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The question of whether further legislation dealing specifically with cohabitants is required is a finely balanced one. It was precisely because of the Government's concern that cohabitants might be inadequately protected that the question of whether they should have specific rights was referred to the Law Commission.

Following the Law Commission's report, the Government have decided to consider research on the impact of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 which contains provisions that are similar in many respects to those which the Law Commission recommends before deciding whether to implement the Law Commission's proposals. In particular, the Government wish to consider the likely cost and benefit to this jurisdiction of bringing into effect the scheme proposed by the Law Commission, and to see how well the scheme meets the needs of vulnerable individuals.

The Government have funded the “Living Together” campaign to raise public awareness about the legal status of cohabitation. It aims to make people more aware of the differences in the rights and responsibilities applying to married and unmarried relationships, and to provide cohabitants with practical advice on how they can protect themselves and their families, should they wish to do so. Pending the outcome of research, the Government will continue to support this campaign.

Government: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: It is not the practice, not least for security reasons, to discuss future engagements of government Ministers.

Gulf War Illnesses

Lord Tyler asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence will examine any significant new research of which it becomes aware to assess its relevance to UK veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict. There are many research studies in the UK and elsewhere into the illnesses affecting Gulf veterans; most of these have been peer reviewed and published in scientific or medical journals and are usually available on the world wide web. The Government have particular arrangements to monitor the research undertaken in the United States; we have a British liaison officer based permanently in Washington DC who is tasked both with ensuring that the UK has full visibility of US research into Gulf veterans' illnesses and with providing a channel for communicating our own work to interested US parties. We are aware of a paper recently published by the Department of Medicine, University of California, entitled Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and Gulf War illnesses and are giving it consideration; however, we note that the paper is not based on a systematic review of the literature.

Health: MRSA

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician and Registrar General, to Lord Taylor of Warwick, dated 19 March 2008.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking how many deaths were caused by methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in hospitals in 2007. (HL2538)

Data for 2007 are not yet available. The most recent data are for 2006 and were published in Health Statistics Quarterly 37 in February 2008. This publication is available in the Houses of Parliament Libraries.

House of Lords: Carbon Footprint

Lord Laird asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The carbon footprint of the House of Lords has been reduced drastically by a decision in autumn 2006 to purchase 100 per cent of electricity consumed on the Parliamentary Estate from renewable sources. Prior to this, only 10 per cent of our electricity was purchased from renewable sources. Since all electricity now comes from renewable sources, proposals to reduce the carbon footprint in the near future concentrate on

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reducing gas consumption, as it is only gas consumption on the Parliamentary Estate which now results in carbon emissions.

An offer of green gas, ie gas from renewable sources, has been made to the Parliamentary Estate and is under consideration. A report is also being prepared on how to improve control of the boilers in the Palace of Westminster main boiler house. It is expected that implementation of the recommendations in the report would result in a reduction in natural gas consumption and hence carbon emissions. The planned refurbishment of 1 Millbank includes many energy efficiency measures which would also reduce carbon emissions; for example, a solar water heating system is being proposed to generate domestic hot water for taps. The draught-proofing of some buildings is also being proposed for completion during the 2008 Summer Recess.

A proposal to run an Environment Champions programme for a year in each building over a total period of three years for the whole Parliamentary Estate is under discussion. This programme would raise staff awareness of measures to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

House of Lords: Information

Lord Norton of Louth asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Copies of the booklet The Work of the House of Lords are currently made available in the Library, the Printed Paper Office and from the Information Office. Arrangements are being made to ensure copies are made available to visitors at Peers Entrance and upon request at Peers Lobby.

Over the next few months the booklet will be widely circulated to schools, universities, public libraries, government departments and parliamentary relations departments in a wide range of organisations. It will also be sent to local government, the health service, business and commercial organisations, charities, the press and other relevant bodies.

House of Lords: Water

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Administration and Works Committee agreed at its meeting on 18 March that work should be undertaken to examine the feasibility of installing an

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on-site facility for the bottling of mains water. The Committee will consider the output of this work in due course.

Potable tap water is available in all Lords refreshment outlets. Potable tap water points are also installed on every floor of Fielden House and 2 Millbank, and in a number of corridors and offices within the Palace.

Housing: Purchase Prices

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The number of UK residential property transactions in the requested price bands, processed by HMRC in 2006, is given below.

Value of PropertyNumber (Thousands)

£150,000 and under
























> £2,000,001




Iraq: Deaths

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The security situation in Iraq has improved recently but deaths by violent means continue to be difficult to gauge accurately or reliably. Estimates, drawn up by a variety of organisations, vary greatly. The Government's view remains that records of civilian deaths are best monitored by the Iraqi Government.

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Israel and Palestine

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said, the bedrock of our approach on the Middle East peace process is threefold—first, to be unstinting in our support for the principle of a two-state solution with a viable state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel; secondly, to give every support to all those who are committed to peaceful progress in the region; and, thirdly, to support economic and social development across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We believe that the Annapolis process represents the best chance for peace since 2000 and it will be vital for the parties and the international community to work to ensure that 2008 is a year of progress.

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We welcome the important work that UK non-governmental organisations are doing in Gaza. We are discussing the recent report with the relevant non-governmental organisations. The Government are already working to help alleviate the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, including our contribution of £100 million over five years to the UN Relief and Works Agency. This is part of the Government's overall commitment of £243 million over three years, linked to political progress. We urge all parties to bring about a complete end to violence in Gaza and to work urgently to reopen the border crossings. But a long-term solution to the crisis in Gaza—both Israeli security and Palestinian hardship—can only come from a political process. Recent events make it all the more important for the parties and the international community to support the Annapolis process. All our efforts are behind this.

National Enterprise Academy

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The National Enterprise Academy (NEA) is looking to develop a national vocational qualification

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(NVQ) in enterprise. It will give a solid foundation in enterprise skills and focus on unlocking the entrepreneurial talents of teenagers from a wide range of educational and social backgrounds in the 16 to 19 age group.

A key feature will be the involvement of real working entrepreneurs within a further education learning environment. The qualification will lead students towards future business start-up, employment or higher education. It is expected that students will be supported after completing the course through ongoing mentoring and access to support services, such as potential seed investment from a dedicated fund to be established by Peter Jones, the entrepreneur.

The NEA was announced on 11 March 2008 by the Prime Minister and Peter Jones as part of the Government's Enterprise Strategy: Enterprise: unlocking the UK's talent. The NEA will build on the Government's current initiatives to create a more enterprising culture.

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