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27 Jun 2000 : Column WA65

Written Answers

Tuesday, 27th June 2000.

Works of Art in the House of Lords

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Which persons or organisations the Parliamentary Works Directorate is required to consult prior to making a decision to relocate a work of art that is within its care.[HL3012]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): In the House of Lords, the Advisory Panel on Works of Art would be consulted before a major work of art is relocated. For minor works, the people occupying the rooms affected would be consulted.

Beta Interferon

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they currently support any research into the effectiveness of beta interferon in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.[HL2999]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government are currently supporting a number of research studies on multiple sclerosis through the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health. These studies include a programme of reviews of research on multiple sclerosis, one of which, on the effectiveness and costs of disease-modifying drugs, including beta interferon, in multiple sclerosis, has just been published.

Details of reviews can be found on the NHS Research & Development Health Technology Assessment programme website:

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In assessing beta interferon in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, whether they believe the drug's effectiveness varies between relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive and primary progressive forms of the illness.[HL2998]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to conduct an authoritative appraisal of the evidence on beta interferon as part of its first appraisal programme.

Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 22 May (WA 59) in relation to the advertisement for the post of the Lieutenant

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    Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, how many persons were shortlisted for this position; and what were their occupations and gender.[HL2939]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Eight persons (all male) were shortlisted for the position of Lieutenant Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Five were servicemen and three were diplomats.

Prison and Probation Services

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to improve arrangements for the strategic management of the Prison and Probation Services and for future complaints arrangements for the two services. [HL3057]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We think it right to recognise the substantial and growing overlap in the work that both services perform as we pursue our drive to reduce reoffending through proven and well-targeted programmes and resettlement planning as set out in the Correctional Policy Framework which we published last year.

We have established a new Strategy Board for Correction Services, chaired by my right honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office, Mr Boateng, to advise my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on giving strategic direction for the Prison and Probation Services. This replaces the Prison Service Strategy Board. We will make formal amendments to the Framework Document of the Prison Service in due course.

We have also decided to extend the Prisons Ombudsman's remit to cover probation services. This joint ombudsman will be created initially on an administrative basis, as with the Prisons Ombudsman, but we plan to legislate as soon as practicable. We are giving careful consideration to what the ombudsman's terms of reference should be. We shall make a further statement to Parliament in due course.

Clandestine Immigrants: Carrier's Liability

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the enforcement of payment of civil penalties by court proceedings under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is by way of an appeal against the decisions of immigration officials[HL2949]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Civil penalties under Section 32 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are enforced in court proceedings brought by the Secretary of State. Proceedings may only be brought where the prescribed period for payment has expired and any objections to payment have been considered by the Secretary of State under Section 35(8). The rules governing such envorcement proceedings will be the ordinary Rules of Court applicable to debt actions

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brought by the Crown. It will be open to the carrier to raise one of the statutory defences available under Section 34 of the Act.

Similarly, where a transporter is detained under Section 36 of the Act as a security for payment of the penalty, the sale of the transporter under Section 37 is subject to the procedure laid down in Schedule 1 to the Act and Statutory Instrument 2000/685. In particular, the sale requires the leave of the court, and before such leave can be granted the Secretary of State must prove that the penalty is due, that the penalty or any connected expenses have not been paid, and that the transporter is liable to sale. Notice of the proposed sale must be given to all interested persons, who may then become parties to the proceedings. Again, it will be open to the carrier to dispute liability by raising a defence under Section 34 of the Act. And the same defences will be available when the Secretary of State seeks to enforce any other security given in place of the transporter under Section 36(2)(b).

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 16 June (WA 217), whether they will now say what was the rank of the civil servant who signed the rejection of appeal reference CPCAU/070.[HL2950]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Further to the reply I gave to the noble Earl on 16 June (Official Report, col. WA 217), when a notice of objection against a penalty imposed under the civil penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is rejected, the final decision is taken by an Inspector of Immigration, who signs the letter notifying that decision. It was an Inspector of Immigration who signed the letter in case reference CPCAU/070.

Hammersmith Bridge

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether every effort is being made to reopen Hammersmith Bridge to traffic as soon as possible following the bomb explosion; and when they expect it to reopen.[HL2942]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): In the explosion on Thursday 1 June, Hammersmith Bridge sustained severe local damage where the device was planted under the road near the Barnes abutment, on the east side. The bomb was placed at the end of a crossbeam which directly supports the carriageway. The damage was such that the weight of any traffic on the road above could not be safely carried and the bridge must remain closed to vehicles.

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the highway authority for the bridge, wants to reopen the bridge fully as soon as is practicable. The western footway has been opened to pedestrians and it

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is hoped to open the bridge to cycle and motorcycle traffic shortly. The council has reviewed a range of interim measures, including upgrading the temporary propping below the bridge, and providing temporary Bailey bridges spanning across the damaged area. The council has appointed a contractor to carry out the necessary repair work; the contractor has since started work.

Hammersmith and Fulham has established a preliminary work programme which aims to reopen the bridge to traffic by the end of August 2000.

Economic Cycle Assessment

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 23 May (WA 78), what are the criteria or definitions that the British Government use in defining an economic cycle; whether the British definition of an economic cycle is the same as that used by the European Commission in the context of economic and monetary union; when the economic cycle that ended in the United Kingdom in the second half of 1996 began; and what the budget surpluses and deficits were as a percentage of gross domestic product in those years. [HL2659]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Treasury's methodology for assessing on-trend points is set out in the publication Fiscal policy: public finances and the cycle (HM Treasury, March 1999). The cycle which ended in the first half of 1997 is estimated to have begun in the second quarter of 1986. The figures for the current budget and net borrowing as a percentage of GDP over the period are shown in Table C 22 of the March 2000 Financial Statement and Budget Report.

Chinook Helicopter Accident: Response to Sheriff's Letter

Lord Chalfont asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Ministry of Defence replied to the letter from Sheriff Sir Stephen Young of 17 February 1996 to all parties in the Chinook Fatal Accident Inquiry; and, if so, in what terms. [HL2861]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): I will write to my noble friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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