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20 Nov 2000 : Column WA53

Written Answers

Monday, 20th November 2000.

Treasury Counsel

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether His Honour Gerald Butler QC has completed his review of arrangements for the instruction of Treasury Counsel at the Old Bailey.[HL4645]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): His Honour Gerald Butler QC delivered his report to the Attorney General on 18th August 2000. The report recommends the retention of the Treasury Counsel system but makes important recommendations to open up and modernise the Treasury Counsel arrangements. The Government will be accepting most of the recommendations without modification. The system of selecting barristers to be monitored for appointment as Treasury Counsel will be reformed with the aim of encouraging applications from a broader cross-section of the bar (and solicitor advocates) and there will be a higher quality of monitoring so that able barristers have the best chance of an appointment. There will be clear rules as to the maximum permitted length of service for Junior and Senior Treasury Counsel. There will be new criteria governing the ambit of work sent to Treasury Counsel with the aim of reducing their considerable workload and giving other barristers more opportunity to be instructed in cases being prosecuted at the Old Bailey. Murder and manslaughter cases not falling within the criteria will not normally be prosecuted by Treasury Counsel at the Old Bailey in the future. Consideration will be given to instructing Counsel from the provinces in cases at the Old Bailey and, with a reduced volume of work, Treasury Counsel will be freed up to prosecute some cases in the provinces and to be instructed to defend in some cases. The practice whereby Junior Treasury Counsel are paid a brief fee of two-thirds of that of Senior Treasury Counsel leading him or her, whatever work is to be done, will cease. I believe these reforms will be of considerable benefit to the criminal justice system.

The report and the Government's response have been placed today in the Libraries of each House for the information of members. It is also being published today on the Attorney General's website (, with copies being made available to interested parties.

Queen's University Freshers' Fair: OTC Stand

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an approach was made by the Ministry of Defence to Queen's University Belfast or its student union with regard to the Queen's Officer

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    Training Corps being allowed to have a stand at the Freshers' Fair; and, if so, what was the outcome. [HL4576]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the nobel Earl, Lord Attlee, on Tuesday 31 October, WA 89. No formal application was made to have a stand at the Freshers' Fair.

Waste Incineration Emissions

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether emissions from waste incinerators, such as dioxins and heavy metals, pose any threat to human health. [HL4457]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Emission standards for waste incineration--including those for dioxins and heavy metals--are currently tight and will get even tighter with the proposed Waste Incineration Directive, due to be adopted very shortly. The Environment Agency currently sets a dioxins limit of no more than 1ng 3 m--i.e. no more than 1 part in a billion--whilst the proposed directive will tighten the limit 10-fold to 0.1ng/m 3 . But no emission from any source--e.g. road traffic, domestic appliances, industry, or waste management--will be completely risk-free. The Chief Medical Officer's expert advisory Committee on Carcinogenicity has considered two studies of effects in populations living around the older generation of incinerators--now closed or fully refitted to modern standards--and concluded that any potential risk of cancer from living near a municipal waste incinerator for periods in excess of 10 years was exceedingly low and probably not measurable by the most modern epidemiological techniques. Any consideration of the environmental effects of incineration needs to also take account of the effects of alternative courses of action.

M.25 Junctions: Traffic Lights

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the accident record at the junction of the M.25 and the A.13 roads, they will expedite the provision of traffic lights at that junction; which other road junctions with the M.25 do not have traffic lights; and in each case by which date, if any, they expect to install traffic lights.[HL4564]

Lord Whitty: Design work for a full signalisation of this junction is currently in progress and work to install signals at the A.13 junction with the M.25 (Junction 30) is scheduled to start next financial year. The programming of the scheme is currently being examined.

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The following table lists the other junctions on the M.25; whether they are signalised and, if not, any plans to signalise them in the near future.


M.25 JunctionWhether Signalised
1AFully signalised
1BFully signalised
2Fully signalised
3Fully signalised
4No proposals to signalise
5Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
6Fully signalised
7Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
8Partially signalised
9No proposals to signalise
10Fully signalised
11Partially signalised
12Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
13Will be fully signalised as part of M.25 Junctions 12-15 widening scheme
14Scheme to signalise due to start spring 2001
15Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
16Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
17No proposals to signalise
18No proposals to signalise
19Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
20Signalised on a part-time basis
21Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
21ANo proposals to signalise
22No proposals to signalise
23Fully signalised
24No proposals to signalise
25Fully signalised
26No proposals to signalise
27Signalisation not appropriate as junction free flow layout
28Fully signalised
29Will be partially signalised during 2001
31Fully signalised

Litter: Fixed Penalties and Convictions

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Over the last four years, how many people have been required to pay a fixed penalty for dropping litter; and how many have been convicted by the courts for this offence.[HL4581]

Lord Whitty: Data for only the last three years are available on the DETR database for issuing and payment of a fixed penalty for dropping litter. During this period 8,256 fixed penalties for litter offences were issued, and 4,633 were paid. During this same period there was a total of 1,500 prosecutions resulting in 1,119 convictions.

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Table A: Number of Fixed Penalties Issued for the Offence of Leaving Litter DETR Database covers three years

YearNumber of penalties issuedNumber of penalties paidTotal sum received £

Figures for 1999-2000 are provisional.

Table B: Number of Convictions for the Offence of Leaving Litter Home Office Data covers four years


Car Design: Pedestrian Protection

Lord Davies of Oldham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take to prevent the European Commission changing the status of the proposed directive on pedestrian friendly car fronts to a voluntary code.[HL4592]

Lord Whitty: The UK has funded much research over the years to support the development of a European initiative to improve the pedestrian protection offered by cars. The issue is to ensure rapid, effective and verifiable action in this area so that we have the best deal for vulnerable road users. We will judge any Commission proposals in this light.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 16 October (WA 68), what is the policy of the Scotland Office in relation to the disposal of government cars after use.[HL4334]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Scotland Office has not purchased any cars. Cars used by Ministers are provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. The Cabinet Office will reply to the noble Lord in respect of the GCDA.

Public Debt Repayment and Annuity Rates

Lord Higgins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What effect the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal in his autumn statement to repay public debt will have on annuity rates.[HL4594]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The paying down of a proportion of public debt, in keeping with the Government's published fiscal objectives, will help promote greater economic stability and release resources to the private sector. It will also help maintain the real value of nominal annuities and the income of annuity holders.

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