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Baroness Perry of Southwark asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach : The most recent estimate by the Government's Market Transformation Programme (MTP) is that taken together consumer electronics, home computing equipment, domestic cooking equipment and office equipment in the UK consumed approximately 580–600 GWh per month while in standby mode.

We are also aware that there is further energy consumption from white goods such as washing machines and dishwashers which are switched on awaiting use or after they have completed their wash cycles; consumer electronic equipment using external power supplies (e.g. domestic portable telephones) that continue to consume energy when plugged in but not in use; and domestic personal computer equipment where the stand-by facilities are not properly enabled. Taken together, these sources of consumption may bring the overall figure to around 760 GWh per month.

In order to try to tackle this problem the Market Transformation Programme ( has been encouraging manufacturers to reduce both the "on" and the stand-by power consumption of household appliances through the adoption of design improvements, voluntary codes of conduct, and best practice guidelines and targets. This approach has been fairly successful in respect of televisions: an EU-wide voluntary agreement will mean that the majority of new televisions sold in the UK now consume around 1 watt of power in stand-by mode rather than the 3 to 8 watts consumed by older models. This agreement is currently being extended to cover other consumer electronics.

A similar agreement for external power supplies aims to encourage new power supplies consuming around half a watt in stand-by mode compared to the present average of just over 2 watts.

The recently agreed Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EUP), which is expected to come into force later this year, will provide a streamlined and effective route for setting EU-wide environmental requirements for traded goods. EUP requires the Commission and member states to treat the issue of standby energy consumption as a priority area
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for consideration. The UK will work proactively with the Commission and other member states to influence and speed the delivery of measures under EUP

In addition, the Government's initiative on sustainable procurement, announced in the autumn of 2003, includes a requirement for government departments which purchase computers and televisions to specify low stand by power requirements.

Defra Helpline

Lord Plumb asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: All Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline staff complete an extensive six-week training period. During this training they receive instruction in telephone techniques and the use of computerised information systems and an extensive knowledge base including the Defra website.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) customer service centre (CSC) training commences with 17-system training which covers the new customer register and customer relationship management system. This involves four days intensive training with several additional refresher courses.

All helpline staff receive customer care and call handling skills. Further training is provided by workshops from the RPA's inspectorate, welfare officer, single payment scheme management unit, Rural Land Register management unit as well as the Farm Crisis Network to ensure that all helpline staff are fully briefed on current issues and rural stress.

Lord Plumb asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Defra helpline answers telephone requests for information from farmers and other industry sectors as well as queries from the general public. In addition the helpline operators are occasionally requested to attend major agricultural shows representing Defra.

The total operational costs for the Defra helpline for the period April 2004 to April 2005 was £247,862.23.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Single Payment Scheme (SPS) helpline was set up in July 2004 to respond to inquiries from farmers following the mailing of information statements. The cost of staffing this initial helpline was £163,431.

On 14 February 2005 the RPA's customer service centre (CSC) came into operation and responsibility for handling calls relating to the SPS and customer registration transferred to the CSC with effect from that date.
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The cost of the CSC from 14 February 2005 to 31 May 2005 was £1,489,505. This reflected the significant volume of inquiries received during that period with over 200,000 calls and emails.

McKinsey and Co.

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: From information held centrally:

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): McKinsey and Company has not carried out any projects for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the past five years, nor is currently doing so.

Convention on the Rights on the Child

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Triesman: While the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified of all the core human rights treaties, implementation remains varied. The UK has a number of concerns, which are reflected in the rights of the child resolutions which we sponsor with EU and Latin American partners at the UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights every year. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considers implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocols by States Parties. Its conclusions and recommendations, including on specific countries, can be found at

The Government continue to talk to the internet industry about how best to use technology to block, reduce access to and remove exploitative images of children wherever possible, Less than 1 per cent of potentially illegal content reported to the Internet Watch Foundation is hosted by internet service providers in the UK. The UK also co-operates with other governments and supports their efforts to detect, prevent and punish on-line exploitation of children.

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