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The Government take the threat of flooding to housing and other forms of development very seriously, and for this reason in December 2006 we published stronger and clearer planning policy in Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25), building on earlier planning policy on this issue. A key aim of the policy approach in PPS25 is to direct inappropriate development away from areas of high flood risk.

It is for local planning authorities to make decisions on where new housing and other development should be located through the development plan process, taking account of national and regional planning policies and the comments of key stakeholders, including the Environment Agency. They should ensure that new housing is developed in suitable locations and carry our sustainability appraisals, informed by strategic flood risk assessments and the advice of the Environment

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Agency, in order to deliver sustainable development objectives, taking flood risk and climate change into account.

To support the planning policies in PPS25, we shall be publishing a practice guide in the spring, providing local planning authorities, developers and others with guidance on the practical implementation of PPS25 policy. We are also planning a round of workshops for local planning authorities and other key stakeholders, to ensure PPS25 policy is implemented.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority must be mindful of the full range of views held on embryology and assisted conception. This includes views that differ from the current regulatory restrictions, such as those who believe there is a case for reproductive cloning.

While individual members may acknowledge such views, in carrying out their statutory functions they are obliged to recognise and act within the regulatory parameters of the 1990 Act and associated regulations.

National Insurance

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested is not available.

Northern Rock

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: Northern Rock operates on an arm's length basis from Government as a commercial entity in a competitive environment. It is not performing a public function. It publishes its audited reports and accounts on a regular basis in accordance with statutory reporting requirements. It is inappropriate for the Government to publish commercially sensitive information in relation to Northern Rock.

The Financial Services Authority has assessed that the company remains solvent and continues to have a mortgage book of good quality.

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: This is a matter for Northern Rock's board to consider. During the current period of temporary public ownership, the Government do not interfere with the day-to-day operations of the company.

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Yes. The accounts of Granite are consolidated with those of Northern Rock in the Northern Rock group accounts. This accounting treatment, which is the same as for the securitisation structures of other leading banks and building societies, reflects the fact that Northern Rock is an economic beneficiary of the securitisation and has a degree of contractual influence on the affairs of Granite, even though Northern Rock does not own Granite.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: To the extent that the restructuring proposals for Northern Rock require ongoing state financial support for a temporary period, these proposals will need to be approved by the European Commission under the state aid guidelines. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made clear, a restructuring plan will therefore be submitted to the European Commission by 17 March 2008. Pending a decision from the Commission, the process of restructuring can commence immediately, subject to any conditions imposed.

Police: Databases

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

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): As at 31 January 2008, the National DNA Database (NDNAD) held 364,058 profiles from individuals under 18 from all UK forces (including England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands). The number of profiles held on the database is not indicative of the number of individuals. As it is possible for a profile to be loaded onto the NDNAD on more than one occasion, some profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates. This can occur, for example, if the person provided different names, or different versions of their name, on separate arrests, or because profiles are upgraded.

At present, the replication rate is 13.3 per cent, that is, the number of people whose details are loaded is 13.3 per cent fewer than the number of profiles. Therefore, the estimated number of individuals under 18 as at 31 January 2008 is 315,638. Individuals who were under 18 at the time that a DNA sample was taken from them, but were over 18 on this date, are not included in the figures.

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

Lord West of Spithead: It is understood this Question relates to profiles from known individuals rather than profiles from crime scenes. The number of these deleted between the establishment of the National DNA Database (NDNAD) in 1995 and 5 March 2008 is estimated to be 386,205.

The types of record deleted have varied over time and between different parts of the United Kingdom. In England and Wales before 2001, the police could take DNA from anyone charged, but the samples and the profiles derived from them had to be destroyed if charges were dropped or the person was found not guilty.

The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 changed this so that DNA could be kept from those who had been charged even if they were acquitted; the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (which came into force in 2004) extended the power further, so that DNA could be kept from anyone arrested for a recordable offence and held in a police station. In Scotland, DNA samples and profiles can be retained permanently from anyone convicted; if a prosecution is started for a sexual or violent offence, the DNA can be retained for three years with a possible extension, regardless of whether the person is brought to trial or convicted; otherwise the DNA samples and profiles have to be destroyed after the investigation. Therefore, since 2004 most of the profiles deleted from the NDNAD have been Scottish ones.

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

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Lord West of Spithead: On 5 March 2008 there were records of an estimated 24,486 volunteers on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) from all police forces, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Volunteer samples may be taken only with the person's written consent to giving a DNA sample in order to assist a police investigation. The resulting DNA profile is then compared in the forensic laboratory with the DNA material recovered from the crime scene.

Volunteer subject sample profiles are added to the NDNAD only where the individual has also given separate written consent for their profile to be loaded and retained on the NDNAD for searching against other unsolved crime profiles.

Police: Translation Services

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The provision of translation services by police forces is an operational matter for the chief officer of the force concerned. Information on each force area is not held centrally.

We have no current plans to create a centralised system of translation services. Guidance to police forces and other criminal justice agencies is included in the national agreement on arrangements for the use of interpreters, translators and language service professionals in investigations and proceedings within the criminal justice system, issued in January 2007.

A copy has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Political Parties: Business Rates

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The decision on whether an organisation is eligible for mandatory relief for charities is a matter for the local billing authority in question, based on the provisions of rating legislation and the facts of the case. Central government do not hold information on the eligibility of particular organisations.

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Questions for Written Answer: Unanswered Questions

Lord Tebbit asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): An Answer was given on 4 March (Official Report, col. WA 173).

Railways: Car Parking

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government’s aim is to allow people to make an informed choice as to which form of transport to use rather than to encourage a specific modal shift.

Invitation to tender documents (ITTs) for franchises require bidders to present proposals for increasing the number of car parking spaces as part of the wider issue of access to stations. Such considerations must be mindful of planning issues and the need to consider other modes and environmental concerns.

Details of the requirements for the West Midlands, East Midlands and Intercity East Coast franchise are available on the Department for Transport website at

Railways: First Great Western

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The First Great Western franchise is a 10-year franchise until March 2016. The White Paper published in the summer included a commitment to 1,300 extra carriages to be targeted at the most congested routes on the network.

On 30 January the Department for Transport published its Rolling Stock Plan. This shows indicative numbers of rolling stock per train operating company. Fifty-two additional vehicles are shown for First Great Western. The Rolling Stock Plan explains that these numbers are not intended to

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be prescriptive, nor to limit the development process with the industry, and could therefore be subject to change in the final outcome.

I also refer to the Written Statement made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State on 26 February 2008 (Official Report, Commons, cols. WS 71-74). This Statement confirmed that additional carriages will be added to trains operating the First Great Western Portsmouth to Cardiff route from this summer.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Department for Transport’s rolling stock plan indicates that 52 additional vehicles will be needed for First Great Western (FGW) services. Discussions with FGW have started, but no rolling stock order has been placed yet.

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Railways: North Wales

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is little evidence of crowding on West Coast Trains' services between Chester and Holyhead. Availability of train path and resource, as well as passenger loadings, are factors in determining whether additional services between Chester and Wrexham can be provided.

From December 2008, West Coast Trains is planning to operate an additional 0705 Wrexham General to Chester and 2020 Chester to Wrexham General service, subject to obtaining track access rights. These services are to form through trains to and from London Euston.

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