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Russia: Year 2000 Defence Issues

Lord Birdwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: The Ministry of Defence has been active in raising awareness of the Year 2000 issue with Russia. Technical guidance has been provided to the Russian Defence Ministry through our attache in Moscow, and the Russian military attache in London has attended a briefing on the defence aspects of Year 2000, given by the department.

The Ministry of Defence has, additionally, proposed a UK/Russia bilateral defence symposium on Year 2000 issues which would include Year 2000 programme planning and technical issues, operational and exercise planning and nuclear assurances.

Land Command Order of Battle

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: Following the Strategic Defence Review, the Order of Battle for Land Command will be two deployable divisions and four regional divisions. The deployable divisions will be:

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    3rd (United Kingdom) Mechanised Division based in the UK, consisting of three Mechanised Brigades, 1, 12 and 19.

The regional divisions will be:

    2 Division consisting of 15 (Northeast), 42 (Northwest), 51 (Highland) and 52 (Lowland) Brigades;

    4 Division, consisting of London District and 2 (Southeast), 49 (East) and 145 (Home Counties) Brigades;

    5 Division consisting of 43 (Wessex), 143 (West Midlands), 107 (Ulster) and 160 (Wales) Brigades;

    United Kingdom Support Command (Germany).

There will also be 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade and nine deployable Brigade-sized formations:

    16 Air Assault Brigade;

    Combat Service Support Group (United Kingdom);

    1 Artillery Brigade;

    7 Air Defence Brigade;

    12 (Air Support) Engineer Brigade;

    29 (Corps Support) Engineer Brigade;

    1 Signal Brigade;

    11 Signal Brigade.

In addition, there will be six overseas detachments:

    British Army Training Unit Suffield and British Army Training Support Unit Wainwright in Canada;

    British Army Training Support Unit, Belize;

    British Army Training and Liaison Staff Kenya in Nairobi;

    British Gurkhas, Nepal;

    Brunei Garrison.

I am sending a copy of a diagram illustrating the Order of Battle to my noble friend. Further copies will be available in the Library of the House.

Peers' Attendance: Analysis

Lord Acton asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to his Written Answer on 16 February (WA 70), how many of the 222 hereditary Peers who attended at least one-third of sitting days in the 1997-98 Session of Parliament were:

    (a) Labour;

    (b) Conservative;

    (c) Liberal Democrat;

    (d) Cross Bench; and

    (e) other.[HL1152]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): Of the 222 hereditary Peers attending at least one-third of sitting days in Session 1997-98, 15 were Labour peers; 129 were Conservative peers; 16 were Liberal Democrat peers; 60 were Cross-Bench peers; and 2 were peers with no party or Cross-Bench

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affiliation. These affiliations are defined as those in receipt of the relevant party whip, or those who have notified the Convenor of the Cross-Bench peers of their intention to be independent.

Mr. Peter Clarence Foster

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the charges against Peter Clarence Foster for which he is being extradited from Australia by the Serious Fraud Office.[HL954]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Serious Fraud Office currently seeks the extradition of Peter Clarence Foster on nine charges of using a false instrument contrary to Section 3 of the Forgery Act 1981, six charges of furnishing false information contrary to Section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 and one charge of procuring the execution of a valuable security contrary to Section 20 of the Theft Act 1968.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost to date of the action of the Serious Fraud Office against Peter Clarence Foster, whose extradition from Australia they are currently pursuing.[HL953]

The Lord Chancellor: The best available assessment of the total cost of the investigation and proceedings by the Serious Fraud Office against Peter Clarence Foster, to 11 February 1999, is £434,696. This sum includes the costs arising in the same inquiry of the investigation and prosecution of another person. It is not possible to isolate the costs relating solely to Peter Clarence Foster's case.

Disused Railway Lines: Protection of Public

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the existing liability on Railtrack to maintain fencing bordering railway lines in good condition obtains when the line is not in use; and whether, if Railtrack should sell the line, the same liability is passed on to the new owner.[HL1059]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Railway Safety (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1997 place a duty on operators of railways and other transport systems to take measures to prevent unauthorised access to the railway. "Railways and other transport systems" are defined in the Transport and Works Act 1992. This effectively limits the scope of the 1997 regulations to operating railways.

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If a railway ceases to be operational, the owner of the land, whether it be the original railway company or a purchaser, would have the same duty to protect people from danger that may arise from anything on the land--for example an unprotected drop--as any other landowner.

Synthetic Pyrethroid Sheepdips: Pollution of Watercourses

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the incidents of pollution of watercourses in England and Wales by synthetic pyrethroid sheep dip during 1998, indicating the extent of the environmental damage caused in each case.[HL888]

Lord Whitty: The Environment Agency informs me that in England and Wales in 1998 there were 20 proven cases, and one suspected case of pollution of watercourses by synthetic pyrethroid sheepdips. Pollution incidents are classified by the Environment Agency on a scale of severity from 1 to 5, reflecting the impact on the aquatic environment (1 being "High Significance"--gross contamination and 5 "Low Significance"--little contamination). In 1998 the following rivers and their tributaries were affected:

RiverNumber of incidentsClassification
River Trent2Both 2
River Severn8Six class 2, two class 3
Murton Beck1Class 2
Sleaford Beck1Class 2
River Colhi2Both class 3
River Derwent2Both class 2
River Lowther1Class 1
Gatesgarthdale Beck1Class 2
Sherston Avon1Class 1
River Clwyd1Class 2
River Monrow1Class 2

British Railways Board Land Holdings

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the review by the British Railways Board of its land holdings, sent to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions last year.[HL984]

Lord Whitty: The Government are still considering the British Railways Board's report of the review. Before taking a decision on the generality of BR's property portfolio, we intend to await the appointment of the new Chairman of BR, so that his/her views are taken into account. This appointment is expected to be made shortly.

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In the meantime, we have agreed that the BR Board may proceed with a limited number of sales in two categories. The first is where there are buyers for transport purposes. The second is where development proposals and the sales process had reached an advanced stage when the review was announced, or where planning permission had already been granted for a non-transport purpose, and for which completion has become a matter of urgency.

Deaths in Alcohol-related Road Accidents

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the latest available annual figures for death in alcohol-related accidents on the roads; and (a) how many of these were caused by drivers over the legally-permitted limit; (b) how many were

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    caused by drivers with alcohol in their bloodstream but below the legal limit; and (c) how many were due to drunken pedestrians or cyclists.[HL1103]

Lord Whitty: It is estimated that, in 1996, 580 road users died in those drink-drive accidents in Great Britain which involved a motor-vehicle driver who had over the legally-permitted limit of alcohol in their bloodstream. Provisional estimates suggest that there were around 540 deaths in such accidents in 1997.

It is not possible to provide comparable estimates for drivers below the legal limit since the blood alcohol level of drivers below the legal limit is not generally recorded except in post mortem examinations of drivers who were killed in road accidents.

Drunken pedestrians and cyclists are not normally included in the drink driving accident statistics and comparable estimates of the additional numbers of accidents involving pedestrians who had been drinking are not available.

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