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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: The Minister made it clear that he was going to disappoint us. This is obviously not—I repeat not—the equivalent of the Latin American diplomat in the margins of whose speech appeared the words, "Weak point: shout". The Minister was robust in his reply. More significant, perhaps, was the mild problem that he seemed to be having controlling his papers. I did not say that the Government or public authorities are not doing anything about biodiversity. Indeed, I paid tribute to what is being done.
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The Minister himself said that 67 per cent of local authorities do not at present have questions relating to biodiversity in their planning procedures. That is an index of present attitudes. The Minister implied that, under the Bill, everything that can be done will be done, whereas the noble Lord, Lord Judd, implied on the related subject of global warming that everything that can be done is not being done. As my noble friend Lord Peel generously implied, our task is to expand what mankind can do. Human groups change their behaviour when those leading them want them to change. The Minister must forgive us if we wonder whether the Government really want to change us.

I realise that it is late at night. The Minister is necessarily operating under greater fatigue than I am. Of course, I shall allow for that when I reread in the morning what he said this evening. I dare say that he will reread it, too. Any body under judicial review has simply to prove that, before taking action or making decisions, it thought about the words of the Bill. I am not myself a lawyer, but my brother is.

I close by saying that the issue seems to have caught the interest of the Committee without the Minister being able immediately to extinguish the fire. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 278 and 279 not moved.]

Clause 40 agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Written Statements

Wednesday 8 February 2006

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Armed Forces: MARS Programme

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Don Touhig) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As set out in the defence industrial strategy, the military afloat reach and sustainability (MARS) programme is a significant planned investment in a new integrated approach to afloat support, combined with investment in life extensions for retained platforms. MARS will form an essential part of the UK's versatile maritime force, providing a suite of vessels to supply UK and allied vessels with fuel, food, ordnance and other support they need to sustain operations. MARS will also introduce a new capability, providing joint sea-based logistics for those operations where host nation support is absent or limited or where we would wish to reduce our footprint ashore. The programme is currently in the assessment phase.

NHS: Annual Accounts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The annual accounts of NHS Direct 2004–05 and any accompanying Comptroller and Auditor-General report have today been laid before Parliament
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pursuant to Section 98(1C) of the National Health Service Act 1977. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Railways: St Pancras Station

Lord Davies of Oldham: I have agreed to the proposal to fit out the new Thameslink station at King's Cross St Pancras. Work is already under way and the station will be ready for passenger use at the end of 2007. The new state of the art station will provide an excellent interchange between Thameslink services and national and international services when Eurostar services switch operation from Waterloo International to St Pancras. It will also improve passenger access to those wishing to use the Olympic Javelin services to access Stratford during the London Olympics in 2012.

As part of the recent Channel Tunnel Rail Link blockade works a station box has already been constructed underneath the new St Pancras station. The new station will be a great improvement over the existing King's Cross Thameslink station at Pentonville Road, which has restricted access to the platforms and often suffers from congestion due to its narrow platforms and limited access between the platforms and the rest of the station. The new station, provisionally called St Pancras Thameslink, will also be fully compliant with DDA requirements.

The fit-out of the new station is an independent project and is not dependent on powers being granted to the Thameslink 2000 project, and consequently can be delivered in advance of this. The planned cost of fitting out the station and transferring services is £63.5 million at 2003 prices. It will be implemented by London Continental Railways, which is currently completing stage 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

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