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Cetaceans

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The primary responsiblity for conducting assessments of the distribution of cetaceans in United Kingdom and other waters rests with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Defra has conducted a number of surveys on cetaceans, most of which have addressed cetacean bycatch issues. Currently, Defra is contributing about £300,000 to a survey addressing small cetacean abundance in the North Sea and North East Atlantic. This international project will carry out a survey of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the North Sea and European Atlantic waters.

The Ministry of Defence is also funding research into cetacean distribution. This research is being conducted by various academic and civilian institutions, including Aberdeen University, the Sea Mammals Research Unit (SMRU) at St Andrews University, and the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme. A component of this research involves observational surveys at sea.

In addition, Royal Navy ships collect observations on marine mammal sightings during normal operations. These sightings are recorded and passed to the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO). Over the last two years, UKHO has received an average of 68 records of cetacean observations per month from Royal Navy sources.

All records of sightings are held by UKHO on an operational database, which now has several thousand observations of cetaceans. UKHO regularly replies to requests from the public for sightings in a specific area
 
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of the world by releasing appropriate unclassified information from that database. The full UKHO database is not available to the public, as some of the information held is classified.

The Ministry of Defence also refers to data from SRMU and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), as these organisations also hold information on the distribution of cetaceans in UK and North Atlantic waters. Data from SMRU is not readily available to the general public. However, JNCC has produced an atlas of cetacean distribution in north-west European waters. This contains information on animal distribution by species but not by the date of observations of those species. This information can be accessed on www.jncc.gov.uk

Type 23 Frigates: Net Book Values

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: In accordance with resource accounting rules, the net book values of HMS "Marlborough", HMS "Grafton" and HMS "Norfolk" reflect their different ages, purchase prices and expected out-of-service dates.

Information Technology Projects: Oversight

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The Office of Government Commerce is currently considering the disclosure of Gateway information in the light of the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. There are legitimate concerns about the need to protect both the integrity of the Gateway process and the commercially sensitive information that is contained in the reports.

Casinos: Money Laundering Regulations

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

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: All casinos are subject to money laundering regulations giving effect to the 2nd EU directive, and will be subject to the requirements of a further directive which is now under discussions between member states with HM Treasury in the lead for the UK Government. It is for the Gaming Board for Great Britain now, and will be for the Gambling Commission in future (subject to enactment of the Bill now before Parliament), to ensure that all casinos fully meet their obligations under money laundering regulations.

Paralympic Games: Athletes with Learning Disabilities

Lord Pendry asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government are committed to ensuring that everyone is given the chance to participate in sport and physical activity, and we fully support all efforts to involve people with disabilities.

The Government are also aware of the complex issue of classification, within disability sport, and recognises the problems associated with the current national and international classification system.

Lord Pendry asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The International Paralympic Committee has charged the international community of learning disability sporting organisations to come up with a system of classification that will satisfy the IPC.

This Government are hopeful that a system of classification will be found that will see athletes with learning disabilities return to compete in the international sporting arena.

Lord Pendry asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The exclusion of athletes with a learning disability from the Paralympic Games is entirely a matter for the International Paralympic Committee and the international community of learning disability sporting organisations.
 
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This Government are hopeful that a solution can be found that would secure a future for learning disability sport within the paralympics.

Lord Pendry asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Decisions about funding for learning disability sport will be made by Sport England and the English Federation for Disability Sport but not in advance of any possible decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) later this month.

National Savings & Investments: Unclaimed Sums

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

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The table below shows National Savings & Investments unclaimed monies by product held by the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt, as at 31 March 2004.
ProductAmount (£000s)
British Savings Bonds2,727
Income Bonds1,579
Pensioners Guaranteed Income Bonds40
Premium Bonds23,515
Savings Stamps5,787
Total33,648

The Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt do not hold any unclaimed sums for gilt-edged securities at redemption in respect of National Savings & Investments.

More detailed figures on the amounts held in each of the past 20 years could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
 
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