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16 Oct 1996 : Column WA215

Written Answers

Wednesday, 16th October 1996.

Council of Ministers: Statistical Data

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For the year ended 31st December 1995, how many meetings of the Council of Ministers (and each type thereof) took place and what was the number of directives, regulations and decisions respectively adopted by them during the year.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): This information is contained in the Review of the Council's Work. The 1996 edition, which covers the year 1995, will be published at the end of the year.

European Commission Documents 1995

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For the year ended 31st December 1995, what were the numbers of each of the following groups of documents issued by the European Commission:

    (a) Instruments

    (i) regulations

    (ii) decisions

    (iii) directives

    (iv) recommendations

    (v) opinions

    (b) Documents sent to the Council

    (i) proposals for directives

    (ii) proposals for regulations

    (iii) proposals for decisions

    (iv) other communications, memoranda and reports.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The numbers of these documents issued by the European Commission for the year ended 31st December 1995 are:

(a) Instruments

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(i) regulations, 2801

(ii) decisions, 3025

(iii) directives, 35

(iv) recommendations, 25

(v) opinions, 298

(Answer by M. Santer to a written question in the European Parliament, 15th July 1995)

(b) Documents sent to the Council

(i) proposals for directives, 71

(ii) proposals for regulations, 290

(iii) proposals for decisions, 236

(iv) other communications, memoranda and reports, 275

(Commission's General Report of Activities of 1995)

NATO Enlargement: Costs

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What range of costs they anticipate in the eastward enlargement of NATO.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is impossible to predict the likely costs of NATO enlargement until we know who will join, when, and on what terms.

London Transport Buses

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was, for each of the last five years, the annual cost to London Transport Buses of tendering planning and infrastructure work in connection with their bus operating contracts; and

    What was, for the last five years, the annual subsidy paid to London Transport Buses for the operation of the London bus network; and

    What was, for each of the last five years, the number of staff working for or with London Transport Buses on tendering, planning and infrastructure work in connection with their bus operating contracts.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The following figures have been provided by London Transport Buses:

1995-961994-951993-941992-931991-92
Operating subsidy(1) £ million (outturn)305561126142
Staff(1) (year end)303302n/an/an/a
Annual Cost(1) £ million (outturn)1313n/an/an/a

(1) London Transport Buses was created in 1994 at the time of the sale of the London Buses Ltd bus operating subsidiaries. Figures prior to 1994-95 reflect operational changes prior to privatisation and are restated to show fair comparison for the on-going business. Figures are before charging depreciation, renewals and restructuring costs.

(1) Based on all administrative, surveying and supervisory staff associated with tendering, planning and infrastructure work. Information is not available for earlier years.

(1) Includes salaries, wages, infrastructure maintenance and timetable posting. Excludes depreciation, renewals and project revenue expenditure. Information is not available for earlier years.


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School Libraries: Survey

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Office for Standards in Education has recently completed a survey of school libraries; whether the results of this survey will be published; and, if not, whether Members of Parliament and other interested persons or organisations may have access to the results of this survey.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): This is a matter for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, who heads the Office for Standards in Education. I have asked Mr. Chris Woodhead to write to the noble Baroness.

Social Affairs Council, 24th September

Lord Wade of Chorlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the EU Social Affairs Council on 24th September.

Lord Henley: I attended the Social Affairs Council in Brussels on 24th September.

There was a discussion of a draft decision setting up an Employment and Labour Market Committee. General support for the principle of establishing a committee was expressed.

The Posted Workers Directive was adopted as an "A" point. The UK and Portugal voted against the directive. Common position was reached unanimously on an amendment to the Carcinogens Directive.

There were a series of presentations, including a Commission presentation on a Commission Communication on Information and Consultation of Workers; a Presidency progress report on the single report on employment for the second Dublin European Council in December; information on the Burden of Proof Directive, which is being taken forward by the other member states under the Social Protocol; and a Commission Green paper on the Social and Societal aspects of the Information Society.

Student Loans Company: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Student Loans Company's 1996 annual report and accounts will be available.

Lord Henley: I have today placed copies of the report and accounts in the Library.

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Royal Travel: Funding

Viscount Whitelaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the future funding of Royal travel by rail and air.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Government propose, with Her Majesty the Queen's agreement and following consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, to invite Parliament to approve next year a single grant-in-aid on the Department of Transport's vote for official Royal travel by rail and air. The Royal Household will use this to purchase the services of the Royal Train, of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron or suitable commercial providers.

At present these costs are met by the Department of Transport and the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as part of their general expenditure. The aim of the change is to have one focus--the Royal Household--responsible for securing the best value for money from this public money and to improve accountability to Parliament through the Department of Transport.

The grant-in-aid from the Department of National Heritage, under which the Royal Household takes on first line of responsibility for Property Services on the Occupied Royal Palaces, provides a suitable model. It has enabled savings in excess of 25 per cent. in real terms to be achieved since it was introduced in 1991. An annual report on the new grant-in-aid for Royal travel will be presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Transport. Once the new system is established, targets for savings will be agreed and performance against them published in this annual report.

The new grant-in-aid will not cover expenditure on the Royal Yacht, which is due to be decommissioned in 1997.

I am confident that these measures, which are consistent with modern financial management, will improve the cost-efficiency and public accountability of this expenditure.

Foetal Sentience: All-Party Pro-Life Group Report

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that the recent report produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group will be disseminated to the chairman of all health authorities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): We have no plans to distribute this report.

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Council of Europe Human Rights and Biomedicine Convention

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the Council of Europe's draft convention for the protection of human rights and dignity of the human being with regard to the application of the biology and medicine bioethics convention; and if not, why not.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Government have supported the development of the draft convention. The current draft of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine has yet to be considered by the Committee of Ministers, who have the right to amend the text.


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