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Harbour Porpoises

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is seeking to establish agreed criteria and information requirements for the

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selection of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) for harbour porpoises. The conservation of harbour porpoises in West Wales remains under consideration by the Countryside Council for Wales and the JNCC.

River Forth Special Protection Area

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the classification of the River Forth as a Special Protection Area will have any effect on salmon fishing and salmon netting rights on the River Forth and its tributaries.[HL793]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Firth of Forth has been identified by the Government as a potential Special Protection Area under the EC Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC), but has not yet been classified as such. The Government are obliged to take appropriate steps to avoid, in a Special Protection Area, significant disturbance of the species for which the area has been designated. Subject to that test, salmon fishing and netting is possible within a Special Protection Area.

Scottish Parliament

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of offices for the Members of the Scottish Parliament; and when they are likely to be in a state of readiness.[HL875]

Lord Sewel: The estimated cost of converting and equipping the Church of Scotland's Assembly Hall and the former City of Edinburgh Council office accommodation in and around The Mound, Edinburgh, to provide a temporary home for the new Scottish Parliament is just over £7.5 million. The accommodation will be ready for use by May of this year.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the projected plans for building the Scottish Parliament are on schedule and within cost.[HL876]

Lord Sewel: Construction of the new Parliament building at Holyrood remains on target for completion in the autumn of 2001. The construction cost budget remains at £50 million excluding fees and VAT.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of electronic equipment for the Scottish Parliament.[HL877]

Lord Sewel: It is expected that the cost of providing IT and related equipment for the Scottish Parliament for use at its interim location will be approximately £1.5 million. Telecommunications equipment is

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estimated to cost approximately £0.5 million. A further £0.25 million is expected to be spent on photocopiers, fax machines and other office equipment. Other electronic equipment will be used to control and operate building systems, electronic voting systems, security systems, sound recording, production of the official report, and televisual production. These costs cannot readily be identified separately. In due course, some further expenditure will be required on electronic systems for Holyrood. A detailed budget has not been agreed; this will fall to the Scottish Parliament to consider.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When and in what form the proposed Standing Orders for the Scottish Parliament will be made available to the public.[HL878]

Lord Sewel: The Standing Orders for the Scottish Parliament are being prepared by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the basis of the recommendations of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament, whose report was published on 15 January. These transitional Standing Orders will be put in place by order under Section 129 of the Scotland Act 1998.

Former Soviet Union Republics: Military Assistance

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What military assistance is being given in the current year to each of the states which were formerly constituent republics of the Soviet Union.[HL916]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The UK has bilateral defence co-operation programmes in 1999 with the following former Soviet states: Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan. In Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova, our assistance consists of the provision of English language training to selected military officers. In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, we are seeking to broaden our relationships, for instance by providing English language training and places in multilateral seminars covering a variety of defence topics, which are held in the UK.

We have a small, but well-focused bilateral programme with Georgia, involving advisory visits, training advice and English language training. In the Ukraine, we have a more extensive bilateral programme, involving a number of high and working level advisory visits, a major TA battalion-level exercise in the Ukraine, a ship visit, as well as English language training. There will also be a trilateral land exercise involving the UK, Ukraine and Poland later this year.

In Russia, the major element of our military assistance programme continues to be the Russian Resettlement Project, in which the UK will invest some £1 million during 1999. This project is aimed at

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retraining retiring Russian military officers for civilian life. We retrained some 2,000 in 1998, with about 6,000 since 1995 in total, and hope to achieve a similar number in 1999. In addition, we plan to hold three high-level seminars on defence topics of mutual interest, to develop relations between our respective Staff Colleges and Staff Academies, and to continue, where possible, to develop naval co-operation.

In the Baltic states, we are focusing on helping them to build national defence systems. In 1999, we will continue our support for joint Baltic projects such as the peacekeeping battalion BALTBAT, the naval squadron BALTRON, and the defence college BALTDEFCOL, including the provision of staff on attachment. Bilaterally, we will send short-term training teams to each state, to help with officer and NCO training, and we will also provide assistance and advice on range management, and voluntary defence forces. We will maintain a programme of ship visits and attachments of Baltic officers to RN ships. English language training and participation in multilateral seminars will also be offered.

In broad terms, we have budgeted to spend about £1.4 million on bilateral co-operation with Russia, including the officer resettlement programme, and £350,000 with the Ukraine. We have provision to spend some £200,000 on co-operation with each of the Baltic states. We expect to spend between £10,000 and £40,000 with each of the other states with which we maintain a bilateral defence programme.

Oral Health: Ethnic Communities

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to improve the oral health of minority ethnic communities; and what financial resources are being given by the Department of Health or the NHS Executive to support these efforts.[HL845]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): We attach the highest priority to reducing inequalities in health, including oral health. The recently published Report of the Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health set up by the Government in July 1997 and chaired by Sir Donald Acheson, the former Chief Medical Officer, is evidence of our commitment. The report recommends the fluoridation of water as the most efficient means of reducing inequalities in dental health and we will shortly be announcing our approach to fluoridation.

There have also been projects targeted more directly at ethnic communities. In 1995 the department allocated a total of £50,000 to the following projects:

    Camden and Islington Health Authority promotion of oral health among pre-school children in the Bangladeshi community;

    City and East London Health Authority advice to the Bangladeshi and Gujerati communities of East London on the association between

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    betel quid chewing and oral cancer and measures to reduce this high risk behaviour;

    North Thames Regional Health Authority improved access to primary medical and dental care for gypsies and travellers in Hertfordshire;

    Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority assessment of oral health promotion needs of Chinese and Vietnamese communities and production of leaflets and videotapes.

In 1997 we allocated a further £13,000 to the Health Education Authority to translate their guidance leaflets on oral health into Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, and Chinese.

Community Health Councils: Budget

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the aggregate budget set for Community Health Councils in each of the English regions of the NHS in 1999-2000 and in 1998-99.[HL991]

Baroness Hayman: The budget for Community Health Councils (CHCs) in each of the English regional offices in 1999-2000 and in 1998-99 is set out in the tables.

CHC Allocations 1998-99

North West Regional Office£2,997,000
West Midlands Regional Office£2,294,000
North Thames Regional Office£3,752,000
South Thames Regional Office£3,938,000
Trent Regional Office£1,783,000
South West Regional Office£2,009,000
Anglia and Oxford Regional Office£2,004,000
Northern and Yorkshire Regional Office£3,310,000

CHC Allocations 1999-2000

North West Regional Office£2,997,000
West Midlands Regional Office£2,294,000
Trent Regional Office£1,783,000
Northern and Yorkshire Regional Office£3,310,000
South West Regional Office£1,807,000
Eastern Regional Office£2,374,000
London Regional Office£4,192,000
South East Regional Office£3,597,000

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