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Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks

Lord Vivian asked her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 21 March 2002, (WA 167). The total number of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks procured for the British Army is 386. The final delivery took place in April 2002.

A quantity of 38 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks were exported to a customer in the Middle East during the mid to late 1990s.

"Breakfast with Frost": Mr. Hain's Remarks

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the remark of the Minister for Europe, Peter Hain, during his appearance on BBC1's "Breakfast with Frost" on 23 June that "We have undoubtedly suffered from a lack of trust from the average voter".[HL4928]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Mr Hain was noting opinion polls over the last few months, though he went on to say that the Government had an excellent record on the economy and investment in public services which were the key issues for voters. The most recent polls in the Guardian and Telegraph show that the Government's standing has not been affected by media attacks.

Gibralter Airport

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any arrangements have been made with Spain to unblock the progress of European Community aviation measures in respect of Gibralter Airport.[HL5003]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have agreed a procedure with Spain and the Commission allowing aviation measures to be unblocked without prejudicing any party's position on sovereignty or affecting day-to-day operations at Gibralter airport. When such a measure is brought forward, the Commission will judge whether or not it places obligations on airports. If so, the Council and Commission will agree to the insertion of the clauses suspending application until the implementation of the 1987 Joint Declaration of the UK and Spain on Gibralter airport, which have featured in previous measures. If not, the text will not be amended. The Transport Council agreed Common Positions on the first measure subject to this arrangement, relating to occurrence reporting and aviation statistics, on 17 June.

We are confident that suspension will have no material impact on the operation of Gibralter airport. We will continue to work with the Government of Gibralter and the authorities at Gibralter airport to ensure that, wherever necessry, equivalent measures are implemented on a national basis.

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The Government believe that this is the best way forward until a long-term solution is found. We have always made it clear that we want Gibralter to enjoy the full benefits of EC aviation measures, as is its right. But, since the 11 September atrocities in particular, it is essential for British and other European air travellers, and the companies concerned, that EC measures to impove the functioning of the aviation sector, and especially to enhance aviation security, are taken forward quickly and effectivley. It would be intolerable if all air travellers were denied the benefit of such measures because of delay caused by disagreement between the UK and Spain over Gibralter, and the refusal of the Government of Gibralter to join discussions to resolve such problems under the Brussels process.

Foot and Mouth Inquiries: Recording of Views

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the meetings of the Lessons Learned Inquiry and the Royal Society Inquiry into foot and mouth disease are fully minuted by qualified stenographers; and whether the resultant transcripts are made available to the witnesses concerned.[HL4936]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): As indicated in its procedures for inquiry meetings in London, published on its website, the Lessons Learned Inquiry is recording views in writing, though not necessarily verbatim. The procedures make clear that notes of the meetings will be sent to the individual(s) or organisation concerned to ensure the factual accuracy of the recorded views.

Records have been taken of the main points raised during formal evidence sessions of the Royal Society Inquiry into infectious diseases in livestock, and the witnesses have been given the opportunity to comment on these in draft.

Foot and Mouth Disease: National Audit Office Report

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will respond to the National Audit Office's report The 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.[HL4945]

Lord Whitty: The Public Accounts Committee hearing on the report is scheduled for 3 July 2002. Following publication of the Public Accounts Committee Report, the Government response will be made through the Treasury Minute procedure.

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Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Education

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department for Education and Skills will sponsor research to establish minimum standards of provision for the education of children with autism spectrum disorders, and [HL4906]

    How schools are monitored in relation to their work with children with autism spectrum disorders, and [HL4907]

    What is their policy on the role of autism-specific special schools in providing advice and support to mainstream schools educating children with autism.[HL4908]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Schools and local education authorities have duties to identify and make provision for the learning difficulties of children with special educational needs, including those with autistic spectrum disorders, and to give them access to a broad curriculum suitable to their needs. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice gives statutory guidance on how to achieve this. The Department for Education and Skills' Autism Working Group will shortly be publishing guidance setting out the key principles underpinning proper provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders and pointers to good practice. This guidance takes into account the work of the West Midlands SEN Regional Partnership, which has been focusing on autism provision, and the National Autistic Society's Accreditation Programme. The working group intends to monitor the response to its guidance.

Ofsted has a regular cycle of inspection of maintained schools, non-maintained special schools and independent schools which cater wholly or mainly for children with SEN, including schools which make provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders. In determining their judgments, Ofsted inspectors have to consider the extent to which pupils with SEN are making progress and how well the teaching meets pupils' diverse needs. Ofsted will also be monitoring the implementation of the revised SEN Code of Practice and the new Inclusion framework. Special schools, including autism-specific special schools, have a vital role to play in the new arrangements through using their expertise to help mainstream schools include children with SEN. I have established a working group on the role special schools which will look at how to develop this aspect of special schools' work.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children with autism spectrum disorders were subject to (a) permanent exclusion from school; and (b) fixed term exclusion from school, in the academic year 2000–2001.[HL4909]

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Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The department does not collect data on exclusions by specific type of special educational need.


Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Prime Minister will next visit Gibraltar.[HL4605]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Prime Minister has no plans to do so.

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to answer Lord Patten's Question for Written Answer on the timing of the next visit by the Prime Minister to Gibraltar tabled on 29th May (HL4605) before the House rises for the Summer Recess.[HL5022]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have answered the Noble Lord's question today. I very much regret the delay.

Northern Ireland Juvenile Justice Centres

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans exist in Northern Ireland concerning the future of Lisnevin and other youth justice centres. [HL4901]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There are two Juvenile Justice Centres in Northern Ireland. One is Lisnevin Juvenile Justice Centre in Millisle, Co Down, and the other is Rathgael Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, Co Down.

In November 2000, following public consultation, Adam Ingram, the then Northern Ireland Minister of State, made a commitment to Parliament to deliver a purpose designed Juvenile Justice Centre for Northern Ireland at Rathgael in Bangor. His statement went to say that while the new centre was being built, young people already in the system would be transferred to the Rathgael campus.

Since then a phased development programme has commenced. The first phase involves upgrading security and refurbishing the existing accommodation on the Rathgael site to facilitate the transfer of young people from Lisnevin. Phase 1 of the programme is scheduled for completion by late 2002. On completion, Lisnevin will close and Rathgael will function as the single Juvenile Justice Centre for Northern Ireland and will operate until the new purpose-designed centre is constructed and commissioned.

The second phase relates to provision of the new, purpose-designed centre, to be located on available land at Rathgael. When fully commissioned, the new centre will replace the phase 1 facility. Planning the Phase 2 project is at an early stage. Phase 2 is estimated to take about four years to complete.

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