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International Labour Organisation: Decent Work

Lord Rana asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government participate fully in International Labour Organisation (ILO) governing body and conference discussions aimed at promoting implementation of the ILO's work on social justice and decent work, including those relating to the 2008 declaration on social justice for a fair globalisation and its follow-up. The Government also engage with the ILO to help member states meet the aims of its decent work agenda. This includes funding in support of ILO decent work country programmes, under a partnership framework agreement for the period 2006 to 2009.

Northern Ireland Office: Agencies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): I would refer the noble Lord to the Answers given on 21 October (Official Report, col. WA 95) and 7 July (Official Report, col. WA 67).

Passports

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Passengers will not be required to produce passports on arrival following any domestic air or sea journey within the United Kingdom, including on Northern Ireland-Great Britain routes. Arrangements for the introduction of the police power under Section 14 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 are still being planned, including the extent to which they could apply to children.

It is intended, subject to consultation, that people will be required to produce one of several types of documentation before travelling to enable the carrier to check identities of passengers and crew in order to meet the requirements of a police request. The types of acceptable documentation will be discussed with carriers as part of the consultation process.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland and other UK police forces will use the data collected under this power to support intelligence-led interventions to counter terrorism and tackle serious organised crime.

Planning: Eco-towns

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government are still consulting on the eco-town locations and expect to announce the final shortlist of locations with potential to be an eco-town early in 2009. At this stage in the consultation process it is not possible for the Government to say how many locations will be listed.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Baroness Andrews: The notes and recommendations from the Eco-town Challenge Panel session 1 were published on 23 June 2008 and those from the second session were published on 31 July 2008. Both these reports are available on the Department for Communities and Local Government's website.

Police: Ethnic Minority Recruits

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The police service has made substantial progress over the past nine years in increasing the proportion of minority ethnic officers and staff in its workforce. Currently, minority ethnic officers and staff together represent 5.6 per cent of the service.

The increase of minority ethnic officers to 4.1 per cent of warranted officers represents a doubling in representation since 1999. However, despite this progress, the service recognises that there is a lot more to do to achieve a truly representative service which is reflective of the communities it serves.

The policing Green Paper: Cm 7448 “From the Neighbourhood to National: Policing Our Communities Together” http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/ policereform/Policing_Green.pdf, sets out a shift in the Government's approach to targets, setting out performance management generally. In future, there will be a single top-down numerical target for forces relating to public confidence. The emphasis will be on national support with greater local responsibility.

The Green Paper also sets out proposals to develop an equality, diversity and human rights strategy. The strategy will include local setting of equality standards. The aim of these standards, which are currently being developed by the National Policing Improvement Agency, will be to assist the service to continue to improve performance and mainstream activity on equality and diversity. The standards will be set within a framework which will support authorities and forces in setting equality standards locally with national oversight retained through a new, more robust HMIC inspection regime including a proposed 2010 workforce inspection which will scrutinise (among other issues) the equality standards.

The Government are currently consulting on whether the equality standards should include local employment targets such as for race and gender. This shift from national target-setting will provide for targets being agreed locally by police authorities in consultation with communities. This local approach would provide more local ownership and help reflect the needs of local diverse communities.



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Royal Mail: Pension Service Post

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The DWP contract for mail opening is with Haden Building Management Ltd, which operates a subcontract for this service with Royal Mail.

DWP Security requirements are detailed both in the Haden contract and this Royal Mail sub-contract. In the event of a security breach, Royal Mail's security investigation team would be responsible for enforcing its conduct code policy and would carry out investigations in order to apply whatever sanction was deemed appropriate to the level of seriousness of that breach. A wide range of sanctions are possible, up to and including prosecution.

Somalia: Khat

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) is supporting the Somalia employment, enterprise and livelihoods programme, implemented by the International Labour Organisation, which supports the empowerment of women and youth through employment opportunities and small-business development. This offers them an alternative livelihood from the khat trade. DfID is currently not supporting any other projects directly dealing in the trade in or consumption of khat in Somalia.

Weeds

Lord Taylor of Holbeach 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): The Weeds Act 1959 allows my right honourable friend the

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Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) to take statutory action to control the spread of five injurious weeds: common ragwort; spear thistle; creeping or field thistle; curled dock; and broad leaved dock.

Defra has no plans to add Japanese knotweed to the list of weeds covered by the Weeds Act 1959.

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However, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits causing Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild. As stated in the invasive non-native species framework strategy for Great Britain, we plan to identify what further legislative powers may be needed to tackle the issue of invasive non-native species.


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