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18 Nov 1997 : Column WA69

Written Answers

Tuesday 18th November 1997.

Tenancy Succession Rights

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the statutory rights of two heterosexual brothers sharing a domicile are equal to those of two unrelated sodomite males similarly sharing a domicile.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The rights of tenants, whether in the social or private rented sector, vary according to the nature of the tenancy. The majority of local authority tenancies are secure tenancies under the Housing Act 1985, the majority of housing association tenancies are assured tenancies under the Housing Act 1988 and in the private rented sector half the tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies. Generally both local authority and housing association tenants can stay in their homes for the rest of their lives provided they do not breach the terms of their tenancy agreement. Assured shorthold tenancies allow landlords to regain possession after six months unless a fixed term has been agreed. There is no differentiation between the way tenants are treated on the basis of their family relationship or sexual orientation.

The right of a non-tenant to succeed to a tenancy does vary, but in no case does the statute provide for anyone other than a spouse, a person living with the tenant as a spouse (not including couples of the same sex) or (in the case of a secure tenancy only) a close relative to succeed to a tenancy on the death of the tenant. This does not preclude landlords making provision in individual cases for those without such a right, but sharing a home with the tenant, to be given a tenancy on the death of the tenant. Government advice to local authorities is that they should do so where they are satisfied that it is a priority viewed in the context of other demands on the housing stock.


Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make a statement on the scope for extending the facilities for, and encouraging the use of, bicycles in urban areas in Britain as a means of reducing the CO2 emissions from passenger cars.

Baroness Hayman: The Government recognise the benefits cycling has to offer as a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. A quarter of all car journeys are under two miles and 60 per cent. are under five miles, so there clearly is potential for increasing cycle use. We have given our early endorsement to the National Cycling Strategy, which aims to double cycle use by 2002 and quadruple it by 2012. The strategy has a common ownership, having

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been established by consensus involving a wide range of interested bodies. A National Cycling Forum, comprising representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, has been established to co-ordinate the delivery of the strategy.

The Government's aim is that, wherever possible, additional cycling trips should be generated at the expense of private car use. This places a focus on utility journeys, particularly those in urban areas. Here, distances travelled for journeys to work, school and shops tend to be low, offering prospects for converting a good number of trips to cycling. We expect to see a steady improvement in conditions for cycling, particularly on urban roads, through the publication of information on good practice and through dialogue with providers.

A.44: Accident Statistics

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many road accidents have been reported on the A.44 between Leominister and Worcester in each of the last five years.

Barones Hayman: The information requested is shown on the following table.

Number of reported road accidents on the A.44 between Leominster and Worcester: 1992-1996

All Severities2835313239

Interest Rates

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approve the increase in interest rates made by the Bank of England on Thursday, 5 November.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Bank of England raised interest rates by a ¼ percentage point on 6 November. The Government are satisfied that the new monetary policy arrangements will deliver long-term price stability, and prevent a return to the cycle of boom and bust.

Millennium Dome

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date it was decided to proceed with the construction of the millennium dome; on what date

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    the design was approved; and on what date manufacture of the components was begun, and where.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Cabinet decided to proceed with the New Millennium Experience on 19 June 1997 following a review of progress on the project. A planning application had been submitted to the local planning authority--the London Borough of Greenwich--in October 1996 for a package of proposals including the dome design. Outline planning permission was granted in January 1997 and final approval was granted on 20 June 1997.

A number of manufacturers are involved in the production of components for the dome. The first contracts were let in March 1997. Kellers of Coventry are responsible for piling work; Watsons for the fabrication and erection of dome steelwork involving workers at sites in Bolton, Bristol, and under subcontract in Doncaster; and Birdair of Buffalo, USA, are responsible for the supply of PTFE-coated glass-fibre, which will be assembled on site by a predominantly British workforce.

Dr. Jawad Hashim: Payments to Counsel

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by the Lord Chancellor on 4 July 1995 (WA 73-74) on the case of Dr. Jawad Hashim, whether any further amounts have since been paid to Mr. Colin Ross-Munro or Mr. Hugo Page; and, if the fees have since been settled, what was the total amount paid.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The total amounts paid to date to Mr. Colin Ross-Munro QC and Mr. Hugo Page are as follows:

Mr. Colin Ross-Munro QC: £691,623.

Mr. Hugo A. M. Page: £540,721.

The amount above for Mr. Colin Ross-Munro QC is less than that previously quoted. This is due to recoupment by the Legal Aid Board of payments made on account, prior to the assessment of final claims in respect of the main proceedings between Dr. Hashim and the Arab Monetary Fund. Final costs will not be known until all outstanding claims in respect of other related proceedings have been taxed.

It is now established that Dr. Hashim is the owner of very substantial assets which were not disclosed at the time of his application for legal aid. The case has prompted the Legal Aid Board to introduce a whole range of measures to ensure that such an outcome will not occur again. These measures include advice from an independent counsel on the merits of the case and the creation of a special investigation unit to investigate applications received from those with complex financial affairs.

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Tobacco Advertising and Formula One

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What considerations affecting the advertising of tobacco in motor racing, particularly Formula 1, do not apply equally to snooker.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Government want to reduce the exposure of children and young people to tobacco advertising. That is why we gave a manifesto commitment to ban tobacco advertising as part of a fully-developed tobacco control strategy. We have always said that our aim is to remove tobacco advertising from sports events without damaging the events themselves. We have always said that sports like snooker will need time to find other sponsors.

Formula One, unlike other sports heavily dependent upon tobacco money, is a major sport throughout the European Union and attracts major television audiences globally. All eleven Formula One teams are based in the EU: seven in the United Kingdom. Formula One makes a major economic contribution to the British motor sport industry. The world's leading motor sports firms, with a turnover in excess of £1 billion, have chosen to be located in the UK, providing over 50,000 highly skilled well-paid jobs for the British economy.

A blanket ban on tobacco sponsorship of Formula One is likely to lead to Grand Prix races moving overseas to countries with few or no restrictions on tobacco advertising. But those events would still be televised within the EU. This would have the perverse effect of leading to more tobacco advertising on European TV screens, not less. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile has said it will introduce voluntary reductions in tobacco advertising at events worldwide.

It is for these reasons that we believe Formula One should be treated in this way. Our approach is pragmatic, and one which we believe will achieve our strategic aims more effectively.

Student Loans Company: Annual Report and Accounts

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Student Loans Company's 1997 annual report and accounts will be available.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Copies of the report and accounts have today been placed in the Library.

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