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MPs: Resettlement Grants

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Two hundred and forty-five former Members had claimed resettlement grants by 23 June 1997. Such grants are available to all Members who left the House at the election, whether or not they contested seats. In accordance with the Resolution of the House of Commons of 22 May 1991 (Official Report, cols. 1036-1038), grants vary between 50 per cent. and 100 per cent. of annual salary immediately before the dissolution (£43,860), depending on the Member's age and length of service.

Ministers: Severance Payments

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: All former Ministers received a severance payment of one quarter of their annual salary under the terms of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991, except for the following, who were not eligible because of the office they previously held, their age or the fact that they were appointed to another paid office within three weeks.

    The Rt Hon Lord Mackay of Clashfern

    The Rt Hon Viscount Cranborne

    The Rt Hon Earl Ferrers

    The Rt Hon Lord Strathclyde

    The Viscount Long

    The Rt Hon Baroness Trumpington

    The Rt Hon Sir Patrick Mayhew QC

    The Rt Hon Alastair Goodlad MP

    Andrew Mackay MP

    Bowen Wells MP

Baltic States: Trade Concessions

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult with their EU colleagues to grant more favourable terms to enable Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to export more of their manufacturing and farm products into EU countries.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The Free Trade Agreements between the EU and Estonia, Latvia and

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Lithuania already provide for duty free access to the EU market for all industrial goods except for certain textile imports from Latvia and Lithuania which are subject to annual tariff-free ceilings. There are no restrictions on textile imports from Estonia.

For agricultural products, the Free Trade Agreements provide for quotas for imports of certain products at a reduced tariff rate.

The Government are keen to see improved access to the EU market for the three Baltic countries. Wherever possible we argue in the EU for improved trade concessions.


Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For which factors affecting inflation they accept responsibility.

Lord Simon of Highbury: Inflation is affected by a range of factors. It is the responsibility of the Bank of England to take these factors into account when setting interest rates to meet the Government's inflation target. A full explanation of the Government's approach to monetary policy was set out in the Chancellor's Mansion House speech.

Long-term Growth Rate Forecast

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the average growth rate of the UK economy since 1979; and what, in their view, is the appropriate long-term growth rate to be used when making forecasts of the UK economy.

Lord Simon of Highbury: The average annual rate of growth of GDP over the period 1979-1996 was 2 per cent. A report by the National Audit Office, published on Thursday 19 June, endorsed an assumption of 2¼ per cent. trend growth per annum for the underlying growth rate of the economy as, "broadly consistent with past experience, with the range of published estimates of the long-term rate of growth in the economy, and with assessments of the medium-term prospect for growth."

Commercial Debt: Late Payment Penalty Scheme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to their proposed scheme to tackle late payments to small companies, after what period of time a penalty will become payable on a late payment.

Lord Simon of Highbury: The Government are proposing legislation for a statutory right to claim interest on the late payment of commercial debt. Views on the precise content of the Bill will shortly be

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sought in a Green Paper. This should be issued before Parliament rises.

The Army: Regimental System

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, within the scope of the strategic defence review, there is any question of altering or abandoning the regimental system of the British Army.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Strategic Defence Review will examine how the Army should be structured to meet our nation's interests and commitments, taking full account of the recognised strengths of the regimental system. It would, however, be premature to speculate on whether the review will alter any aspect of the system.

MoD Surplus Property

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence on 2 June 1997 (HC Deb., WA 12), on the disposal of surplus Ministry of Defence property, whether they propose to maintain unchanged the Treasury guidelines adhered to by the previous Government, which were designed to ensure that such disposals safeguarded, above all, the interests of the taxpayer generally.

Lord Gilbert: It remains our policy to secure the best price which can reasonably be obtained for surplus property. Treasury guidance recognises, however, that this approach needs to be in accord with the local planning framework, and that there may be circumstances--for example, with historic buildings--where it will be reasonable to consider wider issues. The Government's aim is to work with local authorities and others to ensure that protecting the interests of the taxpayer does not conflict with meeting our wider employment and environmental objectives, or local planning and social considerations.

OP Pesticides: Liver Malfunction

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any known association between liver malfunction and chronic exposure to organophosphates, pyridostigmine bromide or any of the vaccines which were administered to members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces prior to and during Operation Granby.

Lord Gilbert: Her Majesty's Government are not aware of any link between exposures to these substances and liver malfunction in humans.

There has been some research which suggests that chronic low-level exposure to particular

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organophosphate pesticides can cause liver malfunction in certain animals. Abnormal liver function tests have been reported after vaccination against hepatitis B, although a causal relationship has not been established. Hepatitis B vaccine was given to medical and dental workers deploying to the Gulf. There have also been reports of jaundice temporally related to immunisation against yellow fever, although again we are not aware of a causal relationship. Yellow fever was a routine vaccine administered to personnel during the Gulf conflict.

Gulf Veterans: Medical Diagnostic Data

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Gulf veterans who have been examined under the Medical Assessment Programme have been diagnosed as having an enlarged liver or liver malfunction, and to what this attributed.

Lord Gilbert: In order that data can be collected on a form suitable for future publication, diagnostic information from the records of individual patients of the Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) is coded according to Revisions 9 and 10 of the International Classification of Diseases and entered in a database. Owing to pressure on resources, the diagnostic coding and the preparation of statistical data has so far been completed for only a small proportion of the veterans who have been seen and diagnosed by the MAP physicians. Accordingly, the information requested can at present regrettably not be provided.

As the Minister of State for the Armed Forces announced last month, extra resources are being made available to the MAP.

Urgent work is in hand to appoint extra staff to the MAP, both medical and administrative. Ensuring that the MAP database is complete and up-to-date will be a priority task for the administrative staff.

National Curriculum: Assessment Results

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the national curriculum assessment results for individual schools would be available to interested parties under the proposed Freedom of Information Act; and, if so, why Her Majesty's Government are considering not publishing this information nationally.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): National curriculum assessment results will continue to be available in school prospectuses. We have also announced today that we intend to require local education authorities to publish performance tables of the assessment results of 11 year-olds in primary schools in their area. The 1997 results, together with additional local information, are expected to be available from LEAs during January 1998.

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