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25 Mar 1999 : Column WA169

Written Answers

Thursday, 25th March 1999.

Fish Landings: French Limits

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations have been made to the French Government over the refusal of the French authorities to allow the Scottish trawlers "Unity" and "Accord" to land their catch of bass in Brest.[HL1495]

    Whether they are seeking compensation for the trawlers "Unity" and "Accord" for the loss suffered by the French refusal to allow them to land their catch of bass at Brest.[HL1496]

    What representations have been made to the European Commission over the French refusal to allow the trawlers "Unity" and "Accord" to land their catch of bass in Brest.[HL1497]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): I understand the French have legislation limiting the landing of bass and that similar legislation has been in force for the last two years. The Government have written to the Commission about the notification of this legislation to other member states. No official representations have as yet been made to the French Government. I will write to the noble Lord once further information has been obtained from the Commission.

Public Expenditure: Scotland

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Macdonald of Tradeston on 9 March (WA 23) on who will conduct Public Expenditure Survey negotiations with the Treasury on behalf of the Scottish Executive after 1 July 1999, whether it will be a member of the Scottish Executive, the Secretary of State for Scotland, or a senior official of the Scottish Executive.[HL1491]

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The majority of future changes to the public expenditure settlement for Scotland will be determined through the Barnett formula, with consultation between Treasury Ministers and the Scottish Executive on its calculation and application of the rules which surround it. Negotiations on annually managed expenditure allocations will be conducted by the Scottish Executive. Ultimately, the level of public expenditure will be a matter for the UK Government, in which Scotland's interests will be represented by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

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Consultation: Response Times

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the Cabinet Office guidelines are for the minimum period allowed for response time to public consultation documents issued by individual departments of state.[HL1581]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Cabinet Office guidelines state that eight weeks should generally be the minimum response time for all consultation exercises, but whenever possible more should be allowed. Where less than eight weeks is allowed, the consultation document should specify why a longer response time could not have been given (for example, pre-determined statutory periods for consultation, threats to health, the pace of EU negotiations or long-standing existing arrangements). For consultations with clearly defined or specialist groups, shorter consultation periods may suffice, depending on the nature of the subject and the scale of the exercise: this is for departments, agencies and other bodies to judge according to the circumstances.

Bicycle Allowance: MPs and Peers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the Budget provision which allows an employer to pay a tax-free mileage allowance of 12p to cyclists, they will introduce such an allowance for Members of both Houses.[HL1545]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Members of both Houses are entitled to claim the bicycle allowance, which is tax-free. The current rate is 6.4 pence per mile.

Armed Services: Medical Consultants

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many medical posts of consultant status there are in each of the three armed services; what are the medical specialities of the posts, and how many of the posts are filled in each service.[HL806]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The number of medical posts of consultant status in each of the three Services and the number of those posts filled at 1 March 1999 is as follows:

Royal NavyArmy Royal Air Force
Number of Posts13824564
Number Filled54 (39%)79 (32%)49 (77%)


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The figures relate only to consultants employed in their specialty and do not include a number of consultants filling Command and Staff appointments. Some vacant consultant posts are currently filled by civilian consultants and, on military operations, can be filled by Specialist Registrars within two years of becoming accredited consultants.

The specialties and sub-specialties of the consultant posts are as follows:


    Anaesthetics


    General Medicine


    Dermatology


    Paediatrics


    Genito-Urinary Medicine


    Neurology


    General Surgery


    Obstetrics & Gynaecology


    Urology


    Orthopaedic Surgery


    Burns & Plastics


    Accident & Emergency


    Psychiatry


    Ophthalmic Surgery


    Maxillofacial Surgery


    Otorhinolaryngology


    Rheumatology & Rehabilitation


    Radiology


    Pathology


    Occupational Medicine


    Diving


    Radiation


    Aviation


    Public Health.

The Defence Dental Service is run on a tri-Service basis and no post belongs to a particular Service. There are five dental consultant posts, of which two were filled as at 1 March 1999.

ASTOR Programme: Capital Costs

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to cover the capital costs of the production of the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) by private financial initiatives.[HL1559]

Lord Gilbert: In line with normal MoD procedures, all the relevant costs, including capital costs, maintenance and support, and affordability, are being taken into account in the assessment of the proposals from industry for the ASTOR programme.

25 Mar 1999 : Column WA172

ASTOR Programme: Evaluation

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can confirm that the new technology in the RADAR Technology Insertion Programme being used by Northrop Grumann/British Aerospace will not require a mid-life improvement costing about £450 million.[HL1558]

Lord Gilbert: Proposals have been received from three companies for the Airborne Stand-Off Radar, ASTOR, programme, including one from Northrop Grumann/British Aerospace which incorporates the Radar Technology Insertion Programme, RTIP. All the bids are being assessed against the ASTOR requirement. Evaluation of the bids is nearing completion and it is not, therefore, appropriate to provide specific comments on the merits of them, or on whether any of them might require mid-life improvement. I can, however, give an assurance that our assessment takes full account of operational effectiveness, technical capability, industrial participation proposals and through life best value for money.

