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1 Jun 1998 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 1st June 1998.

Office of Science and Technology

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Lord Peyton of Yeovil's starred question of 11 May (H.L. Deb., col. 818), what means of consultation they will use to discover the views of the scientific community on whether the Office of Science and Technology should be located in the Cabinet Office or in the Department of Trade and Industry.[HL1893]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): My noble friend Lord Simon of Highbury made clear in response to the noble Lord Peyton of Yeovil's question of 11 May that we have no plans to move the Office of Science and Technology from the Department of Trade and Industry.

EU and South Africa: Free Trade Negotiations

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will press for a trade agreement between the European Union and South Africa for substantial but differential reductions in tariffs.[HL1947]

Lord Clinton-Davis: The Government strongly support the creation of a free trade area between the EU and South Africa. As Presidency we have pressed for this to have comprehensive product coverage in line with WTO rules. The current negotiations aim to achieve free trade over a period of 10 years in which the EU will in general dismantle its tariffs at a more rapid pace than South Africa.

Turkish Nurses: Qualifications

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether or to what extent Turkish nursing qualifications are recognised in the NHS.[HL1894]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The United Kingdom Central Council is the statutory regulatory body for nursing, midwifery and health visiting. It is responsible for the setting of standards for training which nurses must meet in order to register to practise in the UK.

We understand that nurses with Turkish qualifications are asked to do additional training and/or adaptation and orientation in the UK before being admitted to the register.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they spent on the promotion of breast-feeding in each of the years 1992-93 to 1997-98; and how much is budgeted for this purpose for 1998-99.[HL1834]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The information is shown in the table and comprises publicity expenditure on promoting breast-feeding and grants awarded under Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to voluntary organisations concerned with promoting breast-feeding. It does not include the incidental expenditure of those attending meetings to discuss the promotion of breast-feeding. We are currently discussing the pattern of publicity expenditure for 1998-99, which includes an element for the promotion of breast-feeding. The 1998-99 figures shown in the table, therefore, relate to those budgets which have been finalised.

YearExpenditure (£)

(1) Figures for Scotland are not available.

(2) Estimated outturn.

(3) Finalised budgets only.

NHS: Millennium Compliance

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Jay of Paddington on 18 May (WA 141-2), what is the "further rigorous guidance" about work not yet done on the year 2000 problem on computers, issued to NHS organisations on 15 May; and [HL2012]

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Jay of Paddington on 18 May (WA 141-2), when they expect the detailed picture of the state of readiness of the NHS to deal with the year 2000 problem on computers to be available to Ministers: and whether it will be made available to Parliament.[HL2013]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: For the National Health Service in England, the "rigorous" guidance was issued on 15 May in the form of a Health Service Circular HSC 1998/091, copies of which are available in the Library. This will ensure that all health authorities and NHS trusts are fully accountable for their progress towards Year 2000 compliance and for strengthened monitoring arrangements to enable the NHS Executive to check progress. The guidance comes after progress updates to March this year were received from every NHS trust and health authority.

Chief Executives of health authorities and NHS trusts are required to continue to give their personal attention

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to their organisation's programme of action to deal with the Year 2000 problem, dealing with it as the highest non-clinical priority.

The guidance includes: a new quarterly reporting procedure from June 1998 to the end of 1999 to identify any particular concerns and the actions to be taken: involvement of healthcare professionals in the issues to be resolved, in particular in risk analysis and planning for the continuity of care; a checkpoint at 30 September 1999 to ensure all parts of the NHS are fully prepared or have effective contingency plans in place.

Regional offices of the NHS Executive will analyse returns from hospitals and health authorities and, by 15 June 1998, report to the Chief Executive of the NHS identifying any particular concerns and action they have taken to address them. Monitoring will be continuous and, as recommended by the National Audit Office, regional offices will intervene where faster progress is necessary.

To underline local accountability, all reports for central monitoring must be considered by NHS boards in the public sections of their meetings.

Once the information from the NHS quarterly returns has been fully analysed, it will be consolidated into the quarterly statement on the public sector and NHS presented to Parliament by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Commonwealth Education Ministers' Conference

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have decided to hold the forthcoming Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in the United Kingdom; and, if so, where and when it will take place.[HL2008]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government have no plans to offer to host the next Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in the United Kingdom. Britain will play a full and positive part in the conference wherever the Commonwealth decides it should be held.

Rights of Audience in the Higher Courts

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to consult the legal profession and the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct on their proposals for extending rights of audience in the higher courts.[HL1896]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have had preliminary discussions on a confidential basis with, amongst others, the Lord Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Bar Council, the President of the Law Society, the past chairman of my Advisory Committee on Legal

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Education and Conduct, and the new chairman. I hope to make a public announcement of my proposals in due course and to publish a consultation paper.

Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct: Chairman

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the appointment of the Chairman of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct, to replace Lord Saville of Newdigate, who resigned on 4 February, will be announced.[HL1897]

The Lord Chancellor: I am pleased to announce that the right honourable Lord Justice Potter has accepted the appointment.

Family Law Act: Implementation

Lord Meston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    The present timetable for bringing into force each provision of the Family Law Act 1996 not yet in force.[HL1936]

The Lord Chancellor: The following provisions of the Family Law Act have not yet come into force.

    (a) Part II (except Section 22) together with the associated schedules 1-3;

    (b) Section 60 in Part IV; and

    (c) Section 64 in Part V and in so far as Schedules 8, 9, and 10 (relating to modifications, savings and transitions, and to repeals) remain to be brought into effect, Section 66.

In my Written Answer to Lord Acton on 2 April, I explained the Government's commitment to the implementation of Part II of the Act and the practical reasons for the delay in the process. I do not anticipate being able to implement Part II until at least the end of 1999 or even early in the year 2000.

Following a recommendation from my Advisory Group on Ancillary Relief, I have decided to bring into force paragraph 16(7) of Schedule 8 to the Act in advance of the other provisions in Part II of the Act. Paragraph 16(7) amends the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to provide for the capitalisation of maintenance payments, and will be brought into force as soon as the necessary commencement provisions can be laid.

Section 60 of the Act permits the making of Rules of Court to allow third parties to apply for orders under Part IV on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Detailed consultation will be needed to assess the practicality and resource implications of implementing this section of the Act. No timetable has yet been fixed for this process, nor for Part V which deals with supplemental matters.

Section 64 permits the Lord Chancellor by regulations to provide for the separate representation of children in legal proceedings in England and Wales in relation to any matter under Parts II and IV of the Act, or the

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Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Act 1978. My Advisory Board on Family Law is currently carrying out a consultation exercise on the practical implications of bringing this provision into force.

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