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11 Nov 1997 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Tuesday, 11th November 1997.

Mental Incapacity: Law Commission Report

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish a consultation document on mental incapacity.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): As I said in my Written Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Peston, on 23 October (WA 215), the Government hope to issue a consultation paper seeking views on the recommendations contained in the Law Commission Report on Mental Incapacity by the end of this year.

NATO and Russia

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept Secretary of State Albright's statement concerning discussions within the NATO-Russia Council, that "NATO's allies will always need to agree on every item on their agenda before meeting with Russia".

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We would expect NATO allies to concert their positions closely before a meeting with Russia, as before meetings with other third parties. Mrs. Albright's statement made on 10 July to the United States Foreign Relations Committee was in connection with the NATO/Russia Founding Act.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Lord Whitty's statement on 21 October that it is "the intention of the British Government . . . to ensure that the new security process in Europe is an inclusive one to which the Russians are party" (H.L. Deb., col. 611), is compatible with that made on 7 October by Senator Helms in the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations concerning the establishment of "firewalls in NATO's relation with Russia", which was apparently agreed by Secretary of State Albright; and which policy is being adopted by NATO.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The NATO/Russia Founding Act, signed in Paris on 8 May by all members of NATO and Russia, provided a new framework for consultation with Russia. The NATO/Russia Joint Council gives Russia a strong voice in European security but not a veto in Alliance matters.

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Chewing Gum

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the costs to local authorities, London Underground and other public bodies of removing chewing gum from streets and other public places.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): This information is not available centrally.

Manchester Airport: Airline Charges

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate they have made of the effect on Manchester Airport of the Civil Aviation Authority's recent decision on future airline charges; and whether they will discuss the effect of the charges with Manchester Airport.

Baroness Hayman: The Civil Aviation Authority has responsibility for the economic regulation of airports and made its decision on the future level of airport charges at Manchester Airport in the light of consultation on its proposals based on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's (MMC) report. The MMC has taken full account of the airport's capital investment programme. The price cap is a matter for the CAA and Ministers therefore have no plans to meet Manchester Airport on this issue.

Single Vehicle Approval Specifications

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by the Baroness Hayman on 30 October (WA 265-6), in relation to the consultation exercise on the amendment of the single vehicle approval specifications issued on 1 July 1997, whether they will place in the Library on 15 November a copy of any submissions received, and a copy of any amendments they wish to make of the specifications.

Baroness Hayman: To date, we have received some 900 representations, of which the majority are pre-printed duplicates. In the consultation document, we informed consultees that we might, if asked, divulge a summary of their responses, but not the actual text. We will not therefore be making the actual responses publicly available. In the light of this undertaking and given the large number of responses, it does not seem appropriate to place copies in the Library but once the response have been analysed we will write to the noble Earl with details of amendments proposed by consultees to the proposals on which we consulted.

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Single Vehicle Approval:Kit and Replica Cars

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by the Baroness Hayman on 30 October (WA 265-6), in relation to new vehicle designs, or changes to vehicle designs or components, whether they will introduce requirements for (a) kit and replica car manufacturers to apply for single vehicle approval under the Motor Vehicle (Approval) Regulations 1996 before supplying such vehicles or components for sale to the public; and (b) the components manufactured by such manufacturers to comply with a manufacturing standard or other existing approval.

Baroness Hayman: A system of single vehicle approval for kit and replica cars has already been provided for under the Motor Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 1996. When these enter fully into effect, each kit and replica car will need to be inspected and approved individually before it is registered and used on the road, whether it is similar to a previous kit or replica car, or whether it is a new design.

It is already an offence under Section 76 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to supply defective or unsuitable vehicle parts. The standards for vehicle parts are, in turn, prescribed in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicles (Lighting) Regulations 1989. These regulations include the standards required for vehicles subject to Single Vehicle Approval.

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by the Baroness Hayman on 30 October (WA 265-6), whether it is the case that some kit cars and replica cars were advertised prior to 30 October 1997 as "SVA tested", "SVA compliant" or "guaranteed to pass the SVA test" when the cars in question had not at that date received single vehicle approval; and, if so, what action they will take to prevent such advertisements from appearing in future.

Baroness Hayman: We are aware of only one instance where a vehicle was declared in a published document to have been SVA-tested when it had not been examined by the Vehicle Inspectorate. The publisher of the document was informed and took corrective action. Because Single Vehicle Approval requires each example to be tested individually, it is not possible to pass judgment on claims about compliance with the SVA standards until a vehicle has undergone the examination; we shall make this clear if such claims are drawn to our attention.

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Filwood Playing Fields, Bristol: Development

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What statutory controls there are over the disposal of playing fields by local authorities for development; and whether Bristol City Council have complied with these controls in the case of Filwood playing fields.

Baroness Hayman: There are no general statutory controls which apply specifically to the disposal of playing field land for development. However, specific controls may apply in particular circumstances; for example, where a local authority wish to dispose of land under planning or local government legislation at less than the best consideration that can reasonably be obtained, and, in the case of school playing fields, where regulations prescribe minimum area and quality standards.

Bristol City Council submitted an application to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, on 22 October 1997, seeking approval to the disposal of part of the playing fields under Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972. It is for the council to ensure that they comply with any relevant statutory requirements. In particular, they will need to advertise the disposal of open space and to consider objections received before the Secretary of State can consider the application.

National Air Quality Strategy

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to implement the National Air Quality Strategy.

Baroness Hayman: The Government are pleased to announce that the Air Quality Regulations 1997 have been laid today. These regulations will set the National Air Quality Strategy objectives in statutory form and initiate the system of local air quality management under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995. My right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment also announced in July that this Government would initiate an immediate review of the National Air Quality Strategy. This review will look at all aspects of the strategy, including the objectives themselves and the measures required to meet them.


The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    At what rate they would expect the organophosphate fenitrothion applied to waxed canvas material to break down (a) when exposed

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    constantly to the elements; (b) when exposed intermittently to the elements; and (c) when kept folded and contained in bags in a confined space; and

    At what level they would have expected the organophosphate fenitrothion to have been present in the tent tested by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (referred to in the letter to the Countess of Mar from the Assistant Private Secretary to the Minister for the Armed Forces dated 9 October 1997) at the time of the tent's purchase in 1993, assuming that it had not been exposed to the elements since the application of the chemical, and at what concentration the chemical would originally have been applied.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Organophosphate compounds which have been applied to any surface will normally break down over a period of years. The rate at which this process takes place depends on many factors, such as moisture levels, temperatures, acidity or alkalinity, and sunlight. The breakdown process may be delayed if the compounds are used on material that has been treated with a wax finish, as was the case for the tent section tested by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist.

In the absence of any data concerning environmental factors, it is not possible to provide an accurate assessment of the levels of fenitrothion that would have been present on the tent in 1993, or to estimate at what rate fenitrothion would break down under the conditions given in the examples described. There is no evidence, however, that either in 1993, or during the Gulf conflict itself, the health of any individuals has been damaged by their having come into contact with pesticide residues on these tents.

The formulation of the fenitrothion-based pesticide which was made available to British troops during the Gulf conflict was a 40 per cent. emulsion concentrate. One part of this concentrate was diluted with 40 parts water and, when applied to tentage, the diluted solution was used at a rate of approximately 4.5 litres per 100 square metres.

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