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Crime: New Offences

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): It would be a disproportionate use of resources, due to the amount of research involved, to provide figures for the total number of new offences created in the period concerned, and how many were attributable to Defra or its predecessors.

Defra is responsible for a large amount of secondary legislation each year, including implementation of European Community obligations. Such legislation may re-enact existing offences or draw down the application of an offence in primary legislation to activities within the scope of the statutory instrument. Some offences are short-lived, being contained in legislation to deal with animal health emergencies.

Defra came into being on 8 June 2001 and has data on offences created in primary legislation sponsored by Defra, and so is able to provide information on such offences from that date.

The following Acts created criminal offences in the 2002-03 Session of Parliament:

the Animal Health Act 2002 (c.42) created several criminal offences including the offence of deliberately infecting an animal with any one of 15 diseases specified in the Act, including foot and mouth disease. The schedule created an offence of failing to comply with a restriction notice preventing the use for breeding of sheep that are of a genotype that is susceptible to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and also offences of obstructing an inspector carrying out duties under the Act;the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 (c.33) provided powers to make offences by regulation for failures to comply with the scheme to be created; andthe Water Act 2003 (c.37) made it an offence under Part 1 to fail to comply with a notice served by the Environment Agency requiring work to be carried out on facilities for impounding water or a licence application to be made for unlicensed impounding works.Where abstraction or impounding takes place without a licence or does not comply with the terms of a licence, the Act made it an offence to fail to comply

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with an enforcement notice issued by the Environment Agency. Part 2 created the offence of introducing water to or supplying water from a water undertaker's supply system without being a water undertaker or a licensed supply person. Under Part 3 it is an offence for an owner or manager of a large raised reservoir to fail to prepare a flood plan when required to do so. Part 3 also extended the offence of supplying water unfit for human consumption to apply to persons including employees of the water undertaker and self-employed people involved with the supply of water;

During the 2003-04 Session the following Acts created criminal offences:

the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 (c.11) makes it an offence for any person to act as an unlicensed gangmaster and for any other person to enter into arrangements with an unlicensed gangmaster. The Act also created other offences in relation to forgery of documents;the Highways (Obstruction by Body Corporate) Act 2004 (c.29) extended the offence of obstructing a highway under the Highways Act 1980 so that the directors, managers and other company officers of a guilty company may also be found guilty of the obstruction if it was committed with their consent, connivance or attributable to their neglect;the Hunting Act 2004 (c.37) made it an offence under Part 1 to hunt a wild mammal with a dog, except in some circumstances such as where the dog is being used for stalking and flushing-out only, or to participate in, attend or knowingly facilitate a hare-coursing event.Part 1 also makes it an offence for the owner of a dog to permit it to be used for hunting or hare-coursing or for the owner of land to allow the land to be entered or used for hunting or hare-coursing.

During the 2004-05 Session the following Act created criminal offences:

the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (c. 16) created offences in relation to nuisance parking which is the selling or repairing of vehicles on a road by persons in business. Part 6 of the Act created offences in relation to breach of Dog Control Orders, which in relation to specified land may exclude dogs from the land, or prohibit the fouling of the land, or require dogs to be kept on leads when on the land or may limit the number of dogs a person may take on to the specified land. In relation to certain premises in an alarm notification area Part 7 of the Act created offences of failing to nominate a key-holder where an audible intruder alarm is present.The Act also made many existing offences punishable by a fixed penalty notice.

During the 2005-06 Session the following Acts created criminal offences:

the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (c.45) created offences related to the welfare of animals, such as causing suffering, mutilation, docking of dogs' tails,

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administering poisons, animal fighting (including publicising and encouraging attendance, and betting) and not taking reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of an animal for which a person is responsible; andthe Natural Environment Act and Rural Communities Act 2006 (c. 16) created criminal offences in Part 3 in relation to pesticides harmful to wildlife and sale etc of invasive non-native species of plants or animals, and extended certain offences in relation to wild birds. Part 4 created offences in relation to sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).

In the 2006-07 Session, Defra did not sponsor any Acts, and no Acts sponsored by Defra in the 2007-08 session have been passed, at the date of response.

