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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): Excluding life peers created under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 (as amended) and peers holding writs in acceleration, 362 life peers have been created since 3 May 1979. They can be divided as follows:
Lord Richard: The edition of Questions of Procedure for Ministers issued in 1992 offered Ministers three means of avoiding an actual or apparent conflict of interests between their ministerial responsibilities and their private investments. These were disposing of the interest, allocating ministerial responsibilities to avoid any conflict, or, where ministers held an investment portfolio consisting of a variety of different shares, placing them in a blind trust. Ministers of this Government continue to abide by these principles.
My honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food endorsed fully the view that we must release the results fairly and provide the public with the best possible advice on their significance. These changes will benefit consumers by enabling them to make a more informed choice about the food that they buy. The only surveys which will be excluded from these arrangements are those for which brand names have no bearing on the interpretation of the results, such as dietary surveys involving individual people or exploratory surveys aimed at developing analytical methods.
In addition, my honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food proposes to review the current arrangements for reporting surveys on pesticides, veterinary residues and microbiological safety of food which are administratively different to food chemical surveys. We will report on proposed changes to the House as soon as possible.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We have revised the guidance in Circular 2/93 which deals with the interpretation of information recorded on statements which accompany definitive maps. We have written today to the Local Government Associations and others with an interest to advise them that paragraph 31 of the circular has been replaced with the following:
Baroness Hayman: We have been looking at the implications of a recent High Court judgment for the evidence that is required to prove that vehicular rights of way have been established through regular use. We have concluded that vehicular rights cannot be claimed through 20 years' use (under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980) if access to the route in question was prohibited by the Road Traffic Acts during any of those 20 years. The fact that people have driven along a footpath or bridleway does not mean it has ceased to be a footpath or bridleway. Vehicle users will not be able to claim new rights of way on the basis of past use unless the landowner has dedicated a way for their use.
The Lord Chancellor: The Government do not at present believe that any measures other than the circulation of the judgment are necessary to ensure that Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is interpreted in accordance with Article 10 of the convention.
The purpose and application of the advisory cost limit remain unchanged. It is intended to act as a threshold for disproportionate cost Parliamentary Questions (PQs). Any written PQ where the marginal cost of preparing the Answer is considered likely to exceed the threshold may be refused in whole or in part on the grounds of disproportionate cost. Alternatively the Minister may decide that the PQ is to be answered irrespective of cost. There is no advisory limit for oral PQs. The advisory limit continues to be based on eight times the average marginal cost for written PQs, which is now £62, rounded to the nearest £50 for convenience of application.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Questions of Procedure for Ministers was published by the previous administration, and its 1997 successor will be published. In addition the Cabinet Office had produced two booklets Cabinet Committee Business--a Guide for Departments and Guide to Legislative Procedures. Copies of both documents are available in the Library of the House.
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