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Strategic Export Controls: Errors in Annual Report

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Regrettably, a small number of recording errors and omissions have been identified. These errors were identified in the course of work carried out to compile certain information requested by the quadripartite committee established to carry out a joint inquiry into the Government's first Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. As was noted in the report, human error cannot be eliminated altogether in the compilation of such a large body of data.

The recording errors identified are as follows:

    One licence, covering military imaging equipment, was described as covering exports to China but should have been described as covering exports to Taiwan.

    Two items for which a licence was refused were in error included in the list of military equipment licensed for export to Turkey.

    There was some duplication in a table in the report giving information on the coverage of Open Individual Export Licences issued during the period. The final, correct ratings of the goods concerned were given in the table, but the original, incorrect ratings were not removed.

    Some destinations excluded from the coverage of two Open Individual Export Licences during the period were omitted from the relevant table in the report, as were some of the ratings of the goods covered by one such licence.

Errata sheets will be placed in the Library of the House, and arrangements are being made to ensure that these sheets accompany all copies of the report disseminated in future. The procedures for recording export licensing information and checking such records prior to publication are being reviewed with the aim of ensuring that these errors do not occur in future.

European Space Agency: Ministerial Council

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the recent Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency.[HL2473]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I was invited to chair the Ministerial meeting held in Brussels. At the meeting the UK led its partners in the European Space Agency (ESA) to embark on a new £400 million programme of environmental research. The "Living Planet" programme will help scientists to understand and predict the Earth's environment and humankind's effects upon it. For example, it will monitor the effect of global warming on the polar ice caps and measure soil moisture and other factors that are essential to the accurate modelling of climate systems.

I have announced £67 million investment in the programme by the British National Space Centre (BNSC). The UK has taken a strong lead in devising this programme. Our scientific community has worked closely with the BNSC in identifying how to deliver a challenging value-for-money initiative, using state of the art equipment and know-how. The agreement we secured is the first step towards providing an assured long-term programme of scientific research which looks at the Earth and its environment from space. We are putting Earth sciences on an equal footing with ESA's traditional areas of scientific research--astronomy and planetary exploration.

I also announced further commitments of around £40 million to other new ESA programmes in satellite multimedia and global navigation satellites. These were coupled with renewed commitments of around £46 million per year to existing science and facility investment programmes.

The Government's support for space has allowed the UK to make major commitments not only to science, where the substantial increase in funding in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review is already bearing fruit, but also to the continued health of the UK space industry. Our subscriptions to the satellite multimedia and navigation programmes will position our companies at the forefront of the knowledge-driven economy and give them the opportunity to maximise their share in global markets that will be worth around £65 billion a year within the next decade.

I am confident that, with the current spirit of co-operation between the member states of ESA, we will now be able to press ahead with the exciting missions of ESA's Horizons 2000 programme, such as Planck/FIRST, and that we will be able to include the unique Mars Express mission. This is a new chapter, opening a period of great potential for European space.

BSE: Number of Cases

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish in the Official Report an updated table showing the numbers of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy confirmed in Great Britain each week during 1999 to date, together with the moving annual total of cases reported in each 52-week period.[HL2356]

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The following table shows the number of cases of BSE confirmed in Great Britain during each week of 1999 up to 7 May, together with the moving annual total of cases reported for each 52 week period.

Week numberNumber confirmed each week52 week total reported


Week 1 is the week ending Friday 8 January 1999.

Meat Hygiene Charges and Closure of Small Abattoirs

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the closure of formerly profitable small and medium abattoirs, brought about solely by the inability of their owners to meet increased hygiene charges, can be attributed to market forces.[HL2394]

Lord Donoughue: It is not the Government's intention to put out of business small and medium-sized abattoirs, and in particular those specialising in a high quality product. The Government have listened carefully to the representations made by the industry and others about the level of meat hygiene charges. As a result, the Government have announced a complete deferral of the Specified Risk Material inspection costs for this financial year--a saving to the industry of around £20 million.

In addition, the Government have also announced a further close examination of the dynamics of the slaughtering sector and the impact of these charges on abattoirs and on livestock producers. The Government will also look at the EC legislation and the way in which inspections are carried out to ensure that, when charges are set, they are as low as possible consistent with maintaining public safety and honouring our obligations under EU law. The Government remain of the view, however, that it is right in principle to recover inspection costs from the industry.

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Military Action Overseas 1988-89: Cost

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost in the year 1988-89 of military action taken overseas by British armed forces acting other than as part of the United Nations forces.[HL2169]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The only significant military action taken overseas in 1988-89 was the reinforcement of the Armilla Patrol, which had been responsible for providing reassurance and protection to UK merchant shipping in the Gulf and Indian Ocean since 1980, with four additional minesweepers. These vessels participated in a joint UK-Belgian-Dutch operation, under the auspices of the Western European Union, to clear shipping lanes of mines laid during the Iran/Iraq war. The costs of the reinforcement are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the direct and indirect financial interests declared by members of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment.[HL2281]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The interests of the members of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment are declared in the committee's Annual Report, a copy of which is in the Library. No member has declared any direct or indirect financial interests.

Vehicle Licensing via the Internet

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect operators of goods and passenger vehicles to be able to make statutory notifications to the licensing authority via the Internet.[HL2366]

Lord Whitty: By the end of 2000, the Government plan to complete a project to modernise the information systems supporting the work of the Traffic Commissioners, who are the licensing authorities for operators of goods and passenger vehicles. Planned improvements include providing facilities for the electronic delivery of services via the Internet.

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