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Working Hours Directive

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Our aim is to publish draft regulations for consultation around the end of March and complete consultation in time to have regulations in force by 1 October.

DTI Transcripts: Use in Guinness Trial

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Under the Rules of Procedure of the European Commission of Human Rights, pleadings before the Commission are confidential. It would therefore be wrong of the Government to answer questions about their pleadings.

Depleted Uranium Ammunition

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Details of our current scientific advice on Depleted Uranium were given in my letter to the noble Countess on 2 February, and subsequently published on 9 February (Official Report, col. WA 138) and repeated on 17 February at col. WA 17.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What controls were instigated by British Commanders at the end of Operation Granby regarding the collection and retrieval of materials from the battlefield, including those regarded by British troops as souvenirs, and whether there was any risk assessment conducted of the possible hazards associated with these materials.[HL437]

    Whether they have any records of items, not issued to British troops for the purpose of carrying out their official duties during Operation Granby, which were brought back to the United Kingdom at the end of hostilities as trophies or souvenirs; whether any of these items were tested for depleted uranium contamination, either chemical or radioactive, at the time they were transported to the United Kingdom; and whether they are aware of the current location of these items.[HL471]

Lord Gilbert: Surviving contemporary departmental records indicate that MoD instructed Headquarters British Forces Middle East, HQ BFME, to set up procedures for the collection, cataloguing and securing of captured Iraqi equipment to be considered for possible return to the UK or Germany. Precise details of these procedures and the extent to which they were followed, or disseminated to troops other than those specifically involved in recovering such equipment, are not known. Units arriving at Al Jubail prior to returning to the UK or Germany were instructed to declare certain items of captured Iraqi equipment in their possession. However, it is likely that some captured Iraqi equipment left the Gulf undeclared. In the time available, the Ministry of Defence has been unable to determine the current location of items of recovered captured Iraqi equipment.

Further guidance, concerning the collection and retention of war souvenirs by individual Service personnel, was also issued by HQ BFME to subordinate formations. This guidance explained which items individuals were permitted to take out of theatre without restriction, which items required the permission of an officer not below the rank of Major, and which items could not be taken out of theatre by individuals in any circumstances, such as weapons, explosives and live ammunition. The Ministry of Defence has no knowledge of the whereabouts of personal souvenirs which may have been removed either in accordance with or in breach of these instructions.

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Between 1992 and 1994, the Defence Radiological Protection Service (DRPS)--now known as the Defence Research and Evaluation Agency's (DERA) Radiation Protection Services--visited 41 Army establishments in the UK and Germany to undertake radiation surveys of foreign vehicles and trophies brought back from the Gulf with the purpose of identifying instruments which used radioactive materials as illuminants so that the establishments concerned could conform with EU regulations. These surveys would have detected any radiologically significant quantities of depleted uranium contamination. I am assured that no traces of DU were detected by any of these surveys.

DRPS radiation protection advisory visits are made on a regular basis to Royal Navy, RAF and DERA establishments. These cover all radioactive materials on site, including any military equipment returned from the Gulf which might contain radioactive material, such as that used to luminise instruments and switches. Where such radioactive materials are identified they are monitored and appropriate precautions are taken. No evidence of depleted uranium contamination on military equipment returned from the Gulf has come to light during any such visit.

No record has been found on departmental files of any tests carried out to determine whether captured Iraqi equipment or personal souvenirs were contaminated with depleted uranium, or of any risk assessments carried out on recovered captured Iraqi equipment.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Henley on 6 December 1994 (WA 77), whether they still maintain that no dosemeters were issued to British troops during Operation Granby.[HL436]

Lord Gilbert: I am advised that the Written Answer to which the noble Countess refers was given in the context of dosemeters issued to those who were involved in the handling of DU ammunition in the Gulf, rather than to British troops generally. Dosemeters were not issued specifically to personnel who handled DU ammunition during Operation Granby. However, radiation dosemeters, designed to detect the high level radiation exposures expected in nuclear warfare rather than the very low level of radiation which is characteristic of depleted uranium, were issued to some British troops by units in the Gulf. These dosemeters would have been of no use for monitoring the very low levels of radiation emitted by DU ammunition.

Armed Forces: Nationality Criteria

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the review of the nationality criteria for entry into the Armed Forces will be completed.[HL696]

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Lord Gilbert: A comprehensive review of all nationality issues for employment in the Armed Forces has just been completed. It has now been agreed that, with effect from 1 April 1998, the rules relating to nationality extraction, that is the nationality of an applicant's parents, should be relaxed in line with the changes made for Civil Servants. In the majority of cases parents of applicants will no longer need to be British or Commonwealth citizens, or Republic of Ireland nationals. In certain circumstances, where security is of paramount importance, applicants will be looked at on a case by case basis.

It has also been agreed that the residency rules should be changed. The five year UK residency requirement for most applicants is to be relaxed to allow those who have spent less than five years in the UK entry into the Armed Forces.

We believe that these rule changes will ensure that the Armed Forces become more open for potential recruits, particularly among the ethnic minorities.

We have concluded that the existing rules relating to an applicant's own nationality should remain, namely that an applicant should be a British, British Dependent Territories or Commonwealth citizen or a Republic of Ireland national.

Armed Forces: Meat Supplies

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What quantities of meat and meat products were supplied to British servicemen at home and overseas in each of the last 12 months, and whether they can break the figures down; (a) by type of meat or product, and (b) by country of origin.[HL481]

Lord Gilbert: I regret the information sought is not available for the past 12 months, but our new contractor, Booker Foodservice, has estimated that the quantities of meat expected to be supplied to the Armed Forces for the 12 month period ending September 1998 and its country of origin to be as follows:

CommodityEstimated Annual Volume (tonnes) Country of origin Estimated percentage by volume
Beef2,220UK Australia Uruguay New Zealand 38 36 18 8
Gammon & Bacon1,440UK Denmark Holland50 30 20
Lamb750New Zealand Uruguay 50 50

All figures are subject to variation dependent upon which markets provide the best value for money.

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Conditional Fees

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, since the publication in September 1997 by the Policy Studies Institute of its report, The Price of Success, they have carried out or caused to be carried out any research to determine whether the practice of conditional fees is working; and if not why not.[HL 487] The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): In the five months since the Policy Studies Institute report was

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    published, I have not commissioned further research on the practice of conditional fees. As the noble and learned Lord will know, the Policy Studies Institute report concluded that many of the potential problems identified with conditional fees before they were introduced appear to have been successfully addressed. I accept that further research, at the appropriate time, may be necessary and I plan to seek views on what further research might prove useful in the consultation paper that I plan to issue shortly.

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