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Whether the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 21 June 2007 (WA 71), which stated that the closure of Post Offices in the United Kingdom did not result from European Union law, took account of (a) EU Directive 97/67/EC which required the privatisation of mail weighing over 350 grams, and the subsequent 2002 EU Directive which reduced the Royal Mail's monopoly to items below 50 grams; and (b) the communication from the European Commission dated 28 November 2007 to Her Majesty's Government which stated that the transformation programme will involve POL (Post Office limited) reducing the size of its post office network by around 2,500 branches. [HL5184]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Lord Rooker's Written Answer on 21 June 2007 (WA71) took account of the fact that European Postal Services Directives 97/67/EC and 2002.39.EC mandated respectively the liberalisation of mail over 350 grammes and the reduction of the monopoly of universal service providers to 50 grammes.
It clearly could not have taken account of a letter from the European Commission dated 28 November 2007. That letter, however, gave the Commission's confirmation of the state aid clearance sought by Her Majesty's Government in respect of the Government's policy of reducing the size of the post office network by the compensated closure of up to 2,500 branches.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Ministers have not had specific discussions with BT about this matter. However, in April BERR, Defra and CLG officials met with BT to discuss their national rationalisation programme for the removal of up to 8,700 BT call boxes that are under consultation with local authorities across the UK. Any removal of a payphone box is carried out in strict adherence to Ofcom guidelines. If a local veto is exercised by the relevant local authority, BT is not permitted to remove the payphone. This is in accordance with Ofcom's guidance note about the payphone removal programme. Further details are available from Ofcom's website at:
Baroness Crawley: Over 2005-07, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) received US$ 3.3 billion in oil revenue transfers from the National Government of Sudan and these transfers accounted for over 99 per cent of total GOSS revenue over this period. GOSS have spent US$ 1.16 billion (35 per cent) of these oil revenue transfers on the Sudan People's Liberation Army and other security expenditures. Of the remaining 65 per cent of oil revenues, 81 per cent was spent on public sector salaries and operating costs and 19 per cent on development expenditures.
While Southern Sudan has spent the bulk of its oil revenues on security and establishing government institutions, there have been some notable developments financed by oil revenues and donor aid, which include:393 new school classrooms have been built and 14,000 additional primary and secondary school teachers have been recruited. This has helped to increase primary school enrolment from 300,000 in 2005 to over a million today.Five major hospitals have been rehabilitated.The number of anti-malarial bed nets issued has increased from 253,000 in 2005 to about 1 million today.75 per cent of all children under 15 have been vaccinated against measles.6,000 km of roads have been de-mined and 2,200 km of roads rehabilitated since 2004.
Whether, in view of the losses borne by the sheep industry during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2007 caused by a leak from a government research centre at Pirbright, they will pay for vaccination used during the current bluetongue epidemic, as the Government of France are.[HL5280]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The vaccination programme aims to achieve mass vaccination through a voluntary programme, supported by an industry-led campaign promoting the importance of vaccination.
Bluetongue can primarily be viewed as an animal welfare and economic problem, and individual farmers can best protect themselves against welfare and economic difficulties by vaccinating their livestock. The Government have provided support by underwriting the vaccine ordered for use in England and Wales with the proviso that this cost is recovered as vaccine is used.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Government published the KPMG review of the alcohol industry's social responsibility standards on 21 July 2008. On 22 July, the Department of Health launched a consultation seeking the views of the public, consumer groups, alcohol producers and retailers, as well as health and other professionals on an effective way to tackle the harm that alcohol and its misuse causes to society and individuals within England. The consultation closes on 14 October and can be accessed via the link below:
The Government will consider the responses to the consultation before taking a decision on what action to take in order to combat alcohol-related harm. We are now seeking views on whether the alcohol industry's voluntary code should be revised and made mandatory. We are also seeking views on how a mandatory code might be made effective in tackling alcohol harms.
When the new system for honouring troops killed on operations will come into effect; under what criteria awards will be made; and which members of a service person's family will be entitled to wear an emblem.[HL5287]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Written Ministerial Statement on 10 June 2008 (Official Report, column WS39) made it clear that much detailed work would be required to consider a number of issues relating to the military Chiefs of Staff recommendation that there be additional recognition for the families of those service personnel who die on operations or as a result of terrorist action while on duty. That work includes what the criteria for this additional recognition should be and who will receive it. An implementation team is working on these details and I expect to be in a position to provide further information on its conclusions later in the year.
What evaluation they have commissioned, by whom, when and with what results, into the use of synthetic alternatives for the Canadian black bear fur used in the ceremonial headwear of the Household Division's five Foot Guards regiments.[HL5237]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence has been involved in the search for a synthetic alternative to black bear fur for a number of years. In the last decade a number of sample materials from a variety of sources have been assessed for their suitability. Only one of these samples, provided by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2005, was thought sufficiently promising to be subjected to a full-scale evaluation by the Household Division. After extensive trials it was concluded that the material was unsuitable in a number of respects, not least for its inability to retain its shape when wet.
We remain committed to the search for a suitable faux fur alternative to bearskin. To this end, we are planning an industry briefing day on 23 October to discuss the feasibility of mounting a competition to develop and produce a synthetic cap to the current design using material that matches the performance characteristics of black bear fur.
What is the present cost of providing ceremonial headwear made of Canadian black bear fur for the Household Division's five Foot Guards regiments; what was the cost five and 10 years ago; and how
29 Sep 2008 : Column WA386
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The annual cost of providing ceremonial caps for the Foot Guards varies depending on the number of caps required to be purchased and/or refurbished. The numbers of new bearskin caps ordered in years for which information is available are shown in the table below, together with associated costs.
Whether they purchase Canadian black bear fur for purposes other than for the provision of headwear for the Household Division's five Foot Guards regiments; if so, in what quantities; for which purposes; and at what cost five and 10 years ago and in the most recent year for which records exist.[HL5239]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper (Cm 6697) published on 15 December 2005, complex weapons are defined as strategic and tactical weapons reliant on guidance systems to achieve precision effects.
Tactical complex weapons fall largely into five categories: Air-to-Air; Air Defence; Air-to-Surface; Anti-Ship/Submarine (including torpedoes); and Surface-to-Surface. Those tactical complex weapons currently in service with UK Armed Forces are as follows.
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