|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Coastal Communities Fund will provide money for projects which support economic development in our coastal communities. These could include projects which improve skills within the community, projects related to protecting the coastal environment or economic development programmes delivered by charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institutions. More examples can be found in the prospectus my department launched on 9 February giving further details of the fund. The Big Lottery Fund will invite expressions of interest from potential grant applicants from 5 March.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to determine which countries should be prioritised in their commercial diplomacy programme; whether they have a list of those that are deemed most attractive for British commercial interests; and, if so, what countries are on that list.[HL15746]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Commercial diplomacy is an important component of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) wider prosperity agenda, which brings together all the actions that the FCO takes internationally to support the UK economy.
Our Charter for Business (http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/global-issues/prosperity/business-charter) states that our entire overseas network will do all it can to support British business success overseas, and will work globally to attract quality inward investment through: direct support for business; or action to improve the prospects for UK business across the world.
Our embassies and high commissions are the essential infrastructure of our country's influence overseas, and of our economic recovery, so we are working to transform Britain's relationship in the fastest growing cities and regions-for example by significantly increasing our presence in India and China, the world's two emerging superpowers.
Priority markets for UKTI are highlighted in their five-year strategy-Britain Open for Business (http://www.ukti.gov.uk/uktihome/item/148300.html)
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether each of the individual countries in Central Asia are considered as of priority interest in their commercial diplomacy programme; and, if so, in what regard.[HL15747]
Lord Howell of Guildford: There is no priority list for commercial diplomacy as the whole of the overseas network is expected to play its part fully, but we will work tirelessly to exploit the business opportunities that exist in the Central Asian region.
Priority markets for UKTI are highlighted in their five-year strategy-Britain Open for Business (http://www.ukti.gov.uk/uktihome/item/148300.html)
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The initial impact assessments published with the current consultation on copyright provided an initial assessment of potential costs and benefits of different policy options under consideration. The Government are now seeking more detailed evidence on the costs and benefits to all parties who could be affected by the proposals, through public consultation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the impact that current proposals to change exception rules in copyright law would have on (1) clarity for teachers and others in the education sector as to whether a given item falls within the copyright exception rules, and (2) authors and other providers of educational materials who at present derive financial benefit from selective photocopying of their work. [HL15797]
Baroness Wilcox: The Government's proposals on copyright aim to deliver greater clarity for teachers by ensuring that all reasonable uses of copyright materials in the classroom are permitted, either under licence or an exception, without undermining incentives to authors. The Government, through their current consultation on copyright, are seeking further evidence of the potential impact of various implementation options on authors and other affected parties. The consultation document and accompanying initial impacts assessments are available in the Library of the House and are published on the Intellectual Property Office website.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): In July 2011, Her Majesty's Government published the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) which sets out the objectives for protecting crowded places, that:the Government will ensure businesses owning crowded places and local authorities continue to have access to high quality protective security advice so they know what steps to take to reduce vulnerability to terrorist attack;the Government will also promote security at sites at higher risk; andthat existing guidance will be reviewed and updated.
In January 2012, the Government published two revised crowded places guidance documents Protecting Crowded Places: Design and TechnicalIssues and Crowded Places: The planning system and counter terrorism, both with revisions to reflect the contribution that protective security can make to mitigating the impact of a firearms attack.