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 8 March (WA 9), whether, while urging the Russian Duma to ratify the START II agreement, they are also urging the Government and Congress of the United States not to proceed with proposals to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty on which the details of the START II agreement are based.[HL1509]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I refer my noble friend to the answer given by my noble friend Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 4 February (WA 231). Although not ourselves a party to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we have made clear to the United States the importance we attach to it.

Pre-emptive Military Action and International Law

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that any government has the right under international law to insist on access to any location in another sovereign country where it suspects activities of which it disapproves are being carried out; and whether pre-emptive military action against such locations can be lawful (as recently suggested by a spokesman for the Government of Japan (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10 March)).[HL1513]

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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The answer to these questions will depend on the precise circumstances both of the activities in question and the response.

European Council: Forthcoming Business

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for April; and the major European Union events for the next six months.[HL1722]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale:

Monthly Forecast of Business: April 1999

DateLocationEvent
April 1999
8BrusselsPolitical Committee
12-16StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
13LuxembourgConsumer Affairs Council
15-16StuttgartEuro-Med Foreign Ministers Conference "Barcelona III"
16-18DresdenECOFIN (Informal)
19-20LuxembourgAgriculture Council
20BrusselsPolitical Committee
22LuxembourgTelecommunications Council
24-25LuxembourgNATO Summit
26LuxembourgPolitical Committee
26-27LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
29LuxembourgIndustry Council
29-30BrusselsK4 Committee

The following subjects are likely to be discussed: April 8: Brussels, Political Committee


    No agenda yet available. April 12-16: Strasbourg, European Parliament Plenary


    No agenda yet available. April 13: Luxembourg, Consumer Affairs Council


    Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services and amending Directive 90/619/EEC, 97/7/EC and 98/2/EC.


    Policy debate


    Communication from the Commission on an action plan (1999-2001) on priorities for consumer policy.


    Debate


    Council conclusions


    Consumer-policy aspects of the negotiation of insurance contracts in the internal market.


    Progress report from the Commission


    Forthcoming revision of the Directive on general product safety.


    Progress report from the Commission


    Directive on the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees.


    Adoption

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    April 15-16: Stuttgart, Euro-Med Foreign Ministers Conference "Barcelona III"


    No agenda yet available. April 16-18: Dresden, ECOFIN (Informal)


    No formal agenda. April 19-20: Luxembourg, Agricultural Council


    No agenda yet available. April 20: Brussels, Political Committee


    No agenda yet available. April 22: Luxembourg, Telecommunications Council


    Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures.


    Common position


    Commission's Green Paper on the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors, and the implications for regulation: Towards an Information Society.


    Approach


    Conclusions


    Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on postal services


    Policy debate


    Status of the internal market in telecommunications, with Report on implementation.


    Debate


    Globalisation and the Information Society: the need for strengthened international co-ordination


    Update from the Commission relating to deve- lopments on electronic commerce.


    Digital Television


    Information from the Presidency


    Year 2000 computer problem


    Update and possible resolution April 24-25: Luxembourg, NATO Summit


    No agenda yet available. April 26: Luxembourg, Political Committee


    No agenda yet available. April 26-27: Luxembourg, General Affairs Council


    Issues arising from the Special European Council.


    Amsterdam Treaty


    Enlargement


    Common strategies


    EU-Turkey


    Europe strategy


    Romania


    Preparation of Association Council


    Estonia


    Preparation of Association Council


    Slovakia


    Preparation of Association Council

25 Mar 1999 : Column WA175


    Ukraine


    Preparation of Co-operation Council


    Western Balkans


    EU-China


    Preparation of summit (end of April/beginning of May, Beijing)


    Myanmar


    Extension of common position


    Middle East peace process April 29: Luxembourg, Industry Council


    The economic situation


    Information from the Commission on economic developments.


