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23 Oct 2007 : Column WA93

23 Oct 2007 : Column WA93

Written Answers

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Afghanistan: Media Portrayal

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: No. As a general principle the Government do not offer financial support for the making of specific programmes for the British media, which are editorially independent of the Government.

Agriculture: Foot and Mouth and Bluetongue

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Minister for Tourism, have discussed the impact of the foot and mouth outbreak with the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group.

The localised nature of the outbreak, which has so far been successfully contained within a small area of Surrey, has meant that there has been no significant impact on the national visitor economy. However, it is too early to make a definitive assessment, and longer- term work will be necessary to assess the full effects of the outbreak alongside such other factors as the poor summer weather, the strong pound and the increase in visa fees for inbound visitors earlier this year. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be working to that end over the next few months with the tourism industry.

Bluetongue is a very different disease from foot and mouth. It cannot be transmitted directly between animals, or by human agents. There is therefore no reason to close any parts of the countryside, and no significant impact on tourism businesses is expected.

However, the Government fully recognise that the farming community is suffering as a result of both forms of outbreak, and that many rural businesses are based on both farming and tourism. The impacts of the outbreaks will, therefore, continue to be monitored carefully.

Agriculture: Slaughter of Lambs

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Scottish sheep welfare scheme for lightweight lambs is designed and funded by the Scottish Executive.

Airports: Heathrow

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The collision at Heathrow Airport on Monday 15 October 2007 is under investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). The AAIB will report on its findings at the conclusion of the investigation and make such recommendations as it deems appropriate.


Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: In line with current UK export licensing procedure, specified categories of cultural property over 50 years old, valued above specific value thresholds, and which have been in the UK for 50 years or more, will require an export licence to leave the UK.

It is the policy of DCMS and the Export Licensing Unit neither to confirm or deny receipt of particular export licence applications.

Armed Forces: War Pensioners

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): An investigation will be considered only if specific evidence in an allegation casts doubt on entitlement to the pension or allowance in payment.

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War pensioners may have physical disabilities that are not connected with their pension entitlement and, therefore, these conditions would not form part of any investigation. Investigating officers would concentrate their investigation on those pensioned physical conditions questioned by the allegation and following evaluation on investigative strategy would be set using appropriate and proportionate police methods to ascertain the truth of the allegation.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: I am withholding the information requested as it relates to investigations, and proceedings conducted by public authorities and law enforcement.

Biodiversity: Terminator Seeds

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As is usual with international negotiations, parties do not take up fixed positions in advance of meeting so we cannot say what stance New Zealand, Canada and others will take on “terminator seeds technology”.

The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) decided, in 2000, that there should be a precautionary approach in field testing and commercial development of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) while research into the possible socio-economic impacts of these technologies was carried out. This decision was reaffirmed at the CBD meeting held in Brazil in 2006. As a party to the CBD, the UK supports this decision. There has been no change to our position.

Broadcasting: Allocation of Spectrum

Baroness Howe of Idlicote asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The allocation of spectrum released as part of digital switchover is a matter for Ofcom, subject to direction from Ministers. In its consultation on this subject—the digital dividend review—Ofcom outlined its framework for assessing the value of the released spectrum to society. This

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framework includes an assessment of broader social values, such as “access and inclusion”, “quality of life”, “cultural understanding” and “informed democracy”. The regulator has conducted market research looking at the value of potential uses of the digital dividend spectrum to consumers, citizens and the UK as a whole. Such criteria have therefore been considered, alongside economic value, throughout the consultation process on this issue.

Care Services

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We have made no representations to the Government of the Republic of Ireland about UK state pensions or other benefits paid to residents of care homes. A person's full UK pension entitlement is normally paid directly to the customer, or to their legal appointee.

Crime: Sex Offenders

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: On 10 October 2007 there were 718 offenders in Northern Ireland subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the sex offenders register) On the same date, there were 778 offenders subject to risk assessment and management arrangements—461 are categorised as level 1 (low risk); 294 are level 2 (medium risk) and 23 are category 3 (high risk). These figures include offenders in prison and in the community.

The period of time an offender is required to comply with the notification requirements depends on how he was dealt with in respect of the relevant offence and, in some cases, the type of disposal received, as set out in the following table.

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Where the offender:He will be subject to the notification requirements for:

Is sentenced to 30 months or more imprisonment (inc. life)

An indefinite period

Is admitted to a hospital subject to a restriction order

An indefinite period

Is sentenced to imprisonment for a term of more than 6 months but less than 30 months

10 years

Is sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months or less

7 years

Is admitted to hospital, without a restriction order

7 years

Is cautioned

2 years

Is given a conditional discharge

The duration of the conditional discharge

Received any other disposal (such as a community punishment or fine)

5 years

These notification periods apply to offenders over the age of 18. For those under 18, the notification periods are halved.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Data relating to the number of sex offenders reported are not available. It is possible to provide only the number of sexual offences recorded by the police or the number of offenders prosecuted and convicted for sexual offences.

Table 1 gives the number of sexual offences recorded by the police for the period requested.

Data for 2006 are not available for prosecutions and convictions and therefore table 2 gives the number prosecuted and convicted for indictable sexual offences for the calendar years 2004 to 2005, the latest available years. These figures are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Figures for recorded crime and prosecutions and convictions cannot be directly compared. Recorded crime figures relate to the number of notifiable crimes reported whereas prosecutions and convictions refer to the number of offenders who have been subsequently tried for offences. In addition, recorded crime figures incorporate each offence as initially recorded and these may differ from the offence for which a suspect or suspects are subsequently proceeded against.

Table 1: Number of sexual offences recorded by the PSNI for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006
Number recorded







Source: Police Service of Northern Ireland
Table 2: Number of prosecutions and convictions for sexual offences for the years 2004 and 2005
Number prosecutedNumber convicted







Source: Northern Ireland Office

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Government intend to publish draft legislation to end automatic 50 per cent remission for dangerous violent and sexual offenders in the near future. Fifty per cent remission of prison sentences was introduced by an amendment to the Prison Rules in 1976.

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