Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

16 Jan 2001 : Column WA123

Written Answers

Tuesday, 16th January 2001.

Defence Diversification Agency

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What conclusions they have reached about the future of the Defence Diversification Agency.[HL345]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We remain fully committed to defence diversification--the "spin out" of defence technology to the civil sector for wider benefit. The Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) has made a very successful start in delivering that policy objective since its establishment in 1999. The implementation of our Public Private Partnership proposals for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) will make a further and very substantial contribution to defence diversification. It will be in the interest of "NewDERA" to exploit opportunities for the "spin-out" of defence technology to the civil sector. At the same time we shall want to ensure that the Defence Scientific and Technical Laboratory (DSTL), the part of DERA to be retained in the MoD, also contributes fully to defence diversification activity.

Since the DDA currently operates as part of DERA, some reorganisation over the next few months is inevitable. Responsibility for the agency, we propose, will be transferred from DERA to MoD headquarters, from where it would continue to facilitate the achievement of our defence diversification objectives. It would ensure that opportunities for "spin-out", and also the "spin-in" of civil technology to the MoD, are disseminated and exploited, and that industry is assisted with its own diversification planning. A major part of diversification activities would in future be undertaken from within NewDERA and DSTL, by existing DDA staff operating from their current locations, continuing the work that they do now, and transferred to NewDERA and DSTL for that purpose.

We shall work closely with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the DDA continues to secure our policy objectives. Detailed new arrangements will now be worked out and we shall consult about the staffing implications in the normal way. In the light of experience of the new organisation, we shall consider further the establishment of a Defence Diversification Council.

Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Atomic Energy Establishment at Aldermaston is operating under all the appropriate licences.[HL122]

16 Jan 2001 : Column WA124

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston currently operates under all licences appropriate to its role.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Atomic Energy Establishment at Aldermaston has full and unqualified emission permits with respect to the levels of radioactivity in waste products.[HL123]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston is currently authorised by the Environment Agency to discharge radioactive waste within carefully prescribed and regulated limits. The Environment Agency carries out periodic reviews to ensure that these limits and the appropriate conditions imposed on AWE as part of its authorisation are fully observed.

Elmhurst Park, Suffolk: Greenhouses

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take urgent steps to list the greenhouses in Elmhurst Park, Suffolk, which Woodbridge Town Council propose to dismantle and remove.[HL278]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has asked English Heritage to assess urgently whether these structures meet the criteria for listing and to advise him accordingly.

Veterinary Medicines: RPS Registration Fees for Agricultural Merchants and Saddlers

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the fees to be paid by merchants and saddlers for registration in 2001-02 with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain under the Medicines (Exemptions for Merchants in Veterinary Drugs) Order 1998 have been determined.[HL316]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): With the consent of the Treasury, the schedule of fees for registration, retention and restoration have been determined. This is given in the attached table:


Application in respect of each premisesPrevious feeNew fee
Agricultural Merchants(£)(£)
1. For retention under article 5197224
2. For retention of registration under article 5122133
3. For restoration of registration under article 5166190
1. For registration under article 5123127
2. For retention of registration under article 57378
3. For restoration of registration under article 5107107

16 Jan 2001 : Column WA125

Overseas Territories: Corporal and Capital Punishment

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 19 December, whether the United Kingdom is under any obligation under international law or convention to remove corporal or capital punishment from the statute books of self-governing Overseas Territories.[HL291]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Abolition of judicial corporal punishment last year in the British Virgin Islands, the last Overseas Territory to do so, fulfilled the United Kingdom's obligation in that regard under the European Convention on Human Rights. There is no present international obligation to abolish capital punishment in the Overseas Territories, since the relevant Protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have not yet been extended to the Territories. But the Government wish to be in a position to extend the Protocols, once the situation in the Territories fully reflects that in the United Kingdom.

