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Prison Service: Report and Accounts

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are pleased to report that we have today published the Prison Service Report and Accounts for 1996-97, along with those for 1995-96. Copies have been placed in the Library. In

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future, we will aim to publish Prison Service annual reports and accounts within six months of the end of the financial year.

Rapid Draw Lotteries: Proposed Legislation

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take to prevent frequent lottery draws in pubs and other premises.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government have given careful consideration to the issues raised by frequent lottery draws in premises. The Gaming Board has expressed serious concern to the Government about plans by a company which runs lotteries on behalf of charities under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 to run frequent on-line lotteries in a range of outlets, including pubs and clubs. The 1976 Act did not contemplate on-line lotteries, and therefore does nothing to prevent them. The use of on-line technology would allow the promotion of successive large scale lottery draws, in a series running through the day, simultaneously in a large number of different outlets.

Such rapid draw lotteries would have many of the characteristics of hard gambling. Their thus unrestricted availability to the public in high street and neighbourhoods raises serious issues of gambling control. Such a development in pubs where, of course, alcohol is available, and other public places, would undermine the long-standing policy, which this Government fully support, that the harder forms of gambling should be confined to premises specially licensed for gambling and with appropriate controls. Under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 the then Secretary of State for National Heritage used his powers to direct the Director General of the National Lottery not to license games which encourage excessive participation. The director general himself has made it clear that he does not consider that rapid play lotteries are an appropriate development for the National Lottery. However, the 1976 Act needs to be strengthened to give sufficient protection in the case of other lotteries.

We therefore propose to introduce legislation to amend the 1976 Act to restrict frequent lottery draws. The measure, which will be introduced in Parliament as soon as possible, will not interfere with existing conventional lotteries run for charitable or other purposes. It will only restrict new forms of rapid draw lottery. The Government recognise that these lotteries could raise additional money for charities but, given the social risks, we do not consider that the new type of lottery would be an acceptable development. Since this will be primary legislation, those with an interest will have every opportunity to put their points of view in Parliament on the principle and the detail. We are also proposing to publish the legislation in draft form to allow interested parties a few weeks in which to make any representations. We have placed in the Library an explanatory document which sets out the position in more detail.

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British Zoo Licensing System

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to update the British zoo licensing system.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): British zoos have a deservedly high reputation for their progressive approach; the way in which their animals are kept and cared for; and the contribution they make to the conservation of endangered species through scientific research and captive breeding programmes. They have also played an important part in increasing public awareness of, and interest in species conservation issues. It is now more than 10 years since the Zoo Licensing Act came into operation, and we believe it is time to update the system to reflect the changes in the role and management of zoos which have taken place during this time, and to ensure that consistently high standards are maintained in all British zoos.

We have therefore undertaken a review of the Act. Having considered the views of a wide range of organisations concerned with zoos, we have concluded that the system is fundamentally sound and generally working well. However, we believe that there are some areas in which improvements can be made.

We propose to make a number of changes to modernise the system. The main elements are:

    a review of the Secretary of State's standards of modern zoo practice, with a view to encouraging greater efforts by zoos to promote conservation;

    closer monitoring of local authorities' performance and strengthened advice from central government to local councils and zoo operators;

    the establishment of a broadly-based zoos forum to oversee the zoo licensing system and advise Ministers. We propose that the forum should comprise representatives of local authorities, voluntary bodies, and independent animal welfare and public safety experts;

    more flexible zoo inspection teams (though we believe that the requirement for teams to include a veterinary expert and one other inspector appointed by the Secretary of State should remain, and there would be no change to the frequency of inspections);

    tightening the inspection arrangements by encouraging local authorities to use their existing powers to undertake informal, unannounced inspections at least annually;

    supporting measures to improve zoo standards throughout the European Community.

This is a balanced package which will improve the level and consistency of standard throughout British zoos, strengthen their role in wildlife conservation, and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. It will enable us to make a system which is already good even better, and by promoting greater openness and wider consultation,

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should help to increase public confidence in the zoo licensing system as a whole.

We now want to seek the views of those directly involved with or interested in zoos before finalizing our package of improvements, and we have today issued a consultation paper setting out our proposals in more detail.

We would hope that all those with a concern for standards in our zoos will feel able to contribute, and we will certainly consider carefully all comments and proposals which we receive.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries.

"Highway Code": Draft Revision

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to consult appropriate organisations on the text of the draft revision of the Highway Code.

