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Aviation: Open Skies

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government support the EU-Morocco aviation agreement signed on 12 December 2006. We continue to look carefully at this issue and will take it into account as appropriate in considering the future structure of air passenger duty as part of the Budget process.

Bovine Tuburculosis

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The control of bovine tuberculosis is a devolved matter.

Burma: Karen

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have made no specific representations about the increased attacks on villages in the Papun district of Karen state.

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, raised our serious concerns about the Burmese army's offensive in Karen state when he called in the Burmese ambassador on 15 June 2006 and wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July 2006.

Most recently, he raised the Burmese regime's appalling human rights record at the EU/Association of South East Asian Nations ministerial meeting in Nuremberg on 15 March in the presence of the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister.



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Cameroon: Human Rights

Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UK has frequent formal and informal contact with the Government of Cameroon on human rights issues. In March, the UK funded a workshop on security sector reform that involved the Ministries of Justice and Security (Police). The Cameroonian police are now working on introducing a code of ethics to be signed by all officers.

EU heads of mission raise human rights issues every six months in the structured EU/Cameroon political dialogue. Among the subjects recently discussed were funding for the National Human Rights Commission and the justice system.

Cash Payments

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): For a number of years, BT has applied a price differential between customers who pay their accounts by direct debit and those who pay by other means. This reflects the increased processing and debt management costs associated with payments not made by direct debit. Such differentials are common practice among communications providers and utility service providers.

From 1 May 2007, BT is changing how it presents this differential from a discount for those customers paying by direct debit to a charge for those paying by other means. BT has combined this change with an increase of £1.50 a quarter in the charge (from £3 to £4.50).

The Light User Scheme, In Contact and BT Basic will not be affected by the increased charge. These are the special tariff schemes offered to vulnerable customers by BT as a result of the universal service obligation placed on the company.

I understand the concerns expressed and I have raised the matter with the chief executive officer of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom is considering whether any of the changes that BT has recently made raise any regulatory issues.



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Children: Custody

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The Youth Justice Board (YJB) published its youth resettlement framework for action in 2006. The framework focuses on developing the key resettlement pathways including health, education, accommodation, training and employment, and substance misuse. The YJB has also rolled out resettlement and aftercare provision schemes (RAPS) in over 50 youth offending team (YOT) areas, providing planned resettlement activities for young offenders in custody and in the community. We recognise that a number of young offenders lack fundamental social and practical skills, and YOT supervising officers address these needs through a variety of one-to-one work throughout the duration of a young person’s sentence.

Children: Secure Institutions

Lord Ramsbotham asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): In 2005-06, the average daily amount spent on food for young offenders at Prison Service young offender institutions was £2.20.

Comparable information is not collected centrally in respect of secure training centres or secure children’s homes. The Youth Justice Board does not specify a minimum amount to be spent on food, but contracts with secure training centre operators require that each trainee will be provided with a meal that has reasonably sized portions of wholesome, nutritious, varied and good-quality food three times each day, including at least one hot main meal and a light supper snack. The board’s contracts with secure children’s homes (SCH) specify that each trainee will be provided with adequate quantities of suitably prepared food and drink, having regard to their needs and wishes. This is in accordance with the national minimum standards for children’s homes.

Trainees in all custodial establishments are given breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a snack at supper time.



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Climate Change

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Increased flood risk, from both rivers and the sea, is one of the predicted impacts of climate change in the UK. In England, we have significantly increased spending, which will be some £590 million (on both flood and coastal erosion risk management) in 2006-07 compared to £307 million in 1996-97. These funds are prioritised to address the most pressing flood and erosion problems first.

For several years, Defra has issued guidance to the operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards) on allowances to be made for future climate change and, in particular, sea level rise in the design of present-day defences. We recently reviewed this guidance, which is published on the Defra website, and are working to ensure effective management of flood and coastal erosion risk. This includes taking account of the likely impacts of climate change through our Making Space for Water programme, which is bringing the Government and other stakeholders together in developing a broad range of measures to respond to the challenge.

