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29 Jun 1998 : Column WA53

Written Answers

Monday, 29th June 1998.

Chequers Meeting

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to the weekend at Chequers referred to in the Viscount Runciman of Doxford's diary (excerpts of which were printed in The Sunday Telegraph on 7 June 1998), which government Ministers were present that weekend; who, apart from government Ministers, was also present; and what were the reasons for inviting these people.[HL2258]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The Prime Minister of course meets many people in public and private meetings to discuss a wide range of subjects. As with previous administrations, it is not the practice of Her Majesty's Government to disclose details of discussions at private events.

Honours: Advisory Committees

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give the names of any committee or committees that advise on the award of honours in the academic and scientific categories, together with their membership and terms of reference.[HL2322]

Lord Richard: No. Information about advisory committees in the honours system and the advice they give is protected from disclosure under exemptions 2 and 8 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, and is not made public.

Values of the Left

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 8 June (WA 59), whether they will specify how each of the terms "justice", "solidarity", and "freedom" are defined as "values of the left";[HL2319]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 8 June (WA 59), when they will have completed their "rethink" of how to deliver justice, solidarity and freedom as values of the left; and[HL2320]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 8 June (WA 59), whether they regard themselves to be "of the left".[HL2321]

Lord Richard: The achievements of the Government in its first year in office have demonstrated how justice, solidarity and freedom are being put into action. The Government was elected, and will govern, as New Labour for all the people of Britain.

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River Maine

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received from Mr. Harold Avery in respect of control of pollution and fish stocks, and related alleged malpractices, on the River Maine; and[HL2307]

    On what date Clinty Chemicals were first granted a consent by the Environment and Heritage Agency (Northern Ireland) to discharge effluent into the River Maine; and[HL2308]

    On what date the Environment and Heritage Agency (Northern Ireland) first granted a consent under the Water Act to allow a fish farm on the River Maine at Carcinty Road, Cullybackey.[HL2310]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Environment and Heritage Service under its Chief Executive, Mr. Robert C. Martin. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Alderdice from the Chief Executive of the Environment and Heritage Service, Mr. R. C. Martin, dated 24 June 1998.

As Chief Executive of the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS), I am responsible for the operational aspects of environmental protection including statutory responsibilities under the Water Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. While questions No. 805 and No. 807 are solely for my Service to answer, question No. 804 traverses a number of Government Departments and I have been asked to co-ordinate the reply. Parliamentary Question No. 804

Mr. Avery has made numerous representations to Government Departments. The following is a summary. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland: Environment and Heritage Service

    5 letters covering a range of topics--hydro electric schemes, abstraction of water, compensation flows, aluminium, disposal of sludge from water treatment plants, sewage effluent discharges, disposal of sewage sludge, fluoridation, and industrial effluent discharges,

    2 letters relating to a Cullybackey fish farm;

    9 reports of water pollution; and

    1 meeting with EHS officials to discuss water quality issues. Water Service

7 letters covering a range of topics--the disposal of water treatment plant effluent and sludges containing aluminium, disposal of sewage sludge to agricultural land, abstraction of water for public supply, compensation water, fluoridation of water supplies,

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statutory provisions for the protection of fish stocks and the prevention of pollution, and the regulatory relationship between Water Service and Environment and Heritage Service. Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland: Fisheries Division

    27 letters on the hydro electric scheme at Randalstown;

    1 letter on fish kill/pollution; and

    1 letter on drainage work affecting fisheries. Department of Economic Development:

12 letters about fishery and related matters.

I would ask you to note that Mr. Avery often copied his letters widely, (including to Government Ministers), and that Departments would have referred letters which, in part, contained references to matters within another Department's remit for separate reply. The above summaries therefore will include multiple counting where Ministers or Departments were responding collectively or individually to the same letter. Parliamentary Question No. 805

Clinty Chemicals does not have a consent to discharge effluent to the River Maine. The discharge from the Clinty Quarry site is currently consented in the name of Ready Mixed Concrete. The discharge consent (No. 1705/75) was issued on 12 September 1975. Environment and Heritage Service is in the process of reviewing the situation in order to transfer the discharge consent to Clinty Chemicals. Parliamentary Question No. 807

Environment and Heritage Service granted a discharge consent (No. 465/96) to the Carcinty Road fish farm on 30 April 1996.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many exemptions under Sections 58 and 59 of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 have been granted on the River Maine each year since 1995; and to whom.[HL2309]

Lord Dubs:

4 exemptions to(i) Galgorm Manor;
(ii) Gallagher Limited;
(iii) A O'Neill; and
(iv) Harperstown Power Limited.
1 exemption toHillmount Properties (NI) Ltd.
2 exemptions to(i) A O'Neill; and
(ii) Otterburn Trout Farm.
1 exemption toShane Castle.

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Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland first issued a permit to move fish and ova to a fish farm on the River Maine at Carcinty Road, Cullybackey.[HL2311]

Lord Dubs: 7 September 1994.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What fisheries projects on the River Maine have been supported by European Peace and Reconciliation Funds.[HL2312]

Lord Dubs: Applications submitted by the Maine Angling Club in respect of fish pass improvements, in-river works and access improvements, the Demesne Anglers, Shane's Castle, Randalstown Angling Club and Gracehill, Galgorm and District Angling Club, all three in respect of in-river works and access for anglers, have been supported by European Peace and Reconciliation Funds.

Handguns: Northern Ireland

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that public safety in Northern Ireland is prejudiced by the holding of licensed handguns by members of the public.[HL2253]

Lord Dubs: Any firearm in the wrong hands can pose a risk to public safety. For this reason the law controls and regulates the legitimate possession and responsible use of firearms. Her Majesty's Government is committed to maintaining rigorous standards of firearms safety in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom. But to be fully effective the law must be relevant and proportionate to the prevailing conditions. This was the aim of the wide-ranging legislative reform proposals published by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 2 April which we believe will further enhance Northern Ireland's strict regime of firearm controls.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether persons resident in Great Britain may own handguns which are kept in Northern Ireland.[HL2254]

Lord Dubs: In order to acquire and possess a target handgun in Northern Ireland a person must be a member of an approved firearms club and obtain a firearm certificate. A resident of Great Britain may apply to join a firearms club in Northern Ireland. Membership is a matter for individual clubs to decide.

The Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 provides for residents of Great Britain to apply to the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary for a Northern Ireland firearm certificate. When considering such applications, the Chief Constable must satisfy himself that the normal legislative criteria of suitability, good reason and public safety have been met. In the latter context this would include the provision of adequate arrangements for secure storage of the firearms concerned.

29 Jun 1998 : Column WA57

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