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Energy: Gas 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 main incentive for companies to minimise the price of natural gas is the knowledge that they are operating in a competitive market, with an effective economic regulator to protect the interests of consumers. The Government are doing their part by seeking to ensure fit-for-purpose consents regimes for new gas import and storage facilities through the Planning and Energy Bills now before Parliament and by working for open and competitive international energy markets in the EU and beyond.

Energy: National Grid

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): National Grid is responsible for procuring balancing services in order to balance demand and supply and to ensure the security and quality of electricity supply across the GB transmission system.

National Grid has a licence obligation to control system frequency within specified limits. National Grid must therefore ensure that sufficient generation and/or demand is held in automatic readiness to manage all credible circumstances that might result in frequency variations.

The indications from National Grid and our own advisers are that there is no technical barrier to the connection of renewable generation at, for example, a 30 per cent to 40 per cent penetration level. The indications are that the challenge is an economic rather than technical one, ie ensuring that sufficient capacity of all technologies has the right incentives to remain on and join the network to support the deployment of intermittent renewable technologies and ensuring the economic and efficient operation of the balancing mechanism.

Energy: Oil Prices

Lord Bradshaw 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and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government do not publish oil price forecasts. They publish oil, gas and coal future price assumptions for the period to 2030.

The latest version of the Government's future fossil fuel price assumptions were published in May 2008, following a consultation published in January. Further details are available at the following links: www.berr.gov.uk/energy/environment/projections/recent/page26391.html and www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46071.pdf.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: As part of regular departmental activity, Ministers have discussions with a wide range of UK and international companies operating at each stage of energy supply chains, covering pricing and financials among other issues. Movements in global oil prices and their implications for UK consumers of road transport fuel, gas and electricity are among the factors discussed.



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Ethnic Monitoring: Equality Outcomes

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government consider that ethnic monitoring can be a valuable tool in helping to assess race equality outcomes.

European Arrest Warrant

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Extradition Act 2003, which gave effect to the provisions of the European arrest warrant (EAW) in the UK, came into force on 1 January 2004. Since that date, and up to 30 September 2008, 203 British citizens have been arrested pursuant to EAWs. 101 British nationals have subsequently been surrendered to other European member states pursuant to EAWs (see attached table).

The table below sets out the figures for each year since the introduction of the EAW:

ArrestsSurrenders

2004

12

5

2005

42

11

2006

49

26

2007

62

27

2008 to 30.09.08

38

32

Government: Contractors

Lord Cotter asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Ministry of Justice does not hold information about which construction contractors do not pay their suppliers within 30 days or are withholding retentions from subcontractors. To identify and communicate with all suppliers would be disproportionate in terms of cost and time. My department is reviewing recommended action in respect of the OGC’s Guide to Best Fair Payment Practice—Construction Procurement 2007.



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Lord Cotter asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department does not centrally collect data on contractors who do not pay their subcontractors within 30 days. The department is committed to the Government's target of paying all satisfactory invoices within 30 days of the date of the individual invoice. The department has recently committed to making payments to small and medium-sized enterprises within 10 days.

The retention of the value of work executed by the contractor or any nominated subcontractor on large-scale projects is 10 per cent. Subject to satisfactory completion, this is released in stages on contract completion. This is in line with the Office of Government Commerce's fair payment charter. The department would support a subcontractor if he experienced difficulty getting paid by the department's prime contractor.

Gypsies and Travellers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): In January 1997, the biannual count of Gypsy and Traveller caravans found that there were 5,438 pitches on local authority sites in England, accommodating 6,324 caravans. In January 2008, there were 4,902 pitches on local authority sites accommodating 6,696 caravans.

The Welsh Assembly Government are responsible for the caravan count in Wales.

Health: Diabetes

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham):Putting Prevention First, published on 1 April 2008, set out the Government's proposals for a universal, systematic risk assessment programme for people aged between 40 and 74 who are not already on an established disease register. A copy has been placed in the Library.

On 13 November 2008 the department published Vascular risk assessment and management: Next steps guidance, to support primary care trusts (PCTs) in implementing vascular checks. A vascular check will include a filter to determine diabetes risk, and those with established diabetes risk factors will be given a blood sugar test. A copy has been placed in the Library.

The guidance emphasises the important role that vascular checks can play in tackling health inequalities, and we expect PCTs to develop local implementation strategies that take into account the risk levels in their own population.

Healthcare: Clinical Physiology

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Health Professions Council (HPC) previously made a recommendation to the Government that a group of healthcare scientists, including clinical physiologists, should be statutorily regulated. The Government are considering proposals for the regulation of the totality of the healthcare science workforce, including clinical physiologists, to deliver the commitments outlined in trust assurance and safety. Timescales will be made available in due course, including details of the necessary consultation process.

The Extending Professional Regulation Working Group is developing proposals regarding criteria for bringing new groups of healthcare professionals into a system of regulation. The current 10 criteria used by the HPC to assess regulation of new groups are informing this work. The HPC is represented on the working group.

House of Lords: Reform

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The White Paper published on 14 July is the basis for continuing public consultation. In the White Paper we endorsed the conclusion of the Wakeham Commission, that it would be problematic for a reformed second Chamber to represent all faiths in the UK. We are seeking views on whether an appointments commission for the second Chamber (if appointments are to be made) should be required to provide broader faith representation. We are considering the responses we have received as part of developing detailed proposals for Lords reform.

Housing

Baroness Warsi asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): In the case of a new dwelling, all features of the property that affect value are taken into account in the banding. The test is whether, in the open market, the presence of a tree house would have any material effect on the property's capital value: in general this is unlikely.

In the case of an existing dwelling, if the tree house was a later addition that added value, it would only be taken into account when the dwelling was subsequently sold, or let on a lease for more than seven years.

Housing: Right to Buy Scheme

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): I refer the noble Lord to my Answer to his earlier Question on this subject, in Hansard for 1 October 2007, col. WA162. The Government have no plans to discontinue or suspend the right to buy scheme.

India: Orissa

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): We believe that there are a variety of factors behind the recent violence in Orissa. On 17 October, my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown discussed our concerns with Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of External Affairs, and Mohammed Quereshi, chairman of the Minorities Commission, in New Delhi.



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We will continue to urge the Government of India to uphold the right to freedom of religion. The issue of religious freedom is due to be raised at the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue in New Delhi later this year.

Inquiries: Northern Ireland

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The costs to the end of October 2008 of the independent public inquiries currently under way in Northern Ireland are as follows:

The Robert Hamill Inquiry

£18.20 million

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

£33.42 million

The Billy Wright Inquiry

£20.21 million

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry

£184.9 million


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