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Firearms Act 1968

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library. They have been largely superseded by the more recent 1989 publication Firearms Law: Guidance to the Police, which will be updated in turn once the recent firearms legislation has been fully implemented. A copy of this document has also been placed in the Library.

Victoria Tower: Union Flag

Lord Marlesford asked the Chairman of Committees:

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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The flag is replaced only when it becomes either very faded or is damaged beyond repair by the wind. There are two sizes of flag: the flag for winter flying costs £423 and the flag for summer flying costs £779.

I understand that the flag that flies above the American Congress is replaced daily. A similar scheme in respect of the flag that flies above Victoria Tower could only be introduced in conjunction with the House of Commons.

Eliminating World Poverty: Discussions

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now publish position papers on future policy towards the World Trade Organisation, the United Nations System and the international financial institutions in the light of the recent White Paper entitled Eliminating World Poverty.

Lord Whitty: The Government will be taking forward their dialogue with all the institutions in question to ensure that they contribute appropriately to the task of eliminating world poverty and take account of the interests of developing countries in their activities, in accordance with the policy directions laid down in the White Paper. I have no immediate plans to publish position papers, but further information about progress and future plans will be contained in DFID's departmental report to Parliament.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What specific arrangements have been made to ensure that developing countries (including both the poorest and the smallest developing countries) have a full and meaningful part in the negotiations at the OECD on the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment and to endeavour to ensure that the outcome will be demonstrably as much in the interests of developing countries as those of multinational companies and the industrial world.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Events have been held in Latin America, Africa and Asia as well as at the OECD in Paris to inform and involve developing countries in the MAI. I believe that the MAI represents an opportunity and not a threat for developed and developing countries alike.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment is scrutinised and debated in Parliament before any commitments are made by them in the OECD negotiations.

Lord Clinton-Davis: The MAI will be subject to standard parliamentary procedures for treaties. It will also receive the additional scrutiny required for European Community business, as the EC will be a signatory to the MAI.

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Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements have been made to ensure that the British negotiating position in the OECD negotiations on the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment is kept in line both with the policy objectives set out in the recent White Paper entitled Eliminating World Poverty and with the commitments made at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My department, which leads on the MAI, remains in constant contact with all relevant government departments in order to ensure that the UK's negotiating position remains consistent with overall government policy.

Medical Treatment: Advance Directives

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 20 November 1997 (H.L. Deb., cols. 742-44), whether they consider that doctors have an ethical obligation to comply with advance directives, where the clinical circumstances are such as the patient has considered; and

    Further to the Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 20 November 1997 (H.L. Deb., cols. 742-44), whether they consider that a doctor who acts in accordance with an advance directive, where the clinical circumstances are such as the patient has considered, will not be guilty of negligence or any criminal offence.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): It is a general principle of law and medical practice that any person with the mental capacity to make a valid decision may choose whether or not to accept medical treatment. The courts have held that an advance directive is as legally binding on the health care professionals as a current refusal would be, if it is validly made and clearly applicable in the circumstances.

A valid advance refusal must be taken as seriously by a doctor treating an incapacitated patient as he would that patient's expressed views if competent. To ignore it would be a breach of ethical obligations and the common law. However, the British Medical Association states, "If a health professional is involved in the management of a case and cannot for reasons of conscience accede to a patient's request for limitation of treatment, management of that patient must be passed to a colleague".

An advance directive cannot authorise a doctor to do anything illegal. A doctor who acts in accordance with an advance directive which is clearly valid in the circumstances presented, should not be the subject of any legal proceedings. If there is uncertainty about whether an advance directive is valid, the view of the courts should be sought.

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UNSCOM: Reserve Forces Volunteers

Baroness Ramsay of Courtvale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether members of the reserve forces can serve with the UN Special Commission in Iraq.

Lord Hoyle: A Call-Out Order is in force which permits members of the reserve forces to be called out under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to support operations in the former republic of Yugoslavia and also in the region of Iraq. This includes service with the UN Special Commission in Iraq. Only suitably qualified volunteers are called out.

Museum Entrance Charge Data

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For each of (a) the Royal Air Force Museum, (b) the National Museum of Wales and (c) the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, in which year compulsory entrance charges and voluntary donations were introduced, how many people visited in the year before and the year after the introduction of such charges and donations, what percentage charge this represents and how many people visited the museum in 1996-97.

Lord Hoyle: Of the four museums now forming the Royal Air Force Museum, only the original Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon did not levy entrance charges from the date of opening to the public. The Trustees introduced entrance charges for the original museum in 1988 and visitor figures for the preceding and subsequent financial years are given below:

Admissions 1987-88Admissions 1988-89Change
350,000(4)189,199-46%(4)

Note:

(4) Fully accurate visitor figures have only been maintained since the introduction of entrance charges and the 1987-88 figure is likely to be some 20 per cent. overstated as a result of double counting.


The 1996-97 visitor figure for the Royal Air Force Museum as a whole (including the former Battle of Britain and Bomber Command Museums at Hendon and the Aerospace Museum at Cosford) totalled 241,279 (135,270 for the Hendon site and 106,009 for Cosford).

I am advised by the Welsh Office that the Trustees of the National Museum and Gallery Cardiff introduced entrance charges in 1988 and that visitor figures for the preceding and subsequent financial years were:

Admissions 1987-88Admissions 1988-89Change
447,542267,146-40%

The 1996-97 visitor figure was 243,022.


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I am also advised by the Northern Ireland Office that the Trustees of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum introduced entrance charges in 1964, when the Museum was opened to the public. The 1996-97 visitor figure was 206,042.


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