Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


22 Jul 1997 : Column WA151

Written Answers

Tuesday, 22nd July 1997.

Life Peers Created Since 1979

Lord Dean of Beswick asked the Leader of the House:

    How many life peers have been created since the 1979 general election; and how many have taken the Whip of each of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

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:


    165 Conservative peers


    98 Labour peers


    23 Liberal or Liberal Democrat peers


    1 SDP peer


    71 Cross-Bench peers


    4 other

This reflects the Whip each took on their entry to the House of Lords, if any, and is based on information supplied by the various Whips' offices.

Ministers: Private Investments

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all Ministers are now permitted to keep substantial numbers of shares in their personal possession as opposed to the former practice of placing investments in blind trusts.

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.

Food Chemical Surveys: Information

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to ensure that the public are properly informed of the results of food chemical surveys.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The Government believe that the public should be

22 Jul 1997 : Column WA152

properly informed about all food safety matters. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has therefore decided to make some important changes to improve the reporting of results from our regular food chemical surveys. He plans to increase the amount of information available about surveys and ensure wider publication of the results. For all relevant surveys, the full results for individual samples, including brand names, will be given. Furthermore, he will open up the food chemical surveillance programme to greater public scrutiny by publishing information on surveys to be undertaken.

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.

Maps: Circular 2/93 Guidance

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What amendments they propose to make to the guidance on the interpretation of definitive statements in Circular 2/93.

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:


    "Information recorded in the definitive statement about position or width or as limitations or conditions affecting a public right of way is conclusive evidence of position, width, limitations or conditions. Information may be recorded in the definitive statement which, in practice, restricts the use of the way by those whose rights to use it are recorded on the definitive map. Where such information is not about position or width, or is not recorded as a limitation or condition, highway authorities should examine the evidence in each case in order to resolve the inconsistencies."

22 Jul 1997 : Column WA153

Vehicular Rights of Way: High Court Judgment

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice they propose to issue on definitive maps and statements in the light of recent High Court judgments.

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.

Goodwin v. UK: Judgment

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe are satisfied that the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 27 March 1996 in Goodwin v. UK has been satisfactorily executed by the United Kingdom, and if not, why not.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The judgment is still under consideration by the Committee of Ministers pursuant to Article 54 of the convention.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures have been taken to secure compliance by the United Kingdom with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on 27 March 1996 in Goodwin v. UK, and thereby ensure that Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is interpreted and applied in a manner which protects journalists' sources against unnecessary disclosure, in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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.

Written Answers: Advisory Cost Limit

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise the advisory cost limit of £450 for answering written parliamentary Questions.

22 Jul 1997 : Column WA154

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The advisory cost limit was last increased in 1993 (18 February, WA cols. 77-78) and was further increased to £500 from yesterday.

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.

Ministers: Security Vetting

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Ministers in the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Northern Ireland Office, Home Office and in the office of the Minister without Portfolio, had not been positively vetted before 1 July 1997.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It has been a policy of successive governments that Ministers of the Crown are not subject to security vetting.

Guide to Government Procedures

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a Cabinet Office manual providing a comprehensive, easy to use guide to central government decision-making.

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.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page