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Cultural Heritage

Lord Maclennan of Rogart asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government currently have no plans to ratify this convention.

Disabled People: Suitable Placements

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Information about a council’s refusal to accept an ombudsman’s recommendations is required to be in the public domain, and hence is available to electors when exercising that ultimate judgement, which they do through the ballot box. The Government have no plans to change the requirements about the availability of information or the actions councils must take if they do not accept an ombudsman's recommendations.

Elections: Slough

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have noted the findings and comments in the judgment of the election court. Since 2005, the Government have introduced a range of new measures to strengthen the integrity of our electoral system, and there have been very few proven incidences of fraud since the new measures were brought into force. They include:

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electoral administrators write to everyone who has applied for a postal vote acknowledging receipt of their application and confirming the outcome—this will alert people to any applications for postal votes made falsely on their behalf;postal vote applicants have to specify a reason if they want their postal vote to be sent to an address other than that at which they are registered;administrators get more time to check postal vote applications because people have to apply for a postal vote a minimum of 11 working days before the close of poll (the previous minimum was six days); new requirement for electors to provide personal identifiers (signature and date of birth) if they wish to have a postal vote. The identifiers must be replicated by elector when they subsequently cast their postal vote, and will be cross-checked with the original samples to ensure the postal vote is valid;new offence of falsely applying for a postal or proxy vote;after every election a list of all those who voted by post is published which will enable individuals to check that their vote was counted. In an investigation the police will be able to check up with any individual whether they did actually vote by post or whether their vote was stolen;new criminal offence of supplying false information (or failing to supply information) to the electoral registration officer at any time;strengthened offence of undue influence, which will make it easier to prosecute, even if the undue influence does not affect the way someone votes; and clear new powers for electoral administrators to cross check applications to register to vote against other information the council holds.

We will take account of the election court's judgment in any further development on electoral registration and postal voting processes and legislation.

Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: If, as we understand, such devices are likely to be used mainly as an alternative to walking or cycling then their potential in terms both of congestion relief and of carbon emission reduction is likely to be minimal.

No detailed assessment of legislative requirements has been made but primary legislation would need to be amended to permit their use on public footpaths, on the pedestrian footway alongside roads or on cycle tracks. The legislation which would need to be amended includes the Highway Act 1835, Highways Act 1980, Cycle Tracks Act 1984, the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, but other legislation may also need to be amended.

There is provision in Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that would allow the Secretary of State for Transport to permit by way of an order their use on the vehicular part of the public highway. The Secretary of State has no plans to make such an order.

Extradition: Torture

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The United Kingdom signed this convention in May 2005 and is now in the process of ratifying it. It is in accordance with the provisions of the Extradition Act 2003, however, that extradition requests to the UK are considered.

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Under the scheme of the Act, the courts must consider whether a person's extradition would lead to a real risk of the person being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment within the meaning of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

House of Lords: Pork and Bacon

Lord Hoyle asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Dutchbacon is served in the River Restaurant and 2 Millbank Cafeteria. All other ham and bacon products served in Refreshment Department outlets are of English origin produced in Woburn. All pork served is British free range produced in Suffolk.

Infant Mortality

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: Details on infant mortality rates for 2006, and the amount of official development assistance (ODA) provided by the EC and the UK to each country in calendar year 2006 are laid out in the table below:

Table 1: Infant Mortality Rates and Total and Per Capita EC and UK ODA, by Country, 2006.
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 live births)Population (millions)EC ODA (£ millions)EC ODA Per Capita (£)UK ODA (£ millions)UK ODA Per Capita (£)















DR Korea




























Sources: UNICEF (Infant Mortality Rates), World Bank (Population), DAC (EC ODA).

Maldives: Elections

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): On 6 March 2008, I stressed to the new Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Mohamed Asim, the importance of keeping the democratic process on track.

We believe that free, fair and credible elections are a crucial element of democracy. The UK is providing financial support for Commonwealth efforts to improve the electoral framework for elections. We are also

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working closely with the BBC, Maldives Ministry of Information and the Maldives Media Association to promote media freedom and skills development.

Members' and Peers' Correspondence

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Unless otherwise stated in my Written Statement on 20 March 2008 (Official Report, WS 42-6) departments have correspondence databases which can distinguish between Freedom of Information requests and other correspondence from Members of Parliament and Peers.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence's correspondence database is used to process all correspondence sent to MoD Ministers. Any correspondence which is considered to be a request for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is recorded separately on the Ministry of Defence's Freedom of Information database. Quarterly statistics on FOI requests are provided to the Ministry of Justice and published on their website (

There are no plans to report the department's performance in handling ministerial correspondence on a monthly basis during 2008.

Northern Rock

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: As I have previously informed the House, on agreement of its business plan by HM Treasury, Northern Rock will be managed on arms' length terms, as a commercial entity, by a newly appointed experienced and professional management team. As I set out in my previous Statements, it would be inappropriate for Northern Rock to compete unfairly on the back of government support.

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