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Austria: Refusal of Bilateral Discussions

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Austria is the only member of the United Nations with which, other than as part of an EU Common Position, we do not have bilateral ministerial discussions although we maintain diplomatic relations.

EU Directives and Legislation

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Information on the implementation of directives, by country, is available in the Commission's Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of Community Law. Information on the number of all legislative acts is provided in the Commission's General Report on the Activities of the European Union, also an annual report. These reports are available in the Library of the House.

Governors' Salaries

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The salaries of the Governors of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are paid direct by the local governments. The salaries of all other Governors are paid by the FCO in London. In some cases, such as Gibraltar, the government concerned makes a significant payment to the FCO towards the salary cost.

Varying levels of allowance are also paid to Governors by the FCO to compensate for the additional cost of maintaining overseas a standard of living comparable to that in the UK. Salaries and allowances are based on the standard terms and conditions of service applied to all FCO personnel serving overseas.

Zimbabwe: Alleged Arms Imports from Russia

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult the government of Russia about reports in the Zimbabwe Independent of 5 May that military equipment, including 21,000 AK-47s, were recently imported into Zimbabwe from Russia; and whether they consider that any exports of weapons to Zimbabwe under present conditions constitute a breach of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers of November 1993.[HL2436]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have no collateral for the report of the export referred to in the article. We will be drawing Russia's attention to our national embargo on Zimbabwe and asking it to take similar action.

Tourism Staff Accommodation: Tax Position

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the report of the proceedings at the Tourism Summit held on 1 March, what steps they will take to explore the disincentive to recruitment caused by the tax position of staff accommodation commonly provided in the tourism industry[HL2395]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following the Tourism Summit we called for a fuller report from the hospitality industry and are now considering the strength of their case. Any decisions about taxation will, of course, be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Tourism (Sleeping Accommodation Price Display) Order 1997

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which organisations they will consult about options for modernising the Tourism (Sleeping Accommodation Price Display) Order 1997; when that consultation will take place; and when they will report on the results of that consultation.[HL2396]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The full list of organisations to be consulted has not been finalised yet, but will include the British Tourist Authority, English Tourism Council, British Hospitality Association and the National Council of Hotel Associations, whose views on who else should be consulted are to be sought. Once the extent of the consultation exercise is established, a timetable will be prepared and announced next month.

Tourism and Hospitality Contact Group

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which departments will be represented by officials on the Tourism and Hospitality Contact Group; and on how many occasions they will meet during the forthcoming year.[HL2497]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Tourism and Hospitality Group will include representatives from the following departments: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cabinet Office (Regulatory Impact Unit); Customs & Excise; Employment and Education; Environment, Transport and the Regions; Home Office; Trade and Industry; Scottish Executive; Office of the National Assembly for Wales; and the Economic Development Department, Northern Ireland. Representatives from the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council will also be included. The group is expected to meet at least three or four times in the coming year.

Tourism and Ethnic Diversity

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which departments and which bodies they will consult as a consequence of their undertaking given at the Tourism Summit to investigate the tourism potential of the United Kingdom's ethnic and cultural diversity.[HL2498]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We understand that the Home Office, which is leading on this action point from the summit, intends to talk to groups that represent ethnic minorities and cultural interests, such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Commission for Racial Equality. It will also be talking to leading organisations in the tourism industry such as the British Tourist Authority.

May Day Demonstrations: Protection of Monuments

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Royal Parks Agency and English Heritage acted against police advice in not boarding up the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square and the Cenotaph in preparation for the

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    May Day demonstrations in London; and on what date and in what form such police advice was given to the two agencies concerned. [HL2290]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Royal Parks Agency have advised me that on 6 April the Royal Parks Constabulary attended a briefing by the Metropolitan Police at which they were informed of the demonstrations planned for 1 May and advised that damage might occur to the statues on Parliament Square, including the statue of Sir Winston Churchill. A week later the Royal Parks Constabulary received a telephone call from the Metropolitan Police advising that the statues in Parliament Square be boarded up. The Royal Parks Agency took the view that to board up the statues would draw attention to them and that the hoarding could be used as weapons by demonstrators in the event of a riot. The Metropolitan Police were informed of this decision at a meeting on 26 April where it was confirmed that others had also decided not to board up statues.

English Heritage has advised me that it is clear that it did not act against police advice. On 17 April, English Heritage received telephone advice from the Metropolitan Police that, in view of the potential for vandalism during the likely demonstrations over the May Day bank holiday, English Heritage might wish to consider erecting protective hoarding around the Cenotaph. Preparations to that end were begun by English Heritage and its consultants, EC Harris. On 20 April, EC Harris, acting under English Heritage's instructions, sought further advice and attended a briefing meeting with the police. Advice at this stage was that hoarding around the Cenotaph could exacerbate the security problem. It could draw attention to the monument, provide a potential hiding place for bombs, and be used for ammunition by rioters. English Heritage's consultants clearly understood that an additional police presence would be allocated to the Cenotaph in addition to the security measures already in place. On the basis of what English Heritage saw as clear police advice, it then stood down the contingency planning for protective hoarding around the Cenotaph.

Goods Vehicles: Excise Duty

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Vehicle Excise Duty rate for goods vehicles is set to take account of the annual mileage likely to be covered.[HL2426]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer takes into account a number of factors when considering the apppropriate rates of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for different goods vehicles. In general, these do not include estimate of the average annual mileage undertaken by different lorries, since that will vary according to the types of journey undertaken by a lorry, not according to the type of lorry used.

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However, there are a number of other goods vehicles which attract a concessionary rate of VED because they are primarily used off the public road, including a range of goods vehicles used in agriculture and construction. There is also an exemption from VED for goods vehicles used to travel less than 1.5 kilometres between any two different parts of land occupied by the same person for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

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