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21 Jun 2010 : Column WA137

Written Answers

Monday 21 June 2010

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The nutritional content of genetically modified (GM) products is examined as part of the pre-market assessment of GM feed, according to guidelines issued by the European Food Safety Authority and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Iron, manganese and zinc are not considered by OECD to be key nutritional components of soya for the purposes of animal nutrition and therefore no comparison has been made of their availability from non-GM and GM soya, including Roundup Ready soya.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government are not aware of any evidence that the long-term use of glyphosate in the UK, under UK conditions and where products containing glyphosate are used in accordance with the conditions of authorisation, has an effect on the uptake of phosphorus by crops planted in soils where glyphosate has been previously used.

Relevant new scientific literature on the potential effects of glyphosate will be considered as part of the second review under Council Directive 91/414/EEC of active substances used in the European Union. We expect a Commission proposal on this review later in the year.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Lord Henley: Applicants seeking approval of plant protection products containing glyphosate are required to submit relevant information on the behaviour of glyphosate in the environment, including the risk to earthworms and soil micro-organisms. The assessment

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of glyphosate, which was carried out as part of the first review under Council Directive 91/414/EEC of active substances used in the European Union, concluded that it was of low acute toxicity to earthworms and posed a low risk. Studies on soil micro-organisms noted no effects, even when glyphosate was applied at rates substantially higher than those authorised for field use, while studies on leaf litter concluded that glyphosate had no or only slight effects on litter decomposition at concentrations that occur in the environment after treatment. The soil's ability to provide nutrients should not be affected by glyphosate, since its structure and function are not affected by the substance.

Relevant new scientific literature on the potential effects of glyphosate will be considered as part of the second review under Council Directive 91/414/EEC of active substances used in the European Union. We expect a Commission proposal on this review later in the year.

Asylum Seekers: Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I understand that the noble Lord's two Questions relate to the arrangements for legal aid that may flow from the early legal advice pilot scheme in Solihull.

There are currently no proposals to change the provision of legal aid and representation for asylum seekers. Legal aid is available for eligible individuals to obtain initial advice and representation at appeal in cases with merit. We are currently considering with the United Kingdom Border Agency the implications of the pilot and whether to extend it further.

Banking: Bank of Scotland (Ireland)

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which is independent from government. The noble Lord's inquiry has been passed to the FSA, which will write directly to him on this subject.

Banking: Iceland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Banking: Special Liquidity Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The drawdown period for the special liquidity scheme (SLS) closed on 30 January 2009. When the drawdown window closed on 30 January the nominal value of Treasury bills lent by the Bank under the SLS was £185 billion.

In its annual report, which was published on 2 June 2010, the Bank of England reported that as at 28 February 2010 the outstanding nominal value of Treasury Bills lent under the SLS was £165 billion.

For further details please follow this link at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/marketnotice 090203c.pdf.

Civil List

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Treasury is the department responsible for negotiating the new Civil List, as has been the case under previous Administrations.



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Constitutional Reform and GovernanceAct 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Codes of conduct, including the Civil Service Code and associated guidance, are being revised to give effect to the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, including Section 3(6).

Crime: Sexual Offences

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have made clear that they will carefully consider all the options before bringing proposals to Parliament on the question of extending anonymity in rape cases to defendants. This includes consideration of the period which would be covered by the anonymity, and the possible extension of coverage beyond rape to other offences. It would be inappropriate to comment on the individual case to which the noble Lord refers, but our consideration will include the possibility of special provision for teachers and others in positions of trust. Our coalition agreement includes a further commitment to give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false accusations.

Cyclists: Deaths

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Unless the offence is separately specified in law, the Ministry of Justice does not centrally hold information that identifies the circumstances of an offence. Therefore, from prosecutions for motoring offences involving a death of a person, it is not possible to separately identify those cases where the defendant was a lorry driver or where the victim was a cyclist.



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Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Where a British national faces the death penalty, we will seek to use all appropriate influence to avoid the death sentence being carried out.

Our ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has raised the UK's concerns with the Government of the DRC and the Governors' office in Kisangani.

We are discussing with Mr French's legal team and the Norwegian Government how to co-ordinate representations so that they are as effective as possible.

We understand that the DRC has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty and we will encourage it to maintain this policy.

Deposit Guarantee Schemes

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The amended Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive (Directive 2009/14/EC, amending Directive 94/19/EC) increases the coverage limit for deposit guarantee schemes to €100,000 from 31 December 2010. The coverage limit for deposits under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will therefore be increased from this date. The Financial Services Authority plans to issue a consultation in October 2010 on increasing the coverage limit to the equivalent of €100,000.

Economy

Questions

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are committed to holding a fully consultative process ahead of the spending review, including the private sector, the general public, voluntary/charitable organisations and experts, in order to obtain the best ideas from those most involved in and affected by public services. Over the next few weeks, the Government will begin a process to engage and involve the whole country in the difficult decisions that will have to be taken. This process will evolve throughout the run-up to the spending review, and further details will be announced shortly.

Economy: Stabilisation

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Treasury, Bank of England and the FSA are in discussion with issuers and investors, to explore ways of encouraging more sustainable, transparent and standardised UK mortgage-backed securities markets.

Elections

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Electoral Commission has responsibility for issuing guidance to Electoral Registration Officers (EROs). The Government are responsible for the legislative framework for electoral registration.

Under the Representation of People Act 1983, British and Irish citizens and citizens of other European Union countries are entitled to register to vote in the UK. Commonwealth citizens can also register to vote, if they qualify to do so. A qualifying Commonwealth citizen is an individual who has leave to enter or remain in the UK or does not require such leave.

The Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 provide that a person's application for registration must, among other things, state their nationality and include a declaration that the details given in the application are true. Under

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powers in Regulation 24, the ERO can require the applicant or elector to provide specified documentary evidence confirming their nationality which would determine whether they are eligible to register. In addition, under Regulation 23, EROs also have the power to require any other person to provide information about any aspect of a person's eligibility to be an elector. Provision of false information to a registration officer for any purpose connected with the registration of electors is an offence.

The Electoral Commission's guidance on electoral registration states that,

where EROs have doubts about a person's immigration status:

Asked by Lord Greaves

Lord McNally: The Government are committed to speeding up the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration. The Government are currently considering the options for this and we will set out our plans in due course.

Elections: Postal Voting


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