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4 Dec 1997 : Column WA199

Written Answers

Thursday, 4th December 1997.

Calves' Milk Replacement: Bovine Blood Cells and Plasma

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the use of bovine blood cells and plasma is permitted in milk replacement for calves; and, if so, why.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Bovine blood cells and plasma can be incorporated in milk replacers for calves. Commission Decision 94/381, a BSE protection measure, introduced the ban on feeding mammalian protein to ruminants. Article 1.3 of that decision specifies certain products which are exempt from the ban. These include dried plasma and other blood products.

We are advised that porcine blood plasma may be used in some pig feed (although this is not common), but we are not aware of any use of blood cells and blood products in calf milk replacers.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment: Developing Country Preferences

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken to ensure that the proposed "Ruggiero special preferences" for developing countries are fully taken into account in the OECD negotiations on any multilateral agreement on investment.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Her Majesty's Government have supported a proposal that least developed countries should have bound zero tariffs within the WTO. This could contribute towards the creation of a more stable investment climate for those countries. While the MAI is not itself designed for the economic and institutional constraints of these poorest developing countries, we are using our best endeavours to ensure that their needs are taken into account.

Alcohol Risks: Education Measures

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the report, Young Teenagers and Alcohol in 1966, published by the Office for National Statistics, they are satisfied with arrangements for educating children about the risks to health of alcohol misuse and abuse.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Yes, although there is no room for complacency and we continue to work to strengthen provision. There are references to

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alcohol in the statutory requirements for drug education in schools, set out as part of the national curriculum science order. We are continuing to support drug, including alcohol, education, through the standards fund in 1998-99, building on the £18 million available for such work over the last three years through the grants for education support and training programme. Education about alcohol is likely to be most effective in the context of an overall drug and health education programme, determined by individual schools to reflect local needs and circumstances.

Ferry Operators and Foreign Tourists

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are formulating new rules for ferry operators and other transport enterprises concerning the acceptance of foreign tourists as prospective passengers wishing to enter the United Kingdom to take account of:

    (a) the possibility that they will apply for asylum after arrival; and

    (b) the changes to other countries' requirements for permits and documents since the present British system was established by the Immigration Act 1971.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): It is entirely a matter of commercial judgment whether or not carriers grant boarding to prospective passengers. The Immigration Act 1971 is a United Kingdom legislation. It has not been affected by any changes made by other countries to their own domestic immigration requirements.

Summer Time

Lord Tanlaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will provide an update to 1998 Summer Time; A Consultation Document so as to allow the issue of harmonisation with Central European Time to be debated in the House.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have no present plans to do so. There is no reason to believe that the divergence of opinion revealed by the responses to the 1989 Green Paper has substantially changed.

Schengen Acquis

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make available to Parliament the full Schengen acquis.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government wish to make the fullest possible information available to Parliament in connection with the ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The key Schengen treaties which form the framework for Schengen co-operation are available in the Library. We have been informed that

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Schengen states have now finalised a list of documents which, for the purposes of incorporation, are to be considered formally as the acquis. Once we receive the full set of papers which comprise the acquis, we shall make them, subject to the usual understanding about confidentiality, available to Parliament.

Parole Board: Composition

Lord Strabolgi asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to alter the composition of Parole Board panels considering the release of mandatory life sentence adult prisoners.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Parole Board is facing a continuing and significant increase in its workload. A very important element of that overall workload is the task of advising Ministers on the progression and release of adult life sentence prisoners convicted of murder. At present, the panels considering these cases comprise four members of the board, always including a judge and a psychiatrist.

By contrast, the panels that consider the release of discretionary life sentence prisoners and those sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure, and those that decide or advise on the release of long term determinate sentence prisoners, comprise only three members. The additional member in mandatory cases incurs costs to the board of around £25,000 annually, and complicates the listing of cases, leading to delay.

We are satisfied, on the advice of both the current chair and recently retired chairman of the Parole Board, that the size of mandatory panels can now safely be reduced from four to three, without risking in any way the quality of advice which Ministers receive. We have asked that these panels should continue to include both a judge and a psychiatrist.

West Midlands: Housing Provisions

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the advice of the West Midlands Regional Forum of Local Authorities on housing provision and whether they will issue an amendment to Regional Planning Guidance 11.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The forum is to be congratulated on the comprehensive nature of its advice and its involvement of the House Builders Federation and the Council for the Protection of Rural England in its formulation.

We have concluded that further regional planning guidance on housing provision in the West Midlands is required. We expect to issue this early in the New Year. A copy of the amendment will be placed in the Library of the House.

We have concluded that provision should be made for 335,000 dwellings in the region between 1991 and 2011 including replacements and conversions to be redistributed as set out below. This is broadly in line with the advice received from the forum but we take the view that the metropolitan area has the capacity to make

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slightly higher provision than it proposed. This would have benefits both for urban regeneration and protection of the countryside. In amending the guidance we will want to set out clear policies that authorities should pursue in their development plans to increase the amount of housing on previously developed land, to make provision for affordable housing and to ensure sustainable locations for housing development within transport corridors. Annual average of housing provisions for West Midlands Region 1991-2011

    Regional Total16,750






    Shire County Total10,845








    Metropolitan Total5,905

Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

Baroness Lestor of Eccles asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the second Report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The second report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme was published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Russian Federation: Diplomatic Missions

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost per annum of maintaining a diplomatic presence in: (a) Estonia; (b) Latvia; (c) Lithuania; and (d) the Russian Federation; and whether they consider that the British taxpayer gets value for money.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The most comprehensive data available relates to financial year 1995-96 and shows the

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following annual cost of maintaining diplomatic missions in the countries you refer to:




    Russian Federation: (comprising Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg)£9,281,293

The operations of all of our missions overseas are subject to regular and careful scrutiny to ensure that they provide an efficient and cost effective service. We are satisfied that the missions referred to above provide good value for money to the taxpayer.

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