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Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: We received about 950 responses to the consultation. Around three-quarters of these commented on the levy proposals. Many criticised the proposal that the levy be set at a flat rate, and suggested that alternative methods of funding the agency be found or proposed ways of graduating the levy.

We are now reviewing the responses and considering carefully all the comments made before deciding how to proceed.

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Piscivorous Birds Study

Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of statements given in December that the conclusions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' three-year study on piscivorous birds would be postponed until spring 1999, whether they will now give a date for the release of the conclusions; and whether the conclusions will be considered by the Review Group on Freshwater Fisheries.[HL1788]

Lord Donoughue: As a result of further delay in completing parts of the three-year study on piscivorous birds, the results are not expected to be released until autumn 1999. The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries

14 Apr 1999 : Column WA130

Review Group is also due to report in the autumn, and it will not, therefore, be able to take into account the results of this research in formulating its recommendations.

Northern Ireland Assembly:Choice of Languages

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which languages will be spoken in the Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL1887]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): This will be a matter for the Assembly. The standing orders it has drawn up would permit Members to speak in the language of their choice.

14 Apr 1999 : Column WA129



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