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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Research into on-farm diagnostic tests for foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus is ongoing. Defra is a major sponsor of this research, which is investigating a number of test methods.
The research is being conducted in collaboration with commercial companies which are capable of developing the technologies in a miniaturised form that is portable and reliable in the field, as well as producing the complex equipment required at an affordable cost. This equipment must also be robust and able to be disinfected when moved from farm to farm. Progress in this area is being made, but more research is needed in relation to safety, appropriate cost, and the ability to diagnose all strains of the FMD virus. The opportunity has been taken, during the recent FMD outbreak, to contribute to the validation of the lateral flow device; one of the potential on-farm diagnostic methods currently being developed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Legal Services Commission is committed to establishing a smaller, increasingly quality-assured supplier base, remaining sufficient to meet need and is confident there are currently few gaps in supply.
The improvement in the quality of legal advice and representation has been one of the biggest achievements of the Community Legal Service and contracting. The introduction of franchising, the Specialist Quality Mark (SQM), initiatives such as the
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In addition, the Legal Services Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 October, makes a new provision in the regulation of immigration advice and services. By 2010, persons regulated by the Law Society, the Bar or the Institute of Legal Executives will be regulated instead by the Legal Services Board (LSB), a single independent regulator. The LSB's objectives include improving access to justice and promoting competition in the legal sector, thereby increasing incentives to improve on quality.
Whether they or the European Union have raised the issues affecting the majority Muslim population of Xinjiang with the Government of China, and, in particular, the issues concerning mosques and refusal to allow pilgrims to travel to Mecca; and whether they will keep these issues on the agenda for human rights dialogue. [HL195]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We have raised human rights issues which affect the Muslim population of Xinjiang, including the management of mosques, permission for Hajji and other aspects of freedom of religious practice, with the Chinese Government. This was a major focus of the EU-China human rights dialogue under the UK presidency in 2005. We have since followed up bilaterally and through the EU. We will continue to urge the Chinese authorities to protect the legitimate rights of all ethnic and religious groups in Xinjiang, in line with international human rights standards, including at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue.
In relation to the coming into force of Section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, what recent representations they have received from Professor Leon Poller, chairman of the Manchester Dogs' Home, on his concerns regarding the voluntary code of practice and related issues; and what action they will take. [HL34]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Professor Poller has written to Defra, including three recent letters to Ministers, on the working drafts of guidance for local authorities on stray dogs functions and the commencement of Section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. We are grateful to Professor Poller for his helpful representations, all of which have been considered in preparing the guidance.
The final guidance, which has now been issued to local authorities, includes references to the important work of charitable organisations such as the one which Professor Poller represents and the advantages that partnership working can deliver. The guidance is available from the Defra website.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The European Commission had said it intends to publish a consultative communication about the CAP health check on 20 November 2007. It estimates that legislative proposals will follow in spring 2008, with the aim of reaching political agreement by December 2008.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 27 July (WA 128), whether they are now in a position to give a date for the publication of their response to the consultation document, Convicting Rapists and Protecting VictimsJustice for Victims of Rape. [HL23]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 24 July (WA 81), whether the staff voluntary redundancy scheme will be sufficient to meet SR04 targets; whether an element of compulsion may have to be introduced; and, if so, when the department will know that it will be necessary. [HL176]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The current Defra staff voluntary early retirement and voluntary early severance scheme started in August 2007 with last applications in December 2007 or January 2008 depending on levels of uptake and affordability. Defra is currently awaiting decisions on the offers made to
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In terms of compulsory redundancies, the need to introduce this measure to reach the SR04 headcount requirements will be kept under review; should the need be confirmed, the normal consultative processes will be followed.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 10 October (WA 18), whether they will remind the police and other emergency services of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 which permit the use of sirens only when an emergency vehicle has to alert other road-users that it is present and responding to an urgent incident. [HL79]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I am confident that the emergency services are fully aware of the legal controls on the use of sirens. Individual police forces and other agencies may issue their own guidance, but subject to the law it is a matter for individual drivers of emergency service vehicles to decide when they need to alert to their presence other drivers and pedestrians or others using the road.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Information on member states' implementation is collected by the Commission and is available at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/securities/isd/mifid_implementation _en.htm.
What representations they are making within the European Union to ensure that those countries which have not implemented the markets in financial instruments directive are subject to appropriate penalties for non-compliance. [HL122]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Throughout this process, we have made clear to the Commission our concern over the potential failure of some member states to
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Lord Davies of Oldham: It is for the Commission to enforce implementation of directives. We have made clear to the Commission our support for its actions to encourage all member states to implement MiFID as swiftly as possible, and we will continue to do so as appropriate.
Whether they will ensure that no action is taken against United Kingdom firms which have not achieved full compliance with the markets in financial instruments directive for as long as any other European Union country has not implemented the directive. [HL124]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Her Majesty's Government have discussed the implications of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 with the Scottish Executive. The Scottish Executive are developing consultation work to seek the views of those affected and the agencies and organisations that provide support for them, on the possibility of creating civil legislation in this area. We continue to explore with the Scottish Executive the impact on cross-border cases.
What was the cost of (a) the work that took place to the main road outside the Palace of Westminster (Abingdon Street/New Palace Yard) during the Summer Recess, and (b) the arrangements made in this area for the State Opening of Parliament. [HL168]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The main road outside the Palace was closed during the Summer Recess to enable Westminster City Council to undertake essential repairs to the road surface. The House Committee took the decision in June that this scheduled road closure should be used as an opportunity to move the Corus barriers further from the Palace as envisaged under Phase 2 of the Corus security programme. Further work was undertaken during the five days immediately after State Opening to replace the temporary installation with the final barriers.
The cost of the surface repair work was met by Westminster City Council. The road layout works and provision of components for the Corus barriers were undertaken by the parliamentary estate at a cost of £835,395. Further costs may arise due to additional requirements such as extra signage. The arrangements made in the area for the State Opening of Parliament, including the removal and reinstatement of the barriers, cost £70,100.
Further to his Written Answer on 25 October (WA 128), what are the no smoking regulations on the House of Lords Terrace in respect of Peers; and what action is being taken to ensure that these are enforced. [HL128]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Smoking is only permitted on the Terrace within the designated area at the end of the Lords Terrace abutting the Commons Terrace. Steps are being taken to provide a clearer demarcation of the smoking area in line with the decision of the Refreshment Committee on 17 October. Failure of a Member to observe the ban should be brought to the attention of the usual channels for further action.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK position with regard to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1989 (ILO 169) was set out in a 1989 White Paper (Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, Command Paper Number: CM 1078). As the White Paper noted, ILO 169 was essentially an update of the 1957 ILO Convention 107. The White Paper explained that Convention 107 could not be applied in the UK as there were no indigenous, tribal or semi-tribal people there, and so
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The UK is committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. On 13 September 2007, the UK voted in favour of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN General Assembly, as we had previously done at the Human Rights Council in June 2006. The adoption of this declaration marks a significant advance for indigenous peoples around the world.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The relationship between the Isle of Man and the European Union is defined by Protocol 3 to the UK's Treaty of Accession of 1972 to the then European Economic Community. Under this relationship the Isle of Man is outside the EU. EU treaty provisions and EU law do not apply to the Isle of Man except in relation to the free movement of goods between the island and member states. In addition, the Isle of Man neither contributes to nor benefits from EU funds.
The Isle of Man Government have not and are not seeking to extend the remit of the relationship defined by Protocol 3, under which the Isle of Man has no voting rights in European Parliament elections as the relevant treaty provisions do not apply to the island.
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