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Turkish Air Bases

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): It is not for us to comment on bilateral contacts between the US and Turkey. No decision has been taken to launch military action against Iraq.

Animal Rights Activists: Protection of Medical Research Companies

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government are determined that animal rights extremists will not prevent companies carrying out legitimate business in the UK and that these companies will be protected from intimidation and harassment. In recognition of the exceptional circumstances Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc has found itself in, the DTI has previously agreed to provide banking facilities for Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc. The DTI is now extending its support to facilitate the provision of insurance services to Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc on a world-wide basis. Both these actions have been taken to secure Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc from the harm caused by the criminal intimidaton and assault being directed at its employees, including their families and friends, and also those of its suppliers, customers and other companies. Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc is a world-leading provider in the highly regulated area of essential research, development and toxicological testing services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries. Any commercial damage to these industries or their supporting services like Huntingdon Life Sciences, would have a very serious impact on UK scientific and medical research. The DTI is not using commercial insurance companies or brokers at this time and is providing insurance through its own resources.

Rehab UK Tyne and Wear Brain Injury Centre

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent assessment the Department for Work and Pensions has made of the facilities offered by Rehab UK at its Tyne and Wear Brain Injury Centre; and with what result.[HL505]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Jobcentre Plus purchases places from Rehab UK as one element of our work preparation programme for people with disabilities. As part of a recontracting process, the services offered by Rehab UK at its centre in Tyne and Wear were assessed in July and, following that assessment, a new contract was awarded with effect from 1 October 2002.

Small Accommodation Providers

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What help has been extended to small businesses connected with the hotel trade in 2002 to date.[HL554]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The Government have assisted small accommodation providers in a number of ways during 2002. For

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example, small hotel businesses will have benefited from over £5 million provided by government for the regional tourist boards (including London) to help promote their regions and individual businesses. In addition, the British tourist authorities' activities in promoting Britain overseas as an attractive tourist destination bring an additional £1 billion per year of expenditure by inbound visitors to this country, from which businesses of all sizes, including smaller ones, benefit. The Small Business Service (SBS), with an annual budget of over £400 million, is dedicated to championing the interests of small businesses and building an enterprise society in which all small businesses thrive and achieve their potential. The SBS recently published a new guidance pack for small business entitled Access to EU funding which complements the Government's comprehensive support for business start-ups and established small firms. The money is primarily available to improve competitiveness, productivity and innovation. Finally, small accommodation providers also benefit from the existence of sensibly designed quality schemes, aimed at ensuring that consumers' expectations are met so that return visits and recommendations are made, and from quality scheme membership which gives free listing in the English Tourism Council's Where to Stay guide.

DCMS: Outside Consultants

Baroness Buscombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total expenditure incurred by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on work carried out by consultants during the financial years 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01 and 2001–02.[HL687]

Baroness Blackstone: Contracts awarded to consultants on behalf of DCMS during the relevant peiods are as follows

    1997–98: £728,000

    1998–99: £424,000

    1999–2000: £227,000

    2000–01: £358,000

    2001–02: £693,000

Includes Royal Parks Agency.

Common Land

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to publish the White Paper on common land.[HL527]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): We published our legislative proposals for common land and town and village greens in the Common Land Policy Statement in July 2002. We

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expect to consult on detailed proposals for the agricultural management of common land in May 2003, building on the work of the stakeholder working group which has been established to consider this.

Northern Ireland:Public Administration Review

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the report into administration in Northern Ireland will be published next August; and, if not, when.[HL287]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The review of public administration in Northern Ireland was launched by the Northern Ireland Executive in June 2002 and the team conducting the review was due to make final recommendations to the executive at the end of 2003.

By the end of November the review team had completed an extensive pre-consultation process that involved nearly 70 meetings, including meetings with all local councils.

The team is continuing with its programme of research and analysis. However the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly may have implications for the review's overall timetable. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has indicated that he will consult with the political parties early in the new year about the future of the review.

MPs' and Civil Servants' Pension Schemes: Survivor Benefits

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the current terms and conditions relating to survivor benefits in the pension schemes for Members of Parliament and civil servants; and how those benefits are funded. [HL438]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: MPs' pensions are paid out of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF), which is a managed fund with income from investments and member contributions. The Exchequer makes the equivalent of an employer's contribution, which is set independently by the Government Actuary's Department.

In cases of death in service, the pension payable to a legally married spouse is equal to the Member's salary for the first three months, and then at a rate of 5/8ths of the deceased Member's pension payable at age 65. The provisions are the same on death in retirement, but if the Member dies within five years of retirement, the spouse's pension is paid at the rate of the Member's pension for the remainder of those five years before reducing to 5/8ths. The regulations contain a provision to curtail the pension of a widow/widower of a deceased Member on remarriage or cohabitation.

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In July last year the House voted, among other things, to consider extending survivor pensions to unmarried adult dependants and continuing survivor pensions if a spouse remarries. However, these two measures were not covered by the statutory instrument introduced in July of this year on implementing the other decisions of the House on Members' pensions. It would require a further statutory instrument to give effect to these two provisions.

The Civil Service pension scheme traditionally provided pensions for surviving partners legally married to the scheme member at the time of the member's death. On 1 October 2002 a new Civil Service pension scheme was introduced, which, among other improvements, extended the arrangement to unmarried partners of either gender for life. The entire cost of this change is met by scheme members through higher contributions.

Northern Ireland Railway Heritage

Lord Shutt of Greetland asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the unique narrow gauge railway artefacts under the custodianship of Derry City Council would be better placed with the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. [HL431]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The railway heritage of Derry City Council and the North West of Ireland Railway Society are jointly housed in Foyle Valley Railway Museum, which is closed while Derry City Council reviews its viability.

It is preferable that these artefacts retain their historic links by remaining in Londonderry and I hope that the council and the railway society can resolve their differences for the benefit of all.

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