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Endangered Species

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Creating clones by nuclear transfer is regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The use of endangered species listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) is generally prohibited under the 1986 Act, but an exemption may be granted for research aimed at the preservation of the species in question.

The Government are fully committed to the protection of habitats of endangered species. This is achieved through implementation of the relevant European directives and other international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and Ramsar Convention, the domestic programme of notifying important habitats as sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and through the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

SSSIs conserve and protect the best of England's wildlife, geological and physiographical heritage. The Government's overall objective is for SSSIs to be appropriately and, where necessary, positively managed for the benefit of their nature conservation interests. We are committed to our public service agreement target that 95 per cent of the area of SSSIs in England should be in favourable or recovering condition by December 2010 and are working in partnership with all those on whose actions achievement of the target depends.

The Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which is currently before this House, provides for the designation and protection of a new type of marine protected area—marine conservation zones. This will help the UK to meet our commitment to establish an ecologically coherent and well-managed network of marine protected areas by 2012.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach



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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The discrepancy concerning the definition of relevant hydrocarbon oil in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (RTFO) Order 2007 (No. 3072) means that any fossil fuel which is blended with renewable fuel before the excise duty point is excluded from the calculation of a supplier’s obligation. The result is that less fossil fuel than was intended is taken into account in calculating suppliers’ obligations, and therefore less renewable fuel is required to be supplied than was intended.

Fossil fuel that is supplied to the consumer separately from biodiesel or bioethanol or is blended after it passes the duty point will be taken into account in calculating a supplier's obligation. It will be a matter for obligated suppliers to determine how they supply their fuels and meet their obligation under the RTFO scheme for the year 2008-09.

Any supplier of fossil fuel in the UK is subject to the obligation regardless of whether its Head Office is located within or outside the UK. A supplier can meet its obligation in three ways: through supplying biofuel; purchasing certificates from other suppliers of biofuel; or by buying out of its obligation. The 2007 RTFO order provides for the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) to require suppliers to report volumes of fossil and biofuel supplied and this information will be used to determine a supplier's obligation and if it has been met. Provisions in the Climate Change Act 2008 provide for information to be supplied to the RFA by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise to verify these reports. Information about how suppliers have complied with their obligation will be made available in the RFA’s reports to Government and Parliament.

The full effect of the discrepancy on the volume of biofuel supplied in the first obligation year (2008-09) will not be known until after the end of the obligation year. Following a consultation, on 28 January the Government announced our intention to introduce legislation to slow down the rate at which the obligation increases until 2013-14. A draft order was laid in Parliament on 9 February to amend the obligation levels specified in the 2007 Order and this sets a level of 3.25 per cent of total fuel supplied for 2009-10. We have proposed a higher level than the 3 per cent level proposed in the consultation and have taken into account concerns expressed by producers about the effects of the discrepancy on biofuel demand during the first obligation year as well as environmental concerns about biofuel levels.



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Food: Pork and Bacon

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Home Department, inclusive of its agencies, does not contract directly for food supplies but procures catering services through wider facilities management (FM) or operational service contractors. To obtain information on what proportion of pork and bacon the department purchased is British would incur disproportionate costs.

When placing a contract with FM or operational services contractors, government guidance on sustainable food and farming is incorporated in appropriate terms and conditions with regards to the procurement of food. Purchasing policy is reviewed frequently to incorporate new policy initiatives.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Tunnicliffe: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported prior to the recent conflict in Gaza that UNRWA infrastructure projects in Gaza valued at $93 million had been halted due to a lack of raw materials as a result of the closure of the border crossings.

Following the conflict the immediate priority for the UK Government has been to press for full and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and supplies. These supplies include materials essential for the repair of humanitarian infrastructure, such as water and sanitation facilities. This issue has been raised repeatedly with the Israeli authorities at the highest levels.

The World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and European Community (EC) will take the lead in co-ordinating international efforts on reconstruction. A needs assessment is planned which is expected to report in three months. The UK Government will work closely with international partners to ensure that the goods required for reconstruction are able to enter Gaza.

Asked by Baroness Northover



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Lord Tunnicliffe: The recent hostilities brought about almost complete closure of the crossings into Gaza and made it very dangerous for aid staff to operate, and for aid recipients to access aid at distribution centres. The ceasefire and IDF withdrawal has improved access to the Gaza Strip and security within it for humanitarian agencies, but still not nearly enough humanitarian supplies are getting in. Humanitarian personnel are also facing ongoing difficulties entering Gaza.

