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Either-way Offences committed toCrown Court

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Figures provided by the Attorney-General's department which relate to prosecutions by the Crown Prosecution Service are given in the table:

YearEither-way offences committed for trialYear on year per cent changePer cent of either-way cases committed on election of defendant

Freedom of Information and Task Forces

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The greater use of task forces encourages wider debate of the issues concerned: it ensures that Ministers may receive advice from beyond the confines of Whitehall or special interest groups. It ensures that issues are aired and decisions are taken on a more informed basis.

This does not conflict with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Bill. Freedom of information is about opening up government and about making information more available. Nothing in the Freedom of Information Bill prevents any information from being released. The Freedom of Information Bill does indeed contain an exemption for the formulation of government policy, but it is acknowledged that

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government must have the space to evaluate policy options and that premature disclosure of this kind of information could hamper the effective conduct of government. Freedom of information regimes in other countries provide similar protection for this kind of information. In addition, while an exemption may place information outside the general right of access that the Bill provides, there is nevertheless a duty placed on authorities to consider exercising their discretion to release such information in the public interest.

The Bill also contains a specific provision regarding the desirability of communicating factual information which has been used to provide an informed background to decision-taking and, although disclosure decisions must be made on a case by case basis, it may well be that reports of task forces would fall into this category.


Baroness Cumberlege asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of recent discrepancies in government figures, what is the increase in the number of training places available for midwives alone; how this has increased over the last three years; and what assurances they can give that this increase will be sustained.[HL765]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The information is shown in the table.

NHS Funded Pre-registration Midwifery Training Places

YearDegreeDiplomaTotal pre-regOther

1998-99 data is unvalidated.

1999-2000 training places are planned.

Degree = pre-registration students undertaking a full-time equivalent degree course leading to a new midwife entering the labour market.

Diploma = pre-registration students undertaking a full-time equivalent diploma course leading to a new midwife entering the labour market.

Midwifery other = post-registration students, who are already qualified nurses undertaking a full-time shortened diploma or degree course or part-time leading to a second registration as a midwife.

This year there are over 19,000 nursing and midwifery training places available, 4,000 more than three years ago, of which over 1,800 are midwifery--4 per cent more than planned for 1998-99: 1,800 midwifery training places represents about 10 per cent of the workforce. The Government are committed to delivering 6,000 new nursing and midwifery training places by 2002. This target was based upon delivering 1,000 of those new places in the current year (1999-2000), but we are now planning to deliver 1,600. This means that cumulatively 4,800 of the places have already been secured and the number of new nurses and midwives available from summer 2002 will be 60 per cent higher than originally planned.

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Baroness Cumberlege asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many midwives are currently returning to work; and how many are intending to return to work.[HL766]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Since we launched our national recruitment campaign in February, 1999, 497 midwives have contacted the National Health Service in England about returning to work; and 2,593 nurses and midwives have returned to employment in the NHS in England since the campaign began. No figures are available on how many of these have returned to employment as midwives.

This year's national recruitment campaign in England will be launched later this month. New figures to show how many midwives have returned to employment in the NHS in England will be compiled on a monthly basis after the new campaign is launched.

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Employment Tribunal Applications and Disability Discrimination Act

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the breakdown, both by nature of the disability and outcome of the case, of the 5,841 cases taken by the Employment Tribunal up to the end of October 1999 under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Part II (Employment Provisions).[HL722]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Information is not recorded centrally on the nature of the disability in employment tribunal applications: 1,777 complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 were disposed of by an employment tribunal before 31 October 1999. The following table shows the outcome of these complaints. A complaint may be made by an individual under more than one heading.

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Nature of ClaimACAS SettlementWithdrawn or private settlementSuccessful at hearingDismissed (merits)Dismissed (out of scope)Otherwise disposed of
Unfair dismissal because of disability 381283571624028
Other detriment8473124249
Discrimination in obtaining employment383093352
Employer's failure to make reasonable adjustments2091323286179


Employment Tribunals Service.

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British Biathlon Union

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Minister for Sport will reply to Lord Moynihan's letter of 19 November 1999 relating to the British Biathlon Union.[HL673]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A letter in response to the correspondence from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was sent from the Minister for Sport on 14 December. As this letter has not been received a copy has been forwarded to him.

CAP Payments: Use by Farmers of OS Maps

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the speech by Lord Bruce of Donington on 25 November (H.L. Deb., col. 605), whether they will clarify the position regarding the possible replacement of Ordnance Survey as the basis for the measurement of land for assessing CAP payments.[HL608]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): I wrote to my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington on 11 January in response to the points which he raised on 25 November.

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A copy of that letter has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

As I made clear in that letter, the use by farmers of field areas from Ordnance Survey (OS) maps in their aid claims remains perfectly acceptable, provided the fields concerned are fully utilised for the purpose of the aid scheme under which the farmer's claim is being made. This has been the case since the start of the integrated administration and control system (IACS) in 1993 and there are no plans to change it.

The full OS area of a field may include parts which are taken up by features such as ponds or footpaths. These uncultivated areas are not eligible for aid and must be subtracted from the claim.

The Commission has proposed that, from 2003, EU member states must maintain their IACS databases in a spatial form with the use of a geographical information system (GIS). Although there are some aspects of the Commission proposal which the Government would like to see amended, they recognise that the use of a GIS offers real benefits to farmers and to administrators. These benefits were also recognised by the IACS and inspections working group set up as part of the Review of Regulatory Burdens. The group also supported the Ministry's plans to use OS digital mapping as the foundation of its IACS database. The ability of farmers to claim the

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full OS areas of their fields, where appropriate, would not be affected by the introduction of a GIS.

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