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26 Jan 2009 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 26 January 2009

Agriculture: Incineration

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Applications for permits to operate large-scale waste incinerators under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 are determined by the Environment Agency's National Permitting Service.

These are determined in accordance with the guidance contained in the Environmental Permitting Core Guidance and Environmental Permitting Guidance: The Directive on the Incineration of Waste. These documents are available on Defra's website and applicants will use this guidance when preparing their applications.

Airports: Heathrow

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government’s recent decision to support a third runway at Heathrow has sought to balance environmental, economic and social considerations. It is now for the airport operator to decide how to progress a planning application. Under the new arrangements provided for in the Planning Act 2008, planning applications for nationally significant infrastructure will be considered by the independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). In deciding an application, the IPC must be satisfied that its decision would not be in breach of any domestic legislation or the UK’s international obligations, which would include relevant human rights legislation.



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Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The A400M will be assembled at the airbus military final assembly line facility in Seville.

Asked by Lord Jones

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The wings for the A400M are constructed from component parts made in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey and the UK. The wings are assembled in the UK at Filton.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Question

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence manages Chinook upgrades via a through-life management plan leading to progressive capability developments. We are currently undertaking a number of system upgrades to meet current and future operational requirements including enhancements to communications, night vision, defensive aids and engines which will be completed across the fleet by 2016. We are also planning to fit the whole Chinook fleet of 48 aircraft with a common cockpit in order to deliver maximum flexibility and capability. This will be subject to the Department's investment approvals process later this year, during which cost and time estimates will be approved. Beyond this, we are developing plans to ensure that the Chinook fleet can continue to provide an effective capability until 2040. Investment decisions are not expected until early next decade.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) operates under Government-owned contractor operated arrangements. AWE has been contractorised since 1993. The UK Government have retained full ownership and control of all AWE assets, vested in the Secretary of State for Defence.

The management and operation of AWE have been contracted to AWE Management Limited (AWEML) since 1 April 2000. Day-to-day operations are undertaken by a separate company, AWE plc, which is owned by AWEML and has its own board of directors with no AWEML parent company affiliations. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) holds a special share in AWE plc, which would allow intervention in the management of AWE or the transfer of responsibility to another contractor if that became necessary.

The AWE contract is managed by the Directorate Strategic Weapons (DSW) in the Defence Equipment and Support area of the MoD. DSW works with a wide range of stakeholders in the MoD and other government departments.

The primary document that defines the relationship between the MoD and AWEML is the contract between the parties. This requires the MoD to be consulted in respect of any changes to the composition of AWEML. Such consultation took place in respect of the recent changes in ownership of AWEML, which has no bearing on the ownership and control of AWE assets. Strategic requirements and the UK deterrent programme are set by the UK Government. UK nuclear forces will remain fully operationally independent; decision-making and the use of the system remains entirely sovereign to the UK.

Bailiffs

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): At present the law relating to enforcement by the seizure and sale of goods is complex and is contained in numerous statutes, secondary legislation and common law that does not provide for a single cohesive process.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 prescribes or enables regulations to prescribe the entire process to be followed by enforcement agents and includes provisions on the powers of entry.

Under the current contracts between Her Majesty's Courts Service, and the private bailiffs companies which undertake work on behalf of magistrates’ courts, there are specific instructions to the bailiff companies requiring them to adhere to instructions and processes issued by HMCS on the use of forced entry. These processes must be agreed by Her Majesty's Courts Service Regional Management before there can be any use of forced entry by private bailiffs.



26 Jan 2009 : Column WA4

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Bach: At present the law relating to enforcement by the seizure and sale of goods is complex and is contained in numerous statutes, secondary legislation and common law that does not provide for a single cohesive process.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 prescribes or enables regulations to prescribe the entire process to be followed by enforcement agents and includes provisions on the powers of entry.

