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Lord Whitty: The Home Office is proposing a number of measures in order to deal with the unacceptable increase in firearms crime and reflect the Government's determination to tackle this problem in a deliberate and concerted way.
Lord Whitty: This is a devolved issue to the Scottish Executive but I understand that the work in the Western Isles is part of the Hebridean Mink Project. This is a five-year project funded by a partnership of EU-Life III, nature funds, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Comhairle Nan Eilean Sian, Western Isles Enterprise, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scotland, the Scottish Executive and Defra's Central Science Laboratory (CSL).
Lord Whitty: American Mink is an invasive non-native species with recognised impacts on a range of economic and biodiversity interests. They are widespread throughout the UK and eradication is not considered a reasonable prospect for the country as a whole. However, some locations in the UK provide special circumstances where eradication may be feasible, for example, the Hebrides where the Scottish authorities are undertaking a project which aims to achieve local mink eradication.
Further consideration of the policy concerning eradication of mink and other non-active species will be made following the report of the Non-Native Species Policy Review which is expected to be published shortly.
Lord Whitty: (a) The estimated costs to industry of complying with the White Paper of February 2001 on a Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy vary widely. For instance, the recent business impact assessment produced for the Commission estimated the direct cost to industry as ranging between E1.4 billion to E7 billion (£886 million to £4.43 billion) across the EUbased on certain assumptions and scenarios.
A revised RIA will be required when proposals for the European Commission's legislation are available, and my department is working closely with other interested departments, the devolved administrations and concerned stakeholders to develop its scope and content. As well as considering the benefits and costs of the proposals in detail, the RIA will include an assessment of the implications of the proposed legislation for the international competitiveness of the UK chemicals industry and other manufacturing sectors that use chemicals in their processes and products.
(b) Currently there is no reliable estimate for the cost of implementing the proposed detergents regulation. My department is in the process of completing an RIA for it and will ensure that, as part of this process, the views of industry and other consultees are taken into account. The RIA will generate the estimate called for and will be made publicly available.
Baroness Blackstone: There is no specific European Union legislation on the broadcasting of sports events. The European Commission applies general EU legislation on competition and employment to sports broadcasting and commercial contracts as it does in other economic areas where such contracts have cross-border effects. The Commission has recently issued a Statement of Objections to the FA Premier League's broadcasting contract with BSkyB. The Government have not been approached in respect of this by either the football authorities or any representative body but stand ready to offer advice and support if they are requested.
On 23 January it recommended a new allowance which will enable Members of the House of Lords to claim reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses for up to two return visits per annum on parliamentary business to European institutions in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg and to the national parliaments of EU member states or EU candidate countries.
This allowance will be similar to that available to Members of the House of Commons following the Resolution of that House on 9 May 2002. As in the House of Commons, approval for any such visit will need to be sought from the House authorities in advance.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): For the purposes of administering the licensing of operators of public services and of heavy goods vehicles, Great Britain is divided into Scottish, Welsh and six English traffic areas. To create a single English traffic area would require an order under Section 3(2) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 (as amended).
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Government
are considering proposals for simplifying the administration of the system for licensing operators of public service vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. These include the organisation of traffic areas, which is not currently based on English regions. We will be consulting interested parties in due course.
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