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26 Nov 2007 : Column WA95



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Written Answers

Monday 26 November 2007

Alcohol: Underage Drinking

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: The Home Office has not had any consultations with childcare authorities and children's welfare groups on making use of underage decoys in policing the illegal sale of alcohol.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) has also confirmed that it has not carried out any such consultations.

Armed Forces: DVT

Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate effort.

Asylum Seekers: Dependent Children

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Community Cohesion

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: The criteria on which this finding will be allocated have yet to be decided on. Further allocation details will be announced as part of the local government settlement in December.

Crime: Domestic Abuse

The Earl of Dundee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In March 2005 we developed a national domestic violence delivery plan focusing on five key outcomes:

to reduce the number of domestic violence homicides;to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence;to increase the rate at which domestic violence is reported;to increase the rate of domestic violence offences brought to justice; andto ensure that victims of domestic violence are adequately protected and supported.

Progress on the delivery of these objectives is monitored by Ministers across Government and progress reports are published annually.

The Earl of Dundee asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The Home Office also made £770,000 available in 2007-08 to part fund a range of charities to operate a matrix of helplines providing support and information to victims of domestic violence.



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Crime: Fuel Laundering

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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 Losses—2007, which is published alongside the 2007 Pre-Budget Report and can be found in the Library of the House

Cultural Olympiad

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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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.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Emergency Services: Sirens

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The maximum penalty for breaching Regulation 99 is a fine of £1,000 in England and Wales. Breach of Regulation 99 is also an offence for which a £30 fixed penalty can be issued.



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Government: Public Perception

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Government: Regional Committees

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Health: Food Supplements and Herbal Remedies

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: No estimate has been made. HM Revenue and Customs continues to enforce its border controls to prevent the import of prohibited goods.

Air Quality

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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