The Government will continue to explore ways in which reducing the vulnerability of crowded places, especially higher risk sites, can be developed and promoted, including through the revision and updating of guidance documents whenever it is appropriate to do so.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the comments by Lord McNally on 1 February (Official Report, cols. 1658-62), how many witness care units are operative in England and Wales; whether they provide a full coverage across the country; and when was the most recent review of the effectiveness and coverage of those units. [HL15421]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): There are 80 Witness Care Units (WCUs) currently operating in England and Wales. The WCUs are distributed geographically across the 13 CPS areas and provide full coverage across the country. A review of witness care was conducted in 2009 aimed at ensuring greater consistency and efficiency in the service delivered to victims and witnesses. In 2011, the CPS commissioned a project to review its victim and witness commitments with a view to taking a fresh look at the service it delivers to them. As part of this review, the CPS is working with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to pilot a revised delivery model within WCUs, targeting resources to those victims and witnesses who are in most need of support.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, as a guarantor power, whether there has been any public acknowledgement of responsibility by the Republic of Cyprus for attacks against Turkish Cypriots prior to the 1974 Turkish intervention; and if not, whether they will now press for such an acknowledgement.[HL15466]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are aware of the allegations of violence between the two communities on the island since the 1960s, and continue to work towards building confidence between them, including through contributions to the Committee on Missing Persons. The Government are in constant dialogue with the Republic of Cyprus on how to try and encourage progress in the ongoing discussions to reach a comprehensive settlement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence holds regular discussions with our US and French counterparts on current and potential bilateral co-operative projects and programmes. When co-operation is agreed it is usual practice for a contract to be awarded by one country on behalf of one or more partner nations or in some cases by an international project management organisation such as the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation. Joint defence contracts are not usually awarded.
Over the past five years, the UK has been a partner in between 50 and 60 co-operative equipment programmes at any one time, all of which have involved either NATO or other key allies. In some cases, contracts have been placed by the UK, but in others they have been placed by our partners, or by international organisations such as NETMA(1), NAMSA(2) or OCCAR(31).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of British jobs that would be lost if their defence contracts no longer required suppliers to undertake production in the United Kingdom.[HL15429]
Lord Astor of Hever: Defence contracts generally do not require suppliers to undertake production in the UK. The Ministry of Defence has placed contracts with specific suppliers in the past, and will continue to do so, where we judge this is essential to protect the UK's operational advantage or freedom of action.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many contracts have been awarded to British-based defence equipment manufacturing companies in each of the past five years; what was the value of each of those contracts; and how many British jobs were secured by the awarding of those contracts. [HL15430]
Lord Astor of Hever: The number of contracts placed with defence equipment manufacturing companies is not captured separately. As at 24 January 2012, the Defence Business Services database showed that, in the five-year period between 2006-07 and 2010-11, the Ministry of Defence awarded nearly 40,000 new contracts with an approximate total value of £67.7 billion. Employment implications are a matter for the companies concerned. However, during this period, the number of new contracts placed where the majority of work occurred within the UK remained consistent at around 85 to 89 per cent.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the circumstances that led to the Government deciding that the policy of sovereign capabilities was necessary for the United Kingdom's security and defence.[HL15477]
Lord Astor of Hever: Maintaining operational advantage and freedom of action is vital to our national security. The precise circumstances in which action might be needed will vary depending on the nature of the threats we face. These concepts are applicable throughout the acquisition cycle and the operational life of a capability.
In 2005, the previous Government published the Defence Industrial Strategy (Cm 6697), which included appropriate sovereignty as one of its guiding principles and made a number of references to sovereign capabilities. In 2009 the Armoured Fighting Vehicle Sector Strategy included an explanation of the concept of operational sovereignty. The most recent consideration of sovereignty requirements for defence equipment and support took place as part of the development of the White Paper National Security Through Technology (Cm 8278).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the proposal to remove most requirements for sovereign capability in relation to defence contracts was first made by (1) the Ministry of Defence, or (2) HM Treasury.[HL15479]
Lord Astor of Hever: In July 2010 the Government announced their intention to publish a new defence industrial policy and strategy. The Strategic Defence and Security Review reaffirmed this commitment, which led to a Green Paper Technology, Equipment and Support for UK Defence and Security (Cm 7794) in December 2010 and a subsequent White Paper National Security Through Technology: Technology, Equipment and Support (CM 8278) in February 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by the Minister for Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, that the 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy was "an unfunded and unrealistic wish list", when they came to that conclusion.[HL15432]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the policy of sovereign capabilities in relation to defence contracts figured in discussions between HM Treasury and the Ministry of Defence prior to the publication of the last Strategic Defence Review.[HL15480]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): In July 2010 the Government announced their intention to publish a new defence industrial policy and strategy. The Strategic Defence and Security Review reaffirmed this commitment, which led to a Green Paper Technology, Equipment and Support for UK Defence and Security (Cm 7794) in December 2010 and a subsequent White Paper National Security Through Technology: Technology, Equipment and Support (Cm 8278) in February 2012.
