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Why no reply has been sent to a letter of 23 July 2004 addressed to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills from Mr David Cannon, chair of the Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers, or to the reminder from the Lord Avebury of 29 December 2004; and whether they will apologise to Mr Cannon for the delay. [HL1064]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Filkin): Mr Cannon's letter dated 23 July was unfortunately mislaid within the department. A letter of apology and full response was sent on 29 January. There was a further delay in responding to Lord Avebury's letter of reminder of 29 December due to a backlog of invitations following the appointment of the new Secretary of State. A letter of apology was also sent to Lord Avebury on 29 January, enclosing a copy of the letter sent to Mr Cannon.
What action they are taking to ensure that aspirations of the Kyoto Protocol are achieved; and what action they are initiating to engage the international community in the reduction of global warming beyond 2012. [HL1231]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The UK Climate Change Programme focuses on policies and measures across all sectors to meet our Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, and move towards our domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.
Provisional estimates show that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 14 per cent between 1990 and 2003, and are projected to be 21 per cent below by 2010. We are comfortably on track to meet our Kyoto target.
The Prime Minister has made climate change a priority for our presidencies of the G8 and EU this year. The G8 presidency is already underway and we are hoping to make progress in building on climate change science, technology and on engaging countries with growing energy needs such as India and China.
The UK was particularly instrumental in the negotiations at the Tenth Conference of the Parties in Buenos Aires in December; we helped to establish
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consensus on an adaptation package for developing countries, and agreement was also reached on holding a seminar in May to begin to look at what the international community would like to see happen after the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period ends in 2012.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 10 January (WA 17), what action the Environment Agency takes when dealing with a fly-tipping incident; why the prosecution percentage has fallen from 7.2 per cent in 2000 to 4.7 per cent; and whether they have any plans to improve results by changing the system. [HL1277]
Lord Whitty: The Environment Agency (the agency) responds to specific incidents of fly-tipping. The agency and the local government association have agreed the "fly-tipping protocol" that sets out the respective roles and responsibilities of the agency and local authorities. The agency will respond to incidents: of a large scale, that involve organised crime of containers of hazardous waste. They may also intervene if the illegally dumped waste is causing water pollution or a flood-risk.
The agency response may consist of one or more of a number of elements, depending on the incident. These elements include: investigation, clear-up and the serving of notices for the removal of waste and enforcement action, including prosecution.
The fly-tipping protocol is currently being updated and Defra is drafting statutory directions to the agency and waste collection authorities under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to ensure fly-tipping is dealt with effectively.
In respect of each competent harbour authority, what offences have been committed relating to pilotage exemption certificates; and how many convictions there have been in the last five years. [HL1204]
What are the terms of reference of the Marine and Coastguard Agency's review of the port marine safety code; which ports have been found to be non-compliant; and when the final report will be published. [HL1205]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is not reviewing the port marine safety code, and no report is due to be published. However, the agency is working with port authorities on compliance assurance issues on an ongoing basis.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Harbour authorities are responsible for publishing appropriate hydrographic information, including warnings on recently identified navigational hazards, for the area within the harbour.
Waters, such as the English Channel, outside the jurisdiction of the competent harbour authority are surveyed according to arrangements agreed through the Civil Hydrography Programme. Survey areas are prioritised using a risk assessment methodology.
Why grants for sustainable transport by rail and water for 200708 have been reduced from a total of £60 million, as set out in the European Commission's State Aids Clearance document of December 2003, to some £25 million as stated in the Government's sustainable transport press release on 1 February. [HL1225]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The figures quoted by the commission described the ceiling on annual support for modal shift schemes in England, Scotland and Wales. Support within this ceiling received state aid clearance; the figures did not represent a commitment by government to provide a particular level of support. The indicative allocation for the sustainable distribution fund in 200708 reflects in part the fact that the Government's current commitments on rail freight spending will be complete by the end of the preceding financial year. We start again with a new pot of money in April 2007, and new state aid clearances will be needed to continue some of the schemes funded through the pot. Spending levels beyond this will be set in SR2006.
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What ongoing support for Channel Tunnel rail freight is budgeted for in the £25 million budget for sustainable transport support as stated in the Department for Transport's press release of 1 February. [HL1226]
Lord Davies of Oldham: We are negotiating with EWS(I) to extend our agreement with them until the expiry of the minimum usage charge commitment on 30 November 2006. The minimum usage charge commitment is not included in the budget for the sustainable distribution fund. No decision has been taken about support for Channel Tunnel rail freight beyond the expiry of the minimum usage charge commitment.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Department for Transport will continue to have lead policy responsibility for the UK Government on all European rail policy matters, including railway safety regulation. It will continue to exercise that function in close consultation with other government departments.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The department considers that the journey times currently in force on the West Coast Main Line in order to upgrade the line, and where replacement bus services are provided temporarily during works, are acceptable given the extensive work being carried out to modernise the line.
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