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14 Oct 2005 : Column 620W—continued


Ministerial Vehicles

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many vehicles were purchased by the Government Car and Despatch Agency in 2004–05, broken down by country of manufacture; [15152]

(2) if he will establish an inquiry into the procurement policies of EU governments for ministerial vehicles, with particular reference to the purchase of domestically-produced vehicles. [15153]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the framework document to the Government Car Despatch Agency. I have asked its Chief Executive Mr. Roy Burke to write to the right hon. Member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library.
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Mr. Streeter: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the ombudsmen set up by the Government to administer complaints against Government Departments or agencies. [17668]

Mr. Hutton: The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the parliamentary ombudsman) investigates complaints relating to injustice caused by maladministration on the part of central government departments, including their agencies.

In addition, there are a number of independent complaint-handling bodies set up to investigate complaints relating to specific areas of Government business. A detailed list of these bodies is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Online Transactions

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has made of the proportion of transactions conducted online in respect of (a) company registrations, (b) first-time vehicle registrations, (c) vehicle licence renewal, (d) university applications, (e) income tax returns and (f) crime reporting in (i) 2000 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. [16929]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Cabinet Office does not hold centrally figures for the year 2000.

The figures, where available, for the proportion of transactions made online or via other electronic channels are as follows:


Climate Change

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates her Department had access to in respect of the costs of major climate-related natural disasters across the world in each year from 1980 to date. [17184]

Mr. Morley: Annual estimates of climate-related natural disasters across the world are produced by major re-insurance companies. Munich Re, for example, has been tracking the economic and insured losses as a result of natural and weather-related catastrophes since the 1970s. In the last few years, it has
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published annual reviews of natural catastrophes. Estimates for 2004 suggest that economic losses due to weather-related natural catastrophes amounted to over US$100 billion.

Such work was also reported by the IPCC in its third assessment report (2001), which showed that the costs of ordinary and catastrophic weather events exhibited a rapid upward trend in recent decades. Yearly global economic losses from catastrophic events increased from US$4 billion in the 1950s to US$40 billion a year in the 1990s.

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the merits of introducing minimum standards for energy efficiency across the full range of appliances and lighting. [18394]

Mr. Morley: The Government remains fully committed to raising product standards and encouraging consumers to use the most efficient products available.

As a member of the European single market the Government cannot, by itself introduce mandatory minimum standards in the UK which would prevent the free trade of products on the basis of their energy efficiency. In order to do this we need to persuade the European Commission and other member states that this is necessary across the EU.

The recently agreed eco-design for energy using products (EUP) framework directive will provide a streamlined and effective route for setting EU-wide environmental requirements for traded goods such as boilers, fridges, air-conditioning and consumer electronics. EUP will provide the forum for considering options and priorities and for establishing energy efficiency standards for these products.

Based on evidence gained from the use of existing directives aimed at removing inefficient fluorescent lighting ballasts, hot-water boilers and refrigeration products which will now be incorporated into EUP it is estimated that by 2020 EUP alone could save around 10 percent. of the EU's total annual energy consumption.

The UK is working proactively with the Commission and other member states to influence and speed the delivery of measures under EUP.

Although the focus of the directive is on setting mandatory standards, a clear intention is to encourage voluntary action by manufacturers to improve their products, which would make regulatory action unnecessary.

EU Energy Directive

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what position he has adopted in respect of Article 13 of the draft EU directive on energy end-use and energy services. [17267]

Mr. Morley: Article 13 of the draft EU directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services sets out a number of requirements relating to the metering and billing of energy consumption. We believe that these
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provisions, where they can be shown to be both technically feasible and cost-effective, will act as an important driver for delivering significant improvements in the information available to UK consumers about their own energy consumption. Under our presidency of the EU, we are working closely with other member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament to take forward negotiations on this important dossier with the aim of securing early adoption.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what monitoring is being carried out on the levels of fluoridation in drinking water in the Greater London area; and if she will make a statement. [16964]

Mr. Morley: Water companies supplying drinking water to consumers in London carry out routine monitoring for fluoride as set out in the water supply, water quality regulations 2000. Consumers have access to this information about the drinking water supply to their home or workplace through water company public registers. The information is also published by the Drinking Water Inspectorate in their annual report.

British-Irish Council (Sellafield)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many meetings of the British-Irish council (a) she has and (b) her Ministers have attended since 1 January 2000; on how many occasions the issue of Sellafield and associated radioactivity matters was raised; and if she will make a statement. [17176]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has not attended any of the meetings of the British-Irish council since 1 January 2000. My predecessor and I have attended six meetings of the British-Irish council environment sectoral group. The issue of Sellafield and associated radioactivity matters has been raised at five of those meetings.

Ireland and the Isle of Man tabled a revised version of a joint discussion paper on Sellafield and radioactive waste at the fifth meeting of the British-Irish council on 8 July 2004. Detailed consideration of the paper has been deferred until the legal action initiated by Ireland under the UN convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) against the UK over Sellafield has been resolved.

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