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How the principle of open government can be reconciled with their plan to introduce a security-coded Intranet capability to permit Ministers to communicate directly with each other.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The windfall tax should have no effect on the underlying profitability of the companies affected. There will inevitably be some effect on shareholders' funds depending upon how companies choose to finance their tax bills. Dividend policies are a matter for companies. A number have said they expect to maintain strong dividend growth, a view shared by market analysts.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There is no tax charge on exempt pension funds when they receive dividends. But they will no longer receive a subsidy from the Exchequer on their dividend income. The reform of corporation tax has removed a distortion which gave a tax incentive for pension schemes to prefer dividends to long-term growth.
The Lord Advocate (Lord Hardie): It is not the policy of the Scottish prosecuting and investigating authorities to give details of investigative steps. I can however assure the noble Lord that the appropriate steps are being taken to look into these matters.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Government have commissioned an independent and fundamental review of the current operations of the five statutory bodies created by the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979--the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and the National Boards for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in the four countries of the United Kingdom.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: At present there is no evidence to substantiate these allegations. However, if evidence shows that actions of this nature have taken place, we would expect the appropriate action to be taken.
The Government have discretion to withdraw the grant of asylum in the light of evidence that refugee status was obtained by a misrepresentation of material facts or where one of the exclusion clauses of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees would have applied had all the relevant facts been known. We would apply the same considerations where exceptional leave had been granted on humanitarian grounds. Each case would need to be assessed on its individual merits in the light of all the available evidence.
How many cases of regressive autism have been diagnosed in children in each year since the introduction of (a) the MMR vaccine and (b) the measles and rubella (MR) vaccine.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation has been recommended for children aged 12 to 15 months since 1988. Coverage figures are therefore collected on the basis of children immunised with MMR vaccine by their second birthday. Since October 1996, a routine second dose MMR immunisation has been recommended for children as part of the pre-school booster programme. Uptake figures for the second dose are not yet available. Coverage figures and the numbers of five year-old children in the general population are given in the following tables.
|Year||MMR take up rate|
|Year||Number of children age 5|
Data are not collected centrally on the number of cases of autism. It is primarily a matter for the statutory authorities to monitor arrangements for assessment in their area. There is no specific requirement to register children diagnosed with autism. It is estimated that the prevalence rate of classic autism is between 4-5 per 10,000 population and that (including these) about 21 per 10,000 may exhibit some features of autism. Recent research in Scandinavia suggested a prevalence rate of Asperger syndrome of 36 per 10,000.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We have published a consultation document on the review of planning policy for opencast coal today. This consultation paper, which deals with England only, seeks views on the issues raised by the 10-point plan for opencast coal which we prepared when in Opposition, and the options for change. In the light of responses to this consultation, the Government will decide what changes to policy guidance could and should be implemented in interim planning guidance; which would better be accommodated in a full review, planned for 1998, of Minerals Planning Guidance Note 3 (Coal Mining and Colliery Spoil Disposal), and whether any legislative changes are necessary or desirable in the long term. Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library.
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland expects to publish shortly an equivalent paper for Scotland.
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