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Activity taking place in the United Kingdom (or any other country) involving the issuing, transferring, receiving and dealing in securities is treated as a service. All costs and charges levied contribute to Gross Domestic Product (however, the money raised by the issue does not). For securities some of the charges are implicit as they are reflected in the spread between buying and selling prices. Where such activity is performed by someone who is resident outside the United Kingdom, for example in a European Union country, the service provided contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of the country in which the dealer is resident.
You will be aware of the changes to the classification of areas for European purposes (the NUTS classification) which were agreed last summer. The GDP figures published on 22 October related to the new NUTS level 2 and 3 areas. This was the first time that figures at this level had become available.
The figures for 1994 to 1996 were supplied by the ONS to Eurostat to meet their deadline for the compilation of harmonised sub-national GDP figures for all member states of the European Union. Eurostat subsequently published the estimates via their datashops on 18 November 1998, and the figures have also been made available on the CRONOS database. Eurostat were asked to make estimates for 1994 to 1996 available at that time by the European Commission directorates responsible for regional policy, in order to ensure that consistent data could be used for both State Aid and European Structural Funds purposes.
The alternative would have been for Eurostat to use 1995 figures for the previous NUTS structure for the UK, and project forward to 1996. In other words, they would have had to use out-of-date figures for an out-of-date geographical classification.
Baroness Amos: We have no information to suggest that the provision of essential drugs for the poorest and most vulnerable groups in Sudan has been affected by the destruction of the al-Shifa factory. By their own admission, the Government of Sudan are spending 80 per cent. of their national budget on the war, including their entire development budget. It would only take a small proportion of this to cover the costs of anti-malarial and other drugs. The long-running civil war is the prime cause of suffering. We therefore continue to press both sides of the conflict to undertake serious negotiation towards a lasting and just peace.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): In July 1998, following the Strategic Defence Review, we announced our intention to create a joint helicopter command to pool the expertise of the three services in the operation of battlefield helicopter fleets and so enhance their fighting effectiveness.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence has now accepted the recommendation of the Joint Helicopter Command Study Team that the command be based at the Army's land command headquarters at Wilton, Wiltshire; the headquarters will form on 1 October this year and will be fully operational by 1 April 2000.
The work of the study team has also confirmed that the joint helicopter command should bring together, under a single joint organisation, the Royal Navy's Commando helicopters, all operational Army Air Corps helicopters, including the whole of 16 Air Assault Brigade, which in future will include the attack helicopter, and the RAF's support helicopters. Its role will be to direct the training, planning and resourcing of these forces across the range of defence missions and tasks, thereby making most effective use of the available assets. The command will draw on the best practices from each of the services, while retaining and building upon individual service identity and ethos. Single service units will continue to be commanded and manned by personnel from that service, and a mix of Navy, Army, Air Force and Civil Service personnel will man the headquarters.
Lord Gilbert: The Strategic Defence Review set out our plans to replace our existing aircraft carriers from 2012 with two larger new-generation carriers, each capable of operating up to 50 aircraft, fixed wing and helicopters. The invitation to tender for the initial assessment phase of the CVF project has been released to industry today.
The new carriers will be acquired through SMART procurement methods, beginning with an assessment phase. This will have two main stages: first, the examination of a wide variety of carrier design options, which will also inform our choice of future carrier borne aircraft; and, secondly, detailed work to determine the carriers' design parameters and to reduce technological risk. The assessment phase is expected to be completed
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Local traffic authorities in England and Wales, and roads authorities in Scotland, have a statutory duty to promote road safety, and powers to remove unlawful signs and advertisements. We expect that unauthorised signs and other advertisements will be removed wherever practicable, but it is for the local authorities themselves to consider what action to take in particular cases. The Secretary of State has a default power to require and effect the removal of unauthorised signs for the guidance or direction of traffic, but it would not be appropriate to exercise this on a routine basis.
Lord Whitty: We take very seriously our responsibilities to maintain a safe trunk road network and to avoid any unnecessary adverse impact on the environment. We inspect the trunk road network regularly and take all practical measures to ensure that unauthorised signs are not left in place.
Lord Whitty: The UK has three marine nature reserves. There are also over 30 candidate special areas of conservation proposed in coastal waters for eventual designation under the EU Habitats Directive. The Government's consultation proposals on better protection and management of SSSIs refer to the intention to set up a working party to consider the options for improving marine sites and species.
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