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The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, Douglas Bain, is responsible for all aspects of electoral administration in Northern Ireland, including the conduct of all elections and referendums, as well as electoral registration. In accordance with Section 14 of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962, as amended by Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006, the chief electoral officer is required to submit an annual report to the Secretary of State.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today granted consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 to E.ON UK plc to construct a 1,200 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine generating station at Grain in Kent. Planning
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In accordance with the Government's commitment that combined heat and power (CHP) should be used wherever feasible, E.ON has entered into an agreement to supply heat to a neighbouring industry should that prove acceptable to both parties. If that is the case, the proposed station would qualify as a good-quality CHP power station.
At its meeting of 10 October 2006, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was briefed on the interpretation and application of the price stability criterion in relation to enlargement of the euro area. Council adopted an opinion on the updated convergence programme for Hungary and a recommendation under Article 104(7), and received Commission communications on Germany and the UK.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
NIMSA was established to fund mapping services which are in the national interest, but would not otherwise be provided by the market as they are not economically viable. NIMSA services have been provided by Ordnance Survey.
As the agreement is due to expire, the Department for Communities and Local Government has given detailed consideration to the future of funding for mapping in the national interest. The DCLG's decisions are presented in the report, which will be placed on the department's website. While NIMSA will cease at the end of December 2006, the DCLG will continue to support a national metadata service.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today announcing the publication of the review of sustainable construction. The review was launched in July 2005 and reflects the views of many in the construction industry and of other interested parties. It pulls together in one document the main strands of government policy and industry initiatives on sustainable construction, taking account of developments since the publication of Building a Better Quality of Life in 2000. It also sets out some initial targets on how industry can meet the challenge of sustainable construction. Copies of the review are available in the Libraries of both Houses.
I have asked my officials to develop over the course of the next year a forward-looking strategy for sustainable construction. This will refine the initial targets set out in the current review and set out how government and the industry can work together to deliver greater sustainability in the construction industry.
I am today announcing that we have issued bidders for the new east midlands, West Midlands and new cross-country rail franchises with an invitation to tender (ITT). Copies of stakeholder briefing documents, which give a synopsis of each ITT, have been placed in the House Libraries and are available on the Department for Transport website at www.dft.gov.uk.
On 18 October 2005 (Official Report, cols. 52-53WS), the Secretary of State announced that
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Each ITT has been informed by recent public consultations. Bidders have to provide the minimum service levels the ITT sets out and can propose additional services subject to any operational constraints and affordability.
Our aim is to build on the recent success of current operators, meet current and future passenger demand and facilitate increases in capacity. The changes proposed will increase the number of trains operated per day over the rail network. In many areas, timetables will change to help deliver more frequent and faster services. In particular, the west coast main line will see marked increase in capacity, following the significant investment on the route, with the implementation of a 2008 timetable. In the new cross-country franchise, bidders will be required to price a 30 per cent increase in capacity on key routes. The east midlands franchise starts the process of segmenting the long distance and commuter markets on the route, which will make train lengthening simpler to implement.
Bidders must deliver value for money for both passengers and taxpayers, and deliver improvements for current and future rail users. Performance will be contracted to improve significantly across all three new franchises.
In the east midlands and West Midlands franchises, where the operators are responsible for stations, the busiest stations will achieve secure stations accreditation to improve passenger safety. The winners of the three franchises will also accept interoperable smartcard ticketing across the whole of the franchise during its lifetime. Fares regulation will remain capped at a maximum average rise of RPI plus 1 per cent on all regulated tickets.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) was formally transferred from the Home Office to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in April 2006. As the Minister responsible for GCHQ, I now have ministerial oversight of its activities.
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