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26 Nov 1997 : Column WA117

Written Answers

Wednesday, 26th November 1997.

EU Tobacco: CAP Funding

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the annual subsidy being paid from the common agricultural policy funds to tobacco growers in the European Union; and what steps are being taken to discourage the growing of tobacco by European Union members.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Annual expenditure on the common agricultural policy tobacco regime is currently approximately 1 billion ecus (around £680 million*). The UK has indicated its regret on many occasions that no steps are being taken by the European Union to discourage the growing of tobacco by its members. As I made clear to the House on 9 June, we will press for the greatest possible degree of reform when the Commission issues its proposals for changes to the regime, now expected in the new year. However the majority of member states grow tobacco and are firmly opposed to measures to discourage production. *Using a conversion rate of £1 = 1.4653 ecus.

EU Tobacco: Exports

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which countries tobacco grown in European Union member states is exported.

Lord Donoughue: European statistics do not distinguish between exports of tobacco grown in the EU and that grown elsewhere. However, the Commission indicate that the main markets for the former are central and eastern Europe, the former USSR, North Africa, the USA and Japan.

Dr. Ann Braidwood: Hearing Loss Review

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the decision to appoint Dr. Ann Braidwood to review a decision to interpret the ageing affect of bilateral sensorineural hearing loss after leaving the Services as unconnected with any injury in the course of service in the Armed Forces, to which she was herself a party, conflicts with the principles of natural justice.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): No. The review has not been set up to review a decision. The aim is to ensure that the scientific evidence on which the current approach to the assessment of hearing loss for the purposes of claims to war disablement pensions is based is clear.

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The terms of reference for the review are to consider the scientific basis of the assessment of service related noise induced sensorineural hearing loss under the war pension scheme, and to answer the following questions:


    (i) What is the progress of noise induced sensorineural hearing loss following removal from the source of noise?


    (ii) Is the combination of noise induced sensorineural hearing loss and subsequent hearing loss due to age more than additive?

The review is being conducted by a team of professionals chaired by the Government's Chief Medical Officer. Apart from the Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Braidwood, the team includes four leading experts in the field of hearing loss, two of whom previously advised the Royal British Legion on the subject. The full composition of the team is as follows:

Chairman

Sir Kenneth Calman KCB, MD, FRCS, FRSE

Chief Medical Officer

Members

Professor Adrian Davis BSc, MSc, PhD

Head of Epidemiology, Public Health & Clinical Section

Medical Research Council, Institute of Hearing Research

Nottingham

Professor Linda Luxon BSc, FRCP

Professor of Audiological Medicine

University College London Medical School

Professor Mark Lutman BSc, MSc, PhD

Professor of Audiology

Institute of Sound and Vibration Research

University of Southampton

Dr. Guy Lightfoot BSc, MSc, PhD

Senior Audiological Scientist

Department of Clinical Engineering

Royal Liverpool Hospital

Member and Secretary

Dr. Elizabeth Braidwood BSc, MBChB, MRCP(UK), MRCGP

War Pensions Medical Policy Adviser

The review commenced in September 1997 when each of the experts on hearing loss was asked, separately and independently, to consider the scientific evidence and provide written comments on the questions set out in the terms of reference, and to submit any relevant scientific papers. The written evidence has been received and formed the basis of the discussion at a meeting on 19 November 1997.

The conclusions of the review team will inform the approach of medical officers of the War Pensions Agency, who certify medical questions arising on war pension claims, including the assessment of the level of disablement due to service. Decisions made in accordance with the medical officer's certificate carry a statutory right of appeal to an independent pensions appeal tribunal.

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Broadcasting: Freedom of Reception

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the European Commission to take steps to ensure that satellite television transmissions from member states, including stations licensed by the United Kingdom Independent Television Commission, are not jammed by third parties, thus negating freedom of expression and information, and trans-national communication.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Freedom of reception is a central principle of international agreements on broadcasting. Article 2a of the EC Broadcasting Directive (97/36/EC) requires member states of the European Union to ensure freedom of reception of television broadcasts from other member states. The European Commission already monitors the implementation of the directive by member states, but has no locus in respect of third parties outside the European Union.

The Council of Europe Convention on Transfrontier Television has a similar provision. Article 4 requires states which are party to the convention to ensure freedom of expression and information in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and to ensure freedom of reception on their territories of programme services which comply with the terms of the convention. Articles 24 and 25 contain provisions on alleged violations of the convention and the settlement of disputes between parties.

Royal Parks: Cycle Tracks

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will encourage the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks to extend the facilities for cyclists in the Royal Parks generally, and in St. James's Park in particular, as recommended by the Royal Parks Review Committee chaired by Dame Jennifer Jenkins, beyond those indicated in the letter dated 5 March 1997 from the Chief Executive to Lord Taverne.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chief Executive of the Royal Parks is fully aware of the desire of Ministers to see additional provision for cycling in the Royal Parks. Cycle tracks have now been completed in Hyde Park on North Carriage Drive and alongside West Carriage Drive, creating a link for cyclists between Bayswater Road and Knightsbridge and allowing people to cycle all the way round Hyde Park. Further cycle tracks are proposed in Greenwich Park and Bushy Park as soon as funds are available.

In St. James's Park the Royal Parks are considering whether there is scope to put a cycle track along The Mall, as the review group report proposes, but the special nature of that area means there are a number of issues that need to be settled before a decision is reached. The World Squares for All proposals, which are currently the subject of public consultation, propose creating a cycle track along Horse Guards Road. The Royal Parks are also considering whether it would be

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feasible to install a cycle track along Queen's Walk in The Green Park and are consulting interested parties.

HMS "Cavalier"

Baroness Strange asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reconsider preserving HMS "Cavalier", the last World War 2 serving destroyer, as a museum ship in Great Britain.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The sale of HMS "Cavalier" has been agreed between South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council and Star Cruises of Malaysia. South Tyneside MBC has maintained the ship for 10 years, but now considers the costs too great to continue. The agreement secured with the purchasers means that the ship will be maintained in a good state of repair.

The cost of refurbishment of HMS "Cavalier" to public access standards has been estimated at around £500,000. In addition, some £325,000 would be needed annually to run an appropriate visitor centre which included HMS "Cavalier" as the main attraction. The Government cannot undertake such expenditure given other competing priorities.

I understand that South Tyneside MBC applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for support earlier in the year but were refused. If an application has already been rejected, those applying for the funds should have received feedback on the reasons for their failure. This will have helped them to decide whether to reapply.

We owe a great debt to those who served in the Navy and I appreciate that the future of HMS "Cavalier" is a matter of importance to them.

The Arts: Waverley Criteria

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with Part I: 18 (Collections) of the 43rd Report of the Reviewing Committee for Export of Works of Art; and, if so, whether they intend to include collections within the Waverley system.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Waverley system aims to maintain the balance between the rights of an individual to sell his or her property and the need to retain the nation's heritage. The Government has no plans to add to the three Waverley criteria which it considers work very well. In cases where collections are owned by an estate which must meet inheritance tax liabilities the acceptance in lieu scheme provides an incentive for owners to offer their property to the nation in lieu of that tax.


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