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Baroness Hayman: Failure to follow the guidance from the European Commission concerning the maximum width of field margins to which the noble Lord refers, or indeeed Commission guidance on other aspects of the rules for the farm-based aid schemes under the Common Agricultural Policy, risks the withholding of reimbursement of Exchequer expenditure from the EU budget. In the case of the guidance on field margins, this might also place in jeopardy the ability of our farmers to continue to claim payment, where appropriate, on the full Ordnance Survey areas of their fields.
We are neverthelss concerned that this clarification of the AAPS rules might be detrimental to wildlife. We are currently analysing what effect it might have and evaluating the options for minimising any problems which may arise. MAFF's guidance urges farmers that, if they need to adjust the width of a field margin, they should seek advice on minimising the environmental impact of any such change.
My right honourable friend the Minister discussed his concerns about the guidance, including the potential for adverse environmental implications, with the office of Commissioner Franz Fischler earlier this month and officials are pursuing these concerns with the European Commission.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The commission has given notice of its intention to commence a general review forthwith. It is required to report between April 2003 and April 2007.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office (Mr Boateng) has agreed that in future the Charity Commission's Annual Report should be prepared on a financial year basis, rather than a calendar year basis. As a transitional measure, the next Annual Report will cover the 15-month period, 1 January 1999-31 March 2000, and should be published this autumn.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates, the departmental expenditure limit (DEL), which covers Class IV Vote 1 (Home Office administration, police, probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales) and Vote 2 (Prisons, England and Wales), will be decreased by £71,496,000 from £7,763,444,000 to £7,691,948,000. The running cost limit will be decreased by £1,141,000 from £2,137,953,000 to £2,136,812,000. A separate running cost limit of £163,000 has been established for expenditure on Welfare to Work.
The changes are the net effect of the following transfers: £60,000 to the Department of Health (Class II Vote 2) towards the cost of the Teenage Pregnancy Implementation Unit; £500,000 to the Department of Health (Class II Vote 2) for the publicity campaign costs on teenage pregnancy; £200,000 from the Lord Chancellor's Department (Class V Vote 1), £93,000 from the Crown Prosecution Service (Class V Vote 4) in relation to contributions towards the costs of the Integrated Business and Information Systems Unit; £1,000,000 from the Department for Education and Employment (Class I Vote 1) and £1,500,000 from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Class III Vote 1) in support of the Youth Inclusion Programme; £411,000 from the Welsh Assembly (Class XIV Vote 1) to support Closed Circuit Television projects in Wales; £20,000 to the Department of Health (Class II Vote 2) for the development of a handbook for drug service commissioners; £25,000 from the Cabinet Office (Class XVII Vote 1) in relation to the transfer of posts from the security facilities division; £600,000 to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Class VII Vote 1) as contribution towards two overseas drug prevention projects; £9,612,000 from the DEL Reserve in respect of costs arising from the Kosovan humanitarian evacuation programmes; £176,000,000 from the DEL Reserve in respect of asylum support costs; £3,980,000 to the Scottish Executive for asylum seekers' support arrangements; £233,000 to the Northern Ireland Office (Class XV Vote 1) in respect of legal services provided to the Northern Ireland Office; £56,000 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Class VII Vote 1) to cover the short-term attachment of the former Director of Operations (North) to the South African Department of Correctional Services; £45,000,000 from the DEL Reserve to fund the payment of special grant to local authorities for Kosovan evacuees. In addition, £300,000,000 in the DEL for asylum support costs has been reclassified as Annually Managed Expenditure.
The decrease in the department's running costs limit is the net effect of the following transfers: £60,000 to the Department of Health towards the costs of the Teenage Pregnancy Implementation Unit; £200,000 from the Lord Chancellor's Department and £93,000 from the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to contributions towards the costs of the Integrated Business and Information Systems Unit; £25,000 from the Cabinet Office in relation to the transfer of posts from the security facilities division; £8,500,000 from the DEL Reserve in respect of asylum support costs; £233,000 to the Northern Ireland Office in respect of legal services provided to the Northern Ireland Office; £56,000 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to cover the short-term attachment of the former Director of Operations (North) to the South African Department of Correctional Services; £6,000,000 from the Prison Service's running costs to fund the issue of long-term loans to the Forensic Science Service; £3,722,000 from the Department Unallocated Provision (running costs element) to other current expenditure to fund the purchase of DNA services from the Forensic Science Service.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Holders of Hereditary Peerages (Extension of the Franchise) (Transitional Provisions) Order 1999 (1999/3322) was laid before Parliament on 21 December 1999 and came into force on 16 January 2000. Its effect is to enable hereditary Peers who are no longer members of the House of Lords to appear on the new register of parliamentary electors which comes into force on 16 February 2000.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We shall lay before the House regulations to increase National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2000. There will be a cash increase in the charge of 10p (1.69 per cent) from £5.90 to £6.00 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed.
The cost of prescription prepayment certificates will rise to £31.40 for a 4-month certificate and £86.20 for an annual certificate. These offer savings for those needing more than five items in four months or 14 in one year.
The maximum patient charge for a single course of dental treatment begun on or after 1 April 2000 will increase from £348 to £354. Only about one in every 1,000 courses of treatment will attract the new maximum charge.
The increases are in line with the movement of the Retail Price Index from January 1999 (the benchmark for the current charge) to November 1999 of 2 per cent but rounded to the most convenient unit. Movements in the Retail Price Index from November to November will become the benchmark for any subsequent charges increases within the three-year period following the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Optical voucher values in England will increase overall by 2 per cent. to help children, people on low income and certain people with complex sight problems with the cost of spectacles or contact lenses.
NHS charges and optical voucher values in Scotland and Wales are a matter for the devolved administrations. However, I can inform you that these proposals have been considered jointly with the Secretary for Health and Social Services to the National Assembly for Wales who tells me she will be putting forward parallel proposals for consideration by the Assembly.