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EMU: Constitutional Issues

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his October 1997 statement to the House of Commons on the single currency, said that "the constitutional issue is a factor in the decision [to join EMU], but it is not an over-riding one". He acknowledged "that to share a common monetary policy with other states does represent a major pooling of economic sovereignty".

Fraud in the European Commission: Report

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The publication of the second report of the Group of Independent Experts is a matter for the European Parliament and Commission, under whose auspices the group works. The group was asked to produce a second report in the autumn. The Government expect that the second report will be published in September.

Banking Practice: Corporate Accounts

Lord Sudeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We have no plans to do so.

Single Currency: Economic Tests

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have nothing further to add to what I said on 8 July (WA 116) in answer to the same Question.

EMU: Excess Government Deficitsand the UK

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 12 July (WA 10), on what dates recommendations under the Excessive Deficit Procedure have been made to the United Kingdom by the European Council of Ministers under paragraphs 7 and 8 of Article 104 of the Maastricht Treaty.[HL3807]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As I explained on 12 July, under Protocol 25 of the EC Treaty (ex Protocol 11) the UK is not legally obliged to avoid running an excessive deficit. The European Council of Finance Ministers also has no powers to enforce recommendations made under Article 104(7) on the UK. But the UK is obliged under Article 116(4) (ex Article 109e(4)) to "endeavour to avoid excessive government deficits".

On 26 September 1994, acting in accordance with Article 104(6) of the Treaty, ECOFIN assessed that the UK had an excessive government deficit. A recommendation was made to the UK, and was updated each year under Article 104(7). These recommendations have been notified to the European Legislation Committee of the House of Commons, and the Select Committee on the European Communities of the House of Lords under cover of Explanatory Memoranda.

On May 1 1998, in accordance with Article 104(12), ECOFIN agreed to abrogate its earlier recommendation on the existence of an excessive deficit in the UK.

National Museums and Galleries:Free Admission

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will confirm the statement in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport news release of 12 July that the Secretary of State will scrap admission charges for national museums and galleries for everybody in 2001; and whether they will give further details of how this will be achieved.[HL3700]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Funds are available to the national museums and galleries in England which currently charge for admission to permit free access for children from April this year and for pensioners from April 2000. Reserve funds have been set aside to broaden access further in 2001.

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Discussions are being held with these institutions concerning the introduction of free access for all visitors in 2001. Decisions concerning admission charges are for the trustees of the institutions themselves and not for the Secretary of State.

Hyde Park: North Carriageway Closure

Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the North Carriageway of Hyde Park was closed in preparation for the Open Air Concert on Sunday 4 July; and when it is to be re-opened; and[HL3733]

    In view of the serious and extended disruption to traffic in the Bayswater Road and at Marble Arch caused by the closure of the North Carriageway of Hyde Park in preparation for the Open Air Concert on Sunday 4 July, what further similar events are planned; and what steps they are taking to reduce the resultant disruption to traffic in the area.[HL3734]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Viscount Bridgeman from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Ms Viviane Robertson, dated 27 July 1999.

In the absence of the Chief Executive, David Welch, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your parliamentary questions about the closure of North Carriage Drive to traffic in preparation for the concerts in Hyde Park this summer. This is an operational matter which is the responsibility of the Royal Parks Agency.

We closed the road from 22 June, the date the contractor started to build the site for the concert on 4 July. The site took four days to dismantle and was immediately followed by the setting up of a smaller concert site for the series of concerts starting with Cliff Richard on the weekend of 16-18 July inclusive. The road was re-opened on 19 July.

There are further concerts on 24 and 25 July and on 30 and 31 July. We will close North Carriage Drive during these weekends and from 1-4 August while the site is being dismantled. The Proms in the Park take place on 11 and 12 September and we shall close the road from Tuesday 7 to Wednesday 15 September while the site for these concerts is being set up and dismantled.

We close North Carriage Drive because the police carried out a risk assessment last year and decided that it would be necessary to close the road to ensure the safety of both motorists and pedestrians while site traffic was using it to set up, service and dismantle the concert sites.

We inform Westminster City Council, who are the relevant highway authority, about the closure. We also liaise closely with the Metropolitan Police, and would re-open North Carriage Drive if they requested it

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because of an emergency that affected traffic on Bayswater Road.

Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 12th Annual Report of the Committee for Monitoring Agreements on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship.[HL3962]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has today published the Twelfth Annual Report of the Committee for Monitoring Agreements on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship. Copies have been placed in the Library.

NHS Estates Agency

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the future of the NHS Estates Agency.[HL3872]

Baroness Hayman: A quinquennial review of the agency falls to be completed by the end of this year. This will address the performance of the agency and will re-examine all the options ("Prior Options") which were considered before the agency was launched.

Medical Devices and Medicines Control Agencies

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the findings of the quinquennial review of the Medical Devices Agency, which was announced on 2 May; and what is the future status of the Medical Devices Agency and the Medicines Control Agency.[HL3873]

Baroness Hayman: We are publishing today the report of the Medical Devices Agency quinquennial review. Copies have been placed in the Library. The review concludes that the agency is well respected in the medical device field both in the United Kingdom and Europe and has performed consistently well against its key targets. It finds the executive agency status has been beneficial and recommends that the MDA should remain as an agency.

In light of the recommendation of the report we announced on 9 December 1998 and the more recent conclusions of the quinquennial reviews respectively of the MDA and the Medicines Control Agency, we have decided that the two agencies should not be merged and that both should retain their status as separate agencies for the time being.

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