Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

7 Mar 2001 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Wednesday, 7th March 2001.

Grey Squirrels and Foot and Mouth Disease

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether grey squirrels can be infected with foot and mouth virus; and, if so, what contingency plans they have made if grey squirrels become infected with the virus. [HL990]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Grey squirrels are not known to become infected or play any part in the epidemiology of foot and mouth disease.

QCs and Judges: Appointments Scrutiny

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to submit the appointment of judges and Queen's Counsel to scrutiny by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. [HL935]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Judicial appointments are outside the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. I have, however, accepted a recommendation from Sir Leonard Peach--himself a former Commissioner for Public Appointments--that I should establish a Commission for Judicial Appointments. The new Commission will conduct an ongoing scrutiny of the procedures for making judicial and Queen's Counsel appointments, and will investigate complaints about the way those procedures have been applied in individual cases. I intend to announce the appointment of the First Commissioner this month.

Public Houses: Entertainment

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the Arts Council's concern about the lack of venues for local live music, in what percentage of public houses it is currently an offence for the landlord to allow more than two people to sing at the same time.[HL998]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): It is not an offence. However, premises which provide public entertainment including performances by more than two musicians or singers need a public entertainment licence, and an offence is committed if a licence is not obtained or its terms complied with. The Government's White Paper Time for Reform (Cm 4696) set out proposals for changing the alcohol and entertainment licensing laws.

7 Mar 2001 : Column WA30

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is adequate legislation to ensure public safety in public houses that provide satellite television sport for their customers; and, if so, who is responsible for checking licensees' compliance with this legislation.[HL999]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Pubs need a justices' licence for the sale of alcohol to their customers; and it is open to the justices to attach conditions to licences or seek undertakings from licensees with a view to ensuring that public safety is maintained, whether or not satellite television is provided for customers. The police are responsible for enforcing licensing law. The Government are not satisfied that the present law is satisfactory, and set out proposals for reform in a White Paper (Cm 4696) last year.

Prisons: Multi-faith Accommodation

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will undertake a further review of the provision of multi-faith accommodation in the prisons of England and Wales; and the acceptability of this provision to visiting ministers of non-Christian religions.[HL1003]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Prison Service is committed to providing the necessary facilities for prisoners to practise their faith, including suitable accommodation for worship. Questions on accommodation for worship (including whether the room has met with approval from the appropriate ministers) were included in the annual checklist completed by Race Relations Liaison Officers in 2000. The results, which are currently being collated, will be published in the 10th annual report by the Prison Service Race Relations Group to the Prison Service Management Board, due out in early summer. The Prison Service will also be discussing this issue further with members of the Advisory Group on Religion in Prison, in particular to consider drawing up guidelines for prisons on the requirements and use of such rooms.

Disabled and Infirm Life Sentence Prisoners

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the number of physically disabled and infirm life sentence prisoners; and what plans the Prison Service has to meet the needs of these prisoners.[HL1004]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The number of physically disabled and infirm life sentence prisoners is not collected centrally. Following the publication of the Joint Thematic Review of Lifers, by HM Inspector of Prisons and Probation, which highlighted the needs of elderly life sentence prisoners, funding has been allocated for 2002-03 to improve services for this group, some of whom will be disabled or infirm. A

7 Mar 2001 : Column WA31

Prison Service Order on the Management of Prisoners with Physical, Sensory or Mental Disabilities has been published to ensure that the Governors of all prison establishments, including those holding life sentence prisoners, are aware of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. A working party has been set up to develop a strategy for the reasonable adjustment of prison service premises in order to remove physical barriers to access to services and facilities by 2004, as required by the third stage of the Act.

Alleged Threat to Iraqi Refugees in UK

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any evidence that Saddam Hussein has sent belly dancing assassins to murder Iraqi opponents in London as claimed in the Sunday Telegraph of 30 July 2000; and whether the "Maleen" referred to in the article has been arrested or deported. [HL932]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have no evidence to corroborate this report. We have no information on the location of the "Maleen" reported in this article.

Algeria: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further replies have been received from the Algerian government to inquiries about individual human rights cases raised by the United Kingdom and other European Union Member States through the European Union, as reported in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's annual reports for 1999 and 2000. [HL974]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have received a limited response from the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to some of the cases raised by the UK. We will continue to press the Algerian authorities, via the EU Presidency, for a full reponse to the cases raised by the UK.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to co-sponsor a Resolution on the human rights situation in Algeria at the forthcoming session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. [HL975]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are discussing the forthcoming session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) with EU partners. At present there are no plans to table an EU resolution on Algeria. However, the EU is considering inclusion of Algeria in its statement on violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world.

7 Mar 2001 : Column WA32

International Science and Technology Work: FCO Funding

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to increase the resources that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office devotes to international science and technology work.[HL1096]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: As part of its contribution to the Government's competitiveness agenda, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office funds and manages a science and technology network currently based in 10 countries. As a result of the 2000 spending review, it can now allocate an additional £3 million to science and technology work over the next three financial years (2001-04). This will mean doubling the number of countries in which our diplomatic posts have specialist science and technology staff, and the creation of a dedicated Science and Technology Unit in the FCO.

NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency will publish its framework document.[HL1066]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I am pleased to announce that the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency's framework document has been published today and copies have been placed in the Library.

Air Traffic Controllers

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many air traffic controllers were in post at the latest available date; what was the number in each of the previous 10 years; what is their estimate of the current shortage; and what arrangements are in hand for closing the supply gap.[HL965]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): At the end of January 2001 National Air Traffic Services Ltd employed 1,957 air traffic controllers, including student air traffic controllers. Corresponding figures for the previous 10 years, as at 31 March each year, were:

31 MarchTotal Number of Controllers

In overall terms, the number of air traffic controllers employed by NATS broadly meets the budgeted manpower requirement. However, there are some shortfalls in particular areas. At the end of January, the Area Control operation had four controllers in excess of the total requirement for 467 controllers, including 33 in training. The Terminal Control operation had 13 controllers less than the total requirement for 322 controllers, including 42 in training. Scottish area control operations had a shortfall of eight against the total requirement of 239 controllers, including 22 in training, and Manchester area control operations had a shortfall of nine against the total requirement of 121 controllers, including four in training. The NATS airports were six controllers above the total requirement of 527, with 45 staff in training. NATS will still be able to cope safely with expected levels of air traffic without a significant increase in delays.

The training system is prioritised to allocate trainees to areas of shortage. The intake of student controllers is being increased from 120 per year to 180 per year from the middle of 2001. This is to provide for the replacement of retiring controllers and to meet the ongoing growth in traffic.

7 Mar 2001 : Column WA33

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page