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Hereditary Peers' Staff: Redundancy Provisions

Lord Wedgwood asked the Chairman of Committees:

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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): Peers' secretaries and research assistants are employed by individual Peers and not by the House. No consideration is therefore being given to providing financial assistance to Peers to enable any redundancy payments to be made; nor is it the House's responsibility to offer guidance on redundancy procedures.

Hereditary Peers' Effects: Removal

Lord Wedgwood asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What financial provision may be available to defray the cost to Peers who, on ceasing to be Members of the House, are obliged to arrange for the removal of personal effects from the Palace of Westminster.[HL4454]

The Chairman of Committees: No special financial provision is available for this purpose. Peers are expected to make their own arrangements for the removal of personal effects from the Palace of Westminster. Staff in Black Rod's Department will be available to give assistance.

Magistrates' Courts: Enhanced Security

Lord Norton of Louth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many applications for financial support to strengthen security in magistrates' courts have been received from Magistrates' Courts Committees by the Lord Chancellor's Department since 1 January 1998; and how many of those applications have been approved, wholly or in part.[HL4349]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Since 1 January 1998, 478 applications for financial support to strengthen physical security in magistrates' courts have been received. Of this number, 149 have been approved, wholly or in part. Further approvals are expected to be made during 1999 when local authorities and Magistrates' Courts Committees are advised of those applications that have been approved for financial year 2000-01.

Teachers' Pay: Performance Awards

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a teacher working in a deprived area will have no lesser chance of securing additional payment than one working in an affluent locality.[HL4421]

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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Yes. Our proposed arrangements for reforming teachers' pay are designed to reward good performance by teachers, whatever the context and wherever they work.

Hill Farmers' Payments: Consultation Paper

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the deadline for responses to the consultation paper on payments to hill farmers under Agenda 2000.[HL4505]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): We intend to issue the consultation paper on payments to hill farmers in England next week. We will be seeking responses by 3 December.

Special Preferential Sugar Agreement

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support measures to bind the market access commitment under the Special Preferential Sugar Agreement in the proposed new World Trade Organisation agreement.[HL4216]

Baroness Hayman: The Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) supply agreement between the EU and certain African, Caribbean and Pacific countries formally lapses in mid-2001, together with other key features of the EU sugar regime. The parties to the agreement are required to begin negotiations before January 2001 on its possible continuation. In particular, they will need to have regard to the outcome of the EU sugar regime in 2000. It would be premature to comment on what may happen to the SPS arrangements under a new World Trade Organisation agreement until the EU/ACP negotiations have been completed.

BSE in EU Member States

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will request appropriate officials within the European Union to conduct examinations to ensure that the numbers of BSE cases in member states have been accurately reported.[HL4422]

Baroness Hayman: Member states are obliged to notify cases of BSE to other member states and to the Commission. The Commission has power to undertake inspections in member states if it considers it to be necessary. We have no evidence of under-reporting in other member states which we could provide to the Commission to justify a demand for additional inspections.

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Imported Venison: Velveting

Lord Seaford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Given that the velveting of deer is deemed an illegal act under the Welfare of Livestock (Prohibited Operations) Regulation 1982, whether, imports of venison from animals that have been subjected to velveting or raised on farms benefiting from income from velvet should be excluded from the British market on welfare grounds.[HL4401]

Baroness Hayman: It would be incompatible with both the Treaty of Rome and with World Trade Organisation rules to ban imports of venison because of the animal welfare standards under which it was produced.

Stonehenge: Visitor Centre

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether English Heritage is to retain full control over all the information, educational and other material to be on offer at the World Heritage Site Visitors' Centre at Stonehenge; and whether all material for sale or consultation will be archaeologically accurate.[HL4321]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: English Heritage will retain editorial control over the content of the interpretation material available at the new visitor centre and this has been made clear in the information provided to bidders. The operator of the centre will be required to present a balanced and comprehensive explanation of Stonehenge, its landscape and other archaeological features, and of other historic sites in the region.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the operator of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is being offered control over the level of parking fees in the car parks attached to the Visitors' Centre; whether these car parks are to be the only car parks within easy distance of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site or of the stones themselves; whether the eventual developer of the Visitors' Centre is to operate the present Visitors' Centre until the A.344 is closed or until a flyover has been constructed at Countess Roundabout; and what control is envisaged, particularly as regards parking prices.[HL4322]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Bidders submitting proposals for the new visitor centre have been asked to indicate the level of charge they would expect to impose for use of the car park. However, it has been stipulated that English Heritage and National Trust members and local people who currently enjoy free access to the Stones will not be charged. English Heritage is not proposing any other car parks. Bidders

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have been asked to indicate whether they wish to operate the existing visitor facilities until closure.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a comprehensive asssessment of the number, behaviour and needs of visitors to Stonehenge is still not available more than a year into the development of the master plan; and how, if at all, a Visitors' Centre can be contracted, built and managed without it.[HL4442]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: English Heritage operates the existing visitor facilities at Stonehenge adjacent to the A.344 and therefore has intimate knowledge of the number of visitors and their requirements. Recent studies by Deloitte Touche and Moser have reinforced this knowledge and form the basis of the information provided to bidders for the new Stonehenge visitor centre.

Bahrain: UK Military Training

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give details of military training provided by the United Kingdom to Bahrain.[HL4292]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): In this financial year, three Bahraini students have attended the Officer's Commissioning Course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and one Bahraini student is undergoing initial officer training at RAF Cranwell. Over the same period, one UK Loan Service officer has been based at Bahrain's Shaikh Isa Military College to advise on course formulation. There have also been two short specialist visits to the college to provide advice on drill and ceremonial matters.

UK Bahrain Defence Committee

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms of reference of the Bahrain British Defence Committee; and who are the members.[HL4291]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK Bahrain Defence Committee is the primary high level forum for furthering mutual defence interests. It has no formal terms of reference, and meets from time to time with varying membership. Lord Gilbert, the then Minister for Defence Procurement, attended the last committee, held in November 1997 in Bahrain.


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