Baroness Northover: So far, the Department for International Development has provided £26.8 million bilaterally to the 2007-13 electoral cycle (which includes presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Foundation for Elections Service (IFES). The bulk of this funding was to the UNDP elections basket fund, where the UK bilateral share is almost 30 per cent of the total US$167 million fund. As a total of the overall cost of the electoral cycle, the UK bilateral contribution represents around 3.1 per cent.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what budgetary support they give to the Democratic Republic of Congo; and what percentage of that support is estimated to have been spent on the election costs of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.[HL15509]
Baroness Northover: The UK does not provide budgetary support to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Instead, all UK development assistance in DRC is channelled outside government systems, through non-governmental organisations, United Nations agencies and other multilateral organisations. The Department for International Development has provided £26.8 million to the 2007-13 electoral cycle through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Foundation for Elections Service (IFES).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the intended purpose of their bilateral contribution toward the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo; what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the electoral roll; and whether they agree with the assessment of European Union observers that problems with electoral registration meant that 17 per cent of voters were able to vote despite not being on the list.[HL15510]
Baroness Northover: The UK's bilateral support for elections covers the whole 2008-13 electoral cycle, including presidential and parliamentary elections, provincial elections and local elections. Our support is aimed primarily at ensuring that everyone has the right to vote, and encouraging as much participation as possible. It is focused on voter registration; building the capacity of the new electoral commission; improving public understanding of the electoral process, particularly among women and first-time voters; and helping the Congolese police to keep the peace before, during and after elections. In addition, our media project promoted more open debate in advance of the presidential and parliamentary elections through support for independent Congolese media, and we have provided funding to build the capacity of civil society organisations and to strengthen protection for human rights defenders.
We are not in a position to make an independent assessment of the accuracy of the electoral roll. We were deeply concerned with allegations that double entries in the voter register outnumbered the official tally. The UK pushed the DRC's electoral commission to ensure all parties had scrutiny of the electoral roll and to publish full voter lists on its website and in registration centres to enable all double entries, whether added through human error or otherwise, to be scrutinised locally and amended. We were disappointed when CENI and political parties were unable to agree a modality that would have enabled a cross-party audit of the electoral roll server to go forward. We are awaiting the final report of the EU observation mission which will give further details of their assessment of the elections.
We do share the concerns raised by the mission about reported irregularities in the process, and are aware of the electoral commission's decision to allow "omitted voters" to vote in their voting site if their name was not on the voter's list.
Baroness Northover: We estimate that the unit cost for the presidential and legislative elections, including voter registration, was US$11.2 per voter, which compares favourably with elections in other post-conflict countries.
However, we are disappointed that mismanagement of the results compilation process, and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the results without fully evaluating reports of irregularities, compromised the credibility of the 28 November elections. This was not the result the UK was hoping for, and did not measure up to the democratic gains we have seen in other recent African elections. However, unlike 2006 where the international community funded 90 per cent of the cost of the elections, in 2011 the process was led, managed and largely financed by the Congolese, who bore about 80 per cent of the cost of the latest elections.
The UK's support to elections is part of a long-term strategy to help sustain the 2003 peace settlement (enshrined in the 2005 constitution) and includes support to democratic institutions, to the creation of legitimate political space for interaction between state and society, and to a more equitable sharing of resources. The risks are high, and our ability to influence the outcome limited, but as in other fragile and conflict-affected states, we consider these goals to be an important foundation to enable progress towards the millennium development goals.
