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28 Nov 2002 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Thursday, 28th November 2002.

Asylum Applicants in Detention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum applicants without final decisions are currently being held in detention in England and Wales.[HL179]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The latest available information for asylum applicants in detention in England and Wales is for 29 June 2002 and is given in the table:

At 29 June 2002(2)
Asylum applicants in detention in England and Wales(1)1,355

(1) Those recorded as having sought asylum at some stage.

(2) Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

I regret that information on how many of these persons had not received a final decision on their asylum claim is not available except by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

The next quarterly information on detainees will be published in Asylum Statistics: 3rd quarter 2002 on 29 November 2002 on the Home Office website:

Proposed Legislation: Effect on Scotland

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposed legislation for this Session of Parliament will have significant application in Scotland.[HL223]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Until the text of each Bill is available, it is not possible to state precisely what will be the application of proposed legislation in Scotland. With that proviso, it seems likely that around half the Bills announced in the Queen's Speech will include measures which would apply in Scotland. Some of these Bills will extend to Scotland in relation to matters which are reserved to the UK Government e.g. the Communications Bill and the European Union (Accessions) Bill. Others may extend to Scotland in relation to certain devolved matters, subject to the consent of the Scottish Parliament under the terms of the Sewel convention, e.g. the Waste and Emissions Trading Bill. Others still are a mixture of reserved and devolved matters.

The Government have been working closely with the Scottish Executive on those aspects of the UK legislative programme that may have implications for Scotland, and are continuing to do so.

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Treasury: External Consulting Contracts

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much has been spent by the Treasury on external consulting contracts in each of the years since 1996–97.[HL80]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Spending by HM Treasury on external consultants was as follows:

YearSpending, £

National Insurance: Employers' Contributions

Lord Butler of Brockwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 22 October (WA 93), when the requirement for employers to pay national insurance contributions relating to employees over the state pension age was introduced.[HL172]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Employers have had to pay national insurance contributions on the earnings of their employees who are over state pension age from the start of the scheme in 1948.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the success of the process instituted at the Lisbon Council designed to promote greater levels of entrepreneurship in small and medium-sized enterprises in Britain and in the European Union; and how they will contribute to Commissioner for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Erkki Liikanen's proposed Green Paper on the subject. [HL155]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Small and medium-sized enterprises make a significant contribution to increasing productivity and growth, innovation and job creation. Entrepreneurship can also offer disadvantaged and socially excluded groups employment and prosperity. That is why enterprise is a key plank of the agenda on EU economic reform agreed in Lisbon in 2000. Her Majesty's Government have made a significant contribution to the work on an Entrepreneurship Green Paper. In October my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry sent Commissioner Liikanen a copy of UK Enterprise for All to assist his efforts. Produced by the Small Business Service, this is a paper that sets out the significance of small business across Europe and makes practical suggestions to encourage enterprise in the EU. Copies of the paper have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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France: UK Beef Import Ban

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been their response to the decision of the European Commission not to pursue the cases in the European Court of Justice against France for its illegal ban on United Kingdom beef; and what representations they have made to the Commission since this decision. [HL169]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have made no representations to the Commission on this issue since its decision. After all, as the noble Lord is aware, it was the actions of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that helped persuade the French Government finally to lift their unjustified and illegal ban on beef imports from the United Kingdom. We very much welcome the role that those EU institutions played in resolving the issue. As the noble Lord will also be aware, the National Farmers Union continues to pursue its own case in the French courts, in which it seeks a ruling that the beef ban was illegal. This follows a separate judgment by the ECJ.

State Aid Rules

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that there should be greater flexibility in state aid rules to allow specific economic emergencies, such as those that occurred in Cumbria in 2001, to be addressed.[HL30]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Agricultural state aid rules are put in place to prevent member states giving aid which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings. We support the Commission in applying the rules consistently across the EU.

Regarding non-agricultural state aid, the Government consider that the block exemption regulations and the current Commission guidelines, including that for rescue and restructuring, provide sufficient avenues for aid to be paid in most such circumstances.

Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the introduction of the European Union directive concerned with the re-use and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment; what savings they expect, in terms of environmental benefit; and what might offset the predicted two per cent price rise of goods in the shops.[HL115]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government support the WEEE directive, which is a priority waste stream for the UK. It is growing fast and electronic equipment often contains hazardous substances. It is therefore right that action is taken to limit potential environmental damage.

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DTI-commissioned research by PriceWaterhouseCooper shows that there will be significant environmental benefits from treatment, recycling and recovery of WEEE under the requirements of the directive, when compared to current practices, and especially with landfill.

The European Commission estimates that the costs of the directive will be equivalent to a 1 to 3 per cent rise in the price of electrical goods. However, the directive is flexible and member states will have some degree of freedom to decide how to implement it. The UK will look to implement in such a way that minimises costs to UK business and consumers while retaining environmental benefits.

Solar Thermal Industry

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to foster and develop a British solar thermal industry to rival those of Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.[HL129]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In the past, the Government have supported the solar thermal industry through a number of measures, including field trials, testing of systems, dissemination of objective information and funding for training courses. The Government recognise the importance of solar thermal in contributing to reducing carbon emissions and as such extended the enhanced capital allowance scheme to cover solar thermal in the last budget. This is in addition to the reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent that applies to professionally installed systems.

The Government are likely to further encourage the development of the solar thermal industry through the forthcoming Community and Household Capital Grants Scheme for Renewable Energy. The scheme will disburse grants to individual homeowners and community groups who wish to install renewable energy systems such as solar water heating. The scheme will run concurrent to an installer accreditation and training programme to expand the current installer base. The scheme is likely to be launched in the new year. In addition to this scheme, several electricity suppliers have been encouraged to offer grants as part of the energy efficiency commitment.

The Government are also working on a strategy of support for further research and development and market penetration through the technology status reports. The reports aim to identify where government can best assist the industry through funding for research, development and deployment.

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