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Metropolitan Police Committee

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The annual report of the Metropolitan Police Committee for 1998-99 and the Annual Plan of the Committee for 1999-2000 are being published today.

The report gives information about the advice and other work which the committee has undertaken for the past financial year. The plan sets out the work which the committee aims to undertake on tasks which we have agreed that it will undertake, again to support me in my role as Police Authority in the current financial year. A major task is to help prepare for the Metropolitan Police Authority, planned for July next year.

Copies of the report and plan are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses tonight. The chairman of the committee is writing with copies to a wide range of interested people and organisations, including all Members of London constituencies, all Members of the European Parliament whose constituencies include London areas, all London boroughs, all police community consultative groups and all lay visitor panels.

We are grateful to Sir John Quinten, the chairman of the committee, and all his colleagues for their advice and other assistance to us, and look forward in particular to working with them on the transition to the new arrangements for the governance of London's policing.

14 Jul 1999 : Column WA48

Harlan UK Ltd.

Lord Whaddon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision they have reached on whether there is a need to suspend--under the powers granted by Section 13 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986--the certificate of designation held by Harlan UK Ltd.[HL3681]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Based on advice received from the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, we are satisfied that there are no grounds under Section 13 of the Act to suspend the certificate of designation.

While the investigation into the allegations made against this establishment continues, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.

Anti-discrimination Legislation Review

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their responses to the Better Regulation Task Force review of anti-discrimination legislation.[HL3680]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government have today placed copies of their formal response to the Better Regulation Task Force review of anti-discrimination legislation in the Libraries of both Houses. The task force has made a timely, constructive and challenging contribution to the Government's thinking on these highly important issues. The Government are committed to eliminating all unlawful discrimination and have accepted the majority of the task force proposals. The Government believe this response to the task force, in tandem with their responses today on similar issues to the proposals put forward by the equality commissions, sets out in the strongest possible terms our commitment to a modern and diverse society.

The Government have accepted the task force's main recommendation that a major legislative overhaul is not necessary at this stage either in relation to the individual regimes or in bringing them together. However, the Government agree that much more can be done to make the existing regimes work more effectively by setting a lead in their own actions as a policy maker, a service provider and employer; by encouraging the equality commissions to act in a more targeted, strategic and joined-up manner; and by encouraging business to seize the initiative and adopt best practices more widely in this area. To help businesses comply, the Government will further encourage the commissions to consult with employers on producing simple, clear advice and guidance which everyone (especially small and medium sized employers) can quickly and easily act upon. This will include clarifying employer obligations in some key areas. Our civil justice and legal aid reforms, along with the new Community Legal Service, will help ensure that ordinary citizens will have better and fairer access to justice.

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Kosovo: MoD Expenditure

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What pre-deployment costs have been incurred by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting code **34; and [HL3421]

    What costs have been incurred by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting code **37; and [HL3422]

    What costs, for the rest of this financial year, have been budgeted for by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting codes **34 and **37; and [HL3423]

    What pre-deployment costs (less cost of munitions) have been incurred by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting code **34; and [HL3424]

    What costs (less cost of munitions) have been incurred by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting code **37; and [HL3425]

    What costs, for the rest of this financial year (less the cost of munitions), have been budgeted for by the Ministry of Defence for operations related to Kosovo under the accounting codes **34 and **37.[HL3426]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Codes **34 and **37 are special operations codes used by the Army at unit level to mark specific activity in Kosovo operations. They are not accounting codes and do not map directly to central accounting codes. The information requested is not, therefore, available centrally. Overall, as at the end of June, some £57 million of additional expenditure has fallen to the MoD as a direct consequence of the UK's military response to the Kosovo crisis. This figure does not include the costs of replenishing stocks of expended ordnance. The costs of Kosovo operations are not reflected in the Defence Budget for 1999-2000. In accordance with established practice, the net additional costs of these operations will be recorded and will be the subject of a claim on the central reserve.

KFOR

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What immediate steps are being taken through NATO to increase the current strength of KFOR in Kosovo from some 23,000 to the planned total of 55,000 troops.[HL3411]

Lord Gilbert: As at 6 July, there were almost 39,000 troops under General Jackson's command, some 29,000 of which are based in Kosovo.

The Secretary General of NATO has encouraged all countries who have offered to provide troops for KFOR to complete their deployments as soon as possible.

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Armed Forces: Catering for Vegetarians

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

    What catering services are provided to meet the needs of members of the Armed Forces who are vegetarians.[HL3482]

Lord Gilbert: Where fresh rations are supplied to military catering staff, a vegetarian choice is available on the daily menu for all meals. While there are currently no operational ration packs produced specially for vegetarians, some of the ethnic minority operational ration packs are suitable for vegetarians.

Armed Forces: Membership of Organisations of a Secretive Nature

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence there is for the statement published in standing station orders and shortly to be issued as a Defence Council instruction that "organisations of a secretive nature such as the Freemasons" carry a "perception of preferential treatment and undue influence".[HL3485]

Lord Gilbert: We have no direct evidence that membership of organisations such as the Freemasons brings preferential treatment or undue influence. Nevertheless, there is a perception that this might be the case. A recent parliamentary inquiry prompted the department to publish guidance in order to clarify the position and to remind personnel that, although membership of the Freemasons and similar organisations is not prohibited, membership should not be promoted or encouraged. It is possible that involvement in such organisations carries with it the risk of establishing disparate loyalties which may have a destabilising influence on the chain of command. We want recruitment to the Armed Forces to be from the widest cross-section of society and advancement to be clearly seen to be based on merit.

Severe Disablement Allowance

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many recipients of severe disablement allowance are also in receipt of the higher rate of the care component of disablement allowance; and[HL3368]

    How many of those in receipt of severe disablement allowance who also receive income support are also in receipt of the higher rate of the care component of disability living allowance.[HL3369]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): As at November 1998, 76,000 3 severe disablement allowance (SDA) recipients were receiving the highest rate care component of DLA. Of these, 53,000 4 were also receiving income support.

14 Jul 1999 : Column WA51

Source: Severe Disablement Allowance and Disability Living Allowance quarterly 5 per cent data. Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry, November 1998. Notes: 1. Number is rounded to the nearest thousand. 2. Excludes a small number of SDA cases which are held clerically. 3. Numbers are based on a merged 5 per cent sample of SDA and DLA data. 4. Numbers are based on a merged 5 per cent sample of income support and SDA/DLA data.


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