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Northern Ireland: Independence of Judiciary and Magistracy

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The review of the criminal justice referred to in the agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations, the terms of reference of which were set out at Annex B to the agreement, has not yet commenced. Subject to a positive outcome in the referendums on 22 May, the review will commence as soon as possible, and will report to the Government no later than autumn 1999.

Northern Ireland: Terrorist Arms

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Dubs: All the parties supporting the agreement of 10 April are committed to the total disarmament of all paramilitary organisations. They have also confirmed their intention to work with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to achieve decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within two years following endorsement of the agreement in referendums.

The agreement--if endorsed at referendum--must be implemented in all its parts. In his speech in Belfast on 14 May, the Prime Minister clarified the factors that would be taken into account in judging whether the terms and spirit of the agreement were being met. These factors include, "full co-operation with the Independent Commission on Decommissioning, to implement the provisions of the Agreement" and the Prime Minister undertook that this will be enshrined in forthcoming legislation.

Maghaberry Prison: Mental Health Unit

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Dubs: None. There are no plans to have the mental health facility at HMP Maghaberry so recognised.

21 May 1998 : Column WA200

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many remand prisoners have been held in the psychiatric unit of Her Majesty's Prison Maghaberry each month since 1996, and for how long each prisoner has been held there.[HL1871]

Lord Dubs: The information is not available in the form requested. The number of remand prisoners admitted to and discharged from the mental health facility at HMP Maghaberry each month from April 1997 is as follows:

Remand Prisoners
May (to 19th)1415

Profile of Length of Stay up to 7 days: 65.0% 8-14 days: 10.0% 15-28 days: 8.5% 29-56 days: 3.0% 57-84 days: 1.0% 84+ days: 4.5%

Northern Ireland: Medium Secure Unit

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken to ensure that Northern Ireland is provided with a Medium Secure Unit.[HL1872]

Lord Dubs: The provision of a Medium Secure Unit for Northern Ireland is a target in the Regional Strategy for Health and Social Wellbeing 1997-2002. The Health and Social Services Boards are currently examining three expressions of interest in providing the unit and have been asked to decide on the preferred provider by the end of July.

Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards: Administration Costs

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the budget for each of Northern Ireland's Education and Library Boards is spent on administration costs, by year since the financial year 1992-93 [HL1873]

Lord Dubs: The information regarding the Education and Library Boards' administration costs is as follows.

Per cent.

Belfast Education and Library Board4.
North-Eastern Education and Library Board3.
South-Eastern Education and Library Board3.
Southern Education and Library Board3.
Western Education and Library Board4.

Figures for 1992-93--1994-95 are not directly comparable with subsequent years. From 1995-96 the support costs (around £12 million) for various services such as school meals, special education etc. which were previously charged to the Headquarters Administration budget have instead been allocated to the appropriate service budget.

21 May 1998 : Column WA201

21 May 1998 : Column WA201

Beef Bones Regulations 1997: Enforcement Costs

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer by the Lord Donoughue on 7 May (H.L. Deb., col. 727) that the Beef Bones Regulations 1997 are necessary for the protection of public health, whether they will make extra resources available to local authorities to enable them to police the regulations effectively.[HL1851]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): No. Local authorities are responsible for setting their own priorities within the resources available and the Government has made it clear that enforcement of the regulations is expected to be done as part of the normal level of enforcement activity.

Beef Bones Regulations 1997

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whose responsibility it is to instigate a prosecution for breaching the Beef Bones Regulations 1997.[HL1924]

Lord Donoughue: In England and Wales, prosecutions would be instituted by the appropriate food authority, either by the Legal Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on behalf of the Meat Hygiene Service in respect of offences alleged to have taken place in licensed cutting plants and abattoirs, or by local authorities in all other food premises. In Scotland the decision to institute proceedings would be taken by the Procurator Fiscal.

Scottish Legal Decisions

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether legal decisions given by a sheriff in a Scottish court have any bearing on similar cases in England and Wales.[HL1925]

21 May 1998 : Column WA202

Lord Donoughue: Legal decisions given by a sheriff are not binding on other courts, including in Scotland, or on similar cases before the Scottish court where the legal decisions were made. However, such decisions may inform the consideration of similar cases anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Beef Bones: Purchase for Dogs

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice they have given to butchers to help them assess whether customers purporting to buy beef on the bone for their dogs are telling the truth.[HL1852]

Lord Donoughue: None.

Oxtails: Conditions of Sale

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is incumbent on butchers selling oxtails for the making of soup to ensure that the purchasers make the soup by an approved process.[HL1853]

Lord Donoughue: No. Butchers may sell oxtails only to a person who buys for the purposes of a food business. It is those businesses which are responsible for ensuring that the oxtails are used in compliance with the Beef Bones Regulations 1997.

Imported Oxtail Soup

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 6 May (WA 72), whether it is legal to import oxtail soup which has been made without conformity with the Beef Bones Regulations 1997.[HL1854]

Lord Donoughue: Yes. The Beef Bones Regulations 1997 cover only oxtail soup manufactured in Great Britain.

21 May 1998 : Column WA203

Varroa Mite: Control

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research has been undertaken or completed into the use of drugs to which the varroa mite may build an immunity, or which drugs are likely to cause a mutation of the varroa bacteria.[HL1867]

Lord Donoughue: Mites may become resistant to any chemical treatment with time. The optimal life of a medicine is maintained by applying it in strict accordance with its label requirements. Research into the efficacy of a product is the responsibility of the manufacturer.

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