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10 Feb 1999 : Column WA23

Written Answers

Wednesday, 10th February 1999.

Civil Service Fast Stream Recruitment

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for recruitment to the Civil Service Fast Stream Development Programme.[HL1003]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Management of the Fast Stream recruitment process was contracted out to the Capita Group plc as part of the decision to privatise the former Recruitment and Assessment Services Agency in October 1996.

A review of the operation of the recruitment process took place during 1998. As a result of this review, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office has decided in principle that, on the expiry of the current contracts, the selection stages of the process will return to direct Civil Service management. I expect specialist services, including advertising, publicity, response handling and psychology support, to continue to be supplied by the private sector following competitive tender.

Prison Service Quantum Project: Review

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the conclusion of the Prison Service's review of the Quantum project.[HL1001]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Prison Service's six-month review of the Quantum project announced on 10 August 1998 has been concluded. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has seen the review report. The Director General and the Executive Committee of the Prison Service endorse the recommendation made in the report to take the project forward by means of a framework agreement in partnership with one of the two short-listed suppliers. The contract will cover an information technology (IT) infrastructure service, joint development of a strategy for IT-based business change and an agreed mechanism for implementing business change on a partnership basis.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether letters addressed to General Pinochet being carried by members of his staff were opened by Special Branch on Tuesday 29 December 1998; if so, why; and who gave the authorisation.[HL595]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the reply given to a Question from him on 2 February (Official Report, Vol. 596, col. WA 201). My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has received an assurance from the Metropolitan Police that no searches were undertaken by their officers in this case nor were any letters opened.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Home Secretary will instigate regular medical reports on the effects of detention on General Pinochet.[HL896]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is not for the Home Secretary to instigate regular medical reports. He took a decision, on 9 December, to issue an Authority to Proceed. The case has been passed to the Bow St. Magistrate, pending a decision by the House of Lords on immunity. The Home Secretary will consider reports on Senator Pinochet's health if and when he comes to exercise his final discretion under Section 12 of the Extradition Act 1989 at the end of the extradition process.

Royal Commissions

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list Royal Commissions set up since the war, with the date on which each was set up and on which each reported.[HL858]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The following Royal Commissions have been set up since the end of the Second World War:

Awards to Inventors15 May 194613 December 1948
Justices of the Peace24 June 19465 May 1948
Press14 April 19473 June 1949
Lotteries, Betting and Gaming28 April 194916 March 1951
Capital Punishment4 May 19495 September 1953
Taxation of Profits and Income2 January 195113 February 1953 9 April 1954 20 May 1955
Dundee (University College) and Relationship with St. Andrews University3 May 195124 April 1952
Marriage and Divorce8 September 195120 December 1955
Scottish Affairs25 July 195221 July 1954
Land and Population in East AfricaJanuary 195316 May 1955
Pay and Conditions of Service in the Civil Service16 November 195310 November 1955
Law Relating to Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency20 February 19547 May 1957
Common Land1 December 195511 July 1958
Remuneration of Doctors and Dentists27 March 195710 February 1960
Local Government in Greater London10 December 19573 October 1960
Police25 January 196015 November 1960 24 May 1962
Press1 March 19615 September 1962
National Incomes5 November 19625 February 1965
Penal System in England and Wales15 August 1964Wound up May 1966
Prices and Incomes8 April 1965Wound up 1967
Trades Unions and Employers' Associations8 April 1965June 1968
Medical Education6 August 1965March 1968
Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 192128 February 19661 November 1966
Local Government in England31 May 1966June 1969
Local Government in Scotland31 May 1966September 1969
Assizes and Quarter Sessions7 November 1966September 1969
Industrial Relations1 March 1969Wound up 1971 (Reconstituted as a statutory body)
The Constitution15 April 196910 October 1973
Environmental Pollution*20 February 1970First 1971
Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury19 March 1973March 1978
Press16 July 1974July 1977
Distribution of Income and Wealth23 August 1974First 1975 Final 8 October 1979
Standards of Conduct in Public Life6 December 1974July 1976
Gambling24 February 1976July 1978
National Health Service19 May 1976July 1979
Legal Services20 July 1976October 1979
Criminal Procedure3 February 1978January 1981
Criminal Justice14 March 1991July 1993
Long Term Care for the Elderly17 December 1997Will report shortly

* As a standing body the Commission reports from time to time.

10 Feb 1999 : Column WA26

Peers' Age Profile

Lord Geddes asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What was the average age on 1 February 1999 of:

    (a) those Members of the House who are Life Peers and active hereditary Peers;

    (b) Life Peers;

    (c) active hereditary Peers; and what would have been the average age of Members of the House had the House of Lords Reform Bill, as now drafted, been in force on 1 February 1999.[HL977]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): If active hereditary Peers are defined as Hereditary Peers who attended at least one-third of the Sittings this Session, then the answers are as follows:

    (a) the average age on 1 February of Life Peers and active hereditary Peers was 66 years and 10 months;

    (b) the average age on 1 February of Life Peers was 69 years and 0 months; and

    (c) the average age on 1 February of active hereditary Peers was 62 years and 0 months.

The average age of Members of the House on 1 February would have been 69 years and 0 months if the Reform Bill, as presently drafted, had been in force then.

(Source: House of Lords Information Office.)

Correction to Official Report

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Who asked for the correction of the Official Report of Tuesday 12 January (col. 85) which appeared in the Official Report of Monday 1 February (col. 1410); and what reason was given for this request.[HL989]

The Chairman of Committees: I asked for the correction to be made, in order to bring the text into line with my recollection of what I had said.

NHS Boards: Peers Serving as Members

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members of the House are currently serving as non-executive members of National Health Service trusts or health authorities.[HL892]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): Further to the reply to the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, on 27 January 1999 (Official Report, col. 1015) the information given was incomplete. On that date, eight, not seven, Peers were serving as non-executive members of the National Health Service boards--five are Conservative, two Labour, and one a Cross-Bencher.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they do not believe the reports of infant ill-health and mortality in Iraq made by Mr. Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations; whether they agree with Mr. Scott Ritter that a "Marshall Plan" for Iraq holds the best chance for a change of government in that country; and, if not, how long they propose supporting the present sanctions regime.[HL786]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Mr. Halliday has never provided full details of the source of the data, the statistical methods used in their collation, and how the data have been interpreted.

However, we note from the latest report by the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the UN "oil for food" programme that it is now bringing real benefit to the Iraqi people. Since the programme began in December 1996, $2.5 billion-worth of foodstuffs has arrived in Iraq; $440 million-worth of medicines have been delivered to Iraq, leading to marked improvement in availability of medicines; there has been a 33 per cent. increase in the number of surgical operations; and there is greater availability of drugs, which has led to an increase in patient attendance at health facilities.

We also note from the same report that infant malnutrition has stabilised in Baghdad-controlled Iraq and has decreased in the northern governorates.

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