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According to Cabinet Office guidance (Making and Managing Public Appointments—A Guide for Departments, fourth edition, February 2006) all members of public

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bodies are eligible to be reimbursed for the costs of travel and subsistence associated with their public duties. As the noble Lord will be aware from my Answer of 3 March 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 160), the Bill of Rights Forum did not come within the definition of a public body. However, the Government consider it appropriate that the overriding principle that no appointee should be out of pocket as a result of his or her appointment should still apply to appointments to ad hoc advisory bodies such as the forum.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Data Protection Act 1998 refers to personal data as,

“Personal data”, in this sense, therefore refers to the shortlist of candidates that was provided to NIO Ministers. To disclose this list would identify individuals who were put to Ministers for consideration as chair of the Bill of Rights Forum.

Offensive Weapons

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The sale of firearms is governed by the provisions of the Firearms Acts 1968 to 1997 as amended, and the Firearms Rules 1998.

Savings

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Since 1997, the Government have sought to support saving and asset ownership for all, from childhood, through working life and into retirement. The Government have introduced individual savings accounts (ISAs) to develop and extend the saving habit, which in April were made simpler, more flexible and more generous. The Government have

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also introduced the child trust fund, which will ensure that all children will hold a financial asset at the age of 18. Budget 2008 announced that the saving gateway, a cash saving scheme to promote saving and financial inclusion for those on lower incomes, will be introduced nationally, with first accounts available to savers in 2010.

The introduction of auto-enrolment and personal accounts from 2012 will enable individuals on low to medium incomes to save in a pension over their working lives.

Trees: Sudden Oak Death Syndrome

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The research agency of the Forestry Commission (Forest Research) has continued investigation into the disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum (known as Sudden Oak Death in the USA). These investigations also include another Phytophthora pathogen, recently named P. kernoviae. Only discovered four to five years ago in Britain, both pathogens are considered recent introductions. Both attack the foliage of certain ornamental and understorey shrub species such as Rhododendron, where they produce spores. When heavy infestations of these “foliar” hosts occur, nearby trees become infected, resulting in extensive bark killing and even mortality. Beech is very susceptible and is most at risk from both pathogens, but P. ramorum is capable of causing potentially lethal cankers on various trees including southern beech (Nothofagus), turkey oak (Quercus cerris), red oak Q. rubra and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Native oaks show low levels of susceptibility only in laboratory tests and only one individual of sessile oak (Quercus petrea) in woodland has succumbed to a natural P. ramorum infection. Currently, more than 150 P. ramorum outbreaks have been detected on shrubs in gardens and woodlands, mostly in England, but infected trees have only been found at about 10 of those sites. There are about 50 P. kernoviae outbreaks (mainly in Cornwall with a small focus in Wales) but about 20 per cent have affected trees. Efforts at eradicating or containing the disease in woodland concentrates on destroying infected foliar hosts—mainly R. ponticum. However, Forest Research work shows that even when foliar hosts are removed, both pathogens can persist for at least one to three years in soil and litter layers. FR scientists have also shown that both pathogens can be found in debris on footwear, and probably on vehicle tyres, thus providing a mechanism for local spread into new areas.



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Water Supply: Nitrates

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Information on current and historical nitrate levels in waters in England will be published in due course.


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