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Written Answers

Monday, 31 October 2005.

10 Downing Street: Entertainment Budget

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information requested cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate costs.

Climate Change

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): Council discussions did not cover this issue as Ministers focused on the broad negotiating mandate for the forthcoming 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP11).

However, the UK has already shown support for extending the EU emissions trading scheme to allow use of credits from afforestation and reforestation projects in developing countries conducted under the clean development mechanism. These projects can be used to help meet commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, but are not currently eligible for use under the EU scheme. The European Commission is likely to consider this issue in its review of the EU scheme, to be completed in 2006.

Companies House Pricing Review

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The final report of the pricing review made recommendations regarding Companies House's future activities, potential new products and cost allocations. This included an analysis of Companies House's customers and products and the impact of any changes at Companies House on the market for company information. Release of this information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Companies House.

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The final report of the pricing review included information on potential future formulation and development of government policy in relation to Companies House and its services. This was therefore redacted from the final report when it was released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 under Section 35. The review also contained formulation of Companies House's strategic objective to make electronic information available more cheaply, preferably with no charge at all.

Erythropoietin

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is appraising erythropoietin for cancer treatment induced anaemia. NICE published its draft recommendations on the use of erythropoietin for consultation in July.

It is important to note that NICE's draft recommendations do not constitute its final guidance. Funding for erythropoietin on the National Health Service is currently made on a case by case basis and there will be no change to these arrangements until NICE publishes its final recommendations.

Final guidance from NICE is expected to be published in May 2006.

EU: Migrant Workers

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The agricultural minimum wage is the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.

However, we have offered to work with the governments of all the new member states, to prepare bi-lingual "know before you go" leaflets for migrant workers seeking temporary work, giving advice on questions to ask before leaving the country and on legal protections offered to workers including details of the national minimum wage and agricultural minimum wage and the relevant helpline numbers.

To date we have produced leaflets in partnership with the Portuguese, Polish and Lithuanian Governments and are still in talks with other governments. These benefited from input from the TUC, the CBI and other stakeholders and have been distributed widely in both the workers' home countries and the UK; for example, via citizens advice bureaux. In Poland, for example, they have been publicised on television and our embassy and the Polish authorities have worked hard to distribute them via job centres, recruitment fairs and other channels. The text of the leaflets is also available on the DTI website www.dti.gov.uk/er/agency/migrant—workers.htm.

The Home Office also provides information to workers from EU accession countries. Nationals of the new member states (except Cyprus and Malta) working in the UK are subject to the worker registration scheme. When subject to the scheme, they need to register with the Home Office if they plan to work for more than one month for an employer in the UK.

Flood Defences: Essex

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Defra has policy responsibility for flood risk management in England, funds most of the Environment Agency's flood related work and grant aids individual projects undertaken by local authorities and internal drainage boards. The programme to manage risk is driven by these operating authorities; Defra does not build defences, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake.

We understand that the Environment Agency is planning works at Jaywick (beach recharge), Great Wakering (improvement to sea wall), Canvey Island (drainage improvements) and Battlesbridge (improvements to estuary wall); and that Southend Borough Council has started work to improve defences along the south and north-east frontages of Two Tree Island.
 
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Food Standards Agency: Webcasts

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: As part of the Food Standards Agency's commitment to openness and transparency, all its open board meetings are webcast on the Internet as a matter of course. Decisions on whether to webcast other meetings are taken on a case-by-case basis. The board meeting held on 15 September was viewed live via the Internet by at least 368 people. Other people may have watched the recording subsequently. One question was submitted by e-mail from Chris Whitehouse of Consumers for Health Choice: "Assuming that the board adopts the recommendations under Item 5 in relation to the Food Supplements Directive, what specific strategy do they have for achieving the objectives specified". This question was addressed in the question and answer session by the chief executive, who said that, if the agency's advice was accepted by Ministers, the agency would be seeking to influence those officials in the commission drafting the proposals on which the negotiations would be based. The full answer can be viewed at www.flyonthewall.com/FlyBroadcast/FSA/LondonBoard0905.

On the point about whether they have plans to extend provision for Internet and e-mail participation in meetings and discussions of government departments and agencies in the future, I am unable to reply on behalf of other government departments.


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