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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): I am pleased to announce today that we have laid before the House Command Paper (4539), which is a consolidated response on behalf of the Government and of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee's Fourteenth Report, titled Aviation Safety, published on 21 July 1999.
The Government welcome the Aviation Safety Report, which covers a wide-ranging and detailed examination of aviation safety issues by the committee. We note that the evidence the committee received showed that the United Kingdom has an excellent safety record, particularly in the commercial aviation sector. The committee seeks reassurance that all necessary steps are being taken to maintain that record in the face of the challenges presented by a dynamic and growing industry in which the UK is a world leader. The Government and the CAA agree that the current high standard of aviation safety in the United Kingdom must be maintained and, where possible, improved. We fully recognise that aviation safety requires constant vigilance by regulators and the regulated alike.
The committee make 29 recommendations, some to the Government, some to the CAA, and others to both. Both we and the CAA have considered the recommendations fully and carefully and they are dealt with in turn, and in detail, in the Command Paper.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): There are no current plans to change the arrangements for funding the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The review has been completed and a draft report has been submitted to officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This report will now be considered by Ministers, who will announce their conclusions to Parliament in the New Year.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Quality Efficiency and Standards Team (Quest) is operationally independent of DCMS, but currently works from a small number of offices on the DCMS estate which would otherwise be unoccupied. The initial allocation of £500,000 per annum for each of the three years of the current funding period was made on the basis that Quest would not be required to find new premises. While Quest therefore pays no rent to DCMS, records are kept of the notional costs of rent and other associated services, including heat, light and information technology, to enable the true costs of its operations to be fully understood.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Council of EC Education Ministers, at which my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Learning and Technology represented the UK, adopted a resolution on "developing new working methods for European co-operation in the fields of
The Council received information from the Presidency on the outcome of conciliation with the European Parliament on the proposal for a second phase of the Socrates education action programme. Information was received from the European Commission on: the proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council to establish the European Year of Languages 2001; forthcoming proposals for European Parliament and Council Recommendations on the mobility of students, young trainees, young volunteers, teachers and trainers and on European co-operation in the evalution of the quality of school education; the role of education and training in implementing the Stability Pact for South-East Europe; the implementation of the Council resolution of 6 May 1996 on educational multimedia in the fields of education and training; and indicators and benchmarks in the field of school quality.
Ministers received a report from the European Schools High Council on the future of the European Schools and held an exchange of views. The Council also received information from the Portuguese delegation on plans for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): A Bill to be introduced in this House will reform and modernise the Probation Service within England and Wales. The modernised service will be known as The Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Service for England and Wales (CPRS). This service has a key role to play in delivering the Government's aims on effective sentencing and punishment that:
Lord Burlison: British forces in Kosovo have not used depleted uranium munitions, and we have not asked NATO to disclose to the UN Mission in Kosovo details of sites and areas where armaments containing depleted uranium were used during Operation ALLIED FORCE.
Lord Burlison: The implementation of UNICOM at unit level across the Army began in September 1994 and was completed in October 1997. A further 10 supplementary units were completed by March 1998. The life expectancy of UNICOM relates to its associated maintenance contract, which is due to run out in September 2008. Partial Technology Refreshment of UNICOM is planned, with an expected completion date of April 2003.
Lord Burlison: The Royal Air Force does not have any specific procedures in place to test a Royal Air Force pilot for drugs or alcohol consumption before flying or after flying accidents. However, Military Flying Regulations require aircrew, including those with supervisory duties, to ensure that they are not suffering from the effects or after effects of alcohol when they report for duty. Aircrew are to minimise
The Royal Air Force has also operated a random compulsory drugs testing programme since 1 November 1998. This serves to reinforce the Service's policy of zero tolerance towards drug misuse and provides an effective deterrent towards those who would misuse drugs.
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