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Defra: Inspectors

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): Animal Health, an executive agency of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a panel of part-time wildlife inspectors who undertake inspections of those trading commercially in species subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Caviar normally refers to the eggs of species of sturgeon. All species of sturgeon are subject of CITES.

Sixteen wildlife inspectors have received specific training relating to the labelling of and trade in caviar. A CITES compliance regime has been undertaken by wildlife inspectors.

No work has yet been undertaken with local authority hygiene inspectors to complete joint visits to food preparation centres, shops and restaurants. It is anticipated that such visits will be developed in the future.



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Energy: Gas and Electricity Prices

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 Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for the regulation of gas and electricity supply, including the rules governing notification of gas and electricity price increases. Gas and electricity suppliers are required to provide their customers with notice within 65 working days of a price increase taking effect. Suppliers must convey details of a price change in writing to customers. Customers may exercise their right to transfer supply without having to pay increased charges, within 10 workings days of being informed of a price increase.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Gas and electricity suppliers are obliged to ensure that customers' meters are physically read and inspected once every two years. Most suppliers try to read meters quarterly or six-monthly. If the supplier is unable to gain access to the meter, it will estimate the energy use for the billing period based on the customer's historic consumption records. If customers are dissatisfied with the estimate, they can provide the supplier with a reading, which the supplier must either accept or arrange to read the meter. On average, over 87 per cent of domestic customers receive at least one bill based on an actual meter reading each year. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for rules governing meter readings and for policing those rules.

Energy: Nuclear Waste Disposal

Lord Judd 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): Policy on the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste has already been decided.



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In responding to the recommendations of the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in October 2006, the Government accepted that geological disposal, coupled with safe and secure interim storage and ongoing research and development to support optimised implementation is the way forward for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste. With the publication of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely White Paper on 12 June 2008, the Government set out the framework for implementing geological disposal.

With regard to waste from new nuclear power stations, In Meeting the Energy challenge: a White Paper on Nuclear Power, the Government concluded that it would be technically possible and desirable to dispose of both new and legacy waste in the same geological disposal facilities and that this should be explored through the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme. The Government consider that waste can and should be stored in safe and secure interim storage until a geological disposal facility becomes available.

The Government's policy is that before development consents for new nuclear power stations are granted, they will need to be satisfied that effective arrangements exist or will exist to manage and dispose of the waste they produce.

Energy: Water Projects

Lord Judd 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 department recognises the potential role that community-scale energy projects can play in meeting renewable energy and carbon reduction targets, particularly in encouraging greater understanding of energy use among individuals and communities.

Many of the non-financial barriers to increase take-up of community-scale energy solutions are being addressed by policies in place or under development. But as discussed in the Renewable Energy Strategy Consultation, we need to do more to overcome information constraints, and to provide further financial support for the installation of energy generation technologies.

We have laid amendments to the Energy Bill currently before Parliament to allow for the introduction of a feed-in tariff system for small-scale electricity generation and financial support for renewable heat generation. This financial support will be available to a range of technologies at the community scale.

Euro

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's Statement on the five-tests assessment in June 2003.

Freedom of Information

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): For reasons of taxpayer confidentiality, HMRC does not comment on matters relating to individual taxpayers.

Home Office: Lawyers

Lord Norton of Louth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Fifty lawyers are currently employed in the legal adviser's branch of the Home Office. They provide legal advice to Home Office Ministers and officials; instruct parliamentary counsel in the preparation of Bills for which the Home Office is responsible; draft and process subordinate legislation; and, with counsel and the Treasury Solicitors Department, handle litigation involving the Home Office.

House of Lords: Prayers

Lord Avebury asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): This is a matter for the Procedure Committee. If any Member submits a written proposal to change the arrangements for prayers, I will ensure that the Committee considers it.

Housing: Repossession

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): In 2004, the Government extended the scope of Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulation to cover mortgages, helping to ensure suitable protection for borrowers, including those experiencing arrears or repossession. FSA regulation places a high-level obligation on firms to treat their customers fairly. The FSA recently completed a review of the effectiveness of its mortgage regulation regime, including the treatment of borrowers facing repossession, available at: www.fsa .gov.uk/pages/Library/Communication/PR/2008/087.shtml

On 22 October, the Government confirmed that the Master of the Rolls had approved a new protocol for mortgage possession cases, which complements existing regulation, and sets out clear standards that judges may expect of lenders bringing repossessions cases in the courts.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): On 2 September, the Government announced £200 million for a mortgage rescue scheme to help vulnerable people facing repossession to remain in their home, where possible. The Government are working closely with key delivery partners to ensure the scheme is operational as soon as possible.

The Government have held a series of regional summits at government-office level to explain the mortgage rescue scheme to all local authorities. This will be followed by further regional delivery briefings in late November and early December, during which local authorities will receive detailed advice on their role in the mortgage rescue scheme.

Identity Cards

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): During the second half of 2009, it is intended to start the roll out of identity cards to people applying to work in the secure airside area at certain airports and this would apply to British and Irish nationals who apply to work at those airports.



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In the longer term, it is intended to roll out identity cards on an entirely voluntary basis and this will eventually mean that people resident in any part of the United Kingdom, whether British or Irish nationals, would be able to apply for an identity card. However, as with passports, only the cards issued to British nationals would be valid for travel within Europe.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: Home Office Ministers and officials have met their opposite numbers in the Irish Government from time to time and the Government’s plan for the introduction of identity cards, including the impact on Irish nationals living in the United Kingdom, have been discussed in general terms at such meetings.

Immigration: Children

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are only held in detention in exceptional circumstances, and then only normally overnight, while alternative arrangements are made for their care and safety. In addition, detention of individuals under 18 who have been convicted of a criminal offence and have completed their custodial sentence may be authorised in exceptional circumstances where it can be shown that they pose a serious risk to the public and a decision to deport or remove them has been taken.

Information on the number of such cases is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Formal detention powers are also used to facilitate the return, with appropriate escorts, of such children. Great care is taken with the return arrangements in such cases, including close liaison with the child's local authority social worker and the authorities in the receiving country, and will take place only when reception arrangements are in place. The return will be scheduled to take place during the course of a single day. In the period June 2007 to September 2008, there were approximately 60 such cases. This figure has been rounded to the nearest 10 in line with standard statistical procedures and is based on management information; it has not been quality-assured under National Statistics protocols, is subject to change and should be treated as provisional.



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Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: Families can be detained at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire; Tinsley House immigration removal centre at Gatwick Airport; or Dungavel House immigration removal centre near Strathaven in Scotland.

Families will usually remain at Tinsley House and Dungavel House for no more than 72 hours. If detention continues beyond this point, they are normally transferred to Yarl's Wood.

Unaccompanied children are not normally accommodated in immigration removal centres.

Immigration: Colnbrook Detention Centre

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Currently there are three detainees held at Colnbrook who are stateless people.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: Applications for bail lodged with the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal are considered by an immigration judge, who is independent of the Home Office.

Applications are normally heard via video link with the hearing centre or in some circumstances and at the discretion of the immigration judge in person.

Applicants can provide an address themselves or there are organisations whose details are provided to detainees who can provide assistance with making an application.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: The terms of the contract for Serco Home Affairs Ltd to manage Colnbrook immigration removals centre include a provision to supply one social worker for the centre. In response to an identified need for detainee welfare support, Serco

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employs seven welfare officers at the centre. All Serco staff at Colnbrook immigration removals centre undertake a range of training activities to assist in the management of detainee's welfare concerns. These activities include assessment, care in detention and teamwork, anti-bullying, pro-social modelling, managing aggressive behaviour and family contact liaison (via the Red Cross).


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