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Bicycle Riders: Fixed Penalty Notices

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Results from a special exercise undertaken to monitor new fixed penalties introduced on 1 August 1999 in England and Wales show that 665 fixed penalty notices were issued for the offence of cycling on the footway between that date and 31 December (two police forces were unable to supply figures). Figures for offences of cycling without lights and cyclists failing to comply with traffic light signals are not available centrally.

Fixed penalties are not issued to cyclists in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, 13 fixed penalties were issued to cyclists for riding without lights in 1999 and 18 in 2000; cycling on the footway and failing to comply with traffic lights are not being dealt with by way of fixed penalty.

Firearms Legislation: Dealer'sRegistration Fee

Lord Skelmersdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why under the Firearms (Variation of Fees) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/3148) small high street gun shops are to pay the same fees as very large armament suppliers.[HL392]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under Section 43 of the Firearms Act 1968, the Secretary of State may by order vary the sums payable under the Act and may make different provisions for different cases so specified. However, Section 43 makes no provision for the Secretary of State further to divide the cases set out in the Act into different categories. In particular, it does not provide for the Secretary of State to delegate to the police service a power to divide dealers into larger or smaller businesses and to charge different fees for each type of business. The fee for the grant of and renewal

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of a dealer's registration under the Firearms Acts has always been set at a level applying equally to all types of businesses and the present order continues this practice.

Tank Transporter Procurement

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in procuring a new tank transporter for the British Army.[HL359]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Ministry of Defence has selected FASTTRAX, a consortium led by Brown & Root Ltd of Leatherhead, Surrey, to be the preferred bidder for a private-sector financed heavy equipment transporter service for the Army that will provide UK production, support and service employment opportunities for the 20 years of the contract. The Service will be based upon vehicles provided by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation of Wisconsin, USA, and King Trailers of Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

The Defence Procurement Agency will now conclude its negotiations with FASTTRAX with the aim of achieving financial close and contract award by the middle of the year. This is the first programme to seek a solution under the Government's private finance initiative for an operational combat support vehicle requirement and is also one where a significant proportion of the service will be delivered using sponsored reserves.

The contract value is around £300 million and will create or sustain up to 200 jobs in UK companies and sponsored reserves service units.

Motor Industry: Collective Redundancy Notices

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, since 1 December 2000, they have received any notice under Section 193 of the Trade Union (Consolidation) Act 1992 from any employer engaged in the manufacture, sale or distribution of motor vehicles (or parts for such vehicles), or from any person or body controlling such an employer, that it proposes to dismiss 100 or more workers at one establishment within the following 90 days, or 20 workers at one establishment within the following 30 days; and, if so, (a) what were the terms of the notice; and (b) whether they have reminded any employer which is likely to declare such redundancies in 2001 of the criminal offence involved in a failure to give such a notice.[HL396]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): It is not my department's practice to comment on notifications received under Section 193 of the Trade Union (Consolidation) Act 1992 unless details of those notifications have already been put in the public

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domain by the employers concerned, as the information may be commercially sensitive. Employers known to be contemplating making collective redundancies are, however, reminded of their obligations and of the criminal offence involved if they fail, without good reason, to meet them.

Depleted Uranium Exposure:Screening Programme

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide the same screening and other health related measures for United Kingdom civilian citizens who may have been exposed to depleted uranium, wherever that may have occurred, as is provided for military personnel who served in the former Yugoslavia.[HL318]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government consider that the health risks from exposure to depleted uranium to United Kingdom military personnel and civilians who have served in the Balkans are very low. Nevertheless, steps are being taken to identify an appropriate screening programme for these groups. The Ministry of Defence will be seeking the views of the UK National Screening Committee in developing proposals. The nature and scope of such a screening programme has yet to be determined. Recently the Department of Health has sent a circular to medical practitioners covering advice from the Ministry of Defence on how to manage

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patients who might present to general practitioners or hospital specialists for advice.

Any individuals who are concerned about their health because of possible exposure to depleted uranium for any reason should, of course, seek medical advice.

Neo-natal Hearing Screening

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they need a pilot programme to assess the implementation of a neo-natal screening programme for children; and[HL372]

    Whether they will initiate an immediate universal neo-natal screening programme for deafness in children, in view of the damage caused by late diagnosis.[HL373]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The UK National Screening Committee advised the Government that universal neo-natal hearing screening (UNHS) provided a more effective and efficient screen to help detect permanent hearing loss in children. However, it pointed out that there were many practical issues to be resolved in changing from an infant distraction test to UNHS.

To ensure that UNHS can be introduced to high quality, consistent standards, these changes will be piloted first in 20 health authority areas. The lessons from the pilots will help inform and plan a national implementation.

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