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25 Mar 2003 : Column WA67

Written Answers

Tuesday, 25th March 2003.

Regional Assemblies: Functions

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What powers and functions which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister currently exercises will be transferred to the proposed regional assemblies.[HL2176]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Government's proposals on the functions of elected regional assemblies are set out in chapter 4 of the White Paper Your Region, Your Choice (Cm 5511). Of these, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently responsible for the functions relating to planning, housing and management of the European Development Fund.

Elected assemblies will take their functions from central government, its agencies and public bodies in the regions. In respect of these policy areas, elected assemblies will become the regional planning bodies and take responsibility for allocating housing capital investment in their regions. Responsibility for publishing the regional spatial strategy and the regional housing strategy will be transferred from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Regional development agencies, which are the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry, also deliver regeneration and economic development objectives for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and receive substantial funding from the office. Responsibility for the regional development agencies will also transfer to elected regional assemblies.

As the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister stated in the White Paper (paragraph 4.5), this package of assembly functions reflects the way in which these functions are currently organised. However, the Government are keen further to decentralise responsibility for policy and delivery where this will improve regional outcomes. There are likely to be further proposals for the decentralisation of responsibilities to elected regional assemblies as time goes on.

Fire Dispute: Armed Forces Cover

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Armed Forces remain deployed to provide emergency fire cover.[HL2279]

Lord Rooker: I am pleased to announce that the Armed Forces personnel deployed on firefighting duties have been stood down on the grounds that no further strike dates will be announced before the Fire Brigades Union recalled conference on 15 April. The

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FBU would then be required to give seven days' notice of any further strike.

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the event of a further firefighters' strike, how many troops will be required for Operation Fresco; and whether this will interfere with any plans to deploy additional troops for the purpose of guarding Iraqi prisoners of war.[HL2164]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Armed Forces commitment to providing emergency fire and rescue cover during the national firemen's strike remains the same now as it has been from the outset, with some 19,000 personnel currently being committed to Operation Fresco. While there is an inevitable impact on other Armed Forces operations, this is being kept to the minimum and will not interfere with plans to guard prisoners of war.

Home Office PSA Targets

Lord Merlyn-Rees asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Home Office will publish the technical notes for its public service agreement targets for the 2002 Spending Review period.[HL2277]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): Technical notes for the Home Office public service agreement (PSA) targets for the 2002 Spending Review period have been published today. Copies are available in the Library and online at

In common with those of other government departments, the Home Office technical notes define the terms used in the targets, their territorial scope, measurement systems which will be used and criteria for success. The purpose of the technical notes is to enable Parliament and the public to judge progress against the Home Office targets. The measurement systems will be used by the department and its partners to manage delivery of the new, challenging targets.

The Home Office PSA targets were presented to Parliament on 15 July 2002 as part of the Command Paper 2002 Spending Review: Public Service Agreements (Cm 5571).

GM Public Debate Steering Board

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the work commissioned by the GM Public Debate Steering Board on (a) toolkit of stimulus material; (b) organisation of the regional workshops; and (c) evaluation of the outcomes were put out to tender; what the specifications for the contract were; and how many bodies bid for the tender.[HL2129]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The independent GM Public Debate Steering Board, which is managing the GM public debate at arm's length from government, appointed COI Communications as its agent and prime contractor. COI Communications has rosters of suppliers which have been previously selected in accordance with EU public procurement rules. A Defra official was appointed to the steering board in order to ensure proper accountability for the expenditure of public funds. Further information on the specification and tendering for different elements of the debate can be obtained from the steering board.

Beta Interferon Risk Sharing Scheme

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the commencement date for the risk sharing scheme announced in February 2002 in respect of beta interferon and multiple sclerosis; and[HL1830]

    How many patients in England were on waiting lists for treatment with beta interferon for multiple sclerosis when the 2002 risk sharing scheme began; and[HL1831]

    Whether they will publish a progress report on the implementation of the risk sharing scheme for beta interferon; and[HL1832]

    What guidance they have given to patient care trusts to encourage them to implement the risk sharing scheme for beta interferon.[HL1833]

Baroness Andrews: It was estimated that up to 9,000 patients in England and Wales may be eligible to receive a drug treatment for their multiple sclerosis under the risk sharing scheme which started on 6 May 2002. Guidance on implementation was included in Health Service Circular 2002–04 issued on 4 February 2002. Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts were further reminded of their responsibilities to implement the scheme in the Chief Executive's Bulletin dated 17 July 2002. We have set up a steering group involving a range of stakeholders to oversee implementation of the scheme but there are no plans to publish a formal progress report.


Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hayman on 31 July 1998 (WA 262), what is the total amount of funds allocated to Investing in Dentistry so far; and which health authority areas have applied for funding each year from 1999–2000 to date.[HL2150]

Baroness Andrews: The total amount of money allocated through the Investing in Dentistry scheme was £11,122,089. The following health authority areas applied for funding in 1999. The scheme ceased in

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1999. Therefore no further applications or allocations have been made since.




Bexley & Greenwich


Bromley HA


Bury & Rochdale


Cambridge & Huntingdon

Camden & Islington

City & East London

Cornwall & Isles of Scilly


Durham HA

East Surrey HA

Ealing Hammersmith & Hounslow

East Kent

East Kent

East Riding

East Riding HA



Hereford HA

Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster HA




North Derbyshire

North Nottingham

North Nottinghamshire HA

North Staffordshire

North East Devon

Newcastle & North Tyneside

North Cumbria

North Essex


North West Lancashire


Portsmouth & South East Hampshire

Redbridge & Waltham Forest

South Derbyshire

South Staffordshire

Salford & Trafford



South Humber

Southampton & South West Hampshire

South West Devon

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West Surrey

West Sussex HA



West Herts

West Kent

West Sussex


Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which applications for funding under Investing in Dentistry have been successful this year; and how much has been allocated to each.[HL2151]

Baroness Andrews: The Investing in Dentistry scheme ceased in 1999–2000 and no applications were considered in 2002–03.

Demonstrations in the Vicinity of the Palace of Westminster

Lord Marlesford asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether it is possible to prevent demonstrators from using amplifiers to convey their views in the close vicinity of the Palace of Westminster when Parliament is sitting.[HL2214]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): It is for the Metropolitan Police to control demonstrators in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster. The police have been instructed, in accordance with the terms of the Sessional Order of 13 November 2002, to prevent any behaviour, including inappropriate use of amplifiers, that might disrupt the proceedings of Parliament.

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