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Strategic Defence Review: Nuclear Weapons

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): I refer my noble friend to chapter four of the White Paper on The Strategic Defence Review on deterrence and disarmament, and to supporting essay five on deterrence, arms control and proliferation. These set out in some detail a series of practical and achievable measures working towards the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Iraq: No-Fly Zones

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: Since patrolling of the northern and southern Iraqi No-Fly-Zones began, in 1991 and 1992 respectively, the UK has routinely contributed six combat aircraft and one air-to-air refuelling aircraft to each operation. To date, the extra costs incurred are some £66 million. A total of some 14,000 sorties has been flown during this period. Only one aircraft has been lost, as a result of a technical malfunction, in 1993; the pilot was recovered by a US helicopter without further incident.

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The principal role of UK aircraft within the coalition is tactical reconnaissance--monitoring Iraqi military activity in support of UNSCR 688 and other relevant UN resolutions. They make a vital contribution, and are a tangible demonstration of our determination to ensure that Saddam Hussein complies fully with the will of the international community. We believe that the cost of UK participation in these operations is fully justified by the practical demonstration of our support to the UN and to our allies in the region.

National Museums of Scotland

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What have been the monthly attendance figures at the National Museums of Scotland in:

    (a) the year prior to the introduction of admission charges on January 1998; and

    (b) the year following the introduction of admission charges; and what percentage change in total visitor numbers this represents between the two years.[HL2739]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The figures for 1997 and for January to June 1998 are set out in the table below.

19971998
January59,70343,064
February74,29547,769
March101,16356,211
April93,22566,875
May117,723*38,670
June120,256*34,604
July147,723--
August146,163--
September87,586--
October89,056--
November63,566--
December51,955--
It is not possible to give the percentage change between the two years until the end of 1998.

* The Scottish United Services Museum, which attracted over 89,000 visitors in May and June 1997, has been closed since May for renovations.

Salmon and Sea Trout

The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take to protect the wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout from sea lice predation on the fisheries of the West coast of Scotland.[HL2701]

Lord Sewel: Sea lice are natural predators on Atlantic salmon and sea trout and affect both wild and farmed species. The farmed industry is particularly conscious of the economic implications of sea lice damage and, with government encouragement, has begun to implement a new treatment strategy. New medications are currently

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going through the various licensing procedures. My department's Fisheries Research services are providing toxological information as part of that process and they are also carrying out research into the possible development of a vaccine.

The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the findings of the Pitlochry Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory, the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen and St. Andrews University, on sea lice predation hosted by commercial salmon farming operations on the runs of wild salmon and sea trout.[HL2702]

Lord Sewel: Accounts of the work of my department's laboratories in this area are given in the Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory's Annual Review for 1994-95 and its Biennial Review for 1995-97. I am arranging for copies of these documents to be placed in the Library. The work of St. Andrews University is ongoing and, I understand, is not scheduled to be completed until late 1999.

The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that Scottish Natural Heritage takes full responsibility for protecting the wild Atlantic salmon.[HL2703]

Lord Sewel: Under Section 16 of the Salmon Act 1986, District Salmon Fishery Boards have the duty to protect and improve salmon fisheries in their areas. However, the Atlantic salmon is named as a species of community interest in Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation (SACs). Her Majesty's Government have received advice from Scottish Natural Heritage on which rivers should be consulted on as possible SACs for the Atlantic salmon. Consultations will be commencing shortly.

The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they will take either against the operators of commercial salmon farms, or with their co-operation, to prevent a further decline in stocks of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout caused by sea lice.[HL2704]

Lord Sewel: Declines in stocks of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout have been in evidence for a number of years--not simply off the west coast of Scotland but throughout Great Britain and indeed the whole of the north Atlantic.

Nevertheless the Government are fully aware of the concern surrounding the health of sea trout stocks off north west Scotland, which it shares, and of the view that sea lice could be a contributory factor.

The Government have welcomed the sea lice strategy being adopted by the farmed salmon industry to concentrate treatment when lice are at their most vulnerable. The development of suitable treatments and their licensing continues to attract high priority.

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The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether and, if so, how they will compensate shellfish farmer(s) for the restriction on the movement of farmed oysters under the notices issued by the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen on 19 June (ref D11/2G/1).[HL2705]

Lord Sewel: The movement restrictions referred to have been imposed as a consequence of infectious salmon anaemia being suspected or confirmed in the same water catchment. Oysters and other shellfish are considered to be potential vectors and in the circumstances their movement could contribute to a further spread of the disease. Compensation is not currently payable but the matter is being reviewed.

Freedom of Information

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

    When in 1998 they intend to publish their draft Freedom of Information Bill, in accordance with the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in his foreword to the White Paper Your Right to Know (Cm 3818, December 1997).[HL2614]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Our intention is to publish the draft Freedom of Information Bill by the end of September.

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

    Whether they will publish a summary of the comments they have received from the public and non-governmental organisations in response to the proposals contained in the White Paper Your Right to Know (Cm 3818, December 1997).[HL2615]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Copies of all the responses received to the White Paper Your Right to Know (except where respondents asked for their responses to remain confidential) were published and placed in the Libraries of both Houses on 1 April.

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

    Whether, with reference to the proposals contained in the White Paper Your Right to Know (Cm 3818, December 1997), they have received comments from the public and non-governmental organisations arguing that the proposed powers of the information commissioner are too wide and should be restricted to the powers of a judicial review court.[HL2616]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of the consultation responses that commented on the proposed appeals procedure, the great majority welcomed the establishment of an information commissioner with strong enforcement powers. None made the specific point referred to in the question.

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