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House of Lords: Leaking Pipework

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: The estimate of the volume of water is some 20 gallons. The emission was caused when a contractor failed to check pipework sufficiently before making an alteration.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: Rooms C101, C203, C205 and the Committee Corridor outside Room 6 suffered water damage. These rooms are used by the House of Lords Library. The initial estimate of the cost of remedial repair work is £5,000, and this has been charged to the contractor involved.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: The two oil paintings of William Wentworth and Thomas Cubitt were removed from the wall for their own safety. Their condition was checked by a conservator. No damage was found. They are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, which has been notified.

Royal Commission on Reform of the House of Lords

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Her Majesty the Queen has been pleased to approve the following list of members of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords:



    The Right Honourable Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

8 Feb 1999 : Column WA6


    The Right Honourable Lord Hurd of Westwell CH CBE


    Lord Butler of Brockwell GCB CVO


    Right Reverend Richard Harries, Lord Bishop of Oxford


    Sir Michael Wheeler-Booth


    Sir Kenneth Munro


    Professor Anthony King


    Ms Ann Beynon


    Bill Morris


    Professor Dawn Oliver

As announced on 20 January, the Right Honourable Lord Wakeham DL PC JP FCA is to be the Chairman of the Royal Commission.

BBC World Service: Arabic Broadcasts to Iraq

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the reply given by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 21 January (H.L. Deb., cols. 698-699), whether there will be no cuts in BBC World Service broadcasts in Arabic to Iraq as a result of the current three-year strategic review.[HL699]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Arabic is, and remains, one of the highest priority languages for the World Service. There are no plans to cut services to Iraq.

COPEX 1998 Exhibition

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which officials attended the COPEX 98 exhibition; and in pursuance of what departmental responsibilities.[HL327]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: No officials from the FCO attended the COPEX 1998 exhibition. The FCO does not maintain records on behalf of other government departments.

Firth of Forth: Proposed Special Protection Area

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the classification of the River Forth as a Special Protection Area will extinguish the ancient right to shoot on the foreshore in the Special Protection Area.[HL721]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Firth of Forth has been identified by the Government as a potential Special Protection Area under the EC Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC), but has not yet been classified as such.

8 Feb 1999 : Column WA7

The Government are obliged to take appropriate steps to avoid, in a Special Protection Area, significant disturbance of the species for which the area has been designated. Subject to that test, shooting is possible within a Special Protection Area and takes place within a number of existing Special Protection Areas, including the Upper Solway Flats and Marshes.

National Insurance Contributions Forecast

Baroness Castle of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the estimated national insurance contribution rates for (a) employers and (b) employees in 2050 under the Government's current proposals.[HL809]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The estimated national insurance contribution rates in 2050, under the Government's proposals for the introduction of stakeholder pension schemes and State Second Pensions, is 10.1 per cent. for employers and 8.1 per cent. for employees.

Cadet Force Membership and Homosexuality

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any controls are at present in place to prevent young people who are believed to be homosexual from serving in Army, Navy, or Air Cadet forces, or in Combined Cadet Forces in schools.[HL818]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Cadet Forces are National Youth Organisations, sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. Membership is encouraged from young people mainly between the ages of 13 and 18, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Defence Medical Services: Consultant Retirements

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Defence Medical Service officers of consultant status have given notice of resignation or that they do not intend to continue serving beyond their "return of service" or "time bar", since the publication on 14 December 1998 of Defence Medical Services--A Strategy for the Future; and what are their specialities.[HL808]

8 Feb 1999 : Column WA8

Lord Gilbert: Since 14 December 1998 the Ministry has received written applications for premature voluntary retirement from the following medical officers of consultant status:


    1 General Surgeon


    3 Orthopaedic Surgeons


    3 Anaesthetists

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Defence Medical Service officers are head of their department in NHS hospitals incorporating Ministry of Defence hospital units. [HL 807]

Lord Gilbert: None.

US Anti-Ballistic Missile Programmes

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British defence firms are participating in United States anti-ballistic missile, ballistic missile defence and related programmes; and how many jobs depend on it.[HL742]

Lord Gilbert: The Memorandum of Understanding under which UK firms are able to participate in the US ballistic missile defence programmes provides for both government to government agreements, called Letters of Offer and Acceptance, and for contracts to be established between the US and UK firms and universities. No records are maintained by Her Majesty's Government as to the number of British defence firms involved and thus the number of jobs that might depend on any such involvement are unknown.

Advertising Material Placed on Cars

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 has solved the environmental and road safety problems caused by the placing of unsolicited advertising material under windscreen wipers; and, if not, whether they will introduce or facilitate legislation to outlaw the practice.[HL799]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Enforcement of litter legalisation is a matter for individual local authorities.

The department is aware that some local authorities have issued fixed penalty notices under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for the placing of unsolicited advertising material under windscreen wipers. It is not aware that there is a widespread problem as a result of this activity.

8 Feb 1999 : Column WA9

Forth Bridge: Maintenance

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the costs of renovating the Forth Railway Bridge, and over what timescale; and whether safety will remain a top priority.[HL879]

Lord Whitty: The maintenance of the Forth Bridge is the responsibility of Railtrack. We understand that in late 1997 they let a £40 million contract to a company called Rigblast for the maintenance of the bridge. The works will be carried out in conjunction with improvements to the trackbed and bridge structure. Work began on 1 November 1997 and is expected to be completed by 31 December 2000. HSE will continue to monitor Railtack's improvements to the bridge to ensure that its safety is maintained.


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