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23 May 1995 : Column WA51

Written Answers

Tuesday, 23rd May 1995.

Parliament Acts: Scope

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider extending the Parliament Acts to cover regulations.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Government have no plans to propose such a change.

Cyprus: Turkish Declaration

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will refer to the UN Security Council the threat by Turkey to annex the occupied areas of Northern Cyprus (reported in Cyprus News April 1995, issued by the Cypriot High Commission).

Baroness Trumpington: No. The French Presidency made clear at the time the European Union view that the Turkish declaration at the 6 March Foreign Affairs Council was incompatible with international law and with UN Resolutions on Cyprus.

Strategic Airlift and EFLA

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How, in the Western European Union context, is "strategic airlift" defined; and whether Britain's or the Western European Union's possible requirement for it is now defined by them so as to exclude the European Future Large Aircraft.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The Western European Union does not use a definition of "strategic airlift", but defines strategic mobility as "the capacity and capability to move forces and associated logistic support in a timely and effective manner over continental and inter-continental distances, centrally co-ordinated, using civilian and/or military means of transport not organically belonging to such forces". Neither this definition, nor that used by the UK, which also concentrates on the movement of assets between theatres, excludes the role that aircraft of the class of the Future Large Aircraft would have in moving standard loads.

Royal Air Force Regiment Costs

The Marquess of Salisbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of the Royal Air Force Regiment.

Lord Henley: The estimated cost of the Royal Air Force Regiment for financial year 1994–95 is some £55 million. This figure excludes equipment costs.

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EU: Anti-Fraud Measures

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, and if so to what extent, the new operational role ascribed to the European Commission's Anti-Fraud Co-ordination Unit (UCLAF) and the appointment of a new Commissioner for the Budget, Mr. Erkki Liikanen, have improved financial control over the European Community's budget.

Lord Henley: The Government continue to attach the highest priority to improving financial management in the Community and ensuring that effective action is taken to tackle fraud.

The Government therefore welcome the importance that Mr. Erkki Liikanen, the new Commissioner responsible for Budget, Personnel and Administration, has attached to strengthening the management of the Community's financial resources. In particular, the Government look forward to the outcome of the Commission's three-stage review of its internal financial management arrangements which was announced by Mr. Liikanen at the Economic and Finance Council of the European Union (ECOFIN) in March. This will look at ways of tightening existing financial procedures, review the regulatory framework and propose appropriate modifications, and seek a reinforced partnership with member states. It will be carried out in agreement with Mrs. Gradin, the new Commissioner for Immigration, Judicial Affairs and Fraud.

The Government also welcome the Commission's decision in February to strengthen its anti-fraud work by centralising the investigations units in the customs, indirect tax, agriculture areas within UCLAF.

The Government believe that these actions are evidence of the Commission's intention to improve financial management and achieve better value for money, and to step up the fight against fraud.

"Statement on the Community Budget": Format

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For what reason and upon whose authority the words "Presented to Parliament by the Paymaster General by Command of Her Majesty," hitherto used on the front cover of the Statement on the Community Budget, were excluded from the front cover of the 1995 statement.

Lord Henley: The words in question appear as is usual on the title page of the statement. This year, a green cartridge cover has been added because of the increased length of the document. The format is consistent with HM Treasury practice, including the departmental report for HM Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's other smaller departments.

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Alzheimer's Disease

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the percentage of the population of the United Kingdom suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): It is estimated that some 5 per cent. of the population of the United Kingdom aged 65 years and over suffer from dementia (of which Alzheimer's Disease accounts for just over half), equivalent to approximately 600,000 people.

Medical Undergraduate Education

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for NHS support for medical undergraduate education.

Baroness Cumberlege: We have placed in the Library a copy of the Report, SIFT into the Future, from an advisory group on future arrangements for the service increment for teaching (SIFT) chaired by Dr. Graham Winyard, Health Care Director of the National Health Service Executive.

We welcome the direction of change proposed by the advisory group. The report recommends development in the way we meet the additional NHS costs to hospitals, community trusts and general practitioners associated with teaching medical undergraduates. Payments will be based progressively on the demonstrated costs of clinical placements and of facilities to support teaching, within a sound framework of responsibilities, relationships and accountability. The report has been welcomed by the Steering Group on Undergraduate Medical and Dental Education and Research (SGUMDER).

We are sending copies of the report to health authorities, family health service authorities, trusts, universities and other interested bodies, seeking views on the detailed recommendations and on plans for implementation.

Comments are also sought on separate proposals for change in the service increment for teaching dental students, which follow from the recommendations of the Dental Hospital Subgroup of SGUMDER. We have placed in the Library a copy of the consultation paper about the proposals for change.

Subject to consultation and to detailed development work, changes will take effect from 1 April 1996.

Technology Foresight and Forward Look Reports

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the 1995 Forward Look of Government Funded Science, Engineering and Technology and the Report of the Technology Foresight Steering Group.

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has today published the report of the Technology Foresight Steering Group and the 1995 Forward Look of Government Funded Science, Engineering and Technology. Copies of both reports are being placed in the Library and summaries are available from the Printed Paper Office.

The report on Technology Foresight is from an independent steering group chaired by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir William Stewart. We are grateful to Sir William and his colleagues for their report. This builds on those of the 15 Technology Foresight sector panels, all of which have already been published by the Office of Public Service and Science. They have been widely welcomed. The steering group report provides an overarching assessment of the broad areas of science, engineering and technology that will help the UK capture national and global markets over the next 10–20 years. The report also makes recommendations concerning basic research, skills, finance and regulation.

The Government will respond vigorously to the steering group and panel reports. Their recommendations will inform policy and priorities in government, the research councils and universities. The Office of Public Service and Science, in partnership with DTI, will also be undertaking a major campaign to spread awareness of Foresight findings throughout industry.

The key to success will be to get industry and the science and engineering base working in partnership to address the opportunities which Foresight has identified. To stimulate this the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has today announced a "Foresight Challenge". This will be financed through an extra £40 million of public money which he will make available over the next three years, for collaborative initiatives which address Foresight priorities. The challenge will be based on existing mechanisms for industry/science base collaboration, in particular the successful LINK scheme. It will attract matching funds from industry—making £80 million of new resources. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster intends to consult the scientific and business communities about the detailed arrangements for the challenge.

Further details of the Government's plans for the next stage of the Foresight exercise are set out in the 1995 Forward Look. This report provides an up to date statement on the ways in which public funds for science, engineering and technology are being spent throughout government and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Particular emphasis is given to the ways in which government departments and the research councils are refocussing their programmes in support of wealth creation and quality of life in line with the policy objectives of the 1993 White Paper Realising our Potential.

Taking account of Technology Foresight; the Government will continue to work towards a much closer coupling between publicly-funded research and

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development and the wealth creating private sector, to help deliver the goals of enhanced national prosperity and quality of life.

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