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Written Answers

Tuesday, 3rd July 2001.

Haemophilia Centre Nurses: Prescribing Rights

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations Health Ministers have received from the Haemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre in regard to additional prescribing rights for nurses in haemophilia centres; and what action they are taking.[HL15]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are not aware of any representations from a Haemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre on prescribing responsibilities for nurses in haemophilia centres. The Government's proposals for the extension of prescribing responsibilities to more nurses are set out in a press release issued on 4 May 2001, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Mirror Group Newspapers plc

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have completed their examination of how best to put in place a monitoring mechanism, as suggested by the inspectors, to ensure that the recommendations in their report on the investigation into Mirror Group Newspaper plc are carried through.[HL32]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Her Majesty's Government are currently considering with other interested parties the best way to monitor action flowing from the recommendations made by the inspectors in the case of Mirror Group Newspaper plc.

Entertainment Industry: Employment Agency Regulation

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they intend to make to change the Employment Agencies Act 1973 in relation to agencies operating in the entertainment industry.[HL68]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In February 2001 we issued the draft Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2001, which will amend the existing legislative framework governing the private recruitment industry. The regulations will

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also apply to agencies operating in the entertainment industry. Our objective is simpler, clearer regulations relevant to the market of today and of the future. Most of the proposed new regulations are simply designed to be updated, streamlined versions of existing requirements, and we propose to repeal those that now appear out of date and unnecessary. We are seeking to outlaw the practice by supposed agents in the entertainment and modelling sectors who take money from work-seekers but offer little or no work. The new regulations will also require entertainment agents handling workers' earnings to operate proper client accounts for them.

Democracy and the Will of the People

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the Lord Privy Seal that it is a fallacy to suggest that democracy is about "the will of the people to be paramount" (H.L. Deb., 21 June, col. 113).[HL73]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government believe the necessary institutions and safeguards of a mature democracy extend well beyond those circumstances where it is appropriate for the will of the people to be paramount on every occasion and issue. For example, we must have clear laws and independent and objective means of administering them; anything else would risk lynch law and mob rule.

House of Lords Appointments: Interviews

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 51 interviewed nominees for the 3,166 applications to the House of Lords Appointments Commission received second or more interviews.[HL114]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Two of the 51 nominees interviewed were seen twice to allow them to meet commission members who were unavailable on a previous occasion. As the commission's report on its website, houseoflordsappointmentscommission.gov.uk, sets out, nominees were not interviewed by the whole commission but by two or more members, including at all times the chairman. The same procedure and format were used for each interview.

Wessex Helicopters, RAF Aldergrove

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimated saving, if any, will be made by removing Wessex Helicopters from RAF Aldergrove as proposed in March 2002.[HL11]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Wessex reaches the end of its operational service at the end of March

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2002. A decision on a replacement aircraft for the troop flight capability provided by the Wessex has still to be taken. There are, however, unlikely to be savings as replacement helicopters will need to use the support previously provided to the Wessex helicopters.

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the residual cost of maintaining Wessex Helicopters at RAF Aldergrove in each of the past five years.[HL12]

Lord Bach: There are a number of costs allied to the provision of Wessex helicopters in Northern Ireland such as aircrew and engineer salaries, accommodation, fuel, logistics, spares, maintenance etc. This expenditure is not recorded centrally. However, based on the number of flying hours provisioned for Wessex in Northern Ireland, using an aggregate full cost of £7,487 per Wessex flying hour as at 1998 (the intermediate year) prices, the costs for each of the past five years are set out in the table below:

YearHours ProvisionedCosts
1996-975,600£41.927m
1997-985,600£41.927m
1998-994,900£36.686m
1999-20004,900£36.686m
2000-014,900£36.686m

Chinook Mark 2 Helicopters: Flight Data Recorders

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) How many Chinook Mark 2 helicopters are now equipped with the new black box, HUMS, (b) how many do not yet carry this, and (c) when the whole fleet can be so equipped. [HL53]

Lord Bach: The twenty-second and twenty-third aircraft from the RAF Chinook Mark 2/2a fleet are currently being fitted with cockpit voice and flight data recorders as part of the Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) programme, which leaves 17 of the fleet still to be so equipped. Progress on this programme is of necessity slower than we would wish given that, as previously explained, the operational requirement for these helicopters is a first priority. It is now anticipated that the programme will be completed during the spring of next year.

European Military Transport Aircraft

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider development of the future European military transport aircraft is proceeding in a satisfactory manner; and whether any steps are being taken to secure this project.[HL77]

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Lord Bach: Progress on the A400M programme is highlighted by the significant step forward recently achieved when the Secretary of State for Defence, with several European colleagues, signed the A400M Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Paris Airshow on 19 June. This MoU commits the UK to buying 25 A400M aircraft in order to satisfy the UK's future transport aircraft requirement, alongside commitments from other partners. Signature of the A400M MoU paves the way for placement of the contract with Airbus Military Company, has the force of law for some partner nations, and is a significant step in securing the project. Signature of the contract is conditional on satisfactory completion of contractual negotiations. Officials are working hard to resolve these issues with a view to contract placement as soon as possible.

Eurojust: Powers

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What power of inquiry would be given to Eurojust, a permanent unit of magistrates, proposed by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union to combat international crime; and whether the power of inquiry, as put forward by the Belgian Presidency, would include a power to order detention or extradition.[HL94]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Eurojust is an initiative included in the Conclusions of the European Council in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999, and the draft decision is currently being negotiated. The objective of Eurojust is to improve co-operation between national prosecutors and aid national criminal investigations into serious organised crime. Eurojust's power of inquiry would go no further than to aid investigations and prosecutions carried out by national authorities. It will be able to facilitate, but not insist upon, cross-border co-operation. It would not have the power to order detention or to order extradition, nor would it have the power to prosecute.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal: Appointment

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have made for the appointment of members of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal under Section 65 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.[HL139]

Lord Rooker: On 4 June 2001, Her Majesty appointed Sir John Pringle to serve as a member of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal for a period of five years.

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