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School-related Borrowing Limits for LEAs

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: The attached two tables show each Authority's Annual Capital Guideline (ACG). The ACG is a notional sum which forms part of each Authority's Basic Credit Approval which it is free to deploy as it wishes in accordance with local needs and priorities. The tables also show the amounts of Supplementary Credit Approval, which are issued through the Schools Access Initiative, the Specialist Schools Programme, and for other more general building projects. Copies of the tables have been placed in the Library.

Forensic Science Service: Annual Report

Lord Bach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Today my right honourable friend the Home Secretary laid before Parliament copies of the Forensic Science Service's (FSS) Annual Report and Accounts for 1998-99.

The FSS met its financial target to recover its full costs and widened its accreditation through external bodies. However, it did fail to achieve the efficiency gain target and service delivery target. This was a challenging year for the FSS--expanding its workforce by 400 and absorbing the associated recruitment and training costs. This is part of a two-year strategy to increase the capacity of the FSS to meet demand and eliminate backlogs of certain types of scientific work. The targets and plans agreed for 1998-99 were ambitious, and whilst the FSS failed to achieve two key targets, mentioned above, it has already demonstrated a rapid improvement in quality of service during the latter part of 1998-99 and early 1999-2000. We are confident that this, and the move to Trading Fund from 1 April 1999, should be the springboard for further successes.

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The targets for 1999-2000, the agency's first year of trading fund, are: FSS Agency targets 1999-2000 1. Financial indicators

    Return on capital employed: Minimum 3 per cent.

    Efficiency gain (three-year rolling target): Minimum 10 per cent. 2. Quality of Service indicators

    Turnaround time: 24 days.

    Achieve 90 per cent. agreed delivery dates. 3. Milestone targets

    Put in place service level agreements with police forces.

    Put in place routine and robust customer satisfaction measurement processes. 4. Quality indicators

    Maintain external quality accreditation.

Immigration and Nationality Complaints Audit Committee

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish changes in the membership of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Complaints Audit Committee.[HL3836]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Ms Mercy Jeyasingham has been appointed as a new Member of the Complaints Audit Committee to replace Blair Greaves, whose five-year appointment has come to an end. Ms Jeyasingham is the Chief Executive of the Association for All Speech Impaired Children. She was formerly the Director of Education and Information at the National Eczema Society and the Head of Care Standards at Hammersmith and Fulham Social Services.

Juvenile Secure Accommodation

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to take forward the provision of juvenile secure accommodation.[HL3837]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We set out our programme of reform of juvenile secure accommodation on 29 July 1998 (Official Report, WA 112) and 8 March 1999 (Official Report, WA 5-6). We had decided in principle that the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales should from April 2000 become the commissioning and purchasing body for secure accommodation for children and young people on remand or under sentence. This should help to achieve the appropriate volume, type and spread of accommodation in the longer term, so that individual needs can be met more effectively.

The board has provided advice on how to operate this. A copy has been placed in the Library. We endorse its

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approach as the basis for implementing commissioning and purchasing next April. The board will now consult local authorities and other relevant bodies on its proposals.

National Museums and Galleries: Readmission to Temporary Exhibitions

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which national museums and galleries do not allow readmission to temporary exhibitions which carry an entrance fee.[HL3643]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The British Museum, Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Museum of Science and Industry do not generally allow readmission to temporary exhibitions which carry an entrance fee.

The National Gallery will not allow readmission only if an exhibition is particularly popular, when a timed entry system is used to maintain visitor flow.

Television Soap Operas

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their view that acts of adultery, fornication, sex between juveniles, perverted sex, violence within marriage, theft, trespass, or use of drugs by fictional characters in popular television soap operas, such as "Coronation Street" and "EastEnders", are likely to cause young people to emulate such behaviour.[HL3631]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Successive governments have acknowledged the sensitivity of broadcast output and its possible adverse effect on young people. Under broadcasting legislation and the BBC Charter, it is the duty of regulators to produce codes and guidelines which address the need to protect vulnerable members of society from inappropriate material.

In producing guidance the regulators have to reflect the codes of guidance produced by the Broadcasting Standards Commission, which are underpinned by research, including research on the impact of certain material on children and young people. The Government believe that, in general, the current arrangements are working well.

Manchester United: Fixtures

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions Ministers have had with the Football Association or football clubs in relation to Manchester United's participation in next year's FA Cup; and whether, and for what reason, they made any request or expressed any view about whether the club should participate in the competition.[HL3644]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Last month Football Association and FA Premier League representatives, together with my honourable friend the Minister for Sport, held detailed discussions with Sir Roland Smith, Martin Edwards, and Peter Kenyon of Manchester United concerning the fixture congestion problems arising from the club's involvement in the inaugural FIFA Club World Championship next January.

The Government recognise that Manchester United's involvement in the Club World Championship will help the Football Association to develop further its ties with FIFA, its support for the game worldwide, and its bid to stage the 2006 World Cup in this country. We also accept, however, that the club's exemption from next season's FA Cup was ultimately something which only the FA could offer and only the Manchester United Board could decide to accept. Naturally, we would prefer Manchester United to play in both the FA Cup and the Club World Championship if at all possible. Even at this late stage, we very much hope that a way can be found to achieve this.

Parliamentary Cost Comparisons

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the costs of maintaining the European Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, including:

    (a) salaries, pensions, travelling allowances, secretarial expenses and other expenses for Members;

    (b) salaries, allowances and pensions and other costs of support staff;

    (c) accommodation, including rent, operating costs and security; and

    (d) all other administrative costs such as stationery, office equipment, publications, payments to parliamentary bodies and any other relevant outgoing;

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    and whether they will indicate the per capita cost per Member as well as the average number of sitting days for each institution for 1998-99 and the previous four years.[HL3598]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Precise comparisons between the cost of the European Parliament and the Houses of Parliament are difficult. The latest information is as follows:

Total costs (£ million)
House of Lords39.838.539.443.3
House of Commons(5)195.6202.3241.1259.7
European Parliament(1) 675585593712
of which cost to UK is92.167.770.398.9
Per capita cost per member (£000)
House of Lords(2)38373738
House of Commons(6)300311366394
European Parliament(3)1,0789359471,137
Number of sitting days
House of Lords146145132160
House of Commons156152150157
European Parliament(4)60606055


(1) Based on calendar years and average £/ecu exchange rate for the relevant year. The cost to the UK is derived from the UK's financing share after abatement.

(2) Per capita costs based on number of Peers eligible to sit in the House of Lords at the beginning of each year.

(3) The number of European Parliament seats increased from 518 to 567 in June 1994 and has increased since to its present total of 626.

(4) It is not possible to give an exact figure for the number of European Parliament sittings. The European Parliament generally holds a five-day plenary session every month but there have been occasions when those plenary sessions have been held over a longer period. In addition to plenary sessions the calendar for July 1998 to June 1999 includes 12 days of mini-plenary sessions in Brussels. 57 days of committee meetings and 51 days of group meetings, giving the additional 120 days. The European Parliament did not meet in June 1999 because of the 1999 European election.

(5) Total cost of the House of Commons includes capital costs in respect of New Parliamentary Building.

(6) Per capita costs based on 659 Members increased from 652 at the General Election.

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