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Tourist Industry: Support

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We shall continue to support the British Tourist Authority (which promotes Great Britain abroad) and the national tourist boards. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport recently announced that it would be preparing a tourism strategy with a newly expanded Tourism Forum, comprising more than 50 industry leaders. The strategy will cover identification of trends, improving quality and enabling growth in tourism, and will include developing Britain's

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image to attract more overseas visitors. Similar work has been, and is being, undertaken in Scotland. The Wales Tourist Board will develop a tourism strategy which it is intended should be presented to the proposed national assembly. In Northern Ireland a new strategy is being developed in consultation with the local industry. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board will continue to work in partnership with the British Tourist Authority in tourism marketing initiatives.

European Court of Human Rights Judgments

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

    Whether, in the light of the Appendix to Resolution DH(97)507 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in the Goodwin case, they will take steps to draw to the attention of the United Kingdom courts the Government's opinion that United Kingdom courts will not fail to take the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights into account when interpreting the national legislation at issue in order to avoid the problem posed in the Goodwin case.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): In any particular case it is the duty of Counsel, and not of Her Majesty's Government, to decide whether to draw a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights to the attention of the court. It is for the court to decide what weight to attach to the judgment in all the circumstances of the case. The same applies to Resolutions of the Committee of Ministers, which are also publicly available.

Strasbourg "Victim" Test

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

    Further to the statements of the Lord Chancellor on the Human Rights Bill on 24 November 1997 (HL Deb, cols. 830-34): (1) whether they consider that the adoption into UK law of the Strasbourg "victim" test in place of the British "sufficient interest" test of standing to bring proceedings against a public authority claiming that the authority has acted (or proposes to act) in breach of the convention rights is intended to mean that different tests of standing will apply according to whether a judicial review application is based upon (a) common law principles alone; or (b) common law principles embodying convention rights; or (c) European Union law embodying convention rights; or (d) convention rights alone; or (e) a combination of any of those grounds; (2) and, if so, what their reasons are for considering that this will be in the interests of the due administration of justice; (3) and, if not, what is their understanding of the position resulting from the operation of clause 7(3) of the Human Rights Bill as it stands.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): As my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said on 24 November, we acknowledge that a consequence of the approach taken by the Human Rights Bill is that a narrower test will apply in relation to applications for judicial review on convention grounds than will continue to apply in relation for judicial review on other grounds. Our reasons for adopting the Strasbourg victim test are set out in my reply to a Question from the noble Lord on 9 December 1997.

Animal Experiments

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether additional funds have been secured for research into alternatives to animal use in scientific procedures.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are pleased to announce that the budget which will be made available to the Animal Procedures Committee in 1998-99 to sponsor research to reduce, refine or replace animal experiments will be £259,000. This is an increase of £77,000 compared to the 1997-98 figures.

Prison Service Management: Report

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the Government's response to the Home Affairs Committee report into the management of the Prison Service.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are pleased to report that we will tomorrow publish the Government's response to the Home Affairs Select Committee's inquiry report into the management of the Prison Service. Copies will be placed in the Library.

We are grateful for the Committee's report, and have studied its conclusions and recommendations carefully. We agree with the Committee's conclusion that the Prison Service has done well to manage a rapidly rising prison population and, against this background, has made considerable progress in providing acceptable accommodation for prisoners. The Government accept in principle the desirability of reducing the present high levels of overcrowding, though the Audit of Prison Service Resources, published on 25 July, shows that this will be difficult to achieve in the current circumstances. In the meantime, it will be a priority for the Prison Service to seek to provide adequate regime activities for those prisons which are overcrowded. In order to ensure that the projected numbers can be accommodated safely, we have provided the Prison Service with an additional £43 million this year and next to increase capacity and to pay for the costs of overcrowding and purposeful activity. Longer term resourcing issues will be considered as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

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The Committee's conclusions that the needs for accountability and responsibility require ministerial involvement are correct, and support the steps we have already taken to implement the Government's manifesto commitment to take proper ministerial responsibility for the Prison Service. We have made clear that there are no present plans to end the Prison Service's agency status. We have considered and endorsed the findings of the Director General's organisational review of the service, published on 10 November, which included measures to reassert and reinforce ministerial responsibility for the Prison Service.

The Committee also endorses the role of the private sector, and recommends that its involvement in the Prison Service should be allowed to develop further. The Government have expressed reservations about the principle of contracting out the management of prisons. It is generally accepted that responsibility for the incarceration of offenders must remain with the state. The issue is whether that responsibility should, as a matter of principle, be discharged through direct management in the public sector or whether it can properly and effectively be discharged under a regulatory framework. The Government will give careful consideration to the conclusions put forward by the Home Affairs Select Committee before settling their overall approach to this issue.

NI Eastern Health and Social Services Board: Funding

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take to address the underfunding of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland during 1995-96 and 1996-97.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The Eastern Health and Social Services Board received its capitation share of available resources in 1995-96 and 1996-97. It also received £2 million special assistance in 1996-97 and £4 million in 1997-98 in recognition of the fact that it would probably gain as a result of revisions to the capitation formula which would arise from the work of the Capitation Formula Review Group. The Minister with responsibility for this matter, Mr. Tony Worthington, is considering the findings of the Capitation Formula Review Group report and will shortly announce his decision.

Apiaries: Varroa Infestation

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many instances of varroa infestation in apiaries have occurred in the United Kingdom in each of the last five years; what is the most northerly occurrence; what steps they have taken to control the spread of infestation; and what research is currently being undertaken to eradicate the virus and by whom.

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The cumulative number of apiaries infested by the mite varroa over the last five years is shown in the table below. The most northerly occurrence to date has been in Golspie, Scotland.

Control measures are based on varroa being a statutorily notifiable disease. Upon first finding evidence of varroa infestation in Devon in 1992 a Statutory Infected Area (SIA) was declared with movements across the boundary being strictly controlled. On the basis of available information on the geographical distribution of the mite, backed by the results of statutory searches, the boundary has subsequently been extended. The SIA now covers the whole of England and Wales and will be extended to cover Dumfries and Galloway. For England and Wales the need for formal search has been removed. In Scotland random spring and autumn searches have been supplemented by movement restriction orders where appropriate and in the case of isolated incidents, eradication by destruction of hives and bees.

The MAFF research programme, utilising existing expertise at IACR Rothamstead and the Central Science Laboratory's National Bee Unit, concentrates on work concerning identification and monitoring methods for the varroa mite and diagnostics and the epidemiology of the associated viral diseases--for example, Slow Paralysis Virus. This work, costing around £215,000 in 1997-98, will lead to improved timing for control measures.

Cumulative incidence of Varroosis in Great Britain 1993-1997

England (number of apiaries)Wales (number of apiaries)Scotland (number of apiaries)Total Infested apiaries
19963,355 11903,474

Source: Agriculture Departments. * to 28 November 1997.

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