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23 Mar 1998 : Column WA223

Written Answers

Monday, 23rd March 1998.

Marriages on Licensed Premises

Lord Young of Dartington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many marriages have taken place on licensed premises (as opposed to churches and registry offices) since the new system of licensed premises was introduced; and whether the number of church ceremonies and the number of marriages taking place in registry offices have fallen over this period.[HL1069]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Young of Dartington from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T . Holt, dated 20 March 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the number of marriages taking place on licensed premises.

The Marriage Act 1994 enabled local authorities to approve premises, such as hotels and stately homes, for the solemnisation of civil marriage ceremonies. This provision came into effect on 1 April 1995. Since then there has been a fall in the number of both religious ceremonies and civil marriages taking place in Register Offices. Provisional data are shown in the table below.

Number(1) of religious marriages and civil marriages in approved premises and Register Offices, England and Wales, 1995-96 and 1996-97

Civil Marriages
PeriodApproved PremisesRegister OfficeReligious MarriagesTotal
April 1995-March 19964,107151,138124,745279,990
April 1996-March 199715,341146,260113,917275,518

(1) The data are taken from administrative returns to the Registrar General.

Beef Bone Sales Prosecutions

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 9 March (WA 12), whether the supplier of bovine bones should use the civil or criminal burden of proof when determining whether he or she is satisfied that the bones are being obtained for pets and not human consumption.[HL1011]

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Where a person was charged under the Beef Bones Regulations 1997 with the offence of supplying a beef bone for human consumption rather than for a pet, it would be for the prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the offence had been committed. Butchers shops are not courts, and the regulations provide for the due diligence defence set out in the Section 21(I) of the Food Safety Act 1990 to be applied.

BSE: Cattle Cull

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the selective cull of cattle.[HL1131]

Lord Donoughue: In Great Britain, we have contacted all the herds in which BSE cases were born and sought to identify animals which were exposed to the same feed as these cases. Where these animals have been sold off the farm of origin, we have tried to trace and locate them. Not surprisingly, given the age of the animals, we have found that about 156,000 animals have already been slaughtered, including those taken under the Over Thirty Months Scheme. But under the selective cull we have identified and slaughtered about 66,000 animals to date. A further 10,000 animals have been traced but not yet slaughtered, including a number for which the owner has the option to offer them but has not so far done so.

In addition, in Northern Ireland all the 1,461 animals to be taken under the cull have been slaughtered. As a result, the total to date for the United Kingdom is over 67,000. All these animals attract the special rates of compensation payable under this scheme.

It is now estimated that the total number slaughtered under the selective cull will be about 80,000-85,000. We are determined to finish the cull as quickly as we can and are continuing to treat it as a high priority. The last stages will focus on tracing animals which have moved from their natal herd. This is a time-consuming and difficult task, made more difficult by the lack of the computerised cattle tracing system which we are now developing. Progress on the cull will inevitably become slower, as increasingly often it is single animals that have to be tracked down. However we expect to complete the whole work by the autumn.

The selective cull has been an enormous task. Farmers themselves have made a substantial contribution. It has been an unwelcome and for many a distressing task. We are grateful for their co-operation and their recognition that this has been an essential step in fulfilling the Florence preconditions.

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"Agriculture in the United Kingdom"

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the latest volume of Agriculture in the United Kingdom to be published.[HL1085]

Lord Donoughue: Agriculture in the United Kingdom 1997 was published on 17 March and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Roadside Emission Test: Prosecution

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance they have given to magistrates concerning motorists who decline to accept a fixed penalty notice and who have chosen to appeal to a magistrates' court following a roadside emission test.[HL988]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Government has not issued any guidance to magistrates on this matter. Where a person has requested a hearing in the magistrates' court and is convicted the sentence is for the magistrates to decide within the limits laid down by Parliament. In passing sentence, they will take account of the circumstances of the offender as well as the offence. They may also have regard to the Sentencing Guidelines issued by the Magistrates' Association. These cover vehicle emissions.

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What grounds, if any, there are for an appeal against successful prosecution for failing a roadside emission test and what mitigating circumstances, if any, may be taken into account by the courts.[HL989]

The Lord Chancellor: There are no grounds of appeal laid down in legislation which are specific to a conviction which results from failing a roadside

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emission test. However, Section 108 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 provides that a person convicted by a magistrates' court may appeal to the Crown Court against his sentence if he pleaded guilty, and against the conviction or sentence if he pleaded not guilty. The courts, at first instance and on appeal, will consider any argument advanced by the defendant or his representative to reduce the sentence and will take into account any matters in their opinion relevant in mitigation.

Legislation 1992-98

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many statutes were passed in each of the last five Sessions of Parliament.[HL1095]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard):


Statutory Instruments

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) affirmative and (b) negative statutory instruments were passed in each of the last five sessions of Parliament; and how many of the latter were prayed against in either House.[HL1096]

Lord Richard: xref locref=225

Negative instruments
Number of negative instruments considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments(4)6961,1891,2101,0191,785
Number of prayers to annul or motions to revoke negative instruments in the House of Commons(5)276110
Number of prayers to annul or motions to revoke negative instruments in the House of Lords(6)31(7)604
Affirmative instruments
Number of affirmative instruments approved by the House of Commons139173173155237
Number of affirmative instruments approved by the House of Lords(8)98141128118182


(2) Short session terminated by general election.

(3) Long session following general election.

(4) Includes negative instruments, draft negative instruments and negative instruments (Northern Ireland).

(5) These figures relate only to those instruments which were debated on the floor of the House and do not include Early Day Motions.

(6) Includes a Motion to disapprove a Statement of Immigration Rules (not a negative instrument, but subject to annulment).

(7) This figure is different to the one given in the answer to the noble Lord on 4 December 1996 (WA 54) because it includes two Motions which called on Her Majesty's Government to revoke a negative instrument and to re-lay it in amended form.

(8) Includes Motions to approve moved formally after a debate on another Motion.

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No Prayer to annul or Motion to revoke a negative instrument was successful in either House in any of the five sessions. Similarly, no affirmative instrument was disapproved in any of the relevant sessions.

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