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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is for the European Commission to determine its own selection policies. The Commission has proposed changes to its staff regulations 1 in respect of equal opportunities. These changes, which cover both recruitment and career development, are currently being discussed by a Council of Ministers working group. Her Majesty's Government are committed to the principle of equality of opportunity and encourage and welcome attempts by all employers to secure this. 1 Amended proposal for a Council regulation amending the staff regulations of officials and conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities in respect of equal treatment of men and women--Ref: COM(96)77 final.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The question of premium channel bundling at the retail level is currently being considered by the Independent Television Commission. The Office of Fair Trading has carried out a review of BSkyB's position in the wholesale pay-TV market and sought undertakings relating to the terms of supply from BSkyB. The Director-General of Fair Trading keeps the market under close review and will be working with the ITC to ensure that similar conditions will apply to digital terrestrial television. More generally, the Government are confident that the regulators have the powers and the will to ensure that digital television develops in a climate of fair and effective competition.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Government have decided to accede to the convention later this month. The Convention has many advantages for the United Kingdom as a maritime nation with worldwide trading and other interests. The convention includes important environmental provisions. Accession will enable the
The United Kingdom's fishery limits will need to be redefined based on St. Kilda, since Rockall is not a valid base point for such limits under Article 121(3) of the convention. An Order in Council will be made at the first opportunity. Thereafter we shall seek to agree a fisheries boundary with the Republic of Ireland. Further legislation may be needed in due course if British Industry wishes to mine the deep seabed under the terms of the convention and the agreement on the implementation of Part XI of the convention. We shall also ratify the latter agreement, which fully meets the objections to the original terms of Part XI.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Reprocessing separates out the reusable uranium and plutonium present in spent fuel from the small quantity of waste. The reprocessed material is made up of, approximately, 96 per cent. of uranium, 3 per cent. waste products and less than 1 per cent. plutonium. The Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) is expected to reprocess 14,000 tonnes of spent fuel in its first 20 years of operations and in the order of 100 tonnes of plutonium will be recovered during this time. The exact quantity of plutonium will be dependent on the type of fuel and the level of irradiation in the reactor the fuel originates from.
All civil nuclear facilities and civil nuclear material in the UK are subject to international safeguards. The UK and the governments of all THORP's reprocessing customers observe IAEA guidelines and provisions of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The operation of THORP is fully in accordance with the UK's obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty--to which all of THORP's customer states are signatories.
Lord Simon of Highbury: I refer my noble friend to the Department of Trade and Industry's annual press release, last published on 18 July 1996, which covers plutonium produced at Britain's civil nuclear power stations, reprocessing activities at Sellafield and the civil plutonium stocks. This shows that, up to 31 March 1996, there were 48.5 tonnes of separated plutonium held at
Copies of the current and previous press releases are available in the Library of the House. The next press release is due at the end of this month. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House and I will send one to the noble Lord.
Lord Simon of Highbury: As Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe I am responsible in the DTI for EU internal market issues including completion of the European single market, the impact of enlargement on the market and plans for the UK presidency of the EU; for the co-ordination of EU issues generally within the DTI; and for insurance. I chair the inter- departmental taskforce on competitiveness in Europe, and attend the internal market council. I am responsible jointly with the Minister of State, Ian McCartney, for corporate governance, corporate affairs and DTI relations with the City of London. I have specific responsibility for corporate governance. I am responsible with Lord Clinton-Davis for DTI issues in the House of Lords. I perform a linking role between the DTI and the Treasury across a range of competitiveness and European issues. I undertake a project based portfolio in the Treasury on economic issues which complements my role in the DTI. I am not Treasury spokeman in the House of Lords. These duties are performed by my noble friend Lord McIntosh.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: A total of £5.6 million was paid to local authorities in 1996-97 to reimburse them for the costs of supporting adult asylum seekers under the National Assistance Act 1948.
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