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Food Poisoning Outbreaks: Causes

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Information on factors reported to have contributed to outbreaks of food-borne infectious intestinal disease has been collected by the Public Health Laboratory Service since 1992. In the six-year period to 1997, inadequate heat treatment has been reported as contributing to 361 outbreaks and cross contamination to 297 outbreaks. However, there is no specific information on the nature of the cross contamination.

Palace of Westminster Visitor Charging: Consultants' Study

Lord Dixon asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The total sum expended by the two Houses is £123,694.24. The share payable by the House of Lords is £49,441.69. This money has been found from underspend in the Security Budget.

Smoking in the House of Lords

Lord Hacking asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees: A review on smoking in the House was carried out recently by the Informal Group on Smoking. In relation to smoking in corridors and staircases, the group found that opinion of members of the House was split as follows: that smoking should be



    Allowed, with ventilation: 7%


    Never allowed: 45%


    Sometimes allowed: 1%

On the basis of these statistics, the Informal Group did not recommend that smoking be banned in corridors and staircases. The group did, however, recommend inter alia that smoking be banned in telephone kiosks.

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The House accepted the Informal Group's recommendations when the Offices Committee Report was agreed to on 16 June.

I have no plans to take any further steps in this matter at present. I hope that, as a result of the decision taken so recently by the House, non-smoking members will now find that they can avoid the smell of cigarettes when telephoning by using one of the kiosks.

Palace of Westminster Guided Tours

Lord Hoyle asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Chairman of Committees on 7 June (WA 121), whether consideration could be given to blue badge guides being allowed to bring parties, by arrangement, along the Line of Route during the summer Recess.[HL2974]

The Chairman of Committees: Accredited blue badge guides are already permitted to guide tours in the Palace of Westminster during the summer Recess, so long as those tours are sponsored by a Member or Officer of either of the two Houses. As I indicated in my previous Answer, these guides can be booked through Black Rod's Office.

Following the House of Commons' decision on 26 May not to accept the Administration Committee's proposals concerning the opening of the line of route to the public, there are now no plans to open the line of route to the public in the near future. Blue badge guides will not, therefore, be allowed to guide parties which are not sponsored by officers or members.

LEA Secondary School Places: Outborough Pupil Numbers

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For all English local education authorities (LEAs), what were the numbers of outborough secondary pupils in schools within the LEA as a percentage of all secondary places available within the LEA.[HL3157]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The information requested is not collected centrally.

Further Education Colleges: Teaching Staff Ethnic Origins

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the fact that 39.3 per cent. of part-time teachers in further education colleges in England in 1996-97 were non-white, compared with only 14.8 per cent. of full-time teachers, constitutes institutional racism.[HL2894]

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Baroness Blackstone: The Further Education Funding Council collects and publishes information on staffing numbers in further education colleges. It is compulsory that full-time staff and some part-time staff indicate their ethnic origin, but voluntary for part-time staff on shorter contracts.

A substantial number of staff did not identify their ethnic origin, an omission which distorts the information in the published tables. For those staff identifying their ethnic origin, 6.0 per cent. of full-time staff and 6.8 per cent. of part-time staff identified themselves as non-white.

These figures are broadly similar to the proportion of non-whites in the population and do not, therefore, provide evidence of institutional racism.

Prayers

Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked the Leader of the House:

    Whether she will refer to the House of Lords' Offices Committee the question whether the Bishops who read Prayers could be allowed more discretion as to the contents thereof.[HL3138]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): No. This matter has been considered periodically by the House of Lords' Offices Committee and the number of psalms to choose from has been increased gradually from one to 15 at the present time. If a proposal were made to the Committee by the Archbishop of Canterbury, I am sure the Committee would give the matter consideration.

Appeals: Management Decisions

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any constitutional convention governing the Lord Chancellor's power to decide which appeals are heard by the Appellate Committee or to determine the composition of the Appellate Committee to hear appeals.[HL2776]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): There is no such convention. Decisions as to which appeals are to be heard, where the court below has refused leave, are not made by the Lord Chancellor but by the Appeal Committee. The Lord Chancellor chairs the Appeal and Appellate Committees, but in practice he does not attend the Appeal Committee and delegates to the Senior Law Lord the day-to-day management of judicial business, including the composition of the committees.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any constitutional convention whereby the Lord Chancellor will follow the advice of the Senior Law Lord or Law Lords collectively as

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    regards the Lord Chancellor's participation as a member of the Appellate Committee in certain categories of case or particular cases.[HL2777]

The Lord Chancellor: There is no such convention.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor would follow the advice of the Senior Law Lord or Law Lords collectively in regard to his participation as a member of the Appellate Committee in certain categories of case or particular cases.[HL2778]

The Lord Chancellor: The Lord Chancellor could not bind himself in advance to follow the advice of another judge on questions which he has to decide for himself as and when they arise.

Crown Prosecution Service

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When ministerial and departmental responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service was transferred from the Home Office to the Law Officers' Department.[HL2761]

The Lord Chancellor: The Attorney General has had ministerial responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service ever since it was established by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. The Act provides that the Director of Public Prosecutions shall be the head of the Crown Prosecution Service and shall discharge his functions under the superintendence of the Attorney General.

Millennium Dome: Disability Training

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether training in wheelchair awareness is being given to all those who will work at the Millennium Dome once it is opened to the public; when such training is being carried out; and which organisation is providing the training.[HL2954]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): All members of the New Millennium Experience Company's (NMEC) operational staff will be trained in awareness of disability issues prior to the opening of the Dome to the public. The Advisory Group on Accessibility (set up by NMEC in June 1997) has been consulted on staff training and the company has also received a number of approaches from specialist training advisers. These are being evaluated prior to final decisions on the content of training and on the provider.

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