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Congestion Charge

The number of outstanding fines incurred by diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom for non-payment of the London congestion charge since its introduction in February 2003 until 14 May 2008 was 175,482. The table below shows the 10 diplomatic missions with the highest value of outstanding fines.

MissionNo of fines outstandingValue (£)







Russian Federation





















South Africa



Energy: Renewables

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform (John Hutton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As promised in my Statement of 23 January 2008, I am publishing today a consultation on the ways the UK could increase renewable energy in order to meet the UK’s proposed share of the EU target to achieve 20 per cent of all Europe’s energy from renewable sources in 2020.

Increasing renewable energy is a key element of our strategy for delivering our two key goals of tackling climate change and ensuring that the UK has a secure supply of affordable energy. Measures set out in the 2007 energy White Paper will already triple our use of renewables from 1.5 per cent overall energy in 2006 to 5 per cent by 2020, but we recognise that we need to do more. Investment in renewable generation will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels at a time of rising prices, particularly oil and gas. This consultation will inform the UK renewable energy strategy to be published in spring 2009, once the final EU directive

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implementing the target for EU renewable energy has been agreed and the UK share decided. The consultation will run for three months and we will publish the responses this autumn.

Currently, the proposed UK share of the EU target is to achieve 15 per cent of our energy—electricity, heat and transport—from renewables by 2020. Our negotiating position has been to ensure that the targets contained in the draft directive are credible, by giving member states enough flexibility to deploy renewables in the most cost-effective manner. This need for credibility applies to other key parts of the draft directive, including the 10 per cent renewable transport target for biofuels, so the UK has been pushing hard for robust sustainability criteria to be included.

The challenge that a target of 15 per cent renewable energy represents should not be underestimated. It may require a 10-fold increase in renewable generation in the UK from 2006 levels. This might mean, for example, needing up to an extra 4,000 onshore and 3,000 offshore wind turbines, a major challenge for the supply chain and UK business. We are also conducting a feasibility study on the range of tidal power options in the Severn Estuary that could provide up to 5 per cent of UK electricity. The consultation seeks views on how we can meet the 15 per cent target in the most cost-effective way. Regardless of our final approach, success will require action right across the economy, from industry and investors, but also from the devolved Administrations, local and regional bodies and consumers.

This consultation outlines possible measures to facilitate a rapid expansion of renewables. It sets out ways to address the significant barriers and encourage the enormous level of investment required, signalling the business opportunities that this transformation could offer. The measures are wide ranging and include:

extending and raising the level of the renewables obligation to encourage up to 30 to 35 per cent of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020;introducing a new financial incentive mechanism to encourage a very large increase in renewable heat, including in homes and buildings;delivering more effective financial support for heat and electricity microgeneration technologies in homes and buildings;helping the planning system to deliver, by agreeing a clear deployment strategy at regional level similar to the approach established for housing;ensuring appropriate incentives for new electricity grid infrastructure and removing grid access as a barrier to renewable deployment;exploiting the full potential of energy from waste, by considering further restrictions on landfilling biomass, as far as is practical;requiring all biofuels to meet strict sustainability criteria, to limit adverse impacts on food prices, or other social and environmental concerns;

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encouraging the development of new renewable technologies, by ensuring effective support particularly where the UK has the potential to be a market leader; and maximising the benefits for UK business, by providing a clear long-term policy framework, working with regional development agencies to tackle key blockages, considering support for specific technologies and addressing skills shortages.

In the short term, the impact of our measures on utility bills is likely to be almost zero; however, such rapid action will not come without some associated cost. The extent of these rises will depend on the cost of alternatives, particularly fossil fuels, and we can limit their effect, both on energy bills and fuel poverty by promoting an essential, ongoing role for energy efficiency. As part of this, Defra will publish a consultation in the autumn looking at energy efficiency across all sectors with a particular emphasis on households, and within that, what we can do to improve the efficiency of our existing housing stock.

We are committed to developing the most cost-effective approach to delivering the scale of renewable energy required. To ensure we have investigated all the options, we are also consulting on the role that using provisions in the draft EU renewables directive relating to trading could play in reducing the overall cost to the UK of meeting the target.

There are costs associated with increasing renewable energy. However, we believe they are worth paying for. As the Stern review concluded, the costs of tackling climate change could be far higher in the longer term than the costs of taking action now.

The business benefits from an expansion in renewable energy in the UK could include up to 160,000 new jobs generated in the renewable energy sector by 2020. The Government's ambition is to ensure that as many of these jobs are based in the UK as possible. Annual revenues from marine energy for example could be as much as £900 million by 2020. The consultation seeks views on how we can ensure the UK receives the maximum benefit from the rapid expansion of the renewable energy sector and will be completed by a revised manufacturing strategy which we hope to bring out in the autumn.

