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Written Answers

Friday, 14th July 2000.

Gaming Machine Industry: Conversion to Euros

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the cost to the gaming machine industry of physical conversion to euros; and whether they will permit the doubling of numerical values in gaming machines in order to reduce this cost. [HL3234]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The level of costs would depend on the approach adopted by individual companies. Government continue to consult on the overall approach to a changeover, as explained in the second outline national changeover plan published on 9 March 2000.

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult the German, Spanish and Dutch Governments on their approach to reducing the cost to the gaming machine industry of physical conversion to euros. [HL3235]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Information on changeover planning is contained in the second outline national changeover plan, published on 9 March 2000.

Crime Statistics

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the Home Office statistical bulletin containing the recorded crime statistics for England and Wales for the period April 1999 to March 2000 to be published. [HL3366]

Lord Bach: The decision as to when the statistics on recorded crime are to be published is taken by the Director of Research, Development and Statistics at the Home Office and is announced well in advance, as was the date of 18 July for the publication of the crime statistics from March 1999-March 2000. Ministers are informed but not consulted about such dates. This follows the new arrangement to protect the integrity of national statistics which I established in 1997.

In the light of the fact that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now planning, parliamentary time allowing, to make a statement on public spending in the afternoon of 18 July, the Director of Research, Development and Statistics, Professor Paul Wiles, has decided that the statistics will be published on 18 July, as was originally announced, but at 00:01 hours rather than 11:00. An embargoed press briefing will be provided on 17 July so that the statistics can be reported on the morning of 18 July. At the same time as embargoed press copies are made available, they will also be sent to the

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Opposition. To ensure that Parliament is properly informed, copies of the crime statistics will be placed on the Home Office website and in the Library at 00:01 hours on 18 July.

GCSE and A/AS-level Examinations

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received from individuals and from organisations representing teachers and parents about the case for the holding of GCSE, A and AS-level examinations before the half-term holiday; and whether they will refer this matter to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, under Section 23(2)(b) of the Education Act 1977.[HL3282]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government have not received any representations requesting a rescheduling of GCSE, A and AS-level examinations before the half-term holiday. Some of these examinations are already timetabled for the week before the holiday; the majority are however scheduled for the four weeks after it. The timetabling of all GCSE and A/AS-level examinations before the holiday would not be appropriate. The timetables which we have approved for these examinations strike a balance between competing pressures to maximise study time and minimise timetable clashes and excessive intensity during the examination session.

Learning and Skills Council Chief Executive

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to announce the appointment of the chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council.[HL3367]

Baroness Blackstone: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment yesterday appointed John Harwood as chief executive (designate) of the Learning and Skills Council.

Mr Harwood is currently Chief Executive of Oxfordshire County Council. He will bring the vision and breadth of experience that will be needed to set up and lead this important new public body. He brings a great deal of experience from a lifetime in public service, as well as a wide understanding of post-16 learning. Working with the council's chair designate, Bryan Sanderson, he will be able to build a modern, effective organisation.

We aim to announce the executive directors of the local learning and skills councils through the summer. A list of the successful candidates will be placed in the House Libraries.

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Dairy Herd Size

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the size of the United Kingdom dairy herd for each year since 1986.[HL3215]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The requested figures are provided in the following table:

United Kingdom's Dairy Herd Size from 1986 to 1999 (as at June)

YearDairy Herd Total


Dairy herd total is all dairy cows and heifers that have calved, ie cows in calf, cows in milk, cull cows and heifers that have calved.

These data relate to main and minor holdings.


June Agricultural and Horticultural Census.

Organic Farming Scheme

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there will be funding for land entering conversion to organic status this year; if so, when the details will be announced; and, if not, why not. [HL3281]

Baroness Hayman: The Organic Farming Scheme is closed to new applications while a review of the scheme is carried out. However, the Government have announced planned expenditure of £140 million for organic conversion over the life of the England Rural Development Plan, commencing in April 2001. In the meantime the Government continue to support the provision of free, on-farm advice to farmers delivered by the Organic Conversion Information Service.

Whaling Commission Meeting

Lord Sewel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of this year's annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission. [HL3368]

Baroness Hayman: The International Whaling Commission's 52nd annual meeting was held in Adelaide from 3 to 6 July. My honourable friend (the

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Parliamentary Secretary) attended the meeting, together with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and representatives of environmental organisations.

Australia and New Zealand put forward a proposal to create a South Pacific whale sanctuary. This would have complemented the existing Southern Ocean Sanctuary by protecting the breeding areas and migration routes of whales that feed in the southern ocean. It was endorsed by the South Pacific Forum, which represents all the range states affected by the proposed sanctuary. The UK was one of the co-sponsors of the proposal, and my honourable friend spoke strongly in favour of it. But although it was supported by the majority of those voting, it unfortunately did not receive the three-quarters of votes cast necessary for adoption. Both the Australian and New Zealand Governments indicated that they would be submitting the proposal next year; the UK will again be supporting it. The UK took the lead in proposing a resolution condemning Japan's whaling under special permit (so-called "scientific" whaling) and urging Japan not to proceed with its plans for a new programme in the North Pacific; this would involve, among other things, taking for the first time sperm and bryde's, as well as minke, whales. In introducing the resolution, my honourable friend made it clear that the UK Government regarded this as a serious development and one that we would continue to raise both bilaterally and in other fora. The resolution was adopted by a large majority, as was a similar resolution on Japanese whaling under special permit in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

A resolution was adopted by consensus establishing a programme of further work on the revised management scheme (RMS) which is being developed to regulate all aspects of any future commercial whaling. This followed a two-day working group on the RMS which immediately preceded the IWC meeting itself. The resolution calls, among other things, for a further meeting of the working group to take place inter-sessionally; a similar meeting was held in 1995. The resolution makes it clear that it does not affect, or in any way commit governments to lift, the moratorium on commercial whaling. In agreeing to form part of the consensus we emphasised that the resolution did not commit us to accepting anything that we had not already agreed to and that it did not preclude the inclusion of other elements in the RMS.

At the meeting the UK's opposition to whaling was reaffirmed. There was only a limited discussion of the Irish proposals for a package of measures on whaling; we made it clear that the UK's position on these remains unchanged. Efforts by Japan to secure a quota of 50 minke whales, despite the moratorium on commercial whaling, was again defeated by a substantial majority. We also strongly criticised Norway's continued whaling activities.

My honourable friend made clear the UK's continuing concern about the cruelty involved in whaling and drew attention, in particular, to the need

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to improve the regulation and humaneness of hunts for small cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises. Earlier in the meeting the UK made use of a video of a dolphin drive hunt in Japan which graphically illustrated the need for such improvements. Although it is primarily for the government of the country concerned to regulate the killing of small cetaceans in its waters, the IWC has a useful role to play in helping to raise awareness of this issue and in improving standards.

A number of other issues were considered. In particular, resolutions were adopted supporting the IWC's research programme on the effects of environmental change and pollution on cetaceans; drawing attention to the need to improve the

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protection of North Atlantic right whales, one of the most critically endangered species of whales, from mortalities caused by ship strikes and entanglement in fishing nets; drawing attention to the need for improved measures to conserve freshwater cetaceans (river dolphins); and calling on Canada to reconsider takes of bowhead whales from highly endangered stocks by indigenous peoples.

While the failure to adopt the South Pacific sanctuary was disappointing, in other respects this was a successful meeting for the UK and demonstrated the continuing commitment by the majority of IWC members to upholding the moratorium on commercial whaling. The next IWC meeting will be held in London in July 2001.

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