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Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Decisions, 6 June

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Simon of Highbury: In the Mansion House speech on June 12 the Chancellor said that the new Monetary Policy Committee had already shown it was prepared to take action to keep inflation under control.

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Maintaining low inflation is an important part of economic stability on which high levels of growth and employment depend.

Lloyd's Former Members: Regulatory Requirements

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they intend to take to prevent the dissipation or distancing of the personal funds of former Lloyd's Names who ceased to be members of Lloyd's with the benefit of Equitas reinsurance and who are now subject to regulation by the DTI under Part II of the Insurance Companies Act 1982, and whether other than by maintaining a record of the addresses of such Names they will now ascertain the nature and value of such funds in order to underwrite the contractual liability of such Names towards their policyholders.

Lord Simon of Highbury: Where former members of Lloyd's have reinsured their 1992 and prior liabilities with Equitas, any claims from policyholders will be met from the assets which have been transferred to Equitas for that purpose. Where such former members have additionally reinsured all their outstanding liabilities from subsequent years through Lloyd's, it will be for the appropriate ongoing members of Lloyd's to meet relevant claims. Only in the unexpected event of Equitas or, where applicable, Lloyd's, failing to pay such claims in full might there be a call on the personal funds of former Names.

The exercise of the Secretary of State's powers under Part II of the Insurance Companies Act 1982 in relation to former members of Lloyd's must be seen in that context. For the time being, the Secretary of State will maintain a record of the addresses of such former members. However, for so long as the relevant reinsurance arrangements continue in force and the claims against policies underwritten by former members' are being paid in full, I do not consider it necessary for the protection of policyholders for the Secretary of State to impose any further regulatory requirements upon, or take any further action against, former members of the Society.

Probation Officers in Prisons

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many probation officers were working in prisons in England and Wales in May 1995, in May 1996 and in May 1997; and what plans they have to increase this last number.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Staffing statistics are compiled at 30 June and 31 December each year. The number of probation officers working in prisons in England and Wales in June 1995 was 645 and in June 1996 was 586. Figures for 1997 are not yet available.

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It is for the Prison Service and the Probation Service to work closely together to decide on the number of staff required to deliver effective throughcare.

"Refugees and Criminal Justice"

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied Refugees and Criminal Justice by Liz Hales, published by the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge (Cropwood occasional paper no. 21); and whether they intend to take remedial action.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government have studied the report entitled Refugees and Criminal Justice and noted its contents. The Prison Service is currently reviewing its guidance on immigration detainees and has taken these recommendations into account.

Tobacco: Advice on Alternative Crops

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Horticulture Research International at Wellesbourne has received requests for information or advice from tobacco growing countries in Europe in respect of alternative crops or land uses.

Lord Donoughue: Horticulture Research International advises that it has received no such requests.

Poultry Production Controls

Lord Eatwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are proposing to take in the interest of consumer safety to ensure that adequate controls are put in place to cover the production of poultry meat in premises processing fewer than 10,000 birds per year.

Lord Donoughue: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has asked for a review to be conducted of the exemption from Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 of premises slaughtering fewer than 10,000 birds per year.

As part of that review, he will be seeking urgent advice from the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) on the health risks associated with the continued sale of New York Dressed (NYD) and effile poultry from unlicensed premises.

Rodent Traps

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approve of the use of sticky traps to catch rodents.

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): While the Government accept that sticky traps are not an ideal form of rodent control, they are needed under certain, limited circumstances, such as to control pests in food premises. An industry code of practice makes it clear that sticky traps should only be used as a last resort where other forms of control have failed.

Wild Boar

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the increase in the number of wild boar, in particular in relation to their potential as carriers of swine fever, and their unpredictable nature and the consequent risk to the public.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits the release of animals not ordinarily resident in Great Britain in a wild state. The wild boar qualifies as such an animal.

There have been alleged sporadic sightings of wild boar in the wild, but not all have been substantiated, and there is no confirmed evidence of established breeding populations in the wild.

Feral boar do not at present pose a notifiable disease threat because Great Britain is free of Classical Swine Fever. In response to reports of the presence of feral wild boar, the Government have engaged in a risk assessment exercise.

Chemical Effects on Human Health

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the expected effects on human health of acute and chronic exposure to propane phosphonic dichloride, ethyl propane phosphoryl dichloride, propyl phosphonic dichloride, ethyl succinyl chloride and thionyl chloride, both alone and in combination.

Baroness Hayman: The information requested on these highly specialised chemicals is not readily available. The effects on human health will depend very much on how they are manufactured and used and the level and route of exposure. The noble Countess has asked for information about the manufacture and use of these chemicals in a separate Parliamentary Question and that information should provide a basis for a more detailed reply. I will write to the noble Countess in due course.

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Motorail

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the subsidy which would be required in order to restore the former Motorail services.

Baroness Hayman: The Government have made no estimate of the cost of re-instating former Motorail services.

Channel Tunnel: EC Open Access Directive

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the European Directive 91/440 on Open Access applies to the Channel Tunnel railway in part or whole.

Baroness Hayman: Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways applies to the Channel Tunnel except in relation to shuttle services for road vehicles.

Rail Regulator

Lord Skelmersdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for Transport, Ms Jackson on 11 June (HC Deb., WA 476), whether they are contemplating changing the independent status of the Rail Regulator.

Baroness Hayman: We are examining all the options for making regulation of the rail industry more accountable and effective. We have taken no decisions.

Roadside Emission Testing: Penalty Charging

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that the pilot schemes for roadside emission testing take into account the public's reaction to the proposal to issue a penalty charge regardless of whether or not the motorist has properly maintained their vehicle.

Baroness Hayman: I hope to make an announcement shortly about proposals to involve local authorities in checking vehicle emissions at the roadside. The proposals will be subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval. We will naturally take account of the views of others in finalising our proposals, although we will also need to ensure that we do not undermine the whole purpose of the scheme.

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