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Telephone Calls to European Union

Lord Avebury asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): It is possible already for Peers to make direct calls to certain European institutions, whose telephone numbers are listed at the back of the internal directory. However, it is not the policy of either House of Parliament to provide free calls to other European institutions or individual people.

House of Lords: Visitor Survey

The Earl of Clancarty asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: A survey was undertaken earlier this year by both Houses into the satisfaction of visitors to Parliament. This survey revealed that the most frequently-cited motivation for visits was seeing what Parliament looks like inside, followed by experiencing the excitement of a live debate.

The Earl of Clancarty asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: On a typical sitting day there are about 1,000 visitors. No records are kept as to how long they stay.

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The Earl of Clancarty asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What is the maximum seating in the public and side galleries of the Chamber and below Bar for visitors.[HL3535]

The Chairman of Committees: One hundred and twenty-one.

Unidroit Convention

Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the United Kingdom will sign the Unidroit Convention.[HL3384]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Her Majesty's Government are still considering whether we should sign the Unidroit Convention on the International Return of Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. Consultation within Government is currently in progress. We would hope to consult publicly in the New Year.

Satellite TV Transmissions: Disruption

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose to other member states of the Council of Europe that an investigation be conducted into the jamming of satellite transmissions, contrary to the European Community's Television without Frontiers Directive.[HL3519]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Television without Frontiers Directive does not include provisions on jamming. However, the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (to which the UK is party) includes such provisions. Under the terms of the convention, states parties may seek arbitration from the standing committee overseeing the convention in respect of any alleged violation. Her Majesty's Government have no plans to seek arbitration. As indicated in my reply to the noble lord, Lord Hylton, however, the Government will consider any action which may be appropriate in the light of independent verification of the jamming of Med-TV, including possible action under the convention.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will investigate the renewed interference, which began on 9 October, affecting news and discussion programmes on Med-TV which broadcasts to the Middle East in Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic and Assyrian, with a view to upholding the freedom of transnational communications.[HL3421]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government are concerned about any jamming of transmissions that have been authorised under the wireless telegraphy legislation of a member of the International Telecommunications Union and agreed internationally.

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The Government understand that Med-TV has commissioned research to locate the origin of the interference to its broadcasts, and whether it is affecting an uplink signal from the UK or from another country. Once the country of origin has been independently verified, the Government will better understand what action it may be appropriate to take.

Family Policy

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out their proposals on family policy.[HL3680]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): On Wednesday 4 November, at 9 a.m. the Government will publish a consultation document, Supporting Families. Copies of the document will be placed in the Library and the Printed Paper Office.

Mobile Phones

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in light of recent reports relating to the harmful effects of the use of mobile phones, they will instruct that all such devices carry an appropriate health warning.[HL3523]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Advice on exposure to electromagnetic

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fields is given by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). They evaluate published and peer reviewed, sound scientific evidence on which their guidelines for exposure are based. The exposure guidelines at mobile communications frequencies are based on well established thermal effects. Mobile phones in use in the United Kingdom should comply with the guidelines.

While there has been renewed media interest in this subject, there has been no new evidence recognised by the scientific community on which to base any changes to the guidelines. The NRPB Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation continues to review the published literature.

There are no plans to require mobile phones to have a health warning.

Office of Science and Technology

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their intentions regarding the location of ministerial responsibility for the Office of Science and Technology (presently in the Department of Trade and Industry), and for Foresight activity in general throughout the Government.[HL3545]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: There are no plans to move the Office of Science and Technology or to change ministerial responsibility for it. There are similarly no plans to change responsibilities for the Foresight Programme, which will continue to be managed by OST and co-ordinated at ministerial level by an interdepartmental group under my chairmanship.

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