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22 Jun 2000 : Column WA37

Written Answers

Thursday, 22nd June 2000.

Zimbabwe: Welfare of Farm Workers

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they are doing to promote the cause of farm workers in Zimbabwe threatened with destitution under the Land Acquisition Act.[HL2872]

Baroness Amos: It is estimated that up to 200,000 farm workers and their families could be affected if the seizure of 841 commercial farms goes ahead. Farm workers are amongst the poorest people in Zimbabwe, and a group without many economic and political rights. DFID is presently funding a Zimbabwean NGO, The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, FCTZ, which is working to improve farm worker welfare and as an advocate on behalf of farm worker rights, including through the Government's technical support unit.

Mr Leslie Watkinson: Killing

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the killing of Mr Leslie Watkinson, aged 66, near his home in Hooks Road, Peckham, on 9 December 1994, was classified as a racist crime.[HL2895]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I understand from the commissioner that this incident was not classified as a racist crime.

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the size of the staff supporting HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.[HL2859]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Inspectorate currently has 20 full time members of staff, which includes inspectors, research, development and secretariat staff. Additionally, support includes one part-time consultant, 17 specialist inspectors and two students on a six-month work placement.

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prisons and other establishments were inspected by or on behalf of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in 1999.[HL2860]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: In total, 31 prisons and establishments were inspected by or on behalf of Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons in 1999.

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Tourism (Sleeping Accommodation Price Display) Order 1997

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 22 May (WA 64-65), when they will announce the timetable of the consultation exercise about options for modernising the Tourism (Sleeping Accommodation Price Display) Order 1997.[HL2753]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Arrangements and documentation are being prepared now. Subject to final Ministerial approval, it is expected the initial consultation period will commence in a few weeks' time. I will ensure that the noble Baroness receives further details when they become available.

EU Stability and Growth Pact:Application to UK

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact of 1997 will apply to the United Kingdom and other states which have not joined the single currency as well as to the eleven single currency states.[HL2789]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Under the terms of the protocol on certain provisions relating to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Article 104(1) (ex Article 104C(1)) shall not apply to the United Kingdom unless it moves to the third stage of EMU. Instead, Article 116(4) (ex Article 109e(4)) will continue to apply.

Furthermore, Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 states that Articles 104(9) and 104(11) shall only apply to member states which have adopted the single currency.

Tax Rates in the EU

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current top rate of tax on personal incomes in each country of the European Union, indicating in respect of each the threshold of income (expressed in pounds sterling and euros) at which this tax rate applies.[HL2820]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This information can be found in the OECD publication Taxing Wages: Taxes and Wages and Salaries, Social Security Contributions for Employees and their Employers, Child Benefits, a copy of which is being placed in the Library.

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Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the top rate of personal inheritance tax, or other comparable tax at death, in each country of the European Union.[HL2821]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested is as follows:

percentage
Austria60
Belgium80
Denmark36.25
Finland48
France60
Germany50
Greece60
Italy33
Luxembourg48
Netherlands68
Portugal50
Republic of Ireland40
Spain34
Sweden30
UK40

Source: 2000 IBFD Supplementary Service to European Taxation.


Maternity Pay and Parental Leave: Review

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the terms of reference are for the review of maternity pay and parental leave.[HL3000]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The review will consider the steps needed to make sure that parents have choices to help them balance the needs of their work and their children so that they may contribute fully to the competitiveness and productivity of the modern economy.

2. The review will seek:


    To examine how the economy is changing, particularly in relation to working patterns, and what the needs of the modern economy will be;


    To identify how competitiveness and productivity in this context can be enhanced through giving families reasonable choices to help them to balance the needs of their children and work.

3. In doing so, it will take into account:


    The impact of maternity pay and parental leave on business, particularly SMEs, and families, including whether it is possible to simplify the implementation of existing legislation;


    Best practice in business and its impact, including the extent to which employers currently offer additional entitlements or flexible arrangements;


    Factors affecting women's decisions to return to work after childbirth;


    Factors affecting the take up of parental and paternity leave;

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    Impact of returning to work part-time, from home or on flexible hours;


    Reducing child poverty, including the particular probelms faced by the workless and by parents receiving the Working Families Tax Credit.

4. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will chair a ministerial group to help co-ordinate the work of the review. Other members of the group are:

Baroness JayLeader of the House of Lords, Lord Privy Seal and Minister for Women
Andrew SmithChief Secretary to the Treasury
Lord FalconerMinister of State, Cabinet Office
Tessa JowellMinister of State DfEE
Margaret HodgeParliamentary Under-Secretary, DfEE
Baroness HollisParliamentary Under-Secretary, DSS
Alan JohnsonParliamentary Under-Secretary, DTI
David IrwinChief Executive, Small Business Service

5. There will be extensive consultation and detailed research to back up the review.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June, what type and make of cars are used by the Scottish Office.[HL2785]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Scotland Office does not operate any cars other than those provided under contract with the Government Car and Despatch Agency, which are provided for Ministers and senior officials.

Amnesiac Shellfish Poisoning

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the evidence from France and Chile of a link between fish farming and the spread of amnesiac shellfish poisoning in shellfish.[HL2855]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are not aware of any evidence that links fish farming and the spread of amnesiac shellfish poison (ASP) or any other marine biotoxin. Having consulted the relevant United Kingdom experts on ASP, it has not been possible to find details of the evidence to which the noble Lord refers. If the noble Lord wishes to supply me with the evidence to which he refers, I will ask our experts to study it.

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Elderly NHS Patients: Abuse Allegations

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they now have an approximate date for completion of the investigations by the National Health Service Executive and the General Medical Council into Dr Rita Pal's dossier of cases of abuse of elderly patients in NHS hospitals overdosed with diamorphine.[HL2868]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The General Medical Council are contining their efforts to arrange a meeting between their solicitors and Dr Pal in order to obtain further clarification of the allegations.

GM Food Crop European Part CMarketing Consents

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many versions of genetically modified food crops have already been granted a European Part C marketing consent; and[HL2624]

    Whether the purpose of the Farm Scale Evaluations will be undermined by European Part C marketing consents.[HL2625]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The following food crops have been granted European-wide Part C consents under Directive 90/220.

For import and processing of grain only:

CompanyReferenceCropGenetic ModificationConsent Issued
MonsantoC/GB/94/M/3/1 SoybeansHerbicide toleranceMay 96
AgrEvoC/GB/95/M/5/1 3MaizeHerbicide toleranceJune 98
Northrup king C/GB/96/M/4/1 Oilseed Rape Insect herbicide toleranceJune 98

For import, processing and cultivation:

CompanyReferenceCropGenetic ModificationConsent Issued
Ciba-GeigyC/F/4/11-3MaizeInsect and Herbicide toleranceFeb 97
MonsantoC/F/95/12/02MaizeInsect resistanceAug 98
AgrEvoC/F/95/12/07MaizeHerbicide toleranceAug 98

The purpose of the Farm Scale Evaluations will not be undermined because the government agreement with the industry body SCIMAC reached in November 1999 precludes general cultivation of GM crops until after the conclusion of the farm scale evaluations of that crop whether or not the particular crop has Part C approval for marketing under EU Directive 90/220.


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