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Special Operations Executive: Release of Records

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The records of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) have been released progressively since 1993. The next batch of records, covering Western Europe, have been transferred to the Public Record Office, and will be opened today. Further SOE records will be released in due course.

Welsh Office: Reviews

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales plans to publish the following reviews during the parliamentary Recess:

British Board of Film Classification: Annual Report

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the annual report of the British Board of Film Classification for 1997-98 to be published.[HL2810]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I understand that the British Board of Film Classification intends to publish

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its annual report for 1997-98 during the week beginning 27 July 1998. As soon as the report is published, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will make arrangements for it to be laid before this House and in another place as soon as possible.

Independent Commission on the Voting System: Telephone Number

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the fact that telephone directory inquiries are unable to provide callers with a telephone number for the Independent Commission on the Voting System is conducive to maximum participation by the general public.[HL2849]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Independent Commission's web site gives the commission's telephone number. It is also given out to inquirers by the Home Office.

Firearms Consultative Committee:Annual Report

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the ninth annual report of the Firearms Consultative Committee.[HL3042]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have placed a copy of the annual report of the Firearms Consultative Committee in the Library today.

Forensic Science Service: Annual Report

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the annual report for the Forensic Science Service.[HL3041]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have today laid before Parliament copies of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) Annual Report and Accounts for 1997-98.

The report and accounts detail the agency's performance against its targets. The FSS continues to grow at a signficant pace, and efficiency savings are at the highest level since it became an agency in 1991. The FSS passes on these improvements to customers through real price reductions and higher investment in both research and development and infrastructure to improve the quality of products and services.

The achievement on four main indicators was as follows.

    Full cost recovery

    The target was exceeded. The operating surplus before exceptional items after interest was £3 million, representing a recovery of costs of

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    105.3 per cent. This is sufficient to recover brought forward accumulated deficit of £2 million.

    Unit cost £80.91

    The target was exceeded. The unit cost achieved was £79.88, representing an underlying efficiency improvement of 5.8 per cent. (against a target of 3.9 per cent.).

    Achieve 90 per cent. of agreed delivery dates.

    72 per cent. of agreed delivery dates was achieved. The increased volume of business made it impossible to achieve this target. The number of delivered jobs was well ahead of expectations, but increases in capacity are in hand to meet future customer demands within the target times.

    Maintain quality accreditation (NAMAS M10 and BS EN ISO 9001)

    Accreditation was maintained and extended to other scientific areas.

The total number of delivered jobs--which represent individual parts of a case--showed a greater than predicted increase of 28 per cent. Measures were put in place to minimise the impact on turnaround times.

The speed of delivery of DNA jobs will be further improved by the recruitment of more scientific staff and the new DNA unit at Huntingdon.

Overseas Domestic Workers

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to make changes to the arrangements for overseas domestic workers who accompany their employers to the United Kingdom.[HL3043]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have been concerned for some time at reports of abuse of domestic workers accompanying their employers to the United Kingdom. We have been working with Kalayaan, the organisation which represents overseas domestic workers, to see what changes we could make to the conditions under which they are admitted with a view to improving them and preventing abuse.

With effect from today, only those domestic workers whose duties exceed those set down in the International Labour Organisation's International Standard Classification of Occupations will be allowed to accompany their employer to the United Kingdom. This means that those whose duties are only cleaning, washing and cooking will not qualify. Once in the United Kingdom, they will be allowed to change domestic employment to another employer, provided the nature of their duties meets the above criteria.

These changes, which we shall include in the Immigration Rules at a suitable opportunity, will reduce the number of overseas domestic workers admitted to the United Kingdom. However, once here, they will be able to change to anther employer if they suffer abuse from their original employer.

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We also propose to regularise the stay of those overseas domestic workers who, because of the shortcomings of the provisions in the past, find themselves in an irregular position through no fault of their own.

Training and Enterprise Councils: Review

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the review of Training and Enterprise Councils in England.[HL3008]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government issued a consultation document on 9 July on the future role of TECs/CCTEs in meeting our strategic objectives. Copies of the document have been circulated widely to the many organisations and individuals with whom TECs work at local, regional, national and sectoral level. We have asked for comments by 30 September so that we can take them into account before issuing new strategic guidance for TECs in the Autumn. Copies have been placed in the Library and in the Printed Paper Office.

Scottish Fee Support Review Committee: Chairman

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to announce the Chairman of the Scottish Fee Support Review Committee to be established under the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998.[HL3040]

Baroness Blackstone: My right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are pleased to confirm that Sir George Quigley has agreed to chair the independent committee to be set up under Section 25(4) of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 to review financial support for fees for students in the final honours year of first degree courses at Scottish institutions. Other members will be announced at a later date.

Indonesia: Arms Contracts

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present value of current arms contracts between Indonesia and companies in the United Kingdom; and what these contracts are.[HL2541]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Information on individual contracts is commercially confidential and I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The Ministry of Defence is, however, currently working with the FCO and the DTI to prepare the Government's

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first Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. The Report will include details of export licence applications for UK Military List items and details of such equipment exported, including annual values. It is not possible to provide preliminary information in relation to Indonesia at present, as the details are still being prepared.

Reserve Forces: Service by Officers of Regular Forces

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of officers in the three Armed Forces, above the rank of Major, Wing Commander or Lieutenant Commander, have served with their respective reserve forces; and what steps they are taking to ensure that as many officers as possible experience service with the reserve forces, especially those destined for the higher command positions.[HL2666]

Lord Gilbert: Information on officers serving in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force is not held in the form requested. About 10 per cent. of officers serving at the rank of major, equivalent to lieutenant colonel in the Army, or above in the Royal Marines have served or are serving with the Royal Marines Reserve. About 30 per cent. of officers serving at the rank of lieutenant colonel or above in the Army have served at Territorial Army units since 1975. The reserves are closely integrated with the regular forces and the figures requested would not fully reflect the extensive contact that regular officers in all three services have with reservists. While there is no policy to ensure that they experience service in a reserve unit, most regular officers can expect to meet and serve alongside members of the reserve forces during their careers, without necessarily being posted to a reserve unit.

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