Baroness Northover: The Global School Partnerships Programme (GSP) will award final grants to schools in March 2012, but will continue to provide support and advice to schools that have been awarded grants until March 2013. The Department for International Development (DfID) is committed to continuing support for school linking beyond the closure of GSP and is currently looking at how this can be done to ensure a high quality service to schools that also represents value for money for the UK taxpayer. DfID will be making further announcements about the continuation of school linking and the countries that will be supported shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are working with the police and other partners to encourage more victims to come forward and report hate crime. We seconded a member of the Office for Disability Issues staff to Disability Rights UK to help take forward, the Let's Stop Hate Crime Project. We are considering the recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into disability related harassment and continue to work with them on their Manifesto for Change. We have amended the legal aid and sentencing Bill to raise the minimum sentence length for murders motivated by hatred of disabled people to 30 years.
The Government are committed to ensuring that all disabled people are able to live their lives free from fear of targeted hostility or harassment, regardless of whether they are in receipt of benefit or not. We are determined to tackle negative attitudes and to improve opportunities for disabled people to fulfil their potential.
We are working in partnership with disabled people to develop a new cross-government disability strategy. We published a discussion document Fulfilling Potential on 1 December 2011, which seeks practical suggestions in three main areas: realising aspirations, individual control and changing attitudes and behaviours. The latter area is particularly important as promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people is fundamental to achieving the full participation of disabled people in society. We aim to publish the final strategy in the spring.
We are also developing a new Hate Crime Action Plan that will aim to capture the current and emerging issues across all forms of hate crime, including disability hate crime, and set out actions focused on prevention, support and improving the response to hate crime.
The Government are also taking a range of other actions to encourage positive images of disabled people. For example, we are maximising the opportunities given by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from Sir Bert Massie and others about the requirement to register the Heswall Disabled Children's Holiday Fund as a children's home; what estimate has been made of the costs this will involve; what is the purpose of the requirement; and whether they intend to give assistance to ensure that the holiday project does not founder as a consequence. [HL15740]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Representations have been received from several Members of Parliament on behalf of the Heswall Disabled Children's Holiday Fund, of which Sir Bert Massie is the patron. Registration and annual fees for holiday schemes that accommodate
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA230
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consult representatives of the British Islamic religious communities about whether an order should be made by the Lord Chancellor under Section 1 of the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002.[HL15695]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): It is for a religious community itself to decide to make use of the provisions of the Act and then ask the Lord Chancellor to prescribe the religious group for that purpose.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of provisions in the United States Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals; and whether they intend to adopt such legislation in the United Kingdom.[HL15741]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are watching closely how the United States Government implement the Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals, and are awaiting the United States Securities Exchange Commission's publication of the rules by which regulated companies will have to abide under this legislation. However, we have no current plans to adopt similar legislation in the UK: we believe that a combination of voluntary approaches, by businesses, and existing legal and regulatory measures will provide sufficient incentives to achieve greater transparency in the trade in conflict minerals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government in what circumstances the Duchy of Cornwall is considered a public body or a private estate; and if both are held to apply, on what basis is each considered to apply and who makes that decision. [HL15684]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate, the funds from which are used to support the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The Duchy is reviewing the First-tier Tribunal's reasons for its decision under the Environmental Information Regulations, with a view to establishing whether it would be appropriate to appeal the ruling. Until then, it would be premature for HM Government to attempt to examine the potential consequences of the ruling.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Local Data Company report End of Year Vacancy Report 2011 is an independent survey of vacancy rates in the United Kingdom and some European cities. We have not made an assessment of the report, but we will make use of all relevant data when developing our response to the Mary Portas review into the future of our high streets and our work on regeneration and economic growth.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have reviewed the extent to which the Bank of England's recent monetary policy has transferred economic wealth from savers to borrowers, or vice versa.[HL15826]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independent Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) policy tools, including Bank Rate and Quantitative Easing, are macroeconomic policy tools designed to affect the economy as a whole, in order to meet the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term. At its February meeting, the committee judged that, without further monetary stimulus, it was more likely than not that inflation would undershoot the target in the medium term. The committee therefore voted to increase the size of its asset purchase programme by £50 billion to £325 billion.
