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24 Jan 2008 : Column WA57



24 Jan 2008 : Column WA57

Written Answers

Thursday 24 January 2008

Agriculture: Bluetongue

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Under the EU Bluetongue Regulation (EC No. 1266/2007), susceptible animals are permitted to move out of bluetongue restricted zones into bluetongue free areas for intra-community and domestic trade, provided that all the necessary conditions have been met. In most cases, animals must undergo pre-movement testing and these tests must indicate negative results for virus infection. The conditions in the EU Bluetongue Regulation are being applied by the UK and other EU member states.

On 21 December, my officials announced that the UK is now in a period of low-vector activity as winter temperatures mean that midges are either dying off, inactive and/or unable to transmit virus. This means that, upon receipt of negative test results, farmers can move their animals out of the surveillance and protection zones to the bluetongue free area. It is hoped that the relaxation of movement restrictions during the vector-free period will alleviate some of the problems the industry has been facing during the bluetongue outbreak.

Agriculture: Dairy Farms

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There are two elements to the School Milk Subsidy Scheme, one being an EU subsidy, the other being a national top-up. For the national top-up, the UK Government have committed £1.5 million for each of the financial years (the contributions coming in equal part from Defra, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health). The total EU budget for the School Milk Subsidy Scheme for the 2008 EU financial year is €64 million. The budget allocations for future years are yet to be agreed. EU expenditure in 2007 in the UK was €8.2 million.

£81,000 was budgeted for the Dairy Supply Chain Forum for 2007-08. The budget allocation for future years has yet to be agreed.



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Airports: Passport Queues

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The current benchmarks are national standards against which all of our ports and airports can measure performance.

EEA nationals are subject to identity and nationality checks on arrival, in addition to checks against watchlists. Non-EEA nationals who require leave to enter are also subject to the same checks, and are also subjected to eligibility interviews and documentation examination. These different requirements on entry result in different transaction times and, depending on the circumstances, can lead to different waiting times. The current standards reflect this.

The Border and Immigration Agency is working with the Department for Transport to implement an action plan (as published in November 2008) which will set new standards for the processing of passengers on arrival for implementation over the course of 2008.

Armed Forces: Russia

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Between 1 October 2007 and 18 January 2008, RAF Quick Reaction Alert aircraft were scrambled on 11 days to identify Russian military aircraft.

Assets Recovery Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In Northern Ireland the agency recovered £0.8 million in the financial year 2005-06 and £0.3 million in the financial year 2006-07. These sums related to civil recovery cases. In the period 1 April 2007 until 31 December 2007, the agency recovered £0.3 million. This figure is subject to confirmation pending end of financial year results.

Bicycles

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: I can confirm that each of these actions is a criminal offence under road traffic legislation.

Riding on the footpath is an offence under Article 3 of the Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997; riding through a red light is caught by Article 50 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995; and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 require bicycles to be lit after dark.

Border and Immigration Agency: Guidance Notes

Lord Howell of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The paragraphs were originally included in the guidance notes to ensure that applicants submitted their application via the payment handling service and not direct to the case-working teams based in Sheffield.

When the payment handling service was itself relocated to Sheffield in April 2007 these paragraphs should have been amended. This was an oversight which has now been remedied. A revised version of the guidance notes is now available through the Border and Immigration website.

Buses

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Bassam of Brighton: We expect that decisions will be taken on the majority of the outstanding appeals by the end of January.

There were 102 appeals by bus operators about reimbursement arrangements in 2007-08, of which 21 were later withdrawn. Of the 81 appeals remaining, not all contained sufficient information for a decision to be taken. As of 17 January, 29 appeals have been determined by an independent adjudicator appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. A further 52 appeals remain to be determined.

Citizenship

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A foreign national is not required under UK law to relinquish his original nationality on becoming a British citizen. However, prospective British citizens are required to pledge allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, to give their loyalty to the United Kingdom and to undertake to respect its rights and freedoms.

Climate Change

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We do encourage industry to work with the scientific community in research to improve understanding of, and reduce, its environmental impact. Airlines have collected valuable high-altitude environmental data in collaborative projects such as MOZAIC, NOXAR and CARIBIC since the early 90s. Rather than repeating these data new research needs to be focused and agreed with a consensus of the scientific community.

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Decisions regarding what private sector research is conducted and how this research is used and disseminated are clearly a matter for the private sector itself.



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The Government publish their own research, enabling the private sector to consider how their own work links in. The Government also welcome submission of private sector research data so that this may be considered in developing policy. Where private sector organisations approach the Government with new technology or ideas impacting on emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gases, we encourage them to commission independent research to demonstrate the impacts and make this publicly available.

Data Protection: CCTV

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Data Protection Act 1998 covers all processing of personal data by automatic means, including those closed circuit television (CCTV) systems where it is possible for the operator to identify distinct individuals from the footage or information relating to individuals, such as vehicle registration marks. The Act provides an exemption for any processing carried out purely for personal, family or household affairs. There are no plans to remove that exemption. It is the data captured by the CCTV systems that are covered by the Act, not the systems themselves. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) publishes a code of practice on the use of CCTV. The ICO has reviewed this code of practice and a revised version is due to be launched on 28 January.

Deportation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A copy of my letter to the noble Lord Willoughby De Broke was placed in the Library of the House on 22 January 2008.

Elections: House of Commons

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government keep the conduct of elections under review. They are considering a proposal that the timetable for the elections to the House of Commons should be extended to bring it closer to the elections to the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the European Parliament and local authorities.

The timetable for the election to the House of Commons starts with the receipt of the writ from the Clerk of the Crown by the Returning Officer and ends 17 working days later on election day. For the elections to the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, the European Parliament and local authorities the election timetable starts with the issue of the notice of election, which may be no later than 25 days before the election day.

EU: Structural and Cohesion Funds

Baroness Cohen of Pimlico asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The administration costs incurred by Defra in relation to EU structural fund, for 2006-07 were £115,000. Defra does not administer a cohesion fund.

EU: Subsidiarity

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Protocol to the Lisbon Treaty on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality establishes procedures allowing national Parliaments to raise objections to draft EU legislation on subsidiarity grounds. It is for Parliament to decide how to exercise its rights under these procedures.


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