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5 Feb 1998 : Column WA123

Written Answers

Thursday, 5th February 1998.

Argentina: Arms Embargo Exception

Lord Kirkhill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any new exceptions to the arms embargo on Argentina.[HL484]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We have recently granted an exception to the embargo to allow the sale of 155 NBC suits and 50 pairs of boots for use by the Argentine contingent of the UN task force in Kuwait. This is an exception but not a change to the embargo.

Intelligence and Security Services: Nationality Rules

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 23 July 1997 (HC Deb., col. 605), whether they intend to make any changes to the nationality rules for applicants for employment with the intelligence and security services.[HL485]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: After a detailed and careful review of existing procedures in which the interests of not discriminating against the

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individual have been balanced against the requirements of national security, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has approved several changes to the nationality rules for employment with GCHQ and the Secret Intelligence Service. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has approved the same changes with respect to the Security Service. The new rules still require that an applicant or employee should be a British citizen, (and hold no other citizenship) but those relating to parental nationality have been simplified. The requirement is now that at least one parent should be British or have substantial ties with the United Kingdom. The rule restricting the nationality of spouses and cohabitants to limited categories of countries has also been relaxed. It will, however, continue to be the case that the circumstances of each applicant are examined in detail as part of the security vetting process in order to assess any risks. The new rules will come into force with immediate effect.

Government Departments in Central London: Parking Spaces

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will state, for each government departmental office in central London, the number of parking spaces for officials, Ministers and visitors.[HL70]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The number of parking spaces held by government departmental offices in central London are as follows:

Cabinet Office48*3909
Culture, Media and Sport13*904
Environment, Transport and the Regions209129(1)719
Education and Employment25324076
International Development514632
Social Security(2)293*29300
Trade and Industry181*17209
Foreign and Commonwealth Office11696155
Home Office(4)155*15500
Lord Chancellor's Office34333463
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food41*3704
Northern Ireland Office18*1206
Scottish Office161204
Welsh Office6*402
Government Office for London(5)24168--

*Denotes departments which do not differentiate between car parking spaces for visitors and staff.

(1) Includes 60 spaces at 2 Marsham Street which are to be vacated by April 1998.

(2) Ministerial car parking spaces included in Department of Health figures.

(3) Includes Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise.

(4) Ministerial vehicles park on outside courtyard of Home Office.

(5) Comprises staff from Environment, Transport and the Regions, Trade and Industry and Employment and Education.

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Cotswold Way National Trail

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will approve proposals for a Cotswold Way National Trail.[HL507]

Baroness Hayman: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has today approved without modifications the Countryside Commission's proposals for a Cotswold Way National Trail. The trail will be a long distance walking route between Bath and Chipping Campden, mainly within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, following broadly the route of the existing Cotswold Way path.

Establishment of this new National Trail will safeguard the Cotswold Way for future generations. It will increase the enjoyment of users through better safety and overall facilities, and introduce new recreational opportunities for many people of varying abilities. It will bring economic benefits to businesses in the area and provide increased protection for wildlife and historic sites. The decision took account of the strong local support for the commission's proposals and local people will be involved in the planning and development of the route.

Byways: Vehicle Management

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What conclusions they have reached from the consultation exercise on managing vehicles on byways.[HL508]

Baroness Hayman: Motor vehicles on byways can cause considerable localised damage. There may be a need for better management of byways at local level. We therefore:

    acknowledge that there may be a case for changes to the road traffic regulation powers of highway authorities. We intend to consider whether the scope of the circumstances for making traffic regulation orders should be widened to include nature and landscape conservation. We also intend to look at the scope for streamlining the procedures surrounding traffic regulation orders;

    are publishing today a practical guide to managing vehicles on byways Making the Best of Byways. Copies are being distributed to highway authorities and others with an interest; and

    wish to encourage the promotion of codes of conduct for members of vehicle groups.

However, we have found no compelling evidence of widespread problems being caused by recreational use of motor vehicles on byways and have concluded that there is no case for a general ban.

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Farm Incomes

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest estimate of farm incomes.[HL384]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Estimated figures show that Total Farm Income from Farming fell by 37 per cent. in real terms in 1997. The fall shows substantial increases in incomes in recent years and reflects the lower prices for many agricultural commodities. A major factor is the strength of the pound sterling, which affects all sectors of the economy. Detailed estimates of the income, output and productivity of United Kingdom Agriculture in 1997 were published on 30 January and have been placed in the Library of the House.

Beef and Sheep Producers: Support Package

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What rates of aid will be paid to beef and sheep producers as a result of the package announced on 22 December 1997.[HL448]

Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food indicated in his statement that consultation with the Commission would be necessary. The Commission was not able to approve my proposals for an increase in HLCA rates for one year only, but Commissioner Fischler has co-operated with him in devising an acceptable alternative which maintains the overall value of the package at £85 million and divides the benefit between sheep and beef producers as he had originally proposed. He will now therefore be utilising £85 million of the EU compensation available to offset the effects of sterling green rate revaluations. £72.5 million will go to suckler cow producers on the basis of their 1996 claims; £12.5 million will go to sheep producers on the basis of their 1997 ewe premium claims. The latter sum will be drawn from compensation to be calculated in respect of the livestock headage payments whose rate is determined each year by the green rate applying on 1 January.

For suckler cows, the rate of aid will be £44.20 per head. Precise figures for sheep will be determined shortly, but my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food expects them to be around 50p per head at the basic rate and 73p per head in the LFA.

My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will separately be laying an order maintaining HLCA rates for 1998 at their 1996 levels.

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Welfare to Work Scheme Costs

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimates they have made of the likely costs to Scottish local authorities of the Government's "Welfare to Work" scheme; and, if there are costs, what steps they propose to take to reimburse local authorities.[HL266]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): No such cost estimates have been made. Where local authorities are involved in the New Deal programme, it is expected that their costs will be included in their contracting proposals.

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