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Rent Restriction: Impact of Changes

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We are gathering information from a variety of sources to build up a national picture of the impact of the rent restriction changes. For example, we have commissioned a joint study with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) on Housing Benefit and the private rented sector. This will obtain views about the changes from tenants, landlords, local authority officers and rent officers. A draft report is due this summer. Also, DETR have commissioned a research project to explore the impact of the changes to Housing Benefit on private landlords and to assess their attitudes to Housing Benefit in general. This project is due to report in the autumn.

Engineering Steels: Unfair Trading

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Allegations of dumping steel products and of the granting of illegal state aid to the industry are investigated by the

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Commission on a case-by-case basis. The Commission also monitors routinely the fulfilment of restructuring and other commitments made when, on an exceptional basis, state aid has been approved under Article 95 of the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty: it reports to the Council on this monitoring every six months. No monitoring committee has been established in the European Union, although a joint government/industry UK Steel Subsidies Monitoring Committee was set up under the previous administration to maintain pressure to end steel subsidies in Europe. It published a report in February 1996, but is not planning to publish any further reports.

Tamil Tigers and Drug Trafficking in UK

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any involvement of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in drug trafficking; and [HL1196]

    Whether they are aware of any organisation or fundraising by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the United Kingdom; and, if so, whether they intend to allow this to continue. [HL1197]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government do not make specific allegations about drug trafficking or illegal fund-raising unless there is evidence to set in hand a criminal prosecution, deportation or exclusion. Countering the activities of those who may be seeking to assist illegal activities outside the United Kingdom is a high priority for the police and Security Service. Any credible information or intelligence is investigated. If this yields evidence that organisations or individuals are engaging in any criminal activity, action is taken under the criminal law or under Immigration Act powers.

Association of Chief Police Officers

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 16 March (WA 103), whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the accounts of the Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and all other related documents submitted to the Government when they considered their contribution of £458,000 in respect of the Association of Chief Police Officers' staff salaries and administration costs for the financial year 1997-98. [HL1211]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have arranged for a copy of the accounts for 1996-97 for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be placed in the Library. The accounts for 1997-98 will be placed in the Library when they are available. The contribution by the Government to ACPO of £458,000 in 1997-98 is managed by the

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Home Office, which pays invoices for approved expenditure incurred by ACPO, mostly in relation to the staff costs of the ACPO Secretariat, and consequently is not included in the accounts.

Firearms Compensation Payments

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) dealers' and (b) individuals' claims for compensation under the terms of the Large Calibre Handgun Compensation Scheme 1997 and the Small Calibre Pistol Compensation Scheme 1998 have been completed to date and paid in full for all categories of their claims. [HL1210]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: At 31 March 1998, 791 claims from firearms dealers and 15,468 claims from individuals under the large-calibre handgun surrender scheme had been settled in full. Apart from two test payments to individuals, no payments have yet been made under the 1998 statutory surrender scheme for small-calibre pistols.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate Complaints Audit Committee

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes have been made in the membership of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Complaints Audit Committee.[HL1380]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Mr. Arden Bhattacharya has been appointed as the new chair to the Complaints Audit Committee to succeed Miss Diana Rookledge, who retired at the end of March. Mrs. Janet Whitaker has been appointed as a member to succeed Mr. Karamjit Singh, who left the Committee to take up another appointment. They join Mr. Blair Greaves, whose appointment runs until the end of this year.

European Union: Educational Material

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Blackstone on 9 February (WA 148) and on 5 March (WA 184 and 185), how much the European Union's Mobile Information Centre costs to run each year in the United Kingdom; and approximately what proportion of its time is booked by:

    (a) primary schools;

    (b) secondary schools; and

    (c) further education/higher education colleges, universities and any other educational establishments.[HL1312]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom estimates the annual cost of the Mobile Information Centre at 130,000 ECU (£86,073 at

£1 = 1.5104 ECU). The approximate proportion of the Centre's time spent on visits to educational institutions during the period 8 September 1997 to 3 April 1998 was:

    Primary schools:10%

    Secondary schools:50%

    Further Education colleges:25%


    Teaching/professional development centres:1%

Class Size Pledge for 5-7 year-olds

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What, in relation to meeting the "class size pledge" for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds, are:

    (a) the estimated revenue costs;

    (b) the estimated capital costs;

    (c) the estimated savings from abolition of the assisted places scheme;

    (d) the timescale over which the policy is to be achieved.[HL1186]

Baroness Blackstone: (a) The revenue cost of reducing infant class sizes in England over the three financial years from 1999-2000 to 2001-2002 has been estimated as:

    £ million

    1999-2000: 22

    2000-2001: 60

    2001-2002: 100

(b) The department has made no estimate of the capital cost. The Secretary of State announced on 19 March the provision made in the Budget for £40 million of additional funding for capital expenditure to enable LEAs to establish the new classrooms needed for more, smaller classes.

(c) The estimated savings made from the phasing out of the Assisted Places Scheme are:

    £ million

    1998-1999: 22

    1999-2000: 61

    2000-2001: 80

    2001-2002: 100

(d) The class size pledge will be achieved by September 2001, but significant progress towards achieving it will be made from September 1998.

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Family Law Act 1996: Part II Implementation

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it plans to implement Part II of the Family Law Act 1996.[HL1359]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Government remain committed to implementing Part II of The Family Law Act 1996. A very extensive series of pilots testing a number of different models of information meetings will operate until at least March 1999. It would be wrong to anticipate the results of these pilots. Given the timetable for the pilots, and the inevitable time that will be needed to establish a comprehensive system once a preferred model of information meeting is decided upon, it would be safe to assume that I will be unable to implement Part II until at least the end of 1999 or even early in the year 2000.

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