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Written Answers

Tuesday, 7 February 2006.

Aviation: Global Positioning System

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: One aerodrome has applied for global positioning system (GPS) instrument approach procedures—Gloucestershire (Staverton).

Bangladesh: Chittagong Hill Tracts

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): A team of EU diplomats visited the Chittagong Hill Tracts in November 2005. The British High Commission led the visit as EU presidency. The team's broad conclusion on this specific subject was that the Land Disputes Resolution Commission was not operating at a level necessary to facilitate effective implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. Problems included the complex procedures for lodging claims. The team found that the commission was not receiving many cases for adjudication and of these few were being concluded. Local confidence in the commission was low.

Following the team's visit, the British High Commissioner in Dhaka, as EU presidency, wrote to the Government of Bangladesh citing the urgent need to improve implementation of the peace accord, including the operation of the Land Disputes Resolution Commission.

Disability: Personal Care Assistants

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): There are currently no discussions between the Department of Health and the Department for
 
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Work and Pensions regarding immigration rules which affect disabled people seeking to recruit care assistants from abroad. Immigration regulations are the responsibility of the Home Office.

Electoral Registration

Lord Norton of Louth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): A system of household registration similar to that in place in Great Britain also operates in the Republic of Ireland.

Licensing Act 2003

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Under Paragraph 25 of the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005, the person making an application for a new premises licence, or an application to vary an existing premises licence, shall publish a notice in a local newspaper or, if there is none, in a local newsletter, circular or other similar document circulating in the vicinity of the premises. Licensing authorities have no discretion to relax this requirement.

London Underground: Fares

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Responsibility for tourism and transport in London is devolved to the Mayor and the Greater London Authority.

There are of course a number of methods by which visitors can save money on the price of Tube journeys, such as the travelcard and oystercard. These schemes are extensively publicised, both here and abroad, including via travel agents, tourist attractions, points of entry into London and at airports outside the city such as Stansted, Luton and Gatwick. The London visitor survey (conducted three times a year) measures levels of visitor satisfaction—should Tube fare prices become an issue the survey will highlight this.
 
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Palestine: Elections

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Government remain committed towards making progress against the road map.

The quartet (UN, EU, US and Russia) reiterated its position on 30 January with regards to the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, stating its view that all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map. We support this approach. We urge both the Israelis and Palestinians to respect their existing agreements. We, along with our EU partners, will continue to work with the Quartet Special Envoy James Wolfensohn and his team to ensure that both the Palestinians and the Israelis make progress against their road map commitments.

Hamas now has a choice to make between the path of democracy and the path of violence. The onus is on Hamas to change its approach to Israel, renounce violence and disarm.

Squirrels

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): Currently there are no proposals within Europe for adding the red squirrel to Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, as the rest of Europe has stable populations that are not yet threatened by the spread of grey squirrels.

However, the red squirrel is listed on Appendix III of the Bern convention and is protected within the UK by virtue of being listed on Schedules 5 and 6 to the WCA and Schedules 5 and 6 to the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

A species action plan for the red squirrel was one of the first to be published as part of the UK biodiversity action plan (UKBAP) in 1995. The plan recognised the spread of the grey squirrel, habitat fragmentation and disease (squirrel pox virus) as factors causing loss or decline of the red squirrel. The plan sets objectives and targets to maintain and enhance the existing populations and to re-establish populations where appropriate.
 
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Defra also launched on 22 January an action plan to control grey squirrels. The action plan, which has been developed by Defra and the Forestry Commission, focuses on areas where they are damaging woodland and preventing red squirrels becoming established.

The Government have been instrumental, along with Ireland and Italy, in raising the profile of red and grey squirrel issues across Europe. This includes the tabling of a recommendation, agreed by the standing committee of the Bern convention in December 2005. This encourages signatories to undertake studies into the impact of greys on red squirrel populations, forestry and other biodiversity, and ensure that governments are attentive to and actively seek to prevent further introductions of non-native squirrel species.

Stansted Airport

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Department for Transport regularly engages and shares information with other central departments, government offices and delivery agencies regarding the possible expansion of Stansted airport. This engagement centres on the formulation and development of government policy in relation to these matters.


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