Baroness Hayman: We have today in accordance with Section 38(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 sent copies of the draft revision of the Highway Code for consultation to representative organisations, requesting responses by 31 January 1998. We shall welcome constructive comments on the style and the content of the draft. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Hedgerows: Definition

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any hedgerow established under an enclosure award made before 1845 and, therefore, regarded as an important hedgerow under the provisions of Schedule 1, Part II, paragraph 5(c) to the Hedgerow Regulations 1977, should be so recognised by each relevant local authority.

Baroness Hayman: For the purposes of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, a hedgerow is important if it has existed for 30 years or more and satisfies at least one of the criteria listed in Part II of Schedule 1 to the regulations. One such criterion (in Schedule 1, Part II, paragraph 5(a)) specifies that the hedgerow is recorded in a document held at 24 March 1997 at a Record Office as an integral part of a field system pre-dating the Inclosure Acts. Not every hedgerow established under an enclosure award made before 1845 will necessarily satisfy the criterion. This is because, in addition, it must be identified, in relation to the wider field system, in a document placed in a Record Office before 24 March 1997 and must be considered an integral part of that field system, for the criterion to be met.

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"Goodwin" Judgment

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

    Further to Written Answers given by the Lord Chancellor on 22 July (WA 153) and on 14 October (WA 175), whether they consider that the United Kingdom is bound in international law to give effect to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Goodwin v. United Kingdom pursuant to Article 53 of the European Convention on Human Rights; and, if not, why not.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The United Kingdom is bound by Article 53 of the Convention to abide by the decision of the Court in any case to which it is a party. The Committee of Ministers adopted a Resolution on 29 October 1997 declaring that the United Kingdom has executed the judgment in the Goodwin case.

European Court of Justice: Referrals

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

    Whether the Lord Chancellor's Department or the Court Service maintain data or other information so as to enable them to ascertain whether decisions of United Kingdom courts and tribunals to refer questions to the European Court of Justice are implemented within a reasonable time; and, if so, whether they will publish such information showing the position for each year during the past five years.

The Lord Chancellor: The question concerns a matter which has been assigned to the Court Service under the terms of its framework document. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to respond.

Letter to Lord Lester of Herne Hill from the Chief Executive of the Court Service, Mr. Michael Huebner, dated 13 November 1997.

The Lord Chancellor has asked me to reply to your Question about the data collected on decisions of United Kingdom Courts and tribunals to refer questions to the European Court of Justice.

The information requested for cases referred by the Crown Court, magistrates' courts, county courts and tribunals directly to the Court of European Justice is not held centrally and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost. For cases that are passed to the

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Senior Master in the High Court (under Supreme Court Rules Order 14 Rule 5 and County Court Rules Order

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19 Rule 15) to be sent to the European Court of Justice the position for the last five years is as follows:

