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Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Our ambassador in Tel Aviv discussed Israeli actions in the West Bank, including targeted killings, with the Israeli Government on 4 December. We have made no recent representations on behalf of the detained Palestinian Government and Legislative Council members. We support the call in the 13 and 14 November EU General Affairs and External Relations Council conclusions for the immediate release of Palestinian Ministers and legislators detained in Israel.

Mental Health: Compulsory Community Treatment

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Research has been commissioned to look at international experiences of using community treatment orders. The department expects to publish the findings when the research is completed.

Nepal: Foreign and Home Office Visit

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We obtained clarification on some important matters and have put a note to the Nepalese recording what was said. They are currently clearing this with their lawyers before agreeing that this is the formal Nepalese Government position. When the text has been agreed, we shall be able to disseminate the information and process the relevant applications through to completion.

Northern Bank Robbery

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Government had discussions with a range of political parties in the aftermath of the Northern Bank robbery. These discussions were conducted on a confidential basis, and any disclosure of the nature of such discussions could jeopardise relations with those parties.

Pensions: Richardsons Fertilisers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I can confirm that the staff retirement benefits plan of Richardsons Fertilisers is a qualifying scheme for the purposes of the financial assistance scheme (FAS).

Members within seven years of scheme pension age on 14 May 2004 will benefit from the FAS topping up their pensions to around 80 per cent of their expected core pension, subject to a £12,000 cap and a £520 de minimis. Those between seven and 15 years from scheme pension age can more reasonably be expected to supplement their retirement income, and will be considered for a top-up to around 65 per cent of their expected pension if they are between seven and 11 years from scheme pension age, and 50 per cent if between 12 and 15 years. Our priority has been to get help to those facing the most urgent difficulties, who will be least able to make provision to replace their lost pensions.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Selsdon asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is for individual Ministers to account for their Answers to Parliamentary Questions.

Railways: Freight

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Yes. The Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 2005 (SI No. 3207), implementing a regulation of the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission, transposes to the Channel Tunnel the principles of EU directive 2001/14.

Railways: Network Rail

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: It is for Network Rail to determine how best to use its £523 million post-tax profits for the first half of 2006-07. It has announced that it will hold a prudent part in reserve, with the remainder to be used to reduce its debt and to reinvest in the railway. It will discuss priorities on how best to use that element available for investment with its key funders and customers.

Network Rail's profits reflect the company's good progress during the first half of the five-year regulatory control period towards delivering the 31 per cent efficiency savings required by the Office of Rail Regulation.

Russia: Mr Litvinenko

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Ministerial Code provides guidance to Ministers on carrying out their official duties.

St Helena: Airport

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The notice for the competition for the design, build and operate contract was republished in the Official Journal of the EU on 28 October 2006. This was based on a revised allocation of risk, under which the Government of St Helena would assume greater responsibility for certain project risks.

The revised invitation to tender will also contain reference designs for the major project elements to help tenderers minimise cost and time of tendering. We expect to be in a position to issue the revised invitation to tender towards the end of the second quarter of 2007. Inevitably, this means a delay in the likely completion date for the airport. We now estimate that air access will be introduced by 2011-12.

Stormont Parliament Buildings: Security

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: A police presence on sitting days of the Northern Ireland Assembly was discontinued when the Assembly was suspended in October 2002 and sittings consequently ceased. There have been ongoing communications between the Speaker and the Chief Constable about a permanent police presence in Parliament Buildings on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Government do not consider that a public inquiry is appropriate at this time. The Commission for the Transitional Assembly will be conducting a review, in consultation with relevant parties, of the security of Parliament Buildings, following the attempted intrusion by Mr Michael Stone on 24 November. The Government will wish to consider the findings of the review and will seek early implementation of any agreed recommendations for improvement that it may make.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: While the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended, the functions of the Assembly Commission are discharged by the Secretary of State by virtue of paragraph 8(2) of the schedule to the

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Northern Ireland Act 2000. Advice on levels of security at Parliament Buildings would be provided to the Secretary of State by the Speaker and Assembly administration officials.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Police Service of Northern Ireland has provided advice to the Speaker and the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission on the handling of major events in, and visits to, Parliament Buildings and the grounds of the Stormont estate. Advice may also be provided on security threat levels.

Television: Digital Switchover

Baroness Young of Hornsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Digital switchover does not require the disposal of any equipment. However, as the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) acknowledges, there may be a temporary acceleration in the disposal of some secondary television sets that people choose not to adapt after switchover. The RIA is available at:

In the light of this, Defra and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) jointly commissioned the market transformation programme to establish and quantify any changes in patterns of disposal of consumer equipment, including televisions, due to digital switchover. The report is expected to be published in early 2007.

Television sets disposed of following digital switchover will be subject to regulations implementing the EU waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive. It aims to prevent electronic and electrical waste and promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery in order to reduce the amount of such waste going to landfill. The directive requires producers, or those acting on their behalf, to set up systems for treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE.

Transposition of the majority of the WEEE directive is the responsibility of the DTI. However, Defra will be making regulations amending the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 to transpose the treatment-permitting requirements of Article 6 of the directive. Defra also intends to introduce exemptions from the need to obtain a waste management licence, including

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for those storing WEEE prior to its recovery and those repairing WEEE to promote its reuse. These regulations will help to ensure that less WEEE ends up in landfill and more of it is either reused or recycled in an environmentally sound manner.

The DTI has completed its consultation on the draft regulations and accompanying guidance, and aims for them to come into force in early January 2007, with producer responsibility coming into force in July. The Defra regulations will be made shortly thereafter.


Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The announcement made on Wednesday 25 October 2006 referred to the aim identified in the Russell commission report on youth action and engagement, published in March 2005, of involving 1 million more young people in volunteering within the next five years.

The new independent youth-led charity V, which was launched on Monday 8 May 2006, is working towards this aim. V has the lead in delivering a step change in the quality, quantity and diversity of volunteering opportunities available to young people aged 16 to 25 in England. More than 60,000 volunteering opportunities have been created since the charity's launch. Funding of £100 million has been made available to implement the Russell commission recommendations, of which £50 million is available through a match-funding scheme. Match-funding pledges from private sector funding partners has reached over £17 million.

Any necessary Criminal Records Bureau checks, which are free for most volunteers, will be carried out by the providers of the volunteering opportunities as required by current rules and regulations.

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