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12 Nov 2008 : Column WA129

12 Nov 2008 : Column WA129

Written Answers

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Armed Forces: Warships

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD does not normally provide details of plans for future upkeep periods for Royal Navy vessels until such time as the upkeep work has been allocated and the contract awarded. To release future upkeep plans could enable deductions to be made that could be prejudicial to the capability, effectiveness and security of the Royal Navy. The time each Type 22 or Type 23 frigate and Type 42 destroyer spends in refit depends on a number of factors, including the material state and operational deployment of the vessel, but is generally in excess of one year. The time between refits is generally in excess of four years. The first of the Type 45 destroyers is due to enter service in 2010.


Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government have no plans for a national survey of asbestos in public buildings. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (Regulation 4), a duty to manage is already placed on those in control of the maintenance of public buildings, such as local authorities, to identify the likelihood of asbestos-containing materials being present, and to identify, assess and manage the risks accordingly. The Government believe that no significant benefit would be gained by duplicating the existing requirement introduced in 2004 and on which the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance.

Bangladesh: Elections

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): When I visited Bangladesh in October, I reiterated to the caretaker government, the chief of army, the main political parties, civil society and the media the UK's support for fair and credible elections. I was clear that the election on 18 December would have greater legitimacy if held without a state of emergency. I noted the Government's concern about law and order and their desire to ensure that convicted individuals would not participate in elections. I hoped that the Government and parties would be able to reach consensus on these issues so that the state of emergency could be lifted ahead of elections. I stressed that the parties should have the time and freedom to campaign effectively.


Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): All banks must produce their annual report and accounts in accordance with applicable accounting standards in force in the UK. Current accounting standards set out rules governing the disclosure of off-balance sheet transactions, where these are not required to be consolidated into group accounts. Similarly, current standards provide for recognition and classification of transactions involving derivatives. The results of the application of these rules to the off-balance sheet items and derivative transactions engaged in by all banks are recorded in their published financial statements. The financial statements also include the auditor's opinion that on the truth and fairness of the accounts in accordance with the application of the relevant accounting standards.

Benefits: Disability Living Allowance

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information is not available.

Entitlement to disability living allowance is not dependent on a specific diagnosis or medical condition but on whether a severely disabled person needs personal care and/or has mobility difficulties. An award of disability living allowance would not be made on the basis of a diagnosis of alcohol abuse. The decision would be based upon someone's care needs and on the difficulty they have in getting around as a result of their alcohol dependency and any associated physical or mental conditions caused by long-term excess consumption.

We have no plans to undertake specific research in to how people with a dependence on alcohol spend their benefit.

Cycling England

Lord Cope of Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Blue Rubicon has been contracted through the Central Office of Information since 2005 to provide PR consultancy services for Cycling England. The agency delivers a programme of activity targeting consumers and engaging stakeholders with the aim to get more people cycling, more safely, more often.

The total spend to date is £2.82 million. This includes costs for: running a general press office; website development and maintenance; development and promotion of Bikeability (Cycling England's flagship award scheme, teaching children to cycle safely and responsibly); event management; commissioning research into and promoting the benefits of cycling. The estimated spend for the rest of the financial year (October 2008-March 2009) is £341,995. The contract ends in March 2009 and is due to be retendered in January.

East Midlands Development Agency

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The main reason for the rise of salary cost is because EMDA has taken on additional responsibilities over the five-year period. This has resulted in new posts, which in the majority of cases have been filled by the transfer of staff from their existing organisation. This has included the transfer of Business Links, East Midlands Tourism, the Modernising Rural Delivery Programme, and the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13 and the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007-13. EMDA's average staff complement has increased from 170 in 2002-03 to 261 in 2007-08.

In relation to other administration costs, which have increased over the period in question, due to inflationary pressures and the higher level of staff, economies of scale have meant that this increase has been proportionately less than for staff costs.

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): Details of the diploma funding model in use for 2008-09 can be found in the guidance issued to local authorities and 14-19 partnerships in December 2007. This document can be accessed through the 14-19 education and skills website at within the 14-19 funding section under diploma funding.

The diploma funding model in use for 2008-09 provides initial dedicated funding to support the additional costs of delivery of diplomas at KS4 which cannot be met from mainstream funding. Costs for which the grant can be used to fund include:

those required for the direct delivery of diplomas including additional costs of teaching and materials incurred by institutions in planning and delivering the curriculum; andadditional costs associated with the provision of diplomas for pupils in sparsely populated areas including transport between providers within a diploma consortium.

