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Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The following table provides a breakdown of staff who spend more than half their time on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies:

MAFFGradeNosFunctions
Animal Health (BSE and International Trade) Division SCS Grade 6 PS Grade 7 SEO/SSO HEO/HSO EO/SO AO AA 1 1 2 4 4 12 12 11 13 Co-ordination of work on BSE and scrapie, and animal health aspects.
TSE Research and Surveillance Unit SCS PS Vet Advisor PSO (Grade 7) SSO HSO SO SEO HEO AO 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 1 2 To deliver MAFF's programme of research and surveillance on TSEs.
Public Inquiry Unit SCS Grade 6 SEO HEO EO AO AA PS 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 To provide an effective interface between the Department and the BSE Inquiry.
Beef and Sheep Division SEO 1 Disposal issues.
Animal Health Veterinary Group SCS Vet Adviser (Grade 7) 1 2 Provision of veterinary advice
Legal Division Lawyer 1 Provision of legal advice on TSE issues.
Veterinary Laboratories Agency SCS Grade 6 Grade 7 SEO/SSO & equiv. HEO/HSO & equiv. EO/SO & equiv. AO/ASO & equiv. SGB2 & equiv. 1 4 8 8 10 32 52 7 Diagnosis, research and epidemiolgy.
Total209

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Food Standards Agency GradeNosFunction
Meat HygieneSCS1Consumer
Divisionprotection
PS1
Grade 73
HEO3
EO2
AO3
AA1
Typist1
Meat Hygiene ServiceMeat Technician208Enforcement of BSE controls in licence meat plants
Meat Hygiene Inspectors920
Total1,143

Dept. of HealthPaybandNosFunction
SCS2Human health
(vCJD).
PA/Secretarial2
IP4 Standard2
IP3 Upper2
IP3 Standard 21
IP3 Standard 13
IP22
IP1 Upper1
IP1 Standard1
Total16

Regulatory Reform Bill

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the proposed Regulatory Reform Bill.[HL2152]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Regulatory Reform Bill has today been published in draft, in order to allow the two Parliamentary Deregulation Committees to report on it prior to its formal introduction to Parliament. The

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Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee and its counterpart in the House of Commons have great expertise on the existing deregulation order-making power under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. Their views on the proposed extension of this power will clearly be of great interest to the House when it comes to consider the Bill. Publication of the draft Regulatory Reform Bill (Cm 4713) contains the draft Bill, Explanatory Notes and other supporting material, and I have placed copies in the Libraries of the House, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

In addition to the changes to the deregulation order-making power, the draft Bill includes provisions to replace Section 5 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, which deals with enforcement of regulations. This policy was the subject of a public consultation exercise in autumn 1999. The majority of those responding to the consultation document were supportive of the Government's proposals. Copies of the Government's response to that consultation exercise have today been placed in the Libraries of the House, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies of the Government's response to the earlier consultation exercise on the proposed changes to the deregulation order-making power, published in September 1999, are already in the Libraries.

Prime Minister's Website

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many hits are being received per week by (a) the Prime Minister's webcasts and (b) the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman's pages on the 10 Downing Street website.[HL1766]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Prime Minister's weekly audio broadcasts on the Internet appear on the site in three forms--"Real" stream, "mp3" file (the broadcast-quality file) and the transcript. The Real streams are hosted on a separate server and it is therefore possible to say that they have been accessed by on average 3,473 people each week.

However, many thousands more will have accessed the transcripts of the broadcasts and the mp3 version. These are hosted on the Number 10 site and the site's statistics software is not configured to give figures for the number of people accessing specific parts of the site such as these. As a consequence, we are unable to give an exact figure for the total number of people accessing the Prime Minister's weekly broadcasts. The average number of hits per week on pages in the site has been 3.3 million.

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For the same reason, we do not know how many people have accessed the briefings by the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman.

It would be possible to configure our statistics software to record figures for hits to each page on the site. However, this would place a heavy burden on our server, which would slow down access to the site for the public and lead to a poorer service. For this reason, we do not propose to record these specific figures.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the level of public response to the Prime Minister's webcasts on the 10 Downing Street website.[HL1767]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes.

Ministerial Code: Compliance

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What sanctions, if any, are available to them when Ministers of the Crown breach the underlying principles of paragraph 27 of the Ministerial Code; and[HL1961]

    Whether they are proposing to put in place measures to ensure that, in future, Ministers comply properly with paragraph 27 of the Ministerial Code; and, if so, what measures they have in mind.[HL1962]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Paragraph 1 of the Ministerial Code sets out the general duties of Ministers in relation to Parliament, based on the resolutions of both this House and another place in 1997. Paragraph 27 of the Ministerial Code makes it clear that, when Parliament is in session, Ministers will want to bear in mind the desire of Parliament that the most important announcements of Government policy should be made, in the first instance, in Parliament. It is for individual Ministers to account for their actions in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

Government Expenditure on Advertising

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 31 January (WA 11), how accurate is the figure of £67 million spent on government advertising from April to December 1999 when, according to a further Written Answer on 6 April, information relating to the value of external public relations and consultancy contracts entered into by Government is not centrally held.[HL1964]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Answer I gave on 31 January refers to government advertising, most of which is bought through the Central Office of Information. The Answer given on 6 April refers to public relations and consultancy contracts which are not managed or purchased centrally.

Electoral Reform Ballot Services Ltd

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 20 March (WA 9-10), whether, in view of the costs involved, they will ask the Electoral Reform Ballot Services (ERBS) for the necessary information to publish in the Official Report a table stating which government departments have used ERBS services in each of the past six years; and what was the cost in each case.[HL1760]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: In my Answer to you of 20 March, I said that I would ask officials, as far as practically possible, to collect information on their departments' use of Electoral Reform Ballot Services Ltd (ERBS) for the 1998-99 financial year, and for the period 1 April 1999 to 31 December 1999. The information is set out in the table below.

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DepartmentServices Provided by Electoral Reform (Ballot Services) Ltd Total Cost 1998-99 £ Total Cost 1 April 1999-31 December 1999 £
Department for Education and EmploymentGrant maintained Schools: Choice of Category Ballots 3,171--
Grammar School Petitions and Ballots 14,600185,755
Elections to the General Teaching Council --270,752
Department of Health Assistance in support of Organisation Development, South East Regional Office, NHS Executive 9,370--
Home Office (Prison Service) Assistance to Boards of Visitors to Penal Establishments in the election process to select members of the National Advisory Council 4111,410

In addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office used Electoral Reform (International Services) Ltd, a sister company, on a number of occasions during this period, mainly in connection with the fulfilment of the United Kingdom's obligations to provide observers at elections overseas. The total cost of use in 1998-99, was £254,551 and from 1 April 1999 to 31 December was £83,582.


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