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Written Answers

Tuesday, 3rd June 1997.

Serious Fraud Office

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to continue the Serious Fraud Office in its present form or whether they intend to replace it.

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government intend that the Serious Fraud Office shall continue to discharge its present role.

Mr. Asil Nadir: Allegations

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set up an inquiry into the allegations of, inter alia, judicial bribery and the threatened "kidnapping" of Mr. Asil Nadir reported in the television programme "The Cook Report" (ITV, Tuesday 13 May).

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Director of the Serious Fraud Office has carefully examined the many allegations by Mr. Nadir over the years even though he is a fugitive from justice. There is no basis for a further inquiry. Those of his complaints which have a bearing on his guilt or innocence should be examined by the Crown Court once he has returned to the jurisdiction.


The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any instruction has been issued by the Department of Health to fundholding GPs that they are no longer to honour prescriptions instigated by consultants in non-NHS hospitals.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): No such instruction has been issued. However, general practitioners are not obliged to continue prescribing initiated by a hospital consultant, whether National Health Service or private. It is for the GP's clinical judgment as to whether continued prescribing is appropriate for the patient, and, if so, whether he or she is prepared to take on the clinical responsibility.

National Focus: Reporting Arrangements

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Chief Medical Officer's Update 14: "National Focus for work on response to chemical incidents and surveillance of health effects of

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    environmental chemicals" includes incidents where agricultural pesticides and veterinary medicines affect individuals or groups of people or where illegal practices such as burning of plastic materials on bonfires affect such people; whether the primary reporting point is now to be the National Focus, and whether affected individuals as well as GPs should report such incidents to National Focus.

Baroness Jay: Reporting arrangements for both individuals or general practitioners on the suspected effects of exposure to agricultural pesticides and veterinary medicines or of exposure to combustion products of bonfires remain unchanged. The National Focus has been established to support the Department of Health and the National Health Service in responding effectively to accidents causing chemical contamination, and to provide improved co-ordination of local surveillance of the possible health effects of environmental chemicals.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology: Report

Lord Winston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to receive the report commissioned by the Department of Health on the workings of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 with regard to the issues raised by the case of Mrs. Diane Blood.

Baroness Jay: We expect a consultation document to be issued during the summer. Following consideration of the responses received, we anticipate that the final report will be available for consideration early next year.


The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many recorded cases of the new strain of CJD there have been in the last two years in the United Kingdom, on a monthly basis.

Baroness Jay: Figures on the incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, including the new variant, have been published monthly since 2 December 1996 in a Department of Health press release. Copies are available in the Library.


The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can provide figures for the number of annual recorded cases of the new strain of CJD in other member countries of the European Union.

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Baroness Jay: There has been only one case of new variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease confirmed outside the United Kingdom, in France in 1996.

Liverpool: Corporation Documents

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations with a view to ensuring that the parcel of old deeds and documents relating to Liverpool currently stored in a cellar below the public library in Everton will be properly filed and stored in a more suitable place.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The question concerns a matter which has been assigned to the Public Record Office under the terms of its framework document. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to respond.

Letter to Lord Sefton of Garston from the Chief Executive of the Public Record Office, Ms Sarah Tyacke, dated 29 May 1997.

I have been asked by the Lord Chancellor to reply to your question about the parcel of old deeds and documents relating to Liverpool currently stored in a cellar below the public library in Everton. This office is an executive agency of the Lord Chancellor.

I understand that the records concerned are Corporation of Liverpool leases. As local authority records, they are not the responsibility of the Government and are not covered by the Public Records Acts. They are the responsibility of the local archive service, in this case the Liverpool Record Office.

Mersey Docks: Dispute

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the intention, expressed by the previous Government, that "there will be no return to the 'casual system of working' in the docks industry" (H.C. Deb. 17 April 1989 col. 45) and, if so, whether they will use their 12.4 million shares in Mersey Docks and Harbour Company to convene a meeting of all concerned to attempt a settlement of the present dispute.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The nature of dock work requires the flexible use of labour. However, the Government consider that it is neither necessary nor acceptable in today's conditions for employers to resort to the extreme forms of casual employment which once existed in the industry. It is not our intention to use the Government shareholding in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company to become involved in the operation of the company. The two sides to the dispute have been involved in discussions to resolve the matter in recent months and the independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which has been in touch with both sides, remains ready to provide assistance if both agree.

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New Export Initiative

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans for a new export initiative.

Lord Clinton-Davis: This Government are committed to helping British companies to trade successfully overseas and to the launch of a new export initiative.

As promised in our business manifesto, we need to ensure that those export promotion programmes currently in place are targeted in the most effective way at the needs of British industry. As a first stage, the DTI and the FCO will set up a new export forum--a working group, with representation from Whitehall and from business, to carry out a full assessment of how well these programmes work. This group will look at the strengths and weaknesses of official support for trade fairs, trade missions, identifying sales leads, export marketing research, UK firms bidding for overseas projects and other export promotion activities. It will examine the current arrangements for interdepartmental consultation, the current arrangements for consultation with business, the interface between the overseas trade services and business links, the present system for establishing market and sectoral priorities and the marketing and branding of official export promotion services.

I will be asking the group to report by the autumn with their recommendations.

Estate Agents: Regulation

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider the greater regulation of estate agents to be desirable.

Lord Clinton-Davis: The Director-General of Fair Trading is responsible for the enforcement of the Estate Agents Act 1979. He has demonstrated that he has the powers necessary to take vigorous action against estate agents who misbehave, including the ultimate power to prohibit their trading as estate agents. If the noble Lord has evidence which indicates the need for further regulation I would be grateful if he could forward it to my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Gibraltar Dockyard

Lord Merrivale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the economic necessity of an operative dockyard in Gibraltar, what assistance they are prepared to give towards its re-opening.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We regret the closure of the dockyard, and have offered to help the Government of Gibraltar find a new operator.

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