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By the end of March 2008, more than 600 employers (including some small and medium-sized enterprises) had made organisational-level commitments to work through local employment partnerships. Some 260 of those employers were already working with Jobcentre Plus to implement their initial delivery plans, and a list of those employers has been placed in the Library. Jobcentre Plus is working through LEPs at a local level with many other smaller and medium-sized employers, and with some sites of larger employers who have not so far made a central commitment to work through LEPs.
Employers are often unable to make firm recruitment plans months and years in advance, and for that reason it is not possible to say how many job opportunities individual committed employers will make available through LEPs. We are however confident, given the high level of recruitment undertaken by employers committed to LEPs, that the number of job opportunities made available through LEPs will enable the initiative to succeed.
What measures are in place to encourage users to switch off electrical and electronic appliances rather than leaving them on standby; what progress has been made with these measures; and what further measures they will consider in this regard. [HL2633]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In the energy White Paper of 2007, the Government restated their commitment to increasing the energy efficiency of products and reducing the amount of energy wasted by products while in standby mode.
Proposals are currently being considered for an implementing measure under the framework directive for the eco-design of energy-using products (EuP) to establish mandatory standards for products in stand-by mode. If this proposal is agreed by member states, most products will have to consume no more than 1 watt when in standby mode. In addition, we are continuing to work with retailers and manufacturers to design out wasteful standby.
The Government's Act on CO2 campaign helps people to understand the link between individual
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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government are providing £5 million to the Carbon Trust, as part of the Environmental Transformation Fund, for research projects on advanced biofuels. The Technology Strategy Board has announced a £10 million competition for collaborative research on low carbon energy technologies including transport biofuels. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has provided around £0.3 million funding to the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NFCC) for a series of projects assessing the feasibility of second generation biofuel production in the UK (available via the NNFCC's website at www.nnfcc.com). The Energy Technologies Institute, funded by government and industry with a potential budget of £1 billion over 10 years, is considering options for incorporating advanced biofuel research into its programme.
The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation will help to create the right market conditions for the best biofuels to flourish and it should encourage the development of more advanced biofuels in the future.
Whether the Environment Agency formally advised the Rhondda Cynon Taf Borough Council that they have returned all Mr Douglas Gowan's original documents to him; whether staff at the Environment Agency Wales have been advised by their legal department in writing that Mr Gowan's original documents were sent to solicitors, Brabners Chaffe Street; and who was responsible for photocopying some of the original documents and sending those photocopies to Mr Gowan. [HL2533]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In response to an inquiry made on the 25 February 2008, the Environment Agency advised Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council that it had complied with a request by Mr Douglas Gowan to return his original documents and to remove and shred copies of them from its files.
The Environment Agency's legal department has, at every stage, kept its in-house clients fully informed of its actions relating to Brofiscin Quarry, including instructions given to Brabners Chaffe Street LLP, Solicitors. The Environment Agency is confident that Brabners Chaffe Street LLP has carried out those instructions appropriately.
Further to the Written Answers by Baroness Andrews on 13 March (WA 2512) and 17 March (WA 910), whether any statutory accountability is required by Government of local authorities in respect of the implementation of Planning Policy Statement 25, Development and Flood Risk; and if so, how this is communicated to applicants for planning permission. [HL2907]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (the Act) requires local authorities to decide planning applications in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This means that where applications involve issues of flood risk, they have to be decided in line with the policies on flood risk set out in the local authority's local development documents (LDDs) or other development plans. LDDs should be consistent with national planning policy, including Planning Policy Statement 25 Development and Flood Risk (PPS25). Section 20(5) of the Act requires LDDs to be tested for their soundness at independent examination. Local authorities are also required to carry out a sustainability appraisal of their LDDs as part of their plan preparation, in order to inform decisions about site allocations. Where flooding is an issue the local authority should prepare a strategic flood risk assessment as required by PPS25 to inform the sustainability appraisal. The policy in PPS25 would be a material consideration in determining the soundness of the LDD.
