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Public Expenditure: Authorisation by Parliament

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Henley: Section 2.2.9 of Government Accounting states that ". . . the Treasury is normally only able to authorise expenditure which does not have (or which goes beyond) specific statutory authority, if it is expected to continue for no more than a couple of years. There is however, a recognised exception for continuing expenditure resulting from the exercise of prerogative powers still exercisable by the Crown alone,

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such as obligations under international treaties. Specific legislation is not necessary in such cases, and such expenditure may therefore rest on the authority of the Appropriation Act" (Amendment No. 6, August 1994). An up-to-date copy of the Government Accounting is available in the Library of the House.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer, by Lord Henley on 21 March (WA 66), whether, and if so during what period of time, they consider that the convention that public expenditure which is either significant or recurring is required to be authorised by specific Act has been breached in relation to public expenditure incurred under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Lord Henley: I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 21 March, (Official Report, col. WA 66).

Somatic Gene Therapy: US Patent

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered the implications of the patent recently awarded in the United States to the US National Institutes of Health (purporting to cover the principle of removing cells from a patient, altering their genetic make-up and returning them to the patient's body); and what steps, if any, they are taking to secure its reversal.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): The patent in question does not raise any new ethical concerns, since it relates to somatic gene therapy. The Government are aware that some commentators consider that the claims of the patent are too broad to be valid. It must be remembered, however, that an application for this invention was originally filed in 1989 and five and half years elapsed before publication at the time of issue, during which genetic manipulation techniques have developed rapidly. This long period of secrecy is unsatisfactory and we are supporting moves towards international harmonisation of patent law which would ensure that pending applications are made public no more than two years after the filing date. The Government are not planning to take any action in relation to the patent itself but it is open to anyone who feels that the patent should not have been granted to seek re-examination. US patents do not have any effect in the United Kingdom and patents for methods of treatment as such are not granted here.

Wind Power Generating Stations: Contracts

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the proposed length of the "period of subsidy" mentioned in connection with wind power generating stations in the Answer given by Earl Ferrers on 28th March 1995 (H.L. Deb., col. 1504); and

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    What is the average period of contract to supply electricity granted to wind generating stations in England and Wales.

Earl Ferrers: Under the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) Renewables Orders 1 and 2, made in 1990 and 1991 respectively, the contracts which wind electricity generators signed with regional electricity companies end no later than December 31 1998. Under NFFO3, made in December 1994, wind electricity generators have signed contracts with regional electricity companies for periods of up to 15 years.

Remand Prisoners: Statistics

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prisoners had been on remand for less than three months; for between three and six months; for between six and 12 months; and over 12 months respectively on the latest convenient date; whether they will express each of these figures as a percentage of the total prison population for England and Wales; and whether they will compare these figures and percentages with their equivalents on 30 June 1993, and with their equivalents in Scotland at the latest convenient date and on 30 June 1993.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter to Lord Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Derek Lewis, dated 6/4/95: Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many prisoners had been on remand for less than three months; for between three and six months; for between six and twelve months; and over twelve months respectively on the latest convenient date; to express each of these figures as a percentage of the total prison population for England and Wales; and to compare these figures and percentages with their equivalents on 30 June 1993, and with their equivalents in Scotland at the latest convenient date and on 30 June 1993. The latest available provisional data for England and Wales are for 31 December 1994 and are shown in the attached table. For Scotland, information is not available in the form requested. The numbers held in prison on remand for Friday 2 July (figures are not available for 30 June 1993); and the latest available figures for 24 March 1995 are as follows:

2 July 1993 24 March 1995
Total remand population 920 1,011
Remand as a percentage of the total prison population 16 18


Remand prisoners in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales by length of time since first reception(1)

Time since first remand: 30 June 1993(1) Percentage of total population 31 December 1994(1) Percentage of total population
Less than 3 months 6,850 15.5 6,660 14.0
More than 3 months, up to and including 6 months 2,330 5.3 2,660 5.6
More than 6 months, up to and including 9 months 670 1.5 940 2.0
More than 9 months, up to and including 12 months 520 1.2 840 1.8
Over 12 months 260 0.6 320 0.7
10,630 24.0 11,430 24.0

(1) Time since first reception on remand into a Prison Service establishment. This includes any intervening time spent on bail, but excludes time spent in police cells beforehand.

(1) Rounded estimates which therefore may not add to the totals.


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