Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

6 Nov 2001 : Column WA9

Written Answers

Tuesday, 6th November 2001.

Land Registry: Disaster Recovery Plans

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they gave in drafting the provisions of the Land Registration Bill to provide for sufficient safeguards to protect ordinary citizens' ability to prove their title to property in the event of a terrorist attack on the land register computer system and any sites linked to it.[HL913]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Land Registration Bill provides for the continuation of the Land Registry. The Land Registry has robust disaster recovery plans, which are tested frequently. These are intended to ensure that land registration services continue to be available in all reasonably forseeable contingencies, including terrorist attacks on its computer system or sites linked to it.

Barry Room: Ventilation

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked the Chairman of Committees:

    How many complete changes of air per hour are effected by the ventilation equipment in the Barry Room.[HL1027]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): The ventilation equipment in the Barry Room is designed to provide eight complete air changes per hour. After the noble Lord tabled his Question, engineers were sent to test the equipment, and discovered that the extract fans had been accidentally switched off. They have since been switched on, and, in near future, adjustments will be made to the system to ensure that this problem cannot occur again.

International Humanitarian Law

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements are being made to publicise the United Kingdom's policies on international humanitarian law, with particular reference to the International Criminal Court.[HL1155]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): On 4 October the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a publication entitled United Kingdom and International Humanitarian Law, whose appearance was timed to coincide with United Kingdom ratification of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. The publication, which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, describes the United Kingdom's policy regarding the International Criminal Court itself, in addition to a

6 Nov 2001 : Column WA10

number of other important areas of international humanitarian law.

British Airlines: Temporary Insurance Scheme

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will extend their period as insurers of last resort to British airlines from 30 to a maximum of 180 days without additional costs to the airlines.[HL983]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: On 22 October, the Government announced that they had extended the temporary insurance scheme indemnifying UK airlines against third party war and terrorism risk for another 30 days. This is in line with the conclusions of the European Transport Council on 16 October that European government schemes should be renewed for a month subject to re-examination at the end of that period, the deadline for schemes being 31 December.

The Government announced on 30 October that airlines were to be offered a choice of cover in the renewed scheme. One option is for the airlines to retain cover under the government-backed Troika scheme for all liabilities above 50 million US dollars. Premiums for this cover are currently waived, but the Government will start charging from 8 November in line with EC guidelines issued on 23 October. The other option is for airlines to purchase commercial cover for liabilities up to 100 million US dollars. The Troika scheme will provide cover above that level and waive premiums until the expiry of the 30 days of the scheme at midnight on 24 November.

The principle that premiums should be charged under government schemes was agreed by European Finance Ministers on 21 September. The UK Government are currently consulting with industry on the most appropriate basis for charging.

Passport Numbers

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will start to keep a record of the passport numbers of all passengers entering the United Kingdom from overseas and, if not, why not.[HL954]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): While the Immigration Service does not currently retain the passport details of all arriving passengers, it is currently urgently exploring with other control agencies the use of technology to require airlines to retain the passport or identity card details of passengers before they board a flight to the United Kingdom.

The Immigration Service's computerised warnings index, which is used to check the personal details,

6 Nov 2001 : Column WA11

including passport number of all arriving passengers subject to immigration control, already contains the details of large numbers of lost or stolen passports and identity cards. Additionally, the Immigration and Nationality Department retains full personal details, including passport numbers, of all arriving passengers who are given leave to enter for more than six months and all those who apply to remain in the United Kingdom.

Public Order and Community Cohesion

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to pursue a programme of action to achieve reconciliation and social interaction between the different cultural and faith communities in those northern towns affected by serious civil disturbances during the summer of 2001 as well as in other towns where community relations remain tense.[HL1044]

Lord Rooker: The Government have already taken action in response to the disturbances last summer. In the short term, we made available £7 million to fund additional summer activities for young people. In addition, £3 million has been made available to fund the appointment of community facilitators for those areas most in need.

The report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion will be presented to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department and published in December. The Government will give careful consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of that report, and other independent reports on last summer's disturbances, and will take action in the light of that consideration.

Charities: Registration

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their decision on the review of the criteria for the voluntary registration of charities.[HL1172]

Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced on 3 July that he had asked the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) of the Cabinet Office to undertake a broad-ranging review of the legal and regulatory framework for charities and the wider voluntary and community sector. Subsequently, the PIU confirmed that the position of charities excepted from registration with the Charity Commission was one of the areas that was to be looked at as part of its review. The work by the Home Office and the Charity Commission on the way forward has therefore been discontinued pending the outcome of the PIU review. The PIU is expected to complete its review early in 2002.

6 Nov 2001 : Column WA12

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate: Ethical Review Processes

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When will they publish the review of the working of ethical review processes in establishments designated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [HL1178]

Lord Rooker: The Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate has completed a thorough review, after extensive consultation with stakeholders, including certificate holders and licensees under the 1986 Act, animal welfare organisations and others.

The findings, which the Government accept, are that the ethical review process has generally worked well and as intended since its introduction in April 1999 in the interests of the welfare of animals used in licensed scientific procedures. There are variations between establishments, more related to the efficiency than the effectiveness of the process, but overall the picture to emerge is positive and encouraging, given that the ethical review process is relatively new and still evolving.

There is increased awareness both of compliance issues and, more importantly, of the need for full application of the 3Rs at all stages of a project—replacement of animal use wherever possible, reduction of the number of animals used when there is no alternative, and refinement of procedures to minimise animal suffering.

The main inspectorate recommendations are that the ethical review process in establishments should continue to develop on the basis on which it was introduced, with account being taken of observations offered in the review report on best practice. We accept these recommendations.

We shall ensure the widest possible circulation of the review report, within both the scientific and animal welfare communities, with the aim of encouraging all research establishments to examine and improve their own ethical review processes. To help to achieve those aims we will, making use of additional resources recently provided to the inspectorate, initiate a number of awareness-raising activities and events. These will ensure that those involved with local ethical review processes, and those with responsibility for the welfare of animals produced for and used in laboratories, benefit fully from the advice on best practice that the report contains. We will as part of this activity be urging greater use of lay members in ethical review processes. A copy of the review report will be placed in the Library.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page