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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 30 March 2001

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Art Exports

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he intends to undertake reviews of the National Museum of Science and Industry, Geffrye Museum/Horniman Museum/Museum of London, National Maritime Museum, Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection. [156815]

Mr. Alan Howarth: As part of the Department's programme of quinquennial reviews of its public bodies, I am today announcing that this summer we will be starting reviews of the National Museum of Science and Industry, Geffrye Museum/Horniman Museum/Museum of London (jointly), National Maritime Museum, Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection.

The reviews will include an evaluation of the role and functions of these bodies and how those functions can best be carried out, and a review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the way in which they deliver services to their users. We estimate that the reviews will be completed next spring. A copy of the announcement has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Departmental Report

Mr. Caplin: To ask the Solicitor-General when the Law Officer's Departments' Departmental report will be published. [156220]

The Solicitor-General: I can confirm that today copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Immigration and Asylum Appeals

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will list the average time taken between the receipt of (a) an asylum appeal and (b) an immigration appeal to the Independent Appellate Authority and an appeal decision, for the latest period for which figures are available. [156261]

Jane Kennedy: The average time taken by the Immigration Appellate Authority, from receipt to determination in the period 1 April 2000 to 28 February 2001, is 21.2 weeks for an asylum appeal and 28.6 weeks for an immigration appeal.

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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the average annual cost is of employing (a) a full-time adjudicator and (b) a part-time adjudicator to hear immigration and asylum appeals. [156262]

Jane Kennedy: The average annual direct cost of an adjudicator, with effect from 1 April 2001, will be £106,201. The fee for a part-time adjudicator is calculated on a pro rata basis from the annual salary cost of a full-time adjudicator. The average cost is therefore identical.

DEFENCE

Northwood

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the HQ at Northwood will close; what sites are being considered as a replacement; and if he will make a statement. [155802]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 27 March 2001]: I have authorised the start of formal consultations with the departmental trades unions regarding the proposed streamlining and relocation to Portsmouth of elements of the Commander in Chief Fleet's Headquarters. Under these proposals the Commander in Chief Fleet, who also holds key NATO appointments, would remain at Northwood with his national and NATO operations staffs and other site occupants including the Chief of Joint Operations. Northwood will remain a core MOD site for the foreseeable future.

Service Pensions

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to review the levels of service pensions of men and women who retired before 1975; [156116]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 16 March 2001, Official Report, column 756W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy). The review proposals do not include recommendations to introduce changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme retrospectively. This is in line with public sector pension policy maintained by successive Governments.

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Police Complaints Authority

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the agreement between the Secretary of State for Defence and the Police Complaints Authority signed on 23 June 1988. [156005]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 29 March 2001]: Yes.

PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

Peerages

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many civil servants and at which grades are charged with carrying out the preliminary sift of applications for a people's peerage. [155588]

Mrs. Beckett: I understand that a small team of 10 civil servants, led by a member of the Senior Civil Service, has assisted the Commission in sifting applications for recommendation as a non-political peer.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the President of the Council if the Government will seek to increase the powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (a) to provide independent advice to Ministers on their responsibilities under the Ministerial Code, (b) to appoint independent investigators of alleged breaches of the code and (c) to report to the Prime Minister and the House. [156207]

Mrs. Beckett: The Government's position on the provision of independent advice on allegations of breaches of the Ministerial Code is set out in the Government's response to the sixth report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Miners

Mr. Eric Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to reinstate the miners sacked in 1984-85 into the Miners' Pension Fund. [156110]

Mr. Hain: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) on 27 March 2001, Official Report, column 586W.

Intellectual Property

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what new proposals he has to protect and promote British intellectual property. [156075]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 29 March 2001]: Protection for British intellectual property (IP) is central to our objectives for European and international activities in this area. Towards the end of last year the European Commission adopted an Action Plan on Counterfeiting and Piracy. This promises a Directive aimed at strengthening enforcement of intellectual property rights

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across the Community through harmonisation of legislation and procedures, and establishing a general framework for co-operation between member states. The Action Plan is in line with work, especially on promoting co-operation between enforcement bodies, which we have already begun here. Internationally we are working closely with our European partners to ensure that IP rights and their enforcement are available to British industry in all members of the World Trade Organisation, especially in our major trading partners, through full implementation of the Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Where British interests are disadvantaged by failure to provide the required standards of IP protection we continue to use internationally recognised WTO disputes resolution arrangements.

We are also strengthening measures to protect IP in the United Kingdom. For example, the Government are supporting a private Member's Bill (The Copyright etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Bill) currently before Parliament that will bring into line criminal provisions in copyright with those in trade marks law, and so make enforcement actions more effective.

Promoting IP and its value to us all is a key task. The Patent Office continues to undertake events and workshops aimed at promoting IP, raising awareness in general and in particular communities such as small businesses and business intermediaries. The aim is to create understanding and respect for IP throughout the society and the community. For example last November a new portal website for IP (www.intellectual-property.gov.uk) was launched that provides information for both creators and users of IP and provides links to many other useful sites. The Patent Office's own recently improved website (www.patent.gov.uk) has won an award in the Government Website Awards announced last week. We have also undertaken research into people's understanding of IP to identify the right messages to improve awareness and are exploring how to improve education about IP in both schools and higher education.


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