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Baroness Andrews: Central government is committed to uphold the principles of the Central-Local Concordat. While the concordat reflects the devolutionary gains that have been made in recent years, it also signals a clear direction of travel beyond arrangements already in place.

An essential role for the Housing Corporation is to work closely with local authorities in providing affordable housing taking account of national, regional and local government strategies. The Housing Corporation has signed a protocol with the Local Government Association and has subsequently signed protocols with a range of local authorities across every region. The Housing Corporation's programme is allocated to registered social landlords and others. Distribution of the Housing Corporation's investment nationally is subject to national, regional and local priorities. Investment decisions by the corporation on specific projects are made in relation to a number of criteria including the quality and value for money of any proposed project.

Discussions are currently being finalised with English Partnerships (EP) on their future national programme and priorities for 2008-09 taking account of local and regional priorities. An essential role for EP is to work closely with local authorities, bridging national, regional and local government strategies and priorities to support local authorities. EP's investment nationally is subject to EP's objectives and priorities and published investment criteria including those relating to quality and value for money linked to the funding of individual projects.



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The Government have taken the decision to bring together regeneration and housing work in a single new Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Establishing the HCA will enable a range of existing regeneration and housing delivery programmes, including that of English Partnerships and the housing investment role of the Housing Corporation, to be brought together under the auspices of a single delivery focused agency.

We want the HCA to be the best partner for local authorities. It will be subject to a duty to co-operate with local authorities in agreeing local area agreements and to have regard to every local improvement target specified in the local area agreement which relates to the agency when exercising its functions. It will also be a statutory consultee for the purposes of the preparation of a local authority's sustainable community strategy. We are working with the Local Government Association to prepare a supplementary Central-Local Concordat on housing and regeneration to show how the principles of the Central-Local Concordat will be fully reflected in this close collaboration.

Children: Deaf and Communication Disorders

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): All non-maintained special schools (NMSSs) such as the Royal School for the Deaf and Communication Disorders (RSDCD) are responsible for their own financial viability. Local authorities (LAs) are responsible for any fees charged by a school for a child they may place in a school. Any discussion or negotiation of fees is a matter between a school and LA. The department has worked with the representative bodies of LAs, NMSSs and independent schools in developing a national contract for the placement of children and young people in day and residential provision in these schools. Although the contract is widely adopted by schools and LAs, it is not compulsory, nor could it be, as fees are a matter to be agreed by individual parties.

NMSSs do have access to capital and revenue funding streams from the department and RSDCD has received £131,081.17 direct funding from the department in 2007-08. The school will receive a further £15,075 in revenue funding before the end of the financial year.



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Criminal Justice: Women

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Work to create the new women's unit is in its early stages and part of this work will give consideration to the role and position of the head of this unit. It is important to highlight that much is being done to take forward the commitments made in the Government's response in advance of the new unit being established. A good deal of cross-departmental working is already taking place, at both ministerial and official level, to identify the action that is needed to take forward our commitments in the Government response, which includes the establishment of a women's unit.

Data Storage

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The organisations that are at present accredited to provide DNA profiling services to the police forces of England and Wales are Forensic Science Service Ltd, LGC Forensics, Orchid Cellmark and Forensic DNA Services Ltd. Some other companies are currently being considered but cannot be named for reasons of commercial confidentiality. All the organisations used by the National DNA Database Custodian (housed within the National Policing Improvement Agency) to provide DNA analysis and storage are subject to a robust accreditation process.

The police service uses other organisations for analysis and storage of biological samples other than DNA—for example, for forensic toxicology and testing for drink or drug driving offences. Police forces require these organisations to adhere to relevant standards laid down by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). A full list of these organisations could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Written Ministerial Statement of 21 November 2007 notes that the review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. A Statement on departments' procedures will be

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made on completion of the review. An interim progress report on the review was published by the Cabinet Office through a Written Ministerial Statement on 17 December 2007 (Official Report, col. 98WS). This included a recommendation regarding enhanced transparency with Parliament and the public about action to safeguard information and the results of that action, through publication of results, departmental annual reports and an annual report to Parliament.

It is not in the interests of the UK's national security for departments to provide details of the security measures used to protect their IT systems. This may assist persons interested in testing the effectiveness of the UK's IT defences.

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): I refer the noble Lady to the Written Ministerial Statement I made on 5 February 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 78-79).

Defence Equipment and Support

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The role of the military in acquisition project is part of the wider defence acquisition change programme and aims to optimise how the Ministry of Defence employs military personnel in acquisition. The Defence Equipment and Support-led initial phases of the project are due to report in summer 2008.

Defence Industrial Strategy

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We are currently reviewing the timetable for the publication of the updated defence industrial strategy. I will inform the House of the publication date in due course.

Energy: Firewood Coppicing

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The UK Biomass Strategy 2007 provides a framework for a major expansion in the sustainable use of biomass as a source of heat and electricity. The Forestry Commission's A Woodfuel Strategy for England 2007 sets a target to bring an additional 2 million tonnes of woody biomass to market annually by 2020. This represents around 50 per cent of the estimated unharvested volume in English woodlands.

EU: Galileo Project

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Yes. The statements of the noble Lord and Mr Barrot are consistent.

EU: Subsidiarity

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

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Article 8 of the Protocol provides for the Court of Justice to have jurisdiction in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 230 with regard to

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cases notified by member states in accordance with their legal order on behalf of their national parliament. The provision does not create separate standing for national parliaments before the court, nor does it create an obligation to initiate proceedings in all circumstances; rather, it creates an obligation for cases to be notified in accordance with each member state’s legal order.

As at present, it will be for the Government to conduct litigation before the court on behalf of the United Kingdom. This will include cases initiated at the request of Parliament, pursuant to the above provision, on the basis of prior discussion and agreement with the Government. In view of the strong commitment of both Parliament and successive Governments to the principle of subsidiarity, the Government do not envisage circumstances in which there would be a divergence of view as to whether to initiate proceedings.

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

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Article 8 of the Protocol provides for the Court of Justice to have jurisdiction in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 230 with regard to cases notified by member states in accordance with their legal order on behalf of their national parliament. The provision does not create separate standing for national parliaments before the court, nor does it create an obligation to initiate proceedings in all circumstances; rather, it creates an obligation for cases to be notified in accordance with each member state’s legal order.

As at present, it will be for the Government to conduct litigation before the court on behalf of the United Kingdom. This will include cases initiated at the request of Parliament, pursuant to the above provision, on the basis of prior discussion and agreement with the Government. In view of the strong commitment of both Parliament and successive Governments to the principle of subsidiarity, the Government do not envisage circumstances in which there would be a divergence of view as to whether to initiate proceedings.

Food: Supplements

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Goods dispatched from the Channel Islands which are destined for the United Kingdom are separated into different bags, which identify those items with a declared value of less than £18 and those with a value greater than £18. Under EC legislation, goods with a value of £18 or less are free of import charges but UK customs carries out physical checks on goods imported into the United Kingdom using risk-based criteria. HM Revenue and Customs does not have any jurisdiction over an exporter's fulfilment of an order placed by a private individual.

Forced Marriage

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): Our guidance on safeguarding children in education is clear that schools and further education institutions should contact the Forced Marriage Unit if there are concerns that a child (male or female) is in danger of a forced marriage, and that they should also contact the police and children's social care. More detailed guidance for education professionals on dealing with cases of forced marriage includes information about warning signs of marriage, including being withdrawn from school.

Health: A&E

Baroness Tonge asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The information requested is not held centrally. While it is key that patients have access to timely, safe, high-quality care, decisions about the clinical care and treatment provided to individual patients are a matter for local clinicians.



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