As well as investment in building and maintaining defences, these measures include such things as:

(i) encouraging better flood resilience and resistance for buildings and emergency infrastructure;

(ii) improved management of urban drainage; and

(iii) better stakeholder and community engagement and risk mapping.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Rooker: Advice on possible changes to long-term weather patterns and their likely impacts as a result of climate change will be considered carefully at the 2009 water industry price review.

From 1 April 2007, water companies have a statutory duty to prepare and maintain long-term water resource management plans. Directions will be made to ensure that these plans also consider the impact of changes in climate on the future water supply. The plans will be part of the evidence submitted to Ofwat at the next price review.

In addition, Ofwat is working with stakeholders to develop guidance for long-term sewerage plans. This

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will take account of developing climate change scenarios and their potential impact on future services.

Common Agricultural Policy

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The United Kingdom makes its contributions to the EC budget as a whole and not to individual spending programmes within it. There is not therefore a specific United Kingdom contribution to common agricultural policy spending. In 2005—the most recent year for which outturn data are available—total common agricultural policy spending was €48.5 billion (£33.1 billion) of which the United Kingdom received €4.3 billion (£3.0 billion).

Criminal Records Bureau

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Hallé Orchestra has raised some concerns regarding the way in which the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) operates. In essence, these concerns relate to the effectiveness of the bureau being compromised in not notifying employers of any subsequent offences that may be committed by an employee and that it is therefore necessary for employers to obtain repeat clearance applications.

The CRB was set up under Part V of the Police Act 1997 to enable employers, through the use of disclosure information, to make safer recruitment decisions where a position involved regular supervision of, or caring for, children and/or vulnerable adults. Therefore, disclosure information is intended to be used as a recruitment tool in conjunction with the full range of other pre-appointment checks to ensure that a prospective employee is suitable for the post.

However, the Hallé Orchestra may be interested to hear that new legislation in the form of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 8 November 2006. This creates a new vetting and barring scheme, led by the Department for Education and Skills, which is intended to minimise the risk of children and vulnerable adults suffering harm at the hands of those who are

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employed to work with them. It seeks to do this by ensuring that, where evidence suggests that an individual presents a risk of harm, he/she is barred as soon as possible from working with children and/or vulnerable adults by an Independent Barring Board (IBB).

The CRB will continually update the IBB as new relevant information comes to light, thereby ensuring that the status of the individual is kept under review. It is envisaged that, under the scheme, employers would be notified of any changes to an individual’s status. Further information on this scheme may be obtained from the Department for Education and Skills website at www.dfes.gov.uk.

I hope that this Answer proves helpful.

Cyprus: British Armed Forces

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): British Forces Cyprus has a robust discipline policy with respect to anti-social behaviour which is reviewed every six months. The policy implements out of bounds areas to all British military personnel, and all visiting troops are confined to the sovereign base areas. Those who breach this policy and are caught are dealt with appropriately. In addition, all personnel are briefed on the importance of maintaining good relations with the Republic of Cyprus and its residents.

Director of Public Prosecutions

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Appointment to the post of Director of Public Prosecutions depends on a consideration of all relevant factors concerning the qualification, experience, skills and personal characteristics of applicants and their overall suitability for this post. The person appointed must be a qualified lawyer with rights of audience, so any conviction resulting in the withdrawal of such rights would be a complete bar to appointment.

Whilst there is otherwise no formal bar to appointment based on a particular number or type of previous convictions, the fact of any such convictions, their age, nature, seriousness and circumstances would have to be carefully assessed to determine whether a particular applicant, even if otherwise the strongest candidate, should in fact not be appointed.



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Energy: Renewables

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): We make no forecast of when (a) solar power and (b) all renewables resources, expressed as a proportion of total energy consumption, will reach the same level as that of leading solar and renewables markets in other European Union member states. The renewables obligation is technology neutral and has a target of 20 per cent of UK electricity from renewables by 2020.

Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 will prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, the disposal and management of premises and the exercise of public functions. This provides protection for everyone—heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual—on grounds of their sexual orientation, on a par with that already provided for disability, race and gender, and alongside that shortly to be provided for religion or belief.


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