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Slaughterhouse Inspection Charges

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are advised by the Food Standards Agency that it intends to revise its proposals to give effect to the recommendations of the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force in the light of the views received from those consulted. In particular, it intends to propose that, if an occupier of a slaughterhouse does not agree with notification by the Meat Hygiene Service of an additional charge, the occupier may request that the

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dispute be settled by an independent person. Such a proposal would be in conformity with Council Directive 96/43/EC on the financing of veterinary inspections.

Air Pollution: Research Funding

Lord Lewis of Newnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding they have given to research on air pollution over the last four years; and what the basis was for their recent decision no longer to provide funding for research into the health effects of environmental outdoor and indoor air pollution.[HL970]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health has contributed around £3.2 million to research on air pollution over the last four years. The Air and Environment Quality Division in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) has contributed around £35.7 million. Other parts of DETR and other Government departments also contribute.

Due to competing priorities and the fact that a major research programme on outdoor air pollution has recently been completed, the Department of Health has not funded a follow-up programme although some small projects have been funded. Research in this area will be considered again as priorities for research are reassessed each year.

Sheep Dip Exposure Pilot Study

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 20 December (WA 56), whether written consent had been obtained from the subjects of the pilot study, Surveillance of sheep dip exposures--23 September to 3 November 1991, and from subsequent surveillance projects, before blood samples were taken and questionnaires issued.[HL980]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We understand that it was not accepted practice at the time of the pilot study to obtain written consent from subjects before taking blood samples or issuing questionnaires. Blood samples were taken for clinical purposes and the questionnaires aimed to verify the circumstances of exposure.

Lord Chancellor's Fundraising Dinner

The Earl of Courtown asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor or the Attorney-General made any appeal to lawyers at a function at the Atlantic Bar and Grill on 7 February to contribute funds to the Labour Party.[HL919]

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The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Lord Chancellor invited guests to the function on 7 February. He made brief introductory remarks of welcome and reminded them that this was a fundraising dinner. The Attorney-General made the principal speech commending the achievements of the Government to date and inviting contributions to the campaign fund. He also invited guests who were not already members to consider joining the Society of Labour Lawyers.

Postal Tariff Differentials

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the differential pricing introduced by the Post Office for the first class inland rate (27 pence) compared to the cost of 36 pence to send a letter or postcard of up to 20 grams to the rest of Europe (including the Republic of Ireland) accords with the provisions of the Single European Market.[HL827]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The European Postal Services Directive 97/67/EC requires the Post Office to gear its postage rates to the cost of providing the service. The Post Office has therefore geared the tariffs to the true cost of providing them, whether within the UK or to the rest of Europe. The major part of the costs of cross-border mail is the delivery costs of the post office of the destination country, which are reimbursed by most major European post offices through an agreement made between them known as REIMS II. There is no European Union requirement for a uniform tariff throughout Europe.

Employee Information and Consultation: Proposed Directive

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What their assessment is of the role to be played by trade unions in securing the support of employees for improved productivity and essential restructuring; and what is their policy towards European Union proposals for information and consultation systems.[HL959]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government believe that trade unions have an important role to play in fostering a partnership culture in the workplace, which will contribute to matters such as improved productivity and support for restructuring. The Government have shown their support for the role of trade unions through the provisions on trade union recognition in the Employment Relations Act 1999. The Government have accepted the EU directive on European Works Councils and the directive supplementing the Statute for a European Company with regard to the involvement of employees. The Government see no need for the proposed directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community, which is difficult to reconcile with subsidiarity and would cut across member state traditions to no benefit.

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Parthenon Sculptures

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy regarding the long-standing request of the Greek Government for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens. [HL901]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government's policy is that the Parthenon Sculptures should remain at the British Museum.

British Museum Portico

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in the conduct of the fraud inquiry into the stone used in the portico of the British Museum's Great Court; and when they expect the matter of the payment of the final £1.3 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to be resolved. [HL895]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following the PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the British Museum's South Portico stone contract, the Museum has referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad. Police investigations are ongoing. The Heritage Lottery Fund is expected to reach a decision on its final payment within the next two months.

Possession Warrants on Residential Properties

Baroness Maddock asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many warrants of possession were issued on residential properties in (a) Great Britain and (b) each county court in Britain, for each year since 1990 to date.[HL891]

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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The total number of warrants of possession issued in England and Wales in each year since 1990 is set out in the table below. I have placed a copy of the table showing the number issued in each county court in the Library of the House.


BSE Costs to CAP

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of the BSE crisis to the Common Agricultural Policy.[HL898]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The European Commission has estimated that the current proposals for the beef sector in response to the BSE crisis would lead to the following costs:

YearMillion euro
2004-46 (saving)
2005-120 (saving)
2006-153 (saving)

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