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4 May 2011 : Column WA155

4 May 2011 : Column WA155

Written Answers

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Airports: Heathrow


Asked by Lord Birt

Earl Attlee: BAA is a member of the South East Airports Taskforce, chaired by the Minister of State, which is looking at improving efficiency and reducing delays at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The taskforce is due to report in July.

Anti-social Behaviour: Databases


Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): A number of police officers and local authority staff in anti-social behaviour co-ordination roles are authorised to enter data in the database. However, a full list of the relevant job titles, which vary between Community Safety Partnerships, could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.

Charities: Regulation


Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Charity Commission for England and Wales is the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, established under the Charities Act 2006. Similar charity regulators exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where charity law and regulation is devolved.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales does not register or regulate charitable organisations that are established outside of England and Wales, but can act to protect charitable funds raised in England and Wales, even where such funds are raised by overseas organisations.

There are also certain groups of exempt charities. These charities are not registered with the Charity Commission and are currently not subject to its regulatory jurisdiction. They were granted the exemption because they were considered to be adequately supervised by

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another body or authority. Exempt charities are those institutions that are comprised in Schedule 2 to the Charities Act 1993 (the 1993 Act). The Charities Act 2006 makes a number of changes to improve the regulation of exempt charities as charities, with groups of exempt charities either coming directly under the Charity Commission's regulatory jurisdiction, or having an existing regulator appointed as their principal regulator, to promote charity law compliance. These changes have been implemented for several groups of exempt charities, with further implementation due later this year and in 2012.

Certain other groups of charities are not required to register with the Charity Commission, but are subject to its regulatory jurisdiction. These include the large number of charities with an annual income of less than £5,000.

Disabled People: Mobility Scooters


Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Earl Attlee: We are currently undertaking discussions with transport operators, manufacturers and user groups, and will publish guidance on scooters on public transport as soon as possible. Information on existing arrangements, in the mean time, is available through individual operators.

Energy: Carbon Reduction


Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) produces regular updated projections of energy demand, supply and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We would like kindly to refer you to the latest published DECC emissions projections which were produced in June 2010-link attached:

These projections set out what Government expect emissions to be from each economic sector and the associated emissions savings from all policies prior to the publication of the coalition programme. An updated version of the projections will be published in the autumn and help inform the Government's updated Carbon Plan.

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Energy: Emissions


Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government take air quality issues very seriously, and are working closely with the mayor and Greater London Authority to achieve full compliance with the particulate matter (PM10) limits in London as soon as possible.

The limit values are expected to be achieved in London by June 2011, consistent with the UK's time extension notification that was submitted to the European Commission in 2010. The Government announced on 4 April 2011 an additional £5 million funding from the Department for Transport to help improve air quality in the capital through support for a range of further localised measures to reduce the risk of PM10 exceedences, including trials of dust suppressant technology and measures to reduce vehicle idling.

Energy: Nuclear Reactors


Asked by The Lord Bishop of Hereford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department is aware of the potential of thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor designs and is in the process of assessing claims regarding its suitability as an alternative to uranium-based reactors in the longer term.

The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, with input from a number of sources, recently co-ordinated an assessment of the prospects for research into advanced thorium reactors. Additionally, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) undertook a recent independent assessment, in which it assessed a number of claims made by proponents of thorium fuel. The report can be found at:

The conclusion was that, while the science is reasonably sound, developing reactors based on a thorium fuel cycle would carry major commercial risks. The resources required to develop these technologies to the point at which they might be deployed successfully at a commercial scale are also very significant.

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To date, both in the UK and elsewhere in the world, this has prevented private industry and government investing in the development of the technology. No thorium reactor design has been implemented beyond relatively small, experimental systems, while many either exist only on paper or have only had specific subsystems demonstrated. As an indicator of the challenge of taking this technology further, the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimates a development period of at least 20 years will be required before a demonstration thorium molten salt breeder reactor might be available.

While thorium does not appear to have a part to play in the UK's near-to-mid-term energy market, we do maintain an interest in its development. The Secretary of State has asked the NNL to look further into the wider benefits of next generation reactor designs and to compare the use of thorium and uranium fuels in them. We are expecting the findings to be available by the end of the summer.

Government Departments: Staff


Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are devolving power from national and regional bodies to local authorities and communities. All government departments routinely take into account in their work the needs of different communities.

Health: Diabetic Macular Oedema


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No assessment has been made of the prevalence of diabetic macular oedema.