Key elements of the planning system are the early active involvement of stakeholders, including the Environment Agency which is a specific consultation body, and the development of a robust evidence base, in order to inform the contents of the LDDs. At the planning application level, applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals with the local authority as early as possible, to check their compliance with the local authorities' policies. There is a statutory requirement on the local authority to consult the Environment Agency on planning applications in flood-risk areas.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): I am not aware of the NAO giving specific attention to animal welfare in its consideration of public sector food procurement. The NAO's report into smarter food procurement in the public sector published in March 2006 did however make several recommendations for increasing the take-up of the public sector food procurement initiative, which has an objective to promote animal welfare.
The NAO also produced a short guide designed to help staff in frontline organisations assess the opportunities for improving the efficiency, sustainability and nutritional quality of the food and catering services they procure. This suggested that organisations reinvest revenues received in improvements to their catering services. One suggestion was for them to invest in meeting customers' preferences that can attract further custom; for example, specifying farm assurance and organic produce that also cover animal welfare. Please see URL www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/05-06/0506963_guide.pdf.
Whether they have any proposals to refund to Members of Parliament and Peers costs incurred in obtaining information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the basis that such an arrangement would assist their parliamentary duties. [HL2800]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government currently have no plans to make refunds to Members of Parliament or Peers in respect of any costs incurred in obtaining information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Regulations provide for the charging of fees in relation to requests for information only where the cost of complyingcalculated at a flat rate of £25 per hour of officials' timewould exceed appropriate limits. The appropriate limit is currently £600 for central government and £450 for other public authorities. In addition, public authorities may charge for disbursements and for information supplied in accordance with their publication schemes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department produces a range of information materials explaining the facts on immunisation and disease and the important role immunisation plays in protecting mothers and their children. All materials are tested among parents to ensure the content is clear and comprehensive. Any significant changes made to the
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Regular face-to-face surveys are conducted among parents to gauge current attitudes and perceptions of disease, immunisations and sources of information. The findings are used to help shape and inform future policy and communications with parents.
Information materials on immunisation are widely distributed to antenatal clinics, child health clinics and general practitioner surgeries and are available on the internet, at www.immunisation.nhs.uk, and through NHS Direct.
Lord Darzi of Denham: Around 91 per cent of children have completed their primary immunisation courses against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis and Hib by their first birthday and around 93 per cent by their second birthday.
Further to the Written Answer by the Chairman of Committees on 20 March (WA 60) concerning the carbon footprint of the House of Lords, whether he will describe the mechanism by which all electricity consumed on the parliamentary estate is purchased from renewable sources. [HL2905]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The electricity consumed on the parliamentary estate in all but one of the buildings is purchased on contract through OGC Buying Solutions. All the electricity is renewable and comes from accredited generation technologies under the climate change levy exemption scheme. The percentage contribution from various generation technologies to the renewable electricity supplied during 2006 by the OGC Buying Solutions supplier is given below:
Since the renewable electricity is generated far away from the parliamentary estate, it is supplied to the electricity network and is mixed with electricity generated from other non-renewable sources. The only way to ensure that the renewable electricity is consumed on the parliamentary estate would be for cables to be fitted between the generators of the renewable electricity and the estate to carry the renewable electricity exclusively to the estate. The possibility of running the Whitehall standby distribution system and the Whitehall combined heat and power plant to generate electricity to replace mains electricity in the future and to deliver it directly to government offices in Whitehall and to Parliament is currently being considered.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We will ensure that relevant material is provided for any such inquiry. The Ministry of Defence has a comprehensive records management policy. All areas of the department, including the Armed Forces, are expected to comply with this policy and maintain appropriate records.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): I can confirm that there have been no injuries to UK military or civilian personnel as a result of attacks into the green zone in Baghdad over the period 23 to 27 March. We continue to keep force protection arrangements for these personnel under review.
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