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9 Oct 2000 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 9th October 2000.

Palace of Westminster: Security

Baroness Cox asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will review the provision of security for the Palace of Westminster in the light of a report in The Sunday Times on 30 July that the Sudanese businessman, Salah Idris, is a leading shareholder in a company which provides security systems to the Houses of Parliament, and in the light of his alleged links with the international terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.[HL3970]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): I understand that the report referred to in the noble Baroness's question was forwarded to Black Rod's Office on 17 August. It was immediately passed to the Head of Security, who consulted the appropriate specialist authorities. In a letter to the noble Baroness dated 18 September the Head of Security stated that Salah Idris had no day-to-day involvement in the running of the company concerned. The same company has also installed surveillance equipment at the Royal Courts of Justice and digital playback consoles for New Scotland Yard.

The question of security in the Palace of Westminster is kept under constant review and I therefore see no need to change the present arrangements.


Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish their latest report for women, Voices 2.[HL4053]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): We have today published this year's Government report for women, Voices, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Voices is a practical guide for women to the help and services available from Government. It contains information and advice on the opportunities provided by Government to help women improve their lives. It covers a wide range of subjects, including employment rights, setting up a business, combining work and home life, childcare, support for caring, volunteering, lifelong learning, health, personal finances and information technology. This information is presented in a clear and accessible style.

Voices also meets our commitment to the United Nations to provide an annual progress report on action we have taken to help women in the UK.

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Parliamentary Questions

Lord Laird asked the Leader of the House:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 12 July (WA 33) in relation to smoking and Government Ministers, whether it is in order for noble Lords, by means of the House of Lords Order Paper, to seek to persuade Ministers to offer an example advocating a particular lifestyle and to support the lifestyle of non-smokers by reducing passive smoking.[HL3969]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given to Lord Stoddart of Swindon on 2 October (WA 205).

Rolls Royce Aero-engine Exports

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether aero-engines supplied by Rolls Royce to Airbus for fitment to Airbus aircraft for export outside the European Union are counted in official trade statistics as exports to the European Union or as exports to the rest of the world.[HL3804]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: HM Customs & Excise are the department responsible for collecting trade statistics on the movement of goods with other countries including EC member states.

Customs do not publish details of an individual business's trading activities, for reasons of confidentiality. However, UK statistics on exports to other EC member states are produced on the basis of the declared member state of destination. These exports include goods exported from UK for further processing (including assembly) in other EC member states. If those processed goods are thereafter exported to countries outside the EC, they should be recorded as exports from that EC member state to the non-EC country of destination.

Tobacco Companies and Litter

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will introduce a levy on tobacco companies to fund anti-litter campaigning.[HL3898]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have no plans to introduce such a levy at this stage.

Sterling/Euro Exchange Rates

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the exchange rates of sterling and the euro are misaligned; and, if so, whether they have made public their view and communicated it to the President and the Governing Body of the European Central Bank and to Ministers in the Economic and Finance Council of Ministers.[HL3772]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The 23 September 2000 statement of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors stated that, "At the initiative of the European Central Bank, the monetary authorities of the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, and Canada joined with the European Central Bank on Friday September 22 in concerted intervention in exchange markets because of the shared concern of Finance Ministers and Governors about the potential implications of recent movements in the euro for the world economy."

Tourism Accommodation and Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider giving special tax treatment for small tourism accommodation providers to help them to adapt such accommodation in compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as recommended by the English Tourism Council.[HL3918]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Spending by business to meet the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 may qualify for tax relief under the general rules for writing off machinery and plant expenses against taxable income, the 40 per cent first year allowance and the 4 per cent tax relief for hotel building costs.

Chief Dental Officer

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the resignation of Dr Robin Wild as Chief Dental Officer, whether the position of Chief Dental Officer has been advertised; and, if so, when.[HL3916]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Robin Wild has retired early and the post has not been advertised at this juncture, Dame Margaret Seward has been appointed to succeed him on a fixed-term basis to concentrate on implementing the Government's new strategy for NHS dentistry. The Civil Service recruitment rules allow for anyone to be appointed on a fixed-term contract for up to 12 months. This period can be extended for up to a year further subject to the Civil Service Commissioner's agreement.

Connexions Service

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they have taken to ensure that the voluntary youth services are fully involved in the planning, development and delivery of the Connexions Service to young people.[HL3952]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): We are aware of the important role the voluntary youth sector plays in providing services to young people and wish to include them in the development and delivery of the Connexions Service. National voluntary youth organisation officers are participants in many of the working groups set up in my department to help to develop the service and we have produced a leaflet for voluntary and community organisations encouraging their participation. Those areas currently piloting Connexions have been asked to involve voluntary and community organisations and the guidance we are developing for Connexions Partnerships will make it clear that they should be involved in planning, development and delivery of the new service.

Income Contingent Student Loans: Repayment Threshold

Baroness Sharp of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate has been made of the cost of raising the threshold for repayment of income contingent student loans to (a) £13,000; (b) £15,000; and (c) £17,000 at each of the following real interest rates: (i) 0 per cent; (ii) 1 per cent; and (iii) 2 per cent annually for the years up to 2004-5 assuming student numbers continue on current trends and the proportion of income taken remains at the current level.[HL4014]

Baroness Blackstone: We have said that we will review the repayment threshold for income contingent loans from time to time, but have no immediate plans to do so. We have not yet made an estimate of the cost of raising the threshold. We remain committed to applying a rate of interest to student loans equivalent to RPI so that borrowers repay no more in real terms than they have borrowed.

Road Accidents and Burglaries: Costs

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the total cost of:

    (a) serious injuries and fatal accidents on the roads; and

    (b) reported burglaries

    for each year of the most recent three-year period for which figures are available.[HL3924]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The total values attributed to the avoidance of deaths and injuries in road accidents in 1997-1999 were (£ millions):


The values for 1997 and 1998 were uprated to 1999 costs.

These values take account of medical costs, lost production, human costs based on willingness to pay, the cost of police and courts, insurance administration, and property damage. Detailed figures are published in Highways Economic Note 1, copies of which are are in the Library of the House.

The Home Office is currently researching the costs of crime and will be publishing its findings in a Home Office Research Study, titled The economic and social costs of crime. The study will be published in the near future and a copy will be placed in the House Library.

9 Oct 2000 : Column WA5

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