Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

17 Jun 1998 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Wednesday, 17th June 1998.

Local Authority Nuclear Free Committees

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list for the last two years for which the information is available those Scottish local authorities with a nuclear free committee or sub-committee; how much each committee costs; and how much each local authority has given to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities organisation.[HL2202]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): Information on committees of local authorities, or the causes to which they choose to donate money, is not held centrally.

Marine Science and Technology: Inter-Agency Committee

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered the future role of the Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology.[HL2304]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The Government have recently reviewed the role and effectiveness of the Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology (IACMST) and concluded that it is effective in performing its main function of ensuring that co-ordination takes place across government on marine science and technology issues. IACMST will therefore continue for the next three years, with a further review of its future taking place at that point.

In response to the more detailed findings of the review, IACMST will increase its focus on international marine activities and on science and technology relating to marine vessels and structures, alongside its traditional emphasis on the marine environment and oceanography. IACMST will also produce a guide for business on responsibilities for marine science and technology within departments and agencies; will continue to work closely with the Marine Foresight Panel; and will begin a review of individual members' strategies for marine science and technology.

Copies of a report setting out the review's conclusions in more detail are available in the Library of the House. This report also mentions some of the main activities currently being undertaken by IACMST, including its co-ordination of a wide range of UK events to mark 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean.

17 Jun 1998 : Column WA136

Department of Health: Public Appointments

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish details of the public appointments made by the Department of Health; and whether that department has kept its commitment to increase the involvement of members of the local community on NHS boards.[HL2268]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): A report with details of all public appointments made to bodies sponsored by the Department of Health is published today. It contains details of 3,794 individuals appointed to 586 bodies at 1 March 1998. It relates to chairs and non-executives in National Health Service trust and health authority boards, members of Executive Non-Department Public Bodies (NDPBs) and for the first time, contains details of those who serve on the 41 Advisory NDPBs which give specialist technical and professional advice to the department.

Of those people named in the report, around 1,000 have been appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health since 1 May 1997, predominantly to NHS trusts and Executive NDPBs.

All these appointments have been made on merit to the exacting procedures laid down by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which ensure an open and transparent process and encourage people from all walks of life to come forward.

We have honoured the Government's commitment to increase the local accountability of NHS boards, by publicly advertising posts and by seeking nominations from local authorities and Members of Parliament. We have appointed people who live within the local community wherever possible and have substantially increased the participation of women and people from ethnic minorities. In the year to 1 May 1998, 36 per cent. of chairs, and 52 per cent. of non-executives appointed were women and 9 per cent. of appointees were drawn from the ethnic minority population.

We have significantly changed the make-up of NHS trust boards to reflect the abolition of the internal market and the new local partnership which we expect NHS trusts to develop. Of those people appointed since 1 May 1997, over 30 per cent.--the largest single group--are NHS users, carers or voluntary workers.

We intend to maintain this progress and are currently in the process of appointing around 300 people to serve on health authority boards. When completed, details of these new appointments will be placed in the Library and published on the Internet. Copies of the Department of Health Public Appointments Annual Report 1998 are available in the Library.

Alcohol "Tsar"

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will appoint an "alcohol tsar" similar to the drugs tsar.[HL2241]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government have no plans to do so.

17 Jun 1998 : Column WA137

Alcohol Misuse

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the article by Duncan Campbell in The Guardian (G2 Supplement, Page 2, 8 June), that the damage caused by alcohol is greater than that caused by all other drugs.[HL2240]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government recognise the harm that can be caused by alcohol misuse. That is why, in the Green Paper, Our Healthier Nation, we said that we would be developing a new alcohol strategy. We intend to produce a coherent strategy which reinforces our messages about sensible drinking and provides an effective framework for action to tackle alcohol misuse in all its forms.

Disability Benefits Forum

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans there are to set up a forum to discuss sickness and disability benefits, as outlined in the Green Paper, New Ambitions for our country: a new contract for welfare.[HL2303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government are pleased to announce the first meeting of the Disability Benefits Forum took place today. This is an important step forward to ensure a proper dialogue between government and disability organisations.

The terms of reference of the forum are: To consider possible options for changes in the gateways to benefits for long-term sick and disabled people and carers, and how to ensure that help is directed to those who need it.

