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Single Currency: Treasury Statement, 1997

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Treasury published the paper, UK Membership of the Single Currency: An Assessment of the Five Economic Tests, in October 1997. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said we will make another assessment of the five economic tests early in the next Parliament.

Gas and Electricity Consumers' Council

Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following extensive consultation and discussion, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs has today announced the future organisation of the Gas and Electricity Consumers' Council. It will have a head office based in London. It will have offices in Glasgow serving Scotland, in Cardiff serving Wales, and further offices in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Newcastle and Bournemouth serving England.

Bribery of Foreign Public Officials

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): As my right honourable friend the Minister for Trade will report at the OECD ministerial meeting, the Government are already able to comply with their relevant treaty obligations. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary set out, on 20 June, the Government's proposals for the reform of the law of corruption; these proposals take account, among other issues, of the UK's international obligations. The Government will look to introduce legislation as soon as a suitable opportunity arises.

Car Sales and Price Comparisons

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) which three car models achieved the highest sales volume in 1999; and what were the recommended retail prices for these cars (i) in May 1990 and (ii) in May 2000; and (b) what is the individual percentage increase or decrease in the recommended retail price for each of the three car models; and what is the average percentage increase or decrease in the recommended retail price for these cars.[HL2896]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the three car models which achieved the highest sales volume in 1999 were: the Ford Focus 1.6; Ford Fiesta 1.25; and Vauxhall Astra 1.6.

The recommended retail prices in May 1999 were obtained by the European Commission in its regular car price survey, and were as follows:

    Ford Focus 1.6: £10,664 (inclusive of taxes);

    Ford Fiesta 1.25: £7,844 (inclusive of taxes); and

    Vauxhall Astra 1.6: £11,700 (inclusive of taxes).

The recommended retail prices for these cars in May 2000 are not available, as the Ford models have now been updated and repriced.

However, official ONS data on the index of motor vehicle purchasing costs indicates that prices for the sector as a whole fell by 5.1 per cent between May 1999 and April 2000 (which is equivalent to an annual rate of -5.5 per cent).

Objective 2 Area Approvals

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to make any representations to the European Commission about the delays in approval of the United Kingdom's Single Programme Documents for Objective 2 areas, which are now only likely to be approved in December 2000 at the earliest; and whether they will consider the implications for achieving spending profiles in those areas which are designated "transitional".[HL 2892]

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government do not intend to make any formal representations to the Commission at this stage. The Government believe it will be possible to agree the SPDs by December 2000. Officials meet their Commission counterparts regularly with a view to reaching agreement on the Single Programming Documents as soon as possible.

The Structural Funds Regulations contain provisions to ensure that commitments for both full Objective 2 and transitional areas are not lost because of any delay. All the programmes which were submitted by the end of April 2000 will be able to backdate funding of projects to the beginning of the year.

Sudan: Persecution of Christians

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reports they have received concerning attacks on and persecution of Christians in the Sudan (a) in 1999 and (b) in 2000.[HL 2867]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Sadly, all sections of society are suffering in the Sudan as a result of the ongoing civil war. There can be no doubt that Christians are among those who have been killed and suffered in other ways for much longer than the last two years. That is why this Government has given peace such a priority.

We keep in regular contact with the Churches in the Sudan, listen to their specific concerns and regularly take them up. We also gave our full support to the recent visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury to Khartoum and Juba.

Long-term Care of the Elderly

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider the report Charging for care in later life before publishing their response to the Royal Commission on long-term care of the elderly.[HL2961]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are taking into account the variety of views expressed since the Royal Commission's report was published. Charging for care in later life is a useful contribution to this debate.

NMEC: Revised Business Plan

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 24 May (H.L. Deb., col. 773) that it was necessary to prepare a new business plan for the Dome as a result of over-estimates of visitor numbers, when the sole shareholder in the New Millennium Experience Company was informed of the need to ask for such a plan.[HL2674]

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The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) revises and updates its business plan at regular intervals. As sole shareholder, I see all board papers and was therefore privy to the revised business plan prepared in May which included the new visitor figure estimate.

Single Intelligence Vote: Review

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the review of the workings of the Single Intelligence Vote has been completed; and, if so, when the outcome will be made known, to the extent consonant with the national security.[HL2788]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Planned expenditure on the Single Intelligence Vote is being considered as part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review. Expenditure plans from 1999-2000 through to 2000-2001 were published at the end of that review alongside other public expenditure plans. Planned expenditure on the Single Intelligence Vote is being further considered as part of the 2000 Spending Review in the same way as the expenditure for all government departments. The outcome will be announced before the Summer Recess.

Motoring Offences: Penalties

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When was the last time that the amount of fixed penalties for non-endorsable traffic offences was raised; and when any revision is likely to come into effect.[HL2812]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The levels of fixed penalties for motoring offences were last raised in 1992. We conducted a public consultation on proposed increases last summer. The results of the consultation have been considered and the Government expect to be able to announce a decision very shortly.

Sex Offenders Act 1997: Part I Review

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the provisions of Part I of the Sex Offenders Act 1997; what form the review will take; and over what period it will take place. [HL3036]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office, Mr Clarke, is happy to be able to announce that the Government are establishing a review of Part I of the Sex Offenders Act 1997. Officials will shortly be setting up a small steering group which will direct the review and undertake a consultation process. Research to be

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published shortly on the effectiveness of the Act will provide an important, but not exclusive, background for the review. The review will examine a wide range of aspects of Part I of the Act and will include consultation with other government departments, non-governmental organisations and the general public. I anticipate that the steering group will report to Ministers at the end of the year.

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