Additionally, in each of the 40 most rural areas we have funded the post of transport and access co-ordinator (at £75,000 per local authority for 18 months from September 2008) to allow these local authorities to investigate and arrange more effective and efficient transport for their young people accessing diplomas.

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Similar guidance for the academic year 2009-10, which will include the first cohort of students taking the land-based diploma, is currently under consideration and is scheduled for publication by the end of 2008. This guidance will again provide details of the basis on which the grant has been calculated for each diploma and the scope of activities for which the grant may be used.

Energy: Oil Prices

Lord Laird 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 Government believe that efficient and competitive markets for wholesale and retail fuel are the most effective means to pass through falls in global fuel prices.

Ofgem is the independent regulator of the gas and electricity supply markets, and is responsible for ensuring that those markets are competitive. Ofgem has stated that there is clear evidence of a time lag between wholesale and retail prices as energy suppliers tend to buy most of their gas in advance on the forward market. It has found no evidence that prices are passed through to a greater extent when wholesale prices rise than when they fall. Following its energy supply markets probe, Ofgem is proposing that companies produce separate regulatory accounts for their retail and generation businesses which will aid transparency on this issue.

Competition in the UK's energy supply markets has previously driven down retail prices, following wholesale price falls, more quickly than in less competitive markets in other EU states.

The Office of Fair Trading monitors the UK petrol and diesel market. It is empowered to act if the price level appears to be the result of anti-competitive behaviour.

Energy: Renewables

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): As part of the work for the renewable energy consultation document (ref) BERR commissioned a number of research reports from independent consultants to inform its estimates of the cost and potential of renewable technologies.

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It commissioned Nera consultants to model the cost of instruments to incentivise renewable heat (ref), and used data from a study by Element Energy to inform work on microgeneration (ref). This research has informed the analysis underlying the consultation document, and the Answer to the above PQ.

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The renewable obligation (RO) provides support to renewable electricity generators. Introduced in 2002, it is the Government's main mechanism for encouraging renewable electricity generation. It is not a direct subsidy but an obligation placed on electricity suppliers to source a specific and annually increasing percentage of the electricity sales from renewable sources. Generators are issued with 1 ROC for each MWh of generation which they can then sell to suppliers. Suppliers used the ROCs to demonstrate compliance with the obligation or pay a buyout price into a fund. Money from the buyout fund is recycled to suppliers who met their obligation from ROCs on a pro rata basis. The ROC price is therefore set by the market but a nominal value of the ROC to the supplier can be calculated by adding the buyout price to the recycled buyout fund attributable to each ROC. On this basis the level of support through the RO in the UK between 2002 and 2007 is set out below:

2002-03—£278 million;

2003-04—£416 million;

2004-05—£495 million;

2005-06—£583 million; and

2006-07—£719 million

The average cost for renewable energy through the renewable obligation on each household in the United Kingdom was £7.80 in 2005, £9.80 in 2006 and £11.90 in 2007.

The anticipated level of support through the renewable obligation for 2008-09 is £940 million, for 2009-10 is £960 million and for 2010-11 is £990 million.

The UK Environmental Transformation Fund, co-ordinated by DECC, brings together capital grant and other funding for low carbon and renewable energy technologies, with a specific focus on the demonstration and deployment phases of bringing low carbon technologies to market. It has a budget of £400 million during the period 2008-09 to 2010-11.

DIUS is stepping up efforts on energy research and development through a range of commitments from science and innovation budget investments through the research councils and the Technology Strategy Board and, more recently with the establishment of the Energy Technologies Institute in development of low carbon energy technologies and solutions.

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Research council expenditure on energy related basic, strategic and applied research and postgraduate training is expected to approach £300 million during the period 2008-09 to 2010-11. The Technology Strategy Board’s current portfolio of projects in the energy innovation area amounts to a total grant value of £122 million and is expanding its portfolio in areas relating to the low carbon agenda through a range of initiatives including innovation platforms.

The regional development agencies, devolved Administrations and European Union also provide support for research into low carbon energy activities among other activities.

Energy: Scotland

The Duke of Montrose 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 administrative functions under the Electricity Act 1989 of consenting overhead electric lines (Section 37) and generating stations (Section 36) and associated wayleaves in Scotland (Schedule 4), previously carried out by the Secretary of State for Scotland were transferred to Scottish Ministers. There is no statutory mechanism for the simultaneous upgrading of the interconnector between Scotland and England. As with any network development, it will be for the network companies responding to need to ensure the necessary infrastructure is put in place. The internal market in electricity (IMED) rules place an obligation on operators to provide to the operator of any other system with which its system is interconnected sufficient information to ensure the secure and efficient operation, co-ordinated development and interoperability of the interconnected system.

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