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In developing the implementation framework for the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste, the Government will consider the key stages and decision points and how willingness to participate, as well as any ability to withdraw, might be incorporated into the arrangements. The inventory of materials for disposal in any facility will need to be clearly defined before agreements with potential host communities can be finalised and before technical options are developed in any depth. The implementation framework will be subject to public consultation next year.
Lord Rooker: In developing the implementation framework for the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste, the Government will consider the provision of any community packages and their relationship to the physical boundaries of host communities. The implementation framework will be subject to public consultation next year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UN Secretary-General expressed his deep concern about a large-scale incursion of Eritrean Defence Force troops into the temporary security zone on 16 October and urged the Government of Eritrea to withdraw immediately and to co-operate
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What safeguards are in place to ensure that public authorities do not use the application of a public interest test to delay disclosure of information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 beyond the time that is required to perform such a test.[HL8020]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act requires public authorities to respond to requests for information promptly, and in any event no later than the 20th working day following receipt of the request. This timescale can be extended if the public authority requires additional time in order to determine whether the balance of the public interest requires disclosure of information that falls within a qualified exemption. If the requestor complains about the handling of a request, public authorities own internal complaints procedures will need to consider whether the request was processed within the time limits prescribed in the FoI Act. The Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal will also be able to consider the timeliness of responses in determining whether public authorities have acted lawfully and in accordance with Section 10.
What is their assessment of the impact of their proposal to amend the Freedom of Information regulations on the exercise of the freedom of the press to inform the public and the right of the public to be informed about the workings of Government (a) to include reading time, consideration time and consultation time spent by Ministers in the calculation of the appropriate limit above which requests for information could be refused on costs grounds; and (b) to aggregate requests made by any legal person, or persons apparently acting in cohort including newspapers and broadcasting companies, to each public authority for the purposes of calculating the appropriate limit.[HL8068]
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The independent review commissioned by the Secretary of State was an economic analysis of the impact of FoI across central Government and the wider public sector. The aim of the changes we are considering is to ensure that we
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What was the cost of the United Kingdom's share of the recent €200 million needed to cover the cost overruns incurred during the development of the European Galileo satellite navigation system; and whether this amount has been paid in full.[HL8088]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The UK's share of the €200 million was €31 million. These funds are principally required to cover costs associated with areas not covered within the original Galileo declaration. This includes additional system security requirements and the building of an additional technology demonstrator satellite and its associated launch costs. It will be paid in line with ESA financial call-ups.
Whether the exclusion under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 which applies to agricultural contractors who are providing an agricultural service and whose workers operate machinery would include an agency which supplies relief milkers to dairy farmers.[HL7980]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Gangmasters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations 2006 (the exclusions regulations) fine tune the scope of the gangmasters licensing arrangements by specifying the circumstances where a person does not need to obtain a gangmasters licence. These include the supply of workers to work in the retail, wholesale and catering sectors, the supply of workers to undertake a limited range of agricultural activities, and the supply of workers to process and package non-food items which contain an agricultural ingredient.
I can confirm that no specific provision has been made to exclude from the licensing requirement an agricultural contractor who supplies relief milkers. Paragraph 8 of the schedule to the exclusions regulations does make provision for the exclusion of a service provider who uses a worker to provide a machinery service to a farmer. However, to qualify for this exclusion, the worker used must operate machinery owned or hired by the service provider. In
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It is possible that an agency supplying relief milkers may qualify for exclusion from the licensing requirements through the provisions relating to the supply of specialist agricultural workers at paragraph 13 of the exclusions regulations. However, to qualify for this exemption, the worker supplied by the agency is required to hold a level 2 National or Scottish National Vocational Qualification which is relevant to the work in question. Furthermore, the worker must be supplied by the agency for employment by the farmer, and on the day the supply of the relief milker is made, the agency cannot supply any other workers to that farmer.
Defra will be reviewing the operation of the Gangmaster Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations 2006 one year after the introduction of licensing. We will ensure that the industry is fully consulted when the review is undertaken.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 23 October (WA 214-5), whether the Medical Research Council will now make an assessment of the findings to date of the research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Services in the United States on microglial activation following neurotoxic exposure: the self-propelling cycle of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disease and their possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War; and [HL7911]
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 23 October (WA 214-5), whether the Medical Research Council will now make an assessment of the findings to date of the research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Services in the United States on non-invasive imaging of inflammation on the central nervous system and their possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War.[HL7912]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Following a Ministry of Defence (MoD) request for independent advice, in January 2003 the Medical Research Council (MRC), through the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), undertook a comprehensive review of relevant Gulf research, including both UK and overseas studies. The review (MRC review of research into UK Gulf veterans illnesses) was chaired by Professor Catherine Peckham of the Institute of Child Health, London.
