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21 Dec 2011 : Column WA379



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA379

Written Answers

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Agriculture: Pig and Poultry Products

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Council Directive 2007/43 came into force in 2010 and has provided a harmonised approach to most aspects of meat chicken production across the EU. There is scope within the directive for member states to set a maximum stocking density of up to 42kg/r2. The legal maximum stocking density has been set in Great Britain at 39 kg/m2, a decision made on animal welfare grounds. The majority of the UK industry continues to rear meat chickens to Red Tractor standards, which set a maximum stocking density of 38 kg/m2. The impact of the directive on the competitiveness of the broiler industry in Great Britain will be assessed as part of the post-implementation review.

On pigs, the UK unilaterally banned sow stalls in 1999 on welfare grounds, following all-party support. Similar EU rules will mean that the rest of Europe will ban sow stalls by 2013, which will help to provide a more level playing field for UK producers.

If any member state were to seek an extension to the 2013 sow stall ban, the UK would strongly oppose it. We recognise any extension would disadvantage UK producers who have invested heavily in converting to alternative systems. We continue to urge the Commission to learn lessons from the 2012 laying hen conventional cage ban, so that our pig industry is protected in 2013.

There are many routes to educate consumers, one of which could be the use of a label to allow consumers to make informed purchases. However, due to the difficulty in defining animal welfare, the array of labels already on products may not be the most effective route to inform consumers.

Animal Welfare: Transport of Horses

Questions

Asked by Lord Dear



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA380

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): We will continue to push the EU Commission for a review of the rules on long journey transportation of all animals, including horses. In the interim, we will also be playing a full part in the work which the EU Commission believes will ensure better enforcement of the existing transportation rules, as outlined in the same report.

Asked by Lord Dear

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Defra's International Disease Monitoring monitors outbreaks of high-impact diseases around the world. When Defra becomes aware of a new animal disease outbreak in another country, we carry out an initial rapid risk assessment of the risk of introduction of that disease into the United Kingdom taking into account the level of trade from that region or any possible illegal movements.

We have recently carried out risk assessments on the introduction of the following equine diseases: Equine Infectious Anaemia, West Nile Virus, Dourine and African Horse Sickness. These concluded that the risk from Equine Infectious Anaemia and Dourine may be greater than negligible and therefore would merit additional risk mitigation measures.

All these assessments can be found on the Defra website: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/ farmanimal/diseases/monitoring/index.htm

Post-import checks may be carried out on consignments of horses, depending on the country of origin and purpose of the horse (breeding, unregistered, consignments with large numbers, etc). These checks are to ensure compliance with health certification and sometimes warrant taking samples for post-import tests for diseases such as Equine Infectious Anaemia and Dourine.

Finally, Defra has a good relationship with the equine industry through the equine Core Group of experts and regularly keeps them up to date with any changes in disease risk and advice to keepers.

Animals: Microchipping

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government support voluntary identification of pets-by microchipping, permanent identification and the registering of pets on nationwide databases. Defra Ministers and officials are currently engaged with key stakeholders from wider government,

21 Dec 2011 : Column WA381

the police and animal welfare organisations concerning the content of possible legislation, including the microchipping of dogs.

We intend to make an announcement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership early in the new year.

Aviation: British Midland International

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

Earl Attlee: Proposals for the sale of BMI are a commercial matter for its owner, Lufthansa.

Environment: Waste Management

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Five variations to contract were agreed during the course of the research project entitled "Emissions from Waste Management Facilities" (WR0608). The details are provided in the following table.



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA382

DateReason for variationValue (£)

14 January 2008

Milestone activities and associated delivery dates adjusted following the initial scoping work.

0

22 August 2008

Further refinements made to the project activity schedule following completion of phase 1, and additional staff time funding added to allow exploration of particulate emissions.

19,000

3 April 2009

Additional budget added and project end-date extended to accommodate further gathering, analysis and reporting of data-made available through a stakeholder workshop convened to discuss interim research results.

9,400

17 February 2010

Project end-date extended to allow time for internal and external peer review of the research findings

0

31 January 2011

Project end-date extended and additional staff time funding added to accommodate new research and summary reporting requirements following feedback from the peer review.

5,000

EU Summit

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the European Council statement of 9 December 2011, which can be accessed on its website: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/126658.pdf.

EU: Finance Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Lawson of Blaby

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) in his post-European Council statement has explained that the safeguards the UK proposed were modest, reasonable and relevant. (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=PressS&;id=704961082.) The Government do not publish informal draft texts proposed during the course of negotiations.

