with the low weight of tissues containing the infectivity relative to the total weight of tissues used for the production of meat and bone meal.

Molecular genetic and biometrical studies have failed to reveal a significant genetic factor in the susceptibility to BSE.

Possible links between the sires of cattle infected with BSE and the incidence of BSE have been examined, but without any such link being found.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been reported any cases of BSE in home-bred cattle, on registered organic farms, which have been fed with concentrates containing meat and bone meal but would not have been treated with organophosphates.

Lord Lucas: There have been about 150 cases of BSE reported in homebred animals on organic farms that qualified as "organic" on the date the disease occurred (but not necessarily for the life of the animal concerned). We do not have the resources to investigate the entire past lives for each of these animals to determine what they were fed and treated with.


The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many strains of scrapie have been identified in the UK, and, if more than one strain has been identified, whether there is a regional pattern to the incidence of different strains.

Lord Lucas: It is difficult to quantify the exact number of strains identified in Great Britain as they will not all have been characterised contemporaneously in the same mouse models, but an approximate answer would be 20. This may however be an over-estimate because of the tendency for scrapie agents to adapt to the experimental host species, giving rise to new strains in the laboratory. There have been too few field isolations and characterisations to be able to associate specific strains with geographical areas.

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