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Whether the scientific research project into the biological control of Japanese knotweed, carried out in collaboration with Cornwall County Council, the Environment Agency and others and
16 Jan 2008 : Column WA259
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The draft final project report was submitted to the project board in December 2007 for its consideration. We expect that the report will be finalised in the near future and we will then consider what further steps to take in the light of its conclusions.
Whether they accept the conclusions of the European Commission report on the inventory of European Union member states' measures, published in September 2007, as regards the obstacles for access to justice in the United Kingdom; and, if not, in what respects and for what reasons they disagree with those conclusions. [HL1086]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The report was prepared for the Commission by consultants and makes clear that the views expressed are those of the consultants alone and do not represent the official views of the Commission. The Government have noted the contents.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Only a limited number of EU countries, including France and Ireland, have indicated publicly that they are considering taking action to phase out inefficient light bulbs ahead of proposed collective action within the EU via a proposed implementing measure under the eco-design of energy-using products framework directive (EuP).
Via EuP the European Commission is currently working to establish mandatory minimum standards for lighting products which, if agreed by member states, will establish minimum energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Any standard agreed via this route is unlikely to specify what technology must be used to achieve or better that standard. However, in practice any meaningful standard is likely to result in today's highly inefficient tungsten filament light bulbs being unable to be sold without significant improvements being made.
Lord Rooker: The UK is taking forward a voluntary initiative led by retailers and energy suppliers to phase out the availability of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2011, where suitable energy efficient alternatives exist.
What are the actual and proposed dates for the commencement of the different provisions of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007; and what is the intended timetable for the publication and coming into operation of regulations and orders under the Act. [HL1134]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 provides legislative underpinning for Strong and Prosperous Communitiesthe local government White Paper. Section 245 of the Act sets out which provisions were commenced at Royal Assent on 30 October 2007, and which commenced on 30 December 2007.
All remaining provisions will be commenced by order. The latest version of the White Paper implementation plan was published on 1 November and sets out the timetable for implementing specific policies. The intention is to make several orders to fit with this planned timetable.
The implementation plan can be found at the following link on the DCLG website at www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/532485.
What statutory guidance they intend to publish during 2007 under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007; and what is the timetable for consultation on and publication of these items. [HL1135]
Baroness Andrews: The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 provides legislative underpinning for Strong and Prosperous Communitiesthe local government White Paper. The latest version of the White Paper implementation plan was published on 1 November 2007 and provides details of the statutory guidance to be published and an estimated timeframe for consultation and implementation.
The implementation plan can be found at the following link on the Communities and Local Government Office website at www.communities.gov.uk/documents/local government/pdf/532485.
What consideration is given to the views of local people about the settlement level and grants to local authorities when they are delegating more duties and responsibilities to local authorities annually. [HL1188]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The provisional local government finance settlement for 2008-09 was announced on 6 December 2007. The announcement was followed by a consultation period, when local authorities were invited to put their views on the Government's proposals. The consultation on the provisional settlement for 2008-09 closed on 8 January 2008.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): I understand the noble Lord's Question refers to the case of Mr Dandois, a French-British dual national, and his colleague, a French national. Mr Dandois was travelling in Niger on his French passport. As such his interests are primarily being looked after by the French Government, as are those of his colleague.
The Government have been working closely with the French embassy in Niger, through its representative in Niamey, to clarify the status of and charges against Mr Dandois. If Mr Dandois is indeed charged with a potentially capital offence, the Government would join France in making formal representations to the Government of Niger. The death penalty remains on the statute book in Niger, even though no execution has taken place since 1976.
Lord Rooker: I have been advised by the PSNI and the Army that they do not require a barrier across Abbey Street in Armagh City. Discussions between the local council, the Department of Regional Development and the Northern Ireland Office to implement the removal of the barrier are under way.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The number of people in receipt of a basic state pension regardless of whether they are getting any additional state pension or graduated retirement benefit is 11.7 million.
What steps they have taken to implement the recommendation in the Barker Review of Land Use Planning that decision-makers should give higher priority to ensuring that new development has high design standards through the facilitation of local design review panels. [HL1061]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government's adviser on urban design, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), which this department jointly funds with DCMS, is actively promoting the establishment of more review arrangements at local and regional level, and supporting their creation. It is taking steps to ensure that decision-makers learn from the lessons from its own national design review service, how it functions and how it can be replicated at local and regional level.
It has issued a suite of guidance explaining how design review works, including practical advice aimed at bodies setting up their own design review panel. CABE's How to do design review, published in 2006, is aimed at regional development agencies, local authorities and other decision-making bodies and offers tips on setting up a new panel, its day-to-day operation and on how to get the very best from the expertise available to help achieve what we want, which is to improve the quality of the built environment in which we live, work and play. CABE also runs open sessions to raise awareness of the design review process which are particularly targeted at bodies that do not have their own local or regional design review panels.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): PPG2 green belt, PPG4 industrial, commercial and small firms, PPG5 simplified planning zones, PPG8 telecommunications, PPG13 transport, PPG14 development of unstable land, PPG15 planning and historic environment, PPG16 archaeology and planning, PPG17 planning for open space, sport and recreation, PPG18 enforcing planning control, PPG19 outdoor advertisement control, PPG20 coastal planning and PPG24 planning and noise are extant.
In December 2007 the Government published a consultation paper for Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Development. It is intended that this new PPS will replace PPG4 and PPG8 (except the appendix and annex which will remain in force).
We made a commitment in the planning White Paper to produce a more strategic and clearly focused national planning policy framework. We are continuing to work on developing the framework and a significant streamlining of policy. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to develop a clear strategy and process for this.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government pledged in Waste Strategy for England 2007 to phase out free single-use carrier bags and we are working with retailers and local authorities on the best means by which we can achieve this objective.
The UK retail sector has set itself a shared objective with the Government and the Waste and Resources Action Programme to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags by 25 per cent by the end of 2008.
The Prime Minister announced on 19 November that we need to go furtherto eliminate single-use carrier bags altogether in favour of long-lasting and more sustainable alternatives. The Government will be convening a forum of supermarkets, the British Retail Consortium and other interested groups urgently to assess how, and how quickly, we can achieve this objective.
Which (a) public relations agency or agencies, or (b) public affairs agency or agencies, are currently employed by Post Office Limited to advise or assist with the current post office closure programme; and what is the approximate value of any such contracts. [HL1028]
Lord Bach: It is not possible to say what effect the closure of individual post offices will have on any co-located retail businesses until the implementation of Post Office Ltd's relevant area network change plan is completed.
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