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Immigration Detainees: Bail Summaries

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am unfortunately unable to give the guarantee sought by the noble Lord. The Immigration Service port or office dealing with the detainee often receives very little notice of a bail hearing, and summaries are frequently written a very short period of time before the hearing. It is therefore

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common practice for the Home Office presenting officer to give the detainee's representative copies of the summary at or shortly before the hearing.

However bail summaries do not normally contain information which is new to the detainee or his representative. Every detainee is informed in writing of the reasons for his detention.

Immigration Detainees: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they will take to ensure that the condition of Immigration Act detainees who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is properly diagnosed and, if appropriate, they may be immediately released. [HL4613]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The level of health care at detention centres is comparable to that in a local general practice and the management of detainees with mental health problems mirrors the approach adopted in the general community.

Usually within 24 hours of arrival in the centre or prison, detainees are offered a full medical screening. Where issues relating to mental health are explored as part of that initial assessment, any concerns about the mental well-being of a detainee are dealt with by the doctor, who will, if necessary, arrange a full psychiatric examination by a qualified psychiatrist. Detainees can also be referred for specialist treatment, including psychological counselling, in the same way as any other National Health Service patient. Where evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed, the Immigration Service is alerted and detention is reviewed in the light of this evidence.

Prison and Probation Inspectorates

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many organisations and individuals had by 31 October expressed support for the proposal to merge the Prison and Probation Inspectorates. [HL4483]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We received 36 responses commenting on the options identified by the consultation document, as laid out in the Answer I gave on 12 October (Official Report, col. WA48). Of these:

    three supported the appointment of a joint Chief Inspector for Prisons and Probation;

    28 supported our other options for change; and

    four supported the status quo

A small number were not definite in their responses or covered only the appointment of a joint Chief Inspector.

Copies of the responses have been placed in the Library.

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Petrol Station Vapour Recovery Measures

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they are expecting to decide on the regulations for vapour recovery at petrol stations; and whether they are aware of any danger that delay might impose on meeting deadlines for compliance with treaty or protocol obligations.[HL4724]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): As a party to the 1991 VOC Protocol to the UN/ECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the UK is committed to applying techniques to reduce VOC emissions from motor vehicle refuelling emissions by October 2002. The Government are considering how best to meet this commitment.

Environment Agency: Radioactive Discharge Guidance

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the draft statutory guidance to the Environment Agency on the regulation of radioactive discharges into the environment from nuclear licensed sites, referred to in the UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges consultation document, will be issued for public consultation; and what its contents are.[HL4796]

Lord Whitty: The Government have today published a consultation paper setting out our proposals for statutory guidance to the Environment Agency. It brings together and publicises, for the first time, the factors that we require the Environment Agency to consider when setting discharge levels.

The draft guidance reinforces the Government's commitment progressively to cut discharges and discharge limits. It will help to deliver the commitment the UK has given to its OSPAR partners to ensure that by 2020, discharges are reduced to levels where the additional concentrations in the marine environment above historic levels resulting from such discharges are close to zero.

The guidance will help to ensure that discharge authorisations are consistent with the UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges 2001-2020, which is now being finalised following public consultation earlier this year.

Central to the guidance is the need to ensure the protection of the public, not only within the UK but beyond our borders. For example, the guidance proposes that, in general, discharge levels are set so that Community Food Intervention Levels are not exceeded, even though there is no requirement to do so under law.

Equally, none of the measures taken to protect the environment should compromise the safety of workers

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and this is also covered in the guidance, in terms both of routine exposures and risks of accidents.

Keeping radioactive waste to a minimum must be the key to reducing discharges. While the industry works to achieve this, we are asking the agency to evaluate alternative ways of making allowable discharges so that the Best Practicable Environmental Option can be chosen.

Each case will be considered on its merits but the presumption now will be that discharges should be minimised by requiring radioactivity to be trapped and immobilised for subsequent storage or treatment, rather than discharged into the environment.

The guidance will encourage operators to keep their discharges to a minimum by setting strict limits on how much they can discharge. These limits will be subject to regular review. We also propose that there should be a "cap" on discharges from new plant.

The guidance recognises that it is not necessary to apply a specific limit to every radionuclide which is discharged, but effective control over all discharges is essential. The agency is therefore given guidance on which radionuclides, as a minimum, they should control.

New technology will play a vital role in reducing discharges. With this in mind, the draft guidance requires the agency to set timescales for research and development to be carried out into new technological developments.

Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Ozone Layer Protection: CFCs Ban

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking beyond the Montreal Protocol to combat the development of an ozone hole over the North Pole comparable in size with that over Antarctica.[HL4647]

Lord Whitty: Under the Montreal Protocol, developed countries are required to phase out the production of CFCs by the end of 1995. The UK, in line with other European countries, phased out production by the end of 1994, one year ahead of the Protocol. We have recently agreed EC Regulation 2037/2000, which came into force on 1 October 2000, under which it is prohibited to supply CFCs. From 1 January 2001 there will also be a ban on the use of CFCs in the maintenance of existing equipment. Other measures in the regulation to phase out ozone depleting substances such as HCFCs by 2010 go beyond the Montreal Protocol.

Climate Change and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to stimulate public awareness of the relationship between carbon

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    dioxide emissions and climate change and of the dangers inherent in such a change.[HL4646]

Lord Whitty: The Government fully recognise the importance of informing people about climate change, what its causes and its effects could be, and the action they could take to help reduce emissions. We are working in partnership with a wide range of organisations on a number of different initiatives that are targeted at householders, the travelling public, businesses, local government and children.

We believe that action by individuals is particularly important. We are therefore funding a major publicity campaign called "Are you doing your bit?" which informs people about the impact of their individual and collective actions. This £25 million, multi-media campaign focuses on how small changes in people's everyday actions can have financial and environmental benefits, and can make a difference. Public reaction to the campaign has been very positive.

The Energy Saving Trust's "energy efficiency" campaign, funded by the Government, aims to increase the take-up of energy efficient products and services by raising awareness of the financial benefits of being energy efficient, and by ensuring that products and services are of a high quality and are easily identifiable as being energy efficient. EU Energy Labels on a growing number of everyday appliances and lightbulbs, and shortly on cars, provide a constant reminder to consumers of the importance of the issue.

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We are improving awareness of the benefits of taking action among businesses and local government through policies such as promoting environmental reporting; the Making a Corporate Commitment scheme; disseminating independent authoritative information and advice on energy efficiency best practice; travel plans and greening company car fleets; and working with local government associations on a number of initiatives that should raise awareness at the highest levels.

We are addressing the need to educate and inform children and young people about climate change, how it is caused, what its effects might be, and what they can do to help. We have a website aimed at children and young people under 16, and we have recently published an information and activity pack for children between 7-11. The revised National Curriculum also now includes a new subject of citizenship education which makes clear reference to environmental issues.

The work of the government-sponsored UK Climate Impacts Programme is helping to raise both institutional and public awareness of the effects that climate change might have on the UK. Studies are being funded by a range of groups to help them assess their vulnerability to climate change and plan appropriate responses. The Government are also funding an extensive amount of research on the science and impacts of climate change which we make freely available to the general public.

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