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18 Mar 2004 : Column WA59

Written Answers

Thursday, 18 March 2004.

Supreme Court

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the basis for the reported calculation that 80 per cent of the running costs of the proposed Supreme Court would be met by increases in fees paid by litigants in courts throughout the United Kingdom.[HL1687]

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My predecessor announced to this House on 19 November 1998 that fees for civil business in the courts in England and Wales will be set to recover full cost. Civil business will account for approximately 80 per cent of the work of the new UK Supreme Court. The Government are working closely with the devolved administrations in developing appropriate funding mechanisms for the UK Supreme Court.

Supreme Court (Offices) Act 1997: Repeal

Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the purpose of the repeal of the Supreme Court (Offices) Act 1997; and what effect its repeal will have on the current holder of the office of Permanent Secretary of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.[HL1766]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Supreme Court (Offices) Act 1997 repealed the provision in the Supreme Court Act 1981, which set out the qualification for appointment as, and tenure of office of, Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor and Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. The 1997 Act also contained a saving provision to preserve the tenure of the then holder of the offices. He retired in 1998. Having effected the repeal, and now that the saving provision is spent, the 1997 Act has achieved its purpose and it is unnecessary for it to remain in the statute book. The repeal of the 1997 Act by the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill has no effect on the current holder of the offices.

National Centre for Policing Excellence

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is proposed to move the National Centre for Policing Excellence from Bramshill; and[HL1746]

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    Whether it is the case that the National Centre for Policing Excellence is to lose 25 per cent of its annual budget; and[HL1747]

    How many staff would be displaced from Bramshill due to the proposed move of the National Centre for Policing Excellence to a new location; and[HL1748]

    What temporary rental accommodation costs and office equipment costs will be incurred by the relocation of the National Centre for Policing Excellence; and[HL1749]

    Whether the relocation costs of the National Centre for Policing Excellence would be saved if the facility remained at Bramshill.[HL1750]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The National Centre for Policing Excellence (NCPE) is part of Centrex, the Central Police Training and Development Authority. The chief executive of Centrex has advised us that the net expenditure of NCPE in 2003–04 will be approximately £12.1 million. The Centrex budget for 2004–05 is not yet finalised. NCPE currently operates from several Centrex sites:

    Bramshill: operational support to the police service, and serious crime analysis. Wyboston: training in specialist law enforcement techniques. Cambourne: doctrine development.

From April 2004, reorganisation within Centrex will incorporate within NCPE training in scientific support, which is based near Durham, and training in the use of the police national computer, currently based in Leicester.

The Centrex board decided in 2003 that co-location of the work on doctrine development, operational support and specialist law enforcement training would be important for the long-term effectiveness of NCPE. The available accommodation at Bramshill is not suitable or adequate to house all NCPE functions. A relocation project has been considering whether all or part of the work currently carried out at Bramshill should be moved to the same location as the work on doctrine development. The various options are currently under review. No final decisions have yet been taken about the number of staff who might be relocated.

Imitation Firearms

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following Home Office support for an all-party parliamentary report on imitation and convertible firearms, they will find time to legislate for a ban on the manufacture, sale, transfer and importation of such weapons.[HL1890]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We will be looking at this issue as part of the comprehensive review of

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current firearms legislation. We will be publishing a consultation paper shortly.

Imitation firearms that are readily convertible to fire live ammunition are treated in law as real, working guns and if they are handguns, are already banned.

War Widows

Baroness Strange asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the titles "war widow" or "war widower" will continue to be used to describe all widows or widowers whose spouses' deaths were attributable to their Service lives.[HL1541]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): We recognise and respect the concern of the ex-Service community, including the War Widows Association, to retain this long-standing and much valued title. Therefore it will continue to be used.

Late Payment of Debts

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What redress is available to voluntary organisations which are contracted to provide services on behalf of a local authority if the local authority does not pay for those services on time. [HL1812]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The redress available to a voluntary organisation for late payment for any services it has been contracted to provide is governed primarily by the terms of its contract with the local authority. The law of contract is essentially a common law field, but various statutes could be relevant. The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 is likely to provide a remedy for late payment if the contract is a commercial contract for the supply of services.

Dental Services

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What studies (a) the Treasury, and (b) the Department of Health have conducted into the way in which other European Union countries remunerate dentists.[HL1513]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): There have been no studies as such done by the Department of Health or the Treasury into the way in which other European Union countries remunerate dentists.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether TOXBASE entries are available to the public under the Environmental Information Regulations currently in force, under the draft Environmental Information Regulations or under any other regulation or code.[HL1578]

Lord Warner: TOXBASE is an expert Internet system provided by the National Poisons Information Service free to registered users within the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. This includes hospital departments, public health departments and general practitioner practices. In addition some entries are adapted for use by NHS Direct centres in England and Wales and NHS24 in Scotland. It is also provided under a contract arrangement to registered users in the Irish health service. This system is designed for use by health professionals. There are no current plans to make the website available to members of the public.

TOXBASE is designed to provide clinical information to medical doctors and healthcare professionals. It is not a source of information on environmental effects that are covered by the Environmental Information Regulations.

Food: Country of Origin Labelling

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

    Whether they believe a "Made in the European Union Origin Marking" scheme would be in the best interest of United Kingdom food producers.[HL1660]

Lord Warner: The Government's view is that consumers would consider "Made in the European Union" labelling less useful for foods, particularly meat products, than specific country of origin labelling. That is why the Government are pressing for changes to European Union rules to require country of origin labelling on meat and some meat products. Many United Kingdom consumers wish to have this information to support their food choices and the Government believe that such labelling would also benefit UK meat producers. In the mean time, the Food Standards Agency has issued best practice advice to encourage voluntary provision of this information.

NHS: Consultant Toxicologists

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many consultant toxicologists work in the National Health Service; in which institutions do they work; and how many have confidentiality agreements with contract research organisations.[HL1733]

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Lord Warner: Toxicology is not a recognised speciality for the certificate of completion of specialist training (CCST), and it is thus not possible to identify all consultants who have toxicological expertise and who work in the National Health Service. The CCST is administered by the Specialist Training Authority of the Medical Royal Colleges, and is a requirement for becoming a consultant in the NHS.

It is not possible to provide the information requested.

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