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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The implementation date for the introduction of electronic identification (EID) of sheep and goats is 31 December 2009.
Slaughterhouse systems to relate individual identities to carcases are possible (eg sequential kill numbercommonly used for cattle) but are not used for sheep in most slaughterhouses. Traceability of sheep carcasses is usually at the batch or consignment level.
Further to the Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 25 February (Official Report, cols. 429-31), whether the British Armed Forces Federation was or will be asked for its response to the proposals set out in the consultation paper Transforming Tribunals; and whether they will place a copy of any response from the federation in the Library of the House. [HL2254]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath):Transforming Tribunals was published on 28 November, both in hard copy and on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp3007.htm.
A number of service organisations have responded to the consultation, including the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, the Army Benevolent Fund and the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association. The Pensions Appeal Tribunal also made a detailed submission, which was the subject of Lord Morris' Question. Copies of all of these documents have been placed in the Library of the House. The British Armed Forces Federation did not submit a response.
Although the consultation period closed on 22 February, the Government will gladly consider further representations from service organisations that have not already responded. No final decisions have yet been made. The Government are currently considering the representations they have received, and are committed to publishing a response by the end of May.
What representations they have made to the Government of the Republic of Ireland concerning its ratification of the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities (Cm 4059), as required by the Belfast Agreement of 1998 (Cm 4705); and how the convention affects the (a) Irish; and (b) Ulster Scots languages. [HL2295]
Lord Rooker: I am not aware of any specific representations made to the Irish Government concerning their ratification of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. In accordance with commitments in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the Irish Government ratified this framework convention on 7 May 1999, with entry into force on 1 September 1999. Any monitoring of its compliance is a matter for the Council of Europe.
Some articles in the framework convention, notably Article 10, make reference to minority languages. The relevant UK state reports to the Council, with material relevant to the Irish and Ulster Scots languages, are available on the Council of Europe's website at www coe.int/t/e/human%5Frights/minorities.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 10 March (WA 197), whether, in considering reimbursement arrangements for concessionary fares which include provisions that the operator will be no better and no worse off, account is taken of the likely demand on bus operators to provide extra services to cater for the increased demand for travel. [HL2483]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Reimbursement paid to bus operators takes account of all relevant costs. The loss of revenue from existing passengers now travelling free (termed revenue foregone) is an element of the calculation. However, operators are also eligible for reimbursement of additional costs associated with carrying new passengers, for example, where there is increased demand because of the concession.
What is their estimate of the amount spent during the last year for which figures are available, including fees paid to consultants, by (a) government departments and agencies, and (b) local government, in making, submitting and evaluating submissions for transport projects made under the new approach to appraisals. [HL2312]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: In 2006-07, the Department for Transport spent £0.4 million for business case development and challenge of appraisal of improvements to the rail network. The largest portion of this was on appraising the modernisation of the west coast main line.
Franchise replacements include a significant amount of appraisal as part of the invitation to tenders against which bidders submit their bids. During 2006-07, there were five franchise replacements and some appraisal work to support developments to existing franchises. It is difficult to isolate the appraisal element from work on timetabling, performance and consultation and other aspects, but an indicative figure for the 2006-07 year might be £0.5 million to £0.75 million.
The department does not centrally collate individual local authorities' expenditures for submitting proposals. However, in 2006-07, the department provided authorities involved in the Congestion Transport Innovation Fund with £5 million for the development of schemes. This met more than two-thirds of the costs of the submissions, with the local authorities meeting the other part of the costs.
In the Highways Agency, the costs related to preparing appraisal submissions are part of the total costs of major projects approved by Ministers. The specific financial information related to appraisal work cannot easily be separated out from overall scheme costs as it is an integral element of scheme preparation.
The department assesses the value for money of proposals, using the evidence provided by the appraisals and this is estimated to cost about £0.3 million, including the fees of consultants brought in to assist for complex proposals.
