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Medal Collection

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission by whom the decision was taken to remove the medal collection from their original display cases near the House of Commons Terrace and
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remount them in new cases; when the decision was taken; and what factors were taken into account when (a) making the decision and (b) commissioning the new cases. [96691]

Nick Harvey: Following discussions with Members of both Houses, the Serjeant at Arms, who has responsibility for the fabric of the House and is the point of contact for the medal collection, asked the Curator's Office at the start of the summer recess to undertake a redisplay of the medals. The previous display, which was mounted in 1978, was dated and poorly laid out by modern standards. Furthermore evidence of insect infestation had been identified in the display cabinets. As part of the project to refurbish the display, the medals were cleaned, conserved, and documented over the summer, and a new hanging scheme devised and implemented. The felt lining in the existing cabinets was replaced and the glass was brought up to modern museum standards. Following research, the display was reconfigured in a more logical and easily understandable way, with new text labels being provided in order to explain the history and importance of the medals. The final part of the project will include increasing the ambient light level.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what experience in the mounting and displaying of medal collections (a) the individuals who remounted the House of Commons medal collection and (b) the consulted experts had. [96692]

Nick Harvey: A wide range of specialist museum expertise was brought together by the Curatorial Office for this project. The cleaning and conservation of the medals was carried out by Rupert Harris Conservation, who specialise in metalwork conservation; the graphic design was carried out by Hyperkit; the new hanging system for the medals was designed, fabricated and installed by the Whitewall Company, who specialise in exhibition design and installation for the museum sector. Finally the research and documentation and compilation of text information was undertaken by Andrew Hanham, formerly of the History of Parliament Trust, and an expert in medals.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what assessment has been made of the extent to which the newly mounted medals near the Terrace (a) have been displayed (i) evenly and (ii) showing their ribbons and (b) are labelled appropriately. [96693]

Nick Harvey: The initiative to refurbish the display cabinets and re-display the medals in a new and more meaningful way has been met with enthusiasm from both Houses. Once lighting has been improved, and the lettering of the text captions resolved so that they are easily read, the project will be complete. There is no proposal to increase the amount of ribbon showing beyond that already on display.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the House authorities will seek further expert curatorial advice on the display of medals near the terrace. [96694]

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Nick Harvey: The House authorities have already sought expert advice. The refurbishment scheme was run by in-house professional curatorial staff, with outside museum experts engaged for each of the specialisms required. Advice was sought from the Ministry of Defence medals office and the display complies with modern museum standards, and once the final parts of the project lighting and labelling are resolved, it will allow information about this little known collection in the House to be more widely accessible.


Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the Commission has to commemorate the 200th anniversary of (a) the abolition of slavery legislation and (b) the role of William Wilberforce. [96916]

Nick Harvey: An exhibition on The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, will be held in Westminster Hall from 23 May to 23 September 2007. Funding for the exhibition has been jointly provided by the House of Commons Commission and the House of Lords authorities. The role of Wilberforce will feature prominently.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire’s letter about global warming to the Prime Minister of 6 June, transferred to his Department in July. [95696]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 20 October 2006]: I apologise for the delay. A reply was sent on 18 October 2006.

Domestic Waste

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received regarding micro-chips used to monitor domestic waste. [95165]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government have received various representations from Members of Parliament and members of the public inquiring about the Government policy on the installation of micro-chips in householders’ bins. These representations included inquiries on the use of chips to monitor domestic waste. Increasing recycling levels is an important element of tackling climate change.

Energy Efficiency

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the operation to date of the energy efficiency commitment. [96433]

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Ian Pearson: The Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) requires energy suppliers to achieve ever more challenging targets for the promotion of household energy efficiency. It has done so very successfully and in a cost-effective way. Three reports on phase 1 of EEC, which concluded in March 2005, have been published to date. These include one by Ofgem, the scheme administrator, and an external evaluation commissioned by DEFRA. The reports are available on the Department’s website: http://defraweb/environment/energy/eec/index.htm.

The data show that EEC phase 1 has exceeded its targets. Measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation are saving 0.4 million tonnes of carbon equivalent per year. Consumers are benefiting by £9 for every £1 they spend, and consumer bills are expected to fall by £3 billion over the period up to 2020. Most low income households and more than two fifths of all households in Great Britain have directly benefited from EEC1.

