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16 July 2007 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 16 July 2007

Afghanistan: Vector Patrol Vehicles

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): Policy on disclosure is under review. Until that review is completed I refer the noble Lord to the Answer my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave in the other place on 14 May 2007, (Official Report, col. 508W).

Army: Wessex Transport

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): The current allocated budget for the necessary building works required to accommodate 155 (Wessex) Transport Regiment RLC(V) upon its formation is £705,000. These funds will be utilised to facilitate the initial building works required at three of the four Territorial Army Centres (TACs) that will be used by the regiment:

£37,000 to be spent in the 2008-09 financial year on the Dorchester TAC;£300,000 to be spent during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years on the Poole TAC; and£368,000 allocated for the 2009-10 financial year, to be spent on the Plymouth TAC. This allocation will cover the cost of remedial building works only. A subsequent site survey has been conducted to establish the options available to meet the regiment's full requirement.

The building estimate, to provide a full refurbishment and rebuild of all facilities required by the regimental headquarters at the Plymouth TAC, exceeds the current allocation by approximately £3.9 million. Funding will continue to be sought through the department's planning round process, in competition with other priorities in the normal way.



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Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The number of staff that remains to be considered for assimilation prior to vesting day is in the region of 370.

The Office of Government Commerce Gateway review report, dated 30 May, is personal to the CEO as the senior responsible officer for the CEHR programme. It is not intended to publish the report. At the last CEHR Commission Board meeting the CEO reported that the recommendations had been met or were in hand.

The commission’s legal strategy is being developed. The interim legal strategy will be in place by 1 October. Any organisations impacted will be consulted, including organisations such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau, ACAS, law centres and other local service organisations who will provide advice to individuals who do not meet the CEHR's criteria for assistance.

Government: Collective Responsibility

Lord Waddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The principle of collective responsibility is set out in the Ministerial Code, which applies to all Ministers and is available in the Library.

Government: Departmental Reorganisation

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): Lord Drayson will be supported by officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to enable him to undertake his duties.

Immigration: Unaccompanied Minors

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Border and Immigration Agency staff at ports and asylum screening units refer all children to local authority children’s services if they have arrived alone or where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm. If there is a suspicion that a child has been trafficked, this will be reported to the appropriate authorities. The local authority will assess the care and support required under Sections 17 and 20 of the Children Act 1989. If the child becomes the responsibility of the local authority, it acts as the corporate parent through the appointed social worker. The Government do not believe, therefore, that the appointment of a guardian specifically for trafficked children is necessary or desirable.

Unaccompanied children who then go on to apply for asylum are referred to the Refugee Council children's panel of advisors, which helps find legal representatives for the child. Consequently, the Border and Immigration Agency does not currently appoint a legal representative for an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.

Met Office

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): The Met Office has not proposed that the United Kingdom renounce its membership of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The UK is supportive of the work of the centre and is committed

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to ensuring it has appropriate levels of funding to maintain its scientific eminence in medium-range weather forecasting. But under proposed budget increases the UK's contribution will grow, in real terms, by more than a third over the next five years. This equates to a rise of approximately £2 million a year.

The Government are committed to promoting robust governance and sound management in all international organisations where the UK is a stakeholder. Through better financial management and procurement, improved transparency and accountability, we believe the ECMWF can continue to deliver its core medium-range weather forecasting mission to a high standard without large budget increases.

The ECMWF council recently considered proposals from the Met Office aimed at improving management and procurement practices at the ECMWF which, if accepted, would resolve UK concerns over ECMWF governance and value for money. However, without such acceptance, the UK would need to reconsider its membership of the centre.

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has developed useful capabilities, which we value, particularly in medium-range weather forecasting. However, ECMWF does not have a climate prediction capability.

The UK's leading role in tackling climate change at an international level is strongly supported by the world-leading climate research and prediction work of the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Mobile Phones: Pay-as-you-go

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): This issue was considered in detail by an expert group comprising representatives of law enforcement, the security and intelligence agencies and communications service providers following the terrorist attack on London in July 2005. The experts’ findings remain valid. They concluded that the compulsory registration of ownership of mobile telephones would not deliver any significant new benefits to the investigatory process and would dilute the effectiveness of current self-registration schemes.



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Nappies

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

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The further work is not testing the validity of the basic assumptions in the original life cycle assessment. It is analysing disposable and reusable products for 2006 and looking at some ways the various nappies would be used to see how these affect the environmental impacts, such as how they are washed, whether they are pre-soaked and how they are dried. The findings for the different types of reusable nappies and modern disposables will then be compared.

People Trafficking: Children

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Home Office commissioned this report in 2006 to improve our knowledge of the nature and extent of child trafficking in the UK. We are most concerned about the plight of child victims revealed in the findings and welcome the recommendations, which are being actively pursued as part of the Government's action plan on tackling human trafficking.

Police: Northern Ireland

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Members of Parliament are free to question and hold to account the actions of any public office through the normal parliamentary process. Through this process, Members of Parliament

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and the wider public have access to the deliberations and conclusions of those involved in the accountability process.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Chief Constable has advised that two police officers have been waiting for over two years to have disciplinary charges against them resolved. No officers have been waiting longer than this. No officers, other than these two, have been waiting longer than one year.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: I am advised by the Chief Constable that, following the dismissal of court proceedings against Constable Purcell on 29 November 2004, misconduct proceedings were instigated against the constable by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). However, following legal submissions, the hearing was adjourned on 14 March 2006 and a judicial review called by the constable's defence. That judicial review was concluded on 31 May 2007 in favour of the PSNI. It is intended that, when the PSNI professional standards department receives an official record of the judicial review finding, the disciplinary hearing will be relisted.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: These are matters to be dealt with by the Chief Constable. However, Regulations 25 and 26 of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Conduct) Regulations 2000, which govern attendance at police disciplinary hearings, state that a disciplinary hearing shall be held in private. In circumstances of a complaint, the complainant is allowed to attend and, at the discretion

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of the presiding officer, may be accompanied by a friend or relative. Also, under certain circumstances, it is within the discretion of the presiding officer to allow others to attend such hearings subject to the consent of all parties to the hearing.

Roads: Names

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The department has not issued any recent guidance to local authorities regarding the geographical, local and historical criteria to be fulfilled in advance of the naming of new roads.

The naming of new streets is carried out under Section 17 of the Public Health Act 1925, and postal numbering is carried out under Section 64 of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847. Local authorities are responsible for the naming and numbering of new streets and the changing/reallocation of individual property addresses. Many local authorities ensure that the naming of any new roads preserves some historic local connection to the area. In many cases, the council will carry out a consultation exercise with the Royal Mail, the appropriate local town or parish council and the relevant highway authority before any new name is decided.


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