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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): The Stern review shows that the costs of action to tackle climate change are significantly outweighed by the costs of inaction, so keeping to our climate change objectives even in tough economic times is the right course of action.
The Climate Change Bill will oblige us to make major reductions in our emissions between now and 2050, and will establish a system of carbon budgets to take us towards that point. When setting carbon budgets, the Bill requires that we take a range of factors into account, including economic circumstances, climate science and social circumstances. Decisions on how we meet our targets and budgets will similarly be based on these relevant factors.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government welcomed the Environmental Change Institute's report Home Truths: A low carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80%.This has proved a useful and timely input to our ongoing development of a new low-carbon homes strategy, on which we will consult shortly. We share the sense of urgency expressed in the report and recognise the potential of the household sector to deliver significant carbon savings.
Whether they will make it a condition of selling their shares in British Energy to Electricité de France that nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom due for closure are shut down as soon as possible. [HL6331]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): No. The closure dates of British Energy's existing nuclear power stations are a matter for the company, in discussion with the relevant regulatory and licensing bodies.
In relation to the report and accounts of the Crown Estate for 2007-08, which said that a 1.2 MW tidal energy scheme at Strangford Lough will provide renewable energy for 1,000 homes, what equivalent renewable energy output will come from a further 25 GW of offshore wind turbine capacity, as forecast in December 2007 by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. [HL5434]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government are carrying out a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) on a draft plan for up to an additional 25 GW of offshore wind generation. It is expected that the SEA will be completed in early 2009. 25 GW of installed offshore wind capacity would generate electricity equivalent to that used by 19 million UK households. This assumes an average load factor of 40 per cent for future commercial scale offshore wind farms and is based on the average UK household electricity consumption of 4,600 kWh in 2007. However, it should be noted that the characteristics of tidal and offshore wind technologies and their role in the energy supply are very different and so cannot be easily compared.
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 collect information on the efficiency of individual turbine models. Decisions on turbine selection are a commercial matter for industry.
The DECC offshore wind capital grants scheme, launched in 2003, provides support to round 1 demonstration scale offshore wind projects, and was designed to support early-stage learning in this emerging technology and provide lessons learnt to help reduce costs for future commercial-scale projects.
All round 1 developers are required to submit operations and maintenance reports for three consecutive years following commissioning of the wind farm. Each report details the efficiency and availability of the turbines, including information on downtime. There are currently four offshore wind farms in operation which have produced annual reports: North Hoyle, Scroby Sands, Kentish Flats and Barrow. Annual reports for the first operational year for the other offshore wind farms will be published in 2009. The reports can be found on the BERR website: www.berr.gov.uk/publications/reports/index.html.
There are no formal requirements to publish this information for onshore wind farms. However, aggregated data on load factors are available in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES): http:/www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/energy/statistics/source/ renewables/page18513.html.
Information on capacity rating and monthly output for individual wind farms is available on the Ofgem website: http://www.renewablesandchp.ofgem.gov.uk/.
Whether they will discuss the future of the Treaty of Lisbon with the French presidency of the European Union; and, if so, whether they will suggest taking any joint action with them and other European Union member state Governments to resolve the current situation. [HL4622]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): It is up to the Irish Government to decide what to do next and on that basis for the EU as a whole to discuss the way forward. The Irish Prime Minister proposed at the 15-16 October European Council to come back to this issue in December to define together with other EU Heads the elements
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Whether they will propose increases in European Union-funded synthetic biology programmes, including the expansion of bio-sensor investigations into new uses, at forthcoming meetings of the Council of Ministers. [HL4624]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): I apologise for the delay in replying to your Question. We do not plan to raise this issue at forthcoming meetings of the Council of Ministers. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is the government department with lead responsibility on this issue, and so a decision on the Government's contribution to EU-funded synthetic biology programmes would fall to them to make.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 25 March (WA 789) regarding the impact on salmon stocks of privileged fixed engines operating on the River Severn, what discussions they have since had with Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales and the European Commission on the effect of these fisheries on the conservation status of salmon in the Wye and Usk special areas of conservation. [HL6024]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Since March 2008, the UK Government have had no formal discussions with Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales or the European Commission on this matter. However, through the introduction of the Marine Bill, the Environment Agency, which has responsibility for regulating salmon and freshwater fisheries in England and Wales, will have the necessary powers to address these issues.
