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Written Answers

Thursday 20th April 1995

Natural Resources Institute

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government: What progress has been made in reaching a decision on the future ownership of the Natural Resources Institute.

Lord Inglewood: We announced on 20 December 1994 our intention to invite formal tenders for the future ownership for the Natural Resources Institute. A number of expressions of interest in assuming ownership of NRI were received.

Those being invited to prepare fuller bids are as follows:


    Cranfield University


    A consortium led by University of East Anglia


    University of Greenwich, in association with Edinburgh University, Imperial College and Wye College


    Universities of Nottingham and Leicester


    University of Reading


    Scottish Agricultural College


    Serco International Limited in association with University of Wales


    University of Warwick

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government: Further to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey's Written Answers of 1 March (WA 97), 20 March (WA 55) and 5 April (WA 18), why the decision not to renew the acceptance of the right of individual petition in respect of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands under Article 25 of the European Convention on Human Rights was not notified to the UN Human Rights Committee in the UK's Second or Third Periodic Reports.

Lord Inglewood: The question of whether to include this information in the text of the Second and Third Periodic Reports does not appear to have been considered during their preparation. This information was brought to the attention of the Human Rights Committee in the course of the presentation to the Committee of the United Kingdom's Third Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1991.

County Hall

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government: When the Property Services Agency first became aware that County Hall was available to be rented, leased or purchased.

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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The London Residuary Body embarked upon the marketing of County Hall in August 1986; the Government was from the outset informed by the London Residuary Body about this initiative.

Vauxhall Cross

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government: When an approach was made to the Property Services Agency to buy the site now occupied by MI6 at Vauxhall Bridge.

Viscount Ullswater: Agents acting on behalf of Regalian Properties plc introduced the site to Government in June 1987, when they informed the PSA that they had been instructed to secure occupiers for an office development at Vauxhall Cross on either a freehold or a conventional leasehold basis.

Child Support Bill 1995

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government: What is estimated as the further annual cost to the Exchequer of the amendments made by the Child Support Bill 1995, if enacted in its present form.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The total cost to the Exchequer of the measures in the Child Support Bill 1995 in terms of both the reduction in benefit savings and the administrative costs incurred in operating the new Departures Scheme is estimated at £0 million for 1995/96; £35 million for 1996/97; and £50 million for 1997/98.

Child Support Act 1991

Lord Simon of Glaisdale asked Her Majesty's Government: What additional manpower and costs (initial and ongoing) were incurred by the Department of Social Security as a result of the Child Support Act 1991.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Prior to the establishment of the Child Support Agency, the cost of services regarding child maintenance provided by the DSS were not identified separately. It is therefore not possible to identify any additional staffing and costs without incurring disproportionate cost.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale asked Her Majesty's Government: What was the annual cost to the Exchequer caused by the amendments to the Child Support Act 1991 introduced by SI 1992/2644 and the Child Support Act 1991 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Amendment Order 1993.

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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: SI 1992/2644 was the Child Support Act 1991 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 1992 and was amended by the Child Support Act 1991 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Amendment Order 1993. These commencement orders introduced a number of transitional provisions, including the phased take on by the Child Support Agency in 1996/97 of some cases with court orders or written maintenance agreements, and arrangements in certain cases for a phased transition from the amount of maintenance payable under a court order or written maintenance agreement to the amount payable under the Child Support Act.

Since the phased take on programme in 1996/97 will only involve cases where the parent with care is not receiving a prescribed social security benefit, there will be no cost to the Exchequer. The provisions for transition to the new amount of maintenance payable

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under the Act were always planned as an integral part of the child support scheme as it was recognised that people would need time to adjust to higher levels of maintenance, and benefit savings estimates took account of this. There was therefore no cost to the Exchequer.

Drugs from EU Countries as a Proportion of Seizures

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government: What proportion of (a) hard drugs and (b) soft drugs, by estimated value and volume, seized at or near UK ports of entry in each of the last 3 years was being brought in from another EU country.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The table below shows the proportion by weight of Customs drugs seizures recorded as being brought in from another EU country. The proportion by value is the same.

Per cent.

Hard Drugs (Class A) Soft Drugs (Class B)
Heroin Cocaine Ecstasy LSD Cannabis Amphetamines
1994 58.4 4.1 95.2 33.1 48.4 91.5
1993 42.9 21.4 94.8 28.8 43.2 86
1992 48.6 8.4 80.8 23.5 31.8 99.6

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Lloyd's: Tax Revenue and Repayments

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they will give their best estimates of the net tax repaid in respect of profits or losses made by underwriting members of Lloyd's for each of the years from 1977–78 to 1994–95 inclusive, indicating in respect of each tax year the total number of taxpayers from whom and to whom, respectively, the tax was collected or repayment was made.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The available information for 1977–78 to 1992–93 on the amounts of initial assessments and repayments was given by my noble friend the Earl of Caithness in his reply on 10 June 1993 (Official Report, cols. WA62-64) and the information for 1993–94 was provided by my noble friend Lord Henley on 29 June 1994 (Official Report, col. WA46).

The total tax charged on initial assessments, including estimated assessments, made during the year to 5 April 1995 on underwriting profits and gains was £8.9 million. The total of income tax and capital gains tax repaid to Lloyd's underwriters by the underwriters unit of Inland Revenue in the same year was £375.4 million. This relates partly to losses for the 1990 year of account, when Lloyd's announced a total loss of £2.9 billion, and partly to losses for the 1991 year of account, when Lloyd's total loss was £2.0 billion. It also includes any repayment supplement attracted by the tax refunded.

It is estimated that the numbers of Lloyd's names for whom initial assessments have been raised in recent years are as follows:

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    1990–91: 25,700


    1991–92: 25,600


    1992–93: 7,000


    1993–94: 1,900


    1994–95: 2,600

and that repayments of tax were made to 23,000 individuals in 1994–95. I regret that information for earlier years cannot be collated without disproportionate cost. Many individuals have initial assessments on more than one type of income, and had more than one repayment in a year, and such duplications are not readily eliminated from the available data.

Irish Box: Protection of British Fishing Vessels

Lord Carter asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the Irish Fishery Protection fleet has sufficient resources to protect British fishing boats operating in Irish waters in the Irish Box and, if so, what it consists of.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Republic of Ireland has a fisheries protection fleet of seven vessels, which operate under the command of the Irish navy. These undertake the enforcement of EU fisheries legislation within Irish Fishery Limits but are not responsible for the protection of British fishing vessels.

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