Moses Room: Hearing Aid Induction Loop

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What steps are being taken to ensure that there is a hearing loop system installed in the Moses Room prior to the first day of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill being taken in Grand Committee.[HL285]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): A hearing aid induction loop was installed in the Moses Room in 1993. It is connected to the sound-activated microphone system, which must be switched on for the induction loop to work.

Council of Europe and WEU Parliamentary Assembly: UK Delegation

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce the full composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Western European Union.[HL347]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is as follows:

16 Jan 2001 : Column WA126

Leader The Right Honourable Terry Davis MP
Full RepresentativesSubstitute Members
David Atkinson MPMalcolm Bruce MP
Sir Sydney Chapman MPThe Lord Clinton-Davis
Tom Cox MPMs Ann Cryer MP
Lawrence Cunliffe MPMike Hancock CBE, MP
Bill Etherington MPRobert Jackson MP
Paul Flynn MPMs Jenny Jones MP
Mrs Maria Fyfe MPThe Lord Judd
The Lord Kirkhill The Baroness Knight of Collingtree DBE
Kevin McNamara MPTony Lloyd MP
Jim Marshall MPThe Lord Rotherwick
Edward O'Hara MPMs Christine McCafferty MP
The Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Alan Meale MP
The Lord Russell-JohnstonGwyn Prosser MP
John D. Taylor MPSydney Rapson MP
John Townend MPMs Geraldine Smith MP
John Wilkinson MPRudi Vis MP
Jimmy Wray MPDavid Wilshire MP

Family Law Act 1996: Information Meetings Provisions

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the final evaluation report of research into pilot information meetings under Part II of the Family Law Act 1996, and whether they now intend to implement Part II of the Act.[HL317]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The final evaluation report has been published today, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. I am grateful to Professor Walker and her team at Newcastle University for the very detailed and informative report they have produced.

On 17 June 1999, Official Report col.WA39, the Government announced that it would await the final evaluation report before deciding the way forward on Part II.

The research has concluded that none of the six models of information meeting tested over a two-year period is good enough for the implementation of Part II on a nationwide basis. It has shown that, for most people, the meetings came too late to save marriages and tended to incline those who were uncertain about their marriages towards divorce. Whilst people valued the provision of information, the meetings were too inflexible, providing general information about both marriage saving and the divorce process. People wanted information tailored to their individual circumstances and needs. In additon, in the great majority of cases, only the person petitioning for divorce attended the meeting, but marriage counselling, conciliatory divorce and mediation depend for success on the willing involvement of both parties.

The report has suggested testing a further model designed to address the majority of the shortcomings identified in the pilots. However, this new kind of

16 Jan 2001 : Column WA127

meeting would not solve the underlying problems associated with compulsory information meetings, in particular the timing of the meetings in the divorce process and their inability to engage both parties.

Furthermore, in the Government's view, the problems with Part II are not limited to the provisions on information meetings. The new procedures would be complex and likely to lead to significant delay and uncertainty which would not be in the best interests of the couple or their children. There are concerns that its provisions would prove unworkable in practice.

The Government therefore do not believe Part II would fulfil the principles of Part I of the Act, to which they remain committed. These principles include saving saveable marriages and, where marriages break down, bringing them to an end with the minimum distress to the parties and children affected.

The Government are not satisfied that it would be right to proceed with the implementation of Part II and propose to invite Parliament to repeal the relevant sections of the Family Law Act 1996 once a suitable legislative opportunity occurs. This decision does not affect section 22, in Part II, relating to the funding of marriage support services, which is in force and will remain so. In addition, while it is not possible to implement separately the provisions at sections 9(3) and (4) of Part II, the Government are sympathetic to the needs of Jewish women who are denied a religious divorce, and are considering the best way forward.

The Government will draw on the evaluation report and build on the initiatives already under way in their efforts to support marriage and stable relationships and to reduce the damaging impact of family conflict and relationship breakdown on children. They have taken forward a wide range of measures over the past three years to help families, including establishing the new Children's Fund and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, improving maternity and parental leave arrangements, and increasing funding for marriage and relationship support to a total of £5 million per annum by 2002-2003.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page