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29 Oct 2007 : Column WA135



29 Oct 2007 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Monday 29 October 2007

Abortion

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department takes the monitoring of the Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, very seriously, including the procedures around the handling of HSA1 and HSA4 forms, and will investigate if we are notified of any individual operating outside of the Act.

Dr Argent clarified, when giving oral evidence to the Science and Technology Committee on 17 October 2007, that he had not seen anyone operating outside of the Act.

Airports: Heathrow

Baroness Valentine asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The process of setting price caps is independent of the Government. We have received no direct formal representations on the Competition Commission's report. We do of course, however, continue to engage with the relevant parties—the CAA, BAA and the Competition Commission—in the normal course of business.

The Competition Commission's report, A Report on the Economic Regulation of the London Airports Companies (Heathrow Airport Ltd and Gatwick Airport Ltd), September 2007, can be found at www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=5&;pagetype=90& pageid=8779.



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Animal Welfare: Sheep and Goats

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): It is important that ear tagging is carried out correctly to ensure that the welfare of animals is protected. Taking care will also minimise ear tag losses and associated problems. The relevant guidelines, available on the Defra website, should be followed carefully to ensure that the ear tag is correctly applied and to avoid unnecessary pain or distress to animals.

We are awaiting a report and proposal from the European Commission as to when electronic identification of sheep and goats will be introduced. Because the UK goat herd is below the size threshold for mandatory electronic identification, this will apply only to sheep.

Banking: Northern Rock

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: I refer the noble Lord to the Chancellor’s oral Statement on 11 October.

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: This is a matter for the FSA. In accordance with the capital requirements directive, the FSA agreed that the firm could move to the Basle 2 regime for determining regulatory capital requirements in July.

BBC: World Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will provide grant in aid of £239.5 million to the BBC World Service (BBCWS) in financial year 2007-08. BBCWS is funded by the FCO because the provision of independent news and information to audiences around the world supports the achievement of the Government's strategic priorities.

BBCWS is monitored through agreed public service agreement measures such as targets for its global audience and the use of its online services. There are also regular financial meetings to ensure that public money is spent appropriately.

Border and Immigration Agency

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The current workforce in the Border and Immigration Agency is 18,798 and the budget for 2007-08 for staff is £636 million.

The nationality of employees in the Border and Immigration Agency is restricted to UK citizenship, European Economic Area or Commonwealth citizenship in all but the exceptional circumstances set out in the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919.

British Citizenship

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The letter from the Nepalese consulate-general in Hong Kong (ref: HK/NCCR/3811, dated 7 August 2007) to our consulate-general in Hong Kong will be placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The delay is very much regretted. Unfortunately, Mr RMMC’s papers do not provide the reason why the certificate was delayed. A fresh certificate has been produced and sent via the British consulate in Hong Kong. Officials will ensure that this is delivered.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: I have carefully considered the noble Lord’s request but have concluded that it would not be appropriate to release the documents requested. To do so would be contrary to the public interest in avoiding harm to international relations and ensuring that officials are candid in the policy advice they submit to Ministers. I can confirm, however, that no commencement order has been made in respect of Section 2(2) of the 1990 Act and that we have no plans to bring it into force.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: From the information provided it would appear that such a person would qualify for registration as a British citizen.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: There has been no communication on this matter since 1 September.

Burundi: Corruption

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Burundi faces an enormous challenge in fighting corruption. We are working with the Netherlands and the International Monetary Fund to target corruption through support to the Ministry of Finance to speed up implementation of the Public Financial Management Reform Programme.

Additionally, we have built monitoring mechanisms into the UK’s major assistance programmes in health, education and governance that should help strengthen Burundi's financial management systems.

Through our £10 million bilateral assistance programme, the Government remain committed to working with Burundi to meet the challenges it faces.

Buses

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: All public service vehicles operating on our roads are inspected prior to entering service to ensure they comply with the relevant safety requirements. The Department for Transport is currently reviewing the safety of all heavy vehicles and will decide on priorities for buses and coaches in the light of the findings.

Civil Service Improvements

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: Appointments and promotion at all levels in the Civil Service are based on merit determined by an assessment of an individual's skills and experience against the competencies required for the role in question.

Data are not collected on the proportion of permanent secretaries being appointed who have had operational experience outside Whitehall. However, recorded information shows that 56 per cent of permanent secretaries have experience (12 months or more) working outside of Whitehall in the private, wider public, or international sectors.

Climate Change: Sustainable Development

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The London Climate Change Agency Ltd is a commercial company wholly owned and controlled by the London Development Agency. It has not been granted any statutory powers to propose policies and infrastructure projects to the Government.

Competitiveness

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The World Economic Forum has produced a “global competitiveness index” (GCI) only since 2006. Prior to 2006, the World Economic Forum produced a “growth competitiveness index” which was a narrower measure of competitiveness than the GCI. The position of the UK in the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness index for 2006 and growth competitiveness index for the years 1996-2005 is as follows:



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YearUK position

1996

15

1997

7

1998

4

1999

8

2000

9

2001

12

2002

11

2003

15

2004

11

2005

13

2006

10


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