Formal reports from the UN will be key in outlining in detail the challenges it and other organisations face. The UK Government continue to raise concerns with the Government of Israel and other partners.

Government Departments: Data Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Patel of Bradford: I refer the noble Lord to the publication of the report into data handling procedures across government published on 25 June 2008 and the accompanying Written Ministerial Statement by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office (Official Report, cols. 25-6WS).Copies of the report are available in the Library.



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Government Departments: Religions and Faiths

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

To ask Her Majesty's Government what religions and faiths are officially recognised by each government department. [HL1353]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Her Majesty's Government have no policy of officially extending recognition to religions and faiths. Government departments routinely work with representatives of a wide range of religion or belief groups in delivering policies relevant to them, and with organisations representing those of no belief.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): A range of faith-based organisations have received public funding in each of these years, normally in the context of providing public services or advising Her Majesty’s Government. Similarly, a number of bodies seeking to promote inter-faith activity and dialogue at national, regional and local level have received funding in this period. However, a comprehensive list of such bodies is not centrally held and could only be created at disproportionate cost.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) differs from UK human rights and discrimination law both in nature and in scope. However in the Government's

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view this does not mean that in practice there is any gap in protection. In light of the protections in domestic law that I outlined in my previous Answer (col. WA 58, 28 January 2009), the mechanisms that already exist in international law for regular periodic examination of the UK’s compliance with the ICCPR, and the findings of the review of our experience of individual petition under the Optional Protocol to the Convention for the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women—CEDAW (col. 11WS, 4 December 2008), the Government do not consider there is sufficient evidence that additional practical benefit would be provided by accepting the right of individual petition in respect of complaints under the ICCPR.

The Government do not consider it necessary to undertake a further evaluation in respect of the handling of individual petitions by the UN Human Rights Committee because of the nature of the UN monitoring committee processes (that they cannot, for example, give legal rulings) and because of the conclusions of the review on the CEDAW experiment.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information contained in applications to the Home Office is treated as being confidential and is not normally disclosed to third parties, unless they are authorised representatives of the applicant.

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information on the total number of detainees released from the immigration estate is not held centrally and would be available only through the detailed examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

In 2007, a total of 16,120 persons were recorded as being removed from the UK on leaving detention, held solely under Immigration Act powers; of these, 7,355 were recorded as having sought asylum at some stage. These 16,120 form 25 per cent of the total of 63,365 persons removed (including voluntary departures) from the UK in 2007, and of these, 13,705 were recorded as having sought asylum at some stage.



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Between January and September 2008 inclusive, there were a total of 12,075 such persons recorded as being removed upon leaving detention, and of these, 5,330 had sought asylum at some stage. These 12,075 form 24 per cent of the total of 49,750 persons removed (including voluntary departures) from the UK between January and September 2008, and of these, 9,070 were recorded as having sought asylum at some stage.

All figures are rounded to the nearest five and are provisional. These are the latest periods for which published information is available.

In addition to being removed from the UK, upon leaving detention people can also be granted leave to enter/remain, granted temporary admission/release or bailed.

National statistics on persons recorded as being removed from the UK on leaving detention solely under Immigration Act powers are published in Chapter nine of each year’s Asylum Statistics: United Kingdom bulletin. Provisional figures relating to the fourth quarter of 2008 will be published in Table eight of the Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom - Q4 2008 bulletin on 24 February 2009. Copies of these publications are/will be available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at: http://www. homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats. html

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): No. Government guidance and policy are continually updated to reflect changes in country conditions, case law or policy, but it should not be assumed that the granting of asylum in a particular case selected as country guidance signals a change in policy. For example, new information that comes to light as the parties prepare a case for an appeal may lead to a different decision in that particular case which is consistent with the existing policy.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Potential country guidance (CG) cases are identified by senior members of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s (AIT) judiciary and referred to the AIT Reporting Committee, which comprises senior members of the judiciary, once the determination has been written and promulgated.

The Reporting Committee makes the decision whether to approve a CG case. There is no specific set of criteria for that decision. Cases are reported if they are thought to give guidance that is usefully comprehensive, whatever the outcome of the appeal.


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