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5 Oct 2000 : Column WA223

Written Answers

Thursday, 5th October 2000.

Espionage by East Germany

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Regarding East German espionage in the United Kingdom involving Vic Allen, Robin Pearson and Milita Norwood, what action has finally been taken against them; and whether research into their activities revealed allies and agents working for East Germany from within the National Executive of the Labour Party, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or the offices of the major political parties and the national trade unions.[HL3864]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mr Mike O'Brien, in another place, on 21 December 1999, Official Report, cols. 185-188WH, in which among other things he explained the reason why it would not be appropriate to reveal details about the investigation of individual cases.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research they have undertaken into recent revelations of activities of the East German Secret Police within the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Labour Party National Executive Committee, Conservative Party Headquarters and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; and what action is being taken against those already uncovered.[HL3865]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: All leads to alleged espionage activity are examined and where appropriate investigated by the Security Service. It is for the prosecuting authorities to consider whether criminal proceedings should be commenced in any particular case.

South-east England: Distribution of New Dwellings

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Chairman of the SERPLAN Members Policy Group has advised on the distribution of dwellings to be built in the South East up to 2016 in the light of the policies set out in the Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 and of the proposed changes to the Draft Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9), as requested by the Minister for Housing and Planning in March; and, if so, when this advice will be made public.[HL3896]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): No, SERPLAN have not advised further on the distribution of dwellings. The Government are carefully considering all the representations received on draft regional planning guidance.

Central Line Breakdown, 4 September 2000

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many commuters suffered prolonged delays when the Central Line of the London Underground was shut for nearly four hours after 6 pm on 4th September.[HL3934]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The incident at Liverpool Street affected the whole of the Central Line, and commuters on other lines as well. An accurate estimate of the numbers involved is not available.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why a 30 amp fuse on a new underground train could not be replaced immediately in the incident on London Underground on 4 September, and whether such delays as occurred indicate a deficiency in the design of the train.[HL3935]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: There is no 30 amp fuse on the type of train in question. The reason the train would not move on this occasion was the tripping (within design specification) of four filter charging circuit breakers. These are designed to protect the traction motors. The reason for tripping is the subject of an ongoing official investigation, as are the position of the circuit breakers and their inability to be reset when the train is in service in the tunnel. A summary of the results and recommendations of this investigation will be published by London Underground in due course.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why there were not enough oxygen masks to treat passengers suffering from the effects of heat following the breakdown on the Central Line of the London Underground on 4 September.[HL3932]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The official investigation of this incident, which is still under way, has not revealed any evidence that the provision of emergency equipment was in any way lacking. As there are no requirements for London Underground to provide and maintain oxygen masks under current legislation, this specialist service was provided by the London Ambulance Service. In the region of 14 fully equipped ambulance units were deployed to Liverpool Street to treat those suffering from the effects of heat.

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Fishing Vessels: Fatal Accidents

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the names of trawler operators operating three or more vessels in the United Kingdom whose trawlers have been involved in fatal accidents during the last five years, giving dates of incidents and numbers of fatalities for each company.[HL3945]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston:

Fishing vessel fatal accidents where the owner/agent has three or more vessels (at 3 October 2000) 1995-2000

Company DateNumber of fatalities
Caley Fisheries Ltd7 June 19991
Denholm Fishselling Ltd13 May 20001
Don Fishing Company Ltd27 April 19951
Flagperry Ltd9 November 19971
Grampian Sea Fishing Ltd27 July 19981
Jack Robinson (Trawlers) Ltd6 September 1997 11 January 20008
RH James10 November 19971
Peter and J Johnstone Ltd 4 March 19951
Kinlochbervie Fishselling Co Ltd23 January 19991
Mr Peter Riley28 October 19991
The Colne Shipping Co Ltd1 July 19971
Mr J Thomas25 October 19971

Negligence Claims against Judges

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 28 July (WA 114), why they will not bring forward legislation to permit claims for negligence against judges; and why they think that this is unnecessary.[HL3814]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): In the Government's view, any such legislation would improperly undermine the principle of judicial independence and adversely affect the certainty of the legal process. It would be for the courts to consider and if appropriate review the common law principles which have been established in the existing case law in this area.

Needle Exchange Services

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many units there are in the United Kingdom which provide facilities for needle exchange for intravenous drug users; and whether these have increased or decreased in number in recent years.[HL3890]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Data from the drug action team template returns for 1999-2000 show a combined total of 322 statutory and voluntary sector providers of needle exchange services.

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The directory Drug Problems: where to get help, published by the voluntary sector organisation the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse in 1998, lists 124 voluntary and statutory agencies which provide needle exchange facilities for injecting drug misusers. These data are not comparable due to their different methods of collection.

The Government recognise the very important role played by needle exchanges in helping to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases, particularly among people who might not otherwise engage with services.

Dental Patients: Sedation

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that an adequate number of dentists and dental nurses are being trained in sedation; and whether they have any plans to increase the number of training courses to make sedation for dental patients more widely available.[HL3851]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have accepted the recommendations in the report from the review of general anaesthesia and sedation for dental treatment which was led by the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Dental Officer. We want to see methods of pain and anxiety control other than general anaesthesia used whenever possible and are exploring the need, and ways, for increasing the provision of training in sedation.

Chief Medical and Chief Dental Officers

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the names of the Chief Medical and Chief Dental Officers since 1960, showing their period in office and indicating whether the position was full or part time.[HL3914]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) since 1960 have been:

    Sir George Godber, 1960-1973;

    Sir Henry Yellowlees; 1973-1983;

    Sir Donald Acheson, 1983-1991;

    Sir Kenneth Calman, 1991-1998;

    Professor Liam Donaldson, 1998-

The information available centrally about Chief Dental Officers (CDOs) since 1960 indicates that the record is:

    W G Senior, -1961;

    W Holgate, 1961-1971;

    G D Gibb, 1971-1983;

    M C Downer, 1983-1990;

    R B Mouatt, 1990-1996;

    R Wild, 1996-2000.

Information about the working hours of previous CMOs and CDOs is not available. Previous CDOs have combined their duties with other work in the National Health Service. Until 1990 the post-holder also headed the Dental Reference Service, which is now managed by the Dental Practice Board. Mr Mouatt advised a regional health authority on dental public health issues.

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