Further to the Statement by the Prime Minister on 27 February (Official Report, HC Deb, col. 1089) that he had invited the new Greek Cypriot leader to London to discuss a settlement over North Cyprus, whether a similar invitation has been extended to the Turkish Cypriot leader. [HL2242]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister invited President Demetris Christoflas to London to discuss working together on
18 Mar 2008 : Column WA26
Our objective in Cyprus is the reunification of the island, through support of the UN's efforts. We engage with both communities in order to encourage progress towards a comprehensive settlement, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. This engagement naturally includes contacts with Mr. Talat, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. Any future meeting with Mr. Talat at ministerial level would focus on his efforts to achieve progress towards a comprehensive settlement. Such engagement does not affect our long-standing policy of non-recognition of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Representatives of the European Commission delegation in Turkey meet regularly with parliamentarians of the Democratic Society Party, as they do all political parties of the Turkish Government, to discuss a range of political issues including Turkey's progress on EU accession.
What procedures exist to verify the fairness of the distribution and spending of European Union aid to Turkey between the various regions and provinces of that country; and whether the European Union Commission and auditors are satisfied that sufficient weight is given to the poorest and least developed areas in Turkey. [HL2340]
Lord Malloch-Brown: EU funding to Turkey is determined according to the rules laid down in the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance regulation and within the framework of multi-annual indicative planning documents proposed by the European Commission and agreed by the European Council. These documents lay down the priorities for spending, including the concentration of spending on regional development and human resources development in those areas of Turkey with less than 75 per cent of the average national income. The documents are reviewed on an annual basis, and are available through the European Commission's website at www.ec.europa.eu.
Spending in Turkey takes place under a decentralised implementation system on which the European Commission currently exercises controls before and after expenditure. Spending is subject to the normal auditing controls specified for EU funds.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Homeless people have the same access to National Health Service services as the rest of the local population and needs assessments of primary care trusts (PCTs), as local commissioners, should address their needs in the same way as for other minority groups. This needs assessment will be reflected in the way PCTs contract for services with providers.
The absence of a permanent address is not a barrier for a person with no fixed abode to registering with a general practitioner (GP) practice. In many instances, practices have used the practice address in order to register a homeless person.
Where a patient has no fixed abode and they are not registered with a GP practice, the PCT responsible for funding their services should be determined by the terms of the usually resident test. If patients consider themselves to be resident at an address which is, for example, a hostel, then this should be accepted.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council met and discussed the Middle East Peace Process at its meeting on 10 March.
High Representative Solana briefed Ministers on his visit to the region on 2 to 5 March. The EU expressed concern at the worsening situation, following the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel, as well as the killings at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem on 6 March. Ministers also expressed concern about the recent approval of settlement activity by the Israeli Government at Givat Ze'ev. The EU continues to make clear that settlement building anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal under international law and presents an obstacle to peace.
Whether they and the European Union will make representations to the Government of Serbia about any encouragement of violence in Kosovo and its effect on Serbia's progress towards joining the European Union. [HL2178]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The head of the Diplomatic Service, Sir Peter Ricketts, called in the Serbian charge d'affaires on 22 February to express the UK's very strong concern over the violence against diplomatic premises in Belgrade. He called on the Serbian Government to condemn recent violence unequivocally and to uphold their responsibility to protect diplomatic premises in accordance with the Vienna Convention.
The EU Troika in Belgrade presented a demarche to the Serbian authorities on 29 February, condemning the attacks against foreign embassies in Belgrade and the crossing points in Kosovo. The EU considered the inflammatory language used by some members of the Government as completely unacceptable in its apparent legitimisation of the use of violence.
Violence against international personnel in Kosovo or against diplomatic premises in Belgrade, and statements by Serbian Ministers which condone this, clearly create an unpromising background for progress in the EU's relations with Serbia. Representations have been made at ministerial and official level. Together with our EU colleagues, we continue to monitor the security situation on the ground.
Whether the Ministry of Defence has rejected, on the basis of excessive mark-up, any charges made by BAE Systems in respect of land system components supplied by sub-contractors; and if so, what penalties were imposed on BAE Systems. [HL2522]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The mark-up that BAE Systems adds to sub-contractors costs is pre-agreed with the MoD. The MoD goes directly to sub-contractors to avoid paying these mark-up costs if it judges that this procurement strategy offers best overall value-for-money. If the MoD chooses to source directly from sub-contractors no penalties are imposed on BAE Systems.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The outcome of this review and its availability was raised in the House of Commons Defence Select Committee report Medical Care for the Armed Forces published on 18 February.
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