Under the current contracts between Her Majesty's Courts Service and private bailiff companies there are specific requirements for the companies to report on the use of forced entry. These reporting procedures include the details of any complaints received by the bailiff companies on the actions taken when enforcing debt recovery. Any such complaints must be investigated thoroughly by the company itself. In addition, Her Majesty's Courts Service Regional Management will investigate the complaint to determine that the correct action was taken by the bailiff or if the situation requires further investigation.

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Bach: The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 clarifies and unifies, where possible, the law governing the activities of enforcement agents when taking control of and selling goods.

The Act introduces a single piece of law which brings together in one place a legal structure for all warrant enforcement, written in terms that are easily understandable and which clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of creditors, debtors, the police and enforcement agents. The reforms are part of a package of measures that will address concerns and will govern amongst other things:

when and how enforcement agents can enter somebody's premises;what goods they can and cannot seize and sell; andwhat fees they can charge.

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Bach: It is intended that a major consultation exercise will be undertaken that will include a consultation paper setting out the draft regulations for enforcement by taking control of goods and the table of fees.



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Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Bach: A consultative partial regulatory impact assessment was issued on 30 January 2007 exploring the costs and impact of a regulatory body. The paper set out the options for the future of regulation of enforcement agents who are not Crown employees. Regulation by the Security Industry Authority is the preferred option. The Security Industry Authority has been commissioned to deliver a business case which will be reviewed and final decisions will be made in February 2009.

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Bach: A copy of HMCS's Search and Entry Powers (Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004) Guidance to Civilian Enforcement Officers and Approved Enforcement Agents has been placed in the Library of the House. The guidance contains a number of redactions for reasons of public interest and on health and safety grounds.

Benefits: Incapacity Benefit

Question

Asked by Lord Steinberg

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Estimates of the proportion of the working age population on incapacity benefits for lower super output areas, which are the basis for the article in the Sunday Times referred to in the Question, were calculated using Department for Work and Pensions incapacity benefits caseload figures and experimental working age population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Estimates of the proportion of the working age population on incapacity benefits at this level of geography are not published or monitored by the Department for Work and Pensions and should be treated with caution. This is because benefit data are rounded to multiples of five so the percentages are approximate and only represent a snapshot at a point in time which may or may not be representative of the area; a more complete analysis would consider a longer trend.



26 Jan 2009 : Column WA6

There is known geographical variation in the percentage of the working age population that claims incapacity benefits: from 11 per cent in Wales to 5 per cent in the south-east. The percentage tends to be high in areas where heavy industry and mining used to be the major employer, but have since declined.

However, Department for Work and Pensions employment programmes, including the successful Pathways to Work programme, are primarily focused on individuals, so areas with high levels of benefit claimants will generally receive higher levels of government support.

China: Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We raised the case of Chen Guangcheng at the latest round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 12 January 2009, together with the cases of other human rights defenders. The Chinese side failed to provide a satisfactory response. We had also raised this case at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2008, and had previously raised a number of concerns about his treatment in prison with the Chinese Government. We continue to monitor his situation.

Countryside and Rights of Way Act

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Following the publication of the provisional map under Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, 3,556 appeals were lodged, 385 of which were withdrawn or rejected. Some 2,467 were dealt with by written representations, 676 by public hearing and 28 by public inquiry.



26 Jan 2009 : Column WA7

Asked by Lord Greaves

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Of the 3,171 appeals heard following the publication of the provisional map under Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, 1,864 were upheld, 482 were partly upheld and 825 were dismissed. Of those upheld, 1,486 were dealt with by written representations, 369 by public hearing and nine by public inquiry. Where the appeal was allowed in part, 335 were dealt with by written representations, 138 by public hearing and nine by public inquiry. Of those dismissed, 646 were dealt with by written representations, 169 by public hearing and 10 by public inquiry.

Energy: Reserves

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Lisbon treaty will not give the President of the European Commission any legal authority to take over energy reserves. The Lisbon treaty makes it clear that national Governments determine the conditions for exploiting their energy resources, their choices between different energy resources and the general structure of their energy supply. This is clearly set out in Article 194 of the consolidated treaties (Cm 7310).


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