The MPC takes into account many factors in its policy decisions, including the prospects for households, assessments of which can be found in the Bank of England's quarterly Inflation Reports, in its press conferences and in the MPC's monthly meeting minutes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Barnardo's report reinforces the importance of the most vulnerable young people being able to participate in further education and training. Our new post-16 financial support arrangements have ensured that those who need the most support can claim £1,200 a year-more than they would have received under the education maintenance allowance (EMA). We have also provided sufficient funding for schools and colleges to give discretionary bursaries of £800 a year to over 15 per cent of the 16 to 19 year-olds in full-time education.
Under the EMA, 45 per cent of all 16 to 19 year- olds received it, yet only one in 10 of those receiving it said that it was necessary for their continued participation. We are now taking a much more targeted approach. As well as providing £1,200 to the most vulnerable young people, we have ensured that schools and colleges are better able to respond to local circumstances and individual barriers to participation when deciding how they will support the young people who face the greatest challenges.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recommendations of the Barnardo's report Staying the Course on widening access to the 16-19 Bursary Fund for disadvantaged young people.[HL15627]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Secretary of State has written to Barnardo's chief executive to thank her for this very valuable report, which reinforces the importance of the most vulnerable young people being able to participate in further education and training. He has invited her to meet senior officials from the department to discuss the report's findings and recommendations in detail.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We hold Israel, as the occupying power, responsible for ensuring Gaza's basic needs are met, and this includes the provision of fuel. Israel continues to provide 120 megawatts (MW) of electricity per day directly to Gaza, which meets approximately 43 per cent of Gaza's power needs and is paid for by the Palestinian Authority. Egypt provides a further 17MW and the balance of Gaza's power needs (approximately 140MW) should be met by the
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA233
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of the United States about directing the use of their military aid to Egypt towards economic development and sustainable employment. [HL15729]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK has not made representations to the Government of the United States (US) about use of US military aid to Egypt for economic development purposes. We are in close contact with the US and other international partners about the provision of economic and development assistance to Egypt.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Egypt seeking access by the International Committee of the Red Cross to all prisoners and detainees, including refugees and migrants. [HL15879]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have not made representations to the Government of Egypt on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1CRC) to facilitate their access to detainees in Egypt, and we have not been approached by the 1CRC to do so. However, during and since the January/February uprising of 2011, we have expressed our strong concerns to the authorities about the mistreatment of peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights defenders and called on the Egyptian Government to release all political prisoners and end the state of emergency.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what dates referendums have been held on establishing or removing directly elected mayors in local government; what were the local authorities concerned; what were the total votes cast and percentages for and against; and what was the turnout in each case.[HL15481]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The table below shows the dates on which referendums were held to establish or remove directly elected mayors in local government, the local authorities concerned, the total votes cast, the percentages for and against and the turnout.
