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Anti-Personnel Mines: UK Stocks

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 27 August this year the UK submitted its first report to the UN Secretary General on compliance measures under the Ottawa Convention. The report states that the UK, at 1 August 1999, held 4,437 anti-personnel mines (APMs) for training and testing purposes as permitted under Article 3 of the Convention. A copy of this report, with full details of all current UK holdings of APMs, has been placed in the Library of the House. The UK holds no APMs as defined under Ottawa apart from those detailed in the report and retained for training and testing in de-mining techniques.

The last of over 1 million UK operational APMs were destroyed on 19 October 1999, three years ahead of the deadline required by the Ottawa Convention. UK APMs held for training and testing in de-mining techniques, are entirely consistent with the Ottawa Convention. They allow UK forces to continue to develop and deploy counter measures to APMs and to deal safely and effectively with any they may encounter during operations. The results of this work can also provide valuable information to humanitarian de-mining organisations, either through improvements in de-mining techniques or through the development of new equipment. Wherever possible, we share such developments with these organisations to assist them in their work. This is another instance of the UK leading international efforts to combat these weapons.

Patten Report on RUC: Cost

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The per diem allowance of £500 (plus VAT) was offered and paid to the right honourable Christopher Patten. He claimed for 88 days, which represented a part of the work he did as Chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland and his total allowance, therefore, was £45,590. In addition £10,469.85 travelling costs (mostly for visits to Belfast and for two overseas visits to the USA and the Council of Europe) and £1,671.90 expenses were paid.

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Lord Smith of Clifton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many suicides were recorded in Northern Ireland for (a) males and (b) females under the age of 25 years for the year 1997-98.[HL4658]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Statistics and Research Agency under its chief executive, Mr Edgar Jardine. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Smith of Clifton from the Chief Executive of the Statistics and Research Agency, Mr E. F. Jardine, dated 10th November 1999.

You tabled a parliamentary question asking Her Majesty's Government how many suicides were recorded in Northern Ireland for (a) males and (b) females under the age of 25 years for the year 1997-98.

The table below provides the information requested.

1997 1998
Under 25

Suicides and self-inflicted injury=ICD codes E950-E958

I trust this information is sufficient, however if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Northern Ireland Security Operations: Cost

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of security operations in Northern Ireland for the period June to September with particular reference to the Drumcree area of Portadown.[HL4438]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My noble friend Lord Dubs will reply to the most reverend noble Lord as soon as possible.

Human Genome Patent

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to prevent the patenting of one third of the human genome by a private company in the United States.[HL4511]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Patent rights are confined to the territory of the country in which they are granted. Decisions to grant rights, and determination of the scope of such rights, is a matter for the national authorities to which applications for patents are made.

There are certain global norms which are followed by national authorities, including those of the United States. Primarily, patents are granted only for technical inventions. This means that mere discovery

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that something exists in nature, without any accompanying technical step, would not be afforded patent rights. Secondly, patents are granted only for inventions which are new, and which are not obvious to others working in the same technical field.

It is a matter solely for the United States authorities to interpret these criteria in relation to applications for patents, including those concerning the human genome. Rights granted in the United States, or decisions not to grant rights, do not create or affect rights in this country or elsewhere.

ECDG Support for Exports of Military Equipment

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What responses they had to their invitation for submissions to the Export Credits Guarantee Department review of its mission and status; and whether any of these made adverse comments on the Export Credits Guarantee Department's support for exports of military equipment.[HL4572]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: More than 200 responses have been received to ECGD's public consultation document from exporters, investors, bank, trade associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and interested individuals.

Comments have been made for and against the support ECGD provides for exports of military equipment.

Trade in Wood Products

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend, in the interest of preserving the world's forests, to oppose the proposals at the next meeting of the World Trade Organisation to reduce or eliminate barriers to the trade in wood products; and, if not, why not.[HL4648]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government are calling for the launch of a comprehensive round of multilateral trade negotiations, allowing for negotiations across a wide range of areas. The Government shares concerns to avoid deforestation, but are not convinced that tariffs on timber are the most effective approach to prevent deforestation. The European Commission is currently undertaking a sustainability impact assessment of trade sectors likely to be affected by the round, including forest products, and this will be used to help inform the UK and EU position on the issue.

Computers in Schools

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are ensuring that pupils with an outstanding aptitude for computers in schools

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    throughout the country are being provided with facilities necessary for them to develop their skills.[HL4678]

Lord Bach: The Government National Grid for Learning initiative is ensuring that all children are being provided with the facilities necessary to develop ICT skills. We are supporting over £750 million expenditure to provide all schools with equipment and networking. This funding will enable all schools to be connected to the grid by 2002, and will provide them with online access to a wide range of educational and managerial resources. In one year, to March 1999, figures for schools' connection to the Internet have risen from 13 per cent to 62 per cent for primary schools and 83 per cent to 93 per cent for secondary schools.

We are providing a range of additional measures to meet the needs of all pupils including those with an aptitude in this area. These include: specialist technology colleges; summer schools and master classes; and the new City Learning Centres being introduced first in Excellence in Cities areas.

There is a dedicated strand within the Excellence in Cities initiative aimed at improving educational provision for all gifted and talented children. The initiative will involve around 42,000 children in some 450 secondary schools and include ICT-specific opportunities: for example that developed by the University of the First Age.

Ellington Coal Mine

Viscount Ridley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take any action to help the mineworkers who will become redundant when the coal mine at Ellington, Northumberland, closes next year.[HL4692]

Lord Bach: I will write to the noble Lord and place a copy of my reply in the Library.

Education Action Zones

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list for each Education Action Zone the private sector contribution both (a) in cash and (b) in kind.[HL4601]

Lord Bach: As mentioned in my noble friend's reply (7 June 1999, WA 143), we shall be in a position to provide a detailed statement of the private sector contributions to each zone when they submit their audited financial statements for the financial year 1998-99.

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