Executive Agencies

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what (a) percentage and (b) total amount his Department has required that the (i) Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, (ii) Agricultural Wages Committee (England), (iii) British Potato Council, (iv) British Waterways, (v) British Wool Marketing Board, (vi) Broads Authority, (vii) Central Science Laboratory, (viii) Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, (ix) Consumer Council for Water, (x) Countryside Agency, (xi) Covent Garden Market Authority, (xii) Natural England, (xiii) Environment Agency, (xiv) Food for Britain, (xv) Gangmasters Licensing Authority, (xvi) Government Decontamination Service, (xvii) Home-Grown Cereals Authority, (xviii) Horticultural Development Council, (xix) Marine Fisheries Agency, (xx) Meat and Livestock Commission, (xxi) Milk Development Council, (xxii) National Forest Company, (xxiii) Pesticides Safety Directorate, (xxiv) Regional Flood Defence Committees, (xxv) Review of Funding Mechanisms for Flood and Coastal Defence, (xxvi) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, (xxvii) Rural Payments Agency, (xxviii) Sea Fish Industry Authority, (xxix) State Veterinary Service, (xxx) Sustainable Development Commission, (xxxi) UK Biodiversity Group, (xxxii) Veterinary Laboratories Agency and (xxxiii) Veterinary Medicines Directorate reduce its budget for 2006-07 from the level planned at the beginning of the financial year; and if he will make a statement. [94753]

Barry Gardiner: As a result of the recent review, the following changes (in value and percentage) from the levels planned at the beginning of the year have been made to the resource budgets for 2006-07 of the bodies listed:

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Lead Shot Regulations

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the extent of lead poisoning as a cause of death for birds. [95187]

Barry Gardiner: Restrictions on shooting over wetlands, and the use of lead weights for fishing, have made a substantial contribution to reducing the contamination of wetland sites and the waterbirds they support. However, some research has shown there is a level of non-compliance in relation to wildfowl.

Work has also been undertaken by Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and others on the red kite. Initial findings suggest that some red kites are being killed by ingesting lead contained within species on which they are scavenging. Lead within prey species could be from both shotgun cartridges and fragments from rifle bullets. Other predatory species may also be affected, but insufficient research has been carried out to demonstrate this.

My Department is planning to let a contract for a study to identify methods of monitoring compliance with restrictions on shooting over wetlands.

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Natural England

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department originally allocated for Natural England first year's operating budget; and how much has been allocated for 2006-07. [96072]

Barry Gardiner: Natural England inherited its budget for 2006-07 from English Nature, the Rural Development Service (RDS) and parts of the Countryside Agency, which came together to create the new organisation. It is, therefore, not strictly possible to make the comparison the hon. Gentleman is looking for.

The full-year ‘core’ budget for Natural England has now been set at just over £170 million, but this does not include a number of significant areas of expenditure such as the full costs of former RDS corporate services and some of the costs of the Shared Service Organisation. Once these and other funding streams are factored in, the total budget will be over £225 million.

The Secretary of State hopes to be able to announce Natural England's 2007-08 budget in the next few days.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response his Department has made to the Ofwat Position Paper on the capital restructuring of Thames Water; and if he will make a statement. [96779]

Ian Pearson: DEFRA offered no response to this paper. This is a matter for Ofwat as part of its independent economic regulation of the water industry in the interests of consumers. I note that Ofwat was able to approve proposals put forward by Thames and that the interests of consumers were furthered by the introduction of a ring-fencing condition in line with best practice in other sectors.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussion has taken place in the last two years between Ofwat and his Department on the appointment of officers to the Customer Services Committee covering the London region; and what steps he is taking to monitor their performance in protecting the interests of customers. [96780]

Ian Pearson: Customer Service Committees were replaced by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) on 1 October 2005. Under the new arrangements, Ofwat is no longer involved in the appointment of consumer representatives. I regularly meet with the National Chair of CCWater to discuss matters of interest to consumers, including matters of particular interest to consumers in the Thames Water area.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what responsibility Ofwat has to (a) monitor, (b) report and (c) intervene in relation to investment commitments of utilities; and if he will make a statement. [96781]

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Ian Pearson: Each year companies provide, in their June return submissions to Ofwat, a range of financial information including levels of investment to meet agreed outputs. This information is published in Ofwat’s “Financial performance and expenditure of the water companies in England and Wales” 2005-06 report. A copy of this report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The choice of capital structures is for the management of the companies, not the regulator. Ofwat has no powers to approve or reject individual company proposals. In each case it considers whether the ring-fence around the regulated company should be strengthened as a means to protect customers from any undue risk.

Culture, Media and Sport

Balen Report

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will ask the BBC to publish the Balen report. [96551]

Mr. Woodward: No. The Secretary of State for DCMS has no power to intervene in this decision.

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