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Ofsted Inspections: Reception Classes

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): These are matters for HM Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead. I have asked him to write to the noble Lord and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.

Head Teachers: Professional Qualification

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made on implementing the mandatory qualification for head teachers; and when is it to be made compulsory.[HL1378]

Baroness Blackstone: More than 5,850 candidates are undergoing training on the national professional qualification for headship; some 196 have already qualified. A further tranche will qualify later this month and the next recruitment round is due to open in April.

We recognise the crucial role played by heads in our schools. Our vision for a modernised teaching profession set out in the Green Paper, Teachers, meeting the challenge of change, published on 3 December 1998 aims to support better school leadership through the establishment of a new national college for school leadership and a national framework of headship training based on the best of the existing programmes.

The Green Paper made clear our intention to establish the requirement for all those new coming to headship to hold the national professional headship qualification by 2002. We continue to work to ensure that the qualification is fit for the purpose and that a sufficient pool of candidates is in place.

HEFC for England: Quinquennial Review

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the quinquennial review report on the Higher Education Funding Council for England.[HL1487]

Baroness Blackstone: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment is publishing the report today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Eurofighter: Air-to-air Missile

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will select the air-to-air missile which will equip the Eurofighter; and whether they consider

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    that this selection will have long-term consequences for both defence and industry.[HL1126]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The bids we have received for a beyond visual range air-to-air missile, BVRAAM, to arm Eurofighter are being subjected to a full technical and commercial assessment. We hope to make an announcement on the outcome of the competition later this year. The assessment will take all relevant factors into account, including missile performance, cost and industrial factors. The extent to which the programme could have long-term consequences for defence and industry will depend, inter alia, on the detailed proposals offered to the MoD.

Cattle Health Scheme

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the future of the Cattle Health Scheme.[HL1444]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): During the last UK Presidency of the EU Council, agreement was reached on changes to animal health trade rules. The new rules allow the UK to apply for official freedom from enzootic bovine leukosis for Great Britain, and we intend to do so. this will benefit farmers and will reduce public expenditure.

The Cattle Health Scheme attests herds as being individually free of enzootic bovine leukosis, so will not be needed once Great Britain freedom is achieved. We will continue to run the scheme for the time being and review its future in September. Officials are writing to all members of the scheme to let them know the position.

Specified Risk Material: Changes to Industry

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the response to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food consultation on the proposal to charge industry for the costs of enforcing controls on specified risk material.[HL1445]

Lord Donoughue: We received 26 responses to the consultation document and we have also received other correspondence relating to these proposals. Almost all argued that the proposed charges should not be levied at a time when the livestock industry is still in great financial difficulties. Some argued that the charges would discriminate against small abattoirs in rural areas.

My honourable friend the Minister of State and his colleagues in Scotland and Wales have carefully considered these responses but concluded that, in the light of the Government's overall priorities, we should proceed as planned. We therefore laid the necessary regulations before Parliament on 8 March 1999. A number of consultees commented that the charge should

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be based on throughput rather than an hourly rate. We recognise the benefits that this could bring to small, low throughput abattoirs and have therefore asked our officials to consider the feasibility of altering the basis of the SRM charge so as to lessen the severe impact on small, low throughput abattoirs. Any change would require a further consultation exercise and amending legislation.

Copies of the responses to the consultation are available for public inspection at the main MAFF library in London.

Atlantic Salmon

Viscount Trenchard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the recommendations of the Environment Agency for the introduction of national byelaws for the conservation of the Atlantic salmon, particularly the proposal that the estuary net fishermen should be permitted to take salmon from rivers from an earlier date than rod fishermen.[HL1305]

Lord Donoughue: In view of Ministers' role in the formal byelaw-making process I am unable at this stage to comment on the detail of the Environment Agency's proposals. We will, however, make an announcement once Ministers have made a decision about confirmation of the byelaws.

Livestock Slaughter on Farms

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether some livestock is still slaughtered by farmers specially licensed to perform that task.[HL1267]

Lord Donoughue: Arrangements implementing new EU rules came into force in April 1995. These replaced the previous system of annually renewable slaughterman's and knacker's licences with a requirement that anyone carrying out commercial slaughter must be assessed for competence and hold a registered slaughterman's licence. These arrangements apply to farmers and their employees who regularly slaughter animals.

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many farmers or other private individuals hold licences to slaughter livestock; and what is the cost of each licence and the total revenue generated therefrom.[HL1268]

Lord Donoughue: A total of 4,773 registered slaughterman's licences were issued between April 1995 and the end of December 1998, generating a total income of £95,460. The register does not identify the licence holder's occupation or status. There is a single fee of £20.00 for the issue and registration of a licence. Licences are no longer required to be renewed annually.

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Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to introduce any new legislation or amend existing legislation relating to licences held by farmers to slaughter livestock; and, if so, how many licence holders will be affected; and whether the cost of licensing and inspection will change.[HL1270]

Lord Donoughue: We have no plans at present to change the existing legislation.

Slaughterman's Licence: Inspection Fee

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the cost of the licence held by farmers to slaughter livestock covers the cost of inspection; and, if not, what are the inspection charges.[HL1269]

Lord Donoughue: The £20 fee for a registered slaughterman's licence covers the cost of administration and registration. If it is necessary for a Ministry veterinary officer to visit a farm solely for the purpose of carrying out an assessment of competence, a fee is charged to recover the full cost of that visit.

Parliamentary Questions: Cost

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current estimate of the cost of answering a written Parliamentary Question and an oral Parliamentary Question.[HL1468]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As at April 1998, the average cost of answering a written Parliamentary Question and an oral Parliamentary Question was £115 and £267 respectively.

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