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Lord Triesman: The issue of property is one of the most contentious and central issues in the Cyprus dispute and the Government raise such issues with all interlocutors during their discussions.

The then UN Secretary-General's comprehensive settlement plan of 2004 contained provisions for the return of, and compensation for, property in respect of all Cypriots.

We are aware of recent legal claims by Turkish Cypriots for restitution of their property. However, we continue to believe that the best way of resolving the property issue is as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement agreement. We remain committed to doing everything we can to support progress towards a resumption of settlement negotiations.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Human Rights

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Our ambassador in Kinshasa has raised the case of Mme Nlandu on several occasions with Congolese Ministers, the Congolese Interior Minister and President Kabila's advisors. He raised it with President Kabila himself on 2 February and underlined to him the need to respect due process. Embassy officials have also been present during some of her appearances in court. We continue to monitor Mme Nlandu's situation and treatment closely. International partners are doing the same.

Energy: Renewables

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): We have consulted on ways of streamlining the renewables obligation in order to bring forward emerging technologies, such as offshore wind, that can take us toward our renewable energy targets. We received from a wide range of companies and interest groups, as well as Ofgem, a total of 206 responses to our consultation document: Reform of the Renewables Obligation and Statutory Consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007. We will take account of all of these in formulating our policies for future support of renewable electricity generation.

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Since the introduction of the RO in 2002, eligible renewable electricity generated under the scheme has increased to 4.0 per cent of total electricity sales to UK consumers in 2005—up from 1.8 per cent in 2002. This makes it more successful than the previous mechanism, the non-fossil-fuels obligation, under which the proportion of renewables rose from 0.2 per cent of electricity sales in 1992 to 1.8 per cent in 2002. We wish to build on this success with an approach that increases the deployment of renewable generation, maintains investor confidence and increases value for money for the customer.

Energy: Wind Farms

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): A number of offshore wind farm projects have been constructed or are now being brought forward for development. We are aware of developer interest in additional opportunities for the development of offshore renewable energy projects and have begun to explore options with the Crown Estate. Any consideration of future efforts will include consultation with the renewables sector and other parties with interests in or responsibilities for the marine environment.

Environmental Protection: Northern Ireland

Lord Rana asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: On 28 February 2006 an independent review of environmental governance in Northern Ireland was launched. The review will bring forward proposals for future environmental governance arrangements, in relation to environmental protection, the natural heritage and the built heritage.

An interim report of the panel’s findings was published on 29 September 2006 and, following further research and public consultation, it will publish its final report by the end of March 2007.

Ethiopia and Eritrea

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The United Kingdom voted in favour of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1741 on 30 January. The resolution reiterated the demand made in UNSCR 1640 that Ethiopia “accept fully and without delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission”. The Ethiopia Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC) proposal to demarcate by co-ordinates is a matter for the EEBC to pursue, as it is the entity that Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed will rule on demarcation. The UNSCR called upon the international community to engage with Ethiopia and Eritrea to make progress on their dispute and, with our partners, including the German presidency of the EU, we will consider what action might be taken to help the parties do this.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The United Kingdom voted in favour of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1741 on 30 January. The UNSCR resolution reiterated the demand made in Resolution 1640 that Ethiopia “accept fully and without delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission” (EEBC). The EEBC proposal to demarcate by co-ordinates is a matter for the EEBC to pursue, as it is the entity that Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed will rule on demarcation.

Fishing: Sharks

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Defra is regularly involved in meetings and negotiations at EU level, as well as globally, that have sought to address threats to shark conservation.

The illegal fishing of sharks for fins is a major threat to shark species. As a response to international concerns over the sustainability of shark fisheries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) produced a voluntary action plan for the conservation and management of sharks. As the European Commission has competence on fisheries measures it has signed up to the plan on behalf of the UK and all other EU member states. As part of the commitment to implement the plan, the EU has already adopted a regulation outlawing the practice of removing sharks' fins on EU vessels and in EU waters.

The UK is active in its support for international agreements that seek to control international fishing activities. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Ben Bradshaw) was the Chair of the High Seas Task Force on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which produced its final report this year. The UK is actively implementing the proposals of the high seas task force in order to help identify and eliminate illegal fishing activity including the lucrative trade in shark products.

Furthermore, the UK has been instrumental in listing certain species (such as the basking shark) on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) to afford them better protection. The UK has supported the European Union's proposal that the listing of porbeagle and spiny dogfish sharks be considered at the forthcoming CITES Conferences of the Parties in June 2007. Following the CMS listing, the UK has been working with CMS and the Governments of Australia and the Seychelles to develop an international instrument to conserve migratory species of sharks. A meeting of government officials from range states and other interested parties, to consider this further, is likely to take place towards the end of the year.

