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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Prime Minister's office is subject to the rule of law like anyone else. Very few provisions govern the office of the Prime Minister specifically, although, for example, the office's salary is determined by the Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975 (as amended). The Prime Minister also holds the offices of First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Parliamentary scrutiny of the operations of, and expenditure on, 10 Downing Street proceeds in the normal way through the voting of money by Parliament and the auditing of accounts by the National Audit Office. Members of either House are able, of course, to ask questions of the Government on these subjects.
The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Mr Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, answers to Parliament on civil nuclear safety. Following devolution, his accountability for safety now extends to Scotland, as well as England and Wales. There are no licensed sites in Northern Ireland. Advice to Ministers on nuclear safety policy is given by the independent Health and Safety Commission, with day-to-day regulation at licensed nuclear sites a matter for the Health and Safety Executive through its Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government have every intention of implementing the second stage of reform. The Government have therefore not given any consideration to the age profile or the size of membership of the House of Lords if Stage 2 of reform does not occur.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: It is not possible to estimate either the average age of the members of the House nor the size of the House in either 10 or 20 years' time. This is because it is not possible to predict the longevity of peers. Nor is it possible to foresee existing peers taking leave of absence on the grounds of frailty or illness or for any other reason.
The Government are presently committed to achieving parity of numbers with the main Opposition Party and ensuring that, over time, party appointees as life peers more accurately reflect the proportion of votes cast at the previous general election.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): On 27 September 1999 the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in a case brought by four ex-Service personnel of the United Kingdom Armed Forces who had each been discharged on the grounds of their homosexuality. The Government accepted the Court's
Our priority has been to preserve the operational effectiveness of our Armed Forces, to respect the rights of the individual, and to take full account of the Court ruling. The Chiefs of Staff have been fully involved in the process of developing a revised policy and have endorsed the outcome of the review.
The review has judged that sexual orientation is essentially a private matter, but, because of the unique place of the Armed Forces in our society, standards of behaviour are rightly imposed on members of the Armed Forces that can be more demanding than those required by society at large.
The MoD is therefore introducing a code of conduct to govern the attitude and approach to the personal relationships of those serving in the Armed Forces. This code will apply across the Forces, regardless of Service, rank, gender or sexual orientation. It will provide a clear framework within which people in the Services can live and work. Moreover, it will complement existing policies, such as zero tolerance towards harassment, discrimination and bullying.
As all personal behaviour will be regulated by the code of conduct with the object of maintaining the operational effectiveness of the three Services, there is no longer a reason to deny homosexuals the opportunity of a career in the Armed Forces. Accordingly, we have decided that it is right that the existing ban should be lifted. As no primary or secondary legislation is required, with effect from today, homosexuality will no longer be a bar to service in Britain's Armed Forces.
How many times manufacturers and distributors have been found to be in contravention of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995; and [HL385]
How many times manufacturers or distributors of formula or follow-on milks have been fined under the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995.[HL386]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government collate statistics about food sampling undertaken by local authorities to meet the UK's obligations under the Council Directive on the Official Control of Foodstuffs. However, the information requested is not held centrally. Food law enforcement issues such as these remain the responsibility of local authorities.
Most managed forests are thinned several times during their life. Thinning allows the remaining trees to grow larger, which means that they are more valuable. Thinning is therefore a standard part of good forest management.
The income from the timber from thinning usually more than meets the cost of the thinning, although early thinnings sometimes cost more than the timber is worth. Nevertheless, early thinning, like weeding, is often a worthwhile investment as it improves the quality and value of the final forest. It is therefore impossible to say whether particular prices for thinnings are uneconomic as this depends on how much the thinnings benefit the remaining trees in the forest.
Of course, Forest Enterprise aims to sell all its timber at market prices. However, the world market in timber effectively sets these prices. Prices for timber are much lower than they were two years ago because of, amongst other things, the strength of sterling, the weakness of the Swedish Krona, the increasing supply of timber from the Baltic States, and the downturn in the Asian economy. These prices may seem uneconomic to some forest owners, but the income from Forest Enterprise's thinning operations has more than met the costs. Within this, of course, some individual thinnings made a large profit, while others were an investment for the future.
As regards the amount of timber sold each year, Forest Enterprise's Corporate Plan sets out the volume that we plan to sell each year, in line with our production forecasts. By offering this volume for sale every year, far from harming other softwood owners, we help to bring stability to the market, benefiting processors and growers alike.
I hope that this has reassured you that our thinning operations are guided by long-term policies rather than short-term financial pressures.
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