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Regulatory Reform

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

Lord Rooker: I am grateful to the committees for their thorough examination of our proposed amendments to Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. I welcome their support for the bulk of our proposals to reform this complex and highly technical legislation.

The committees had some reservations on our proposals to change the way in which landlords and tenants may agree to contract a business lease without the normal statutory rights of security of tenure. The Regulatory Reform Committee made specific recommendations to enhance the protection for tenants. However, your Lordships' Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform had more fundamental concerns at the lack of evidence about the degree of protection that the courts provide, and hence whether our proposals to abolish the requirement for a joint application to the courts would remove necessary protection from business tenants.

We acknowledge that though there is considerable anecdotal evidence, there is a lack of definitive statistical evidence about the outcome of applications to the court for approval of agreements to exclude security of tenure. We therefore propose to carry out research to indicate the outcome of recent applications to the court for approval to exclude security of tenure. The research will study the proportion of applications rejected and the reasons for rejection. We will also undertake some further consultation of organisations representing small businesses.

We propose to present the research findings and the outcome of the further consultation to the committees. Subject to the outcome of the research and consultation and the views of the committees, we would then lay for second stage scrutiny an amended draft order incorporating the amendments suggested by the Regulatory Reform Committee and slightly modified in certain other detailed respects.

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Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What gun sight system was fitted to the combat reconnaissance vehicles (tracked) interfered with by protestors at Marchwood military port; and whether it is a classified system; and[HL1532]

    What electronic friend or foe identification system was fitted to the combat reconnaissance vehicles (tracked) interfered with by protestors at Marchwood military port; and whether it is a classified system.[HL1533]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The combat vehicle reconnaissance (tracked) Scimitar interfered with by protestors at Marchwood Military Port is fitted with the enhanced sight periscope infra-red equipment (ESPIRE) gun sighting system, which is not classified. The system was not damaged during the incident.

The combat vehicle reconnaissance (tracked) is not presently fitted with an electronic friend or foe identifications system. We are establishing with allies robust combat ID arrangements and will acquire additional equipment in time for any potential conflict to enable our forces to operate effectively alongside coalition forces.

60th Anniversary of D-Day

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans are being made to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day in June 2004; who will lead the national commemoration; and what support will be given to the Normandy Veterans' Association.[HL1680]

Lord Bach: A full programme of commemorative events in Normandy is being devised by a new committee, Normandie Memoire 60ième Anniversaire, on which the United Kingdom is represented by our Military Attaché in Paris. The commemoration will centre on ceremonies in various towns on 5 June and an international day on 6 June. Full details will be announced when the programme has been developed further. It is not yet known who will lead the British representation at the commemoration. It is customary for a service band to be provided for D-Day commemorations in Normandy. The Ministry of Defence arranged for the Normandy Veterans' Association to be represented at the opening meeting of the new committee, will continue to consult the association as planning continues, and is co-ordinating details of veterans' groups intending to travel to France for the commemorations.

NHS: Use of Independent Sector

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the results of their independent sector usage survey for 2001–02.[HL1265]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health has carried out two surveys of National Health Service use of the independent sector for acute elective care in 2000–01. The first survey, begun in October 2001, sought information on actual use in the first half of the year, along with planned use in the second half of that year. Information on actual use in the second half of the year was sought in a further survey begun in August 2002. The results of that further survey are now being collated.

Hospital Readmissions

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make publicly available the rates of hospital readmission within (a) 14 days and (b) 28 days of discharge from each primary care trust area.[HL1494]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: National quarterly monitoring information within 28 days for all ages is routinely placed in the Library when available. The most recently collected information is for Quarter 2 (July to September) 2002–03. For brevity, information by primary care trust is not included, but we have today placed in the Library the PCT breakdown for Quarter 2 2002–03.

Public Highways: Hedge Trimming

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the comparative costs of regular trimming of hedges alongside the southern stretches of the M1 motorway by machine compared to the current practice of leaving hedges to grow for a long period of years followed by the traditional craft of cutting and laying by hand.[HL1550]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The relative cost of cutting and laying hedges is £10 per linear metre and £2.25 per linear metre for machine trimming.

Where regular trimming is required for the safety of road users, the Highways Agency uses machines. However, in locations where less immediate intervention is required, the traditional cutting and laying method is considered as an option, which generally provides stronger and healthier hedges. In these locations, the overall cost difference between the two methods over the longer term is comparable (£1 per linear metre per year for cutting and laying and £1.13 per linear metre per year for machine trimming).

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Public Highways: Adverse Weather Conditions

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

    Whether the Highways Authority or any other public authority is under a duty to ensure that public highways are able to be used safely and efficiently by road traffic during adverse weather conditions, whether by gritting the surface or otherwise.[HL1600]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: In England a highway authority is required to remove snow that is causing an obstruction. There is no duty to remove ice, but we shall introduce one at a suitable legislative opportunity.

We have instructed the Highways Agency to continue its usual practice of keeping motorways and trunk roads free of ice and snow.

Definition of "Poverty": Car Owners

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have estimated the number of car owners whose cars have a value of £500 or less and who have an income of less than 60 per cent of national average income who would therefore be defined as living in poverty.[HL1646]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The data requested are not available.

Students: Social Class

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many students from the top three social classes went to university in 1960 and how many in the most recent year for which records are available; and how many students from the bottom three social classes went to university in the same years.[HL1358]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The latest available information, which shows the social class breakdown of the age participation index (API), is shown in the following table. The API measures the proportion of students who enter full-time HE by the time they are 20. The underlying numbers of students by social class for both years are not held centrally.

The API is different from the initial entry rate (IER), which measures the proportion of students who enter full-time or part-time HE by the time they are 30, and is used to measure progress towards the Government's 50 per cent target. The IER in 2001–02 is estimated to be 43 per cent.

The Government are committed to raising the participation rates for people from less affluent

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backgrounds, and has introduced the Excellence Challenge, including the AimHigher campaign, which is targeted at raising attainment and aspirations among young people who traditionally would not consider going to university.

Age Participation Index (1) by Social Class

Academic year beginning:
Social Class 19602000
I, II, IIIn(2)27%48%
IIIm, IV, V(3)4%18%
All Classes5%33%

(1) The API is defined as the number of UK domiciled under 21 initial entrants to full-time and sandwich courses expressed as a proportion of the averaged 18-19 year old GB population.

(2) Professional (I), Intermediate (II), and Skilled Non-manual (IIIN).

(3) Skilled Manual (IIIM), Semi-skilled (IV), and Unskilled (V).

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Childcare Workers: Vetting

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What types of childcare workers require vetting through the Criminal Records Bureau; and why it is considered not necessary that professional nannies should be vetted by the bureau. [HL1504]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Childcare workers operating in childcare settings regulated by Ofsted or the National Care Standards Commission are vetted through the Criminal Records Bureau. Nannies or other childcare workers who care for children in the child's home are not regulated by Ofsted and so are not vetted by them.

Criminal Records Bureau disclosures can contain sensitive information, including about spent convictions, so access to them is restricted to bodies such as Ofsted, which have registered with the bureau. Individuals are not able to register. However, parents wanting to secure a nanny who has been vetted by the bureau can go to a registered agency offering to supply such a nanny.

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