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7 Jun 2005 : Column 456W—continued

Fuel Costs

12. Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on financial measures to relieve the burden of fuel costs in remote and rural areas of Scotland. [1959]

David Cairns: My right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the Chancellor on a wide range of issues.

Ferry Subsidy

13. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met Transport Ministers in the Scottish Executive to discuss ferry subsidies. [1960]

Mr. Darling: I have regular discussions with Ministers in the Scottish Executive on a range of transport issues. Assistance for ferry services and the level of subsidy provided are devolved matters for decision by the Scottish Parliament and Executive.

Regeneration (Lanarkshire)

14. Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on further financial measures to continue regeneration in the County of Lanarkshire. [1961]

David Cairns: Scotland Office Ministers have regular discussions on a range of issues with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The
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Government recognise that the continued regeneration of the Lanarkshire area, like many other areas, is of crucial importance to both its people and the wider national economy. Many Lanarkshire wards currently benefit from their Enterprise Area status, which brings together a range of Government policies to provide support for businesses in creating jobs, opportunities and prosperity. These efforts will reinforce the work of the Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire and help to ensure that all communities benefit from our continuing economic prosperity.

Constitutional Change

15. Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what further constitutional changes that affect Scotland are planned for this parliamentary Session. [1962]

Mr. Darling: The Government have no plans to reopen the general division between devolved and reserved matters under the Scottish devolution settlement. Neither are there plans to change constitutional arrangements more generally. Elements in some of the Bills recently announced in the Queen's Speech will have an impact on devolved matters in Scotland. These are being handled through the normal arrangements whereby the UK Parliament does not legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Energy Supply

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on security of energy supply in Scotland. [1277]

David Cairns: Security of supply must always be a core objective of energy policy. We will utilise a wide variety of traditional and new sources of energy and the fullest range of technological developments in order to maintain the future reliability of supplies throughout the UK, while also reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change.

The major responsibilities for overall energy policy affecting Scotland are reserved to UK Ministers. Scottish Executive Ministers have devolved responsibilities for promotion of renewables and encouraging energy efficiency which are central to security of supply. The Government and the devolved administration are committed to expanding use of renewable energy sources. This applies to proven technologies for onshore wind and to developing technologies to capture Scotland's abundant marine energy resources.

The Government welcome the interest which the Scottish Affairs Committee has taken in Scotland's future energy needs and will respond in due course to the report which they published shortly before Parliament was dissolved. We also welcome the independent inquiry launched last month by the Royal Society of Edinburgh into energy supply and demand in Scotland to 2050.
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Kamel Bourgass

Harry Cohen: To ask the Solicitor-General on what grounds the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew charges against Kamel Bourgass and co-defendants of conspiring to make chemical and biological weapons and substituted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance; for what reasons Government lawyers requested an order requiring no reporting of the charge of making chemical weapons being dropped at the time; and if he will make a statement. [1853]

The Solicitor-General: I am advised that the initial charges of conspiracy to manufacture chemical weapons were based upon preliminary indications that traces of ricin were present on articles recovered during searches made of premises occupied by Mr Kamel Bourgass and others. However, it was later confirmed by scientists from Porton Down that the articles did not contain such traces.

In any event, upon a full review of the case papers it was concluded that other offences properly reflected the totality of the alleged offending behaviour.

Charges of conspiracy to murder and to cause a public nuisance were therefore substituted. I am told that the prosecution did not apply for an order restricting reporting in relation to the dropping of the charge.


John Hemming: To ask the Solicitor-General what the policy of the Crown Prosecution Service is relating to the prosecution for first offences of theft from the person; and if he will make a statement. [1615]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviews all cases in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Crown prosecutors consider whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction' and if such evidence exists, whether it is in the public interest to prosecute the accused. A prosecution will usually take place unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution, which clearly outweigh those tending in favour, or it appears more appropriate to divert the person from prosecution. The public interest decision will depend upon all the circumstances of the offence and the background of the offender.

In respect of adults, diversionary options include informal warnings, cautions, and, in some places, conditional warnings. A caution will only be appropriate when the public interest accords with the Home Office's guidelines on cautioning.

In respect of youths, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 established a diversion scheme to prevent re-offending by children and young people, who are issued with reprimands or final warnings aimed at diverting them from crime before they enter the formal court system. This scheme, which replaced the previous system of repeat cautioning, provides a response, with appropriate interventions to reduce re-offending. Although the CPS may be consulted during the course
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of an enquiry if officers want to seek advice on the correct charge, the decision whether or not to issue a reprimand or final warning is for the police.

Since the introduction of this scheme, the Home Office has issued detailed guidance to the police forces in England and Wales on the application of the legislation to ensure national consistency. It provides a number of options enabling a reprimand or final warning to be administered to a youth, depending on the seriousness of the offence. The police are guided to the appropriate resolution by the identification of a number of gravity factors in the case. A caution or final warning may be an appropriate disposal where a youth without previous convictions or cautions commits an offence, fully admits it and shows appropriate remorse. A very large percentage of young people who are the subject of the diversion scheme do not re-offend.


Air Conditioning

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the estimated average (a) energy use, (b) direct greenhouse gas emissions and (c) indirect greenhouse gas emissions were for air conditioning systems to cool domestic homes in the last year for which figures are available; [1502]

(2) if he will estimate how many homes in the United Kingdom have domestic air conditioning installed; and in what proportion of homes it is estimated under current projections of growth systems will have been installed by (a) 2010, (b) 2020 and (c) 2050. [1503]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

It is estimated that current indirect (via electricity generation) carbon emissions from air-conditioning in homes are in the range 20 to 80 kT of carbon per year.

This represents estimated annual electricity consumption of between 195,000 and 780,000 MWh.

The global warming effect of direct emissions depends on the refrigerants used, and on the proportion emitted to the atmosphere by leakage, during servicing or on disposal. It is estimated that the direct impact of emissions from air-conditioning in homes is the equivalent of between one and seven kT of carbon per year, depending on the assumptions made for these factors.

There are limited statistics on the number of air-conditioning systems in UK homes, but the figure is believed to be of the order of 500,000. These are much smaller systems than would be found in larger buildings. Many of them are portable units sold over the counter". The annual usage of the systems is also uncertain. Emissions and energy use estimates therefore have a wide range of uncertainty. Estimates of the future stock of air-conditioning in homes, based on continuation of current trends are 2005, 0.5 million;
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2010, 0.7 million; 2020, 1.1 million; 2050, 2.3 million. In practice, sales will be affected by the pricing and marketing policies of suppliers, household wealth, weather (including perceptions of climate change) and energy efficiency policy measures.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research (a) has been conducted and (b) planned into the contribution to future climate change emissions made by air conditioning in domestic homes. [1504]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

Defra has recently commissioned research to update estimates of direct fluorinated gas historic and projected emissions (1990–2025) from the UK refrigeration and air conditioning sectors. This work, which is still in progress, is being performed under Defra's contract with AEA Technology plc for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. As part of this study, an assessment will be made as to whether it will be possible to estimate emissions separately for domestic air conditioning units, as at present only a single emission estimate is calculated for a wider equipment category.

Several measures are in place or under consideration to address indirect emissions, which arise through electricity consumption:

Reducing cooling need.

Encouraging the use of efficient equipment.

Encouraging wise use.

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