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Strategic Defence Review: Procurement Plans

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: One of the aims of the Strategic Defence Review is to ensure that the Armed Forces are properly equipped to undertake the tasks asked of them. Our procurement plans will therefore be considered as part of the review, including projects already on contract. However, during the review there will be no moratorium and projects where contracts have already been placed will continue. Decisions on major equipment programmes not yet under contract will be considered on their individual circumstances in relation to progress with the review.

Pregnancy: Protection against Dismissal

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): As the report notes, it is not always clear how European law on rights during pregnancy applies in particular circumstances. My department monitors developments in case law carefully and when necessary will amend published guidance where cases result in clarification of the law. As the report also says, several women have successfully claimed their rights through the courts.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Lucas asked the Leader of the House:

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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The figures for each department of state, up to and including 4 July 1997, are set out in the table below.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food171630
Education and Employment54760
Environment, Transport and the Regions64700
Foreign and Commonwealth Office44640
Home Office144010
International Development5200
Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers2000
Lord Advocate's Department0000
Lord Chancellor's Department3300
National Heritage21320
Northern Ireland Office5100
Office of Public Service0630
Privy Council Office9110
Scottish Office2600
Social Security1741
Trade and Industry21361
Welsh Office0000

Lord Lucas asked asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Richard on 4 June (WA 39), whether they are now able to confirm that, if so requested by a Peer, they will send the personal copy of a reply to a Question for Written Answer to him by e-mail; and, if so, how such a request should be made.

Lord Richard: The great majority of government departments are in principle able to provide personal copies of Answers to Questions by e-mail, and willing to do so. However, a number of technical questions arise, and the House authorities and the government departments will need to satisfy themselves that these can be resolved. The Government look forward to testing this service once these steps have been taken.

Minister without Portfolio

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the responsibilities of the Minister without Portfolio, and to whom does he report.

Lord Richard: The Minister without Portfolio is responsible for assisting the Prime Minister and other ministerial colleagues in implementing government policy and presenting it effectively. He has specific responsibility for the Government's interests in the Millennium Experience at Greenwich.

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is the Accounting Officer for the office of the Minister without Portfolio.

Lord Richard: The Secretary of the Cabinet.

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Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the forecast total cost of the office of the Minister without Portfolio during the current financial year.

Lord Richard: The forecast total cost of the office of the Minister without Portfolio from 2 May to the end of the current financial year is £373,000.

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are employed in the office of the Minister without Portfolio and what are their duties.

Lord Richard: Five: two private secretaries supporting the Minister without Portfolio in his responsibilities for the implementation and presentation of Government policy; a diary secretary; and two personal secretaries with typing and other administrative duties. He also has an Adviser, not paid by the Government.

Department of National Heritage

Lord Monkswell asked the Leader of the House:

    What plans the Government have for the Department of National Heritage; and if he will make a statement.

Lord Richard: The Government have decided to refocus the Department of National Heritage to play a major part in the regeneration of our country for the future, working with the cultural industries, local government and the private sector to support creativity and also to create wealth and employment. As an expression of this change, the department will be renamed the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and its responsibilities widened to include the music industries, which contribute some £2.5 billion to gross domestic product each year.

My right honourable friend, who will be known as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will develop a new and dynamic approach to the "creative industries". He will carry through the Government's commitment to a strategic vision for the British arts, media and cultural industries that matches their real power and energy.

The formal steps necessary to change my right honourable friend's title are in hand and are expected to be completed shortly.

Food Standards Agency

Baroness Cumberlege asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of the new Food Standards Agency; and

    What are the terms of reference of the new Food Standards Agency; and

    What is the proposed membership and method of working of the new Food Standards Agency.

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): A period of consultation on the report by Professor Philip James on a Food Standards Agency has recently concluded. The Government are now considering the issues raised by the responses to that consultation, including the matters mentioned by the noble Baroness, with a view to reaching decisions on how to proceed in establishing the agency. It is the Government's intention to publish a White Paper in the autumn.

North East Drift Net Fishery

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which department or agency they intend should, following Scottish devolution, have responsibility for the north east drift net fishery; and to what extent they intend that Scotland should contribute to the costs of eliminating that fishery.

Lord Donoughue: The north east coast salmon drift net fishery is regulated by the Environment Agency and is subject to the salmon and freshwater fisheries legislation applying in England and Wales; this situation will not be affected by Scottish devolution. The fishery is currently being phased out, and there are no plans to use public funds to accelerate this process.

House of Lords Painting

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether the informal committee on the painting of the House in session has considered selling places in the public gallery to members of the public in order to raise money for the House of Lords Art Fund.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): No.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether the informal committee on the painting of the House in session is prepared to consider suggestions for the title of the painting from members of the House of Lords.

Lord Boston of Faversham: The question of whether the painting is to be formally titled and, if so, who is to decide such a title has not yet been considered by the informal committee.

Criminal Trials: Judges' Summing Up

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult about and consider whether a judge presiding over a criminal trial should continue to sum up the facts in the case as well as directing the jury in relation to the law.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, which reported in 1993, considered the extent to which the judge should refer to the facts of the case in the course of his summing up, including whether he should sum up the facts of a case at all. The Royal Commission concluded that it would not be sensible to lay down a rule on how far a judge should sum up the facts of a case, as the circumstances will vary from case to case, but agreed with the views of the Court of Appeal in R v Wilson and recommended that judges should not have to give a summary of the evidence for and against the prosecution in every case.

When consulted about this recommendation, the senior judiciary took the view that they were already making full use of the flexibility they currently possess, which enables them to include in their summing up only those facts of the case which they consider necessary. In the case of Brower [1995] Crim LR 746, which was heard after the Royal Commission reported, the Court of Appeal took the view that in the majority of cases it was necessary for the judge to sum up on the facts in order to assist the jury and ensure a fair trial.

In these circumstances, the Government have no plans to consult further on this proposal.

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