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23 Apr 1996 : Column WA89

Written Answers

Tuesday, 23rd April 1996.

Anti-personnel Landmines

Lord Belhaven and Stenton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the use of anti-personnel landmines.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): I refer my noble friend to the written pursuant answer provided yesterday in another place by my friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the honourable member for Booth Ferry, which confirms that we shall continue to take a lead in working for international agreement on effective measures to address the problems caused by anti-personnel landmines. In order to lend further weight to our efforts, we have taken a series of national decisions following a review of our policy, as follows:


    The UK will work actively towards a total, worldwide ban on anti-personnel mines. Should such a ban be agreed, we would give up our anti-personnel landmines capability, and would destroy our stocks accordingly.


    All our current anti-personnel mines are non-self-destructing. We intend to destroy almost half our current stockpile as soon as practicable. Until a worldwide ban on all anti-personnel mines is agreed, we shall also pursue current procurement plans to replace our existing mines with self-destructing ones.


    We shall also pursue, as an interim step, early international agreement on the elimination of all non-self-destruct anti-personnel mines, which pose the greatest danger to civilians.


    The UK's armed forces do not currently use anti-personnel mines operationally anywhere in the world. Nor will they use our current stocks of non-self-destructing anti-personnel mines in future operations unless, in exceptional circumstances, Ministers are satisfied that their use is essential to ensure that British troops are properly protected and there are no alternative ways of achieving that end.


    In such exceptional circumstances, we would use non-self-destructing anti-personnel mines only in marked, fenced or monitored areas; would clear them as soon as feasible; and any use would be strictly in accordance with the laws of armed conflict, including the strengthened Protocol II to the UN Weaponry Convention which we hope will be agreed shortly.


    We shall also, as a matter of priority, pursue the development of alternatives to anti-personnel mines. Should viable alternatives emerge--none has yet--we would cease to use all anti-personnel

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    mines of any type, and would destroy all our stocks.


    In addition, we shall with immediate effect extend the scope of our export moratorium, to prohibit the export of all types of anti-personnel mines to all destinations.

ECJ: UK Memorandum

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

    When they intend to publish their Memorandum on the European Court of Justice, referred to in paragraph 37 of A Partnership of Nations.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We will publish a memorandum setting out our proposals on the European Court of Justice for the Intergovernmental Conference shortly.

Crown Copyright: Acts of Parliament

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

    Further to the Answer given by Earl Howe on 13th March 1996 (H.L. Deb., WA 69) whether they will give examples of how it is envisaged that "value" may be added to legislative material in such a way as to exempt it from copyright charges and from the requirement of prior permission in respect of its reproduction.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The following examples of reproduction in a value-added context are cited in HMSO's Dear Publisher letter of 1st March 1996: where the official text has had value added to it by compilation with other related text, analysis, commentary, annotation, indexing, or cross-referencing.

Acts of Parliament: Internet Publication

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

    Further to the Answer given by Earl Howe on 13th March 1996 (H.L. Deb., WA 69) whether they will give a more detailed account of the costs involved in putting the full texts of Acts of Parliament on the Internet.

Earl Howe: Three Acts enacted during the current session of Parliament have been so far published on the Internet by HMSO. They are Humber Bridge (Debts) Act 1996 (c.1), Hong Kong (Overseas Public Servants) Act 1996 (c.2), Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (c.3). All three Acts were published on the Internet on 9th April. The total cost involved in putting the three Acts on the Internet was £1,280 including development costs.

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

    Further to the Answer given by Earl Howe on 13th March 1996 (H.L. Deb., WA 69) what steps they intend to take to gauge public response to the release of the full text of Acts of Parliament on the Internet.

Earl Howe: The primary means of assessment will be market research, once a sizeable volume of Acts has been published.

Exercise Co-operative Nugget

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any European members of NATO took part in Exercise Co-operative Nugget in August 1995 which involved the armed forces of the US and 16 east, central and south European countries and member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States; whether this was a NATO or a Partnership for Peace exercise; and who paid for the exercise.