The review made a number of recommendations in terms of further research, other data that needed collection and additional reviews that should be undertaken. The monitoring of emerging research of possible relevance to Gulf War veterans (being undertaken at any particular research institution) was not part of these recommendations, and MRC has no plans to undertake this monitoring.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 October (WA 174), what study the Medical Research Council has made of the research on immune abnormalities associated with chronic fatigue syndrome at the University of Miami School of Medicine and its possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War.[HL8034]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In January 2003, the Medical Research Council (MRC), through the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), undertook a comprehensive review of relevant Gulf research, including both UK and overseas studies. The review considered research on immune abnormalities associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Some other research relevant to CFS/myalgic encephalomyelitis was also considered.
The review made a number of recommendations in terms of further research, other data that needed collection and additional reviews that should be undertaken. The monitoring of emerging research of possible relevance to Gulf War veterans was not part of these recommendations, and MRC has no plans to undertake this monitoring.
Whether they will ensure that all British consular posts identify any links on their websites to the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) website; and that any broken links are updated to take into account the recent reorganisation of the Home Office IND website. [HL8009]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The responsible directorates in London and post webmasters are checking consular and visa information carried on Foreign and Commonwealth Office post websites and will correct any incorrect links to the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate website.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We will continue to discuss with our international partners the way forward for the Middle East peace process. Both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas remain committed to the road map as the way forward and have committed themselves to talks without pre-conditions. Substantive negotiations require a conducive political climate. We will continue to work with international partners to achieve this.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): About 550,000 tonnes of direct mail are sent out every year (approximately 2 per cent of the household waste stream). The Direct Mail Association (DMA), which represents about 900 members involved in the direct mail and promotions industry, signed an agreement with Government in July 2003 to raise recycling levels to 30 percent by the end of 2005, 55 per cent by the end of 2009 and 70 per cent by the end of 2013. The DMA has also pledged to help cut down on waste by improving the targeting of direct mail campaigns and by publicising services such as the Mail Preference Service, which enables people to stop direct mail being sent to them. Further information on the service is available at www.mpsonline.org.uk.
Registrations with the MPS have increased by 145 per cent since this agreement was signed and this has contributed to a 5.6 per cent reduction in the amount of direct mail produced per annum. The DMA is also currently working on developing a more comprehensive opt-out scheme for unaddressed mail as part of the voluntary agreement and hopes to implement this service in the near future. Apart from increasing the recycling rate of direct mail, the DMA has committed to reducing the environmental impact of direct mail in several other ways. For example, it has agreed to increase the use of recycled paper in direct mail and to avoid using materials such as certain adhesives which contaminate the recycling process.
There have been no estimates of whether volumes of direct mail will increase as a result of Royal Mail's decision to remove the limit on the amount of junk mail that can be delivered through its service. It should be noted that this is a decision by Royal Mail and there are a number of other postal operators that deliver direct mail which do not set any limits on how much direct mail can be delivered. However, members of the public can contact the Royal Mail in order to opt out of receiving unsolicited or unaddressed letters and leaflets delivered by them by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have set aside £1.9 million from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool to help fund a new UN mission in Nepal. The UN mission was established following parallel requests from the Government and Maoists for help in monitoring human rights; the code of conduct, agreed on 26 May 2006 to help govern the ceasefire; arms management for both sides; and providing election observation for the election of the constituent assembly.
We are in close contact with the head of the UN mission, Ian Martin, about how we can best support the mission, including through effective use of UK funds. We will continue to urge the Government and the Maoists to make use of the UN's expertise to help tackle the contentious issues such as arms management and elections to a constituent assembly. We will continue to urge the Maoists to demonstrate their democratic credentials by a commitment to arms separation and decommissioning. An effective arms management arrangement that can be monitored by the UN should be a precondition to free, fair and inclusive elections to a constituent assembly. The peace process cannot be successful unless the Maoists enter the constituent assembly as a peaceful democratic party.
Lord Triesman: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Kim Howells, visited Nepal from 25 to 28 September and met Prime Minister Koirala and other Ministers, as well as with MPs from the peace committee. He also had the opportunity to meet the newly appointed Army Chief, General Katawal, and the UN Secretary-Generals Personal Representative, Ian Martin.
During his visit, my honourable friend gave strong messages of support for the peace process, urged rapid and effective use of UN help, and stressed the need to build confidence, including by addressing past and continuing human rights abuses. The full text of a statement my honourable friend delivered at a press conference during his visit to Nepal can be found at www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1070039733672&a=KArticle&aid=1159193466581.
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