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EU: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): All European Union directives and regulations agreed in the Council of Ministers are subject to parliamentary scrutiny before agreement. In exceptional cases, where this has not been possible, for example in cases of emergency or when Parliament is in recess, the Government will explain this in writing to the chairman of the Scrutiny Committees of both Houses.

The number of directives and regulations agreed by the Council of Ministers before the completion of scrutiny procedures were:

2005—eight directives and 16 regulations; 2006—two directives and 16 regulations; and2007—none in the period January to June 2007. Figures for July to December are not yet available.

Regulations are directly applicable and therefore do not need to be transposed into UK law. Directives require transposition and would need to be subsequently implemented, for example, by way of measures made under Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. These are subject to scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the House of Lords Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments.

Families: Foreign Spouses

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The consultation papers Marriage to Partners from Overseas and Marriage Visas: Pre Entry English Requirement for Spouses were launched on 5 December 2007.

The first consultation contains proposals to raise the minimum age to which you can sponsor a person from overseas for a marriage visa from 18 to 21. The same age increase would apply to the person being sponsored. The latter consultation examines the case for introducing a pre-entry language requirement for those applying for a spouse visa and planning to settle in the UK including what the level of English proficiency should be.

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The consultation period for these proposals concluded on 27 February 2008 and we are now assessing the responses.

Careful consideration will be given to the compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 as the proposals are taken forward.

Flooding: Eco-towns

Lord Ryder of Wensum asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): One of the seven key criteria that the Government set out in the eco-towns prospectus, published alongside the housing Green Paper last July, covered environmental issues. As part of this the Government have said that PPS25: Development & Flood Risk should be taken into account when considering proposals. This will ensure that any development proposed on flood plains is considered in the usual way as part of the planning process.

Food: Imports

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): We have helped to support local sourcing with funding for a range of measures, which allow regional and local food producers to overcome barriers to the effective marketing of their products. Examples include “meet the buyer” events, encouragement of food hubs and shared distribution facilities, and key training seminars.

Support from Defra has been boosted by the regional development agencies (RDAs), helping activities to do with the promotion of quality regional and local food culture. The level and type of RDA funding reflects each region's priorities as set out in regional economic strategies. RDAs are also responsible for the delivery of various aspects of Defra's rural development programme for England (RDPE). Support is available under the RDPE to improve the competitiveness of a wide range of rural businesses, which can include local and regional food producers.

We have also commissioned research aimed at enabling policy makers, support organisations and the supply chain to better understand the regional and local food sector. One of these projects will investigate the practicalities and benefits of local food production. Other work will examine consumer attitudes and actual purchasing behaviour. The results will be published on our website.

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Finally, Defra's ongoing public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) was launched in 2003 to help deliver the Government's sustainable farming and food strategy. This aims to increase opportunities for small and local producers to tender for contracts to supply food to the public sector. Our funding for this initiative supports workshops for buyers and suppliers, regional pilot projects to develop the supply side, and a range of guidance materials aimed at both food producers and public sector buyers. More information on the PSFPI can be found on the Defra website.

Gambling: Casinos

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: In reaching his decision not to proceed with the regional casino, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport considered all relevant matters, including the following report and studies referred to in his Statement on casino policy to the House of Commons on 26 February (Official Report, col. 903):

the Gambling Commission's British Gambling Prevalence Study 2007;the report of the Department for Communities and Local Government entitled Review of Alternative Approaches to Regional Casino-Led Regeneration; andthe Scoping Study for a UK Gambling Act 2005 Impact Assessment Framework by Lancaster University and others. Copies of these reports are available in the House Library.

Health: Alzheimer's

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The number of people with Alzheimer's disease is not collected centrally. However, the Dementia UK report generated by the London School of Economics and the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London and published by the Alzheimer's Society in February 2007 estimated there were 700,000 people with dementia in the UK as of last February.

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Darzi of Denham: On 22 November 2006, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued a technology appraisal on the drugs Aricept, Ebixa, Exelon and Reminyl for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. NICE recommends the drugs Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl as an option for use in the treatment of moderate stage Alzheimer's disease only.

The NICE guidance recommends that patients already receiving the drug Aricept for either mild or more severe Alzheimer's disease can continue on them until they, their carers and/or their clinicians feel it is appropriate to stop.

Healthcare professionals are expected to take NICE's guidance into account when reaching a clinical judgment on the best treatment for their patients. The NICE guidance allows clinicians' individual responsibility to make clinical decisions about individual patients.

Identity Cards

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In order to maintain the necessarily high level of security of the national identity register, it will not be possible to access the register online. The Identity Cards Act 2006 permits requests from UK security and law enforcement agencies for the provision of information held on the national identity register. This would permit information to be provided for the purposes of criminal proceedings and investigations where justified.

The provisions make it clear that the Secretary of State would always have the discretion to refuse such a request and such requests would still be conducted in line with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

No third party organisation, including the police, will have online access to the information on the national identity register. Any request from a third party organisation for the verification or provision of data will be made to the Identity and Passport Service.

Immigration: Detention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Statistics on the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers as at 30 September 2006 have been published

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in table 6.3 of the Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom 2006 Command Paper. These are the latest published figures available on all persons detained broken down by length of detention.

Owing to a change in the system in which information is collected, statistics on all persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers broken down by length of detention have not been available since September 2006.

Copies of the aforementioned publication are available from the Library of the House and the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at

Immigration: Failed Asylum Seekers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The aim of the project was to encourage the voluntary departure of families whose asylum applications had been refused and had exhausted all their appeal rights. The views of stakeholders, including the Children's Society and the Refugee Council, were taken into account in the course of the project and some changes made to the process as a result. The project has now ended, although we continue to work with stakeholders to identify how we can better promote voluntary return for all asylum applicants whose applications have been refused and have no lawful basis on which to remain in this country.

Iran: Nuclear Weapons

Lord Turnberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Most recently the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general's report of 22 February highlighted a number of issues that it said were “of serious concern and critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme”. The IAEA report also makes it clear that Iran is not suspending enrichment activities as required by UN Security Council resolutions and is not implementing the additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Government do not collate figures for civilian casualties in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties in both theatres, and any that are the result of action by UK Armed Forces are always a matter of profound regret.


Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We welcome the power-sharing agreement signed by President Kibaki and the leader of the opposition, Raila Odinga, on 28 February 2008. We join the international community in thanking Kofi Annan and his team for their outstanding efforts in brokering this deal.

But the hard work must continue. Real leadership, patience and tolerance is necessary to ensure that the agreement sticks and is implemented in full. We welcome signs that this is happening, including the constitutional reforms passed on 18 March 2008 involving creating the office of Prime Minister. We hope that the new coalition government will be formed in the coming days.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has already made it clear that the UK is ready to work closely with the new Kenyan Government once it is formed.

Northern Ireland Office

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Northern Ireland Office takes seriously its responsibilities with regard to the sustainability agenda. In making its employees more environmentally aware and its property more environmentally friendly, it has undertaken extensive action, particularly in the areas of recycling, and in reducing our carbon emissions through greater use of energy from renewable sources.

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