The data on diabetic retinopathy collected by the National Health Service Information Centre are not sufficiently detailed to show specifically those patients treated for diabetic macular oedema.

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

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Earl Howe: The Health and Social Care Bill currently before the House of Commons sets out our proposals to devolve power and responsibility for commissioning services to commissioning consortia, supported by the creation of an NHS Commissioning Board. We are, however, taking advantage of a natural break in the passage of the Bill to pause, listen, reflect and improve the legislation.

The listening exercise period will run until the end of May, at which point the NHS Future Forum will publish its advice. The Government will respond based on what it has heard and the forum's report.

While we do not want to stop the valuable work already under way by GP Pathfinders and local authority early implementers among others, our timetable for transition will, of course, be subject to the outcome of the listening exercise.

House of Lords: Moses Room


Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Moses Room is already used on a regular basis for Grand Committees. At other times, the Moses Room can also be booked by Members of the House for other business, subject to my approval.

The recent Report of the Leaders' Group on Working Practices recommended that greater use should be made of Grand Committee. Implementation of any of the proposals in that report will be a matter for the House to decide.

Localism Bill


Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Localism Bill contains a wide range of measures to devolve more powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities greater control over local decisions like housing and planning. As such, aspects of the Localism Bill relate to policies across the department, many of which stem from the coalition agreement.

The department has carried out or is carrying out the following public consultations:

consultation on the community right to challenge. Deadline for responses was 3 May 2011;consultation on assets of community value. Deadline for responses was 3 May 2011;consultation on thresholds for the pre-application consultation measure, which closed on 21 March 2011; and

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in addition, we published on 22 November 2010 a policy paper Local Decisions: A Fairer Future For Social Housing which included consultation questions on a range of social housing policies, some of which featured in the Localism Bill. This consultation has now closed and a response was issued on 28 February 2011.

The department has also confirmed that it plans to issue the following further public consultations:

a consultation on how best to apply the local referendums regime to parishes;a consultation on the detail of draft regulations to implement our reforms to the community infrastructure levy;a consultation on draft directions to the Social Housing Regulator, including on the potential use of the powers in Clauses 128 and 148 of the Localism Bill; anda consultation on the draft direction on mutual exchange standard.

Ministers will continue to consider where future public consultation may be necessary.

As is common practice, policy discussions on aspects of the Localism Bill continue to take place on an ongoing basis between the department and relevant third parties, devolved Administrations and other government departments. These informal consultations have not been listed.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: Clinical Trials


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The comparators used in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) technology appraisals are a matter for the institute as an independent body.

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Earl Howe: Since May 2010, we have not received any representations regarding the impact on patient safety of the use of unlicensed comparators in clinical trials or assessments made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

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Police Commissioners


Asked by Lord Rennard

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As stated in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill's impact assessment, elections for police and crime commissioners in England and Wales will cost £50 million in 2012. These estimates are based on the costs of other national elections, and costings are therefore not available for each force area. However, the money was allocated separately by the Treasury as part of the comprehensive spending review; consequently no money for elections will come out of police force budgets.

Questions for Written Answer


Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): While I monitor the list of Questions for Written Answers that are currently overdue, as published in the House of Lords Business, figures detailing the cumulative number of Lords QWAs that each department has answered after the 10-working-day deadline are not held centrally.

Based upon the House of Lords Business figures, my office routinely investigates with individual departments the reasons behind high numbers of outstanding Questions for Written Answers. The reasons for late response will vary in individual cases.

I continue to encourage all Ministers to ensure QWAs are answered within 10 working days.

Railways: European Train Management System


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Network Rail is funded to deliver the Cambrian ERTMS deployment. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which is responsible for the economic regulation of the national rail network, will examine the costs of the Cambrian trail as part of their regular

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reviews. Network Rail has already identified a number of technical lessons which will feed into the national rollout.

However, the ORR and Network Rail will jointly undertake a lessons-learnt activity looking at the wider industry issues. This will be used to inform the national rollout of ERTMS.

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support


Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK bilateral loan is part of a package of multilateral assistance to Ireland. Ireland's obligations as part of this package are set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, agreed in November 2010 with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission. This document is available on the IMF's website at

The results of the capital and liquidity stress tests for Irish banks have been published, in accordance with this memorandum. Ireland is complying with its obligations and there is no reason to review the bilateral loan. The stress test results have no impact on UK public funds or taxpayer liability.

South Wales Police


Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): No such guidance has been issued. Deployment of resources is an operational matter for the chief constable.



Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): It is a long-standing government policy not to comment on intelligence matters.

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