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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 15 June (WA 173) regarding the National Grid report The Potential for Renewable Gas in the United Kingdom, what is their assessment of National Grid's suggestion that a decision on the nationwide production of renewable gas from waste and its distribution through the gas network should be expedited to ensure that any investment by local authorities in large-scale waste incineration plants is not unnecessary. [HL5482]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We welcome National Grid's report, and will consider its recommendations as part of the wider work on renewable gas. A number of officials from DECC and Defra have been in contact with National Grid over the past few months regarding the report. As noted in the renewable energy strategy, our analysis indicates that the technical potential of biogas generation for heat and power is about 10-20 TWh or more. Recent work increased that assessment of technical potential of biogas production from anaerobic digestion to 27TWh. These estimates do not include an assessment of the potential contribution of gasification technology, given the uncertainties surrounding when this technology will become commercially available. We have encouraged National Grid to input comments into the latest analysis published alongside the RES to help us to revise and improve our data. National Grid, with a number of other interested parties, also participated in the subsequent seminar to discuss this analysis. We will publish revisions to this analysis alongside the RHI consultation in December. However as this is an evolving area, we recognise the need to keep our analysis under review.
Defra is supporting the development of anaerobic digestion technology. As part of its on-going research and development programme, it is currently looking at the optimisation and impacts of expanding biogas production. This project is due to be completed next year. Defra is also providing around £10 million for the Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme. A series of projects will demonstrate the state of the art use of anaerobic digestion to create renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid waste being sent to landfill. These include a collaborative project by National Grid and United Utilities to upgrade biogas to grid quality biomethane. This project will be the first large scale biomethane gas to grid injection system in the UK.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the report of the Committee on Climate Change recommended the use of tidal energy; and whether their approach draws on the experience of France in using tidal energy. [HL5697]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Committee on Climate Change considered the potential for a tidal power project in the Severn estuary using information from the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study. The report concluded that a Severn tidal project could form part of a clearly affordable low-carbon strategy if other options (such as nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other renewables) were not available. The report notes that these other options carry their own delivery risks and therefore recommends that the option of a Severn tidal project (including a large barrage) is kept open.
The Committee on Climate Change, while being aware of the La Rance barrage operating since the 1960s in France, made its judgment on Severn tidal power based on cost estimates specific to the Severn, and comparison of these with the costs of other low carbon options. The committee also considered the potential learning benefits of a tidal power project in the Severn in comparison to offshore wind, tidal stream and wave energy.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Equality Bill does not leave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people unprotected from harassment. There is specific protection against harassment in the workplace. Outside the workplace, protection against conduct which could count as harassment is provided through the direct discrimination provisions in the Bill.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The recession will not affect the amount of emission reductions under European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) as this is determined by the emissions cap, not the carbon price. Therefore, the current phase (Phase II, 2008-12) of EU ETS will deliver a 6 per cent reduction on 2005 emission levels, and this is unaffected by the recession.
However, the recession has affected the carbon price. The average carbon price in the first half of 2008 was €24. The carbon price in 2009 has averaged €13. This does mean that it is cheaper for the EU to meet its climate targets.
We have published a report on the 2008 results under EU ETS for the UK and the EU, which provides a more detailed assessment of the carbon market in that year. This can be found at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/change_energy/tackling_clima/emissions/eu_ets/publications/publications.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Fishburn Hedges is contracted to work for the Learning and Skills Council or whether they work on specific projects; and how much the council has paid to Fishburn Hedges in each of the past three years for which figures are available. [HL5630]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The department does not hold this level of information. The Learning and Skills Council makes decisions about any work it contracts for specific projects based upon its own business needs. Geoff Russell, the council's acting chief executive, will write to the noble Baroness with further information. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Learning and Skills Council paid to (a) PricewaterhouseCoopers (1) to advise it in allocating additional funding for college capital projects as announced in the 2009 Budget, and (2) to review alternative funding sources for college capital projects; (b) Lambert Smith Hampton to undertake an audit of the development status of college capital projects in April 2009; and (c) Grant Thornton to review internal data systems in April 2009. [HL5580]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The total fees, excluding VAT, invoiced to date is £363,672 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, £317,788 by Lambert Smith Hampton and £81,208 by Grant Thornton. This represents less than one per cent of the total capital budget 2009-10. The work was carried out in line with the Foster recommendations which the Government have accepted in full.