The Climate Change Bill reinforces our commitment to tackle climate change and the energy White Paper 2007 sets out our broader commitments to save energy, develop cleaner energy supplies and to ensure secure supplies of energy. This consultation and the policies that will follow sit together with those on nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) to facilitate a diverse mix of low carbon energy sources. Our position on nuclear is clear, and in support of our position as a world leader in CCS we will making further announcements on the UK CCS demonstration project and publishing a consultation on the regulation of CCS next week. The consultation seeks views on the further regulatory steps we could take to prepare for deployment of CCS.

A copy of the UK Renewable Energy Strategy Consultation has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and published on the BERR website.

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Housing and Regeneration Bill: Contingency Fund

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Caroline Flint) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has obtained approval for an advance from the Contingencies Fund to allow the early recruitment and appointment of the boards and senior executives with support arrangements, for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) before Royal Assent.

The Homes and Communities Agency will bring together the current work and programmes of the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and a significant part of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s own housing programmes.

The Tenant Services Authority will encompass the current regulatory functions of the Housing Corporation and implement the recommendations of the Cave review.

Bringing forward this expenditure through a contingencies fund advance will accelerate the introduction of the new agencies so they can begin to deliver their programmes more expeditiously. It will also enable efficiency savings to be achieved earlier and will provide significant reductions in public spending.

An earlier advance of £930,000 was approved to cover the costs of recruiting the chairs and chief executives of HCA and TSA as well as their salary and support costs. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £430,000 for these new services will be sought in the 2008-09 Winter Supplementary Estimate for the Department for Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval and Royal Assent of the Housing and Regeneration Bill, urgent expenditure estimated at £430,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

Housing: Home Loss Payments

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Secretary of State has today laid regulations to update the home loss payments thresholds in Section 30 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (as amended). Home loss payments are paid at a rate of 10 per cent of the market value to owner-occupiers who are displaced from their homes as a result of compulsory purchase or certain housing orders. They are paid in addition to the compensation awarded for the value of the property taken, which is based on the open market value of the property together with disturbance payments. Home loss payments are subject to maximum and minimum thresholds. Tenants receive a flat rate equal to the minimum payment to owner-occupiers.

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With effect from 1 September 2008, the maximum payment to owner-occupiers displaced from their home will be increased from £44,000 to £47,000 and the minimum payment will be increased from £4,400 to £4,700. The flat-rate will be increased from £4,400 to £4,700.

The period of two months between laying the regulations and commencement will give acquiring authorities reasonable notice to revise their budgets for compensation. This is similar to the notice period given in previous years for revisions to the home loss payments thresholds.

Identity and Passport Service: Annual Report and Accounts

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Identity (Meg Hillier) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Identity and Passport Service annual report and accounts 2007-08 has been laid before Parliament today and will be published shortly.

Local Government

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 2 April 2008, I laid before Parliament a Written Ministerial Statement on provisional payments under the three-year Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme (LABGI). I am now in a position to announce the final payments, which will be made shortly. These payments include reward for years 1 and 2 of the scheme and new payments for year 3 of the scheme, distributing a total of approximately £296 million to 371 local authorities in England.

Authorities were given until 16 May 2008 to comment on the methodology outlined on 2 April 2008. The department received 28 responses, and the Valuation Office Agency received 59 inquiries directly. Most queries sought clarification of how the calculations had been performed or about data which had been used, timing of payments or confirmation that their proposed allocation was correct, while a few responses raised specific points on the methodology.

We have considered all responses received, and I am content that the published methodology has been correctly applied. I do not, therefore, propose to amend the methodology as published in the technical note ( or the way in which it has been applied. However, in a small number of cases, the proposed payment has been adjusted in response to a specific point raised by an authority or in relation to a previous overpayment.

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Details of the payments to be made to each qualifying authority under the Government’s proposals can be found at:

As a result of the adjustments made, approximately £101 million remains to be distributed and this will be retained as a contingency, as I explained on 2 April 2008 (Official Report, col. 56 WS).

Police: Northern Ireland

Lord Tunnicliffe: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have received the annual report for 2007-08 of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland which is being laid before Parliament today as a Command Paper.

Copies of the report are available from the Library of the House.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime Reduction (Vernon Coaker) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the sixth annual report of the appointed person under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been laid before Parliament today. The appointed person is an independent person who scrutinises the use of the search power introduced to support the measures in the Act to seize and forfeit criminal cash.

The report gives the appointed person’s opinion as to the circumstances and manner in which the search powers conferred by the Act are being exercised. I am pleased that the appointed person has expressed satisfaction with the operation of the search power and has found that there is nothing to suggest that the procedures are not being followed in accordance with the Act.

From 1 April 2007 to the end of March 2008, more than £63 million in cash was seized by police and HM Revenue and Customs Officers under powers in the Act. These sums are subject to forfeiture in the magistrates’ court. These powers are a valuable tool in the fight against crime and the report shows that the way they are used has been, and will continue to be, closely monitored.

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