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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have already established 13 community justice projects. The first, the Community Justice Centre in north Liverpool, was launched in October 2005. The second, at Salford
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We now intend to use all these projects to test the community justice concept so that it can then be spread wider across the court system. We have already applied lessons from north Liverpool to improve case management and speed up cases in the magistrates' courts. This year we will take lessons from the community justice projects to deliver a programme to make the magistrates' courts more responsive to the communities they serve. We will also use learning from the projects to test and cost the impact of problem-solving approaches with a view to tying in to overall work on tackling reoffending.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Under the information requirements provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 2006 card providers will be obliged to give their customers clearer and more regular information on the state of their accounts in order to help them identify potential problems before it is too late. For example, from October 2008, statements must also include information about the consequences of failing to make repayments, or of only making minimum repayments.
Whether they will instruct the Migration Advisory Committee to consider the production of a separate labour shortage list occupation for London, given the different nature of its labour market, as they are doing for Scotland. [HL2513]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been established to provide independent and evidence-based advice to government on specific sectors and occupations in the labour market where shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration.
As part of its work plan for this year, the MAC has been asked to produce shortage occupation lists for UK and Scotland only (tier 2 skilled employment). These lists comprise occupations where, in the MAC's view, there are shortages which can sensibly be filled by enabling employers to recruit migrants.
Lord Bach: Ofgem is currently conducting a probe into the energy market, the results of which will be published shortly. If the evidence shows that prepayment meter users are treated less favourably than other customers in respect of their charges for energy, we will look to Ofgem and the energy suppliers to come forward with proposals to reduce any disadvantage. If sufficient progress is not made by winter 2008-09, the Secretary of State is prepared to use his existing statutory powers with a view to reducing the differential between prepayment and other forms of payment.
Lord Bach: The information requested is not available; the smallest area that includes Manchester for which splits of customers by payment type is the North West. The most up-to-date information is held in the Quarterly Energy Prices December 2007 at www.berr.gov.uk/energy/statistics/publications/prices/index.html on tables 2.4.2 and 2.5.2 and relates to September 2007. This shows the following proportions of households paying by each payment type in the north-west.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government remain committed to our fuel poverty targets and announced further measures in the Budget to increase the level of assistance offered by energy companies to their vulnerable customers from £56 million to £150 million a year and to tackle the increasing cost differential between prepayment meters and other forms of payment.
In addition, the carbon emissions reduction target requires energy suppliers to achieve 40 per cent of their carbon savings through priority households, with an expected value of £1.5 billion of resources directed to this group over three years.
We have in place a strong package of measures, with spend on energy efficiency for those on low incomes for the period 2008-11 projected to be in excess of £2.3 billion. This is in addition to the winter fuel payments, payable to all pensioners, to which the Chancellor has in his recent Budget added a one-off payment of £100 to over-80s households and £50 to over-60s households for 2008-09.
The Government also announced further action to help vulnerable groups deal with rising energy prices. Energy companies currently spend around £50 million a year on social programmes. We would like to see that figure rising over the period ahead to at least £150 million a year. Acting with the companies and Ofgem, we will draw up a plan for voluntary and statutory action to achieve that. To underpin this as necessary, the Government will legislate to require companies to make a fair contribution.
In addition to these measures, Ofgem is currently conducting a probe into the energy market, the results of which will be published shortly. If the evidence shows that prepayment meter users are treated less favourably than other customers in respect of their charges for energy, then we will look to Ofgem and the energy suppliers to come forward with proposals to reduce any disadvantage. If sufficient progress is not made by winter 2008-09, the Secretary of State is prepared to use his existing statutory powers with a view to reducing the differential between prepayment and other forms of payment.
Now that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has identified a commercial opportunity through the sale of its assets at some 18 sites in Britain, when they will produce a revised estimate of the cost of nuclear decommissioning taking into account
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Lord Bach: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced on 6 March that it was in the process of assessing the market interest in its assets, consistent with its requirement to ensure maximum value to the taxpayer. Interested parties should respond to the NDA by 3 April, but no final decision has been taken on whether any assets will be sold.
What was the load factor of the installed and working capacity of the United Kingdom's wind turbine generators during January and February 2008; and whether the load factor was affected by the anti-cyclones during that period. [HL2577]
Lord Bach: The department publishes energy statistics, including load factors for generation on an annual basis, within the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES). The department does not produce monthly statistics.
