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Sports Stadia

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: I regret that this information is not available centrally.

Gulf War: Attributable Benefits for Reservists

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Attributable invaliding benefits may be paid to members of the Reserve Forces under Part 6 of the Army Pensions Warrant 1977. Under the terms of this Warrant, entitlement is limited to reservists who have been medically discharged on account of a disability which has subsequently been accepted by the Department of Social Security in the context of the War Pensions Scheme as being attributable to their military service. Similar benefits exist for Royal Navy and Royal Air Force reservists.

The Ministry of Defence has received a number of representations from Gulf veterans about their entitlement to invaliding benefits under these provisions. Claimants have questioned the status of members of the Reserve Forces for the purpose of determining eligibility under the rules; the circumstances and regularity of their discharges; and the attributability of particular disabling conditions to service.

In two specific cases it was found that a defect in the drafting of the rules of eligibility in the Army Pensions Warrant was preventing recognition of entitlement in their particular circumstances. This was the anomaly identified in the document dated 6 March 1996 to which the noble Lady refers. It was corrected when the Warrant was amended in July 1996. So far, no other cases have been found which were affected by this anomaly.

The Ministry of Defence is currently reviewing the rules and regulations which were in place at the time of the Gulf War in respect of medical discharges and entitlement to receive invaliding benefits. New guidance on these matters will be issued to all units in due course. This new guidance will also be published more widely and will be placed in the Library of the House.

In consultation with the Department of Social Security, the Ministry of Defence is also attempting to identify any cases relating to Gulf veterans where a potential entitlement to attributable invaliding benefits may have been overlooked. It is not possible at this stage to determine how long this process will take. Once identified, any such cases will, of course, be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Teacher Training Courses: Fee Remission

Baroness Young asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is the case that the £1,000 fee to be charged for tuition will be remitted in the case of students studying for the PGCE course who intend to teach in schools, but it will not be remitted for those students who intend to teach in a college of further education.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In recognition of the Government's interest in the effective

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training of teachers and in maintaining a healthy supply of teachers, we have announced that the tuition fee contribution of up to £1,000 to be introduced in 1998-99 will not apply to students on PGCE courses. We are currently considering the implications for PGCE courses which do not lead to qualified teacher status, including courses for further education teachers.

Single Currency: Deficit Penalties

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If the United Kingdom were to participate in the single currency, what is the maximum amount expressed in pounds sterling that could be levied as a fine under Council Regulation EC/467/97 for breaking the excessive deficit procedure.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: According to Council Regulation (EC) No. 1467/97, of 7 July 1997, the maximum single fine cannot exceed an upper limit of 0.5 per cent. of GDP. Therefore, the maximum amount of any fine in pounds sterling is dependent on GDP. Fines would not apply to members states that do not participate in the single currency.

Smoking-related Disease: Treatment Cost

Lord Brightman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement in The Times of 14 November (page 22) that £1,700,000,000 a year is spent by the Department of Health in treating tobacco related diseases is thought to be approximately correct.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Yes, figures released recently by the Health Education Authority estimate the annual cost to the National Health Service of treating smoking related disease is between £1.4 billion and £1.7 billion.

Prisoners: Suicides

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prisoners who committed suicide in the prisons in England and Wales during the year 1996-97 were being monitored at the time of death under the Prison Service's F2052SH procedures, and what was the total number of F2052SH forms raised in that year.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Eighteen prisoners were being monitored under Prison Service F2052SH procedures at the time of their deaths, out of a total of 65 self-inflicted deaths during the year 1996-97. Of these 18, the following verdicts were

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recorded at the coroners' inquests: suicide (8), open (2), misadventure (3), accidental death (2). Three inquests remain outstanding. The total number of F2052SH forms raised during 1996-97 was 11,380.

Cookham Wood Secure Training Centre

Lord Allen of Abbeydale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to bring into use the training centre at Cookham Wood for offenders aged 12-14; whether it will include provision for girls; and what area it will serve.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the terms of the contract, Cookham Wood is expected to be available for use in April 1998. The secure training centre will make provision for both boys and girls. The contract requires girls to be accommodated in facilities capable of being completely separated from boys. Sleeping accommodation will be physically separate.

Cookham Wood will accommodate offenders sentenced to a secure training order. The order will be available to all courts in England and Wales and plans to procure four further centres are being taken forward. It is intended that the facilities at the planned secure training centres will be sufficiently flexible to be consistent with the outcome of the review of the whole range of secure accommodation for young offenders already announced by my right honourable friend.

Blood Sports

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support legislation to abolish blood sports.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Two Private Members' Bills to ban the hunting of wild mammals with dogs and to outlaw hare coursing are now before Parliament. The Government made a manifesto commitment to allow a free vote on whether there should be a ban on hunting with hounds, and that will be honoured.

China: Coercive Population Policies

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have made any representations during the last six months to the government of the People's Republic of China about coercive population policies; and if not, whether they will consider doing so.

Lord Whitty: We seek regular dialogue with People's Republic of China officials about allegations of coercive population policies.

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World Bank

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received from the United Kingdom's Executive Director of the World Bank explaining why the bank has not responded to the submissions by Oxfam and other non-governmental organisations on the bank's current review of the resettlement guidelines for people compulsorily displaced by development projects, and whether they will make representations to the bank, (a) on the importance of the independence on its inspection panel procedure (which allows displaced persons to complain about alleged breaches of the Guidelines), and (b) on the need for transparency in the bank's affairs.

Lord Whitty: The Government have made representations to the World Bank on the need for openness and transparency in converting its operational directives (ODs), which are mandatory, to operational policies, bank procedures and good practices guidelines, and for wide consultation throughout the process. We understand that the bank will respond in due course to the large number of submissions it has received on the resettlement guidelines, explaining how these are being incorporated into the new guidelines. On the role of the inspection panel, the Government fully agree that its independence must be protected, and our Executive Director has made representations to the World Bank President, management and the panel itself to this effect.


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