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Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Both National Health Service trusts and commercial insurers have received written guidance on the operation of the new system introduced on 5 April 1999. Those involved are also able to access guidance through telephone inquiries. We are not aware of any major difficulties having arisen.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The compensation recovery unit has confirmed that it has sufficient staff in post who are fully trained to enable them to undertake recovery of National Health Service charges.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: A new computer system supporting not only the collection of National Health Service charges following road traffic accidents but also the system of recovery of state benefits at the compensation recovery unit was brought into operation on 6 April 1999. It is operational but not yet at full capacity.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hayman: The Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 came into operation on 5 April 1999. Payments to National Health Service trusts under the new scheme for central collection of NHS charges following road traffic accidents will be made monthly in arrears. NHS trusts have been advised that first payments will be made at the end of July 1999.

House of Lords Judicial Office: Income and Expenditure

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will publish detailed income and expenditure accounts in relation to the performance, by the Law Lords, of the judicial functions of the House of Lords, covering all categories of expenditure other than the salaries of the Law Lords themselves.[HL3356]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The House of Lords Judicial Office administers the judicial proceedings of the House and provides secretarial and administrative services to the Lords of Appeal. The Office has its own budget and its income and expenditure for the year ending 31 March 1999 was as follows:

IncomeJudicial Fees£376,614
ExpenditureStaff Salaries and Wages£409,535
Outside Assistance(5)£35,696
Office Supplies£21,445
Training (of staff)£9,146
Electronic Publishing£2,540
Official Entertainment£100
Courier Service£65
Total (gross)£614,911
Less: VAT refunds on contracted out services(£7,174)
Total (net)£607,737

(3) A fee is received each time the Clerk of the Parliaments certifies the amount of a bill of costs when the parties cannot agree the amount.

(4) Copies of the Law Lords' Opinions are provided free to the parties and to those in the Chamber when judgment is given. Otherwise a charge of £5 is levied. Opinions are published free on the Internet.

(5) Largely attributable to the transcription and amplification of the Pinochet hearings.

(6) The senior and second senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are entitled to use the Government Car Service; other Law Lords have limited entitlement.

Certain services, including postage, telecommunications, accommodation and heating, are provided centrally to the House and the costs of these services cannot be broken down between offices. Similarly, the costs incurred by the Parliamentary Works Directorate in respect of the fabric of the Palace of Westminster and its maintenance cannot be broken down by office. Other costs which cannot be identified include the use made by the Law Lords of the services of the House of Lords Library, and the services of Doorkeepers whose costs fall on the budget of Black Rod's Office.

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Palace of Westminster: Foreign Language Guides

Lord Hoyle asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to his Written Answer on 27 May (WA 102), what action has resulted from the consideration being given to amending the Palace of Westminster website to indicate that it is possible to have a guide in a foreign language if visitors require one.[HL3372]

The Chairman of Committees: The text of the necessary amendment has now been agreed among all those concerned. The website will be amended in the next day or so to make it clear that foreign language guides can be arranged if they are requested.

Palace of Westminster: Line of Route Project

Lord Dixon asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to his Written Answer on 22 June (WA 55) relating to the line of route project:

    (a) how much of the £123,649.23 expended on this project is non-recoverable;

    (b) what is the breakdown of the expenditure to date;

    (c) whether the total expenditure of both Houses of £123,649.23 has been paid for by underspend on security or only the House of Lords contribution of £49,441.69;

    (d) whether the consultants who carried out this survey were appointed after an advertisement;

    (e) how many consultants applied to carry out this survey; and

    (f) who decided on the successful consultant.[HL3432]

The Chairman of Committees: The answers to these questions are as follows:

    (a) £105,000 of the expenditure is non-recoverable. Approximately £17,750 is recoverable in respect of the value added tax paid on this contracted-out service;

    (b) Approximately £4,500 of the £123,649.23 has been spent on consultants' out of pocket expenses; the rest has been spent on consultants' fees;

    (c) Only the House of Lords contribution of £49,441.69 was paid for by underspend on security;

    (d) and (e) No advertisement was published. The Serjeant at Arms' Department in the House of

13 Jul 1999 : Column WA20

    Commons solicited contractors' names from the Historic Royal Palaces Agency and invited tenders. Two firms responded with detailed submissions;

    (f) The Serjeant at Arms and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod chose the successful applicant.

Official Veterinary Surgeons: Issue of Improvement Notices

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Official Veterinary Surgeons are required to submit copies of improvement notices to their superior officers for checking and approval before those notices are served.[HL3121]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): No they are not.

Official Veterinary Surgeons: Hygiene Rules

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Official Veterinary Surgeons who themselves breach hygiene rules are expected to report those breaches; to whom they should report; in what manner; and what action is taken in respect of those breaches.[HL2880]

Lord Donoughue: In the unlikely event that an Official Veterinary Surgeon (OVS) was to be in breach of meat hygiene rules, his or her Principal Official Veterinary Surgeon (POVS) acting as his or her manager would be required to take appropriate action.

Meat Hygiene Service: Telephone Calls

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether plant operators who allow Meat Hygiene Service staff access to telephones on their premises are required to bear the cost of personal telephone calls made by those staff or to pay for time spent on this activity; whether the calls are paid for by the plant or not; and whether plant operators are entitled to monitor telephone calls made by Meat Hygiene Service staff to ensure that they are confined to Meat Hygiene Service business.[HL3029]

Lord Donoughue: In the unusual circumstances that a member of staff from the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) needed to make a personal telephone call, they would be expected to reimburse the plant operator for it. However, as the vast majority of day-to-day telephone calls made by MHS staff are made to assist them in carrying out their statutory responsibilities, it would be clearly inappropriate, and could possibly compromise their position, if plant operators were to monitor their calls.

13 Jul 1999 : Column WA21

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