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Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether 24-hour alcohol licensing has, since November 2005, improved Britain's drinking culture; and, if so, how. [HL6186]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Department of Culture, Media and Sport produced an evaluation of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 (the 2003 Act) last year and this is available on their website at http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/Licensingevaluation.pdf.
The evaluation revealed a mixed picture. The introduction of the Act has not led to the widespread problems some feared. Overall, crime and alcohol consumption were down, with evidence of flexible hours smoothing the peaks of disturbances. However, alcohol-related violence had increased between 3 am and 6 am and some communities had seen a rise in disorder.
The main conclusion was that people were using the freedoms, but that not all areas were sufficiently using the considerable powers, granted by the 2003 Act to tackle problems. There is therefore a need to rebalance action towards enforcement and crack down on irresponsible behaviour and the Prime Minister's recent announcements are part of that response.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 28 October (WA 147), on the advice of which other Government
10 Nov 2009 : Column WA126
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Highways Agency is legally bound to protect endangered species such as bats. Mitigation of the severance of three of their main flight lines formed part of the commitments we made at public inquiry in support of European protected species legislative requirements to enable the bypass project to progress, especially since surveys found 12 of the 14 native species of bat in the area.
The Highways Agency sought advice from English Nature (now Natural England), a statutory consultee. They indicated that measures would be required to mitigate the severance of three of the most important bat commuting routes by the then proposed Dobwalls Bypass.
These three commuting routes are some distance apart, and highlighted the need to provide separate mitigation measures for each route. The measures comprised two artificial bat crossing structures plus a raised parapet modification to the new Havett Road overbridge crossing.
The contractor for the bypass, Interserve Project Services Ltd, constructed the bat bridges. Interserve's design consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff and environmental sub-consultant Ecological Planning and Research Ltd drew up the specification for them with advice from Natural England.
To ask Her Majesty's Government over which roads the Highways Agency has constructed bridges for bats in each of the past five years; and what was the cost of each such bridge. [HL6160]
Lord Adonis: The Highways Agency has constructed structures that enable bats to cross roads at four locations. The table below highlights the locations, length and costs of these structures.
|Bat structures designed and constructed between 2004 and 2009|
|Scheme Name||Road Number||Road opened||Approx Length of Structure (metres)||Single or Dual Carriageway||Cutting/Embankment/At Grade||Approx Construction Cost of Structure|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, under the legal obligation to protect endangered species, there is any limit to the expenditure that the Highways Agency is required to undertake to provide bridges for bats over new roads; and whether, in the event of the provision of such bridges making the construction of the road under the benefit-cost ratio standards uneconomic, they would cancel or postpone construction. [HL6161]
Lord Adonis: Mitigation works undertaken on a Highways Agency major project for bats are implemented under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.
The legislation does not place an expenditure limit on the provision of bat bridges over new roads. The costs associated with the construction of a bat bridge will vary for a variety of reasons, therefore each scheme is assessed on an individual basis.
If the cost of provision of bat bridges caused the benefit-cost ratio to drop to the point where construction of the road was uneconomic, then alternative options which meet the scheme's objectives at a lower cost would be considered in the first instance.
If no viable options were found, it is possible that construction could be postponed or cancelled. However, this would be highly unlikely as bat bridges form a very small part of the overall scheme cost for new roads.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the cost to public bodies of complying with the legal obligation to protect endangered species such as bats. [HL6162]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The European Habitats Directive places member states under an obligation to ensure that species listed in annex IV to the directive are given strict legal protection; this includes species such as bats. All public bodies are also under a general legal obligation to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity in the exercise of their functions by virtue of Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Measures taken to comply with these obligations can take many forms depending on the individual circumstances of the case in question. The extent of any feasible or necessary measures will very much depend on the degree of harm to the species that is foreseen.
In general, good advanced planning and design, with expert advice where appropriate, will help to minimise the costs of compliance. The requirements of the directive are no more than is necessary to maintain the populations of the species concerned at favourable conservation status. Given the extent of the variable factors, we have no plans to review the cost to public bodies of complying with these obligations.
Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the effect of the world economic downturn on each of the British Overseas Territories; and what measures they are taking to mitigate those effects. [HL6015]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): Owing to their size, the British Overseas Territories are heavily dependent on a small number of industries. The world economic downturn has affected them all, especially those in the Caribbean. In the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla, decreases in tourism, financial services activity, and related construction activity have led to falling economic output and government revenues. Insurance activity in Bermuda has held up well, although tourism is down. Elsewhere, fisheries and tourism activity in the Falkland Islands have fallen. Gibraltar has a more diversified economy, and revenues have held up well. Montserrat, St Helena and Pitcairn are in receipt of budgetary support from Department for International Development.
The Overseas Territories are responsible for their own economic development, and for management of their own public finances. To mitigate the effects of the downturn, all the territories are reprioritising public expenditure and looking at their revenue raising methods. These reforms are necessary where territories have required permission from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to borrow. Other territories are also undertaking such measures. The FCO does not accept any legal liability for borrowing undertaken by the Overseas Territories. However we continue to seek involvement in Overseas Territories' Government borrowing decisions in order to ensure the good governance of the territories.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reduction there has been in the ordering of newspapers by the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat as a cost-cutting measure; which newspapers were previously ordered; which newspapers are now ordered; and how much has been saved each year by that measure. [HL6252]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat has consistently ordered the Belfast Telegraph, News Letter, Irish News, Irish Times and the Daily Telegraph on weekdays to meet business needs. The current cost per day of these five newspapers is £4.10.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scope there is for temporary deployment to central Asian posts of experienced Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff currently assigned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office corporate pool. [HL6027]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The corporate pool provides staff to cover gaps in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) departments. Most of these gaps are in London, although staff in the pool may apply for a spell of temporary duty at overseas posts which have requested cover. We have sent four FCO staff to Almaty, Tashkent and Astana on temporary duty in Central Asia since 2007. We have also provided staff to cover eight short-term gaps (caused by illness or annual leave) in posts in Central Asia in the past two years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the number of staff in each British embassy in each country in central Asia, including Azerbaijan. [HL6028]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): As with all our posts, we keep our staffing levels in our embassies and other offices in central Asia and Azerbaijan under constant review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the current British ambassadors, deputy heads of missions or chargés d'affaires posted to central Asia have conversational fluency in (a) Azeri, (b) Kazakh, (c) Kyrgyz, (d) Tajik, (e) Turkmen, (f) Uzbek, or (g) Russian. [HL6025]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): Current British ambassadors, deputy heads of mission (DHM) and charge d'affaires with fluency in the above languages are HMA Astana, C2 level Russian; HMA Dushanbe, C2 level Russian and DHM Dushanbe, C 1 level Russian.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Foreign and Commonwealth Office heads of missions eligible to serve in central Asia are fluent in (a) Azeri,
10 Nov 2009 : Column WA130
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: The number of FCO officials fluent in each language is as follows:
The table below gives the location of these officers:
|Language||No. of speakers||Current location|
Algiers, Ankara, Canberra, Kabul, Kuwait, Tehran, Washington, UK (2), SUPL (2), Outward Loan
Addis Ababa, Astana (3), Baku, Banjul, Beijing, Belgrade (2), Brussels (Emb), Brussels (UKRep), Budapest, Chisinau, Dushanbe, Hamilton, Hong Kong, Islamabad, Istanbul, Kiev, Los Angeles, Maputo, Moscow (15), New Delhi, Oslo, Paris (Emb), Podgorica, Prague, Quito, Riga, Tallinn, Tashkent, Tbilisi (4), The Hague, Tokyo (2), Vienna (Emb), Vienna (OSCE), Vilnius, Washington, Yekaterinburg, Yerevan, UK (30), EOTL (2), SUPL (5), Outward Loan (4)
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