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4 Apr 2000 : Column WA119

Written Answers

Tuesday, 4th April 2000.

Crown Prosecutors Code Review

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made concerning the review of the Code for Crown Prosecutors.[HL1715]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): On 24 November 1999 (Official Report, col. 105W) the Solicitor-General announced in another place that the Code for Crown Prosecutors would be reviewed to take account of the Human Rights Act. The aim of the review is to ensure that the Code for Crown Prosecutors is relevant, clear and accessible, properly considers the rights and interests of victims and reflects the exercise of the statutory functions of Crown Prosecutors. The review will take into account legislative changes since 1994, particularly the Human Rights Act, changes to the structure of the CPS and procedural changes to the criminal justice system.

The review team has now been established and will be writing to organisations and individuals with an interest in the code asking for comments. The review team also invites views from the general public, who may write to their local Chief Crown Prosecutors or write to or e-mail CPS Headquarters. Information on the code and the review can be found on the CPS website at

It is important that the code supports the CPS's commitment to excellence of decision-making, improving victims' and witnesses' experiences of the criminal justice system and pursuing a partnership approach within the criminal justice system while maintaining its independence in decisions on casework.

The Solicitor-General and I welcome this review and will be taking a close interest both in its progress and any major issues that may arise.

Freedom of Information Bill Code of Practice

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the draft code of practice to be made under Clause 44 of the Freedom of Information Bill.[HL1881]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today placed a copy of a working draft of the code of practice in the Library and a copy will be placed on the Home Office website.

Clause 44 of the Freedom of Information Bill requires the Secretary of State to issue, and from time to time revise, a code of practice setting out practices which he considers public authorities should follow in

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discharge of their duties in relation to Part I of the Bill. It specifies particular matters which must be included in the code such as the assistance that should be given to applicants and procedures for dealing with complaints.

The matters to be included in the code are administrative ones that are an important part of good practice. They form an important part of the overall scheme for dealing with requests for information.

Reserve Forces: Call Out for Balkans and Iraq Region

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether reservists will continue to be called out to support military operations in the Balkans and the region of Iraq.[HL1857]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): A new call-out order has been made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 which allows the call out of members of the reserve forces to continue so that they may support operations in Yugoslavia and in the region of Iraq. The call-out order has effect until 31 March 2001. Since NATO operations commenced in the former Yugoslavia, the reserve forces have historically provided some 10 per cent of the total UK manpower in theatre. As in previous years, only volunteers for these duties will be called out.

Education Action Zones

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which education action zones have been established; what were their starting dates; what is the name of the lead body in each case; and which schools are participating in each zone.[HL1663]

Lord Bach: There are now 73 education action zones across England. They are listed below with start dates.

Round 1: September 1998

Barnsley; Lambeth; Newham; Blackburn with Darwin; Leicester; Grimsby; Croydon; Middlesbrough; Weston; Hereford; Newcastle; Salford and Trafford

Round 1: January 1999

East Basildon; Wigan; Halifax; Kingston Upon Hull; Norfolk; Plymouth; Nottingham; Sheffield; South Tyneside; Southwark; Brighton; Birmingham Aston and Nechalls; Birmingham Kitts Green

Round 2: September 1999

Greenwich; Hamilton Oxford

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Round 2: December 1999

East Manchester; Preston; Wythenshawe; NE Derbyshire Coalfields; Southend; Dudley; Kent-Somerset Virtual; Slough; Hackney; N Islington; Telford and Wrekin; Hastings and St. Leonards; Wednesbury

Round 2: January 2000

Ashington; East Cleveland; Sunderland; Barrow; Peterlee; Breightmet and Tonge; Wakefield; Bedford; Easington and Seaham; Corby; Bridgewater; Speke Garston; South Bradford; Gloucester; Clacton and Harwich; Stoke on Trent; Wolverhampton; Leigh Park; North Gillingham; Camborne Pool and Redruth; Dingle Granby and Toxteth; Withernsea; Epicentre/Ellesmere Port; Coventry; Downham and Bellingham

Round 2: April 2000

North Stockton; SE Sheffield; NW Shropshire; Derby North East; Bristol; Great Yarmouth; South East England Virtual

Round 2: May 2000


Each zone is led by an action forum as set out in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

Nineteen action forums are chaired by business representatives. The chair of Wythenshawe EAZ forum is the Chief Executive of Manchester Airport, the initial lead in the zone's application.

In round 2 almost half of the bids were initiated by headteachers and schools who all sought to involve a range of partners, including parents, who still play an active part on each forum. North East Derbyshire, Preston and Slough forums are all chaired by headteachers.

A list of the participating schools has been placed in the Libraries.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a breakdown of funds and materials-in-kind, listed separately, which have been allocated to each education action zone by:

    (a) the Government;

    (b) other public bodies; and

    (c) the private sector.[HL1664]

Lord Bach: Pledged sponsorship figures covering the three operational years for the 73 approved EAZs continue to increase and currently stand at £36 million (£9.2 million in cash and £27·5 million in kind). DfEE grant (including early years) totalled £9,551,724 for the financial year 1998-99 and £23,766,379 for the financial year 1999-2000.

Full information on these areas for all zones is contained in their audited annual reports, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries. To date, accounts for eight zones have been placed in the Libraries covering the financial year 1998-99. These relate to zones which began in September 1998 and January 1999.

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CJD: DNA Samples

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are prepared to provide independent researchers with authenticated samples of new-variant CJD DNA; and, if so, what procedures such a researcher must go through, and what criteria they must satisfy, before such samples will be provided.[HL1550]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have recently agreed over £1 million to set up a biological resource centre at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control to supply validated infectious material for the study of both classical and variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease. It is intended that this centre will also supply blood and other appropriate tissues for research. All these research materials will be obtained in full accordance with the Human Tissue Act 1961.

Any researchers are at liberty to apply for validated infectious material but must be bona fide establishments adequately resourced to conduct the work and their proposed projects must be subject to the usual peer review mechanisms. Applications should be made in writing to the Director of the Centre (Dr. Philip Minor).

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Research

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research they are funding into (a) the normal function of prions; (b) early diagnosis of prion diseases; and (c) rogue conformer therapy; and what is the annual cost to the Government of such research; and[HL1612]

    Whether they will host a central prion disease research website to carry material such as detailed and current survey information, planned and ongoing experiments (including daily lab book entries) and meeting transcripts to expedite the pace of discovery.[HL1614]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: All transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) research projects, current and completed, and funded by public money, are already listed on the Medical Research Council website at The site provides a breakdown of the areas of research being covered, including those identified in the Question, as well as the annual costs. The total government funding on TSE research for 1999-2000 is likely to be in excess of £26 million.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) routinely considers all relevant research findings from the work on TSEs, whether funded by the UK Government or not, including any research topics considered by the committee's sub-groups. SEAC produces a public summary of each of

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its meetings. These are placed on the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Department of Health websites.

The Government believe that in the TSE research area publication of the full detail of ongoing experiments such as entries into lab books would be counterproductive. The provision of such invalidated information outside its context and without suitable peer review would run contrary to accepted scientific procedures, encourage misinterpretation, add to costs and impede rather than facilitate constructive research. It would also discourage researchers from bidding for future projects.

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