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No. 2 Marsham Street

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document for Property Advisers to the Civil Estate. I have asked its Chief Executive, Mr. John Locke, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter from the Chief Executive of the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, Mr. John Locke, dated 28 June 1999.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton has asked me, as Chief Executive of the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE) which has responsibility for the disposal of 2 Marsham Street, to reply to your question about the Government's future plans for this building.

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It is our intention to demolish 2 Marsham Street as soon as practicable. However, immediate plans to commence demolition have been put on hold because temporary reuse, as well as demolition and rebuilding, is an option under consideration by Home Office as part of their Headquarters' PFI project.

A decision by Home Office is expected later this year, but it cannot be taken until a further round of bids for their project has been completed. Pending this decision, Home Office have taken on management responsibility and are paying the holding costs of the property.

Quality Protects Programme

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What overall assessment they have made of the Quality Protects management action plans submitted by local authorities.[HL3364]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): We have today placed in the Library a copy of the report Mapping Quality In Children's Services: An Evaluation of Local Responses To The Quality Protects Programme.

When we launched the Quality Protects programme in September 1998 we required local authorities to submit annual management action plans to show how they were intending to improve the management and delivery of children's social services. This report presents the key messages and findings from the first round of management action plans (MAPs) which were received in January 1999. We are pleased that local authorities have responded with energy and urgency to the first stage of Quality Protects and that we were able to approve all 150 Quality Protects MAPs and authorise payment of the children's services grant for this year.

The report identifies many examples of good practice from across the country. But it also highlights major areas where improvement is urgently needed. It is now crucial that these plans are turned into action and we expect to see evidence of real progress by January 2000.

European Funding

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the case of the European regional development funding and European structural funding, commitments to end beneficiaries under delegated projects must be identified by 31 December, and whether this is likely to reduce the number of businesses likely to benefit from the funds and lead to underspending.[HL3223]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Eligibility for structural funds expenditure is defined in each Commission decision approving Community programmes of grant.

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In the case of aid schemes the decisions require that final recipients and the amount granted to each are identified before the end date for commitment under the programmes, i.e. 31 December 1999.

Aid schemes have been approved in accordance with the requirements in the decisions and it is a matter for each scheme promoter to ensure the funds are disbursed before the end date. There is no reason why this procedure should lead to underspends.

Science: Government Spending

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they are investing in science; and whether the information is publicly available.[HL3345]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I am today publishing the Forward Look of Government-funded Science, Engineering and Technology which sets out the Government's spending plans. We see science as a major priority and a key driver for wealth creation, employment and an improved quality of life both in this country and overseas. We will be investing over £20 billion in this area over the next three years--a real terms increase of £1.8 billion--representing a level of investment higher in real terms than at any time over this decade. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Power Line Technology

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to ensure that the use of the electricity mains to distribute Internet data (power line telecommunications) through the use of radio frequencies in the short wave band does not cause interference to legitimate users of the short wave spectrum, affect the Ministry of Defence, international broadcasting authorities, radio amateur and civil and military aviation users.[HL3144]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Power line technology is an innovative use of mains electrical wiring to bring information age services to consumers. The exploitation of this technology could make a significant contribution to building the knowledge driven economy as it uses infrastructure that is ubiquitous and already in place. On the other hand, it could give rise to interference to radio services.

The Radiocommunications Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, which is responsible for managing most non-military radio spectrum in the UK, is urgently studying the propensity of power line technology to cause radio interference, including to essential services, international broadcasting and radio amateurs. Decisions will be taken in the light of that work on what steps are necessary in order to prevent undue interference. These could include using powers

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available under Section 10 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether power line telecommunications technology will result in the electricity mains, house wiring and street furniture such as lamp posts acting as antennae, transmitting Internet data as wideband noise across the short wave bands.[HL3145]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Power line technology has the potential to cause signals to be radiated from mains electrical wiring in the home and outside, although it is not yet determined whether the emissions would be sufficiently powerful to cause serious interference to radio services.

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With whom they have consulted on power line telecommunications; and whether agreement has been reached.[HL3146]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Radio- communications Agency has established a working group to evaluate the technical issues relating to power line. The agency has consulted widely, including government departments and other users of frequencies that may be affected, such as the Civil Aviation Authority, the armed forces, the BBC and the Radio Society of Great Britain, as well as communications operators and manufacturers involved

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in power line technology and similar systems. Work is continuing and agreement has not yet been reached.

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether power line telecommunications will run contrary to the principles of electromagnetic compatibility developed over the last 50 years to control levels of interference to the radio spectrum from one user to another.[HL3147]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Principles of electromagnetic compatibility of any new technology are extremely important if maximum benefit is to be gained from the radio spectrum. Power line raises novel and complex technical issues that are being carefully and intensively researched. Until this work is complete, it would be premature to comment on the electromagnetic compatibility of power line.

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How, when controlling power line tele- communications, they will ensure that radio frequencies already used for national and international communication and of life operations will not be affected.[HL3148]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Radio- communications Agency is currently assessing as matter of urgency the potential of the innovative power line technology to interfere with radiocommunications. It has established a working group to evaluate the issues and is conducting a full technical investigation, including computer modelling.

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