European Court of Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Discussions on reforming the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), including changes to its rules and procedures, have been ongoing for a number of years. The United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, Mrs Eleanor Fuller, regularly updates government departments in London about developments in those reform discussions. In reporting on the Interlaken Conference in February 2010, which agreed a declaration setting out an action plan for reform, the Permanent Representative referred to the upcoming UK chairmanship of the Council of Europe because the Interlaken Declaration set a timetable for action which coincided with the dates of the UK chairmanship.

According to the ECHR website 46 applications to the ECHR were communicated to the Government for observations in 2008, 62 in 2009 and 68 in 2010. We are not aware of any particular factors contributing to the increase.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Officials in our embassy in Tel Aviv regularly raise access issues with Israeli Ministers, senior officials and the Israeli Defence Forces, including the issues of medical supplies to Gaza and physical access relating to Jerusalem, but they have not made representations on these specific cases. We will continue to monitor the situation regarding access issues.

Gendercide

Questions

Asked by Lord Hussain

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government condemn all instances of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. Our High Commissioner in Delhi and our Ambassador in Beijing will look for suitable opportunities to raise this matter with the Indian and Chinese Governments.



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA384

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Howell of Guildford: Infanticide is a criminal offence in the UK regardless of the gender of the victim. It is also illegal to abort a foetus based on its gender alone, although the sex of an unborn child might be a legitimate factor in an abortion subject to medical grounds specified in the 1967 Abortion Act. We make no distinction between our condemnation of infanticide and sex-selective abortion in the UK and internationally.

Government Departments: Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Prescott

Earl Attlee: This Government are committed to transparency and so during October we began to publish information on transactions over £500 for 2011-12 for the Department of Transport on our website and will continue to do so on a monthly basis. This can bee seen at: http://data.gov.uk/dataset/dit-gpc-spend. Information on transactions over £500 for 2010-11 will be published by the end of March 2012.

The previous Government did not approach transparency in this open way, so the cost of the work required to obtain, contextualise and report data for central government departments from the previous three years, or regarding those transactions under £500, would exceed the cost limits of a Freedom of Information request or a Parliamentary Question.

Government: Ministerial Duties

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), has a broad-ranging portfolio which

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includes the European Union (including Gibraltar), Europe, Central Asia, related international organisations and a number of other issues. As the noble Lord knows, the role is known as the Minister for Europe. While this title does not cover the full breadth of the portfolio, it is a sensible reflection of the range of issues covered. Mr Lidington also speaks for the FCO on all foreign policy issues, when necessary.

While Central Asia remains an important component of the Minister's portfolio, he does not use the title "Minister for Central Asia". There are no plans to change this at this time.

House of Lords: Sitting Times

Question

Asked by Lord Grocott

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Companion to the Standing Orders states that:

"The House usually sits for public business on Mondays and Tuesdays at 2.30 pm, on Wednesdays at 3 pm and on Thursdays at 11 am. The House also sits on Fridays at 10 am when pressure of business makes it necessary. It is a firm convention that the House normally rises by about 10 pm on Mondays to Wednesdays, by about 7 pm on Thursdays, and by about 3 pm on Fridays. The time of meeting of the House can be varied to meet the convenience of the House."

Between 28 June and 21 December 2011 the House has risen later than these usual rising times on 34 occasions. Dates and times are given in the table below.



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA386

Date of SittingDayRising timeTime after the usual rising time (in hours:mins)

29/06/2011

Wednesday

22:32

00:32

04/07/2011

Monday

22:12

00:12

05/07/2011

Tuesday

22:55

00:55

07/07/2011

Thursday

19:15

00:15

11/07/2011

Monday

23:02

01:02

12/07/2011

Tuesday

22:19

00:19

13/07/2011

Wednesday

23:21

01:21

14/07/2011

Thursday

19:38

00:38

15/07/2011

Friday

15:21

00:21

18/07/2011

Monday

22:42

00:42

19/07/2011

Tuesday

23:12

01:12

06/09/2011

Tuesday

01:17

03:17

12/09/2011

Monday

22:19

00:19

13/09/2011

Tuesday

22:42

00:42

14/09/2011

Wednesday

22:05

00:05

10/10/2011

Monday

22:54

00:54

11/10/2011

Tuesday

00:23

02:23

17/10/2011

Monday

23:44

01:44

18/10/2011

Tuesday

22:46

00:46

21/10/2011

Friday

15:08

00:08

26/10/2011

Wednesday

22:50

00:50

31/10/2011

Monday

23:13

01:13

02/11/2011

Wednesday

22:26

00:26

07/11/2011

Monday

22:09

00:09

09/11/2011

Wednesday

22:05

00:05

14/11/2011

Monday

23:17

01:17

21/11/2011

Monday

23:09

01:09

22/11/2011

Tuesday

22:03

00:03

25/11/2011

Friday

15:03

00:03

28/11/2011

Monday

22:42

00:42

30/11/2011

Wednesday

00:44

02:44

07/12/2011

Wednesday

22:07

00:07

13/12/2011

Tuesday

22:37

00:37

14/12/2011

Wednesday

23:12

01:12

20/12/2011

Tuesday

20.13

00:13

Between 1 January and 21 December 2011 the cumulative total time which the House sat after the usual rising times was 92 hours and 6 minutes.

