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British Registered Fishing Vessels

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The Government have not yet had a response from the European Commission to their proposals but one is expected shortly. The proposals were circulated to the industry on 16 February and placed in the Library of the House on the same day.

BSE: Evidence to Phillips Inquiry

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The inquiry is responsible for setting the broad framework for the support of witnesses. Her Majesty's Government will lend support to witnesses who are former Ministers, present and former officials, or present and former members of advisory committees. This will include provision of access to papers for the preparation of written statements and possible subsequent oral hearings.

Provision of legal advice and support will be made at the discretion of departments. If individuals are unhappy with the decisions made by departments on the provision of legal assistance, they can make representations to the inquiry.

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Beef Bones for Dog Food

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 13 February (WA 253) appears to contradict his Written Answer on 12 January (WA 185); and, if they are contradictory, which is correct.[HL736]

Lord Donoughue: There is no contradiction. The later question related solely to the Beef Bones Regulations which do not control the use of bones as petfood. This is because bovine bones removed from any bone-in beef must be treated as if they were animal by-products referred to in Part II of Schedule I to the Animal By-Products Order 1992 and disposed of accordingly. That order permits stained or sterilised bones to be supplied by knackers' yards for petfood as I stated previously. However, following further legal consideration, I can now advise the noble Lord that, in addition, bones may be used to prepare petfood at the premises where they originated, for example the butcher's shop where the meat was deboned. Such bones do not need to be stained or sterilised but the butcher or other supplier must be satisfied that the bones are being obtained for pets and not human consumption.

Northern Ireland: Electoral Registers for Referendum

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that, in the event of a referendum on a political settlement, the Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1986 will be amended to ensure that all recognised political parties in Northern Ireland will be supplied with free copies of the electoral register, including data copies, for all constituencies in Northern Ireland; and [HL628]

    Whether they will amend the Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1986 in order to grant a statutory right to receive copies, including data copies, of the relevant electoral register to:

    (a) prospective candidates for a Northern Ireland Assembly

    (b) prospective candidates for the European Parliament.[HL629]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): These questions are currently being considered by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland alongside many other issues surrounding not only a referendum but also Assembly elections and electoral procedures more generally. No entitlement exists anywhere in the UK for a free issue of the electoral register in computer data format. Those entitled to free copies of the electoral register in printed format are entitled to purchase the register in computer data format at the special rate of £1.80p per thousand names. The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland has indicated that he will supply two free copies of the

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printed register, on request, to each of the parties who obtained delegates as a result of the May 1996 elections. They will be able to obtain one copy of the register in computer data format at the discounted price.

Northern Ireland: Abortion Law

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Dubs on 23 February (WA 65), what they consider to be unclear about Section 25(1) of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945.[HL822]

Lord Dubs: The law on abortion in Northern Ireland is governed by a combination of statute and case law.

Section 25 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 1945 is concerned with the criminal penalty for infant death. Section 25 applies to the destruction of the foetus in late as opposed to early pregnancy. In cases of earlier abortion, determination of lawful cause would be based on the facts of a particular pregnancy and the case law interpretation of Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Abortion is, generally, a criminal offence in Northern Ireland under Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. However, there are a number of judicial pronouncements on Section 58 which accept that the prohibition against abortion is not absolute. Case law on Section 58 has not laid down with any degree of certainty the range of circumstances which might come within the definition of a lawful cause for abortion.

In those cases involving later abortions which might fall under Section 25 of the 1945 Act, it is unclear what would constitute definitive proof that a child was capable of being born alive.

Inland Revenue Staff Numbers

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many civil service jobs are currently located at each of the Inland Revenue collection offices.[HL760]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: At 1 January 1998, the Inland Revenue employed 923 staff in its Accounts Office in Cumbernauld, 869 in the Accounts Office in Shipley and 367 in the Enforcement Office, Worthing. In addition, the department employs some 3,800 staff on collection duties in local offices throughout the country, but is not possible to give an exact number for each separate location.

Victims of Nazi Persecution: Conditions for Release of Property

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

    Further to the statement of the Lord Haskel on 18 February (H.L. Deb., col. 277-279), whether the

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    five conditions for obtaining the release of property to victims of Nazi persecution were prescribed by international law or United Kingdom law; and, if so, where and upon what terms the law was so prescribed; and [HL723]

    Further to the statement by the Lord Haskel on 18 February (H.L. Deb., cols. 277-279), whether they consider that they were obliged in law to release property to victims of Nazi persecution only in accordance with the five conditions; and, if so, what is their basis for this view.[HL758]

Lord Haskel: The five conditions were not binding upon Her Majesty's Government but they did set the international standard. They also had an international legal effect, in that it was only certain assets, including the assets of individuals who satisfied the five conditions, which could be excluded from account under the Accounting Rules of the Inter-Allied Reparation Agency. Subject to the general principles of administrative law (which were essentially the same in the late 1940s as now), Her Majesty's Government were free to set whatever terms they saw fit for release of claimants' property: they could have been more restrictive or less. Adoption of the five conditions was what appeared right at the time; and subsequent relaxations were made where justified.

Business Tenancies: Originating Applications

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In an average week, how many Originating Applications are made to Courts in England and Wales for renewals of business tenancies pursuant to Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1974.[HL764]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The annual national figure for England and Wales during 1997 was 9,600, giving a weekly average of 185.

Musical Instrument Tuition in Schools

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of schools have arrangements for musical instrument tuition; and how the current position compares to that 20 years ago (or other convenient period) and; [HL895]

    What proportion of school children participate in musical instrument tuition through arrangements at their school; and how the current position compares to that 20 years ago (or other convenient period).[HL896]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Information about the arrangements in schools for musical instrument tuition and the number of school children participating in such tuition is not collected centrally.

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