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Judicial Appointments Commission

Lord Morris of Aberavon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): I refer the noble Lord to my Written Ministerial Statement of 23 January 2006 which set out the commission's responsibility for making selections for the appointment of judicial office-holders. The JAC has been provided with an appropriate level of funding to carry out its work in light of the overall public expenditure priorities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Music

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: All the UK's leading orchestras operate large-scale education programmes for young people. England's eight main symphony orchestras, funded by Arts Council England, work with almost 100,000 young people each year.

The Government are committed to supporting music in all its forms. We are achieving this through increased investment—funding for music through Arts Council England has more than doubled since 1997 to over £100 million this year, of which symphony orchestras will receive over £15 million.

NHS: Prescriptions

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The initial release of the electronic prescription service was developed to time and to budget in February 2005. It is being deployed in general practitioner practices and community pharmacies nationwide. In this phase of deployment, electronic messages run in parallel with the existing paper prescriptions and the changes from a patient perspective have been minimal. The only difference patients may notice is the addition of a barcode to their paper prescription. An information leaflet for patients has been produced and is available in GP practices and community pharmacies. Evidence to date suggests that patient inquires have been minimal.

The next release of the service will commence deployment in 2007 and will bring the possibility of fully paperless prescriptions. In addition, patients will be able to nominate a particular dispenser where their (electronic) prescriptions will normally be sent. It is important to note that there is no element of compulsion associated with the nomination of a dispenser. Patients do not have to nominate and are free to revoke or change an existing nomination at any time. To maximise patient convenience, patients who choose to nominate will be able to nominate up to three types of dispensing contractor depending on their individual needs. These can include a dispensing practice, a community pharmacy and a dispensing appliance contractor.

The communication campaign for the next release is being developed. It is intended that patients will be given full information on the process of nomination which will enable them to decide if (and who) they wish to nominate. It is anticipated that patients who regularly use the same dispenser now—such as a dispensing practice—will continue to do so in future if that is the most convenient option for them. They can do this with or without using the nomination facility.

North Korea: Nuclear Technology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Following North Korea's announced test of a nuclear device on 9 October, the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1718 on 14 October. The resolution contained a number of measures aimed at preventing North Korea's further development of nuclear and missile-related technology by prohibiting the transfer of nuclear or missile-related items to or from North Korea. The resolution was unanimously adopted under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the UN charter, making these provisions legally binding on all member states. Details of UNSC Resolution 1718 can be found on the UN website at http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/572/07/PDF/N0657207.pdf?OpenElement.

UNSC Resolution 1540, adopted on 28 April 2004,

Public Bodies

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Information on public bodies sponsored by central government is provided annually in the Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies, which records information as at 31 March each year. The 2006 edition was published on Monday 11 September 2006 and copies are available in the Library for the reference of noble Lords.

Rural Payments Agency

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Environmental Stewardship was launched in March 2005, so the uptake figures below refer to the number of applications approved during the 2005-06 financial year. During this period, the scheme was administered by the Rural Development Service, not the Rural Payments Agency.

Entry-level stewardship—16,884 (of which 510 were organic entry-level stewardship).

Higher level stewardship—202 (of which 13 were organic higher level stewardship).

Schools: Sprinklers

Baroness Hanham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The construction of new schools, and building work at existing schools, is subject to approval under the Building Regulations, which are set by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). These regulations are aimed at achieving a satisfactory standard of life safety, including in situations where a fire breaks out. They do not require the installation of sprinklers in schools.

My department issues guidance on fire safety in schools. Our current guide, Managing School Facilities Guide 6, Fire Safety, published in 2000, includes advice on sprinklers (www.teachernet.gov.uk/fire). We include further information on sprinklers in our new guide, Building Bulletin 100 (BB 100), Designing and Managing Against the Risk of Fire in Schools. This sets out how to achieve a satisfactory standard of life safety, and therefore how to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations, and suggests ways of improving property protection. BB 100 is still in draft form and is being revised following public consultation.

One of the messages that came back from that exercise was the need for the department to issue more detailed guidance on the use of sprinklers in schools, over and above what was already in BB 100. Consequently we commissioned further studies to be carried out. Work on these is nearing completion and additional guidance on sprinklers will be incorporated in the final version of BB100. We expect to publish this early in 2007.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): On 12 October 2006, the area of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) recorded as being in “favourable” condition was 482,807 hectares, which is 45 per cent of the total area of SSSIs in England. A further 305,416 hectares (28.4 per cent) was in “unfavourable recovering” condition, bringing to 73.4 per cent (788,222 hectares) the percentage of SSSI land which is favourable or recovering. This compares with a baseline figure of 56.9 per cent in April 2003, and the target figure of 95 per cent by the end of 2010. Condition assessments are made on the basis of a six-year rolling programme, and all figures reflect the sum of the latest assessments made on the condition of each SSSI management unit.

Taxation: Corporation Tax

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer I gave her on 11 October (Official Report, col, WA 156).

Traffic Management Act 2004

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The current timetable for the consultation dates, the laying of the regulations before Parliament and the implementation of each section of wave 1 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 is shown below.

Wave 1
Estimated date for full public consultationEstimated date of laying/making regulationsEstimated date of regulations coming into force

Guidance on intervention criteria

July-September 2006

Late 2006

Early 2007

Notices, directions and restrictions

Early 2007

Mid-late 2007

Fixed penalty notices

Early 2007

Mid-late 2007

Section 74 overstaying charges

Early 2007

Mid-late 2007

Permits

October-December 2006

Mid 2007

Late 2007

Civil parking enforcement

July-September 2006

From early 2007

Mid 2007

Civil bus lane and moving traffic enforcement

Early-mid 2007

From late 2007

Early 2008

Inspection of blue badges

Mid 2006

Mid-late 2006

Notices, fixed penalty notices and overstaying charges (implementation date as set out in July 2004 was 2005) are now expected to come into force in mid-late 2007. Permit regulations are also expected to come into force in late 2007. These delays have been largely caused by the complexity of the regulations being developed and our emphasis on working closely with all relevant stakeholders. The department considers it important to get the regulations and associated code of practices right and not to create regulations which are unworkable or will not stand the test of time.

Turkey: Human Rights

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Government continue to raise concerns about freedom of expression with the Turkish Government. My right honourable friend the Minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon, underlined the need for further reforms to enhance freedom of expression during his visit to Turkey on 11 September, and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister relayed a similar message when he met his Turkish counterpart on 3 October.

We are aware of the prosecution of writer Ipek Calislar under A301 of the Turkish penal code. We will follow her trial closely and raise her case in our representations to the Turkish Government on freedom of expression.


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