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25 Apr 1996 : Column WA103

Written Answers

Thursday, 25th April 1996.

Works of Art: Transfer Abroad

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a work of art of national importance, the private property of a resident in this country, may be removed by that resident to another of his/her residences abroad without applying for an export licence when no change of ownership is envisaged.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): An export licence is required to despatch from the UK a work of art manufactured or produced more than 50 years before the date of exportation and valued at or above the specified monetary limits. These are set out in Appendix G to the 1994/95 Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House on 24th October 1995. Ownership is not a relevant consideration unless the goods are the personal property of the producer, for example the artist, when a Department of National Heritage export licence is not required.

Woodland Improvement

Lord Wise asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have for encouraging the improvement of Britain's woodlands.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): I am pleased to announce that the Forestry Commission will be giving support, under the Woodland Improvement Grant, to two further projects aimed at improving Britain's woodlands.

The Woodland Improvement Grant was launched in 1995 as part of the Woodland Grant Scheme. The first project is helping to provide for public access to woodlands and will run for a further two years. The Woodland Improvement Grant will now also be available to improve the management of poor quality woods and for work to enhance the biodiversity of woodlands.

In the Rural White Papers, we recognised the importance of bringing woods back into productive management. Now we can support landowners who wish to do restorative work in poor quality woodlands to return these areas to sustainable management. Many aspects of work will receive funding, including uneconomic felling, respacing, rhododendron control and protective work.

Woodland Improvement Grant funds will also be available to help Britain's ancient semi-natural woodlands and to support work in woodlands to conserve rare species such as red squirrel, dormouse,

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capercaillie and various bats and butterflies. These are some of the most important habitats and threatened species identified in Biodiversity, the UK Action Plan, which the Government published following on from the Rio and Helsinki conferences. We expect Woodland Improvement Grant to grant aid work identified in agreed management plans--for example, coppice management and rare butterflies and dormice, fence removal for capercaillie and the conservation of native woodlands in National Parks and priority areas in Scotland.

Within these two umbrella projects, we expect to see local partnerships develop, which not only means that resources are used more effectively but allows such groups to come together and work towards one cause. Woodland Improvement Grant will normally fund around half the cost of the work but, subject to approval by the European Commission, we expect a number of local projects to run as challenge funding where owners have the opportunity to compete for the available funds.

Further information for those wishing to apply for these new grants is available from the Forestry Commission.

Ashford International Station: Continental Rolling Stock

Lord Crook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer of Viscount Goschen on 19th March 1996 (WA 96), whether they intend that standard continental rolling stock will be accommodated into the existing platforms at Ashford International Railway Station.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Ashford International is currently served by Eurostar trains and will continue to be served by these trains following completion of the CTRL. The operators of Eurostar do not at present have any plans to use any other rolling stock for international passenger services through the tunnel. If, in the future, it was decided to invest in new trains with a different loading gauge from those presently used, the track and platforms at Ashford could be readily modified.

London Taxi Fares and Fees

Lord Rooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is going to be an increase in London taxi fares and fees.

Viscount Goschen: We have made an order increasing London taxi fares by about 4.59 per cent. on average with effect from Saturday 27th April 1996. The new tariff will incorporate a minimum charge of £1.40 (including a hire charge of £1.00) for the first 513 metres (561.22 yards) or 111 seconds. The rate will then be 20p for every 256.5 metres (280.61 yards) or 55.5 seconds up to six miles and 20p for each 171 metres (187.07 yards) or 37 seconds thereafter.

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The charge for each additional passenger will be 40p.

We have decided that there will be no increase this year in the fees of London taxi driver and vehicle licences, currently £87 and £78 respectively.

Transport Policy

Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish their response to the national debate on transport.

Viscount Goschen: We are publishing today a Green Paper, providing the Government's response to the transport debate and setting out our vision for the future of transport policy. The Green Paper Transport: The Way Forward, draws together for the first time in nearly 20 years most of the key issues affecting transport policy.

We issued last October a statement on transport priorities in Northern Ireland. The Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales intend to publish transport policy statements later.

Medicines: Dosage Directions and Ingredient Labelling

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take steps to ensure that dosage directions are clearly marked on drug containers and that the words "take as before" or "take as directed" are not written when no further directions are specified on the container; and

    Whether they will take steps to ensure that all drugs dispensed or otherwise have their active ingredients clearly indicated on the container.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): A doctor will prescribe a course of treatment which is specific to an individual patient. When these dosage directions are written on the prescription form they should then be put on the label which the pharmacist attaches to the medicine. When the pharmacist does not know the precise dosage instructions the doctor has given, the words "take as directed" may be shown on the label. The United Kingdom Labelling and Leaflet Regulations require manufactures to provide details of the brand name and the active ingredient (the common name of the medicine) on the container and outer package of all medicines.

Children Act 1989 and Asylum Seekers

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children of asylum seekers they expect to come within the purview of the Children Act 1989 for 1996-97 and for 1997-98 respectively; what

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    percentage of asylum seekers' families that represents; and what estimate have they made of the gross and net cost to central government funds for the years 1996-97 and 1997-98 of reimbursing local authorities' additional costs of complying with the requirements of the Children Act.

Baroness Cumberlege: The latest figures available indicate that at May 1995, 28.5 per cent. of the asylum seekers on income support were in receipt of family premium.

The Government are awaiting evidence from the local authority associations about the number of children and their families seeking support from social services departments. Until this information is available, it is not possible to make accurate cost estimates.

Radiotherapy Quality Assurance

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Quality Assurance Review Technique (QART) standard has now been adopted as a national quality assurance standard for all the 53 radiotherapy treatment centres in the United Kingdom.

Baroness Cumberlege: Quality Assurance in Radiotherapy--A Quality Management System for Radiotherapy (QART) resulted from pilot studies in two clinical centres in Bristol and Manchester, funded by the Department of Health, on how best to implement a radiotherapy quality standard. The guidance was issued to all radiotherapy centres in 1994 and now serves as a model for other radiotherapy centres to follow.

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the staff at the Bristol Oncology Centre and the Christie Hospital, Manchester, are authorised to carry out quality assurance assessments to the Quality Assurance Review Technique (QART) standard at other Untied Kingdom centres, and whether they have done so.

Baroness Cumberlege: This is a matter for the hospitals concerned.

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