The Far East is the main destination market for shark fins and the demand is ever-increasing due to the increased wealth of the population, particularly in China. Through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and during bilateral meetings between government officials and Ministers, we regularly raise the subject of shark conservation and the detrimental impact on shark species directly as a result of the demand for products such as shark fin.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The European Commission has competence in this area under the Common Fisheries Policy. Council Regulation (EC) No. 1185/2003 controls

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the removal of fins from sharks onboard vessels. In December 2006, the Commission published a report on the operation of the regulation. The report concluded that the regulation is achieving its general objectives and that further amendments were not necessary.

Since sharks are taken as a bycatch in many fisheries, it would be impossible to prevent all catches. The most effective way of conserving sharks is likely to be to limit to sustainable levels, within the EU and elsewhere, the overall level of fishing for the main target species.

Within the UK, we have recently completed a consultation on proposals to stop new commercial fisheries targeting tope, a species of large coastal shark.

Immigration: Abuse and Exploitation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have already stated that, in line with the Government's policy to phase out low skilled migration, we will be terminating the overseas domestic worker in private households category.

Limited provision will, however, be made to allow visitors to the UK to be accompanied by their “domestic assistants” under revised business visitor arrangements. These are not migrant workers but people who are ordinarily employed and resident outside the United Kingdom.

In relation to people who might enter the UK under the business visitor provisions we do remain open to suggestions to ways of identifying potentially abusive cases at the pre-entry stage and on reparative measures centred around the safe return of the visitor to either their country of departure or their country of origin, should any abuse be identified while the person is in the UK.

Immigration: Asylum Gender Guidelines

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The gender guidelines produced in 2000 are out of date in respect of reference to the law and have been replaced by a growing body of jurisprudence. The guidelines were originally designed to provide guidance for the Immigration Appellate

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Authority (the predecessor to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal), in considering asylum seekers’ claims under the refugee convention. They have not at any time had binding authority on the AIT.

Immigration judges are independent judicial officers and determine cases on the evidence placed before them. In all appeals, including those involving rape allegations, judges consider case law from the tribunal and the higher courts. Judges also have the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) Equal Treatment Benchbook available to them when conducting hearings and considering appeals involving vulnerable individuals.

Immigration: Spot Checks

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Immigration officers undertake document checks at the gates of arriving aircraft on an intelligence-led basis. Officers wear high-visibility tabards/jackets to identify them as a member of the United Kingdom Immigration Service and ensure their warrant cards are visible during the document check.

Special Branch “ports” officers usually stand at a podium or point marked out as “Police Control”. At the point where they intervene in passengers' movement, they would announce themselves as a “police officer” (showing a warrant card, if necessary).

Inward Investment: East Belfast

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Government, through Invest NI, promote Northern Ireland as an attractive and viable location for foreign direct investment. They also work to stimulate the development and growth of local businesses and entrepreneurial activity. Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) works to secure investment in tourism.

Invest NI works closely with local stakeholders to encourage them to develop regional propositions to maximise the attractiveness of their area for potential investors.

This strategy has resulted in around £18.8 million of assistance being offered towards total planned inward investment of £55.8 million in the East Belfast constituency area in the four years to March 2006. Through its accelerating entrepreneurship strategy, Invest NI has also assisted the creation of just under

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350 new enterprises which have the potential to generate significant additional turnover in local businesses.

In the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2006, Invest NI organised 580 inward visits by potential investor companies to Northern Ireland, of which 110 were to East Belfast.

DETI’s £23.5 million investment to date in the establishment of a science park at Queen's Island has provided 80,000 square feet of high-quality workspace designed to attract innovation-led, high-growth, knowledge-based businesses. The Government have also recently approved a proposal to build a further 210,000 square feet of accommodation at the site, with additional funding of £4.3 million being made available for the first phase build of 60,000 square feet.

The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is the flagship tenant for the Science Park, with Invest NI offering £8.3 million assistance towards a total investment of £37.8 million, representing the single largest investment in leading-edge research and development infrastructure to establish in NI.

As a key signature project within the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's strategic framework for action 2004-07, the Titanic and Maritime Heritage project has the potential to make a significant impact on Northern Ireland tourism, providing further potential social and economic benefits for the local population, including new employment opportunities.

This project has been shortlisted for further consideration by the Big Lottery Fund. The Government, acting through NITB and DETI, along with Titanic Quarter Limited (TQL), are now progressing the lottery application to the second stage due for submission by end May 2007, and working to identify potential additional funding sources.

NITB has already committed funding of £825,000 for other aspects of the Titanic bid including the development of Thompson Dock and Pump House and also the world's first interactive multimedia digital trail, launched by NITB and Belfast City Council in August 2006. Invest NI has also offered £136,000 of assistance to hotels within the East Belfast area to help them develop their capability in order to strengthen the tourism product on offer within the area.

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