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28 Apr 2009 : Column WA23

Written Answers

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Afghanistan

Questions

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The final text of the current constitution, the eighth in Afghanistan’s history, was signed by President Karzai on 4 January 2004, after being approved by a Loya Jirgah (Grand Council) of 502 Afghan delegates, representing all parts of the country and all ethnic groups, among them 114 women. The constitution lays out the structure of the Afghan Government. It is for the Afghans to decide whether their constitution should be altered.

For a more detailed overview of the evolution of the current Afghan political system, and examples of what the UK is doing to improve governance across the country, please see the link below to the recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office memorandum of evidence which was submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee as part of its global security inquiry into Afghanistan:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/memo/afghanistan/ucgs0402.htm

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Malloch-Brown: Our stance on women’s rights is consistent. We continue to urge the Afghan Government to uphold the Afghan constitution, which demands equal treatment of men and women, and to adhere to Afghanistan’s international legal obligations under the human rights conventions it has signed up to—including the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has raised our concerns with President Karzai. We welcome President Karzai’s decision to ask the Minister of Justice to review the legislation in question, known as the “Shia Family Bill”. The Afghans have the right to write their own laws. However, we were dismayed that some reported provisions of the Bill, as it was drafted, ran counter to Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations. As drafted, if it had become law, this Bill would have had a significantly detrimental impact on the rights of women.

In Afghanistan, we work to enhance the status of women in three ways: through policy engagement with the Afghan Government; through support for

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national programmes and services, which benefit women; and through bilateral programmes. We regularly discuss women's rights with members of the Afghan Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and parliamentarians. Examples of our work and progress made are as follows.

In 2007-08 UK provided £55 million to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to help finance the salaries of thousands of teachers. These resources have contributed to the increase of pupils in school from 2 million in 2002 to around 6 million enrolled today. A third of the pupils in school are now girls, up from virtually none under the Taliban.With the help of a constitutional quota, over a quarter of seats in the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament are now held by women.We support various NGO projects, for example supporting the NGO Womankind to implement a £500,000 women's empowerment programme.Since 2001, the UK has given nearly £2 million to support the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The Commission has over 500 staff across Afghanistan, actively tackling issues such as women’s rights, children’s rights and false imprisonment, as well as reporting on concerns.

I can assure you that protecting the hard-won freedoms that Afghan women have regained since the fall of the Taliban is a matter of great concern for the Government. We remain committed to working with the Afghan Government to ensure that the basic human rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, are protected.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Her Majesty’s Government fund a wide range of climate change research, which directly and indirectly informs UK policy development. They also support negotiations on international action on climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UK research specifically aimed at informing negotiations at Copenhagen is largely managed by DECC, which has recently commissioned a project called AVOID from a consortium led by the Met Office Hadley Centre, in partnership with the Walker Institute, the Tyndall Centre and the Grantham Institute. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is co-funding the project and its aim is to answer five questions, namely:



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First, what are the key impacts and risks of different levels of climate change across sectors and regions, and the world as a whole?Secondly, what level of climate change may be deemed dangerous?Thirdly, what would different targets for climate change imply for greenhouse gas (GHG) stabilisation concentrations and the emission pathways to achieve these?Fourthly, what mitigation options would need to be implemented to achieve stabilisation of GHGs at different concentrations, taking account of costs and uncertainties?Fifthly, what adaptation strategies are needed globally to cope with different levels of climate change?

It is intended the project will run for four years but initial efforts are focused on delivering as much evidence as possible, including drawing together existing evidence, before December 2009, so as to inform negotiations at Copenhagen.

This is just one component of DECC’s £17 million per annum research programme. Other relevant components include the work of the Met Office Hadley Centre on understanding and predicting climate change, studies on impacts and adaptation in developing countries, and work to project UK emissions of greenhouse gases and assess UK policy options.

The Department for International Development (DfID) also supports climate change research of relevance to the UNFCCC. Its current priorities for climate research are:

climate science, especially in Africa;climate change in national and international policy;adaptation strategies;reducing the impact of climate change and promoting low-carbon growth;and ecosystem services for poverty alleviation.

Outside of government, but funded through the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the UK Research Councils (primarily the Natural Environment Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council) provide much of the underpinning research used by the Government in their evidence-based policy development. Their contribution to climate change research is considerable with the Natural Environment Research Council alone investing £110 million during 2007-08 (28 per cent per annum of its entire science budget), with this level of support set to continue.

