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Written Answers

Friday 22 February 2008

Arms Trade

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): On 6 February 2008 the Government published their initial response to a public consultation carried out as part of the 2007 review of export control legislation. The response can be viewed on BERR's website at www.berr.gov.uk/europeantrade/strategic-export-control/legislation/export-control-act-2002/review/index.html.

The initial response makes a number of specific commitments to enhance the controls and covers the issues raised at points (a) and (b). However, as stressed in that response, there are a number of areas where further research and analysis is required.

The Government are extending the current extraterritorial controls to encompass the activities of UK persons anywhere in the world in relation to small arms. It is currently considering extending this beyond small arms to possibly encompass other weapons. In doing so, it will need to ensure that any new regulations are proportionate to the risk.

The Government's initial response states that they remain of the view that to attempt to control directly the activities of UK-owned foreign subsidiaries—in effect to treat them as though they are based in the UK—is not legally viable and would be virtually impossible to enforce.

Similarly on point (c), the Government are not convinced that requiring exporters to seek re-export approval from the UK authorities is necessary or feasible, since such a system would be onerous to operate and extremely difficult to enforce in practice outside the UK's legal jurisdiction.

It is however possible that the Government's continuing analysis will result in further changes that will impact on these issues. The Government aim to issue a further response later in 2008.

On point (d), the Government consider that Criterion 8 of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, which requires the Government to take into account “whether the proposed export would seriously undermine the

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economy or seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country” already provides adequate protection against the risk that exports of controlled goods will prejudice the development of poor countries.

Central-Local Concordat

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) is fully committed to the principles set out in the Central-Local Concordat, including in particular the new performance management arrangements for local authorities and their partners, based on a single set of 198 national indicators and a limited number of targets agreed in local area agreements (LAAs). We have ensured that skills is represented in the national indicator set and are currently working closely with other government departments, government offices, Learning and Skills Council and others to agree the new LAAs with local authorities and their partners by June.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Central-Local Concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December last year. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. The operation of this agreement will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed Central-Local Partnership arrangements.

Statutory guidance to Natural England on its role in regional planning and associated matters, including LAAs, was issued in March 2007 following public consultation: paragraphs 5.7 and 5.8 refer. We have no plans to issue further guidance. Implementation of the guidance is a matter for the board of Natural England.

The guidance is available on Defra's website and I will undertake to send the noble Lord a copy of the guidance.

Climate Change: Carbon Capture and Storage

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The management of the carbon dioxide transport and storage elements of the CCS demonstration plant being supported by the Government is a matter for the project developer. Plans for the transport and storage elements will be assessed as part of the competitive process.

Energy: Gas Storage

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): Underground gas storage projects with a design capacity of 2045 mcm are currently in the planning process. The great majority of these applications fall to local authorities, under the Town and Country Planning Act. However, preliminary submissions under the Gas Act 1965 in respect of two projects—at Albury and Saltfleetby—are currently being considered by the Secretary of State. There is no statutory timetable for considering applications under this Act. If the Secretary of State allows the preliminary applications, the projects would proceed to the formal application stage, when they would be fully scrutinised in the statutory process. These two projects would have a combined capacity (included in the 2045 mcm) of approximately 885 mcm.

The Government do not make probabilistic assessments that particular projects will proceed to commissioning. Whether to proceed with consented projects is a commercial decision, which will reflect technical and commercial factors. The current position is that new underground gas storage with a design capacity of some 2059 mcm, and LNG storage with a design capacity equivalent to 922 mcm of gas in gaseous form, has been consented, and is either under construction or awaiting the start of construction. In addition, expansion projects are under way at a number of existing facilities, while a number of projects—some commercially confidential—are at the development (pre-consents) stage.

The Government's most recent assessment of the outlook for gas storage is set out in BERR's “Energy Markets Outlook”, published in October 2007 and available at www.berr.gov.uk/energy/energymarketsoutlook/page41839.html.

Energy: Wind Generation

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The table below sets out the carbon emissions per megawatt hour from wind-generated electricity in 2006, compared with fossil fuels.

