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The Legislative Process: Consultations

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Legislation Committee of the Cabinet has the role of examining all draft Bills before they are introduced and satisfies itself that Bills conform with good legislative practice and with the Government's international obligations.

The Government recognise the advantages of repealing and re-enacting provisions that have been subject to heavy textual amendment and, where practicable, aim to bring forward amendments which have been framed in that way.

Although they recognise that it will not be practicable to do so in every case, the Government are committed to improving consultation on legislation and have already announced that seven substantial Bills, more than ever before in a single session, are to be drafted and consulted upon during the course of this session, for introduction in the second or a subsequent session. The Government intend to build on this approach in the future. Other methods of consulting on policy intended to lead to legislation are also used, separately or in parallel, such as the publication of Green and White Papers. The Government also favour consultation on delegated legislation, for the good reasons advanced by the Commission, although it may not be practicable in every case.

The purpose of Notes on Clauses is to provide information to Ministers about the content and drafting of individual clauses. As the Commission's report recognised, it has become common practice for them to be made available. This is usually achieved by giving copies to members of the Standing Committee and placing copies in the Vote Office and House Libraries. They are generally revised for use in the second House

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if the Bill has been amended in the first House. The reasons for substantive amendments to the Bills are generally explained during the course of parliamentary debate.

The Hansard Committee's proposal for Notes on Sections is one example of how explanatory material on Acts of Parliament can be improved. The Government would like to achieve such an improvement, but before reaching a conclusion on how best to do so, they wish to take account of any views the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons may express on this issue.

The Government have no plans to change the arrangements for Ministerial responsibility for the work of parliamentary counsel.

Public Appointments: Equal Opportunities

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take steps to increase the number of women appointed to chair public bodies in light of the findings of the Commissioner for Public Appointments that, for the period 1 July 1996 to 31 March 1997, three men and no women were appointed in the salary band £50,000 or more; 17 men and two women were appointed in the salary band £20,000-£49,999; and 135 men and 38 women were appointed in the salary band £10,000-£19,999.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Public appointments are governed by the overriding principle of selection based on merit and are the responsibility of individual Ministers and their departments. However, all departments encourage women to apply for appointments and are committed to fair selection procedures. The Public Appointments Unit in the Cabinet Office (OPS) co-ordinates programmes designed to promote equal opportunities in public appointments.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that vacancies for appointment or re-appointment to offices within public bodies are publicly advertised wherever possible so as to promote the principles of openness, transparency and equal opportunity.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is now normal practice for paid appointments to executive NDPBs and NHS bodies to be publicly advertised. This is in line with the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Guidance on Appointments to Executive Non Departmental Public Bodies and NHS Bodies which became mandatory for Departments on 1 July 1996. Both single and generic advertisements (i.e. those inviting applicants for appointments on a number or all of a sponsor Department's public bodies) are being used.

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Official Cars for Ministers

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many official cars and drivers are provided for Ministers, what is the average daily mileage of such cars and what is the total forecast cost of this provision in the current financial year.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of this question has been delegated to the Government Car and Despatch Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. Nick Matheson. The agency is therefore responding to the question.

Letter to Lord Hill-Norton from the Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency dated 28 July 1997.

I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on the number of official cars and drivers provided for Ministers, the average daily mileage of such cars, and the total forecast cost of this provision in the current financial year. I am the Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) which is responsible for the Government Car Service (GCS).

The GCS provides 81 cars and drivers for 84 Government Ministers. The average daily mileage per car is 52.65 miles. I should point out that this average mileage also includes any non-ministerial use of cars. The forecast cost for providing the basic service to Ministers is £4,021,000. Each Minister's private office contracts with the GCS for the provision of a car and driver. The GCS charges the Minister's private office for the service on a basis that recovers all costs.

The Rollright Stones

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Rollright Stones, which are for sale, are fully protected against harmful development or exploitation.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Rollright Stones are statutorily protected by virtue of their status as a scheduled ancient monument, which requires the owners to apply for scheduled monument consent from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport before carrying out any works affecting it.

Satellite TV Transmissions: Disruption

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the jamming of international radio or television transmissions by Turkey, and whether any British registered company has suffered disruption.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I understand that Med-TV, a broadcaster licensed in the UK by the Independent Television Commission, has suffered disruption in its satellite transmissions since 1 July and

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an impaired signal on Med-TV's broadcasts has recently been observed by the BBC's monitoring service. The source of the problem has not yet been identified.

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