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Diabetic Drivers

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The Government have received written representations from a number of bodies, including the British Diabetic Association (BDA), about the effect of implementation of Directive 91/439 on insulin-treated diabetic drivers. I met representatives of the BDA on 12 February to discuss their concerns.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Evidence of the dangers of driving by insulin-treated diabetics predates Directive 91/439 and has led to the introduction of restrictions on such driving in many countries, reflecting international medical opinion. At the EU level, restrictions on the driving of heavier and larger vehicles were required by the First Driving Licence Directive, adopted in 1980. The further harmonisation under Directive 91/439

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requires that drivers of 3.5-7.5 tonne lorries and minibuses with 9-16 seats should also have to meet the more stringent health standards.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek to amend European Directive 91/439 in order to ensure that insulin-dependent diabetic drivers are individually assessed rather than treated as a homogeneous group.[HL558]

Baroness Hayman: The directive requires that licences to drive Group 2 Vehicles are not granted or renewed to insulin-treated diabetics other than in very exceptional cases. Any change to that requirement would be for the European Commission to propose. The Government are implementing the directive in accordance with advice received from the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel on Diabetes and Driving.

Vehicle Registration Documents: Harmonisation

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support the proposals relating to the harmonisation of vehicle registration documents in the European draft directive on registration documents for motor vehicles and their trailers.[HL562]

Baroness Hayman: The Government support the proposed directive, which we believe to be a useful and practical measure to help enforcement authorities across the Community combat vehicle crime. In particular, we welcome the encouragement which the directive gives to the electronic exchange of vehicle registration information, as a means to combat the illegal transfer of vehicles between member states.

Speed Limits

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to reduce 30 mph speed limits to 20 mph; and if so:
    (a) which motoring groups and other groups have been consulted;
    (b) which of these have offered support for the proposed reduction in speed limit;
    (c) when the new limit will be introduced;
    (d) whether the reduction will be nationwide; and
    (e) who will cover the cost of amending the necessary road signs.[HL564]

Baroness Hayman: The Government have no present plans to reduce the national 30 mph urban speed limit to 20 mph. We intend to propose amending existing legislation in order to make it easier for local highway authorities to make 20 mph speed limits in particular

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cases and will consult interested groups and organisations in due course. The costs of installing the present 20 mph zones have been far outweighed by the benefits in casualty savings.

Thorne and Hatfield Moors

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take to implement the advice of English Nature to stop the extraction of peat in the Thorne and Hatfield Moors.[HL495]

Baroness Hayman: The Government are not aware of any advice from English Nature that the extraction of peat at Thorne and Hatfield Moors should be stopped.

Rural Policy: Institutional Framework

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will hold a public consultation before announcing any restructuring of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which would affect the countryside agencies.[HL555]

Baroness Hayman: It was announced on 3 December that the Government were accelerating that part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review which was considering the institutional arrangements for delivering rural policy. The Rural Development Commission, the Countryside Commission, English Nature and the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency are being consulted about this work. Terms of reference for the Comprehensive Spending Review of rural and countryside policy were published on 24 July 1997, with comments invited. We shall be considering, in the light of the outcome of the specific work on institutions, whether any wider consultation would be appropriate.

Trade with EU: Currency Exchange Costs

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reliable figures of the annual cost to exporters and importers within the United Kingdom of exchange rate charges in their trade within the European Union.[HL511]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Estimation of such figures raises difficult methodological problems. No such figures can be regarded as reliable.

Musical Education in State Schools

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the teaching of music in state schools in England and Wales.[HL542]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Music remains a foundation subject in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the English National Curriculum, which all state schools are required to teach. From September 1998 primary schools in England will have greater flexibility in how to teach music as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. In Wales, the position of music in the National Curriculum is being considered as part of a wider review. The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (ACCAC) is consulting teachers and others so as to identify options for reducing overload within the curriculum which reflect the distinctive nature of the National Curriculum in Wales.

Music Students: Tuition Fees

Baroness Young asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether students studying at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama will all have to pay the £1,000 tuition fees.[HL583]

Baroness Blackstone: Support from public funds for the tuition fees charged by publicly-funded universities and colleges will be provided on a means-tested basis up to £1,000 a year for every eligible home and EU full-time undergraduate entering higher education from the academic year 1998-99 (apart from those who are, exceptionally, to be treated as continuing students). Means-testing will not apply to fee support for continuing students.

This means that new home and EU entrants to full-time undergraduate courses at the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity College of Music should not have to pay fees if they come from lower-income families. Those from middle-income families will receive help with fees up to £1,000, depending on their own and their parents' or spouse's income. Others from well-off families will receive no assistance with fees. But tuition for all home and EU students will be subsidised from public funds through the grant that their institution will receive from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The Government plan no changes in the financial support for postgraduate students at these institutions.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is not a publicly-funded institution, so different arrangements will apply. For Guildhall students, the maximum tuition fees that will be paid from public funds for each eligible home full-time undergraduate in the academic year 1998-99 will be three instalments of £1,200 each. The remaining costs of tuition will be met from private sources, as the school receives no public funds from the HEFCE.

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Adventure Centres: Licensing Charges

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will maintain equal charges for the licensing of adventure centres in the statutory and non-statutory schemes.[HL560]

Baroness Blackstone: The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations were laid in 1996 to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and other young people under 18 years of age taking part in certain outdoor pursuits in Great Britain. Since a voluntary accreditation scheme--without the age limit--already exists in Wales and another is currently being piloted in Scotland, it would clearly be good practice for complementary schemes within Great Britain to be harmonised in so far as that is possible; but the Government's role would be to encourage, not lead on, non-statutory measures.

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