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Ref. Court Order made onReceived by Senior Master Letter to Solicitors Papers sent to Euro Court
1/97Richmond Magistrates' Court03/09/96
(Sealed 06/01/97)09/01/9715/01/9730/01/97
2/97Court of Appeal26/10/95 (Sealed 04/03/97)05/03/9705/03/9718/03/97
3/97Crown Office13/03/97 (Sealed 23/04/97)23/04/9725/04/9728/04/97
4/97No order made
5/97Crown Office17/06/97 (Sealed 23/06/97)24/06/9724/06/975/08/97
6/97Crown Office17/06/97 (Sealed 23/06/97)24/06/9724/06/975/08/97
7/97Crown Office26/03/97 (Sealed 13/06/97)16/06/9716/06/9715/07/97
8/97Court of Appeal29/07/97 (Sealed 01/08/97)04/08/9706/08/9720/08/97
9/97Crown Office31/07/97 (Sealed 13/08/97)14/08/9715/08/97Awaiting Solicitors' Response
1/96Crown Office28/02/96 (Sealed 01/03/96)04/03/9605/03/9611/03/96
2/96Crown Office03/05/96 (Sealed 07/05/96)07/05/96Not Applicable07/05/96
3/96Crown Office13/05/96 (Sealed 14/05/96)15/05/96Not Applicable17/05/96
4/96Employment Appeal Tribunal14/08/96 (Sealed 28/08/96)06/09/9620/09/9602/10/96
5/96Crown Office10/10/96 (Sealed 21/10/96)22/10/9623/10/9619/11/96
6/96Crown Office10/10/96 (Sealed 21/10/96)22/10/9623/10/9619/11/96
7/96Crown Office10/10/96 (Sealed 21/10/96)22/10/9623/10/9619/11/96
8/96Employment Appeal Tribunal20/11/96 (Sealed 16/12/96)19/12/9620/12/9616/01/97
1/95Chancery Patent Court31/10/94 (Sealed 15/12/94)27/01/9531/01/9528/03/95
2/95Bristol Mercantile Court20/01/95 (Seal Illegible)30/01/95Not Applicable01/02/95
3/95Crown Office03/02/95 (Sealed 27/02/95)01/03/9502/03/9530/03/95
4/95Crown Office03/02/95 (Sealed 27/02/95)01/03/9502/03/9509/03/95
5/95Court of Appeal27/05/94 (Sealed 14/03/95)14/03/9520/03/9507/04/95
6/95Crown Office26/04/95 (Sealed 01/05/95)01/05/9503/05/9524/05/95
7/95Crown Office12/06/95 (Sealed 22/06/95)23/06/9526/06/95Withdrawn Before Referral
8/95Crown Office20/06/95 (Sealed 23/06/95)23/06/9526/06/9504/07/95
9/95Crown Office18/07/95 (Sealed 19/07/95)20/07/9521/07/9527/07/95
10/95Chancery Patent Court2 Actions Involved--13/07/95 (Sealed 26/07/95)27/07/95Not Applicable04/08/95
11/95Chancery Patent Court13/07/95 (Sealed 31/07/95)01/08/95Not Applicable04/08/95
12/95Court of Appeal31/07/95 (Sealed 09/08/95)10/08/9510/08/9522/08/95
13/95Commercial Court18/01/95 (Sealed 07/09/95)14/09/95Not Applicable26/10/95
14/95Employment Appeal Tribunal30/08/95 (Sealed 28/09/95)10/10/9508/11/95Withdrawn Before Referral
15/95Crown Office31/10/95 (Sealed 02/11/95)03/11/9507/11/9514/11/95
16/95Crown Office03/11/95 (Sealed 18/12/95)19/12/9519/12/9522/03/95
17/95Crown Office16/11/95 (Sealed 14/02/96)15/02/9616/02/96 (Chased 12/09/96)19/09/96
18/95Court of AppealSee 2/97 for details--entered twice
19/95Crown Office12/12/95 (Sealed 14/12/95)15/12/9515/12/9528/12/95
1/94Commercial Court13/01/9413/01/94Not Applicable14/01/94
2/94Crown Office12/01/94 (Sealed 21/01/94)21/01/9424/01/9426/01/94
3/94Court of Appeal18/01/94 (Sealed 03/03/94)04/03/9407/03/9414/03/94
4/94Crown Office04/05/94 (Sealed 17/05/94)17/05/9419/05/9407/07/94
5/94 & 6/94Crown Office2 Orders 04/05/94 (Sealed 09/05/94)11/05/9412/05/9406/06/94
7/94Crown Office05/05/94 (Sealed 06/05/94)06/05/9409/05/9412/05/94
8/94Court of Appeal10/02/94 (Sealed 07/06/94)09/06/9413/06/9420/06/94
9/94Queens Bench Division01/07/94 (Sealed 07/07/94)11/07/94Not Applicable19/07/94
10/94Queens Bench Division23/05/94 (Sealed 24/05/94)Not RecordedNot Recorded03/08/94
11/94Crown Office25/07/94 (Sealed 13/10/94)14/10/9414/10/9411/11/94
12/94Crown Office29/07/9403/08/94Not Applicable04/08/94
13/94Crown Office12/10/94 (Sealed 27/10/94)28/10/9428/10/94 (Chased 3/95)10/03/95
1/93Crown Office18/11/92 (Sealed 18/01/93)11/02/93Not Applicable15/02/93
2/93Crown Office23/04/93 (Sealed 27/04/93)28/04/9328/04/9325/06/93
3/93Crown Office09/03/93 (Sealed 14/06/93)14/06/93Not Applicable23/06/93
4/93Court of Appeal18/05/93 (Sealed 11/06/93)16/06/9321/06/9301/07/93
5/93Crown Office23/07/93 (Sealed 21/10/93)21/10/9326/10/9310/11/93
6/93Crown Office28/07/93 (Sealed 29/07/93)13/07/9303/08/9317/08/93
7/93Court of Appeal14/07/93 (Sealed 13/10/93)14/10/9315/10/9326/10/93
8/93Crown Office27/10/93 (Sealed 03/12/93)06/12/9306/12/93 (Chased 4/94)27/04/94
9/93Crown Office06/12/9307/12/9308/12/9330/12/93
10/93Crown Office02/12/93 (Sealed 19/01/94)21/01/94Not Applicable26/01/94
11/93Crown Office14/12/93 (Sealed 23/12/93)23/12/9329/12/9329/12/93

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