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Lord Richard: The information for each Session from 1954 to 1987 was given in a Written Answer in the House of Commons on 26 January 1987 (Official Report, WA cols. 106-118). Since then the latter stages of only three Bills have proceeded in Government time, though without debate, shortly before the Dissolution in March 1997. They were two private Peers' Bills which had already been reported from standing committees in the Commons (the Police (Insurance of Voluntary Assistants) Bill and the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill taken on 19 March 1997) and one Private Member's Bill which had passed both Houses and to which the Lords had made amendments (the Public Entertainment Licences (Drugs Misuse) Bill taken on 20 March 1997). All three received Royal Assent before the end of the Parliament.
Lord Richard: It is assumed that this Question relates to proceedings in the House of Commons only. The Standing Orders of the House of Commons provide that Private Members' Bills shall have precedence over Government business on 13 Fridays each Session. The specific dates are set by an order at the start of each Session. The procedures governing Private Members' Bills and the time available for their consideration are well known. In recent years successive governments have declined to disturb these arrangements. The Government have always made it clear that there was no question of making extra time available for any Private Members' Bills this session.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): House of Lords policy on childcare is set out in my earlier answers to Questions from the noble Lord this Session (22 May 1997, WA 9-10; 2 February 1998, WA 90-91).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency to write to the noble Lord.
Baroness Hayman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the latest annual figures for road accidents on the A.40 between Target Roundabout and Hanger Lane, and in which of these speed was a contributory factor.
Baroness Hayman: Single vehicle approval is not harmonised at European level and we do not have this information. The European Commission has itself recently asked member states for details of their single vehicle approval requirements and is expected to make the responses available in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Thai Government has confirmed that, on 11 March, Wangka refugee camp was attacked by armed forces from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association. At least one person was killed and 25 people were injured. As EU Presidency, we made a statement on 13 March, calling on the Burmese regime to investigate the incident and to prevent such attacks in future; we also urged the Thai Government to provide adequate protection for Burmese refugees.
The UN High Commission for Refugees has a monitoring role on the Thai/Burma border. An enhanced role is a matter between the UNHCR and the Thai authorities. The British Embassy in Bangkok is in touch with the Thai Government about the security situation in the camps, and continues to press them not to repatriate refugees by force whilst the situation in Burma remains unstable. We do not encourage UK companies to trade with or invest in Burma and we have suspended government financial support for trade promotion activities in Burma.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government has always taken a keen interest in the issue of Kuwaiti detainees. We will continue to play an active role in the Tripartite Commission, insisting that Iraq provides full information on the whereabouts of the detainees and allows the International Committee of the Red Cross access to prisons and detention centres.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 1 January 1998, the most recent date for which figures are available, there were 2,067 UK-based FCO staff with overseas postings. Of this number, 34 have declared themselves to be members of minority ethnic groups. FCO staff are not obliged to report their ethnic origins.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Interpretation Act 1978 will be reserved, in that it relates to the interpretation of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which is itself reserved. The Scottish Parliament will be able to make its own legislative provision about the interpretation of Acts of the Scottish Parliament and statutory instruments made under such Acts. It is intended to make transitional provision for interpretation which will have effect until the Scottish Parliament makes its own provision. Paragraph 8 of Schedule 7 to the Scotland Bill makes provision for the amendment of the Interpretation Act 1978 to regulate the relationship between an Act of the Scottish Parliament and an Act of the UK Parliament where either one operates on the other.
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