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20 May 2008 : Column WA173



20 May 2008 : Column WA173

Written Answers

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Advertising: Internet

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Home Office was asked by a number of parties, including Phorm's legal representative, for a view on the compatibility of targeted advertising services with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. It provided a guidance note for those parties.

The note is not, nor was it intended to be taken as, a definitive statement or interpretation of the law, which only a court can give. Nor was it intended for publication. However, a copy of that note has been published at http://cryptome.org/ho-phorm.pdf.

Working to protect the public, the Home Office is keen to help industry understand its legislative responsibilities, and to work with business in order to achieve a workable balance between commercial interests and public safety. In this way potential legal obligations can be taken into account in the conception of new products and services.

Agriculture: Sheep

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): No. Although the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has concluded that the prevalence of BSE infection in the UK sheep population is most likely to be zero or, if present, very low, the risk from scrapie and other diseases with on-farm burial remains. With regard to TSE infectivity in the environment, recent studies have suggested TSE-associated prion protein adheres to soil minerals and remains infectious, even after a number of years. Defra-funded scientific research investigating the persistence of TSE infectivity in the environment is ongoing and details can be found on the Defra website.



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Crime: Homophobic Offences

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Advice to police officers in combating hate crime is contained within the ACPO hate-crime manual, which was last published in 2005.

The Public Order Act 1986 does not contain specific homophobic aggravated offences although the Crime and Disorder Act 1999 does provide specific offences relating to some public order offences which are racially or religiously aggravated.

In October 2006 the then Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith launched the Race for Justice programme, which is led by the current Attorney-General, Baroness Scotland. This programme will improve the way we investigate and prosecute hate crime across the criminal justice system. Part of the activity is the revision of the Association of Chief Police Officers hate-crime manual, which is being led by the Association of Chief Police Officers hate-crime portfolio holder, Assistant Chief Constable Harris from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The revised guidance is due to be published towards the end of this financial year.

Elections: Labour Party Deputy Leadership

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): This is an operational matter for the Metropolitan Police.

Energy: North Sea Oil

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: Total revenues received over the lifetime of the North Sea can be obtained from HM Revenue and Customs corporate tax statistics table 11.11, which is published on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/corporate_tax/table11-11.pdf.

The March 2008 Budget forecast for total tax revenues from North Sea oil and gas production in 2008-09 stands at £9.9 billion.

Concerning the division of that revenue between Scotland and England I refer my noble friend to my Answer to his Question of 11 December 2007 (Official Report, col. WA 28).

EU: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): As with all other Select Committees, the number of sub-committees of the European Union Select Committee is a matter for the House, and not Her Majesty's Government. The Government welcome and value the serious scrutiny of EU legislative proposals currently carried out by the Select Committee.

EU: Savings Directive

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The following countries and territories outside the European Union participate in the framework of the savings directive under agreements signed in 2005 when the directive came into operation: Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Switzerland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Aruba and Netherlands Antilles. In October 2006 the Council of Ministers asked the Commission to open exploratory discussions with Hong Kong, Singapore and Macao as a first step in extending the framework to other important financial centres. Informal discussions have taken place with a number of other countries.



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Fishing: Obstruction of Government Agents

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): According to Article 73(3) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

The penalties in the shark-finning order derive from the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, and these do not include imprisonment in line with UNCLOS.

Obstruction of British sea-fishery officers at sea or on land is treated very seriously. Where this amounts to assault or compromises safety at sea, offences will be prosecuted under the appropriate legislation.

Food

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government are working with industry leaders and other relevant stakeholders on a healthy food code of good practice, as set out in Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: A Cross-government Strategy for England, published in January 2008. Copies of the strategy are available in the Library. The healthy food code of good practice makes clear that the Government will continue to work with industry on all areas of food promotion—including point of sale—to reduce children's exposure to promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar, and increase their exposure to the promotion of healthier options.

Gold

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: Total tonnage of United Kingdom gold reserves in May 1997 was 715 tonnes. As at end March 2008 UK gold reserves stood at 310 tonnes.

Monthly data on the physical stock of gold and its current value since 2005 are available on the Bank of England website at www.bankofengland.co.uk/statistics/reserves/index.htm.

The Government have not conducted an official gold sales programme since 2002. However, the physical stock of gold has changed reflecting a large number of small transactions, including sales of small amounts of gold sovereigns by the Royal Mint; and transaction costs incurred in gold lending and swaps.

Health: Pharmaceutical Price Regulation

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Confidential negotiations on a successor to the current pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS) are currently taking place between the Government and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. The Government will publish details of any new voluntary scheme only after agreement has been reached.

In renegotiating the scheme, the Government are taking into account the following principles, which were set out in the interim government response to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) market study on PPRS:

delivering value for money;encouraging and rewarding innovation;assisting the uptake of new medicines; andproviding stability, sustainability and predictability.

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The responses to the 2005 consultation are being given careful consideration during the current negotiations, as are other issues relevant to the negotiations.

House of Lords: Nominations

Lord Morris of Aberavon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I refer the noble and learned Lord to the Government's responses to the Public Administration Select Committee reports on Propriety and Honours: Interim Findings (fourth report of Session 2005-06) and Propriety and Peerages (second report of Session 2007-08). Copies of the responses (Cm 7374) have been laid before Parliament.

Immigration: Failed Asylum Seekers

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Whilst there is no fixed time-limit on detention under Immigration Act powers, the UK Border Agency is keen to ensure that detention lasts for no longer than is necessary.

Individuals are detained only for as long as is reasonably necessary to achieve the purpose for which detention was authorised. What constitutes a reasonable length of detention will vary from case to case depending on the particular circumstances of each case. The actions of detained individuals, including failure to co-operate with redocumentation, may sometimes prolong their detention.

Detention is reviewed on a regular basis, at successively higher levels within the UK Border Agency, to ensure that persons remain in detention only for as long as it continues to be justified.

Immigration: Indefinite Leave to Remain

Lord Thomas of Gresford asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It is the policy of the Border and Immigration Agency not to comment publicly on individual cases.


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