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Holy Loch: Removal of Debris

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: We have not tried to recover from the US authorities the costs arising from our current Holy Loch clearance operation and we have no plans to do son. Under NATO procedures, and agreements governing the US presence at Holy Loch, responsibility for the site's remediation rests with the UK.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hoyle: Ministry of Defence officials first became aware on 16 September 1998 of General Pinochet's intention to visit the UK in October this year.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hoyle: Some UK defence companies have reported a slowing down of activity with Chile since the arrest of General Pinochet, with planned discussions being delayed or cancelled. But the defence export market is a long-term one, and it is difficult to make a measured judgment about the extent of any impact at present.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hoyle: No one from the Ministry of Defence met General Pinochet during his visit to the United Kingdom.

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Council Housing Debt, Scotland

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the amount of council housing debt of each local authority in Scotland.[HL369]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The table below gives estimates of the council housing debt of each local authority in Scotland, as at 1 April 1998.

AuthorityDebt (£)
Aberdeen City134,682,000
Argyll & Bute53,594,327
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar44,629,236
Dumfries & Galloway107,598,933
Dundee City117,916,400
East Ayrshire83,426,996
East Dunbartonshire45,574,000
East Lothian43,554,000
East Renfrewshire25,643,300
Edinburgh City283,591,341
Glasgow City914,638,203
North Ayrshire86,772,000
North Lanarkshire231,658,606
Orkney Islands4,769,000
Perth & Kinross47,759,926
Scottish Borders69,226,695
Shetland Islands60,157,961
South Ayrshire60,397,134
South Lanarkshire230,800,643
West Dunbartonshire92,236,590
West Lothian69,886,114

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the total cost of writing off all council housing debt for local authorities in Scotland; and what impact this would have on Government borrowing and on the taxpayer.[HL370]

Lord Sewel: An estimate of the cost of redeeming such debt could only be made at disproportionate cost since it would require detailed discussions with all authorities about their debt portfolios.

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Scottish Parliament: Costs

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the current total costs incurred in respect of the Scottish parliament to date; and what are the estimated costs of the Scottish parliament in terms of:

    (a) capital expenditure; and

    (b) revenue expenditure.

    for each of the next 10 years, including this year.[HL278]

Lord Sewel: Expenditure to date relating to the establishment of the Scottish parliament is as follows:

£ million
1997-981998-99 (1 April to 17 December 1998)

Capital expenditure includes site acquisition at Holyrood, building works, etc. at the Assembly Hall. Current expenditure includes costs associated with the architectural design competition for the Holyrood building and subsequent exhibitions, and other fees. Fees and VAT are included.

Estimated expenditure for the remainder of this year and next year are shown below. It would be premature, ahead of the establishment of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, to give and breakdown of capital and current spending beyond 1999-2000.

£ million
1998-99 (18 December-31 March)1999-2000

These estimates include the costs of development and building works at Holyrood; building and refurbishment work at the Assembly Hall; refurbishment work at the office buildings on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh and other related office buildings; purchase of information technology equipment, and furniture and security equipment; MSP and staff salaries and allowances, and costs of services delivered by external contractors. All estimates include fees and VAT, where appropriate.

Incapable Adults, Scotland: Family Role

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sewel on 16 December (WA 154), what role they see for the families of incapable adults in the areas covered by the Answer.[HL399]

Lord Sewel: The Government see an important role for the families of incapable adults in the proposals to reform

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the law in this area that I announced in my Written Answer on 16 December (HL192). The changes proposed will enable family members to play a more appropriate part in making decisions on financial or personal welfare matters, on behalf of an adult who does not have the capacity to do so. The new statutory framework will protect the interests of both the adult who lacks capacity and those taking decisions on his or her behalf.

People who wish to make arrangements for decisions to be taken on their behalf may appoint an attorney, who is often a close family member. The Government's proposals recognise for the first time that attorneys may be appointed to take decisions on personal welfare, as well as on financial matters, as the two types of decision are often linked. The proposals also provide for registration of powers of attorney that are to continue on the incapacity of the donor and thus allow public scrutiny of these arrangements, to ensure that the donor's interests are being protected.

The Government's proposals for access to funds from the bank accounts of adults who lose capacity are designed specifically to ease current difficulties experienced by carers at home when funds are frozen because the account holder becomes incapable of operating the account. Under the proposals, family members providing care may be granted authority through a simple application to the public guardian to have funds transferred from the incapable adult's account to a designated account, which the carer would then operate to meet daily living expenses. It is also proposed that, in agreed circumstances, joint account holders should continue to have authority to operate a joint account, where the other account holder becomes incapable of doing so. This will in particular assist couples with joint accounts should one account holder lose capacity.

The proposals for local authorities and health boards to authorise managers of residential establishments to manage the funds of residents who are incapable of so doing will provide reassurance for both residents and family members that residents' funds are being properly managed and accounted for.

A broad and flexible system of one-off intervention orders and longer term guardianship is proposed with appropriate welfare or financial powers as ordered by the sheriff court. This will be of great benefit to the families of incapable adults. For example, they will be able to apply for an intervention order for one-off decisions about matters such as the disposal of property that is owned jointly with an adult incapable of taking such decisions. Family members will also be able to be appointed guardian by the court with appropriate powers tailored to the needs of the adult without capacity.

Public Interest Immunity

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will waive public interest immunity in connection with the documents requested by solicitors acting on behalf of Samar Alami and Jawad Botmeh in their appeal against sentences of 20 years

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    imprisonment for conspiracy to bomb the Israeli Embassy.[HL356]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Public interest immunity is only claimed where Ministers believe that disclosure of a document would cause real harm or damage to the public interest. The court then makes the actual decision on disclosure in the light of the facts of the case. In the light of the current proceedings taking place in the Court of Appeal in respect of these cases it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment.

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