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Serious Offences by Holders of Diplomatic Immunity

Lord Geddes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Twenty-eight alleged serious offences by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1995. "Serious offences" are defined in accordance with the Report to the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Abuse of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges (1985), as offences which fall into the category which in certain circumstances attract a maximum penalty of 6 months' imprisonment or more: the majority involved drinking and driving and shoplifting.

Five diplomats or members of their families were withdrawn at our request from post in Britain as a result of alleged offences, compared with six the previous year.

Meat Inspection and Hygiene Controls: Review

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

Lord Lucas: Yes. Agriculture and Health Ministers commissioned a report in April 1991 on alternative methods of organising meat inspection and hygiene controls in fresh meat, poultry and game meat plants. The report, entitled Review of Fresh Meat Hygiene Enforcement in Great Britain, was published in June 1991. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

BSE Cases

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Lucas: Attached are tables showing the total number of confirmed BSE cases in the United Kingdom since November 1986, as at 12th April 1996.

To provide the information in the way requested could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Slaughtered Cattle: Disposal of Carcases

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give an assurance that cattle due to be slaughtered in order to control the spread of BSE (amounting to some 250,000 carcases a year), will not be dumped at sea unless positive scientific evidence can be given that the virus will not enter the aquatic food chain.

Lord Lucas: In his statement of 16th April the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced that the waste material, offals and carcase meat resulting from the over 30 months bovine cull scheme will be treated primarily by rendering with the resultant material to be disposed of by the best practicable environmental option. Dumping at sea of BSE-infected carcases or any other bovine material is not an option under consideration.

Public Service: Reimbursement of Travel Costs

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many different rates there are for travelling costs for those engaged in public service; and whether in the interests of efficiency or simplicity there are any plans to consolidate them.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Information on the travel arrangements for the public service as a whole is not held centrally. As far as the Civil Service is concerned, departments and agencies are responsible for the management of and expenditure on travel expenses incurred by their own staff in connection with their employment. This flexibility enables departments and agencies to determine the most cost effective and economic means of reimbursing travel costs, and to ensure that it fully meets their individual operational requirements.

RAF Stations: Annual Formal Inspections and Staff Visits

Lord Craig of Radley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the report in the Daily Telegraph of Tuesday, 16th April 1996 concerning the scrapping of annual formal inspections and formal staff visits to RAF stations is true; and if so whether the

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    intention to ignore Queen's Regulations for the Royal Air Force Section 1 para 52 was formally approved by Ministers and is a consequence of the large number of RAF personnel who have recently been made redundant.

Earl Howe: Annual formal inspections and formal staff visits to Royal Air Force stations have not been scrapped. The measures introduced to minimise the burden on RAF personnel during the current drawdown include provision for the scaling down of annual formal inspections and staff visits between now and March 1997. The continuation and form of annual formal inspections during this period will be a matter for the relevant Air Officer Commanding. There will, however, be no formal station parades and the inspections will be functional rather than ceremonial. Formal staff visits concerned with mandatory requirements, for example, safety, security and accounting, will continue.

Mr. Portillo's Visit to Israel

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary of State for Defence visited the Palestinian National Authority, either at Orient House in Jerusalem or elsewhere, during his recent visit to Israel.

Earl Howe: No.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, during his recent visit to Israel, the Secretary of State for Defence discussed a possible comprehensive security co-operation agreement between Britain and Israel, or between NATO and Israel, on the lines of that now due for signature later this month between Israel and the United States concerning defence against surface-to-surface missiles and the proliferation of non conventional weapons.

Earl Howe: No.

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Nuclear Weapon Policy

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will undertake never to fire a nuclear missile against a non-nuclear state.

Earl Howe: The United Kingdom has given an assurance that we will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United Kingdom, its dependent territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a state towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear weapon state in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state.

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will undertake not to be the first to fire a nuclear missile with intent to kill.

Earl Howe: I refer the noble Lord to my Answer to him of 28th February 1996 (Official Report, col. WA 103).

Passenger Rail Franchise Agreements

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the franchise agreements for those passenger rail franchises that have recently been awarded by the Franchising Director.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Gatwick Express, InterCity East Coast and Midland Main Line franchises commenced operation yesterday, 28th April. Copies of the franchise agreements and ancillary documents have today been placed in the Library. Certain provisions of these documents have been deleted in line with Section 73 of the Railways Act 1993.

The Network SouthCentral franchise will commence operation as soon as practicable and a copy of the franchise agreement will be placed in the Library thereafter.



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