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MONUC now has 95 per cent of its troop strength deployed in the east of the DRC following internal reorganisation of the mission, reinforcing its capacity to protect Goma and other areas of North Kivu until new resources arrive. An EU force is not currently under consideration, although we will keep this under review. We believe that any countries, including individual European countries, willing to contribute troops should deploy to MONUC, which has an existing command structure and logistical support in place.
Whether they will take steps to strengthen the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines for British and other European companies deriving income from Congo's natural resources; and whether they will make adherence to the guidelines a condition for all companies that receive United Kingdom export guarantees or government contracts. [HL6194]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises are negotiated at OECD level and the UK will participate fully in any future renegotiation of the guidelines.
The UK Government are considering ways to strengthen their approach to human rights and weak governance zones through the OECD guidelines for
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The preface to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises states that they are voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct. ECGDs existing policy, in its assessment of requests for cover by companies in all countries, such as Congo, that can borrow from the World Bank only on highly concessional terms, requires adherence to its business principles (which includes compliance with international standards on environmental and social impacts and the risk of debt sustainability) and take account of the consistency of the operations of those companies with the recommendations contained in the guidelines.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The recent Written Statement made a distinction between age discrimination as a legal term relating to the areas that would be covered by a legal ban, which we have announced will include the provision of goods, facilities and services and the exercise of public functions, and unfair treatment based on age, which could describe treatment that can occur in every aspect of life, including in areas not covered by discrimination law.
Further to the Written Answers by the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Michael Wills, on 23 October (Official Report, House of Commons, 559-60W), what the impetus for the development of a co-ordinated online record of electors was; who will benefit from its existence; how it will be kept up to date; who will maintain it; what will be the annual running cost of the project; and how it will be funded. [HL6448]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 placed new obligations on political parties and the checking of the eligibility of donors. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 provided the legislative framework for the co-ordinated online record of electors (CORE) system. The objective of CORE is to produce a single, authoritative record of electoral registration data that could be accessed by political parties and the Electoral Commission for the
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While the detailed specifications of the system are still to be finalised, it is expected that the central record will be updated on a monthly basis by local authorities sending the necessary information to the CORE information system.
The CORE system will be maintained by the CORE keeper. Section l(10) of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 provides that the person designated as a CORE keeper must be a public authority. The Electoral Commission is the preferred choice to fulfil this role. If the commission is the CORE keeper then funding would be made available through Speakers Committee. The CORE project has been allocated a total of £11.7 million to implement the CORE service. The annual running costs of the CORE keeper have been estimated at £1.3 million per year, although it will be impossible to provide actual running costs until user requirements have been finalised and costed in detail. Throughout 2008 we have been meeting with our stakeholders, gathering requirements, with a view to publish a high-level statement of requirements by the end of March 2009, with a detailed analysis of costs versus benefits by the summer of 2009.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust are independent private companies limited by guarantee.
In 2007-08, the Carbon Trust received £95.5 million in grant funding from the Government to deliver our objective of accelerating the move to a low-carbon economy by helping organisations reduce their carbon emissions and develop commercial low-carbon technologies. In 2007-08, the Energy Saving Trust received £38 million in grant funding from the Government to deliver their objective to encourage and promote the sustainable and efficient use of energy in households, as well as low-carbon transport infrastructure.
What are the responsibilities of the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust for supporting local authority housing energy-saving measures; what are their loan schemes for energy efficiency in business; and what support they provide for microgeneration. [HL6532]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Energy Saving Trust has two key local authority services for housing: Practical Help and the One-to-One support programme. These services provide advice and support through web-based materials, training and consultancies to local authorities. They also provide individual support to review local authority performance on climate change mitigation and implement their action plans.
Through the local authority carbon management programme, the Carbon Trust provides councils with technical and change management support and guidance to help them realise carbon emissions savings. The primary focus of the work is to reduce emissions under the control of the local authority such as its own estate, vehicle fleets, street lighting and landfill sites.
With regard to loan schemes, the Carbon Trust offers energy efficiency loans which are designed to reduce carbon emissions by enabling businesses to overcome the capital barrier of purchasing energy-saving equipment. Loans are interest free, provided on an unsecured basis and are typically for £5,000 to £200,000.
With regard to microgeneration, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) administers the Government's low-carbon buildings programme, which provides grants for microgeneration. EST advice centres also provide advice on microgeneration to household consumers. The Carbon Trust supports market acceleration and directed research into microgeneration technologies, including advanced solar PV (photovoltaic) and micro-CHP (combined heat and power).
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Defra is conducting a review of delivery bodies which support business, consumers and the public sector in carbon reduction and resource efficiency. The review covers a number of bodies sponsored by Defra before the machinery of government changes of 3 October and includes the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust, which are now sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Following recent machinery of government changes, responsibility for sponsorship of the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust has transferred from Defra to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
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 provide subsidies for crops grown for biofuels. However farmers in the UK can claim grant under the EU's energy aid payment scheme for energy crops grown on non-set-aside land with a contract for energy end use. The scheme was oversubscribed at a European level in the 2007 claim year, resulting in a 30 per cent cutback in grant aid. UK farmers received £4.06 million grant aid on around 244,000 ha. The area planted in the UK for the 2008 claim year is just over 56,000 ha: claims when paid will be at €45 per ha, less modulation. The scheme does not differentiate between crops grown for biofuels or the generation of heat and power. As crops grown for biofuels constitute a small proportion of total crop production in the UK, the impact on the poorest consumers and farmers is likely to be negligible.
Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Joan Ruddock, on 17 October (Official Report, House of Commons, 1579W), whether county, district or borough, metropolitan and unitary councils will be required to use carbon allowances; and whether they will have to purchase further allowances at an annual sale or auction. [HL6341]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): An organisation will qualify for the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) if it has at least one meter settled on the half-hourly market and its total half-hourly metered electricity use was greater than 6,000 megawatt hours (MWh) between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2008.
County, district or borough, metropolitan and unitary councils will therefore participate in the CRC where they meet the qualification threshold. Once a local authority has qualified for the CRC it will be subject to the same requirements as all other CRC participants.
The CRC is scheduled to begin in April 2010. There will be a three-year introductory phase in which unlimited allowances will be sold at a fixed price of £12 per tonne of carbon dioxide. In the second phase, a fixed number of allowances will be auctioned. There will be no legal requirement for participating organisations to take part in a sale or auctionan organisation could choose to buy allowances only on the secondary market. Participating local authorities will therefore be required
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Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Joan Ruddock, on 17 October (Official Report, House of Commons, 1579W), what assessment they have made of the impact of carbon allowance purchases on local authority budgets; what is the largest sum they envisage a local authority paying; and what was the average estimated cost to each council type. [HL6342]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath The Government have conducted analysis that indicates that the cost of purchasing allowances will typically be 15 per cent on top of a local authority's energy bill, where the total energy bill is approximately 1 per cent of the total operating costs. However, the Government propose to recycle revenues that accrue from the sale of allowances back to participants, depending on how well they perform in the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) league table.
The Government have modelled various scenarios for local authorities that look at low, medium and high performance in the league table. These indicate that collectively, after year 5, local authorities are expected to make net savings under these scenarios of £2.71 million, £18.48 million and £39.68 million respectively.
The analysis is based on conservative estimates of average 2020 emission reductions of approximately 9 per cent across all CRC participants. The figure for the public administration sector, of which local authorities make up a significant part, is over 12 per cent. This demonstrates that the public administration sector as a whole would do well in the league table and as such it is reasonable to assume a neutral to high case scenario. However, in the worst case scenario of a local authority being at the bottom of the league table in year 1, the maximum cost to the local authority is expected to be no more than 1.5 per cent of its energy bill.
In addition, in response to feedback from local authorities, the CRC has been aligned to financial year so that both the auction of allowances and recycling of the money collected occur within the same financial year. This change was made to address local authority concerns over cash flow.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) identified some wide-ranging steps which Governments could take to reduce the degradation of ecosystem services. Many of these are already part of the Government's agenda, consistent with our commitment to sustainable development. For example, the MA recommends removing harmful subsidies and introducing incentive payments for land managers. The UK Government have been among the strongest advocates for reform of the common agricultural policy and we have already made significant progress by breaking the link between subsidy and production.
Internationally, we have helped secure action for follow-up to the MA through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Government will continue to promote the importance of ecosystem services and the biodiversity that underpins them through relevant multilateral environmental agreements and through our bilateral contacts with other countries.
Nationally, we have also taken steps to embed ecosystems thinking in policy and decision-making, consistent with the MA. Defra's ecosystems approach action plan, published in 2007, sets out a number of key actions to embed an ecosystems approach into the protection and enhancement of the natural environment. Essentially, this is about adopting a new way of thinking and working by:shifting the focus of our policy-making and delivery away from looking at natural environment policies in separate silos (e.g. water, air, biodiversity, etc.) towards a more integrated, holistic approach based on whole ecosystems; andseeking to ensure that the value of ecosystem services is fully reflected in policy and decision-making.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 5 November (WA 62), whether the consideration of the Mersey, Wyre and Thames estuaries indicated that any of those sites may be suitable for a tidal barrage or tidal lagoon; and when they intend to examine further the feasibility and cost of such a project; and [HL6449]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 5 November (WA 62), whether the consideration of the Mersey, Wyre and Thames estuaries indicated that any of those sites may be suitable for a tidal barrage that could generate electricity and provide flood defences. [HL6450]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): A number of organisations have investigated the feasibility of generating electricity from the tidal range resource
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A wider group has also been formed to act as an information exchange forum and to explore the potential for energy extraction from the Irish Sea and its surrounding coastline, including the Wyre estuary, called the Northwest Tidal Energy Groupfor further information see www.nwda.co.uk.
Regarding the Thames Estuary, the Environment Agency's Thames Estuary 2100 has been tasked with preparing a tidal flood risk management plan through to the end of the century. It considers future flood risk needs and does not have a remit to look at transport links or power generation. Initial findings from the project suggest that under Defra's climate change guidance the Thames Barrier, with some modification, could continue to provide protection to London for most of the century. On the basis of managing flood risk, it is therefore unlikely that a new barrier would be required in the short to medium term. However, we are aware of a business consortium, Metrotidal Ltd, which has announced proposals for a tunnel crossing between Medway and Canvey Island, which would include a surge-tide barrier, tidal power plant, and orbital rail and road links.
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