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North Sea Fishing

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The annual fisheries agreement between the EU and Iceland for 2003, which was concluded before the December Fisheries Council, does not involve fishing in the North Sea. The decisions taken by the EU Council of Ministers took account of negotiations with Norway, with whom certain fish stocks are jointly managed in the North Sea.

Rural Transport Partnership Projects

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What investigations have been carried out to encourage rural transport partnership projects to develop visitor use of public transport.[HL996]

Lord Whitty: Defra, through the Countryside Agency, has promoted the use of rural transport partnership funding to help develop the public transport options available to visitors in rural areas. The Countryside Agency has produced a leaflet The rural transport partnership for tourists and visitors to promote the use of rural transport partnership funding for visitor-related projects. Since 2001, these initiatives have resulted in 68 rural transport partnership schemes aimed at visitor access to the countryside encouraging visitor use of public transport.

The Countryside Agency also works through Transport for Leisure to provide the Sustainable Visitor Transport Advisory Service. This has helped develop a further 10 projects developing visitor use of public transport.

Horticultural Research International

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will report progress of the public consultation exercise on the quinquennial review of Horticulture Research International.[HL1125]

Lord Whitty: We are grateful to the quinquennial review team for their detailed and incisive report published on 23 September on which we have now consulted widely. The review team has considered the responses to the public consultation exercise which concluded on 18 November and produced an addendum to its report which has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

We understand the importance of reaching early conclusions from the viewpoint of HRI's staff, its customers and other stakeholders. This interim

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announcement, pending further detailed study and negotiations, sets out our intentions.

The Government broadly accept the general tenor of the review team's analysis and recommendations. There is a clear need for skilled and strategic horticultural science to underpin our policies and industry needs. HRI is a substantial asset of horticultural science excellence. In its present form, however, HRI is not viable and needs to be rationalised.

Defra will now enter into detailed discussions with HRI and other parties, in particular the University of Warwick and the East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research, to establish whether the scenarios recommended by the review team are achievable and affordable and whether any further government investment is necessary.

We hope to reach detailed decisions in principle about the future of HRI by the end of March 2003. Matters for consideration will include the remit and research capacity of the successor arrangements; ownership of land and buildings; staffing and pension matters; and income sources. Subject to satisfactory negotiations, the plan would be to put in place the new arrangements for HRI's future by 1 April 2004.

In the meantime, HRI will continue as currently constituted. A programme of research is in place from Defra, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and other funders. We shall take steps to ensure that any transfer to successor organisations occurs as quickly and as seamlessly as possible in a way which enables HRI to meet all of its commitments.

Passive Smoking: Local Authority Guidance

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance has been given to local authorities regarding the enforcement obligations of environmental health officers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to risks arising from passive smoking in the workplace since publication of the advice of the Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health in March 1998.[HL836]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Written advice was given in 1998 to local authorities (LAs) by the Health and Safety Executive/Local Authority Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA), in Local Authority Circular (LAC) 91/1. The advice is available on the HSE website (

In addition, there is a HSE leaflet Passive Smoking at Work (IND(G)63(L) rev 1), which was most recently issued to local authorities in May 2000.

Both of these were originally produced and issued prior to the SCOTH report in 1998.

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Pensions Commission

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the terms of reference of the commission under Mr Adair Turner announced in the Pensions Green Paper; and[HL893]

    Whether there will be an independent appointments process for members of the Turner Commission on Pensions to ensure that they are genuinely independent; and whether they will be appointed in accordance with the Nolan principles; and[HL894]

    Whether they intend the Turner commission to include representatives of all three main political parties; and[HL895]

    How often and when they expect the Turner commission to report; and how long members will serve in the first instance.[HL896]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Green Paper Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement (Cm 5677) sets out a number of proposals that are designed to make the voluntary system of pensions provision in the UK work effectively. It is important that progress is closely and independently monitored so that we can be sure that employers and individuals are rising to the challenge. We will need good information so that we can assess if sufficient progress is being made and whether the Government need to take action. That is why an independent commission has been established.

The terms of reference for the commission, as set out in the Green Paper, are:

    To keep under review the regime for UK private pensions and long-term savings, taking into account the proposals in the Green Paper, assessing the information needed to monitor progress and looking in particular at current and projected trends in:

the level of occupational pension provision:

trends in employer and employee contributions;

trends in coverage of occupational pensions;

the level of personal pension savings, including:

take up of stakeholder and personal pensions:

contributions to stakeholder and personal pensions; and the level of other saving;

financial assets, for example Individual Savings Accounts, housing, businesses, savings, and other assets of partners.

On the basis of this assessment of how effectively the current voluntarist approach is developing over time, to make recommendations to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on whether there is a case for moving beyond the current voluntarist approach.

Adair Turner has been appointed as chair of the commission. The other two members are Jeannie Drake and Professor John Hills.

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Adair Turner is currently vice-chairman of Merrill Lynch Holdings Ltd, a director of United Business Media plc and chair of the Low Pay Commission. Jeannie Drake is the deputy general secretary for the Communications Workers Union and is also a commissioner of the Equal Opportunities Commission. Professor John Hills is director of the Economic and Social Research Council Research Centre for Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.

The commission is being established as an ad-hoc advisory group and a formal appointments process is therefore not necessary. However, the members of the commission have the high calibre expertise and breadth of experience which are vital to its independent role.

We are in the process of finalising arrangements in consultation with the members of the commission and will announce further details, including the timescale on which the commission will report, in due course.

Infectious Diseases: Welsh Strategy

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Welsh strategy for controlling infectious diseases differs from that set out in Getting ahead of the curve.[HL576]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Getting ahead of the curve: A strategy for combating infectious diseases (including other aspects of health protection) was published by the Chief Medical Officer in January 2002 and makes proposals for health protection in England. A Framework for the Control of Communicable Disease in Wales was published by the National Assembly for Wales in June 2001 and makes proposals for action in Wales. Copies of both documents have been placed in the Library.

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