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Railways: Mobile Phones

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: Designating a carriage as a mobile phone free zone is a matter for individual train operators, which must weigh the needs of all railway passengers.

Research Facilities: Merial Laboratory

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The SAPO licence remains suspended and the inspection team will produce a full report to the acting Chief Veterinary Officer. We will then consider what further action needs to be taken.

Roads: National Highways Sector Schemes

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The sector scheme documents are live documents and are reviewed on a regular basis.

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.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The national highways sector scheme committee for vehicle recovery (NHSS 17 and 17B) includes representation from the following organisations:

Trade Associations, Clubs, Training Bodies and Clients Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)Association of Vehicle Recovery Operators Limited (AVRO)AutomotiveSkills LtdHealth and Safety Executive (HSE) Highways Agency (HA)The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) The Institute of Vehicle Recovery (IVR) IVR (UK) LtdLondon Association of Recovery Operators (LARO) Motor Clubs (including Green Flag/RAC/AA etc) Motor Industry Training Council (MITC) Road Haulage Association (RHA) Road Rescue Recovery Association (RRRA) Road Rescue Training Association (RRTA) SURVIVE (WG 2)Certification, Inspection and Accreditation Bodies Association of British Certification Bodies (ABCB) (represented by Eagle Certification Ltd)Federation of Certification Bodies (FCB) (represented by ICS registrars)Recovery Industry Engineering Standards Ltd (representing inspection bodies)Consortium of Automotive Registration Services Ltd United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)Paper MembersCounty Surveyors Society Scottish ExecutiveWelsh Assembly Government DRD(NI)

Specialists co-opted by the committee and secretary are not included in this list.

Individual contractors or potential contractors do not have representation on the committee. Their interests are served through participation of their trade association on the committee.

Roads: Pricing

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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.

Russia: Democracy and Human Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Russia: Murder Inquiries

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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during those discussions. We also support non-governmental organisations working to promote media freedom and journalist safety in Russia.

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.

Shipping: Irish Lights

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.


Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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dialogue with the transitional federal government to agree a mutually acceptable solution regarding their future relationship.

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.

Taxation: Offshore Accounts

Lord Burnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

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 Burnett asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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.

UN: Structural Reform

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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international peace and security. In his Guildhall speech on 12 November my right honourable friend the Prime Minister stated:

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.

Visas: Chernobyl Victims

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Visits under the charity schemes have slowed considerably during the autumn, but charities inform us that they will shortly be submitting applications for travel during the Christmas holiday period.

Waste Management

Lord Teverson asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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deposit their household waste free of charge. In practice, this requires neighbouring authorities to work together to ensure that suitable arrangements are in place.

Waste Management: Solutia Bankruptcy

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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