The most recent copy of DUKES contains the figures for the year ending December 2006 and can be found at http://stats.berr.gov.uk/energystats/dukes07.pdf.
How many of the wind turbines so far installed in the United Kingdom are covered by decommissioning agreements to take effect at the end of their working lives, requiring their dismantling and the restoration of the land by the removal of concrete bases and access roads. [HL2578]
Lord Bach: Decommissioning conditions are applied to onshore wind farm planning permissions to ensure restoration of the site to the satisfaction of the local authority once the planning permission lifetime has expired. It is common practice for developers to enter into agreements pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to ensure funds are available for such decommissioning work.
The depth to which concrete bases should be dismantled and whether access roads should be included in the decommissioning will depend on such factors as the environmental conditions at the site and the utility of retaining access roads following decommissioning of the wind farm.
Decommissioning of offshore renewable energy installations (OREIs), including offshore wind farms, is governed by the regime set out under the Energy Act 2004 (EA 2004) which gives the Secretary of State
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Whether the Environment Agency Wales is aware of allegations of obstruction of justice involving the Water Research Centre; whether officials from Environment Agency Wales met staff of the Water Research Centre on 29 November 2007; and whether both the Environment Agency Wales and Monsanto are clients of the Water Research Centre. [HL2260]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Environment Agency is unaware of any formal allegations of obstruction of justice against the Water Research Centre. The Environment Agency is a large organisation and its staff regularly meet many individuals and organisations. Accordingly, it is unable to confirm whether a meeting took place with the Water Research Centre on the 29 November 2007. The Environment Agency confirms that it has a number of contracts and frameworks with the Water Research Centre for various consultancy services across England and Wales. It is not able to respond on behalf of Monsanto.
Upon what legal authority and on whose instructions certain original documents and evidentiary proofs belonging to Mr Douglas Gowan were destroyed by the Environment Agency Wales on or around 2 January. [HL2261]
Lord Rooker: The Environment Agency has not destroyed any original documents or evidentiary proofs belonging to Mr Douglas Gowan. Where original documents and evidentiary proofs had been received by the Environment Agency from Mr Gowan, they have been returned to him. On the 2 November 2007, Mr Gowan requested that all copies of those originals be shredded. The Environment Agency has complied with that request.
Upon what authority and by whom Brabners solicitors were instructed to correspond with Mr Douglas Gowan and to return to him certain copies of original documents that had been sent as evidence to the Environment Agency Wales. [HL2262]
Lord Rooker: The Environment Agency instructed a firm of external solicitors, Brabners Chaffe Street LLP, to act on its behalf in respect of statements made by Mr Douglas Gowan regarding an employee of the Environment Agency. Mr Gowan's request for the return of his original documents was made in his correspondence with that firm. The Environment Agency therefore instructed that all the original documentation provided to it and in its possession be returned through Brabners Chaffe Street LLP.
Upon what authority and on whose instructions e-mail correspondence from Mr Douglas Gowan to individuals in the Environment Agency, the Environment Agency Wales, Members of the House of Lords and others was intercepted and on occasions diverted; whether specific instructions were issued to three engineers to set up a gateway to facilitate the interception on or around 30 October 2007; and whether such interception was legal. [HL2263]
Lord Rooker: The Environment Agency has not intercepted or diverted e-mail correspondence from Mr Douglas Gowan to Members of the House of Lords or others. The Environment Agency has, since November 2007, filtered e-mail correspondence sent by Mr Gowan to various Environment Agency e-mail addresses into a centrally managed Environment Agency e-mail account. On or about 30 October 2007, the Environment Agency confirms that it instructed its e-mail gateway provider to set up this arrangement. How the Environment Agency chooses to manage the communications sent to and received by its members of staff is an internal and entirely legitimate operational matter.
What are the lines of accountability for the Director of Environment Agency Wales and his staff in relation to the Board of the Environment Agency, the National Assembly for Wales, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Parliament. [HL2531]
Lord Rooker: All employees of the Environment Agency are accountable through the chief executive to the board of the Environment Agency, and through that board to the sponsoring departments in England and Wales. The Environment Agency is accountable for its activities in England to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is, in turn, accountable to Parliament for these activities. The Environment Agency is accountable to Welsh Ministers for its activities in Wales.
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