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24 Jul 2000 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 24th July 2000.

Department for International Development: Staff and Budget Comparisons

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are on the home based and overseas staff of the Department for International Development; how many people are on the Brussels-based and overseas staff of the European Commission covering comparable work; and what is the current size of the Department for International Development budget and that of the European Union for comparable work.[HL3375]

Baroness Amos: Current staff numbers and overall budgets for the Department for International Development (DFID) and equivalent figures for the European Union (EU) are as follows:

DFID staff numbers (home and overseas)1,370
European Commission equivalent2,566
DFID Budget (2000-2001)£3.2 billion
EU Budget (2000)£6.0 billion

Staff numbers do not include local staff appointed in country (SAIC) as EC figures are not available. The DFID figure for SAIC is 410.

DFID budgets are set out by financial year whereas those for the EU are set by calendar year. Otherwise the figures are broadly comparable.

Fishing Vessels: Decommissioning

Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will be introducing a decommissioning scheme for fishing vessels.[HL3519]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): We had envisaged that a limited fishing vessel decommissioning scheme might have been needed to meet our EU obligations to reduce capacity of fixed gear vessels. However, capacity in the lines and nets segment of the fleet is already within the MAGP IV objectives for end 2001, and the tonnage of shellfish fixed gear vessels is close to the 2001 objectives. We do not therefore plan to hold a decommissioning scheme in present circumstances.

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Outbreak, USA

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have been provided with any samples by the United States Department of Agriculture from the recent sheep Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy outbreak in Vermont;

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    and, if not, whether they expect to receive any such samples.[HL3428]

Baroness Hayman: The United States Department of Agriculture has not yet approached Her Majesty's Government to ask if they will receive samples from the recent sheep TSE outbreak in Vermont to assist with the investigation. However, Her Majesty's Government would respond positively if such an approach was made.

North-east Coast Salmon Drift Net Fishery

Lord Sanderson of Bowden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to stop the practice of drift netting at sea off the coast of north-east England, bearing in mind the estimated catch of salmon by such methods in 1999.[HL3405]

Baroness Hayman: The north-east coast salmon drift net fishery is being phased out; the numbers of net licences issued has halved since the phase-out began in 1993. The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review recommended that the phase-out should be accelerated, with compensation offered to netsmen to encourage them to leave this fishery on a voluntary basis as soon as possible. The Government are currently seeking views on the review's recommendations, and will make their response to them later in the year.

Scottish Parliament: Acts

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the Acts made by the Scottish Parliament, and give the dates on which they received Royal Assent.[HL3317]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: This is a matter for the Scottish Parliament. The information requested can be obtained from the Scottish Parliament Information Office or from the Scottish Parliament website.

Government Property Lawyers: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Government Property Lawyers Report and Accounts for 1997-98 will be published.[HL3522]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I can confirm that I have today placed copies of the annual report in the Library.

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Yorkshire Water: Sale Proposals

Baroness Harris of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Ofwat's consultation period on the Kelda proposals, which ends on 17 July, will now be extended to the end of September; and[HL3476]

    Whether detailed financial information on Yorkshire Water will be made available to customers before any decision on the purchase price is agreed; and[HL3477]

    What mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that there is genuine independence in negotiating the sale price of Yorkshire Water; and how customers who are buying will be involved as well as shareholders who are selling; and[HL3478]

    Why it is proposed that the new Registered Community Asset Mutual (RCAM) which is to take over Yorkshire Water Services will contract for the first five years of its operation with Kelda, which will subcontract the work to others; and whether instead the new RCAM could subcontract the work itself from the start.[HL3479]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Government's prime interest is to ensure that any reorganisation in the water industry will bring direct and long lasting benefits to customers, and that companies can continue to comply with their public health and environmental obligations.

Under the Water Industry Act 1991, the Director General of Water Services has a duty to act in the manner he considers best calculated to secure that the interests of customers are protected. The Director General has said that he considers that more consultation with customers is necessary before the proposal by Kelda could go ahead. Following receipt of responses to his earlier consultation paper, he intends to publish a position paper on the issues raised by Kelda's proposals, including those raised by the noble Baroness, on 25 July. This will set out how best such further consultation should be conducted.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether sufficient opportunity has been given by Ofwat to the people of Yorkshire to express their views regarding the sale of Yorkshire Water.[HL3404]

Lord Whitty: The Director General of Water Services has said that he considers that more consultation with customers is necessary before the proposal by Kelda could go ahead. Following receipt of responses to his earlier consultation paper, he intends to publish a position paper on the issues raised by Kelda's proposal before 31 July, including how best such further consultation should be conducted.

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Smoking in the Workplace

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What encouragement they give to private organisations to operate a "no smoking policy" in their workplaces.[HL3417]

Lord Whitty: The Health and Safety (HSE) is responsible for health, safety and welfare in the workplace. It recommends that all employers should introduce a policy to control smoking in the workplace which gives priority to the needs of non-smokers. HSE's guidance Passive smoking at work encourages employers to introduce a ban on indoor smoking.

Safer Streets Coalition: Representations

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received in regard to priorities to transport from the Joint Committee on Mobility of Blind and Partially Sighted People and member organisations of the Safer Streets Coalition; what reply they will be sending; and what action they will be taking.[HL3470]

Lord Whitty: We have in the last few days received a letter from the Joint Committee on behalf of the member organisations of the Safer Streets Coalition.

We are considering the representations they have made and will be writing to them in due course.

I will ensure that a copy of my reply is sent to the noble Lord.

A.1 Newcastle to Berwick Improvement

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the recent increase in spending on transport in their Spending Review 2000, they will now give priority to the dualling of the A.1 trunk road in north Northumberland.[HL3502]

Lord Whitty: In Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan we have announced the acceleration of the A.1 Newcastle to Berwick Multi Modal Study. Consultants will be selected later this year with a target of reporting within 12 months drawing upon the findings of the existing Route Management Study and the Tyneside Area Multi Modal Study.

Swimming Pool Lifeguarding

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What regulatory cost assessment was carried out by the Health and Safety Commission before it

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    propagated its new regulations for swimming pool lifeguarding; and what account the commission took of the impact of its proposals on swimming clubs.[HL3440]

Lord Whitty: No new regulations for swimming pool lifeguarding have been introduced by the Health and Safety Commission. The safety of workers and the public in swimming pools is protected under the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and supporting legislation.

The Health and Safety Commission published guidance entitled Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools (HSG 179) in 1999 to describe good practice and help pool operators to comply with their duties under the legislation. It offers practical information to pool operators, including on lifeguarding. Following the guidance is not compulsory and organisations are free to take other action to comply with their statutory duties.


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