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Asylum Seekers: Country of Origin

The Earl of Dartmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The number of asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia currently awaiting an initial decision is 9,580, which is 15 per cent. of all applications outstanding. The figure for Rwanda is 295, which is less than 1 per cent.

Department of Health Cash Limits

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates, the cash limit for Class XI, Vote 1 (Hospital, community health, family health and related services,

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England) will be increased by £273,468,000 (from £31,225,592,000 to £31,499,060,000). This allows for increases of £81,876,000 in respect of the take-up of the NHS Trusts' External Financing Limit (EFL) End Year Flexibility, and £208,691,000 from the Reserve for the National Health Service Winter Pressures. In addition, the following transfers will take place: £3,300,000 from Class IX, Vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment) for student bursaries (Dearing Report); £60,000 from Class XII, Vote 1 (Department of Social Security) for the Students Grant Unit and £63,206,000 from the non-voted element of NHS Trusts' EFL. These increases are partially offset by transfers of £82,346,000 following a reappraisal of the drugs budget requirements; £1,021,000 to Class XII, Vote 3 for start up costs for the Compensation Recovery Unit; £79,000 to Class XIII, Vote 3 (Education, industry, arts and libraries, Scotland) for student bursaries cross border flows; £211,000 to Class XIV, Vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health services and other health services (part) Wales) for student bursaries cross border flows and £8,000 to the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland for the National Poisons Information Service.

The cash limit for Class XI, Vote 2 (Department of Health, administration, miscellaneous health and

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personal social services, England) will be increased by £68,133,000 (from £1,152,250,000 to £1,220,383,000). This increase allows for a claim on the reserve of £61,300,000 to support services for unaccompanied asylum seeking children, asylum seekers' accommodation grant and persons from abroad children's grant; and £7,713,000 in respect of the end year flexibility arrangements for health as announced by my right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 14 July 1998 (Official Report, cols. 131-136). The increase also allows for the following transfers: £1,183,000 (running costs) from Class XII, 3 (Department of Social Security: administration) for repayment services; transfers totalling £66,000 (running costs) for the National Screening Committee, made up of £52,000 from Class XIII, Vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health, other health services and welfare food, Scotland) and £14,000 from the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland; transfers totalling £26,000 for the United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority, made up of £14,000 from Class XIII, Vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health, other health services and welfare food, Scotland), £8,000 from Class XIV, Vote 4 (Hospital, community health, family health services and other health services (part), Wales) and £4,000 from the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland; and a transfer of £8,000 (running costs) from Class VIII, Vote 6 (HM Procurator General and Treasury Solicitor) for legal trainees. The overall increase is partially offset by a transfer of £2,163,000 to Class IV, Vote 2 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) towards the costs of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) enquiry.

The department's gross running cost limit will be increased by £1,257,000 from £262,946,000 to £264,203,000.

Overall the NHS Trusts' External Financing Limit has decreased by £63,206,000 from £121,920,000 to £58,714,000. The Medicines Control Agency External Financing Limit has been increased by £6,800,000 from £700,000 to £7,500,000.

All increases will either be offset by savings, increased receipts, transfers to or from other Votes or charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Statutory Obligations: Government Compliance

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which statutory obligations on the Government have been in force for over one year, with which the Government have not yet complied.[HL772]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): I regret that the information requested is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

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Royal Parks Agency: Planning Control Exemption

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Royal Parks Agency is exempt from planning law; and, if so, whether they will take steps to ensure that any exemptions are now removed.[HL855]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As a Crown body, the Royal Parks Agency enjoys Crown immunity and in most cases does not require planning consent from the local planning authority for development of its own land.

The Government are committed to the removal of this exemption for Crown bodies, and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be taking this matter forward when an opportunity in the legislative programme arises.

Crown bodies do, however, follow the parallel procedure set out in Department of the Environment Circular 18/84, which requires consultation with the local planning authority before proceeding with development which would otherwise require planning permission; any unresolved objections from the authority would be referred for resolution to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Commonwealth Games, Manchester: Funding

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent consideration they have given to helping the City of Manchester to close any funding gap in relation to staging the Commonwealth Games in 2002; and what discussions Ministers have had about this with civic leaders.[HL847]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Manchester 2002 Limited has not yet finalised a budget for the staging of the Commonwealth Games. The sports programme is still under review and this decision will have considerable impact on costs, ranging from what facilities will need to be built to how many athletes can be expected. Also yet to be concluded is any agreement over broadcasting rights. These rights are expected to generate a large proportion of the Games' revenue, allied with sponsorship which has yet to be put in place. Once Manchester 2002 Limited has these matters in place, it will be in a clearer position in relation to any funding surplus or gap.

My honourable friend the Minister for Sport takes a close interest in the Commonwealth Games and last met Manchester City Council in September. He also meets regularly with the Commonwealth Games Federation both formally and informally; the last formal meeting was 23 November. He will be meeting stakeholders in the Commonwealth Games, including the City Council, on 3 March in Manchester. Officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have observer

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status on both the Manchester 2002 Limited board and on the Review Commission, an auditing body under the chairmanship of Sir Rodney Walker.

Vaccine Interactions: Independent Panel's Terms of Reference

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Gilbert on 12 November 1998 (WA118), whether they are aware of the objection to some of the terms of reference of the independent panel of the Ministry of Defence for interactions between vaccines and Nerve Agent Pretreatment Sets and of the proposals made verbally at the second meeting of the panel and confirmed later in writing by the Gulf Veterans' Association representative member of the panel; and, if, so, what were their responses to these submissions.[HL672]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The terms of reference of the independent panel that oversees the MoD's research programme into the possible adverse health effects of the combination of vaccines and tablets given to troops during the Gulf conflict to protect them against biological and chemical warfare agents were discussed and accepted at its first meeting, on 18 December 1997, with one minor amendment relating to the panel's responsibility to ensure that the research results arising from the programme were published appropriately. At the panel's second meeting, on 24 February 1998, a newly appointed member, who had not attended the previous meeting, questioned the scope of the panel's remit. It was explained that the panel had been called together specifically to oversee the interactions research programme and to consider the merits of other proposals in the same area. The expertise of individual panel members reflected this requirement. It was also explained that MoD receives general scientific advice and guidance on Gulf veterans' illnesses issues from the Medical Research Council, which has established a Gulf Health Steering Committee. We understand that the panel member who raised the issue of terms of reference at the meeting of 24 February, subsequently wrote to the panel chairman about this and a number of other matters. However, this correspondence was not copied to the MoD and I cannot, therefore, comment further.

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