The forum will bring together representatives of disabled people and experts in disability issues to conduct an open and detailed dialogue with the Government.

The members of the forum are:

17 Jun 1998 : Column WA138

Fish Quotas

Lord Fitt asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to proceed with the introduction of fixed quota allocations for fish.[HL2267]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): From 1 January 1999, the annual allocation of fish quotas to producer organisations, the non sector and other groups will be linked to fishing activity (catches) that took place in the reference period 1994 to 1996. These arrangements, referred to as fixed quota allocations (FQAs), will apply to all quota stocks caught in domestic waters except for North Sea herring taken as a by-catch in industrial fishing, and to certain stocks taken in external waters. The fisheries departments are writing to the owners of over 10m vessels, producer organisations and other interests to advise them of the new arrangements.

A consultative paper setting out proposals for the introduction of fixed quota allocations for domestic waters was issued by the fisheries departments last November and was sent to the owners of some 2,300 fishing vessels over 10m, as well as producer organisations and other interests. Almost 300 replies have been received. Although the majority of those commenting were not in favour of the change, there was strong support for a system of fixed quota allocations from producer organisations, which together, represent some two-thirds of the over 10m fleet and catch more than 90 per cent. of the UK's quota. After careful consideration of all the arguments, we have come to the view that there would be significant benefits to be gained from moving to fixed quota allocations, although we would wish to review such a system in 3 years' time in the light of the experience gained.

Producer organisations will have a key role to play during the introduction of fixed quota allocations. There is apprehension among fishermen that moving to a fixed quota allocation system may disadvantage those whose fishing activities were curtailed during the reference period 1994 to 1996. The arrangements that are being introduced will provide scope for POs, acting with their members, to undertake internal adjustments to take account of anomalies that may have arisen in the reference period. Separate arrangements are also being made to cater for those fishermen who belong to the non sector.

17 Jun 1998 : Column WA139

Concern was expressed during the consultation exercise that fixed quota allocations would pave the way to the introduction of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and, separately, could lead to increased pressure on non quota stocks. On the first point the Government have no plans to introduce ITQs and no such action would be taken without full and proper consultation with the industry. On the second point the fisheries departments will be monitoring the impact of fixed quota allocations and, if necessary, action to safeguard the position of non-quota stocks will be considered. In this context, and given more general concern over growing pressure on scallop stocks, we shall be consulting the fishing industry and other interests about proposals to limit future access to the scallop fisheries.

The proposals would involve the introduction of new licensing arrangements with effect from 1 January 1999. From that date, in the case of vessels over 10m in length, permission to fish for scallops would be granted only to vessels which met the qualifying criteria at 31 May 1998. These criteria may include both a track record of scallop landings prior to that date and the use of appropriate fishing gear during the corresponding period. No activity in the scallop fishery after 31 May 1998 would be taken into account. The arrangements for fishing by under 10m vessels would not be affected by the proposed licensing changes, although they will continue to be required to comply with the technical conservation rules applying to scallop fisheries. These rules are under separate review.

A separate consultation exercise on the application of fixed quota allocations to external waters stocks at North Norway, Svalbard and Greenland met with unanimous support. Fisheries departments therefore intend to introduce fixed quota allocations for these fisheries on 1 January 1999 as part of the process of applying fixed quota allocations more generally. Detailed aspects will be explained in a forthcoming consultative letter on proposals for the future licensing of fishing opportunities in external waters.

Peter Adeane:National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux
David Behan:Local Government Association
Ian Bruce:Royal National Institute for the Blind and co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium
Jane Campbell:National Centre for Independent Living
Alison Cobb: MIND
Nicole Davoud:Independent disability consultant
Marilyn Howard:Independent disability consultant
Professor R. Grahame:Chairman of the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board
Jill Harrison:Carers National Association
Rachel Hurst:Rights Now!
Brian Lamb:SCOPE
Margaret Lavery:RADAR
Carol Lee:People First
Colin Low:National Federation of the Blind of the UK
Brian McGinnis:MENCAP
Dr. Lotte Newman:Former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Lorna Reith:Disability Alliance
Roy Sainsbury:University of York--Social Policy Research Unit
James Strachan:RNID
Pauline Thompson:Disablement Income Group
Richard Wood:British Council of Organisations of Disabled People and co-chair of the Disability Benefits Forum
Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page