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Local Government Commissionfor England: Draft Direction

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: A draft direction to the Commission has today been placed in the Library of the House.

Millennium Experience: Job Opportunities

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: When the Millennium Experience is open and fully operational the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) forecast that it will create about 2,000 new full and part time jobs. These jobs will relate to the operation of the dome during 2000, and will include security, catering, etc. The recruitment process for these jobs will begin in mid-1999. An independent report commissioned by the London Borough of Greenwich has estimated that a further 3,000 jobs relating to the dome will be generated. The NMEC are working closely with Greenwich Council and other local authorities in the area to ensure that opportunities for the local labour force are maximised. People interested in working on the Millennium Experience can register through the visitor centre in Greenwich.

Museums: Provision by Local Authorities

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government will encourage local authorities to produce cultural strategies setting out the provision, including museums provisions, which they wish to see made in their areas. We have no current plans to extend Scottish legislation into the rest of the UK, but the need for a statutory requirement can be reviewed in the light of progress.

Acceptance-in-Lieu System

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases of objects offered through the acceptance-in-lieu system are at present being considered; and how long they have been under consideration.[HL973]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There are 12 offers currently under consideration in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Eight of those have been with the Department for three months or less. The other four cases have required detailed scrutiny and consultation, and have now been with the department for periods of between 11 and 15 months. I expect them to be decided shortly.

Government Departments: Computer Procurement

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the way in which computer systems are supplied to government departments and agencies in Britain; and what steps they will take to ensure that competition between suppliers is maintained to avoid the dominance of a single company.[HL1073]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes. In providing goods and services, departments and their agencies seek value for money for the taxpayer, normally through competition. In addition, a cross-departmental committee, under the chairmanship of HM Treasury, is to consider the issue of market share both in this and in the procurement of strategic goods and services generally.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a list of contracts for the supply of computer services placed by government departments and agencies in the last five years valued at over £0.5 million, giving the name of the supplier in each case.[HL1074]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This information is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

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Pupils: Work Experience

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For what periods of time and at what ages they believe children should undertake work experience and whether, in the interest of children receiving the best school education, they believe that the time for work experience should be taken from the school term or from the holidays.[HL1124]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Pupils can undertake work experience at any time in their last year of compulsory schooling (after the Easter term in Year 10) and beyond. The Government recognise the value of good quality work experience in helping to prepare young people for the world of work and for its contribution to enriching the curriculum. It is important that placements occur in term time to ensure adequate supervision and monitoring by schools and to maximise the learning outcomes and curriculum benefits. Work experience usually takes place in the summer term of Year 10--in most cases after GCSEs have finished.

The Government are also taking steps to open up opportunities for the wider use of work related learning throughout Key Stage 4, especially where it will help keep disaffected young people in the education system. Work experience is therefore likely to feature in supporting out of school learning programmes tailored to meet the individual needs of these students.

Scottish Candidate SACs

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce the proposal to the European Commission for further sites in Scotland to be candidates for special areas of conservation.[HL1218]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): A further list of Scottish candidate SACs has today been proposed to the European Commission. The list comprises 15 new sites and boundary extensions to nine existing candidate sites. This represents a significant step forward in the implementation of the Habitats Directive and is further evidence of the Government's firm commitment to the Natura 2000 network.

Consideration continues to be given to the few sites remaining in the public consultation exercises in March 1995 and October 1997 which have not yet been proposed to the Commission. In addition, Scottish Natural Heritage have recently started a third public consultation exercise on a further list of sites in Scotland on the Government's behalf. I hope to announce the submission of further sites to the Commission in the near future.

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The list of sites proposed to the Commission today is as follows:

    New Sites

    Ardgour Pinewoods

    Bankhead Moss, Beith

    Black Loch Moss

    Coladoir Bog

    Dykeneuk Moss

    Insh Marshes

    Lendalfoot Hills Complex

    Lower River Spey/Spey Bay

    Mointeach nan Lochain Dubha

    Morven and Mullachdubh

    Muir of Dinnet

    Sands of Forvie

    Sligachan Peatlands

    Turclossie Moss

    Waukenwae Moss.

    Boundary Extensions

    Ben Alder and Aonach Beag



    Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands

    Cockinhead Moss

    Conon Islands

    Cranley Moss


    Loch Etive Woods.

Ambassadorial Appointments

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it remains their intention to appoint individuals to diplomatic postings from outside the ranks of the career civil service; and whether any such appointments have yet been made.[HL1050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, on 19 January (H.L. deb, col. 1246-1248). In many cases professional and linguistic expertise is required for ambassadorial posts and the Foreign Secretary and I have been impressed by the calibre of DS officers of ambassadorial and equivalent rank. If an individual from outside the FCO, who had served the nation with distinction, had the right personal qualifications and experience to do the job, we would certainly want to consider inviting him or her to serve as an ambassador in one of our major embassies. No appointments have yet been made at this level.

However, through the short-term business attachment scheme we have seconded 10 business people to

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increase the number of commercial posts at first secretary level overseas; we have eight private sector full-term appointments in a range of jobs and grades from second secretary to counsellor at home and overseas; six private sector appointments to locally engaged jobs overseas; and seven secondments from other foreign ministries.


Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the legislative proposals withdrawn by the European Commission since 1994 on grounds of subsidiarity.[HL1097]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Each year the Commission withdraws a number of proposals. There is no specific list of those withdrawn on grounds of subsidiarity.

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