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Lord Henley: My department will pay compensation in accordance with its legal liability. Any member of the public who believes that he or she has suffered loss or damage as a result of these firings is at liberty to bring an action for compensation against the department.
Lord Henley: AS90 has the same barrel and fires the same ammunition as the towed FH70 which has been in service and used at OTA since the mid 1970s. A comparative trial conducted last year proved conclusively that the difference in noise levels produced by the two guns at each charge is so small as to be insignificant (less than one decibel). While FH70 is occasionally fired from the Corsenside outside gun area using the top charge (charge eight), it is not planned to develop the necessary access to the outside gun area for AS90 and therefore it will be limited to a maximum of charge six, which will be fired within the training area boundary. Noise levels at distances beyond the immediate area of the gun are largely dependent on topography and prevailing meteorological conditions, which will vary each time a gun is fired. It is the practice of my department that private dwellings and areas of public use adjacent to military training areas will not be subjected to impulse noise above 130 decibels. At Otterburn the whole question of gun noise is being studied extensively by environmental consultants and their findings will form part of the environmental impact assessment which will accompany the submission of our notice of proposed development.
Lord Henley: We have successfully negotiated memoranda of understanding on programmes of defence contacts and co-operation with the following countries: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Albania. We hope to have concluded negotiations on a similar agreement with Slovenia, and to have signed the document by the end of February 1995. The UK's defence contacts with the countries of central and eastern Europe have included high level
The overall aim of the UK's programme of defence contacts is to contribute to the achievement of a situation in which a return to conflict within Europe is impossible. In the short term our aim is to conduct defence co-operation, in co-operation, in co-ordination with the NATO Partnership For Peace programme, with the countries of central and eastern Europe, in order to: promote stability in Europe; enhance their ability to contribute to international peacekeeping and crisis management; create opportunities for UK forces training; and encourage equipment co-operation.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I am pleased to announce that the British Government is contributing £4 million in response to the appeal. Our contribution will help the needs of people both within Rwanda and the immediate region. Since the start of the crisis, the UK has committed over £66 million of emergency aid to the needs of Rwandan people and Rwandan refugees in neighbouring countries.
Baroness Trumpington: We are currently setting up a review of the role of boards of visitors. The Prisons Act 1952 provides for a board of visitors to be appointed to every prison and young offender institution. Members of boards are lay volunteers drawn from the local community. We value the work of boards and the participation of the local community, and we are keen to maintain this involvement of lay people in the prison system. Our objective for the review is to strengthen the role of boards and help them undertake their duties more effectively. With this background the review is asked to make recommendations with particular respect to: how this role should be redefined or clarified
We shall be helped in the work of the review by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons; a small number of board members; representatives of their national organisations and a co-opted prison governor. We will be supported by a small team of Home Office officials.
Board members and groups with an interest in penal affairs are being invited to submit representations to the review group by March 3rd. We would also welcome any representations by the beginning of April and will announce them to the House.
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