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School Catchment Areas

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: Under our new arrangements for admissions, local forums will consider how the needs of all parents can best be met, including through the use and interaction of appropriate catchment areas. There will be access when necessary to an independent adjudicator. Guidance on catchment areas will be included in the new code of practice on admissions, on which we shall be consulting widely.

Public Bodies' Borrowings

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The current bodies are:

    Audit Commission

    British Coal

    British Rail

    British Waterways Board

    Civil Aviation Authority

    Commonwealth Development Corporation

    Development Board for Rural Wales

    Electricity Supply Industries: Magnox Electric

    Housing Corporation

    Land Authority for Wales

    London Regional Transport

    Welsh Development Agency

Details of the borrowing guaranteed under these arrangements are published annually in the supplementary statements to the Consolidated Fund and National Loans Fund accounts. Copies of these statements are available in the Library of the House.

Lloyd's Underwriters: Tax Payments

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give, on a constant price basis using the price index of gross domestic product at market prices (with reference to the July to September quarter for 1997), the net tax paid by, or repaid to, underwriting members of Lloyd's during each of the 15 tax years 1982-83 to 1996-97 and during the first six months of the tax year 1997-98.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The following table shows, on the constant price basis requested, (a) the total tax charged on individuals as initial assessments, including estimated assessments, made during each tax year for underwriting profits and gains (b) the total of income tax and capital gains tax repaid to individual Lloyd's underwriters by the underwriters unit of Inland Revenue in each tax year, including any repayment supplement attracted by the tax refunded. The level of repayments in the last few years (1991-92 onwards) reflects insurance losses incurred at Lloyd's. The tax repaid was originally paid by the underwriters in earlier years on income and gains from either Lloyd's or non-Lloyd's sources.

Tax yearTax assessed at 1997 Q3 prices Tax repaid at 1997 Q3 prices
First six months 1997-980.361.8

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All of the above figures relate to 1995-96 and earlier years' tax liability. Tax payable on 1996-97 Lloyd's profits is not due until 31 January 1998, and very little 1996-97 tax on Lloyd's income has therefore been collected or repaid in the first six months of 1997-98.

Millennium Experience: Legacy

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to secure a lasting legacy from the Millennium Experience at Greenwich.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: When the Government announced in June their decision to go ahead with the Millennium Experience at Greenwich, it was on the basis of five clear commitments. One of these was that there would be a lasting legacy. The Government remain determined to secure long term benefits for the nation from the Millennium Experience, and have sought outside advice on how to maximise these legacies. Earlier this year the Government invited Mr. Dennis Stevenson to assess the prospects. The Government are extremely grateful to Mr. Stevenson for the advice which he has now provided, and a copy of a letter summarising his conclusions has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. His analysis, which the Government accept, shows first that a number of valuable legacies can already be identified. Specifically, the Millennium Experience is acting as the catalyst for English Partnerships' reclamation of derelict and polluted riverside land at Greenwich--a site of a size and potential unique in Western Europe; providing the platform for the pioneering Millennium Village launched by the Deputy Prime Minister in July; stimulating improvements in public transport, Thames river services, roads, and pedestrian walkways on the peninsula; and using the dome to promote national awareness and long term take-up of IT-based learning--for example, through the University for Industry and the National Grid for Learning.

There is a range of possible long term uses for the Millennium Experience dome itself. These include developing the dome as a new arena for participation and spectator sports; a TV or film production studio and visitor centre; and using the site for a large scale international convention centre. These ideas serve to illustrate the dome's future potential, and reflect the steps which have been taken to ensure the dome can have a long life. Commercial interest in acquiring the dome is, however, likely to be maximised in 2000 when it can be seen successfully in operation and when commercial and popular awareness of the site is at its height. The Government will therefore decide on the

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dome's long term future at that time. Meanwhile, the Government invite those with serious interest in the dome's future use to register their ideas (which should not involve additional cost to the Exchequer) and to hold exploratory discussions with us. Proposals may either be for its use at Greenwich (where in 2000 it will occupy a 40-acre site) as a complement to English Partnerships' high quality and lasting development of the Peninsula, or for its transfer to another part of the United Kingdom.

Age Restricted Sales

Baroness Fisher of Rednal asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to make any structural or functional changes to the rules governing age restricted sales.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): My honourable friend the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs recently increased the age limit on sales of fireworks to 18 in order to assist enforcement agencies like Trading Standards Officers to identify and prosecute traders selling items illegally. My colleagues in the Home Office are considering similar action in respect of areas which are within their responsibility.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to prevent BMW from acquiring Rolls-Royce Motors, and whether they are examining the possibility of retaining the company in British ownership.

Lord Simon of Highbury: The sale of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a commercial matter for Vickers. The sale may fall to be considered by the appropriate competition authorities.

Probation Officers: Car Allowances

The Earl of Longford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the impact of proposed cuts in Essential User Car Allowances and other assistance given by several counties on the efficiency, morale and incomes of serving probation officers and their ability to perform their statutory duties.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The conditions of service for probation officers, which are determined by the Home Secretary in the light of negotiations in the national negotiating body for probation staff, provide for probation committees to pay car allowances at prescribed rates to staff required to

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use cars on official duties. There are different rates of allowance for essential and casual users. No proposals for reductions in either rate have been put forward for discussion in the negotiating body. However, the current definitions of entitlement are subject to negotiation at the instance of either side of the body.

A number of committees have decided that in certain cases members of staff who have previously received the essential rate should receive the casual rate, or are considering doing so. It is for individual committees to make these decisions in the light of the circumstances that apply in their areas. The Government have no evidence that these decisions have adversely affected overall performance, but they will wish to keep the position under review in the light of reports from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, which has not yet inspected a service where any adverse effects have been drawn to its attention.

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