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The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that encouraging reply. I recognise the valuable service that Ordnance Survey has performed over many years, especially in introducing helpful interim measures for individual customers while new technology is being developed. But will my noble friend say how soon is "soon" in the introduction of these computerised maps?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I agree that Ordnance Survey has produced a valuable service for many people for many decades. In answer to my noble friend's question, that will be when the national topographic database has been restructured to allow automatic generation of the information. The restructuring will begin this year and will be completed in five years. An interim solution to be introduced this year will enable Ordnance Survey's Superplan agents to provide specified field numbers and areas to order.
Baroness Nicol: My Lords, in updating its rights of way mapping is it correct that Ordnance Survey no longer includes rights of way through Forestry Commission holdings? If it is true, why is that? Has it anything to do with the privatisation of the Forestry Commission?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, Ordnance Survey shows rights of way on its maps based on information provided to it by the responsible local authorities. So if those rights of way through Forestry Commission grounds are not shown on Ordnance Survey maps it is because that information has not been provided by the local authorities.
Lord Bridges: My Lords, is not a further improvement required to rural mapping? I refer to the changes introduced by Ordnance Survey when transferring to the new metric scale. Changing from 1:63,360the one-inch scale most popularly usedto 1:50,000 has had the effect of causing large areas of blank paper to appear on the maps. As more space is available, is it not desirable to provide more detail? I asked that question, bearing in mind the high standard which Ordnance Survey has maintained internationally
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the Ordnance Survey has used metric measurements, among others, since the 1940s. Therefore, there is a long history of the use of metric values. Some five different scales are used on Ordnance Survey maps as a norm, ranging from large scale to small scale. It tries to strike a balance with those different scales so that considerably more information can be put on the large-scale maps and information on the small-scale maps can be reduced in order to avoid clutter. There is an increasing ability for the Ordnance Survey to customise its maps so that customers can order specific requirements or scales.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I shall have to write to the noble Lord giving the exact standards that are being used. All the maps are being computerised and digitalised so that there are increasing opportunities for machine reading.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the serious problem that exists when one looks at a map of, say, Rannoch Moor? It is impossible to tell the height of the hills because one cannot see whether that is given in metres or feet. Indeed, some maps are produced suggesting that a hill is only 300 feet high when, in fact, it is over 1,000 feet. Will my noble friend give an indication of when this unfortunate situation, which is dangerous for hikers and so forth in the winter, might be put straight?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I imagine that no one looks at a map of Rannoch Moor more than my noble friend. It is the sensible duty of those relying on a map to guide them in safety to ensure that they understand the map and to read the legend, which will show whether the measurements are metric or imperial.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, does the Minister anticipate that the Ordnance Survey will have any difficulty in East Anglia, where the familiar landmarks have been swept away into a prairie by the common agricultural policy?
The Earl of Clanwilliam: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that due to security reasons certain areas are not published on the Pathfinder maps? I refer in particular to an area at Chilmark, Reference SUO/12 No. 1262, which is part of an RAF atomic bomb storage area now being dismantled. When will that area appear on a map in the Pathfinder series?
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that this is more than a simple matter of whether hills are there or not? It is a matter of public money. Contracts awarded to landownersI acknowledge my interest as a beneficiary of such a contractin environmentally sensitive areas are based on Ordnance Survey maps. The Ordnance Survey map for Radnor, for instance, is out of date and needs to be brought up to date. Nevertheless, public money is being paid out to landowners such as myself on the basis of out-of-date information. Will the Government ensure that these maps are rectified so that proper amounts of government money are paid out to the beneficiaries?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, in recent years, the prime objective of the Ordnance Survey has been to bring up to date unsurveyed changes in urban areas, where the need for resurveying had fallen somewhat behind. The Ordnance Survey recognises that there is a need for more frequent revision of maps of rural areas. That is the major investment strategy that has been put into action to upgrade the reorganisation of the Ordnance Survey's national topographic database. It will enable all new field areas and rural areas to be properly surveyed.
As regards public money, in 1993-94 the Ordnance Survey managed to raise £62.8 million from sales whereas the Parliamentary Vote for that year was just £16.8 million. Therefore, the Ordnance Survey costs the taxpayer one quarter of what it cost 25 years ago.
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, is the Minister aware that I am not talking about public money spent on the Ordnance Survey, which I understand? I am talking about public money that is paid to landowners such as myselfI understand that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, too has declared his financial intereston the basis of out-of-date Ordnance Survey maps in rural areas.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, usually in such situations any applicant for public money who proffers inaccurate information is liable to have that money removed or to be prosecuted. However, even if the standard Ordnance Survey maps are out of date in some areas, it is possible for every single person in this country to commission a customised map from the Ordnance Survey. Therefore, there is no excuse for inaccurate Ordnance Survey information.
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am sorry to detain the Minister. Is he aware that I am advised by my noble friend Lord Carter that if the Government have got it wrong I am liable? I do not believe that that is right. Is it not the case that if the Government make a contract they should meet that contract?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, as I said, if an applicant to such a scheme proffers inaccurate information it may be that when that is discovered the money will not be given to him or will be removed from him.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Will she confirm that 75 per cent. of local trusts have not responded to the letter which I understand was written by the director of human resources for the health service, Mr. Jarrold, on 11th April? What will the Government do if that letter is simply left in abeyance by local trusts? Will they guarantee the 3 per cent. rise which the Royal College of Nursing wants across the board?
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