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Convention on the Future of Europe

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will hold a half-day seminar for parliamentarians on the Convention on the Future of Europe. This will take place in the Locarno Suite of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on Tuesday 17 June, between 09.15 and 13.00.

This offers Members and Peers an opportunity, outside of Parliament, to hear a variety of views on the Convention on the Future of Europe, and to discuss these issues with some prominent speakers. This will include the Foreign Secretary; the Government's representatives to the Convention, Peter Hain MP and Baroness Scotland; our parliamentary representatives, Professor Alan Dashwood and the Polish Ambassador.

A provisional programme for the seminar is available on the FCO website at

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Tenancy Money

Lord Clinton-Davis asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to announce their conclusions following the consultation on Tenancy Money; Probity and Protection. [HL3371]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): Last November we consulted on options for safeguarding tenancy moneys to address concerns that an appreciable number of tenants were losing out and the image of the private rented sector as a whole was suffering.

The consultation paper followed two years of government funding of a pilot tenancy deposit scheme. It reflected the evidence that a voluntary scheme was not an effective option. Take-up of the pilot had been poor and so were the prospects of a self-financing voluntary national scheme. So, we sought views on the case for compulsory measures.

The consultation paper indicated that there is not a robust basis for legislating to compel the protection of tenancy moneys in third party schemes. It showed that with costs of £19 million per annum and benefits of £20 million per annum, the case for so legislating was finely balanced. I have to say that the responses to the consultation were equally inconclusive.

Nevertheless, the Government are committed to addressing the case for legislation alongside consideration of proposals that the Law Commission plans to publish by this autumn, particularly with regard to written tenancy agreements. That seems an appropriate context in which to address the safeguarding of tenancy money.

We have learnt some useful lessons from government funding of the voluntary pilot tenancy deposit scheme—not least that there was no prospect of it becoming a self-financing voluntary scheme with a substantial membership. Therefore, so far as government funding is concerned it will have to be wound up. Nevertheless the Government would be more than happy to endorse self-financing voluntary schemes in advance of legislative proposals.

We will publish detailed proposals and a full response to the consultation later in the year, in the light of what the Law Commission publishes.

Veterinary Medicines

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further representations the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has received from the president of the British Veterinary Association regarding the investigation into the supply within the United Kingdom of prescription-only veterinary medicines; what reply is being sent; and what action is being taken.[HL3100]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The president of the British Veterinary Association, Peter Jinman, wrote to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 22 May 2003. A reply will be sent to Mr Jinman shortly.

My right honourable friend has asked the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to discuss with interested parties the terms of orders that could be made under the Fair Trading Act 1973 (FTA) to implement the Competition Commission's proposed remedies. Those interested parties include the British Veterinary Association. The OFT will report back in the summer. The Secretary of State will then consult publicly on her intention to make an appropriate order under the FTA.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently considering the Competition Commission's regulatory recommendations and will publish a response in due course.

Employment Act 2002

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether draft regulations have been produced concerning the provisions on disciplinary and grievance procedures in the Employment Act 2002; whether these drafts have been made available on the Internet; whether they have been or will be made available to all those to whom they were promised in the course of debates in Parliament on the Employment Bill; and why there has been little publicity concerning their contents.[HL3142]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government are currently finalising drafting of the regulations under Part 3 of the Employment Act 2002, with input from an advisory group which includes employer organisations, trade unions, and other key agencies

Public consultation on these draft regulations is expected to start in July. The consultation paper and draft regulations will be available on the Internet and in other formats. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be sent to a wide range of stakeholders. The start of the consultation exercise will also see the beginning of a comprehensive, wide-reaching guidance and communication programme designed to inform employers and employees about their new rights and responsibilities in this area, which the Government intend to introduce in October 2004.

North West Science and Daresbury Development Group

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which schemes that were identified in the review of spending on scientific projects in the north-west

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    of England by the Byers committee have been implemented; and why others have not gone ahead.[HL3201]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Byers review is the North West Science and Daresbury Development Group. Of the projects recommended in March 2001 by the NWSDDG:

    1. The North West Science Council has been established, bringing advice from local business leaders to regional science projects. In November 2002, the council produced a regional science strategy for the North West—the first in UK.

    2. The proposed public/private partnership to act as a bridge between the Daresbury laboratory and companies has been suspended by the creation of CLIK. This is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Laboratories for the Research Councils (CCLRC). CLIK will manage Daresbury's exploitation activities and is supported by a grant of £4 million. In April, the North West Development Agency announced £25.7 million of funding to develop Daresbury Science Park in partnership with CCLRC.

    3. The proposed Centre for Accelerator Science and Imaging and Medicine (CASIM) led to two projects:

    The SIRIUS proposal for a proton cyclotron was discussed with a number of potential funding agencies. In April 2002, the Research Council's UK Strategy Group reviewed the proposal. Although the nuclear physics element of the proposal was rated highly their advice was that the capital and operating cost of the facility could not be justified on the basis of nuclear science alone. A final decision was withheld until the outcome of the National Cancer Research Institute's review of the UK's requirement in radiobiology and radiotherapy was known. This review has concluded that although there is a case for the evaluation of protons, and light and heavy ions as a treatment option, it is not perceived as a priority by the majority of stakeholders. In view of these conclusions the prospective partners in the project (the Department of Health, the Medical Research Council and the Office of Science and Technology) have decided not to take the project forward. The project will thus receive no funding from the science budget.

    On 2 April, we announced funding of £11.5 million for Daresbury for an exploratory phase for the other project, the 4th Generation Light Source (4GLS). These funds will be used in a three-year study to establish the technical know-how and build a prototype test facility.

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    On 12 March, we announced the go-ahead for a new £30 million flagship manufacturing centre for biosciences, which could bring 1,000 new jobs to Liverpool. The National Biomanufacturing Centre in Speke will consist of three laboratories and a production plant. A £9.74 million grant has been agreed from Merseyside's Objective 1

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    programme for the National Biomanufacturing Centre and £3 million has already been invested by DTI. The majority of the remaining funding will come from the NWDA. Up to 1,000 new jobs could be created by the facility, which will cement Merseyside's position as the national hub of biomanufacturing.

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