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21 Feb 2000 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 21st February 2000.

Yugoslavia: Export of Demining Equipment

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will grant a licence for the export of demining equipment to the HALO Trust in Kosovo.[HL1107]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have granted a licence for the export to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) of a rocket wrench, de-arming kit and power charges for use by the HALO Trust, an organisation engaged in humanitarian demining activities in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). These goods are on the UK's Military List.

UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1160 imposed an arms embargo on the FRY. The only exception to this embargo is that in UNSCR 1244, which provides that prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for use by the international civil and security presence in Kosovo. We have notified the UN Sanctions Committee on this export and they have raised no objection. The export of the equipment required for demining purposes is not prohibited by the EU arms embargo.

European Union Select Committee: Membership

Lord Shore of Stepney asked the Chairman of Committees:

    How many Lords are serving on the European Union Committee and its Sub-Committees; and how many of them belong, respectively, to the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties and how many are Cross-Benchers.[HL1075]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The Select Committee on the European Union has 19 members. They all (with the exception of the Chairman, Lord Tordoff) also serve on a Sub-Committee. Each Sub-Committee has, in addition, a number of co-opted members. The total number of Lords serving on the Select Committee and its Sub-Committees is 69.

The breakdown by political party/membership of the Cross-Benches is as follows:

Number
Labour23
Conservative19
Liberal Democrat13
Cross-Bench13
Chairman1
Total69

The Chairman is an Officer of the House and is not counted as a member of a political party or the Cross-Benches.


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Electricity Supply Pension Scheme

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the electricity supply industry was privatised, they were aware of a likely surplus in the pension scheme and the intention of the privatised employers to use that surplus for their own benefit; and, if so, why the privatised companies were allowed so to benefit.[HL931]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The identification of any surplus within the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme is established through actuarial valuations which are normally undertaken triennially. The most recently available valuation at the time of privatisation was that prepared as at 31 March 1989, which declared a surplus of £89 million, £70 million of which was used to meet the excess cost of pension increases from 1 April 1990.

The rights of pensioners are protected under the scheme, which requires that any arrangements made in relation to either its administration or the investment management of assets do not reduce entitlement to benefits.

World Squares for All: Parliament Square

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of Lord Peyton of Yeovil's question on 7 February (H.L. Deb., col. 395), the pedestrianisation of Parliament Square as part of the World Squares for All masterplan is compatible with the sessional order that passages through the streets leading to the Houses of Parliament should be kept free and open.[HL973]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The World Squares for All masterplan proposals for Parliament Square involve the pedestrianisation of the south side of the square only and are compatible with the annual sessional order that passages through the streets leading to the Houses of Parliament should be kept free and open.

The masterplan proposed phasing the implementation of the plans. Phase 1 focuses on Trafalgar Square and public consultation on the design will be held shortly. Proposals for Parliament Square would be kept for the third and final stage.

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Lead Shot Restriction: Entry to Private Premises

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the delegation by the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions to an official of his department, for the issue of authorisation notices for enforcement of the Environmental Protection (Restriction on the use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999 (S.I 1999/2170), which allow for the entry of authorised persons to private premises, applies only to the Environment Agency or English Nature or whether that official is now legally entitled to authorise any person or organisation to enter private premises under this legislation.[HL1081]

Lord Whitty: The power to authorise any suitable person or organisation can be undertaken by a senior official of my department.

Local Authority Eviction Powers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approve of proposals by local authorities, including at least one London Borough, to evict a whole household when one of its members is convicted of an arrestable offence; and whether such action is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.[HL1028]

Lord Whitty: Local authority landlords have a range of preventive measures that they can use to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Government continues to advise local authorities that eviction of nuisance tenants should be seen as a last resort, to be pursued only when such measures have failed to persuade the perpetrator to mend his ways.

Tenants should be in no doubt, however, that anti-social or nuisance behaviour, either by themselves, or by their family or visitors, is unacceptable and may lead to the loss of their tenancy. Ground 2 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985, as amended by the Housing Act 1996, enables local authority landlords to seek possession of a tenancy if a tenant, or a person residing in or visiting the dwelling house, has been convicted of an arrestable offence committed in, or in the locality of, the dwelling. It is for the courts to decide, taking into account all the circumstances, whether to grant an eviction order for the tenant concerned. The tenant has the right to make representations to the court about his and his family's circumstances.

Local Authority Housing Vacancies

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many local authority council dwellings were vacant during the years 1997, 1998 and 1999 respectively.[HL955]

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Lord Whitty: The available information relates to the position reported by local authorities in England at 1 April for each year:

Total council vacantsOf which empty for management reasons
199781,20049,900
199881,70049,500
199983,90048,100

Note:

Properties vacant for management reasons are those available for letting immediately, or after completion of minor repairs.

Source:

DETR Housing Investment Programme returns


Hedgerow Protection

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to introduce revised hedgerow regulations and what proportion of existing hedgerows they wish to protect.[HL960]

Lord Whitty: Revised draft regulations will be published for statutory consultation after the results of the research by ADAS into the Hedgerows Review Group's recommendations have been fully evaluated. I am unable to put a timescale on this at this stage.

The Government's aim is to ensure that any revised hedgerows regulations adequately protect important hedgerows. We do not have preconceived ideas about the proportion of existing hedgerows which should qualify as important.

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the number of miles of hedgerow which have been removed since 1996.[HL961]

Lord Whitty: This information is not held centrally. However, a survey of hedgerow stock is being undertaken as part of Countryside Survey 2000. This will provide estimates of the length of hedgerow removed since previous surveys in 1990 and 1993, and a baseline for monitoring future changes.

AONB Funding

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When local authorities which wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister about how long-term funding is to be identified for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (including Devon County Council, which wrote on 17 January) can expect to receive an answer.[HL1033]

Lord Whitty: Ministers have received letters from a number of local authorities on the subject of funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Replies have in most cases been sent well within the

21 Feb 2000 : Column WA5

department's target of 15 working days. A reply to the letter from Councillor Margaret Rogers of Devon County Council, which was received on 21 January, was sent on 9 February.


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