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13 Mar 1995 : Column WA33

Written Answers

Monday 13th March 1995

Mine Victims' Artificial Limbs: Funding

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they have spent in each of the last three years in providing artificial limbs (for mine victims) for fitting by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): In the last three years we have given some £23 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (£6.5 million in 1992, £7.4 million in 1993 and £9 million in 1994). As contributions to ICRC are normally in response to broad-based country or regional appeals, it is not possible to distinguish how much of this has been spent on artificial limbs for mine victims. We have also provided assistance to artificial limb projects run by such NGOs as HelpAge International, Sandy Gall's Afghanistan Appeal, Handicap International and the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation.

Landmine Clearance Funding

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they have spent in each of the last three years on research into safer and more effective methods of clearing land mines and in particular anti-personnel mines, now causing death and injury in some 60 countries.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Our funding for humanitarian mine clearance has so far concentrated on clearance and awareness operations, but the Overseas Development Administration is currently evaluating proposals from the Defence Research Agency, whose technological expertise may be able to improve the means of mine detection. If successful, these proposals could be a major step forward in dealing with the various landmine problems around the world.

Night Flying Restrictions

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have carried out a review of the night restrictions that currently apply at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports in the light of the recent judicial review and, if so, what was the outcome.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Since the judgment of 20 December, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport has given very careful consideration to the night flying

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restrictions which were announced on 6 May last year. The Government recognise the need to ensure that local communities are not exposed to excessive levels of aircraft noise at night. We have decided not to propose any changes. This fulfils the Government's intention of keeping noise levels at Heathrow and Gatwick below those permitted in summer 1988.

The new consultation paper explains more fully what was meant in para 34 of the original consultation paper of January 1993 to meet a point which was challenged in the High Court.

The consultation paper is being widely circulated to Members of Parliament, local authorities and environment groups, as well as to the aviation industry. The department is asking for comments on the proposals by 9 May. A copy has been placed in the House of Lords Library.

Additionally, my right honourable friend is writing to the Chief Executive of BAA plc to ask him to consider carefully whether there is more that BAA or the airlines can do on a voluntary basis to reduce disturbance caused by night flights.

Retirement Pension Age Addition

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present value of the 25p addition to retirement pensions for those aged 80 and over compared with its original value.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): If the age addition to retirement pension had been increased in line with prices on an annual basis since its Introduction in September 1971 it would currently be payable at a weekly rate of £1.55 increasing to £1.60 from 10 April. Notes:

1. In each step of the calculation the amount has been rounded to the nearest 5 pence.

2. The retail prices index (all items) as published by the Central Statistical office has been used to calculate prices up-rating.

Health Education Authority

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the new arrangements for funding the Health Education Authority will ensure that the authority will not in future issue material of an explicit sexual nature under the guise of educational literature, such as the Best Sex Guide.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The new arrangements for the Health Education Authority are intended to ensure that the content and tone of material issued by the authority do not conflict with

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the general tone that would be expected of publications from government or reputable non-governmental bodies, whatever the source of funding for the publication concerned.

Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960: Reviews

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to be able to announce the representation, terms of reference and date of commencement of the independent review of the Professions Supplementary to Medicines Act 1960.

Baroness Cumberlege: I hope to do so within two months.

Nurses' Pay

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reconsider the 1 per cent. pay increase offered to the nurses.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Government stand by their acceptance of the recommendation of the Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine. This provides for total improvements based on local negotiations of between 1.5 and 3 per cent.; inclusive of a 1 per cent. increase in the national rates. The recommendation also provides for local negotiations on leads and allowances and, where appropriate, conditions.

Nuclear Waste Transportation: Insurance Indemnity

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What liability Her Majesty's Government has entered into on behalf of the British taxpayer in relation to the journey of the ship the "Pacific Pintail" and its cargo of nuclear waste being transported from Cherbourg to Japan.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): If nuclear injury or damage occurs in the course of carriage in a country which is not a party to the Paris Convention on Nuclear Liability, there is a possibility of claims against British Nuclear Fuel Ltd/ Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd as the carrier. This is backed by a limited indemnity from government, as notified to Parliament in 1988.

Prescription Costs

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider requiring pharmacists to print on each prescription the actual cost of the medicine provided.

Baroness Cumberlege: Although we believe it is right that patients should be more aware of the cost

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of medicines generally, we do not believe the benefit to be gained from printing on each prescription the actual costs of medicines dispensed would warrant the costs of introducing such a measure. Apart from the fact that patients do not retain their prescription forms once they have been presented to the pharmacist (they are used by the Prescription Pricing Authority as the basis for reimbursing pharmacists), a number of major practical problems would need to be overcome. For example, the costs of particular items vary between dispensers depending on the source of the supply and the discount obtained and, furthermore, the actual cost to the National Health Service would not be available to the pharmacist at the time at which the item was dispensed.

Ministerial Committee on Women's Issues

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the membership, role and functions of the Ministerial Committee on Women's Issues within the Office of Public Service and Science.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Ministerial Committee on Women's Issues is a Cabinet Sub-Committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. An updated list of the membership and terms of reference of Cabinet Committees and Sub-Committees, including the Ministerial Committee on Women's Issues, was published on 22 November 1994. A copy of the list is in the Library of the House.

Barings

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Barings Bank was on the list of banks which local authorities were advised to use for the secure deposit of public funds.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): No such list exists. Baring Brothers and Co Ltd was however included in the list issued by the Bank of England under Section 17 of the Banking Act 1987 (which is generally known as the "Banking Act List") and is circulated to local authorities from time to time. The list includes institutions authorised under the Act and certain institutions authorised by home state regulators elsewhere in the European Economic Area to take deposits in the United Kingdom. It does not say anything about the creditworthiness of those institutions and is not a substitute for proper credit assessment by local authorities. The preface to the list issued under the Banking Act states that the inclusion of an institution on the list does not mean that the Bank of England in any way guarantees its obligations.

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Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reimburse to local authorities any losses of public funds that they have incurred as a result of Barings Bank going into administration.

Lord Henley: No. Local authorities which had deposits with Baring Brothers & Co Ltd will be reassured by the announcement made by the Chairman of ING Group (which is negotiating to take the business of the Barings group) on 9 March that "all deposits are safe."

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Deposit Takers: Creditworthiness

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list those banks which they advise local authorities can safely be used for the deposit of public funds; and whether they are prepared to guarantee the security of public funds deposited in those banks.

Lord Henley: No such list exists. Local authorities are responsible for making their own decisions on the creditworthiness of deposit takers.



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