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Egypt

Question

Asked by Baroness Cox

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The facts of this case are not totally clear. We understand from informal contacts, however, that the building in question was privately owned by an Egyptian Coptic Christian. A second storey had apparently been added illegally

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prompting the involvement of the State Security forces to demolish the extension. There are differing reports on the level of force used and we are still trying to verify the facts. We do understand, however, that the owner gifted the building to the Coptic Church only after the demolition of the extension.

We actively raise human rights including the freedom of religion with the Egyptian authorities and remind them of their international obligations whenever appropriate.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that its Horizon Scanning Panel is aware of potential licence applications and informs the authority accordingly.

The latest horizon scanning report can be found on the HFEA's website at www.hfea.gov.uk/157.html.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that it cannot comment on a research council's criteria for awarding funding to research projects.

The HFEA may issue a research licence only for the purposes outlined in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. A licence committee of the HFEA would refuse a research licence application if it was not satisfied that the proposed research was necessary or desirable for one of the prescribed purposes and that the use of an embryo was necessary.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has informed me that the granting or revocation of a licence would be considered with reference to the requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised me that it sees no need to reiterate the public comments made by its former chair in January 2004.

Energy: Power Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Reay

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Capital costs for different generating technologies vary and it cannot be assumed that replacement generation will be on a like-for-like basis.

The Redpoint Report on Dynamics of GB Electricity Generation Investment, for the 2007 energy White Paper, lists capital costs for various types of generation (www.berr.gov.uk/files/file38972.pdf page 75).

Energy: Wind Generation

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

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 have a specific target for the level of energy to be sourced from wind generation, but are

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committed to meeting their share of the EU renewables directive target of 15 per cent of total UK energy being sourced from renewables by 2020.

Following a consultation over summer 2008, we will publish a new UK renewable energy strategy later this spring. This will set out a package of measures to meet the UK's share of the 2020 target.

We understand that Vestas' announcement primarily concerns production facilities that supplied blades for export to the US onshore wind turbine market. There are a number of suppliers active in the UK onshore wind market including Vestas, and commercial decisions on the supply of turbines for renewable generation are of course a matter for the companies concerned.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The results of the Equality and Human Rights Commission staff survey have been available to all members of staff, via the commission's intranet site, since 19 December 2008. A copy was also released to a journalist following a specific request.

Asked by Lord Ouseley

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: One journalist has requested a copy of the staff survey and a copy was supplied. As an internal document, the commission does not intend to formally publish the survey. However, in the interests of transparency, a copy would be provided in response to any specific request.

Ethiopia

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Our high commissioner in Nairobi visited the town of Turkana (with relevant Kenyan Ministers) in late April 2009 to launch a Department for International Development programme, the Hunger Safety Net Programme, which forms part of the UK's investment in Kenyan social protection. No recent assessment has been carried out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the potential threat to the sustainability of Lake Turkana posed by the building of the Gibe III hydro-electric dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia, including during the high commissioner's visit. The FCO has made no recent representations relating to the potential social and environmental impact of the above project nor had discussions with the European Investment Bank and the Africa Development Bank about its implications.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): UK legislation of EU origin may be directly applicable in member states. Other legislation requires incorporation into national law. This is sometimes done by primary legislation, sometimes by secondary legislation, but on other occasions by administrative means. In yet other situations, domestic legislation which is being amended for other purposes may also incorporate changes to reflect EU directives. This makes it extremely difficult to determine how many legislative measures have been introduced in the UK as a result of EU measures. Such figures would also have only a very limited purpose: some EU measures may require numerous pieces of domestic legislation to bring them into effect, or a number of EU measures may be given effect in one piece of domestic legislation. We therefore remain of the view that it would entail disproportionate cost to research and compile this information.

Fluoridation

Questions

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The York report did not refer to “mixed evidence of harm” but concluded that there was “no association” between water fluoridation and bone fractures and cancers and “the miscellaneous other adverse effect studies did not provide enough good quality evidence of any particular outcome to reach conclusions”. In its public statement on its review, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “there is no clear association between water fluoridation and overall cancer incidence or mortality” and there is “little effect on fracture risk,” in fact, “it may lower overall fracture risk”. The statement recommends fluoridation of drinking water as “the most effective and socially equitable means of achieving community wide exposure to the caries prevention effects of fluoride”.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Lord Darzi of Denham: We have full confidence in the South Central Strategic Health Authority's (SHAs) judgment. The legislation requires SHAs to take account of the cogency of the arguments made during a consultation. In his advice to South Central SHA, the Director of Public Heath noted that the consultation highlighted the challenge of discussing public health issues in the age of the internet where people need to try and evaluate the mass of information available on water fluoridation, some of which is unreliable and inaccurate. The results of the telephone survey showed that a quarter of those people who opposed water fluoridation did so because of a fear that it would damage their health, but successive research studies have found no association between water fluoridation and systemic illness. The survey also found that 69 per cent of respondents had little or no knowledge of fluoridation.



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Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are deeply concerned by the deaths and injury of innocent civilians in conflict, and the destruction of civilian buildings and assets, including in the recent Gaza conflict. We would welcome an Israeli contribution to compensation for innocent civilians. But any claim for compensation is a matter for the individuals concerned—or their relatives—and Israel.

Government Departments: Bottled Water

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The data requested are not held centrally. However, it should be noted that all government departments have been encouraged to replace bought-in bottled water with tap water for all meetings. Furthermore, with regards to the use of water coolers, government sustainability policy encourages public sector organisations to change arrangements from bottled water coolers to plumbed-in mains fed provision so that tap water can be used where possible.

Government Departments: Outstanding Debts

Questions

Asked by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Information on debtors to government departments and their agencies can be found in the resource accounts of individual departments. These are available in the House of Commons Library and on departmental websites.

Information on the total amount owed to the public sector in outstanding and unpaid debt, disaggregating out amounts owed between public bodies, would be available only at disproportionate cost.



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Government Departments: Staff Absence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Sickness absence data for all central government departments from 2005 to 2007 were published annually by the Cabinet Office at http://beta. civilservice.gov.uk/about/who/statistics/sickness.aspx. The last report was for the financial year 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.

From 1 April 2007 it became the responsibility of individual departments to produce sickness data and the Cabinet Office has published a combined departmental quarterly report. This is available on http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/absence.aspx.

In respect of the financial year 2007-08, the average working days lost due to sickness for HM Treasury and its agencies were:

HMT 4.7 days;National Savings and Investments 5.8 days;Government Actuary Department 4.2 days;Office Government Commerce 4.0 days;Office Government Commerce Buying Solutions 7.7 days; and Debt Management Office 4.2 days.

There are no published absence targets. Data for 2008-09 are not yet available.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Arrangements for absence such as annual leave, maternity leave, and training are agreed locally between line managers and their staff. Asking each individual line manager in the department for details would incur disproportionate cost.


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