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Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): The Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit Ltd (PARBUL) is a limited company set up jointly by Parliament and the major broadcasters to organise and fund the televising of Parliament. The board of directors comprises

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representatives of the broadcaster shareholders matched in number by members and staff of both Houses, and chaired by the House of Commons Chairman of Ways and Means.

Recordings of proceedings of the House of Lords are archived by Parliament's own Parliamentary Recording Unit, which is managed by the Supervisor of Parliamentary broadcasting, an Officer of both Houses. Videotape copies of these recordings are made available to broadcasters, commercial and educational organisations and for the personal use of Peers, MPs and private individuals at rates which reflect the length of recording required, the complexity of compilation tapes and the use to which the footage will be put. The "rate card" was recently revised for the first time in seven years. Increases were kept below the rate of inflation over that period.

The rates charged in the five years to December 2000 ranged from a £10 minimum per videotape for Members to £120 an hour plus stock, management and licence fees for broadcasters. The current minimum cost for Members remains £10, with broadcaster rates set at a maximum of £100 plus VAT per 30 minutes. The broadcaster rate now includes stock and management fees but licence fees remain extra.

Export of Cultural Goods: Apulian Vases

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of allegations in The Times of 23 April of looting and illegal export, they will automatically grant export licences for the Apulian vases recently sold at public auction in London at Christie's on 25 April; and whether they will enquire what mechanism they have for enforcing the European Council Regulation (3911/92) on the Export of Cultural Goods from this country in relation to antiquities orignating in Italy. [HL2077]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is a feature of our export licensing controls on cultural objects that Her Majesty's Government do not indicate in advance whether or not an export licence will be granted for a particular object. Nor can I comment about individual applications for export licences as the information given on applications is commerically sensitive and given in confidence. The Government cannot therefore reveal details about which objects are the subject of applications. To do so would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Council Regulation (3911/92) on the export of cultural goods does not permit us to grant an export licence under the regulation for objects which have been despatched from another member state on or after 1 January 1993 unless the dispatch was lawful and definitive.

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Foot and Mouth Disease: Reopening of Royal Deer Parks

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any ministerial or departmental direction was given to the Royal Parks Agency to reopen the Royal deer parks in London which had been closed as a foot and mouth disease precaution.[HL1920]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Ministerial direction was to adhere to MAFF advice. The decision to reopen these Royal Parks was taken jointly by officials of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Royal Parks Agency and Historic Royal Palaces in the light of information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any meeting, e-mail or telephone contact took place between Mr. William Weston, the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency, the Ministers or officials in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport or the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in the two weeks before the reopening on 11th April of the Royal deer parks in London that had been closed as a foot and mouth disease precaution; and what representations, if any, were made by Mr. Weston or the Royal Parks Agency for or against the reopening.[HL1921]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In the two weeks before the reopening of the Royal Parks, the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency and his deputy had one regular meeting with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport at which, amongst other things, the subject was discussed. During this period there were a number of telephone calls between Royal Parks officials and officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and on one occasion a call involving officials of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. During these discussions, the agency and officials agreed that they were keen to see the parks re-open but only when it was judged safe to do so.

Landfill Tax

Lord Northbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 28 November 2000 to the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs that landfill tax will increase by £25 per tonne by 2004:

    (a) whether the increase will benefit local community projects exclusively or whether it will also be geared to general research, development and education on recycling;

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    (b) what measures and financial support for local councils will be put in place to deal with any increase in fly-tipping and to meet the costs of councils in removing the waste; and

    (c) whether the Litter Act 1975 will be amended to remove the obligation on landowners to remove fly-tipped waste to official waste tips at their own expense.[HL1926]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In speaking to the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, on 28 November 2000, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury confirmed the rises in landfill tax announced in Budget 1998. That is, the standard rate of Landfill Tax increased from £7 per tonne to £10 per tonne from 1 April 1999. It then rose by a further £1 per tonne in April 2000 and April 2001, and these annual £1 increases will continue until at least 2004. These rises are designed to make waste producers take account of the environmental costs they impose on society, encouraging efforts to minimise the amount of waste generated and to develop more sustainable forms of waste management such as recycling, composting and recovery.

The Government are committed to meeting the challenging targets for waste recycling set out in Waste Strategy 2000. In the Pre-Budget Report 2000, we announced that we would explore how resources going through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme could be better used to increase recycling rates. We have issued a challenge to the waste industry to meet demanding targets to allocate a greater proportion of tax credits towards sustainable waste management, and particularly recycling.

Spending Review 2000, which set the framework for government support to local government, provided an increase of £1.1 billion by 2003-04 in the revenue support to local authorities for environmental, protective and cultural services, including their waste management function. Local authorities will set their own priorities for the use of these resources.

Section 59 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides the Environmental Agency, and local authorities in their role as waste collection authorities, with powers to secure the removal of fly-tipped waste, and to recover their costs from those responsible. Owners or occupiers of land cannot be required to remove fly-tipped waste unless they deposited it themselves or knowingly caused or permitted its deposit.

Gross Domestic Product Estimates

Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they published on 26 April sub-regional and local area estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculated solely on a workplace basis

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    (as opposed to a residence basis), thereby giving the impression that GDP per head is two-and-a-half times the national average in Inner London; whether in future they will simultaneously issue residence-based figures; and what representations they have made to the European Commission to ensure that these figures are not misunderstood.[HL2050]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Lea of Crondall from the National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, Mr Len Cook, dated 9 May 2001.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question on sub-regional and local area estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (HL2050).

GDP is a workplace-based concept, measuring the economic activity occurring within an area, regardless of whether the persons engaged in the activity actually live within the area. This is as required by the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95) regulation and conforms to the methods set out by Eurostat (the Statistical Office of the European Commission).

GDP per head figures are then calculated by dividing the total GDP for an area by the resident population of that area. This is the indicator that has been used historically as a measure of the well-being of an area, in the absence of an alternative that is available for all member states.

Ideally, the economic activity of an area should be described by relating GDP to a measure of the volume of work (hours worked or full-time equivalent employment) in that area, which would provide a productivity measure. Alongside this, the well-being of those living in an area should be measured by household disposable income per head. However, such measures of sub-regional productivity or incomes per head are not yet available for all the member states of the EU. In the absence of such harmonised estimates, the Commission uses the available consistent data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) currently has no plans to publish sub-regional and local area estimates of GDP on a residence basis. ONS is, however, planning to publish sub-regional and local area residence based estimates of total and disposable household income towards the end of 2001. ONS is also developing sub-national productivity estimates.

The European Commission and Eurostat are aware of the implications of using GDP estimates divided by resident population as a measure of regional incomes. These issues are being addressed through Eurostat's Regional Accounts Working Party, with ONS playing an active part.

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