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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: No such studies have been carried out. The requirements for slaughtermen to keep as clean as may be reasonably possible by thorough and frequent washing are set out in Schedule 7 of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995, as amended.

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Tuberculosis in Cattle

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many bovines were found to have tuberculosis lesions at post mortem inspection in slaughterhouses during the financial years 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99.[HL3229]

Lord Donoughue: The number of cattle found to have lesions, following routine inspection at slaughterhouses, which were subsequently confirmed by laboratory culture test as bovine tuberculosis during each of the calendar years from 1995 to 1998 is listed in the following table. This information is not available on a financial year basis.

TB confirmed following:

YearSlaughterhouse inspection
199548
199666
199774
1998109

Meat Labelling

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will require all meat and meat products imported into the United Kingdom to be labelled with the country of origin, including products which have been processed or repackaged in the United Kingdom; and, if not, why not.[HL3226]

Lord Donoughue: Food labelling rules only require country of origin labelling where it is needed to avoid misleading consumers. Since these rules are harmonised throughout the European Community any additional requirements for country of origin labelling for meat or meat products could only be introduced at European level. Retailers may, of course, provide country of origin information on a voluntary basis, provided what they give is true and not likely to mislead the consumer.

Privy Council Judicial Committee Hearings: Photocopying and Fax Facilities

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

    Whether photocopying and fax facilities are available to parties, and their legal representatives, appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and, if not, whether they will consider making them available, if necessary upon payment of a reasonable charge.[HL3240]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The need to make photocopying facilities available to parties and their legal representatives

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appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should be very limited since under the rules applicable to appeals and references the parties must prepare in advance the necessary copies of the papers required. Where during a hearing a need arises for a document to be copied immediately for the use of the Committee, the Registrar may at his discretion allow the facilities of the Registry to be used. The Registrar will also grant all reasonable requests by persons attending for a hearing to use the Registry's telephone and fax facilities.

Scotland Act 1998: Advice to Her Majesty the Queen

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the position regarding the giving of advice by the First Minister to Her Majesty the Queen on the exercise of Her functions in connection with the implementation of the Scotland Act 1998.[HL3388]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: In a number of situations advice is, by convention, given by a Minister of the Crown to Her Majesty in respect of the exercise of Her functions. The majority of Her Majesty's functions in respect of which she receives advice from a Minister of the Crown in this way relate to the making of appointments and the use of the Royal prerogative.

As a consequence of the new constitutional arrangements under the Scotland Act 1998, it is proposed that in some of those situations the First Minister instead of a Minister of the Crown will give advice, by convention, to Her Majesty after 1 July in respect of Her functions. No formal order is required to give effect to these transfers, which will be carried out by administrative arrangement. In this context "Her Majesty's functions" refer to Her statutory functions and cases where Her Majesty acts under Her prerogative or common law powers. It concerns only those functions of Her Majesty which she exercises personally and not those which are exercised on Her behalf by a Minister of the Crown. It deals only with circumstances in which a Minister of the Crown provides advice to Her Majesty by convention and it does not deal with circumstances in which a Minister of the Crown exercises a statutory function of advising Her Majesty. Where appropriate, provision has been made in the Scotland Act or in subordinate legislation under the Scotland Act to transfer these statutory advice-giving functions from the Minister of the Crown to the First Minister.

In cases where Her Majesty exercises a function which is exercisable within devolved competence for the purposes of the Scotland Act 1998 and she is, by convention, advised by a Minister of the Crown about the exercise of that function, then after 1 July She will be advised by the First Minister instead of by a Minister of the Crown.

For example, Her Majesty exercises the Royal prerogative of mercy and appoints regius professors of the ancient Scottish universities in this way. A list of

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further examples of circumstances in which Her Majesty will in future be advised by the First Minister instead of by the Secretary of State in relation to the exercise of Her functions which relate in whole or in part to a devolved matter has been placed in the Library.

There are some matters in respect of which the Prime Minister gives advice to Her Majesty on the exercise of Her functions and on which it would be appropriate for the Prime Minister to consult or to take advice from the First Minister. These matters include recommendations of Scottish candidates for honours and dignities, which are a reserved matter, and advice on the appointment of Lord Lieutenants in Scotland, the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and members of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Forestry Commission. There are also matters where a Minister of the Crown gives advice to Her Majesty and where it also would be appropriate for the First Minister to be consulted by or to give advice to that Minister of the Crown.

The Scotland Act 1998 confers upon the First Minister various functions of advising Her Majesty either directly or through the Prime Minister. This includes seeking Her Majesty's approval for the appointment of Scottish Ministers and recommending to Her Majesty persons for appointment as the Scottish Law Officers. Section 95 of the Act sets out in detail the arrangements for the First Minister to nominate persons for appointment as Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice Clerk to the Prime Minister, who in turn makes recommendations on those appointments to Her Majesty. It also provides for the First Minister to recommend to Her Majesty the appointment of other judges.

In a number of other situations Her Majesty is advised in relation to the exercise of Her functions by the Privy Council rather than by a Minister of the Crown. The Privy Council deals with various items of Scottish business, both prerogative business and statutory matters, such as the grant of Royal Charters and Privy Council appointments. A paper has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses that briefly describes the circumstances in which the First Minister will from 1 July contribute to Privy Council business in the same manner as the Secretary of State for Scotland has done.

Vehicle Number Plates

Lord Taylor of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have for new regulations relating to vehicle number plates.[HL3433]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): We expect to publish draft regulations relating to the display of vehicle number plates in the near future. We will consult widely on the proposals before any new regulations are made.

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GMOs: Open Decision-making

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the statement by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution on 16 February that new machinery is needed so that genetically modified organism (GMO) decisions will take account of wider considerations and that every official decision about GMOs must be accompanied by an explanation of the reasons for it.[HL2903]

Lord Whitty: The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's statement of 16 February was that body's response to the Government's review of the framework for overseeing developments in biotechnology. On 21 May 1999 the Government published the Advisory and Regulatory Framework for Biotechnology: Report from the Government's Review and announced that two new strategic commissions would be established to take a broader, long-term view of developments in biotechnology. The Human Genetics Commission will advise on applications of biotechnology in healthcare, and the impact of human genetics on people's lives; and the Agricultural and Environment Biotechnology Commission will cover the use of biotechnology in agriculture and its environmental effects.

The Government's report stated that all committees involved in biotechnology should adopt principles on transparency, timeliness and exchange of information. The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, Second Edition 1997, requires that the facts and analysis behind major policy decisions be made available proactively. Such information is normally made available when policies and decisions are announced.


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