The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): The Government have not yet made a decision. Ministers and officials are studying the Competition Commission's recommendation to establish a Grocery Market Ombudsman very carefully and will respond in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the availability of infectious disease consultants in the United Kingdom's universities and hospitals, in the light of the absence of such specialist consultants in several United Kingdom medical schools and teaching hospitals. [HL5601]
What is most important is getting the right people with the right skills to deliver services appropriate to the local population needs and that strategic health authorities together with local National Health Service organisations and deaneries should work together to plan and train a medical workforce, which matches the needs of the population they serve.
Baroness Thornton: Thalidomide survivors are already compensated through a private settlement agreed between the Thalidomide Trust, the body established to administer payments to survivors, and Diageo PLC. We have no plans to meet representatives from Diageo to discuss further compensation. This is a matter solely for the parties concerned.
Those living with the effects of thalidomide are able to access the full range of health and social care. My colleague, the Minister of State for Health, has already met the National Advisory Council to the Thalidomide Trust and hopes to meet it again on 22 October to explore ways of improving access to personal budgets and direct payments in social care, as well as developing a pilot that tests the use of personal budgets for thalidomide survivors. This will potentially tailor help to each individual according to their needs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): There were 75,755 full-time equivalent teaching staff in post in further education colleges in England in the year 2007-08, the latest year for which information is available. There were 174,945 full person equivalent academic staff in post in UK higher education institutions in the year 2007-08.
Lord Young of Norwood Green: There were 23,500 full-time equivalent learning support staff and 60,101 full time equivalent other support staff in post in further education colleges in England in the year 2007-08, the latest year for which information is available.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The number of enrolments to higher education courses at higher education institutions and further education colleges in England in 2007-08 is shown in the table.
|Higher Education Enrolments|
|English Higher Education Institutions and Further Education Colleges|
|Academic Year 2007-08|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are any scheduled direct flights from the United Kingdom to Baghdad; and, if not, whether they will consult the Government of Iraq in order to instigate such flights from the United Kingdom or elsewhere in western Europe. [HL5666]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): There are currently no such flights, but my department negotiated a new bilateral air services agreement with Iraq in May. This agreement will pave the way for the resumption of scheduled direct flights in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 16 January 2008 (WA 260), whether under British law tungsten filament light bulbs can continue to be imported, sold and used legally in the United Kingdom. [HL5447]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The technical requirements of EU Regulation 244/2009, which was agreed by member states in December 2008, mean that from 1 September 2009 it is not permitted to place on the EU market pearl or frosted (non-clear) non-directional incandescent lamps, regardless of wattage.
One hundred watt clear non-directional lamps cannot be placed on the market from the same date. Therefore importing of these products is not permitted, although retailers and individual householders are allowed to use up existing stocks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements are being made to provide specialist health care for individuals with mental health illnesses who were served by Omnicare Community Services in Birmingham, which has closed. [HL5723]
Baroness Thornton: The responsibility for providing healthcare, including specialist mental health care services rests with primary care trusts (PCTs). The department provides funding for PCTs to provide healthcare for their local populations through National Health Service or independent sector providers. We are not prescriptive about how individual PCTs spend their budgets and each PCT decides its own spending levels for specific healthcare treatments and services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate (a) the integrity, and (b) the cost of designing and building the "Zaha Hadid Architects supported by S&P/Contractors Balfour Beatty" 2012 Olympics Aquatics Stadium Roof and supporting pillars; and what part was played by Alison Nimmo CBE, Director of Design & Regeneration, and David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, for commissioning the roof. [HL5531]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The outline designs for the Aquatics Centre were approved by the Olympic Board in July 2006 and as reported in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Quarterly Economic Report issued in July 2009, the anticipated final cost of the Aquatics Centre project remains at £244 million, which is within the current project budget of £246 million. The Government Olympic Executive has no reason, at the present time, and does not intend to, investigate the project beyond its current level of scrutiny and oversight of the ODA's programme.
A design competition for the Aquatics Centre was held in 2004, and pre-dates the creation of the Olympic Delivery Authority. Subsequent revisions to the design in 2006 involved David Higgins, as chief executive of the ODA, and Alison Nimmo, as Director of Design and Regeneration for the ODA, but neither were directly involved in the procurement process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the cost of designing and building the "Zaha Hadid Architects supported by S&P/Contractors Balfour Beatty" 2012 Olympics Aquatics Stadium Roof and supporting pillars is over budget, and if so, by how much, and why. [HL5532]
Lord Davies of Oldham: As reported in the July 2009 Quarterly Economic Report, issued by the Government Olympic Executive, the anticipated final cost of the Aquatics Centre remains at £244 million. This figure is within the current budget for the venue which, as reported in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games annual report published in January, is £246 million.
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