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Whether they have assessed the proposal to police the illegal sale of alcohol to underage drinkers in Northern Ireland by the systematic use of underage children as police decoys; whether this tactic constitutes entrapment; and whether they have implemented such a tactic anywhere else within the United Kingdom. [HL337]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information received from the Northern Ireland Office states that it is currently progressing new legislative powers for test purchasing the sale of alcohol to under 18 year-olds. This legislative power is to be included within the draft Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2007. The draft 2007 order has been issued by the Northern Ireland Office for public consultation, which is due to conclude on 31 January 2008. It is anticipated that the legislative powers for test purchase operations will extend to off and on licence premises, including off licences at supermarkets.
The use of under 18 year-olds within test purchasing operations authorised by police will require written parental consent and be subject to strict guidelines, controls and procedures that avoid any risks to and ensure the welfare of under 18 year-olds.
The police welcome the proposed test purchasing powers as it will assist in addressing not only the sale of alcohol to under 18 year-olds, but also the closely linked problems of youth disorder and alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour as a result of underage drinking.
Test purchasing legislative powers for the sale of alcohol to under 18 year-olds have been used for some time in England and Wales. Over recent years there have been a number of Home Office sponsored test purchase campaigns including tackling underage sales of alcohol (TUSAC) campaigns in October 2006 and more recently from May to July 2007. The advice to participating forces is to work in partnership with local trading standards officers and to refer them to the LACORS national guidance on test purchase.
Parental consent has to be obtained for young people to participate in a campaign and a full risk assessment has to be undertaken in all cases. Details of this can be found in the attached guidance which also includes a section on entrapment.
A copy of this guidance has been forwarded to the noble Lord and copies provided to the Lords Library. Alternatively it can be accessed through the following link at www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/ContentDetails .aspx?id=8056.
Whether they will ensure that women applying for asylum in their own right have childcare for young dependent children when their principal interview is taking place and that, if necessary, they have female interviewers and interpreters. [HL327]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A request for a gender specific case owner and interpreter for the asylum interview is accommodated where operationally possible. The Home Office does not provide childcare to those attending substantive asylum or immigration interviews. However, we are currently considering the facilitation of childcare at asylum interviews with a trial in Wales and the south-west that will be evaluated in March 2008.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Her Majesty's Government will publish their formal response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion in the new year. We will continue to keep Parliament informed.
Lord West of Spithead: This year, the Ministry of Justice has committed £3 million to fund independent domestic violence advisers, with a commitment to provide further funding over the next two years. The majority of the recipients of this funding are from the voluntary and community sector.
Safe housing is integral to victims' recovery from domestic violence. Support people funding is available to provide housing related support for victims of domestic violence. In 2005-06, more than £59 million was made available to domestic violence housing services, again predominantly from the third sector.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Estimates of the revenue lost through the illegal consumption of diesel and petrol in County Armagh, or indeed Northern Ireland, are not available because it is not yet possible to split revenue losses between those resulting from the illicit market and those from legitimate cross-border shopping. However, estimates of the total non-UK duty paid consumption for Northern Ireland are available and are reported in Measuring Indirect Tax Losses2007, which is published alongside the 2007 Pre-Budget Report and can be found in the Library of the House
Lord Davies of Oldham: These are matters for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is currently developing plans to launch the Cultural Olympiad in the autumn of 2008. It is also working to develop a number of projects that form the Cultural Olympiad, and which involve a range of arts and cultural organisations. Some of these projects may take place in the first year of the Cultural Olympiad. Others will develop over the four years of the programme.
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 12 November (WA 12), which empirical studies in either humans or other species have conclusively demonstrated the benefits of human somatic cell nuclear transfer with regard to therapies that overcome the problems of immune rejection with patient-specific embryonic stem cells as described in his earlier Answer. [HL262]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): Research on the benefits of human somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is ongoing and if proved successful in the laboratory could eventually be used for the treatment of humans. In such a circumstance, nuclei would be taken from the cells of the person to be treated to generate the stem cells that would then be developed into the type of cell to be used for treatment. In this case, because the material to be used would have been derived from the person being treated, it is unlikely that the recipient would reject the implanted tissue. There is a huge body of evidence to show that when foreign tissue is injected into a person, the person raises antibodies against it and will reject the implanted tissue.
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 12 November (WA 12), what assessment they have made of news reports on 12 November regarding successful cloning of non-human primates, with regard to the necessity of financial incentives to recruit more and more human egg donors for reported work that has otherwise not been replicated but which might instead be performed entirely with monkeys. [HL263]
Lord Triesman: So far the work involving non-human primates has been undertaken in only two laboratories. Its success may provide the technological advances to make this somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) more feasible in humans. No animal-based cell lines could be used in therapy owing to issues around transfer of animal viruses and immune rejection.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 19 November (Official Report, WA 79), to whom members of the public may complain if they are disturbed in the early hours of the morning by emergency service sirens when no other traffic is present; and what penalties apply to drivers who so use them. [HL370]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The use of sirens is governed by Regulation 99 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. If members of the public believe that a police officer has been using a siren in contravention of Regulation 99 they can make a formal written complaint to the chief officer of the police force concerned.
Whether they have undertaken any work including polling or focus group work into the perception among the general public of (a) central government, (b) local government and (c) regional government; and whether they will provide any results accordingly. [HL225]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Communities and Local Government undertakes two major omnibus surveys of the general public's attitudes towards places, local service providers and local services: the citizenship survey and the best value performance survey of user satisfaction. The results of these are available in the Libraries of the House.
In addition, focus groups and polling are frequently used as integral parts of the process of policy formation, implementation and evaluation. Information on these exercises and their results is not held centrally.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The question of how to take forward the commitment in the Governance of Britain Green Paper (Cm 7170) for the establishment of regional committees is under active consideration. The Modernisation Select Committee of the House of Commons announced an inquiry into regional accountability on 11 October and the Government expect to submit a memorandum to that committee.
What assessment they have made of the annual cost to the Exchequer of low-value consignment relief available to businesses based in the Channel Islands for the import into the United Kingdom of food supplements and herbal remedies that contain illegal ingredients or are marketed with illegal claims; and what steps they intend to take to ensure that HM Revenue and Customs addresses this issue. [HL416]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Local authorities have statutory duties for local air quality management (LAQM) under the Environment Act 1995.
Local authorities are required to carry out regular reviews and assessments of air quality in their areas against objectives in the national air quality strategy, which have been prescribed in regulations. Where it is found that these objectives are unlikely to be met, authorities must designate air quality management areas (AQMAs) and prepare and implement remedial action plans to tackle the problem. Defra requires local authorities that have AQMAs to produce an action plan between 12 and 18 months following designation of their AQMA, as set out in policy guidance LAQM.PG(03). Authorities have been required to take account of the guidance in carrying out their duties since February 2003.
Defra also encourages authorities whose draft action plan primarily relates to local road transport to integrate them into their local transport plan (LTP). A number of local authorities have taken the opportunity to do so.
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