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Internet Stocks: Misleading Information

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There are already provisions in place to combat mischiefs of this sort. Rules governing the conduct of advisers currently prohibit "scalping", where an investment advisor holding shares does not disclose this fact to clients when advising them to buy the shares. These rules require advisers to treat investors fairly in their dealings with them. People engaged in "pumping and dumping", by issuing misleading information about a security in order to inflate the price and taking advantage of this by selling shares previously bought at a lower price, may be guilty of a criminal offence under Section 47 of the Financial Services Act 1986. This offence is carried forward in the Financial Services and Markets Bill. However, to complement the criminal powers, the Bill also contains a civil market abuse regime which will cover giving a false or misleading impression of supply of or demand for shares or of the price of investments.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The authorities are concerned that investors should be aware of the risks of trading solely on the information obtained from such sites. Education of investors so that they can

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determine the merits of information, from whatever source, is the best general defence against people seeking to mislead them. Earlier this month, the Financial Services Authority issued an investor alert about bulletin boards and chat rooms. In addition, making misleading statements can be a criminal offence under the Financial Services Act 1986. The new civil market abuse regime in the Financial Services and Markets Bill will also cover giving a false or misleading impression of supply of or demand for shares or of the price of investments.

Scottish Parliament Buildings

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent United Kingdom taxpayers will be expected to pay for the difference between the original estimate and the total final cost of the proposed new Scottish Parliament buildings at Holyrood, Edinburgh, including site preparations and fees.[HL1309]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The costs of the Scottish Parliament buildings will be met from the Scottish Assigned Budget, the rules for the determination of which were published in the Statement of Funding Policy published by HM Treasury on 31 March 1999.

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take in relation to the cost overruns for the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh.[HL1350]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Funding of the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Football for Girls

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Blackstone on 16 December 1999 (WA 56-57), what meetings they have held in 2000 with the Football Association to discuss ways of increasing participation by girls in football at school; and what action has been taken by both the Government and the Football Association as a direct consequence of those meetings.[HL1354]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): DfEE officials met the Football Association on 17 January 2000. At that meeting the Football Association endorsed the need to encourage girls to participate more in sport generally, not just football. They also endorsed the changes to the National Curriculum for September 2000, which emphasise the health-related fitness aspects of physical education, as well as games. Their views have been taken on board in the Government's

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thinking on the future of sport and PE in schools and more generally. The FA will look further at how they can raise the profile of football for both girls and boys at school in this context.

Harlan-Hill Crest: BUAV Allegations

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the investigation into the allegations made by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection against Harlan-Hill Crest.[HL1458]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Mr O'Brien, has today laid in the Library copies of the Home Office investigative report into allegations which were made available to the Home Office by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) on 29 June 1999. The BUAV's allegations were based on the evidence of a sympathiser working under cover at the establishment. The establishment is designated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Mr O'Brien, received the Chief Inspector's report on 17 December after a thorough investigation into a complex series of allegations. Generally, the establishment was found to be well run and the level of compliance generally good. He did, however, take action against one breach of a condition of certification--that two animal rooms were not identified in documentation as having been checked as required on two dates during the last two years. The Certificate holder received an admonition for this apparent lapse and he sought reassurances from management about staffing levels. These have been given.

Since Christmas 1999, officials have been arranging with the company, its customers and key staff, to lift confidentiality of material in the report whose disclosure would have been contrary to Section 24 of the 1986 Act as being provided in confidence. A small number of areas remain censored because they represent commercially sensitive or personnel information which cannot be disclosed.

The greater number of blocked-out areas in the report stem from the BUAV not lifting the confidentiality of material stemming from the undercover investigator's videotapes, diary and interview with the Inspectorate in time for publication this week. When we indicated that we would publish the document in this form BUAV then indicated late yesterday that they might be prepared to lift the confidentiality restrictions on some parts of the report. My officials will contact them again today to ask them to lift their restrictions.

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The report was disclosed to the Animal Procedures Committee on 9 February for information. The committee has not had opportunity to discuss the report, nor are Ministers expressly seeking advice on its content or the action taken since the investigation was completed.

Clandestine Entrants to UK: Civil Penalties

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the production of a code of practice in relation to the civil penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; and when implementation of those provisions will commence.[HL1457]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Clandestine entry into the United Kingdom, particularly in road haulage vehicles, has become a major abuse of the immigration control in recent years. The number of clandestine entrants identified is currently running at about 2,000 each month and the Government are determined to take action to tackle this growing problem.

Part II of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 provides for a penalty for each clandestine entrant carried to be levied on the person or persons responsible. It also provides for the detention in certain circumstances of the transporter or vehicle in which the clandestine entrants arrived against payment of the penalty.

The civil penalty is an important measure to enable us to deal effectively with an escalating problem. It will be implemented on 3 April 2000 in relation to clandestine entrants arriving in road vehicles.

We have consulted widely with a number of representative bodies on a Code of Practice for vehicles to prevent the carriage of clandestine entrants. The draft Code of Practice for Vehicles, which has been amended to take account of comments expressed during the consultation process, was laid before Parliament on 3 March and will come into force on 3 April.

Asylum Support Scheme: Housing

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give details of accommodation so far identified for use by the Home Office to house asylum-seekers under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; and, in particular, what offers of property for this purpose have been made by the Ministry of Defence Housing Executive.[HL1169]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Details of the tenders to provide accommodation under the new asylum support scheme are commercially confidential. I am, therefore, unable to provide the information requested.

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