Defence: Expenditure

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government set out their plans for public spending in the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2007. The next update on the UK fiscal position will be at the 2008 Pre-Budget Report. It will set out how we are supporting the economy in the short-term, whilst taking the necessary decisions to ensure the public finances remain on a sustainable path in the medium term.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Rainforests

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Interministerial Commission for the review of logging concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported its preliminary findings on 6 October 2008. It recommended the cancellation of approximately 70 per cent of existing logging titles, reducing from 22 million hectares to 7 million hectares the forest area dedicated to industrial logging. When presenting the findings, the DRC Environment Minister also confirmed that the current moratorium on new logging concessions will remain in place for another three years, which is welcome news. At the same time, it is important to note that the most important drivers of deforestation are agricultural and fuel wood production which are likely to grow in importance as the DRC economy continues its recovery after years of conflict.



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If implemented in full, the Commission's recommendations should be positive for the DRC environment because they will actually reduce the area open to commercial logging to 11 per cent of the country's productive forests. The same ratio for the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) region (excluding the DRC) is 73 per cent. We are therefore not planning specific representations to the DRC Government on the Commission's findings, but will instead help strengthen governance and management of the forestry sector. Through a partnership with Germany funded by the Congo Basin Forest Start-up Fund, the UK is working directly with the DRC Forestry and Environment Ministry to strengthen its capacity at national and provincial levels.

Disabled People: Football Grounds

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Through the accessible stadia guide, the Government have ensured that the minimum standards for disabled facilities at sport stadia are clear and understandable. Save where there are specific safety concerns, assessments on implementing the guide's recommendations is not a matter for the Government.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Carter of Barnes: It is not for the Government to commission such audits. It is for each football club to assess its current and future compliance with disability discrimination legislation.

Education: Land-based Diploma

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Government can give the assurance that all learners taking land-based and the environment diplomas at each level from September

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2009 should have a minimum of 10 days’ work experience in the workplace at some point during their two-year course.

Every year, some half a million 14-to-16 year-olds undertake work-experience placements. These are mainly arranged through education business partnership organisations that are also supporting the delivery of diplomas.

To secure approval to deliver diplomas, 14-to-19 consortia of schools and colleges will have demonstrated effective local employer engagement with named employers in their Diploma Gateway applications. 14-to-19 consortia have also been taking action to strengthen local employer support and to ensure there are sufficient high-quality work-experience placements available for all their diploma students. To assist them, we published “Employer Engagement—A guide for Diploma Consortia” in July 2007 which is available on the department's 14-to-19 website.

Elections: Stoke-on-Trent

Lord Grocott asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The results of each local referendum on a directly elected mayor have been published by the council concerned as required by regulations made under Part II of the Local Government Act 2000. I have placed today in the Library of the House a table summarising the result for all such referendums held to date.

Government Departments: Websites

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Department for Communities and Local Government marks the main religious festivals of the major faiths with a goodwill message posted on the department's website. In the past 12 months messages have been posted to celebrate Diwali, Vaisakhi, Chanukah, Easter and Ramadan. At Christmas, the department sends Christmas cards.

Gypsies and Travellers

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The HCA will not decide where people will choose to live. As at present, regional and local authorities will determine what new housing is needed and where it can best be provided through the planning framework. In relation to accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers, regional spatial strategies will set out the number of pitches required in each local planning authority area, with local authorities identifying land in development plan documents sufficient to meet that need.

The HCA's role will be to ensure that the housing targets identified in plans are delivered in a way that creates the kind of communities people want to live in. It will do so either directly, through its funding programmes, the use of surplus public sector land, and the other expertise it can offer, or indirectly, by supporting local authorities, other public sector bodies and private sector partners.

Health: Contraception

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): To date, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority has not received any applications to reclassify oral contraceptives from prescription-only medicine to pharmacy status.

The Government have invested an additional £26.8 million in 2008-09 to improve women's access to contraception and help reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. Funding will continue in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Some primary care trusts are using this funding to pilot the supply of a range of methods of contraception in pharmacies under National Health Service arrangements.

The department is working with these areas to assess the success of these pilots over the next two years. The department is also undertaking a programme of work to support reductions in teenage pregnancy and abortions including a new targeted campaign to highlight contraceptive choices available to women, strengthening links between abortion and contraception services and issuing new guidance Good Practice Guidance on Commissioning Contraceptive and Abortion Services which will be published shortly.



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Houses of Parliament: Website

Lord Norton of Louth asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The number of visits to the House of Lords home page on the Parliament website since October 2007, broken down by month, is set out below.

MonthVisits

October 2007

27,002

November 2007

27,372

December 2007

19,403

January 2008

25,169

February 2008

23,657

March 2008

23,978

April 2008

23,086

May 2008

21,122

June 2008

22,033

July 2008

19,202

August 2008

11,326

September 2008

16,207

October 2008

26,758


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