Earl Howe: The UK was the only European NATO member to participate fully in Exercise Co-operative Nugget, a Partnership for Peace exercise, together with the US and Canada. Other European NATO members sent observers. The participation of PfP Partners was funded by the US. NATO Allies met their own costs.

Wheelchairs: Voucher Scheme

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When guidance will be available on the introduction and use of vouchers for the purchase of wheelchairs by people with disabilities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): As soon as possible after regulations establishing the wheelchair voucher scheme have come into effect.

Youth Treatment Places for Juveniles

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Pursuant to the Written Answer given by Baroness Cumberlege on 15th April (WA 53) which local authorities have agreed to provide additional secure places for juveniles under the Secure Accommodation Development Programme; how many of these will be available by the end of 1996; and how the total number then provided will compare with the number of secure places in local authority accommodation on 1st January 1980.

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Baroness Cumberlege: The information requested is shown in the table. By the end of 1996 we expect a total of 374 places in local authority secure accommodation. Equivalent information was not collected centrally in 1980.

Local authorityNumber of new places from within the 170 supply planNew places from within supply plan expected to be available by end of 1996
Northumberland County Council7--
Lancashire County Council8--
Salford City Council125
Leeds City Council9--
Sheffield City Council8--
Coventry City Council88
Staffordshire County Council1212
Derbyshire County Council33
Lincolnshire County Council4--
Nottinghamshire County Council10--
Cambridgeshire County Council102
Essex County Council1616
Northamptonshire County Council1616
Southwark London Borough1616
Hammersmith Fulham London Borough10--
Hampshire County Council55
South Gloucestershire Council66
Devon County Council44
West Glamorgan66
Total17099

Income Support: Accuracy Percentage Target and Outturn

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the target figures and outturn figures for accuracy for Income Support for the years (a) 1992-93; (b) 1993-94; (c) 1994-95 and (d) 1995-96 (target and outturn if available), as measured (i) by internal management checks; and (ii) by the National Audit Office; and what are the estimated costs, or savings, to the taxpayer for each 1 per cent. drop in accuracy below 95 per cent.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The administration of income support is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the noble Baroness.

Letter to Baroness Hollis of Heigham from the Change Management Director, Ms Ursula Brennan, dated 22nd April 1996.

As Peter Mathison is away from the office on annual leave at the moment, I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question asking what were the target figures and outturn figures for accuracy for income

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support for the years (a) 1992-93; (b) 1993-94; (c) 1994-95; and (d) 1995-96 (target and outturn if available), as measured (i) by internal management checks; and (ii) by the National Audit Office (NAO); and what are the estimated costs, or savings, to the taxpayer for each 1 per cent. drop in accuracy below 95 per cent.

Available information on targets and outturn are detailed in the attached tables.

It is not possible to make direct comparisons between percentage point improvements in the accuracy rate and the costs to the taxpayer. Causes of error vary considerably as does the monetary value associated with those errors. The overall monetary value of error in 1994-95, based on the NAO assessment, was £728.8 million, consisting of £546.1 million, in overpayment and £182.7 million underpayment of benefit.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

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Table 1: Accuracy Percentage Target and Outturn--Income Support (Based on a Limited check on the most recent action on the case)

1992-93 per cent.1993-94 per cent.1994-95 per cent.
SofS Target949292
District Figures94.5090.7090.60
Quality Support Figures(1)n/an/a86.30

(1) Quality Support Teams were established in 1994-95.


Table 2: Accuracy Percentage Target and Outturn--Income Support (Based on a Full check involving checking all aspects of the current payment)

1992-93 per cent.1993-94 per cent.1994-95 per cent.1995-96 per cent.
SofS Targetn/an/an/a87
Quality Support Figures(2)n/an/a82.8478.10
NAO Figures83.7083.2083.90not yet available

(2) Quality Support Teams were established in 1994-95.




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