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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): It is our policy to purchase all the mahogany that we require from sustainably grown sources and we require specific certification to this effect from our contractors. The Brazilian mahogany to which the article in the Observer of 1 February 1998 referred was purchased on this basis and we hold certificates of conformity provided by our contractor from his suppliers assuring us that the timber was from a legal source. We have seen no evidence to substantiate or support the allegations in the Observer article, but, should such evidence come to light, we would take the matter up with the contractor concerned.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Government plan shortly to issue a consultation paper setting out proposals for increasing access to open countryside. We do not envisage that these proposals will encompass land in urban areas.
Baroness Hayman: After fully considering the legal advice and the relevant background, we have authorised the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions to reply to NBC Pension Trustees Ltd offering to meet the trustees' costs with respect to a legal action on the National Bus Pension Fund.
Baroness Hayman: This report has now been published and we have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library of the House. This is an interesting study which attempts to cost the health and non-health benefits associated with reducing levels of lead in drinking water to the 25 g/l and 10 g/l levels required by the new EC Drinking Water Directive.
The report indicates that in some circumstances it is cost effective to replace lead water pipes, although if the cost of pipe replacement could be reduced the case for action would be clearer. It also concludes that it is cost effective to introduce water treatment to reduce exposure even when benefits appear to be low.
The report provides a useful input to the debate about the costs and benefits of reducing lead levels in water. However, this is a difficult area and further work will be necessary on the assumptions and approaches used.
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