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19 May 2004 : Column WA87

Written Answers

Wednesday, 19 May 2004.

[The first Written Answer should have been printed in the Official Report of Tuesday, 18 May.]

Organic Crops: Presence of Heavy Metals

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): No UK research of the type described on organic crops has been carried out.


Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is the scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims of WeBS are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and to identify important sites for waterbirds. The scheme is run jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

The most recent estimate of population size in Great Britain in the non-breeding season is 23,000 individuals (using data for the period 1994–95—1998–99). The index of population trend indicates that numbers in winter 2000–01 were slightly lower than in the mid 1990s. It is not possible to determine what proportion of the British wintering population of cormorants occurs on fisheries.

The annual review of licensed shooting for cormorants for the winter period 2002–03 can be viewed at

During this period Defra issued 119 licences to allow 603 cormorants to be shot as an aid to scaring. The number of cormorants actually reported to have been shot was 284.

EU Export Subsidies

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:
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Lord Whitty: The Government are committed to the Doha Development Agenda objective to secure substantial reductions in trade-distorting support, including negotiations with a view to phasing out all forms of export subsidy.

We therefore warmly welcome the initiative of the European Union's Trade and Agriculture Commissioners in writing to their World Trade Organisation colleagues, including the offer to move on export subsidies in parallel with other WTO members, as part of a balanced framework for agriculture.

Civil Service: Election Guidance

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No. As has been the case under successive administrations, the activities of the Civil Service during election campaigns will continue to be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Code and with the more detailed guidance issued ahead of each election. Election guidance includes specific advice on statistical and information activities, making clear that in cases of doubt the relevant Head of Profession should be consulted.

European Union Legislation

Lord Lamont of Berwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The figure quoted on the Cabinet Office website relates only to those pieces of legislation with a major regulatory impact. This figure is derived from an analysis of regulatory impact assessments (RIAs). The previous question to which the noble Lord refers related to all legislation, the figures for which are not held centrally.

Constitution Hill, London: Cycle Lane

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:
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Lord Davies of Oldham: The works in question are being funded by Transport for London, and the Government do not routinely seek information from TfL about the cost of such local infrastructure improvements.

Air Displays

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Air displays in the United Kingdom are regulated through Article 70—Flying Displays—of the Air Navigation Order 2000. The restrictions detailed therein apply to all civil air displays including those organised by local authorities.

Guidance for the organisers of air displays is contained in the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) Civil Air Publication, Flying Displays and Special Events: A Guide to Safety and Administrative Arrangements (CAP403); the current edition of which was issued on 29 November 2002, amended in March 2004. It covers all participation, including military aircraft, at civil air displays in the United Kingdom.

Further guidance for military air displays, and on the participation of military aircraft in civil displays, is contained in Joint Service Publication 550, published by the Ministry of Defence.

Self-invested Personal Pensions

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The Government do not collect separate statistics on the number of assets of
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self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs). SIPPs are included with insured personal pensions in Inland Revenue tax relief statistics.

Civil Partnership: Public Service Pensions

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government Actuary's Department's estimates the impact of civil partnership on public service pension schemes using as far as possible the normal actuarial assumptions on demographic and financial factors it considers appropriate for these schemes. But a key unknown factor is the level of civil partnership formation among members of these schemes. The regulatory impact assessment published on 31 March 2004 illustrates the impact of different levels of take-up and explains the underlying assumptions and uncertainties. The capitalised cost of the high take-up case in the RIA was estimated by GAD at £300 million if civil partnership rights applied to all the past service of the relevant scheme members. However, the costs could be higher or lower than the ranges illustrated depending on take up. For example, if the propensity of same sex couples to register matched that of opposite-sex couples to marry, this cost would be around £3 billion.

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