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Mr. Al Fayed

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): No decision has yet been taken on Mr. Al Fayed's application. Should it be refused, he would be informed of the reasons for such a decision.

Rough Sleeping in Westminster

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Commissioner states that the Metropolitan Police will continue to work in partnership with other agencies to deal with the problem of rough sleeping and aggressive begging around Westminster Cathedral. An initiative in March 1998 aimed at reducing the level of anti-social behaviour in the Westminster area resulted in 70 arrests.

Social Security Expenditure Forecast

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The estimated cost of social security expenditure for 1998-99 is in the 1998 Social Security Departmental Report (Cm 3913). Government spending plans for future years (1999-2000 to 2001-2002) will be published after completion of the Comprehensive Spending Review).

Interest Rate Rises: Effects

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the effect on:


    (a) employment;


    (b) the value of sterling;


    (c) exports;


    (d) industry and commerce generally;

    of the five increases since May 1997 prior to the increase in interest rates imposed by the Bank of England on 4 June; and[HL2164]

    What effect they predict the increase in interest rates imposed by the Bank of England on 4 June will have on (a) employment; (b) the value of sterling; (c) exports; (d) industry and commerce generally.[HL2165]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The increases in interest rates since May 1997 have been necessary to curb the inflationary pressures which had started to build up before the Government took office. Low inflation is a key element of economic stability, providing the essential platform for achieving the Government's aim of high and stable levels of growth and employment. Interest rate increases slow down economic activity, but it is not possible to estimate the precise quantitative effects with any degree of certainty.

North West Region: Tax Liability

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total yield of income tax, local tax and value added tax within the North West Region during the past twelve months.[HL1968]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue can only provide a regional breakdown of income tax liabilities, not of income tax receipts. The total income tax liability for the North West and Merseyside Government Office Region for 1995-96, the latest year for which information is available, is £7.0 billion. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions estimate receipts of council taxes and national non-domestic rates of £1.9 billion for the North West and Merseyside Government Office Region for 1995-96. Value added tax yield on a consistent regional basis is not available.

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Sandline International

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the course of their investigations into the alleged violation of Security Council Resolution 1132 by a United Kingdom-based company, Sandline International:


    (a) they have obtained a copy of the end-user certificate for the weapons and ammunition imported into Sierra Leone;


    (b) they have obtained copies of contracts or agreements to supply weapons and ammunition to Sierra Leone during the period of military government;


    (c) they have obtained, from the Canadian authorities, copies of documents presented to the court in Vancouver BC in connection with the application by the Thai authorities to extradite Mr. Rakesh Saxena;


    (d) they have obtained copies of evidence given to the Papua New Guinea judicial inquiry into the activities of Sandline International in that country, which refer also to Sandline's activities in Sierra Leone;


    (e) they have obtained information from the Bulgarian authorities about the supply of weapons and ammunition to Sierra Leone or Nigeria; and whether they will place copies of these and other documents examined in the course of this inquiry in the Library of the House.[HL1760]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Customs and Excise conducted an investigation for the purpose of determining whether criminal proceedings would be appropriate. It would be inappropriate for Customs to disclose details about material gathered for that purpose.

In his statement to the House of Commons on 18 May (Official Report, Commons, cols. 598-656), the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced the investigation by Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC into allegations about government involvement with the supply of arms to Sierra Leone by UK citizens and firms. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary intends to publish the report of the investigation.

Education Action Zones: Promoters

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a list of applicants to establish an education action zone stating whether the leading applicant is from a local education authority or other public authority, business, commercial or voluntary sectors.[HL2158]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My honourable friend the Minister of State for School Standards wrote on 19 May to the promoters of each application asking them to contact their major partners to ascertain whether or not they would be willing to be

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identified. We have had some responses but a large number are still outstanding. We will publish this information as soon as a complete set of responses is available.

Class Sizes

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish their response to a report commissioned by the Local Government Association from Coopers Lybrand on the Class-Size Pledge for five, six or seven year-olds.[HL2159]

Baroness Blackstone: No response is needed. The report was commissioned by the Local Government Association to provide guidance to local education authorities (LEAs) on the practical implementation of the Government's policy for reducing infant class sizes. The Government will be providing the funding required to LEAs for schools to implement the pledge. We have already allocated £22 million in revenue funding for 1998-99 and will shortly announce the allocation of a further £40 million for capital work.

School Organisation Committee Powers

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the organisation committee proposed in the School Standards and Framework Bill will have the power to initiate school organisation proposals; and, if so, whether foundation schools as admission authorities will be exempt from such proposals unless the governors of a foundation school waive such an exemption.[HL2201]

Baroness Blackstone: School organisation committees will not have powers to initiate school organisation proposals in respect of individual schools.

Selective School Admission Abolition: Timetable

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what timescale would a local education authority produce reorganisation plans to introduce non- selective education following a successful ballot (to end, from the date of the ballot); and in what timescale would selective education be expected to cease.[HL2160]

Baroness Blackstone: Clause 101 of the School Standards and Framework Bill requires that, where parents vote in favour of ending selective admissions to a grammar school or schools, the admission authorities of those schools (which may in some cases be the LEA) must bring forward revised admission arrangements within a specified timetable. The draft regulations issued for consultation on 3 June provide that, if a ballot result is announced before 31 March in any school year

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(school year 1), the admission authority would have to cease selective admission arrangements from the first school year after the ballot result date. This means:


    The school's admission prospectus which is published at the start of the school year following the ballot (school year 2) would have to provide for non-selective admission arrangements;


    The first pupils would then be admitted in accordance with those non-selective arrangements at the start of the next school year (school year 3).

If a ballot result is announced after 31 March in any year, the draft regulations allow the admission authority one additional year to implement these steps, so that it is required to publish non-selective admission arrangements in the school's prospectus at the start of the second school year following the ballot. There is no presumption that the LEA will need to produce reorganisation plans. It will be for the LEA and the schools concerned to judge, in the light of local circumstances in each case, whether reorganisation plans are needed, and, if so, on what timescale. They would then need to pursue any proposals through the prescribed alteration and school organisation committee procedures provided for in the Bill.


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