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29 Nov 2000 : Column WA133

Written Answers

Wednesday, 29th November 2000.

Army Pay

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What increases in pay would be receivable by a private soldier on a six monthly overseas unaccompanied emergency tour if he were paid at the rate of the National Minimum Wage.[HL4651]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Unlimited liability for duty is essential to operational effectiveness of the armed forces and, given their unique status, the Services are exempt from the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. However, the Government's view is that Service personnel should not be disadvantaged by being exempt. Levels of Service pay are based on the recommendations of the independent Armed Forces' Pay Review Body, which works on the principle of broad comparability with the pay of civilians in jobs of similar weight and responsibility (derived by job evaluation) against a number of factors. An additional element called the "X-factor" (currently 13 per cent of basic pay) is then added to reflect the overall balance of advantages and disadvantages experienced by members of the armed forces which cannot be taken into account when assessing pay comparability. Soldiers receive the X-factor throughout their careers, wherever they are serving, and it is pensionable. Therefore, they do not receive an increase in basic pay when deployed on operations. The Government believe that the Review Body arrangements are flexible and robust enough to provide a fair level of remuneration for armed forces personnel, especially once all allowances and welfare benefits are taken into account. Over a career, individuals should not be placed at a disadvantage in relation to groups covered by this legislation.

Sierra Leone: UK Troops' Rules of Engagement

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 31 October (WA 87), whether the rules of engagement for British forces combating terrorists in Sierra Leone are the same as those for British forces combating terrorism within the United Kingdom.[HL4626]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Rules of Engagement for UK forces on deployed operations are always very carefully tailored to reflect the demands of the particular environment in which they are operating, while always reflecting UK domestic law. The Rules for UK troops operating in Sierra Leone differ in several respects from those used in Northern Ireland.

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The South East: New Housing

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the uncertainty about the future levels of new housing development in the South East (and the distribution between counties) over the period to 2016, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will withdraw his Direction requiring West Sussex County Council to provide for an additional 12,800 dwellings in the county by 2011.[HL4819]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Government are intending to announce the next steps on Regional Planning Guidance for the South East shortly.

Special Areas of Conservation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the European Union has recently asked the United Kingdom and or other member states to designate further areas to be covered by special protection orders or as Special Areas of Conservation; and, if so, what action is being taken by the United Kingdom.[HL4811]

Lord Whitty: The UK has submitted 340 candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to the European Commission. During 1999, an EC co-ordinated moderation process decided that all member states' site lists were insufficient. They were asked to submit additional sites. The UK has recently submitted 46 additional candidate SACs to the Commission, and intends to submit further sites shortly. The UK has classified 223 Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is currently reviewing this list, in consultation with the RSPB, and it is anticipated that further sites will be classified with the aim of completing the UK SPA network in 2000-2001.

Disclosure of Information in Criminal Proceedings: Guidelines

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Attorney-General's guidelines on the disclosure of information in criminal proceedings will be published.[HL4837]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I am publishing my Guidelines on the Disclosure of Information today. A copy of the guidelines, together with a foreword and an accompanying commentary, is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. These documents can also be found on the website for the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers at

29 Nov 2000 : Column WA135

Late Payment of Commercial Debt: Implementation of Directive

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to incorporate into United Kingdom law the European Union's recently agreed directive on late payment of commercial debt, an issue which affects small firms when participating in the single European market.[HL4795]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): We support the underlying principle of the recently agreed directive and we are keen to see greater clarity and transparency in cross-border transactions.

In line with Cabinet Office best practice requirements, the Small Business Service is currently preparing a consultation document which will be available in the New Year. This document will set out the proposed approach and a number of implementation options.

The responses to this consultation, together with results from discussions with industry specialists and small firms' representative organisations, will be important in ensuring that we implement the directive effectively, and in line with the Commission's transposition requirements, while meeting business needs.

Coal Mines and Miners

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many deep mined coal mines are still in production; what are their names and in which regions they are; and how many people are employed underground and overall in the coal industry.[HL4753]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: There are currently 17 major deep mines in production in the UK. There are also a number of smaller deep mines, each producing less than 100,000 tonnes of coal per year. The names and locations of the major deep mines are listed on the attached sheet.

There are currently around 8,800 people employed in deep mines. Including surface mining operations, the UK industry employs around 11,600 people.

Names and locations of major deep mines in the UK Operated by RJB Mining

ClipstoneNr Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
ThoresbyEdwinstowe, Nottinghamshire
WelbeckNr Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
Daw MillNr Coventry, Warwickshire
EllingtonNr Morpeth, Northumbria
HaworthNr Doncaster, Yorkshire
RossingtonNr Doncaster, Yorkshire
MaltbyNr Rotherham, Yorkshire
Prince of WalesPontefract, West Yorkshire
KellingleyKnottingley, West Yorkshire
RiccallSelby, North Yorkshire
StillingfleetSelby, North Yorkshire
WistowSelby, North Yorkshire

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Operated by other companies

The Scottish Coal Company Ltd(Longannet)Edinburgh, Scotland
Hatfield Coal Company Ltd(Hatfield Colliery)Doncaster, Yorkshire
Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd(Tower Colliery)Aberdare, Mid Glamorgan
Blenkinsopp Collieries Ltd(Castle Drift Mine)Carlisle, Cumbria

Coal Industry: Operating Aid

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What financial assistance has been afforded to the British coal industry since 1997 from the European Commission, the European Coal and Steel Community and the British Government.[HL4754]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: No operating aid has been paid to the British coal industry since 1997. The European Commission approved on 15 November a UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme, but as yet payments have not been made under this scheme pending approval for specific pits.

Broadband Services in Rural Areas

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What policies they have in place to ensure that broadband high-speed Internet access is as available in rural as in urban areas.[HL4768]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government will stimulate and promote industry investment in higher bandwidth services so that as many people as possible can get faster access to the Internet and other information services. But the market alone will not deliver affordable high-speed connections to all rural areas. We will therefore work through the development agencies in the regions, and with the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to develop effective strategies for the rollout of higher bandwidth services in rural areas, taking full advantage of public sector investment and the opportunities, in some regions, to obtain EU funding. Other stakeholders will also be involved, to ensure that access to broadband services reaches as widely as practicable. We will ask the Countryside Agency to monitor the rollout of broadband in rural areas and we will take this into account in developing policy.

29 Nov 2000 : Column WA137

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