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9 Nov 1998 : Column WA69

Written Answers

Monday, 9th November 1998.

IACS Grants

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many IACS (Integrated Administration and Control System) application forms were received by the Scottish Office from Scottish farmers for 1997.[HL3609]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Scottish Office received 22,397 IACS applications from Scottish farmers in 1997.

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Scottish farmers have not yet been fully paid their IACS (Integrated Administration and Control System) grant for 1997.[HL3610]

Lord Sewel: Of some 100,259 claims made in 1997 by Scottish farmers under the five schemes subject to the Integrated Administrative and Control System, 96,321 have been paid in full. The eligibility of the remainder is still being investigated.

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With regard to IACS (Integrated Administration and Control System) grants, whether there have been difficulties over Ordnance Survey numbers.[HL3611]

Lord Sewel: There have been no recent problems over OS Field numbers in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Scotland, however, experienced some difficulty in introducing a new Field Identification System which allocated new field identification numbers to over 500,000 fields on 30,000 farms. This was an extremely difficult and highly complex system to introduce. The problems have now been resolved.

Ordnance Survey also experienced significant delays in the generation and allocation of the new Field Identifiers when the quality of the source data, i.e. original mapping submitted by producers, was of poor quality and the extent of individual fields was not clearly delineated. However, most of those problems were resolved some time ago and Ordnance Survey updates the database when new changes are received, e.g. splitting a field into two parts.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency: Annual Report

Lord Gallacher asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the second annual report of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency will be published.[HL3765]

Lord Sewel: A copy of SEPA's second annual report and accounts will be placed in the Library on Tuesday

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10 November. It contains details of the progress made by SEPA during the period 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998, the agency's second year of operation.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received from any holder of a consent in respect of genetically modified organisms any notification of new information on the risks of damage to the environment, on the effects of any release for the assessment of such risks and on better techniques for preventing environmental damage, as required by Sections 112(5)(b) and 112(7)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended); and, if so, whether they will provide details of the consent holders and notifications.[HL3677]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Since 1 February 1993, when the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulation 1992 came into force, the Secretary of State has, with respect to Section 112(5)(b), not been notified of any new information on the risks of damage to the environment, but has received reports on the outcome of every release authorised. These reports are held on a public register in the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. With respect to Section 112(7)(b), the Secretary of State has not been notified of any new information.

Mr. Kevin Maxwell

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of the present court action against Mr. Kevin Maxwell.[HL3608]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): It is not possible to provide an estimated cost at present as the case is still in progress. A Directions hearing took place on 2 November but no further dates or time estimates have been set for future hearings. The daily cost of hearing a High Court case is about £1,100, which includes the cost of the judge, administrative assistance and courtroom accommodation. The costs of running the civil courts are recovered from fee income.

Human Rights Actions: Costs

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

    What measures they intend to take to ensure that the traditional costs rules do not impair the effective enjoyment of the rights of access to justice in cases under the Human Rights Act where the claimant is ineligible for legal aid but cannot afford to risk having to pay the costs of the respondent public authority.[HL3614]

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The Lord Chancellor: The courts have a wide discretion in respect of costs and can take into account their impact on a person's ability to bring proceedings. The Divisional Court in the cases of R v. Lord Chancellor ex parte Child Poverty Action Group and R v. Director of Public Prosecutions ex parte Bull and another (the report can be found in the All England Law Reports [1998] 2 All ER 755) set out the considerations it would take into account in the circumstances described by the noble Lord.

Economic Activity, GDP and GNP

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of economic activity they understand to be being measured by means of (a) Gross Domestic Product and (b) Gross National Product in: (a) the United Kingdom; (b) the European Union; (c) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries; (d) the Council of Europe countries; (e) less developed countries; and (f) the most indebted countries.[HL3605]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 9 November 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question on economic activity.

I replied to you on a similar question in my letter of 15 July this year (Official Report, 15 July 1998, WA 29). As I explained then, the ONS does not have the information requested.

The measurement of economic activity is covered by the internationally agreed System of National Accounts 1993, and GDP and GNP are widely used as measures of economic activity by countries around the world. For the European Union, the equivalent of the System of National Accounts has been agreed under the ESA95 Council Regulation No. 2223/96 on "the European system of national and regional accounts in the Community".

Estimates of GDP may not capture all economic activity in countries which have, for example, a significant amount of illegal economic production, a large volume of transactions in barter, or substantial household production. However, these are extremely difficult to measure, more still to measure with any realistic comparability between countries.

An article "A household satellite account for the UK" was published in the October 1997 issue of Economic Trends, which presented some developmental work on

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household accounts for the UK. Also, an article was published in the July 1998 issue of Economic Trends, "Developing a methodology for measuring illegal activity for the UK national accounts", which examined the feasibility of making estimates of economic transactions which are illegal. Copies of both articles are attached. Also, Economic Trends is available in the House of Lords Library.

Some other countries have undertaken similar work, although all such work is at a developmental stage.

Satellite Television Channels: Proscription

Lord Thomson of Monifieth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which television channels have been made the subject of a proscription order under Section 177 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 relating to the broadcast of unacceptable pornographic material; how many of them are still broadcasting into the United Kingdom; and how many prosecutions there have been for criminal offences under Section 177.[HL3584]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Five foreign satellite television channels have been proscribed under the Broadcasting Act 1990. They are: Red Hot Television (in 1993); XXX TV Erotica (1995); Rendez-Vous Television (1996); Satisfaction Club Television (1997); and Eurotica Rendez-Vous (1998). Of these, the Government understand that only Satisfaction Club Television and Eurotica Rendez-Vous are still offering a service. The Independent Television Commission, in accordance with Section 177 of the 1990 Broadcasting Act, has notified the Secretary of State that Eros TV is an unacceptable service. The Government have now, in accordance with the provisions of Article 2a of the Broadcasting Directive, notified the parties concerned, with a view, in the first instance, of reaching an amicable settlement. If this is not possible, the Secretary of State will consider making a proscription order against Eros TV. Prosecutions under the Act are matters for the police authorities; information is not held centrally.

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