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Animal Procedures Committee

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are pleased to announce the appointment of four new members with effect from 1 April:

    Dr. Maggy Jennings, head of the Research Animals Department at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;

    Dr. Gill Langley, scientific adviser to the Dr. Hadwen Trust for Humane Research; and

    Professor John Martin, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at University College London.

We expect to make further appointments later in the year.

NCIS and National Crime Squad

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the arrangements for responding to Parliamentary Questions and correspondence from this House relating to the work of the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the National Crime Squad following their establishment on 1 April.[HL1325]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which is currently part of the Home Office, will be placed on an independent statutory footing on 1 April in accordance with Part I of the Police Act 1997. NCIS will continue to have a United Kingdom-wide remit. The National Crime Squad will be created on 1 April in accordance with Part II of the Police Act 1997 and will replace the six existing Regional Crime Squads in England and Wales. The accountability arrangements for both services are similar to those for police forces. Each will be maintained by a service authority performing the same role as a police authority for a police force.

NCIS and the National Crime Squad will both be under the direction and control of a director general holding the rank of chief constable. In recognition of their operational independence, noble Lords may wish to write to the directors general if they have any questions or concerns about the operations or day to day management of NCIS or the National Crime Squad. The Director General of NCIS is Mr. John Abbott QPM, NCIS, PO Box 8000, London SE11 5EN. The Director General of the National Crime Squad is Mr. Roy Penrose OBE QPM, National Crime Squad, PO Box 2500, London SW1V 2WF.

The service authorities will be responsible for securing that NCIS and the National Crime Squad are efficient and effective. They will provide strategic direction and oversight, leaving the day to day management of NCIS and the National Crime Squad to

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the directors general. Any questions about the role of the service authorities should be addressed to their Chairman, the right honourable Sir John Wheeler JP DL, PO Box 2600, London SW1V 2WG.

I will answer Parliamentary Questions and ministerial correspondence about NCIS and the National Crime Squad on the same basis as for police forces. I will, of course, deal with any questions about the exercise of the Secretary of State's powers or responsibilities in relation to the two services or wider policy issues. If such questions relate solely to the activities of NCIS in Scotland or Northern Ireland, it may be appropriate for Lord Sewel or Lord Dubs to respond. Where other general information is sought, I shall provide it if available. I shall usually reply that questions about how the service authorities or the directors general exercise their specific responsibilities are for those bodies or individuals to answer.

I will write to the noble Lords, Lords Richard, Cranborne, Rodgers and Weatherill to set out these arrangements. A copy of my letter will be placed in the Library, together with copies of the first service plans for NCIS and the National Crime Squad.

Police Information Technology Organisation

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the arrangements for responding to Parliamentary Questions and correspondence from this House relating to the work of the Police Information Technology Organisation following its change of status on 1 April 1998.[HL1326]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: With the implementation, on 1 April 1998, of the remaining provisions of Part IV of the Police Act 1997, the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), hitherto part of the Home Office, will become an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB). As an NDPB, PITO will henceforth be independent of the Home Office, although as the responsible Minister, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will be accountable to Parliament for the overall efficiency and effectiveness with which the organisation carries out its statutory functions.

In recognition of PITO's new independent status, noble Lords are invited to write direct to the Organisation's Chairman, Sir Trefor Morris, if they have any questions or concerns about the information technology or procurement activities undertaken by PITO on behalf of the police service or other customers, or about its administration. Sir Trefor's address is: Police Information Technology Organisation, Room 504, Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1P 2AW.

I will continue to be responsible for answering parliamentary Questions in your Lordships' House, unless they relate solely to PITO's activities in Scotland, in which case my noble friend Lord Sewel would be responsible. Advice on the administration and/or activities of PITO may be sought from the organisation in order to answer parliamentary Questions. Where a

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noble Lord asks a parliamentary Question on matters concerning the day-to-day operation of the organisation, I will usually reply to the effect that the Chairman will write direct to the noble Lord concerned.

Turning to ministerial correspondence, if either the Home Secretary or I, or our Scottish Office counterparts, receive correspondence from noble Lords about matters which fall within PITO's area of responsibilities, we will normally reply to the effect that the correspondence has been forwarded to the Chairman with a request that he replies personally to the noble Lord concerned. Noble Lords will continue to receive a full ministerial reply where the correspondence involves wider policy considerations.

I will write to my noble friend Lord Richard and the noble Lords, Lords Cranborne, Rodgers and Weatherill setting out these arrangements. A copy of my letter will be placed in the Library.

Large Passenger Vehicles: Proposed Directive

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current status of the proposed directive "relating to special provisions for vehicles used for the carriage of passengers comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat". (Commission Document COM(97) 276 final).[HL1100]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): As we anticipated in the explanatory memorandum that I submitted on 30 September 1997 (9734/97), there are a number of key issues that have emerged from the proposals for the directive. There are fears that the proposals are design restrictive and could lead to the eventual removal from the market of certain types of vehicle widely used in the UK. There are also concerns that the technical provisions for safety and accessibility are not acceptable.

Discussions and negotiations on the draft are currently taking place in Council Working Group. The UK, during its Presidency, is giving the proposal high priority and is making every effort to make progress towards agreement on an acceptable text. Adoption of a common position may be possible by the end of the year.

Airlines: Free Operation within the EU

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list those European Union member status in which aircraft flying from the United Kingdom in accordance with the provisions of a British permit to fly may do so without prior written permission.[HL1142]

Baroness Hayman: Under Council Regulation 2408/92, airlines holding an operating licence from the

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Civil Aviation Authority are entitled under most circumstances to operate freely within the EU. However, member states may still require airlines to apply for permission to operate, although the circumstances in which permission can be refused are limited. I understand that Austria, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Germany issue specific approval to airlines. The remainder require airlines to notify them of proposed flights or series of flights.

Ordnance Survey: Performance Targets

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What performance targets have been set for the Ordnance Survey Department and Executive Agency in the year 1998-99.[HL 1294]

Baroness Hayman: The following performance targets have been set for Ordnance Survey in 1998-99:

    1. To recover at least 90 per cent. of the costs incurred by the agency.

    2. To ensure that by 31 March 1999, 98 per cent. of existing major detail is surveyed and available to customers in the National Topographic Database at any one time. The target will increase to 99 per cent. by the year 2002.

    3. In order to provide a quality service to customers, to despatch products in response to orders as follows:

    95 per cent. of all Land-Line digital map units within five working days; and

    92 per cent. of small scale products within five working days.

    4. To increase by 5 per cent. the annual revenue earned per member of staff employed.

These targets, some of which are being incrementally increased, are closely associated with the Corporate Aims of Ordnance Survey and demonstrate the Agency's continuing commitment to customers and to improve value for money for all its stakeholders.

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