Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


The Earl of Dundonald asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The enforcement of legislation relating to fishing in British waters around Gibraltar is a matter for the Royal

12 Apr 1999 : Column WA97

Gibraltar Police. Since the conclusion in February of an agreement between the Gibraltar authorities and representatives of local Spanish fishermen, which built on an earlier understanding between the Foreign Secretary and the Spanish Foreign Minister, there have been no serious problems.

Mr. Yasser Arafat

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Yasser Arafat enjoys sovereign immunity when visiting the United Kingdom.[HL1786]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Mr. Yasser Arafat is not a Head of State.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers, when they travelled to Madrid before the issue of the first warrant for the arrest of General Pinochet, met Joan Garces, former advisor to President Allende.[HL1820]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): No Crown Prosecution Service staff or representative visited Madrid in connection with the case of Senator Pinochet prior to the issue of the first warrant for the arrest of Senator Pinochet at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on 16 October 1998.

Judges: Commercial Directorships

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any of Her Majesty's judges currently holds commercial company directorships; and, if so, which.[HL1836]

The Lord Chancellor: Full-time judges are advised on appointment that they should not hold commercial directorships, but that there is normally no objection to their taking part in the management of a family estate or farming their own land. Part-time judges are not subject to the same constraint. My department does not collect information on how many part-time judges hold commercial company directorships.

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their definition of "a commercial directorship" in relation to rules concerning the conduct of Her Majesty's judges upon appointment to the bench.[HL1837]

The Lord Chancellor: Full time judges are advised on appointment that they should not hold commercial directorships, but that there is normally no objection to their taking part in the management of a family estate or farming their own land. There is no specific definition

12 Apr 1999 : Column WA98

of "a commercial directorship" for these purposes. Judges are able to consult me or other senior members of the judiciary if they have any doubts about the application in particular circumstances of the guidance given to them on appointment.

British Railways Board Land Sales

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 22 February (WA 104-105), whether they will place in the Library of the House the list of sites which the Government have allowed British Rail to release for sale, comprising:


    (a) the 35 sites on which the board has exchanged contracts prior to the announcement of the suspension of sales;


    (b) the 65-70 sites released on the grounds of urgency; and


    (c) the 40 sites being processed for sale for transport use.[HL1664]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The list of sites which the Government has permitted the British Railways Board to release for sale has now been placed in the Library of the House. The board has revised the list to include sites where sales had to proceed because they were the subject of compulsory purchase order procedures, to exclude sites where grounds of urgency had been expected to justify continuing the sale but did not materialise, and to exclude sites being processed for sale for transport use where further review of the individual sites has not supported their release on these grounds. The board's revised list comprises:


    -- 42 sites on which the board had exchanged contracts or which were the subject of compulsory purchase order procedures prior to announcement of the suspension of sales;


    -- 38 sites released on grounds of urgency where failure to complete might have caused significant damage to the purchaser, with the risk of the board being sued for negotiating in bad faith, and after a check that release would not frustrate a potential transport use;


    -- 24 sites being processed for sale to local authorities or other bodies for transport use.

Regional Development Agencies: Rural Representation

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which organisations were consulted before the appointment of a member representing rural interests to each regional development agency was made as required by Section 2(3)(d) of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998.[HL1772]

12 Apr 1999 : Column WA99

Lord Whitty: I refer the noble Baroness to my previous Answer of 29 March 1999, WA 18, on the appointments process, which provided details of the stakeholders approached for their capacity to nominate members who would provide rural expertise to the boards of the Regional Development Agencies.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who has been appointed as rural representative to each of the regional development agencies.[HL1773]

Lord Whitty: I refer the noble Baroness to my previous Answer of 23 March 1999 on the rural expertise of members of boards of the Regional Development Agencies (WA 152-153).

Industries' Rateable Values: Prescribed Assessment

Lord Bassam of Brighton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If they will continue to prescribe the rateable value of some industries at the 2000 rating revaluation.[HL1919]

Lord Whitty: Most ratepayers have their rateable values assessed using conventional methods by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Assessors in Scotland. However, this has to date been problematic for certain industries. Instead, these industries have had their rateable values prescribed by order by the respective Secretaries of State. The industries currently in prescribed assessment are:


    Electricity generators


    National Grid


    Regional Electricity Companies


    British Gas Transco


    Railtrack


    London Underground


    the water companies


    and large docks and harbours.

The VOA and the Scottish Assessors' Association have been examining whether it would be feasible for these industries to have their rateable values assessed by conventional methods. Although they have concluded that conventional assessment would be possible, the results would be far from clear. Conventional assessment would lead to significant differences of opinion over possible values which in many cases could only be properly resolved by the courts. The level of uncertainty is significantly above that which could be expected from most properties. Resolving this uncertainty could take several years.

Therefore, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has, together with my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales, concluded that the industries currently subject to prescribed assessment will continue to have their rateable value prescribed by the respective Secretaries of State for the

12 Apr 1999 : Column WA100

2000 revaluation. We will begin discussions with the industries in prescribed assessment with a view to agreeing their new rateable values for the 2000 revaluation. In Scotland, by 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Prescribed assessment is not an ideal way of setting rateable values but it is the best available at this time. We will continue to work towards ending prescribed assessment in the future.

Public Service Pension Schemes: Underwriting

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any insurance companies underwrite any part of:


    (a) the Civil Service Pension Scheme (in particular section 11--injury benefits); or


    (b) the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (in particular the injury benefits section): and, if so, which insurance companies are involved (by government department).[HL1590]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): No part of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is underwritten by insurance companies.

Members of the Armed Forces who are injured as a result of their service may receive benefits from both the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and from the War Pension Scheme. The Government meet the full cost of both schemes, and neither is underwritten by insurance companies. The MoD has, however, designed a contributory scheme under which members of the Armed Forces can take out insurance which provides compensation for injuries or death regardless of whether Service personnel are on or off duty. This scheme is administered by AON Risk Services. The benefits are paid in addition to the pension benefits to which members of the Armed Forces are entitled; the scheme is voluntary.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page