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Farmers: Taxation

Lord Grantchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Sole trading farmers reported an estimated £50 million of 1997-98 losses carried forward at box 3.83 of the 1997-98 tax return. Partners in farming partnerships reported a further £100 million losses carried forward at box 4.17.

Sole trading farmers reported an estimated £150 million losses in 1997-98 at box 3.73, and farming partnerships reported £275 million losses at the equivalent box in the partnership tax return.

Lord Grantchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I regret to say that this information is not available.

Single Market: Impact on Employment

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: the European Commission's 1996 review of the impact and effectiveness of the single market concluded that the single market had produced a higher employment level than would have been achieved in its absence.

Orders in Council: Publication

Lord Craigmyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the rules governing the publication of Orders in Council.[HL4623]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Orders in Council that are also statutory instruments are published by the Stationery Office in the usual way. Copies of all other Orders in Council are available on request from the Privy Council Office, although in the case of orders relating to a chartered body it is the practice to obtain the consent of the body concerned.

A Privy Council Office website is in preparation. Consideration is being given to posting on that website after each Privy Council meeting a list of the orders made and business taken.

Women's National Commission

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the annual salary for the Chair of the Women's National Commission.[HL4576]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Baroness Crawley of Edgbaston was appointed Chair of the Women's National Commission on 20 September 1999 for a period of three years. She will receive a remuneration of £10,000 per annum plus expenses. This is a part time post.

Rural Area Policies: Co-ordination

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure co-ordination of their policies affecting rural areas.[HL4683]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has established a new Cabinet Committee on rural affairs. Its membership and terms of reference are as follows. In addition to the members listed, other Ministers will be invited to attend meetings as and when business requires:


    Ministerial Group on Rural Affairs (MISC 8)


    Composition


    Minister for the Cabinet Office (Chair)


    Secretary of State for the Home Department

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    Secretary of State for Education and Employment


    Secretary of State for Health


    Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport


    Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


    Secretary of State for Trade and Industry


    Chief Secretary, Treasury


    Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


    Terms of Reference


    To co-ordinate the Government's policies affecting Rural Areas.

House of Lords: Appointees

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

    Whether, as reported in The Times on 28 October they have abandoned the Labour Party manifesto commitment "to ensure that, over time, party appointees more accurately reflect the proportion of votes cast at the previous general election."[HL4481]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We made clear in our White Paper Modernising Parliament--Reforming the House of Lords, and in debate on the House of Lords Bill, that the Government at present intend to seek broad parity in the numbers of Labour and Conservative parties and proportionate creations from the Liberal Democrat and other parties. This means that in the transitional House of Lords we are presently committed to a smaller share of the overall strength of the House than we proposed in our manifesto.

In the longer term the Government remain committed to honouring their manifesto promise to ensure that, over time, party appointees more accurately reflect the proportion of votes cast at the previous general election.

Hereditary Peers' Voting Rights

Lord Strathclyde asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will lay an order under the House of Lords Act in order to ensure that peers excluded under the Act who are resident in the Kensington and Chelsea constituency and who are on the register for local or European elections are able to vote in the forthcoming parliamentary by-election.[HL4693]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I shall write to the noble Lord.

Secretary of State for Scotland

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes have been to the executive functions of the Secretary of State for Scotland.[HL4385]

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: As a consequence of the new constitutional arrangements under the Scotland Act 1998, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has approved a reallocation of certain functions of the Secretary of State for Scotland to other Ministers of the Crown with appropriate functional responsibilities. Copies of an Order which was made by Her Majesty in Council on 12 October and which transfers certain of these functions have been laid before Parliament.

In addition to the transfer effected by this order, it is proposed that certain other statutory executive functions of the Secretary of State that are currently exercised by the Secretary of State for Scotland, but which could be exercised by any other Secretary of State, should also be transferred. No legislation is required to give effect to these transfers which will be carried out by administrative arrangement. One of these is the transfer to the Home Secretary (Mr Straw) of the Secretary of State for Scotland's functions in relation to the issuing of warrants for the interception of communications or interference with property for national security purposes where the person or property named on the warrant is, or is reasonably believed to be, located in Scotland at the time the warrant is issued.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has placed a paper in the Libraries of the House that briefly describes the content of the Transfer of Functions Order and lists the other executive functions that are to transfer.

Performance and Innovation Unit

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What future projects are planned for the Performance and Innovation Unit.[HL4357]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) was established to improve the capacity of government to identify and address strategic cross-cutting issues and promote innovation in the development of policy and in the delivery of the Government's objectives. The PIU project teams are drawn from both inside and outside the Government to ensure that new thinking and a wide range of experience are brought to bear on the issues. Their reports make an important contribution to policy making.

Further to the work announced in December 1998, the Modernising Government White Paper in March 1999, announced that the new PIU is undertaking a project aimed at identifying the long-term strategic challenges facing government. I have now asked the PIU to take the following further projects:

The Pursuit and seizure of Criminal Assets:


    To consider the role that following the money trail and seizing criminal assets can play in the fight against crime and how to maximise the effective use of these tools. The Minister of State

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    at the Cabinet Office (Mr McCartney) is the sponsor Minister for this project.

The Post Office Network:


    To identify the contribution made by the Post Office to the vitality of local communities, consider how the Post Office network can best contribute to the Government's objectives in the future and in the process formulate objectives for the Post Office network. The Minister of State at the Home Office (Mr Clarke) is the sponsor Minister.

Social, Health, Environmental and Trade Objectives on the Global Stage:


    To identify a coherent set of principles for comparing trade measures with other national and international measures for addressing social, health and environmental objectives. The Minister for State at the Scottish Office (Mr Wilson) is the sponsor Minister.

The Use of Analysis and Modelling in Central Government:


    To review departments' capabilities for quantitative analysis and modelling in key areas of government policy, including access to and the use made of data, to identify strengths and weaknesses and make cost-effective recommendations for change.

The aim is to complete the first three projects next spring and the last by the end of the year.


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