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Lord Gilbert: Construction of the fourth and final Trident submarine is proceeding well at the yard of GEC Marine at Barrow in Furness. I was privileged to be present last week at two Trident missile test firings successfully carried out by HMS "Vigilant", the third vessel of the class, which will be entering service on time in the fairly near future.
Consistent with our policy of maintaining a four-boat Trident fleet, we have concluded that the planned US Fiscal Year 1998 order for seven further Trident missile bodies should go ahead. This will bring the number of Trident missiles purchased or ordered by the UK to 58.
It remains our policy to work towards verifiable global disarmament. For the present, however, we are committed to the maintenance of a minimum level of deterrence, and this missile order is consistent with that aim. Our future missile and warhead requirements remain under consideration in the Strategic Defence Review.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Government attach great importance to assessments of the potential benefits and costs of action or lack of action as regards all Community environmental legislation. The Commission is committed to the principle that all proposals for legislation should be accompanied by economic analyses and the Government expect these to be of an adequate standard to allow proper consideration of the proposal by member states consistent with Article 130r. The Government have some concern that this is not always the case, for example, in respect of the proposal for a water framework directive.
Baroness Hayman: The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions provides leaflets on seat belt wearing to local authority Road Safety Officers and the Police. The department is currently considering plans for future publicity campaigns.
At current wearing rates, rear seat belts are saving an estimated 140 lives and 1,800 serious casualties per year, compared to no belts worn. With full compliance, an estimated further 120 lives and 1,100 serious injuries could be saved per year.
Baroness Hayman: Enforcement of the vehicle seat belt regulations is a matter for individual chief officers of police. Offenders are commonly issued with a fixed penalty notice, or warned, but prosecutions are also undertaken.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Ministers are considering how to approach the results of the programme of prior options reviews of public sector research establishments (PSREs), which were announced by the previous government in January 1997. In doing so, they will bear in mind the need to minimise any continuing uncertainty within these establishments, and the importance of sustaining the morale and commitment to their staff. Appointments of senior PSRE staff are carried out in accordance with the rules on public appointments, based on the principle of fair and open competition.
Lord Clinton-Davis: The post of Director of the British Geological Survey (BGS) was advertised earlier this year. Following a rigorous selection process, Dr. David Falvey has been appointed to the post. He will take up the post in Janaury 1998 following the retirement of the current Director, Dr. Peter Cook.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The first contracts for the refurbishment of the Lord Chancellor's residence have been let and work has begun. An anticipated date for the completion of the project will not be available until the remaining contracts have been let.
Lord Boston of Faversham: All the work to refurbish the Lord Chancellor's residence will be undertaken in accordance with the House's policies on competitive tendering. This will not be one overall contract, but several covering specialist works and the supply of furnishings.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Grant Maintained Schools Foundation is a company limited by guarantee, not a voluntary organisation or non- departmental public body. It was notified on 14 May that government grant would cease as from the end of June, and the final grant payment in respect of June was paid in June. It is for the foundation in the first instance to consider the consequences for its employees. The department has been in discussion with the foundation about the arrangements for winding up the foundation following the termination of grant.
The Grant Maintained Schools Advisory Committee has not had its grant terminated, although the grant has been reduced from its previous level. The committee was informed on 3 June that the department was prepared to make further grant available up to a maximum of £15,000 during the remainder of this financial year, as part of a wider commitment to support communication and consultation between the department and the grant maintained schools sector.
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