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Whether adequate security is provided by the situation at the Merial animal health laboratory where there is only one valve that separates the live virus product line from the line providing an outlet from the steam cleaning process; and whether they will insist that water from this outlet should also pass through a facility for heat treating waste. [HL457]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As part of the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) licence, we require Merial to apply rigorous standard operating procedures. The licence requires several layers of biosecurity to be in place to ensure the process is contained.
The valve separates the live virus product line from the line which provides an outlet for the condensate from the steam cleaning stages which, as a precaution, also enters the contained drainage system leading to the final chemical treatment facility.
Training syllabi and assessment of technician competency have been developed by IVR(UK) for the national highway sector scheme committee for vehicle recovery. These are based on national occupational standards and form an integral part of the schemes. Training and assessment for the original 18 modules has been developed and is available. Five additional training and assessment modules, beyond the national occupation standards, have been identified, and of these two modules have been developed and delivered and the remaining three modules are under development.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 25 October (WA 134), which stakeholder organisations, contractors or potential contractors are involved in the national highways sector scheme 17 and 17B. [HL736]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 20 November (WA 678), what timetable is set for the road-pricing demonstrations project; and when it is hoped that a decision will be made about whether to progress the project. [HL530]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have now entered into a competitive dialogue process with potential bidders who are seeking to support the road-pricing demonstrations project. The expectation is that this dialogue will be completed and a framework agreement established by late spring 2008, shortly after which the first demonstration will commence.
What representations they are making to the Government of Russia concerning the arrest and brief imprisonment of opposition leaders, the shooting of Mr Farid Babayev, the harassment of some parliamentary candidates, the governing party's control over the national media, including the closure of the Samara edition of Novaya Gazeta, and the refusal of admission to observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. [HL632]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In our relations with Russia, we express openly our concerns to the Russian authorities about human rights and democracy, including on restrictions on freedom of expression. This engagement includes raising individual cases, bilaterally, and, where appropriate, in the European Union and Council of Europe contexts.
The Government issued a statement on 3 December expressing concerns about allegations of electoral malpractice relating to the Duma elections on 2 December, and endorse the judgment of parliamentary observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe that these elections were neither free nor fair. It is deeply disappointing that Russia prevented the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) from observing the elections. The ODIHR would have provided expert, independent election monitoring. The Government have urged the Russian Central Election Commission to investigate all allegations of electoral abuses fully and promptly. In advance of the elections the EU presidency expressed its concerns to the Russian authorities about the violent response to opposition protests.
Whether they will make representations to the Government of Russia to arrange fully independent inquiries into the deaths of the journalists Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin and Anna Politkovskaya. [HL633]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We have regular, open discussions on human rights with the Russian authorities. Media freedom and the situation facing human rights defenders have been recurrent themes
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Increased risks to the security of journalists continue to undermine media freedom in Russia. As our annual report on human rights will say, Anna Politkovskaya's murder was a tragedy for freedom of speech in Russia. The murders of these reporters have brought renewed attention to the dangers faced by journalists in Russia. The Government continue to raise concerns including individual cases in bilateral, EU and Council of Europe contexts where appropriate, and to press the Russian authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Further to the reply by Baroness Crawley on 18 April (Official Report, col. 216) on the study set up between the Department of Transport in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom Department for Transport to examine the current funding system for Irish Lights and recommend alternative splits of funding between the two Governments (a) who is undertaking the study; (b) how many times the participants have met to discuss it; (c) when the study is to be completed; and (d) when the report of the study will be published. [HL698]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The study is being undertaken by an external consultant attached to the Department for Transport's in-house policy consultancy unit, working closely with the Department for Transport officials and with officials from the Irish Department of Transport, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and Trinity House. The participants have discussed the study a number of times. We expect the study to be completed early in 2008, following which it will be published.
Whether they are taking any action, either bilaterally or with their international partners, to prevent Somaliland from being drawn into the current situation in Somalia; and whether there is a tribunal competent to try persons responsible for war crimes in Somalia. [HL760]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government support international efforts to develop a peaceful and sustainable democracy in Somaliland. The UK provides around £8 million of assistance to Somaliland, including supporting governance, democratisation, health, education and reconciliation in Somaliland. We also encourage the Somaliland authorities to engage in constructive
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The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is a court of last resort and will not act if a case is investigated by a national judicial system, unless the proceedings are not genuine. As Somalia is not a state party to the Rome statute of the ICC, cases would have to be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The offshore disclosure arrangements deadline for disclosures was 26 November with yield of more than £400 million from around 45,000 disclosures. These figures will be finalised over the next few weeks.
Lord Davies of Oldham: It is not possible to give an exact figure for civil servants assigned to deal with the offshore project. The offshore work is an important part of the general operations of HMRC to tackle tax evasion and will be assigned the appropriate resource.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): A number of reforms agreed at the World Summit in 2005 have been implemented, including the establishment of the new Peacebuilding Commission, Human Rights Council, the principle of responsibility to protect, and the Central Emergency Response Fund. The UK continues to press for further progress on management reforms.
The UK welcomes the initiatives of the president of the General Assembly in driving forward progress on Security Council reform. The UK wants to see a Security Council that reflects the modern world and that can effectively meet contemporary challenges to
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Long term but now also interim options must be examined to reform a UN Security Councilwhose permanent members do not include Japan, India, Brazil, Germany, or any African countryto make the Council more representative, more credible and more effective.
To strengthen the co-ordination of UN activities, a high-level panel on system-wide coherence was established to identify ways of improving the performance of UN operations in the areas of development, humanitarian activity and the environment. The panel report, Delivering as One, was launched in New York on 9 November 2006. The UK fully supports the proposals made in the report and looks forward to exploring with other UN member states how the lessons learnt from eight in-country pilot schemes, started as a result of the report, can inspire further reforms.
Whether they will remit or minimise visa fees for Belarusian children suffering from the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster who wish to visit Britain for holidays or treatment; and whether such visits have ceased since September of this year. [HL758]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We appreciate the important work being undertaken by United Kingdom charities to provide respite care and medical treatment for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster. UKvisas held a stakeholder meeting with some of the charities at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 3 December. We look forward to working with the charities in partnership as this important care continues. Up to 4,000 visas a year are issued to children travelling to the United Kingdom from Belarus under the auspices of the Chernobyl charities and these visas are all issued gratis. There are no plans to change this arrangement.
What steps they are taking to ensure that residents are able to take domestic waste to their nearest local authority tip irrespective of local authority boundaries, without additional financial penalty. [HL720]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Section 51(2)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows a waste disposal authority to arrange for places outside its area to be used by its residents to
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Further to the Answer by Lord Rooker on 28 March (Official Report, cols. 16447), on what date in May 2006 the protection of reservation rights was filed at the Solutia Incorporated bankruptcy proceedings in the United States; what form the filing took; and what was the outcome. [HL751]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Environment Agency's reservation of rights was filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Solutia's bankruptcy proceedings on 26 May 2006. The filing was entitled Response and Reservation of Rights of UK Environment Agency to Debtors Disclosure Statement. The ultimate outcome of the filing was, following negotiation, the express listing of the Brofiscin Quarry Site at Groesfaen as a Legacy Site under the terms of Solutia's reorganisation plan and the global settlement between Solutia, Monsanto and Pharmacia.
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