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Written Answers

Monday 10 December 2007

Agriculture: Cattle

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): With regards to bovine tuberculosis, there is anecdotal evidence that some breeds of cattle, for example Zebu in Africa, are more resistant to infection by mycobacterium bovis than other breeds. Research is under way in Great Britain (funded by the Welsh Assembly Government) and the Republic of Ireland to determine whether there is any evidence of inherited traits for increased resistance or susceptibility to the disease in cattle. In addition, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is funding research into the “interplay between host and pathogen genetic factors in the increasing incidence of bovine TB”, which should provide fundamental information on host genetic factors that influence TB susceptibility in cattle.

As far as farming practices are concerned, data collected as part of the epidemiological survey overseen by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) did not indicate that organic status was associated either with an increased or decreased risk of a TB breakdown. The findings of the survey into farm-level risk factors have been published in the ISG's final report which is available on the Defra website and in the Libraries of the House.

With regard to the recent bluetongue outbreak, given the limited number of premises and animals infected, it is not possible to evaluate the factors which may influence resistance or incidence of infection at this stage. Surveillance and epidemiological investigation are ongoing.

Apprenticeships

Lord Wakeham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): The highest possible level of accuracy in published apprenticeship completion rates is ensured by a combination of quality-assurance arrangements. Completion rates are based on individual learner data submitted in a standard

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format by Learning and Skills Council (LSC)-funded apprenticeship providers. Providers' internal quality processes alongside qualification-awarding bodies' verification processes ensure that learner assessments are robust and accurate. In addition, LSC audits monitor the public funding claimed by each learning provider that delivers apprenticeships.

Benefits: Fraud

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information is not available.

Benefit fraud investigators from the DWP and Mendip District Council will visit various addresses in Glastonbury during the course of their investigations. The total number of times these visits are carried out is not centrally collated.

Census

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the National Statistician and Registrar General, Karen Dunnell, to Lord Stoddart of Swindon, dated 10 December 2007.

As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking whether the European Union has the powers to carry out a compulsory census of all people residing in the European Union; what would be the purpose of such a census; whether any consideration has been given to the questions that might be included in any such census; and whether such a proposal would have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. (HL621).

No, the European Union has no powers to carry out a compulsory census of all residents in the European Union. The European Parliament is currently considering a Council regulation relating to the provision to the Commission of harmonised statistics by member states. Such statistics are to be derived from nationally conducted censuses of population and housing, or from alternative

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sources of data such as sample surveys or registers of administrative records. All such data will be subject to appropriate statistical disclosure control measures.

The Commission needs to be in possession of sufficiently reliable and comparable data on population and housing in order to fulfil the tasks assigned to it, notably by Articles 2 and 3 of the treaty establishing the European Community.

Such statistics as are provided for by the Council regulation will relate only to those topics designated as “core” in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Recommendations for the 2010 Censuses of Population and Housing, and which have been endorsed by the Conference of European Statisticians. The Office for National Statistics played a prominent role in the preparation of these recommendations. The content of, and mode of access to, the statistics will be prescribed by a subsequent European Commission regulation in due course.

Neither the EU Council regulation nor the Commission regulation will require the approval of either House, but are subject to examination by Parliament through the European Scrutiny Committee. However, the content of the relevant 2011 census for England and Wales will be subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament.

Children: Disappearances

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): In order to respond to the noble Lord's Questions, my department will need to collate information from several different sources. I shall write to him with the information that he requests and place a copy of that reply in the Library.

Crossrail

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Around 15 per cent of the budgeted £15.9 billion capital cost of Crossrail is related to the works on the Great Western and Great Eastern Main Lines, excluding the depot at Old Oak Common. The current intention is that rolling stock will be supplied through a lease arrangement and it is therefore treated as an operating cost outside of the capital cost budget.



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Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Statement made by the Secretary of State on Monday 26 November (Official Report, cols. WS133-4). Detailed negotiations with a number of third parties are continuing. Details of any such assurances will be issued when those negotiations have been completed. Any government guarantees or other contingent liabilities will be reported to Parliament in the normal way.

Cycling: Offences

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Regulations 18 and 24 of the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 No 1796, as amended, make it illegal for cyclists to travel on public roads at night without a white light at the front and a red light at the back of the cycle.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): The information requested is being collated. I will write to the noble Lord in due course and place copies of my response in the Libraries.

Employment: Allowances

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We will ensure that people will have access to all of the income-related passported benefits that they currently have on income support. Customers who qualify for income-related employment and support allowance will, as now under income support, be entitled to maximum housing benefit and council tax benefit, without the need to provide details of their income and capital.

We expect that the income-related strand of employment and support allowance will offer access to all the same benefits and schemes, including free prescriptions.

Employment: Local Partnerships

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Support for people with mental health problems is provided through Pathways to Work. We intend to ensure that Pathways providers are able to refer jobseekers to suitable Local Employment Partnership opportunities.

Employment: Pathways to Work

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Private and voluntary sector providers will be paid by results. They will receive a payment when a person starts work and a further payment if that work is sustained. They will therefore be encouraged to work equally with ex-prisoners, as with all other people on incapacity benefits. Pathways support is tailored to the needs of the individual and the specialist adviser would consider all aspects of the customer's recent history.

Energy: Biofuels

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In the UK and internationally, there has been a significant number of commercial and government-funded independent assessments of the field-to-tank carbon impacts of biofuels. The results are published and freely available.

Recent studies have indicated typical savings in carbon emissions of 20 to 80 per cent for biofuels derived from both UK-produced and imported feed stocks. The range is very wide as the carbon savings achieved depend on many assumptions and on the particular supply and production chains studied. The treatment of co-products has a major impact, as do assumptions on how the land would otherwise have been used.

With the introduction of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation in April 2008, the Government will require companies supplying transport fuels to report on the carbon intensity of the biofuels they are sourcing. A detailed methodology for assessing this has been developed, and the Government were consulted on this approach in June 2007. Copies of the consultation paper were placed in the House Libraries and are available on the Department for Transport website.

The Government are working with other member states and the Commission towards a harmonised EU approach to this issue. We are also working with international bodies such as the Global Bioenergy Partnership to seek international agreement on an approach to the measurement of carbon benefits.

Families: Multiple Births

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government recognise the higher costs to families expecting multiple births and provide a Sure Start maternity grant of £500 for each baby expected by, or born to, people on qualifying income-related benefits or tax credits. The payment of £500 per child is a significant and worthwhile contribution towards the costs associated with a new baby.

There are no plans to review the amount of the Sure Start maternity grant at this time.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: Since 1991, a higher rate of child benefit has been available for the first child. The Government continue to keep the first and subsequent child rates of child benefit under review.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government keep all taxes and tax credits under review as part of the Budget process.


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