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To ask Her Majesty's Government what items of equipment issued to soldiers in Afghanistan have upgraded versions which are not part of the standard issue; what deficiencies there are in the equipment issued compared to the upgraded versions; what costs soldiers have to cover as a result; and when upgraded versions of the equipment will be issued as standard.[HL1052]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Government take all measures possible to ensure that the clothing and personal equipment issued to our Armed Forces is both right for the job and right for them. The personal equipment, including protective clothing, which is issued to our troops when they deploy is fully fit for purpose, and there is no need for them to buy their own, although soldiers do sometimes seek to personalise equipment which is issued as standard.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to carry out a formal consultation over their intention to establish a joint private finance initiative search and rescue helicopter service with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; if so, whom they intend to consult; and over what timescale. [HL976]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Search And Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) private finance initiative (PFI) competition strategy was announced by MoD and Department of Transport Ministers on 9 May 2006 (Official Report, col. 12WS).
The competition to bring together the search and rescue capability currently provided by the Ministry of Defence and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency into one harmonised service continues, with two industrial consortia (AirKnight and Soteria) actively engaged. The result of the competition will be announced when an appropriately mature solution has been established.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the feasibility of introducing a policy of minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks, what measures they are considering in that regard; and what impact such measures might have on (a) reducing public disorder, and (b) limiting damage to health caused by over-consumption of alcohol. [HL1226]
Baroness Thornton: In December 2008, the department published an independent review of the effects of alcohol pricing and promotion from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield. The review estimated the effects on crime and health of a range of options including the impact of different levels of minimum unit price.
A copy of the publication, Independent Review of the Effects of Alcohol Pricing and Promotion from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield, has already been placed in the Library.
We continue to look at how we can tackle the problems caused by cheap alcohol, while respecting the rights of responsible consumers. The Government have said they will commission further research in this area.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The first flight of the A400M prototype which took place in December 2009 was 23 months late. Airbus Military has previously announced that customer deliveries would commence approximately
19 Jan 2010 : Column WA221
To ask Her Majesty's Government what differences would exist between the British citizenship which would be acquired by a solely British National (Overseas) who, immediately prior to 1 July 1997, was a British Dependent Territories citizen by virtue of birth in Hong Kong, and who is registered as a British citizen (a) using Form EM under section 1(1) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Act 1997, or (b) using Form B(OS) under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981; and what are the reasons for the differences. [HL1234]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A BN(O) born in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997 and registered as a British citizen under Section 1(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 will become a British citizen "otherwise than by descent". A BN(O) born in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997 but registered as a British citizen under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 will become a British citizen "by descent".
Section 2(1) of the 1997 Act provides that a beneficiary of that section would become a British citizen otherwise than by descent if, before 1 July 1997, he was a British dependent territories citizen otherwise than by descent. This was proposed by Lord Willoughby de Broke in his Private Bill, which was then taken forward by the Government into the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Bill in 1997.
Registration under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 gives British citizenship by descent. That section was originally inserted by Section 12 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, and conferred an entitlement to registration as a British citizen on British Overseas citizens, British subjects and British protected persons who have no other nationality and have not previously given up any other nationality. That section provided for those registered as British citizens under Section 4B to become British citizens "by descent". As such, they would be unable to transmit their citizenship to a further generation born outside the United Kingdom. This would be consistent with their previous position, whereby British Overseas citizenship and the statuses of British subject and British protected person are usually non-transmissible.
Provision was made for British Nationals (Overseas) to be registered under Section 4B in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. No change was made to the provision that citizenship is acquired by descent.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why Home Office Form B(OS) asks British Nationals (Overseas) to state the certificate number, date of issue and place of issue of their registration certificate when registration certificates have not been issued to British Nationals (Overseas); and whether they will update the application form and guidance notes to reflect the information to be provided by British Nationals (Overseas). [HL1235]
Lord West of Spithead: Form B(OS) originally asked British Overseas citizens, British protected persons and British subjects to provide details of their certificate of registration if they had acquired that status by registration. From 13 January 2010 British Nationals (Overseas) are able to qualify under Section 4B if they meet the relevant statutory requirements.
However, I am confident that BN(O)s in Hong Kong will not miss out because of this omission, as applications are submitted via the Consulate-General who will ensure that the relevant information will be passed on to UKBA. UKBA will revise the application form in this respect.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which application form a solely British National (Overseas) should use to apply for British citizenship if he or she wishes the application to be considered under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, and,
19 Jan 2010 : Column WA223
Lord West of Spithead: A BN(O) who believes that he or she qualifies for registration under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 should make an application using form EM. If, on consideration of the application, it appears that he or she does not meet the statutory requirements for that section, UKBA would automatically consider whether there was an alternative entitlement to registration under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The juxtaposed controls, operated by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in France and Belgium, have been extremely effective in countering illegal entry to the UK through the Channel Tunnel. Staffed on a 24/7 basis and supported by a range of measures, including the deployment of world-leading technology, enhanced intelligence and closer working between all agencies, these controls have created one of the toughest borders in the world.
