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Defence White Paper

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We will publish a Defence White Paper on Monday 20 December.

Snowdon Award Scheme: Disabled Students' Allowances

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): I announced on 10 December that Disabled Students' Allowances would be extended to new and existing part-time students in England and Wales from September 2000. To be eligible, students should be studying at degree or sub-degree level and the equivalent of at least 50 per cent of a full-time course.

I have written personally to Lord Snowdon informing him of the announcement; and Margaret Hodge wrote on 9 December to Andrew Farquhar, General Secretary of the Snowdon Award Scheme, in response to his earlier request to be kept informed.

Vehicle Records

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Neither the police nor the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) hold information on the volume of abandoned or recovered vehicles which were unlicensed or found to be not currently registered.

DVLA holds a record of vehicle keepers. The agency, in conjunction with the police, has introduced a number of measures designed to ensure that vehicle records are accurate and kept up to date. These include a change to the registration system to require the disposer of a vehicle to notify details of the acquirer,

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the requirement for vehicle keepers to tell DVLA when their vehicle is taken off the road and a scheme which enables the police to notify the agency of registration and VED offences simultaneously. In addition, DVLA, in close liaison with the police forces, conducts periodic vehicle excise duty enforcement campaigns which result in the updating of the vehicle record.

The Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team's five-year strategy document, Tackling Vehicle Crime, recommends a number of further measures intended to improve record accuracy.

Mersley Farm, Isle of Wight

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any studies are being conducted by the Employment Medical Advisory Service of the Health and Safety Executive into the health status of employees at Mersley Farm, Isle of Wight; and, if not, whether they will establish a study as a matter of urgency.[HL220]

Lord Whitty: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has completed criminal proceedings against Mr Colin Boswell, who was the owner of Mersley Farm, for matters relating to pesticide abuse. These proceedings led to a £220,000 fine and high levels of public interest. Both before the prosecution and afterwards a number of people, both employees and others, complained of ill health as a result of the activities of the farm.

It is a matter of HSE policy that all allegations of ill health as a result of pesticide exposure are fully investigated. For each investigation a report is submitted to the Pesticide Incident Appraisal Panel (PIAP) for consideration. The Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) plays a key role in this.

In accordance with HSE's policy, each complaint relating to alleged ill health due to pesticide misuse at Mersley Farm, including those made since the prosecution, has been investigated. The majority of the complaints have been completed and submitted to PIAP. Some more recent complaints are still under investigation.

PIAP gives detailed consideration to cases investigated by staff of HSE's Field Operations Division (FOD). Reported incidents of alleged ill health involving pesticides are considered and assessments made of the nature and severity of any adverse effects and whether or not they are consistent with the known toxic effects of the pesticides involved. These incidents are included in the FOD Annual Pesticide Incidents Report.

Shahtoosh Trade

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken both by the United Kingdom and the European Union to prevent the

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    production of shahtoosh clothing and resulting endangerment of the Tibetan antelope.[HL273]

Lord Whitty: Nearly all production of shahtoosh clothing is carried out in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. India is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibits international trade in Tibetan antelope (Panthalops hodgsonii) and all products derived from it. However, within Jammu and Kashmir, the shahtoosh trade remains lawful if conducted under licence from state authorities. Her Majesty's Government are working bilaterally and within CITES to enforce the ban but it is the responsibility of Indian authorities to introduce measures prohibiting shahtoosh production in India.

Within the European Union, commercial use (including sale and purchase) of items made from the Tibetan antelope is banned. In 1997 the Metropolitan Police seized 138 shahtoosh shawls found on sale in London--the largest seizure of its type to date. The Metropolitan Police have since issued a publicity leaflet to help deter illegal trade in shahtoosh. More recently, undercover investigations by the World Wide

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Fund for Nature did not find any shahtoosh on sale in the UK.

We provided financial assistance to a workshop held in China in October to develop international strategies to combat this trade. Following this, seven countries, including the UK and China, issued a joint declaration action plan for discussion at the next CITES Conference in April 2000.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Kerosene and Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the emissions of carbon dioxide per tonne used in industrial use of (a) kerosene and (b) liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).[HL301]

Lord Whitty: Based on the greenhouse gas emissions factors used in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI), kerosene emits approximately 3150 kg of carbon dioxide per tonne and liquefied petroleum gas emits approximately 3190 kg of carbon dioxide per tonne, based on the typical mix of gases involved.

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