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Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service reports all primary fires and certain categories of secondary fires to the police. The incident is then investigated by the PSNI which determine whether or not the fire was the result of an arson attack.
For the whole of Northern Ireland, in 2005, 2006 and 2007, the numbers of people that were: (a) charged with fuel laundering offences (or proceeded against by way of information and summons) and (b) convicted of such offences are presented in the following table.
|Calendar year||Charged/proceeded against by way of information and summons||Convictions|
What were the circumstances that led to the loss of a disc containing confidential data by the Rosemary Nelson inquiry; whether the loss has been attributed to a member of the inquiry team or to a staff member; whether the investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland has been completed; and if so, what was the outcome. [HL3860]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The loss of this disc by the Rosemary Nelson inquiry is currently being investigated by the PSNI and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. However initial advice from police is that the loss was accidental.
On how many occasions in the past 12 months civil action in respect of the commercial obligations of foreign diplomats accredited to the United Kingdom has been blocked because of the respondent's diplomatic immunity; and what were the countries concerned. [HL4135]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are not aware of any such occasions in the past 12 months. There is no obligation on the courts or parties to a civil dispute to notify us of such cases.
The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states that diplomats should not practise any professional or commercial activity for personal profit. We would therefore not expect diplomats posted to the UK to become involved in civil cases of a commercial nature.
Whether accredited foreign diplomats may use diplomatic immunity to avoid enforcement of commercial debts and obligations incurred in the course of business trading; and what steps they take if such an individual abuses diplomatic immunity to avoid commercial obligations. [HL4136]
Lord Malloch-Brown: The Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 provides that foreign diplomats do not enjoy immunity from civil or administrative jurisdiction for actions relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by diplomats outside their official functions. It would therefore not be possible for an individual to abuse diplomatic immunity to avoid commercial obligations.
What steps they have taken to ensure that fully accredited diplomats are present in the United Kingdom solely or principally for undertaking diplomatic activity; and whether an individual with diplomatic status may be present in the United Kingdom principally for the purpose of carrying out business activity. [HL4137]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We would take a serious view of any foreign diplomat breaching the provisions of Article 42 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that a diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving state practice for personal profit any professional or commercial activity.
Appointments of foreign diplomats are notified to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on forms signed by the head of mission or their designate. Where necessary, we seek further clarification on appointments from the head of mission.
In what circumstances people in Northern Ireland are permitted to register to vote in more than one parliamentary constituency or local government area; what are the rules on where such people may vote; how many people are registered in more than one constituency or area; and whether electronic or other means are used to check for undeclared second registrations. [HL4000]
Lord Tunnicliffe: In Northern Ireland, a person may be registered to vote in more than one constituency in respect of both local and parliamentary elections if that person meets the conditions set out in statute. However a person is not permitted to vote in more than one constituency and it is an offence to do so.
The relevant statutory provisions relating to parliamentary elections are contained in the Representation of the People Act 1983 (Sections 1 and 61(2)). The relevant statutory provisions relating to local elections are contained in the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Act 1989 (Section 1) and the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 (paragraph 12(2) of Schedule 9).
The chief electoral officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for the registration of electors and the maintenance of the electoral register in Northern Ireland. I have forwarded your request for information relating to the number and verification of those registered in more than one constituency or area to him so that he may respond to you directly.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 12 May (WA 10910) regarding culture on a collagen surface, whether the layer of feeder cells used for outgrowing embryos is always either completely free of collagen or lacking any similar nurturing effect. [HL4060]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): It is up to Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licensed centres to ensure they have protocols in place to ensure they comply with Sections 3(3)(a) and 3(4) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. This is discussed and checked on a case-by- case basis when the HFEA inspects these research centres. Methods for embryo culture and stem cell derivation will vary according to the aims and objectives of the specific research project.
The intention of embryonic stem cell research projects, which involve the culture of outgrowing embryos, is to derive stem cells from a flat layer of cells, not to nurture the development of an embryo.
What measures they are taking to facilitate or promote the role of the market in the revival of coal mining in the United Kingdom, including underground gasification in deep coal structures inland and under the North Sea. [HL4173]
Lord Bach: The Energy Bill includes measures to help the market deliver secure energy supplies to the UK. It is important that such supplies can be drawn from as diverse a range of sources as possible, both from home and abroadincluding UK hydrocarbon resources such as coal.
By the end of 2008 the Government expect to have paid £52.8 million in coal investment aid to support mine investment and maintain access to economically viable coal reserves. This has been in addition to £162 million paid under the UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme during 2000 to 2002. As a result of this past support, UK coal producers have been better placed to benefit from the recent recovery in market prices, to the extent that several new developments are now in progress which are wholly commercially funded.
Following the 2006 energy review, the Government have also convened the Coal Forum to bring together coal-fired generators, coal producers and suppliers, power plant suppliers, trade unions, small businesses and government representatives. The forum facilitates dialogue to help to find market solutions and the right framework, consistent with our energy policy goals, to secure the long-term contribution of coal-fired power generation and optimise the use of economical coal reserves in the UK.
The Government undertook a feasibility study of underground coal gasification (UCG) which concluded that, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage, UCG had the potential to contribute to UK energy requirements. Although significant hurdles need to be overcome, there is some appetite in the UK market to exploit such techniques. We are discussing with interested companies how the regulatory regime can accommodate this novel technology.
Lord Bach: The use of CO2 to enhance oil recovery is an established technique in onshore oil and gas. The Minister for Energy recently visited an established scheme in Mississippi. Application of EOR techniques is a key part of the Government's stewardship initiative which is designed to ensure that existing fields are produced to their full economic potential and the topic is on the agenda of the next PILOT meeting, the joint industry Government oil and gas forum, in order to identify any barriers to implementation.
In addition, the Energy Bill introduces a carbon capture and storage regime that will reduce regulatory uncertainty by providing a seamless transition between CO2 injection for enhanced oil production and injection for storage within the same geological structure.
It publishes crude oil, wholesale gas and coal price assumptions for the period till 2020, which are used in the department's analytical work, where relevant. The updated set of future wholesale price assumptions published in May 2008 can be found using the following links:
Lord Bach: The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is taking a number of measures to ensure that the UK has increased gas storage options, both onshore and offshore, for the future. There are now more than 10 gas storage projects in development, which, if all go forward according to schedule, could double UK gas storage capacity by 2012. The Government are also taking steps to improve and streamline the regulatory regimes for constructing gas storage and import facilities through the Planning and Energy Bills, now before Parliament. This will complement the UK petroleum licensing regime and allow for gas to be stored in depleted gas fields where technically and economically viable.
Lord Bach: The Government undertook a feasibility study of underground coal gasification (UCG) which concluded that, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage, UCG had the potential to contribute to UK energy requirements. The study was published in
24 Jun 2008 : Column WA230
Although significant hurdles need to be overcome, there is some appetite in the UK market to exploit such techniques. We are discussing with interested companies how the regulatory regime can accommodate this novel technology. It is, at this stage, too early to gauge the level of contribution that UCG might be able to make to UK gas supplies as the technical, economic and environmental viability of such techniques has not been proven.
Whether the strategic review of proposals for a Severn Barrage will consider alternatives to a fixed barrage, such as canals, reservoirs or permanently submerged turbines and radial generators; and when the review will report. [HL4034]
Lord Bach: The Severn Tidal Power feasibility study is considering all tidal range technologies, not just a barrage. As part of the feasibility study, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) issued a call for proposals which closed on 13 June.
PB will appraise all known proposals over the summer, and we expect to consult publicly on a shortlist of options in the autumn. The feasibility study is expected to report in early 2010 and will be published for consultation at the time.
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