The Channel Tunnel is used by services from the Eurostar ports (Brussels, Lille and Paris) and Eurotunnel at Coquelles. From 2007 to 2009, over 5,800 passengers who were inadequately documented or did not meet the UK conditions of entry, were refused entry at the Eurostar ports. During the same period, over 2,200 passengers were refused at Coquelles port.
A total of 396,000 freight vehicles travelled through the Channel Tunnel in 2009. Over the same period, working alongside the French authorities, UKBA staff searching freight vehicles prevented 2,225 individual clandestine attempts to enter the UK illegally, via the Channel Tunnel.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo about the fate of shegues, or street children, in Kinshasa; what assessment they have made of reports that shegues are being imprisoned at Angenga and Buluwo; and what assessment they have made of conditions in those prisons. [HL1150]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We were not aware of reports that shegues are being imprisoned-and have asked the UN to investigate if shegues are being imprisoned and if so, what conditions they are being held in, and will report back when we hear.
The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): UKTI provides services for British businesses to ensure that they are better equipped to succeed in international markets. However, UKTI does not recommend specific commercial investments to British businesses. Dubai still offers good opportunities for British businesses, particularly in the financial services, construction, mass transport, health, energy and education sectors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 16 December 2009 (WA 236) and 5 January (WA 23-4), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) chief executive stated in his letter on 9 November 2009 that at least 681 human eggs were used under research licence R0122 to investigate laser biopsied blastocysts if the HFEA does not hold any inspection reports for research licence R0122 describing polar body biopsy of eggs and if no use of eggs was recorded in the initial application for that licence and any subsequent renewal applications or in the cited progress report. [HL1209]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 5 January (WA 24-5), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) inspection report for licence R0152 that quoted "a lack of suitable oocytes for use in the study" is not included amongst those available on the authority's website; and why the HFEA has not placed a full copy of the report in the Library of the House. [HL1210]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 9 November 2009 (WA 111) and 5 January (WA 24-5), how the proposed use of eggs fulfils the criteria of the research licence if a researcher repeatedly requests the use of numbers of eggs that are more than they claim to have used each successive year, with particular reference to information cited in the 2005 inspection report and licence renewal. [HL1211]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 5 January (WA 24-5), when the Newcastle Fertility Centre began providing information on the number of failed-to-fertilise eggs donated for use under licence R0152 and the number actually used in the project; whether the estimated number of failed-to-fertilise eggs takes account of 10 failed-to-fertilise eggs reportedly having been used between August 2004 and July 2005 if the research team initially relied chiefly on such eggs, as reported in the Times on 31 May 2005 and in the Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (2007) Volume 9, Issue 3, p. 177-80; and whether oocytes that a researcher might subsequently deem to be unsuitable would be erased from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's records of total oocyte usage. [HL1212]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 5 January (WA 24-5), what was the mean number of eggs collected per cycle at the Newcastle Fertility Centre in each year since 2004; whether the estimate of 900 failed-to-fertilise eggs potentially available for research takes account of those figures combined with the number of treatment cycles performed annually at the Newcastle Fertility Centre and the percentage of all eggs that failed-to-fertilise according to the initial application for licence R0152; and whether estimated numbers of failed-to-fertilise eggs based on these figures takes account of a total of 1224 failed-to-fertilise eggs obtained between 2 June 2005 and 11 May 2006 or a total of 1,170 failed-to-fertilise eggs obtained in 2007 according to Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority research licence inspection reports. [HL1213]
Baroness Thornton: A research licence under paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 2 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) authorises the creation of embryos in vitro and keeping or using embryos for the purposes of a project of research, whose purpose must be consistent with paragraph 3A of that schedule. Parliament has decided in view of the special importance attached to embryos that no research may be conducted on them without a licence, but that is not the case for research involving only eggs or sperm.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it receives information about the use of eggs incidentally to the research licensing process, but the information it holds on the use of eggs is necessarily limited, compared to the information it holds on the use of embryos. Directions 0002 issued by the HFEA (dated 1 July 2009) require licence holders to maintain records on total numbers of embryos created, used or disposed of in undertaking the licensed research. Such data held by the HFEA are made available in inspection reports and research licence committee minutes published on the HFEA website. Where inspection reports and research licence committee minutes are not available on the HFEA website these can be requested from the HFEA.
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