Further to the reply by the Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jane Kennedy, on 23 October (Official Report, House of Commons, cols. 53539), whether the lessons learnt in Morpeth about the operation of the early flood warning system will be applied to the rest of the United Kingdom. [HL6447]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The flood warning system is regularly improved to make use of new technology and respond to lessons learnt. The Morpeth floods highlighted a particular concern in the way the system is operated. The Environment Agency has already undertaken improvements to avoid a recurrence of the failure to issue a warning for the Middle Greens area in Morpeth. The lessons learnt at Morpeth have led to a review of the system and changes are under way to reduce the risk of similar failures across the whole of the flood warning system in England and Wales.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have already taken a number of steps in response to Sir Michael Pitt's findings and will be publishing a detailed response together with a prioritised action plan shortly.
What is the timetable for setting maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under Article 5 of the food supplements directive; what consultation the Food Standards Agency will hold on any such proposed maximum permitted levels; and what steps they will take to ensure that Parliament is involved in considering those levels prior to their finalisation and transposition into domestic law; and [HL6475]
When Ministers will next meet Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou; what subjects they will raise at that meeting; and whether they will discuss the implications for consumer choice in the United Kingdom of setting restrictive maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements; and [HL6476]
What assessment they have made of the likelihood of achieving in negotiations in the European Union their objectives for the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements; and whether the resources devoted to the negotiations by the Food Standards Agency are sufficient. [HL6477]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The European Commission has indicated that it intends to publish proposals for minimum and maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements in early 2009.
In the mean time, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been holding bilateral meetings with its counterparts in other member states to promote the Government's objectives, in addition to promoting these objectives in working group meetings with the European Commission and other member states.
When the proposals for setting maximum levels are published, the FSA will conduct a full consultation with United Kingdom stakeholders in line with the government code of practice on consultation. The FSA will ensure that copies of the consultation documents are placed in the Library.
There are no current plans for Health Ministers to meet the European Commissioner for Health to discuss matters relating to the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for the Government. Since 2000, the Government have spent £20 billion on fuel poverty benefits and programmes and we continue to have a range of measures in place to tackle it. Rising energy prices have made the challenge more difficult, but the package that the Prime Minister announced on 11 September underlines the Government's commitment in this area. Specifically, the package included:an increase in cold weather payments from £8.50 to £25 per week for winter 2008-09; andan extra £74 million over the next two years to the Government's Warm Front scheme. This will enable around 40,000 additional households to see their fuel bills reduced by an average of £180 through the provision of energy efficiency measures.
As part of the 11 September package the Prime Minister also announced the intention to increase the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT) obligation on energy suppliers by 20 per cent and to introduce a new obligation on suppliers and energy generating companies to invest in making homes more energy efficient. A significant proportion of this energy efficiency work will be targeted on the homes of those in fuel poverty.
The Minister of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Drayson): Science and innovation is not a devolved matter. However, the devolved Administrations are consulted on science and innovation legislative issues. The Global Science and Innovation Forum (GSIF) was established under the 10-year Science and Innovation Investment Framework to foster co-ordination and develop strategy on the UK's international engagement in research and innovation. Members comprise Chief Scientific Advisers or equivalent from government departments and Chief Executives or equivalent from non-government organisations. The forum is open to appropriate representation from devolved Administrations. A senior official from the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland is a member of the Core Officials Group which supports the main forum.
Which contractors of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform do not pay their suppliers within 30 days; and what representations they will make to these contractors about withholding retentions from sub-contractors, in accordance with the Office of Government Commerce's fair payment charter. [HL6124]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): I regret the delay in responding to the noble Lord. I will write to him shortly to answer his Question and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.
How many official meetings have taken place between Cabinet Ministers and the following government advisers and which Cabinet Ministers have been involved (a) Lord Lester of Herne Hill; (b) Baroness Williams of Crosby; (c) Baroness Neuberger; and (d) Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington; and whether there has been any support from public funds for any of these advisers. [HL6284]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Information relating to internal discussion and advice is not normally disclosed. For information on the role of government advisers, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by the then Lord President
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