During the same period the cumulative total time which the House sat earlier than the usual sitting times was 48 hours and 15 minutes. This figure includes intermediate adjournments, for example, when the House sat at 11 am and adjourned shortly before Oral Questions at 2.30 pm. It also includes 26 hours made up of early sittings on days falling immediately before the start of a recess.

These figures exclude the sitting on 11 August 2011, when the House was recalled, as there are no expected sitting times in such circumstances.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the demolition orders regarding the village of Al Aqaba. The UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building. Our Ambassador to Tel Aviv expressed strong concerns to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office on 8 December over pending

21 Dec 2011 : Column WA387

demolition orders in the West Bank, but we have not made representations on this specific case. We will continue to monitor the situation of the pending demolition orders.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of concerns about the isolation of Palestinian villages and towns. Our officials in Tel Aviv regularly hold discussions with the Israeli Government about a range of issues relating to various locations in the West Bank and Gaza.

We continue to call on all parties to respect their responsibilities under International Law and International Humanitarian Law and for Israel to respect its obligations as the Occupying Power.

Kosovo

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government frequently discuss with the Government of Kosovo the importance of demonstrating and communicating their commitment to the Serb and other minority populations, including through promoting awareness of the provisions in Kosovo's constitution. Most recently the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) raised this when he met Foreign Minister Hoxhaj on 20 October. The UK also continues to support the International Civilian Organisation's efforts to implement the full range of provisions in the Ahtisaari Plan for a stable, viable and multi-ethnic Kosovo.

We welcome President Jahjaga's speech to the Kosovo Assembly on 8 December, in which she addressed the Kosovo-Serb population, reaffirming that "according to the Constitution of Kosovo and its laws, you are citizens with equal freedoms and guaranteed rights. Kosova is the homeland of all and you as citizens of Serb nationality will realise all your national, religious, cultural and educational rights. For this you will have my support and the support of Kosovo's institutions".

Lisbon Treaty

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA388

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): International and European Union issues are a matter reserved for the United Kingdom Government. We liaise with the devolved Administrations through the Joint Ministerial Committee. As is normal practice, a Joint Ministerial Sub-Committee on Europe was held before the December European Council. All devolved Administrations were given the opportunity to feed in their views.

Railways: Electrification

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: If the proposals referred to in the question were taken forward this might mean that fewer bi-mode trains were needed and more electric trains compared to what is currently envisaged.

The exact number of trains needed would depend on, first, the diagramming impact of integrating the changes into the rest of the service pattern, and, secondly, the number of bi-mode trains needed for use during engineering works and other disruptions.

Railways: Emissions

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The 10 locomotives designed specifically for use in the United Kingdom that Directive 2011/88/EU permits to be placed on the market under the terms of the flexibility scheme are additional to the 16 locomotives that each manufacturer is permitted to place on the market anywhere in the European Union. It will, in consequence, be permissible for a manufacturer to place up to 26 locomotives on the market in the United Kingdom once the provisions of the directive have been transposed into UK law, subject to the necessary conditions being met.

Railways: Procurement

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA389

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport's position on the Thameslink rolling stock procurement is as presented to the Transport Select Committee on 7 September 2011.

Railways: Waterloo International

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

Earl Attlee: The Government wish to see the former international part of Waterloo station brought into domestic use.

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Stagecoach Southwest Trains (SSWT) are currently in discussions to add capacity into Waterloo as part of the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) programme.

Network Rail is developing plans to accommodate longer trains at Waterloo. The infrastructure requirements for these trains will include bringing the former international platforms back into domestic use, subject to value for money and affordability constraints.

The DfT does not have any plans to transfer ownership of Waterloo International from BRB (Residuary) Limited as a means to expedite this process.



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA390

Roads: A303

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

Earl Attlee: The A303 at Wincanton is not currently on the Highways Agency's forward programme to be resurfaced. However, when the existing carriageway is due for resurfacing, it is the Highways Agency's current policy to specify low noise surfacing as a matter of course.