Climate Change Act

Question

Asked by Lord Lawson of Blaby



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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 Climate Change Act sets out a long-term target for UK net greenhouse gas reductions and a framework of five-yearly carbon budgets, the level of which will be set using advice from the Committee on Climate Change. The costs presented in the Climate Change Act impact assessment (IA) are based on the estimated reduction in UK gross domestic product (GDP) from the constraints the Act creates on UK net greenhouse gas emissions.

The costs are estimated for an indicative trajectory to reach the long-term target of an 80 per cent reduction in UK net emissions (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050. The estimate of the costs comes from modelling work performed by the Committee on Climate Change, which has stated:

“A combination of existing technologies, and those currently under development, could deliver the required global emissions reduction at an economic cost of 1-3 per cent of GDP in 2050 in line with the conclusions of the Stern Review. The UK could achieve an emissions reduction of 80 per cent below 1990 levels at a cost of 1-2 per cent of GDP in 2050.”

The Climate Change Act does not propose specific policies or their method of implementation. The £324 billion to £404 billion cost is an estimate of the underlying technology and behaviour change costs required to deliver the reductions over the period between 2008 and 2050. The incidence of this cost will depend on the specific design of the policies that are implemented—the share of the cost borne by the public or private sector is contingent on policy decisions between now and 2050.

Any new policies put forward to meet each of the five-yearly carbon budgets will be subject to an individual impact assessment which will look in detail at the costs and benefits of the specific policy and will identify the distributional impacts on the private and public sectors.

Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Questions

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The closing spot price for an EU allowance (EUA) in the EU emissions trading system on 20 April 2009 was 13.18 euros for the 2009 contract. Closing prices for EUA future contracts on 20 April were:

2010 €13.832011 €14.442012 €15.32

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Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government strongly support the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) as an effective and efficient market-based mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU ETS was systematically reviewed by the Government last year. This included extensive public consultation during the renegotiation of the EU ETS directive, which concluded in December.

Climate Change: Emissions

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are continuing to build the political conditions that need to be in place to secure a successful outcome in Copenhagen. This requires creating the right level of political will globally. Over this year, we will be engaging with countries through the formal UNFCCC negotiations, but also bilaterally and in a range of multilateral fora to seek support for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen.

Energy: Carbon Reduction

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have a framework of measures in place to support low-carbon growth in the UK. In particular, all government departments will be involved in delivering the UK’s carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act. Also, a package of measures to drive low-carbon growth, involving a number of government departments, were set out in the Budget and in the 23 April paper Investing in a Low Carbon Britain (www.hmg.gov.uk/lowcarbon).

Energy: Security of Supply

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley



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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 Government work to ensure there is a stable regulatory framework within which the private sector can invest to deliver secure and reliable energy supplies. Government action to ensure security of supply includes: reform of the planning and consents regime, promoting energy efficiency, creating the necessary framework to facilitate a diverse mix of low-carbon sources of supply and promoting liberalised energy markets globally.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): It would entail disproportionate cost to research and compile the percentage of UK legislation originating in the European Union: some European measures are directly applicable in member states and others require incorporation into national law through a variety of legislative or administrative means.

It has been estimated that around half of all UK legislation with an impact on business, charities and the voluntary sector stems from legislation agreed by Ministers in Brussels, but this is a category of legislation which is more likely than legislation in general to have originated in the EU. It is likely that the overall proportion is therefore much lower.

EU: Telecommunications Regulator

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The European Commission did not propose the creation of an EU telecoms regulator as part of its review of the European telecoms framework. Its proposal was to create a body whose primary purpose would be to provide independent advice to the Commission on the exercise of its powers. As a result of negotiations between the Commission, Council, and Parliament, it is known as the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

Its structure and operation accords with UK policy objectives which include independence, transparency, accountability and cost-effectiveness. We consequently support the creation of BEREC within the context of the framework review.



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Government: IT Contracts

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Wales Office came into existence in 1999 when the majority of executive functions of the former Welsh Office passed to the Welsh Assembly Government. The Wales Office continued to receive its IT services under contracts operated by the Welsh Assembly Government until 2004, when it joined the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now Ministry of Justice) for this and certain other administrative purposes.

The Wales Office has never itself entered into contracts for its main IT services, which have been provided to it by the Welsh Assembly Government, Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice under their contracts. No contract has been entered into for IT services with a value of £50 million or more for the Wales Office.

Houses of Parliament: Select Committees

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Davies of Oldham: None.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit


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