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Civil Registration

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Registrar General who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the Registrar General, Len Cook, dated 30 October 2003.

As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning what efforts have been made to publicise the consultation document Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change. (HL5077)

Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change was published on 10 July 2003 and represents the first step in the use of the order making powers in the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. These powers will be used to make the changes in the law necessary to modernise the civil registration service in England and Wales. A copy of the consultation document was sent to a wide variety of organisations and persons with an interest in civil registration. A full list of all the organisations consulted is contained in Annex B of the consultation document.

Copies were placed in the Library of the House and the document is also available on the internet at Copies were also available for sale at the General Register Office (GRO). Posters and information leaflets, designed for the public, were sent to all register offices in England and Wales. The document is available in English and Welsh.

During the consultation period, which ended on 24 October 2003, GRO gave presentations and seminars about the proposals in the consultation document, to groups with a particular interest such as registration officers, genealogical societies and voluntary bodies with an interest in registration records.

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NHS Medical Records

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether individual patients have any legal rights of ownership to the medical records held about them by the National Health Service.[HL5004] John B

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Patients do not have any legal rights of ownership to the medical records held by the National Health Service but they do have certain rights of access to those records.

Waste Disposal

Baroness Howe of Idlicote asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 10 October (WA 87–88), what arrangements have been made for work in research and education on waste disposal.[HL4941]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Following last year's report by the Cabinet Office's Strategy Unit (Waste not, Want not), a number of strategic measures are being implemented to encourage the development of more sustainable approaches to waste management. The need for a robust research programme was one of the main findings of the Strategy Unit report and a new team is being established in Defra to drive forward this work.

The research team will, among other things, review existing research on waste and develop and implement a 3-year waste research strategy. It will be assisted in this task by a new stakeholder advisory group which it is setting up. The team will also set up an accessible central database of research projects.

The Strategy Unit report also recognised that increased participation in recycling schemes, and public understanding of the issues and their role, would be essential if the UK is to meet targets for recycling and diversion of waste from landfill.

Defra has provided the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) with funding to start work on a Waste Awareness Programme to increase public awareness of waste and recycling.

WRAP is providing some funding for the Rethink Rubbish waste awareness campaign in England which will enable it to continue its current work. John B — WA21-WA22

Methyl Bromide

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) what has been the annual tonnage of methyl bromide used in the United Kingdom in horticulture or other uses;

    (b) what substitutes are available; and

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    (c) whether this chemical is banned or will be banned because of its impact on the ozone layer.[HL5059]

Lord Whitty: (a) The latest figures supplied by EU suppliers of methyl bromide indicate that the amount of methyl bromide used in the UK in horticulture in 2002 was about 184 tonnes.

(b) There are a number of alternatives to methyl bromide for use as soil sterilants, in crop handling and on storage structures, and for use in food storage areas. Details of the specific products approved can be obtained from the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

(c) The supply and production of methyl bromide is due to be phased out in developed countries by 31 December 2004 under the Montreal Protocol and implemented in the European Community under EC Regulation 2037/2000 on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Existing supplies can be used until 31 December 2005. There are exemptions for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes and applications for critical use exemption can be made to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) where there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives.

North Sea Drift Net Fishing

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest postition on the phasing out of the North Sea drift net fishery; and what are the numbers of trawlers and fishermen.[HL5062]

Lord Whitty: Between 1992, when the phase-out of the north-east coast salmon driftnet fishery began, and early 2003, the number of licensed drift-netsmen in the fishery was reduced from 149 to 68.

In May of this year, agreements were reached between 52 of the remaining netsmen, Defra and representatives of angling and riparian interests, under which the netsmen undertook to leave the fishery for good in return for compensation payments. The size of the compensation payment for each netsman was determined as the result of a bidding process. There are

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now only 16 licensed drift-netsmen left in the fishery. The phase-out will continue, since the fishery remains subject to a reducing net limitation order, such that licences are not renewed or re-allocated when fishermen leave the fishery. John B — WA23 - WA24

Civil Service: Holidays

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the bank, privilege, common law and public holidays enjoyed by civil servants in each of the four countries of the United Kingdom.[HL4935]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Bank and public holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry. Dates for Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Executive.

The UK Civil Service observes eight public and two and a half privilege holidays.

The public holidays are:

    New Year's Day

    Good Friday

    Easter Monday

    May Day Bank Holiday

    Late May Bank Holiday

    Late Summer Bank Holiday

    Christmas Day

    Boxing Day

Good Friday and Christmas Day are common law public holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. All other holidays are bank holidays. In Scotland (and to some extent Northern Ireland) a general holiday is not necessarily observed on the same day as the bank holiday.

The privilege holidays are:

    Maundy Thursday afternoon

    The Queen's birthday

    An additional day at Christmas

The Queen's birthday must be observed on either the Friday preceding or the Tuesday after the late May bank holiday.

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