Roads: Fatal Accidents

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: Table 1 shows the number of HGV (3.5 tonnes or heavier) drivers killed in reported road accidents in Great Britain for 2006-2010.

Table 2 shows the number of goods vehicles of 7.5 tonnes or heavier involved in reported serious injury road accidents per 10,000 drivers of such vehicles in employment (estimated), in Great Britain for 2006-2010. Please note that drivers involved in these injury road accidents may or may not be injured themselves.

Table 1: HGV1 driver fatalities in reported road accidents: GB 2006-2010
Accident Year
20062007200820092010

HGV drivers killed

36

42

20

12

26

Table 2: Estimated number of good vehicles over 7.5 tonnes involved in reported serious injury road accidents per 10,000 drivers of such vehicles: GB 2006-2010
Accident Year
20062007200820092010

Reported serious injury road accident involvement rate for goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes HGVs per 10,000 drivers of such vehicles

39

37

32

29

29

Second World War: Pardons

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No representations have been made to the Government of the Republic of

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Ireland concerning the pardoning of former Irish soldiers who fought on the Allied side in the Second World War. This is a matter for the Irish Government and one to which the Irish Minister for Defence recently stated in the Dail that he was "giving active consideration". The Government are grateful for the contribution made by Irish service personnel during the Second World War. During the State Visit in May, Her Majesty The Queen and President McAleese laid wreaths together at the Irish War Memorial Gardens in memory of the Irish soldiers who died in the World Wars.

Somalia

Questions

Asked by Lord Luce

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The London Conference on Somalia on 23 February will seek to deliver a new, action-oriented international approach to Somalia building on the progress being made on the ground.

We have invited Governments and multilateral organisations that are active and influential on Somalia, as well as representatives from Somalia.

We would like the conference to agree a series of practical measures to support Somalia under six headings:

Confronting terrorism and piracy;Supporting peace-keeping activity;Broadening responsibility for a peaceful political settlement;Alleviating famine and displacement, and developing systems and livelihoods;Promoting stability at the sub-national level;Improving international co-ordination.

We are now holding intensive discussions with our international and Somali partners and key stakeholders (including civil society) in order to identify and agree measures that would best address the threats emanating from Somalia, meet humanitarian needs and tackle the causes of instability in Somalia.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Howell of Guildford: The London Conference on Somalia on 23 February will seek to deliver a new, action-oriented international approach to Somalia building on the progress being made on the ground.



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA392

We have invited Governments and multilateral organisations that are active and influential on Somalia, as well as representatives from Somalia.

We would like the conference to agree a series of practical measures to support Somalia under six headings:

Confronting terrorism and piracy;Supporting peace-keeping activity;Broadening responsibility for a peaceful political settlement;Alleviating famine and displacement, and developing systems and livelihoods;Promoting stability at the sub-national level;Improving international co-ordination.

We are now holding intensive discussions with our international and Somali partners and key stakeholders (including civil society) in order to identify and agree measures that would best address the threats emanating from Somalia, meet humanitarian needs and tackle the causes of instability in Somalia.

Sudan

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are a long-term supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an independent body which plays a key role in ensuring that those who have committed the most serious of international crimes are held to account for their actions. The UK has not offered diplomatic assistance to Kenya and Sudan in regards to the recent ruling by the Kenyan High Court obliging the Kenyan Government to execute the ICC arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar El Bashir should he visit the country. The UK looks to all countries to assist the work of the International Criminal Court, but State Parties to the Rome Statute have a special responsibility to set an example by full compliance with their obligations.

UK: Coastline

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Environment Agency administers the allocation of Flood Grant In Aid in England. Amongst other aspects of flood and coast erosion risk management, this funding is used

21 Dec 2011 : Column WA393

to construct new defences in accordance with Defra's funding policies and to maintain or alter existing defences. The Environment Agency's best understanding of the total funding made available for this work on the coast, across all risk management authorities in England is:

Financial YearTotal Funding

2008/09

£85.7m

2009/10

£129.3m

2010/11

£116.9m

The Welsh Government, together with the Welsh European Funding Office, provides funding to the Environment Agency in Wales to undertake flood risk management works. Funding for Environment Agency schemes and maintenance work on the coast has been assessed as the following:



21 Dec 2011 : Column WA394

Financial YearTotal Funding

2008/9

£0.5m

2009/10

£2m

2010/11

£3.8m

Local Authorities in Wales also receive funding directly from the Welsh Government for the coastal defence work they carry out.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 (1983)

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government support United Nations Security Council Resolution 541.


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