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Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Review

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The review of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 completed its work last summer. The publication of the review's report, Breaking the Circle, was announced to Parliament on 17 July 2002, and a copy placed in the Library.

Animals in Scientific Procedures

Lord Carter asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to publish the government response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures.[HL1173]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The Government have today published their reply to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures published on 24 July 2002. Copies of the Government's response (Cm 5729) have been placed in the Library.

The Government welcome the Select Committee's report, which deals with important and sensitive issues concerning the use of animals in scientific procedures. The Select Committee's report is comprehensive, makes an important contribution to the ongoing debate and provides a credible basis for all concerned to consider where we should be going from here.

The Government note in particular, and endorse the Select Committee's finding, that animal experiments are currently necessary to develop human and veterinary medicines and to protect humans and the environment. We also welcome the Select Committee's recognition of the progress that has been made since 1987 in reducing the number of animals used in scientific procedures and in establishing a culture of care in establishments designated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which is widely regarded as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world. The Government also accept that more needs to be done and we reconfirm our commitment to the fullest possible application of the 3Rs—the refinement of scientific procedures, the reduction in numbers of animals used and their replacement wherever possible. We also agree that the case put forward by the Select Committee for a United Kingdom centre for the 3Rs focused largely, but not exclusively, on toxicity testing, as a complement to other initiatives in this area, is worth exploring further. At the same time, we remain firmly of the view that the development of the 3Rs must continue to be an integral part of mainstream research programmes and toxicity work and should not be seen as a separate activity.

The Government also note the Select Committee's view that the United Kingdom should aim to have the best regulation of animal procedures, properly enforced, rather than the tightest regulation. The Government already strive for the most efficient and effective regulation. However, we believe that it is right that the 1986 Act imposes stringent criteria to be

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satisfied before licence authorities are granted. We further believe that this approach is essential to generate and maintain public confidence in the regulatory system. At the same time, we accept that the administrative burden must be kept to a minimum, without compromising the welfare of the animals used. We will revisit this matter with the research community, with a view to the production of a revised application form/licence that all concerned accept is as simple and short as it can possibly be to meet statutory requirements.

The Government also share the Select Committee's view that there is a need for more open and better informed debate about the use of animals in scientific procedures. Government departments, industry, the scientific community and funders of such research all have an important role in explaining their legitimate use. We also believe that more good quality information should be made available to the public explaining the scientific work that is done using animals and the reasons for it. Subject to safeguards for personal and confidential information, we are, therefore, proposing to publish summaries of project licences as part of the Home Office publication scheme. However, we are conscious that there remains a significant level of concern in the scientific community about the implications of repealing Section 24 of the 1986 Act, as the Select Committee recommends. We, therefore, intend to consult further with the scientific community before reaching final decisions on its future.

Commission for Racial Equality: Appointment of Chairman

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any decision has been taken about appointing a successor to Gurbux Singh as chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.[HL1174]

Lord Filkin: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is pleased to announce that he has appointed today Mr Trevor Philips as the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Trevor Philips is currently an elected member of the Greater London Assembly, chair of the Assembly and managing director of Pepper Production. The appointment is for four years initially.

Trevor Philips was selected after a rigorous and thorough process. He has a clear understanding of the challenges of race equality and how they link to a wider, diversity, community cohesion and regeneration agenda.

The Home Secretary is confident that he will provide the leadership that the commission needs to play an active role in the race relations agenda, while strengthening and focusing its internal organisation.

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World War Debts to US

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they owe the United States as a result of the First and Second World Wars; when the most recent repayment was made; and what arrangements are being made to clear the debt.[HL1036]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: On First World War debt due to the United States Government, I refer the noble Lord to the Answers I gave to him on 17 July 2002 (WA 159), 30 July 2002 (WA 161) and 25 October 2002 (WA 103–04).

On Second World War debt due to the United States Government, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to him on 27 May 2002 (WA 127).

Table B19 in the Supplementary Statements to the Consolidated Fund and National Loans Fund Accounts for 2001–02, presented to Parliament on 19 December 2002, provides the latest published data on the outstanding Second World War debt to the United States Government (HC 113, Session 2002–03).

A further repayment of principal amounting to $66,381,002.61 was made at the end of December 2002 under the terms of the 1945 Agreement.

Building and Roofing Industry: Insurance

Baroness Maddock asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with (a) the insurance industry; and (b) the building and roofing industry, regarding increased insurance premiums in the building and roofing industry.[HL1015]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Discussions have taken place at official level with representatives of both the insurance industry and the construction industries including the roofing sector about increased insurance premiums.

A study is being undertaken by the department to establish the extent and nature of the difficulties contractors face in obtaining a range of different types of insurance; to obtain a clearer understanding of the reasons for the problems; and how the industry could better represent its approach to risk assessment, management and control to the insurance industry.

My honourable friend the Minister for Construction met with the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, and a delegation from the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) in the summer of 2002 to discuss rising insurance premiums and the impact on the demolition industry. The Government are keen to have the views of all affected industries, including building, construction and roofing, on the review of the Employer's Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) scheme and all written contributions should be sent to: ELCI REVIEW

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TEAM, Department for Work and Pensions,

The Adelphi Level 2, 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT or by e-mail to [email protected]

Small Arms and Light Weapons: Export Control

Baroness Golding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the purpose of the Conference on Strengthening the Export Control on Small Arms and Light Weapons.[HL1091]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): HMG hosted a successful meeting on strengthening export controls on small arms and light weapons at Lancaster House on 14 and 15 January. Over 50 nations and representatives of international organisations and NGOs attended. My right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development addressed the delegates.

The meeting was an initiative of the Government's Global Conflict Prevention Pool. The Government's objective was to build on and develop consensus between small arms exporting nations, whether producers or stock-holders, on the need for effective export controls and controls on arms brokers. These were sensitive issues that the Government considered would benefit from further work following the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects in 2001.

Recognising the central role for the UN, the meeting discussed ways of taking forward work on international agreement to control the activities of arms brokers. There was also general agreement on the need for effective export controls on small arms.

The UK will report the outcome of the meeting to the United Nations biennial review meeting in July 2003 and follow up on the common ground established at Lancaster House.

The meeting demonstrates the strength of the international consensus to implement more effective controls on small arms exports and brokers. All who attended saw the meeting as a useful initiative to take forward key elements in the international effort to control the spread of small arms, a major factor in instability and conflict, particularly in Africa and in human rights abuses and crime world-wide.

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