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Salmon Netting

Lord Taylor of Gryfe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Following a debate in another place on 10 November 1999, the Government undertook to obtain advice from the Environment Agency on the implications of extending the salmon netting season by 20 days in north-east England. The Government emphasised that they would not wish to proceed with any measure that was not in the interests of salmon conservation. They also sought the agency's advice on whether additional measures were needed to conserve large salmon in river fisheries in the autumn, particularly in the North East.

The Government have now received the agency's advice, which they have accepted. A copy is available in the Library of the House. In summary, the agency has adviced that such an extension would substantially increase the level of exploitation of both multi-sea-winter salmon and grilse and would not be in the interests of salmon conservation. The agency does not believe at present that there is an immediate need for further measures to restrict exploitation by either rods or nets in north-east England, and notes that half of the rod catch in north-east England in 1999 was released. Nevertheless, it will continue to keep the position under review.

GM Seed Planting Distances

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hayman: The Government plan to report with recommendations by 1 August. Further details of this review will be published shortly.

IACS Payments

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the current system for claiming Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) payments will continue for 2000–01; and, if not, when any changes to this system will be announced.[HL2670]

Baroness Hayman: In general, the current system for claiming aid payments linked to the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) will continue for 2000–01. As far as the specific issue of the eligibility of field margins for area-based payments is concerned, there is nothing further to add to the replies given to the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, on 6 April and 3 May 2000, Official Reports col. 147 and 182.

Freedom of Information Bill: Amendments

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the extended interval between the Second Reading and Committee stages of the Freedom of Information Bill will enable them to put down all government amendments to the Bill not less than one clear week before the first day in committee.[HL2649]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): It is the Government's intention that all their amendments for Committee stage of the Freedom of Information Bill will be tabled at least one week before the first day in Committee. The Government expect that most of their amendments will be tabled for Committee stage. But, subject to the progress of the Bill, the Government cannot rule out the need to table further amendments at later stages, though significant numbers of such amendments are not expected.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary: Report on Specialist Operations

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the recommendations from the report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary on Specialist operations.[HL2731]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office, Mr Clarke, has today placed in the Library a note of the recommendations from the report, together with responses by the Commissioners and comments by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in his capacity as police authority for the Metropolitan

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Police Service. The Metropolitan Police have accepted all 12 recommendations in the report. From 3 July, it will be the responsibility of the new Metropolitan Police Authority to monitor progress on implementation of the recommendations.

Firearms Act 1968: Issue of Permits under Section 7(1)

The Earl Of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the police should issue a permit under Section 7(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 where an application for renewal of a firearms or shotgun certificate has been submitted in good time, but where the issue of the certificate is delayed beyond the expiry date of the existing certificate.[HL2686]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The decision as to whether or not to issue a permit in these circumstances is in law a matter for the discretion of the chief officer of police of the area concerned.

Home Office guidance to the police for many years on the issue of such permits is that they are intended primarily for use in cases where the issue of a firearm or shotgun certificate is not considered appropriate. This might, for example, be to allow for the temporary possession of an inherited firearm prior to its disposal. We would be reluctant to encourage chief officers to issue temporary permits in circumstances where full certificates, with their attendant background checks and conditions, would be more appropriate.

Law of Disclosure

Lord Hunt of Wirral asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Burlison on 6 May (WA 117-118), what plans they now have to review the laws of disclosure following the changes introduced in April 1997 by the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act.[HL2666]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As part of its general responsibility to evaluate new legislation, the Government have commissioned an independent research study to evaluate all aspects of the working of the disclosure provisions. The study, which began in January 2000, is expected to be completed in 12 months.

Offenders Serving Community Sentences: Return to Court

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 28,000 offenders serving community sentences in England and Wales who were returned to court in 1998 appeared in court within:

    (a) 1 week;

    (b) more than 1 week but within 2 weeks;

    (c) more than 2 weeks but within 3 weeks;

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    (d) more than 3 weeks but within 4 weeks;

    (e) more than 4 weeks but within 5 weeks;

    (f) more than 5 weeks but within 6 weeks;

    (g) more than 6 weeks but within 7 weeks;

    (h) more than 7 weeks but within 8 weeks;

    (i) more than 8 weeks but within 9 weeks;

    (j) within more than 9 weeks

    of the Probation Service decision; and whether they will give the corresponding data for 1999.[HL2641]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information is not available.

Export of Human Tissues

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether human body parts such as skin, tendons, heart valves, bones and dura mater are exported from the United Kingdom; and, if so, from where these originate, with what safeguards, to what annual value, and who receives this value.[HL2646]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Tissue banks within the National Health Service collect material in accordance with the Human Tissue Act 1961 and in compliance with the Committee on Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues for Transplantation's "Guidance on the microbiological safety of human tissues and organs used in transplantation". Priority is given to supplying the NHS, but some excess human tissues, for example skin and heart valves, may be exported to recognised medical institutions on a cost recovery basis. Details about the export of tissues are not held centrally.

Commercial dealing in human organs and tissues is prohibited by law (the Human Organ Transplant Act (1989)).

Dura mater is no longer used or banked by the NHS.

Medicines: Prescription by Pharmacists

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to legislate to enable pharmacists to prescribe medicines, in certain carefully controlled circumstances, thus giving patients a greater incentive to consult the local chemist; and whether the expertise of community pharmacists would be of local benefit in these circumstances.[HL2539]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In a press statement issued on 13 March 2000, we announced our decision to implement the main recommendations of the Review of Prescribing, Supply and Administration of Medicines. Copies of the statement are available in the Library.

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We will put forward legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows to permit supplementary prescribing by other health professionals (for example, pharmacists) and, subject to the successful development of supplementary prescribing, subsequently to step this up to full independent prescribing. We believe that this can help to improve services for patients and make better use of the skills of a range of professions.

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