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Road Measurement Units

Lord Belhaven and Stenton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Viscount Goschen: We have no plans to change to metric distances in the UK. The mathematics National Curriculum requires pupils by the age of 11 to understand imperial units still in daily use and their approximate metric equivalents.

Rail Franchising Director

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Viscount Goshen: The Department of Transport has appointed Saxton Bampfylde International plc to advise it on the recruitment of a successor to Mr. Salmon. The post of Franchising Director will be advertised in due course. The precise terms of the appointment, including the duration of the contract, are matters for negotiation with the candidates.

Dearing Report: Terms of Reference

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): Sir Ron Dearing was given a broad remit in order to allow him to carry out his review as he saw fit. During his review Sir Ron did in fact consider education and training structures in several OECD countries. The results were published in July 1995 in his interim report. Copies are available in the House of Lords Library.

Sir Ron's final report was published on 27th March 1996. It made clear that it is widely considered to be a strength of the qualifications framework in this country that it "makes it possible to combine elements from more than one qualifications pathway". Sir Ron's proposals, which have been welcomed by the Government, would strengthen that aspect of the framework further.

Comfrey

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, in view of the fact that comfrey tablets and capsules undergo no concentrating process but are simply the plant's dried root and leaf, mixed with inert excipients, they have ordered the withdrawal of these products from sale instead of treating them as whole foods whose ingredients should not be assessed in isolation.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The data considered by the Government's independent expert advisory committee, the Committee on Toxicity of Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, indicated that the toxic substances known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids were found in high concentrations in tablets and capsules made from comfrey. The whole food approach was not therefore considered appropriate.

Services for Drug Misusers: Task Force Review

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the report of the Task Force to Review Services for Drug Misusers.

Baroness Cumberlege: The report of the task force, which was chaired by the Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne, President of Queen's College Cambridge, will be published tomorrow. Copies will be placed in the Library.

Social Security Costs

Baroness Castle of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    Whether, following their statement to the House on 29th November 1995, (H.L. Deb, col. 593), that social security is costing the average working person £15 every working day, they will provide information on how that figure is composed; what services and types of pensions and benefits are included in the term "social security"; what is the wage of the "average working person" and how many days per week are included in the term "every working day".

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The information is set out in the table.

Grand total of Social Security spending 1995-96(2)£92.5 billion
Working population (workforce in employment)(3)24.8 million
Working days per year 252
Calculation for the equivalent cost of Social Security per working person per working day is: (rounded to the nearest £1) £15
The average weekly wage of working female adults in 1995-96(4)£275.70
The average weekly wage of working male adults in 1995-96(4)£382

Sources

(2) Departmental Report March 1996 (Table 3)--Grand total of social security spending is made up of; total Department of Social Security expenditure, plus rent rebates in England and Wales financed within housing revenue account and the difference between specific grants paid by the Department of Social Security and total local authority spend on housing benefit and council tax benefit and administration of these benefits, including benefit and administration expenditure financed by the local authorities.

(3) Employment Gazette July 95 (Workforce in Employment).

(4) Inland Revenue.


Passport Agency

The Earl of Balfour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the United Kingdom Passport Agency performed against its targets in 1995-96, and what performance targets they have set for the agency in 1996-97.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): We are pleased to say that the United Kingdom Passport Agency achieved all its targets in 1995-96. The targets for processing properly completed straightforward applications were met despite a 20 per cent. increase in demand for passport services with an average turnaround time for the whole year of 6.1 working days, well within the average target of 7 working days. The Passport Agency's financial target was to reduce its unit cost by 5 per cent. in real terms. The latest indications are that the Agency has achieved a 7.25 per cent. real terms reduction in its cost. Another notable achievement was the re-award of the Chartermark in December 1995.

During 1996-97, we shall expect the Passport Agency to continue to improve its standard of service to the

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public, while seeking further efficiency savings in its operations.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Complaints Report

Lord Dean of Harptree asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received the annual report for 1995 of the Complaints Audit Committee of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

Baroness Blatch: A copy of the report has been placed in the Library. It is a wide-ranging, informative and encouraging document and we are grateful to the committee for its comments and recommendations. These are already receiving careful consideration.

BSE Cases

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give by county the number of cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom that were notified each month since such records were started.

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.

BSE County Summary (Great Britain); Week Ending Friday 12th April 1996
Total number of cases confirmed since November 1986

Region/CountyCases
Northern
Cleveland221
Cumbria5,029
Durham785
Humberside875
Northumberland1,088
Tyne and Wear52
Yorkshire North6,914
Yorkshire South681
Yorkshire West999
Total16,644
Midlands and Western
Cheshire6,456
Derbyshire3,807
Hereford and Worcester2,678
Lancashire5,295
Leicestershire3,175
Manchester194
Merseyside125
Nottinghamshire965
Shropshire3,960
Staffordshire4,094
West Midlands123
Warwickshire1,549
Total32,421
Eastern
Bedfordshire453
Cambridgeshire504
Essex873
Hertfordshire686
Lincolnshire1,176
Norfolk3,984
Northamptonshire1,327
Suffolk1,982
Total10,985
South West
Avon2,975
Cornwall9,898
Devon13,966
Dorset9,407
Gloucestershire3,246
Scilly Isles1
Somerset12,407
Wiltshire7,019
Total58,919
South East
Berkshire828
Buckinghamshire1,388
Hampshire3,880
Isle of Wight795
Kent2,137
London139
Oxfordshire2,226
Surrey1,245
Sussex East1,882
Sussex West3,229
Total17,749
Wales
Clwyd2,472
Dyfed7,735
Glamorgan Mid250
Glamorgan South426
Glamorgan West117
Gwent1,104
Gwynedd686
Powys2,292
Total15,082
Scotland-South
Borders504
Central222
Dumfries2,262
Lothian212
Strathclyde1,816
Scotland-North
Fife334
Grampian1,323
Highland328
Orkney96
Shetland10
Tayside565
Western Isles1
Scottish Total7,673
Overall total for Great Britain159,473

Note:

Cases confirmed in a particular month will have a date of clinical onset of disease and date of report prior to that month. In addition, in counties where incidence is low, the number of confirmed cases may show a reduction when purchased cases are reallocated to other premises in a different county.


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Northern Ireland County Summary: Week Ending 12th April 1996 Total number of cases confirmed since 29th November 1988

CountyCases
Antrim466
Armagh120
Down305
Fermanagh151
Londonderry308
Tyrone348



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