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Firearms Consultative Committee

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Firearms Consultative Committee has not yet reported to the Secretary of State on its activities during 1997-98. Its annual report, which will contain information about the attendance of all members, will be published in July and will be laid before Parliament in the usual way. Information about attendances in previous years is already in the public domain, as I have explained in earlier Written Answers. As I have also explained, members attend on an individual basis; the question of representatives attending on behalf of a member does not therefore arise.

UN Human Rights Commission: Late Publication of Reports

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): No. We do not consider such a change would make any difference to the prompt circulation of documents. We have made clear to the

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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights our concerns over the late publication of reports, and will continue to work for improvements in this area.

Bosnia: Muslim Armed Forces

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimate of the present strength of Muslim armed forces in Bosnia.[HL1798]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to the Federation authorities, the current strength of the regular forces in the Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 33,000 personnel, of whom 23,000 are Bosniacs (Bosnian Muslims). This figure does not include reserve forces, for which there are no published figures.

Building Contractors in Greater London: HSE Prosecutions

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prosecutions of construction companies under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 have been initiated in the Greater London area in the last 12 months; and how many were initiated in the previous 12 months.[HL1779]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We are advised by the Health and Safety Executive that 19 prosecutions of contractors and other duty holders were initiated by HSE's construction teams in the Greater London area between 6 April 1997 and 4 April 1998. In the previous year, 33 prosecutions were initiated.

Allotment Closure Procedures

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 5 May [WA 56], whether they will reconsider their current policy relating to allotment land closure procedures to include the proposed new use as a factor in all cases, in particular where land is designated as a future building project.[HL1932]

Baroness Hayman: Under Section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925, the Secretary of State's consent is required before an authority can dispose of statutory allotment land. The Secretary of State has the discretion to take the proposed new land use into account when considering applications for disposal, and will do so if this is relevant to the issue of whether the land should cease to be allocated as allotment land. Proposed development of former allotment land would constitute a "change of use" in planning terms, which would require planning permission.

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Army Engineer Logistics Review

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision they have made on the conclusions of the Army Engineer Logistics Review.[HL1962]

Lord Hoyle: The consultation process on the conclusions of the Engineer Logistics Review has now ended. The review recommended that the Engineer Resources functions carried out at Long Marston should be disaggregated to new service providers and not transfer to Chilwell, as previously announced. A number of representations were received from the trades unions, local councils, individual employees and honourable Members. Having considered these representations very carefully, we are satisfied that no issues have arisen which would call into question the study's recommendations. We intend, therefore, to proceed to implement disaggregation with the objective of ceasing operations at the Long Marston Depot by December 1999.

War Widows Pilgrimage Scheme

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will extend the time of the scheme enabling the widows of British servicemen killed in action in war to visit their husbands' graves abroad, on the basis of assisting them to make at least one visit during their lifetime.[HL1766]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Since 1985, The Royal British Legion has, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, operated the War Widows Pilgrimage Scheme, which provides financial assistance to any Service widow whose husband died and was buried overseas between 1914 and 1967, to make one visit to the grave. Although the scheme has been extended several times since its inception, current funding was due to end on 31 March 1999.

As announced by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence in the House of Commons on Tuesday 5 May, following a recent approach by The Royal British Legion, the Government have agreed to an extension of the War Widows Pilgrimage Scheme for a further two years, until 31 March 2001. The Government greatly appreciate the work of The Royal British Legion, who administer the scheme on our behalf. To date, this subsidised scheme has enabled over 3,000 widows to visit their husband's grave overseas. It is hoped that the continuation of the scheme will enable other eligible widows to do so.

The Government intend to conduct an automatic review every two years; as long as there are war widows eligible to visit their husband's grave, this Government will continue to renew the scheme.

Military Low Flying

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the South-West of England (LFA2) is more heavily used for military low flying training than the

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    North of Scotland (LFA14), although it is much smaller and more densely populated; and whether they will establish a different balance of operations.[HL1781]

Lord Gilbert: The intensity of low flying activity varies from area to area because of a number of operational, geographical and climatic factors. These include: where aircraft are based and the location of military training areas; the prevailing weather conditions; the incidence of danger areas and restricted airspace around airfields and industrial hazards, within which military aircraft are not generally permitted to fly, and built-up areas, which they avoid; and the size of the area concerned. Helicopter activity makes up around two-thirds of low flying within LFA2. Helicopters are relatively short range aircraft and, because of this, a concentration of activity close to helicopter bases and military training areas is inevitable. The Royal Navy helicopter bases at Culdrose, Portland and Yeovilton, the Royal Marines barracks at Chivenor and Lympstone and the Army training area on Dartmoor are all in, or close to, LFA2. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they can to ensure that low flying is distributed as equitably as practicable.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent Northern Ireland (LFA19) is currently used for military low flying training; and why no figures for this area were published in The Pattern of Military Low Flying Across the UK in 1997, published by the Ministry of Defence in March 1998.[HL1782]

Lord Gilbert: The scope for low flying training in Northern Ireland, LFA19, is limited because of the operational, mainly helicopter, activity which necessarily goes on there. Details are not included in the Ministry of Defence paper because low flying within Northern Ireland, most of which is carried out in support of operational tasks, is not comparable with low flying training in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Defence Council Instructions

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many units or organisations receive Defence Council Instructions.[HL1800]

Lord Gilbert: Defence Council Instructions, DCIs, are disseminated widely throughout the Ministry of Defence/Services. The number of recipients is as follows:

DCI (Army)1,771
DCI (RAF)528
DCI (RN)831
DCI (General)2,845
DCI (Joint Service)2,568

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