    Globalisation of the world economy


    Commission communication


    Policy debate


    Competitiveness of European industry


    (a) Benchmarking


    Reports on benchmarking activities at the levels of framework conditions, sectors and enterprises


    Conclusions


    (b) Ongoing debate on competitiveness


    Information on industrial aspects of related work in other Councils


    Report by the Presidency


    (c) Industrial aspects of enlargement


    Information from the Commission


    SMS


    (a) Proposal for a Council Directive combating late payment in commercial transactions


    Common position


    (b) Commission communication on management training


    Presentation by the Commission


    (c) Follow-up Business Environment Simplification Taskforce (BEST)


    Conclusions


    Communication on tourism and employment


    Presentation by the Commission


    Shipbuilding


    Situation of the shipbuilding industry


    Information from the Commission


    Coal and steel industry


    Expiry of the ECSC Treaty


    Financial aspects


    New Regulations on State aid for steel


    Conclusions


    Industrial aspects of electronic commerce


    Commission Communication


    Presentation by the Commission

25 Mar 1999 : Column WA176


    Sectoral issues


    OETH assessment and recommendations for its future


    Conclusions


    Competition policy


    (a) Commission communication on the application of the EU competitiveness rules to vertical restrictions: follow-up to the green book on vertical restrictions


    Political agreement


    (b) Report from the Commission on modernising competition rules


    Information from the Commission. April 29-30: Brussels, K4 Committee


    No agenda yet available.

This calendar is primarily concerned with European Union matters, but certain other relevant events are also included. Events and dates quoted are based on the information available on the date of issue.

European Calendar: April-September 1999

DateLocationEvent
April 1999
8BrusselsPolitical Committee
12-16StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
13LuxembourgConsumer Affairs Council
15-16StuttgartEuro-Med Foreign Ministers Conference "Barcelona III"
16-18DresdenECOFIN (Informal)
19-20LuxembourgAgriculture Council
20BrusselsPolitical Committee
22LuxembourgTelecommunications Council
24-25LuxembourgNATO Summit
26LuxembourgPolitical Committee
26-27LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
29LuxembourgIndustry Council
29-30BrusselsK4 Committee
May 1999
3-7StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
6-7BerlinPolitical Committee
6BrusselsEU-ACP Ministerial meeting
7-9WermarEnvironment Ministers (Informal)
10BrusselsECOFIN
10BremenWEU Council
10-11BerlinTrade Ministers (Informal)
11BrusselsEnergy Council
17BrusselsK4 Committee
17BrusselsPolitical Committee
17-18BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
17-18BrusselsAgriculture Council
18BrusselsEEA Council
18BrusselsCo-operation Council with Russia
18-19WeimarCulture Ministers (Informal)
20BrusselsResearch Council
21BrusselsDevelopment Council
25BrusselsJoint ECOFIN and Labour & Social Affairs Council
25BrusselsSocial Affairs Council
25BrusselsPolitical Committee
27BrusselsYouth Council
27-28BrusselsJustice & Home Affairs Council
31BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
30 May-1 JuneDresdenAgriculture Ministers (Informal)
June 1999
1DresdenAgriculture Ministers (Informal)
3-4CologneEuropean Council
7LuxembourgEducation Council
8LuxembourgHealth Council
10BrusselsPolitical Committee
10LuxembourgFisheries Council
10-13European Parliament Elections
14LuxembourgECOFIN (possible)
14-15LuxembourgAgriculture Council
14-15BrusselsK4 Committee
17BonnEU-Japan Summit
17-18LuxembourgTransport Council
21LuxembourgInternal Market
21BonnEU-USA/Canada Summit
21-22LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
22LuxembourgLabour & Social Affairs Council (possible)
24-25LuxembourgEnvironment Council
25-29Rio de JaneiroEU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit
28LuxembourgCulture Council
29BrusselsPolitical Committee (possible)
July 1999
2-3OuluIndustry and Research Ministers (Informal)
6-7SavonlinnaCulture Ministers
8HameenlinnaPolitical Committee
9-10OuluLabour/Social Affairs Ministers (Informal)
12BrusselsECOFIN
12BrusselsAfrica, Caribbean and Pacific Committee
16BrusselsBudget
18-20SavonlinnaCulture/Audiovisual Ministers (Informal)
19BrusselsPolitical Committee
19-20BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
20-23StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
22-23HelsinkiK4 Committee
23-25HelsinkiEnvironment Ministers (Informal)
August 1999
No Council Business
September 1999
1BrusselsPolitical Committee
4-5SaariselkaForeign Ministers (Informal)
6-7BrusselsAgriculture Standing Committee
9-10TurkuK4 Committee
10-12TurkuECOFIN (Informal)
12-14TampereAgriculture Ministers (Informal)
13BrusselsPolitical Committee (Informal)
13-14BrusselsGeneral Affairs Committee
13-17StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
16-17KittilaArticle 113 Committee
16-17TurkuJustice and Home Affairs (Informal)
20BrusselsPolitical Committee (Possible)
20-21BrusselsAgriculture Standing Committee
23BrusselsTelecommunications
24BrusselsK4 Committee (Informal)
24-25TampereEducation Committee (Informal)
27-28KuopioMinisters of Housing
27-28BrusselsAgriculture Ministers
30BrusselsPolitical Committee
30HelsinkiEquality Conference

25 Mar 1999 : Column WA178


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