Estimated carbon emissions in 2006
FuelEstimated Carbon emissions 1 (tonnes of carbon per megawatt hour (MWh) electricity supplied)

Wind power

negligible

Coal

0.239

Oil

0.161

Gas

0.101

Source: Derived from the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) 2007


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While there are little or no carbon emissions from the generation of electricity from wind power, there are, however, some emissions during the whole lifecycle of a wind turbine. The majority of the emissions occur during the manufacture of the turbines—for example, steel for the tower and concrete for the foundations. Emissions generated during the operation of wind turbines arise from routine maintenance and inspection visits by road vehicles for onshore wind farms and by boat or helicopter for offshore developments.

Fishing: Discarded Fish Pilots

Earl Cathcart asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Rates of discarding are highly variable and dependent on the local abundance of fish, individual choices made by fishermen as well as the regulatory environment in which fishermen operate. I assume that the noble Lord is referring to the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot Project and the gear trials in the North Sea Farne Deeps Nephrops fishery.

The intention of the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot Project is to improve the understanding of the nature and extent of discarding in the Irish Sea in order that management measures can be developed to address the problem. The initial phase of the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot has recently been completed. To ensure that the data collected from the pilot are consistent with existing national programmes, data are being validated to ensure that the estimates of discards that result from the project are both realistic and representative. An interim report from the project, which will include a detailed analysis of discarding in the Irish Sea, is scheduled for June for submission to the European Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF).

The North Sea gear trials were conducted during the period 2003-06. The average annual estimated fish discarded by the English and Welsh fishing fleet in the North Sea Farne Deeps Nephrops fishery was 23 per cent (by number), 37 per cent (by weight). These figures are based on data obtained by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) observers who regularly sail onboard these vessels and measure both the catches and discards.



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Government: Health Responsibilities

Lord Owen asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Secretary of State for Health is responsible principally for health issues relating to England and for certain issues which are reserved in the different devolution settlements for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Reserved matters are for the United Kingdom Parliament and in general any executive functions are exercised by the Secretary of State for Health, other persons, bodies or authorities. The current position in relation to each devolved administration is detailed as follows.

Scotland

In relation to health, Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 specifies the following matters as reserved to the UK Parliament and thus outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament:

regulation of the health professions which were regulated prior to devolution; misuse of drugs;medicines, medical supplies and poisons;embryology, surrogacy and genetics (including the subject matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990);welfare foods;abortion;xenotransplantation; andthe vaccine damage payment scheme.

Other health matters are generally within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, though there is some flexibility in terms of functions and responsibilities.

Northern Ireland

Schedule 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 sets out reserved matters on which the Northern Ireland Assembly would not normally legislate and could do so only with the Secretary of State for Health's consent, and subject to parliamentary control:

human fertilisation, embryology, surrogacy and human genetics; and

xenotransplantation.

Other health matters are within the competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Wales

The majority of functions in relation to the provision of health services in Wales are now conferred directly on the Welsh Ministers under the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006, the prime duty being that set out in Section 1, to continue the promotion in Wales of a comprehensive health service.



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Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 sets out fields within which, with the agreement of the UK Parliament, legislative competence may be devolved to the National Assembly for Wales to make measures. The fields include health and health services, and social welfare. The UK Parliament retains legislative responsibility for such areas until legislative competence has been conferred by adding matters to the fields under Schedule 5. To date, legislative competence has been conferred with respect to NHS Redress (a matter inserted for field 9 (health and health services)).

Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 sets out the framework under which the Assembly's legislative competence may in future be broadened to encompass power to make Acts if approval is given in a referendum. However, certain health matters will still be reserved to the UK Parliament. These are listed in Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006:

regulation of the health professions which were regulated prior to devolution;misuse of drugs;medicines, medical supplies and poisons;human fertilisation, embryology, surrogacy and genetics;welfare foods;abortion;xenotransplantation;vaccine damage payments;standards for, and testing of, biological substances; andHealth and Safety Commission, Health and Safety Executive and provision made by Health and Safety regulations.

International Obligations

While the settlements make clear that in relation to devolved matters, observing and implementing international obligations is within the competence of the administrations concerned, the UK Government are responsible for ensuring that international obligations are met across the UK. The Secretary of State has powers to enforce compliance with international obligations in respect of health and social care across the UK, covering devolved fields if necessary but, in the case of Scotland, the consent of the Scottish Parliament would generally be sought. In terms of the Scotland Act 1998 international obligations does not include European Community law and there is separate provision for this.


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