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Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The marketing brochure and information pack circulated to bidders makes clear that the successful bidder will be required to provide the following: an imaginative visitor experience for the presentation and interpretation of Stonehenge and its monumental landscape providing full information on Stonehenge and the heritage attractions of Wessex; an education and resource centre; a children's play area; a first aid centre; an outlet for English Heritage and National Trust to sell membership; a range of catering outlets including fast food restaurants and other beverage outlets; adequate toilet facilities; a range of retail facilities; adequate coach and car parking; and an environmentally sensitive transport link to take visitors from the visitor centre to the drop off points. The information pack contains further detailed requirements which the successful bidder will need to satisfy and additional supplementary guidance clarifying these requirements has recently been circulated to all the short listed bidders.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Ministers, and the public, have been shown pictures of what the Stonehenge World Heritage site will look like after completion of the proposed cut and cover tunnel in the Stonehenge master plan literature. There are no plans at present to produce any further such illustrations. There were no pictures created to show the effect of a long bored tunnel, as this is not an option under consideration by the Government.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The selection process is currently under way but it would be contrary to the normal arrangements for commercial confidentiality to release the names of the short-listed bidders at this time. English Heritage anticipates that the identity of the preferred bidder should be announced in January 2000.

Civil Court Action

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

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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The primary benefit from civil court action is to the parties involved: it is therefore right that in the main they should bear the costs of using the court. However, the Government do not consider that these costs should be paid by the parties in every case. The taxpayer subsidises the costs of Children Act applications, adoptions and domestic violence applications. The taxpayer pays in full from the Legal Aid Fund the court fees of those eligible for legally aided representation. The taxpayer also pays in full the court fees of parties who are in receipt of working families tax credit or disabled persons' tax credit, where the amount to be deducted from the maximum award is not more than £70, or are in receipt of income support, or income-based jobseeker's allowance. The taxpayer pays in full or in part the court fees of those for whom payment of the fee would involve undue financial hardship. The policy of recovering the costs of the civil courts through fees ensures the best targeting of scarce public resources.

Beef on the Bone

Lord Seaford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Medical Advisory Panel on BSE quantifies the percentage risk of contracting new variant CJD from eating beef on the bone.[HL4400]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): There continues to be great uncertainty about the nature of variant CJD with relation to BSE and how susceptible people may be to infection. It is therefore not possible for the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) to estimate the statistical risk of contracting the disease as a result of consuming beef or beef products which have been cooked on the bone. In his recent advice to the Government, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, concluded that a decision to lift the bone-in beef ban should, in his assessment, be informed by the fact that the additional risk to human health created would at this stage of the cattle epidemic be tiny and unquantifiable in any meaningful way.

A copy of the Chief Medical Officer's advice is available in the Library of the House.

French Meat

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in their judgment French meat is safe to eat.[HL4398]

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Baroness Hayman: The summary of advice provided by the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group on the public health implications of the use of sewage sludge in French animal feed was published on 26 October. This concluded that there is no immediate public health risk from this practice.

Farm Payments

Lord Norrie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why it is necessary to produce fresh guidelines for the administration of the European Integrated Administration and Control System for farm payments for the cropping year 2000; and when they expect this new guidance to be available for farmers. [HL4547]

Baroness Hayman: The Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) explanatory guide is published every year either as a completely new booklet, or as a supplementary booklet containing details of changes since the previous year. In addition there are also explanatory guides for the individual schemes administered under the IACS umbrella which include the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS), the Beef Special Premium Scheme (BSPS), the Suckler Cow Premium Scheme (SCPS) and the Sheep Annual Premium Scheme (SAPS). The revised booklets clarify scheme rules as necessary and also give guidance on changes required by amendment to the European legislation.

The new guidance will be available in February 2000. Clarification on the guidelines concerning area measurement will be included in the explanatory guide to the 2000 Arable Area Payments Scheme which will be published at the end of November.

Official Veterinary Surgeons

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the owner or manager of an abattoir or cutting plant may ask to inspect the documents of appointment of an official veterinary surgeon to ascertain whether he has been appointed as authorised officer to the Minister for those premises; and whether, in the event that documentary evidence cannot be produced, the official veterinary surgeon has the right to demand entry or the owner or the manager the right to refuse it.[HL4627]

Baroness Hayman: Yes. Owners or managers of abattoirs and cutting plants may ask to inspect the documents of appointment of an official veterinary surgeon (OVS) to ascertain whether they have been appointed as the authorised officer to licensed premises. Without the necessary documentation an OVS does not have the right to demand entry to a premises and a manager or owner would have the right to refuse it.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all official veterinary surgeons employed as quality managers by Messrs Eville and Jones have been formally appointed as authorised officers to the Minister for all the premises in which official veterinary surgeons, to whom the quality managers are line managers, are employed.[HL4628]

Baroness Hayman: All quality managers employed by Messrs Eville and Jones are designated official veterinary surgeons (OVS) who hold warrants of authorisation appointing them as authorised officers to licensed premises generally. As such they are appointed as authorised officers to those premises at which OVSs for which they have line management responsibilities are deployed.

Northern Ireland Statistics

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost of publishing Northern Ireland statistics in their present glossy format; and what is the estimated benefit from doing so.[HL4178]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The cost of publishing the latest editions of those statistics which appear in a glossy format was £81,683. The benefits of using this style are that it enhances the credibility and professionalism of the documents; helps to communicate the information in a clearer way; and is attractive and has a longer shelf life.

Northern Ireland: Agricultural Industry

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to address the particular fears of the Northern Ireland farming community over the current beef and pig crisis and the loss of morale among the farming community in Northern Ireland[HL4434]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The Government are fully aware of the serious difficulties facing all sectors of the agricultural industry in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK. Following their £150 million financial aid package to UK agriculture announced on 20 September 1999, which benefited primarily the beef and sheep sectors, the Government announced a further £5 million marketing assistance package on 28 October 1999, with the intention that the pig sector would benefit significantly from this new money. These measures represent a considerable commitment to the agricultural industry in the face of many other competing demands on the public purse. We are also doing everything to encourage the use of UK products and to ensure that people know the origins of the produce they are buying.

I will continue to work closely with the industry and its representatives to explore all possible solutions to the current difficulties and the Department of

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Agriculture for Northern Ireland will pursue its programme of increasing the competitiveness of the agri-food industry, for example, by ensuring it avails of EU assistance for education and training and improvements in marketing and processsing, and in promoting off-farm opportunities through its Rural Development Programme.

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