The 2008 referendum held in Stoke-on-Trent was on whether to move to the leader and cabinet executive or operate the mayor and cabinet executive required by Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 which abolished the mayor and council manager model that Stoke had operated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was their expenditure for each of the past 10 years in contributing to overseas electoral processes; to which elections those contributions applied; which of those elections were deemed free and fair; and whether they consider that their contributions have led to improvements in the conduct of elections in those countries.[HL15507]
Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development has supported at least 49 elections in 27 countries since 2002. These include important elections to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and the referendum on independence for South Sudan. Our overall judgment is that improvements have been seen in the conduct of elections in these countries, often in challenging circumstances. Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, expenditure on projects to strengthen political systems, including support to elections and parliaments was £215 million. We have recently contributed £1.6 million to support the presidential elections set for 21 February 2012 in Yemen.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 8 February (WA 65-6), when the stem cell lines that correspond to those used in the clinical trial at Moorfields Eye Hospital were previously deposited in the UK Stem Cell Bank; whether the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has been made aware of recent scientific findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (Volume 122, Issue 2, pages 569-574), and if so, when; and whether the NPSA intends to instruct those conducting such clinical trials to bring these findings to the attention of patients who have already been treated and prospective individuals considering being recruited, and if so, how. [HL15857]
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advises that the main point of the paper referred to in the question is that expanding the number of cells through repeated growth cycles, or passaging greater than 34 times from the original stem cells, can lead to spontaneous loss of evolution and introduce defects. The dossier supporting the trial approved using embryonic stem cells at Moorfields Hospital indicates that this level of "over passaging" is not reached and there are sufficient control steps and sampling procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the final product.
The Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) provides ethical review of clinical trials involving medicinal products for gene therapy, including stem cell trials. GTAC is an independent ethics committee with appointments made by Secretary of State. The National Research Ethics Service (NRES) at the
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA237
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 12 December (WA 210), whether they will ask HM ambassadors to European Union countries to compile a list of how each member state has transposed the EU directive on equal treatment for temporary agency workers and publish the subsequent list; and whether their understanding is still that the majority will have done so on the basis of day 1 equal treatment rights.[HL15762]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I refer my noble friend to the answer I gave on 12 Dec 2011 (WA210). While implementation of European directives is a matter for individual member states, the Government intend to use the FCO network to gain an understanding of how the directive has been implemented in EU member states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the electrical power in the United Kingdom is produced as part of combined heat and power systems; and whether they are considering introducing long-term measures to encourage industry to increase this proportion, in the light of experience of combined heat and power systems in reducing carbon emissions in local communities.[HL15494]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Around 7 per cent of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom is through combined heat and power systems.
The Government will set out their long-term vision for CHP in the heat strategy to be published shortly. As announced in Budget 2011, further details about the treatment of CHP under the carbon price floor will be set out in Budget 2012.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The eligibility criteria for ECO affordable warmth were recently consulted on and the Government's response will be published in due course. The proposed eligibility criteria for ECO affordable warmth were designed to target support to those most in need, by focusing on low income and vulnerable private tenure households, where energy efficiency standards are low compared to social housing and where alternative means of support will not exist when Warm Front draws to a close in March 2013.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): No specific assessment has been made of the financial impact on local authorities of reforms to the feed-in tariffs scheme. However, impacts on potential FITs claimants in general have been taken into account at every stage of FITs policy development.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will postpone the granting of permission for hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil production, until full scientific evidence of its consequences and side-effects is available from other countries. [HL15699]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Hydraulic fracturing operations for shale gas, in the UK are currently suspended pending consideration of the implications of the two small earthquakes in the Blackpool area last year. A geomechanical study has been undertaken for Cuadrilla, the operator in that area, and was submitted to DECC in November 2011. It is being reviewed by DECC, in consultation with the British Geological Survey and other independent experts.
No decision on the resumption of these hydraulic fracturing operations will be made until the implications of this report, and of any further analysis which may prove necessary, has been fully considered, and appropriate practical measures have been approved by Ministers to minimise the risk of such events occurring again. Other key regulators will be consulted before any such decision is taken.
We already have in place a robust regulatory regime to ensure that oil and gas operations will be safely conducted and that protection of the environment will be assured. However, we are not taking it for granted that the regime already in place will remain effective for the future. We are monitoring developments in shale gas elsewhere, principally in the US, for any useful lessons we can learn, and the regulatory bodies principally concerned are liaising regularly to ensure effective coordination of their actions and that any emerging issues are effectively addressed. In these circumstances, we see no need for any general deferral of or moratorium on hydraulic fracturing activities other than for shale gas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Green Deal assessors' core role will be to provide an impartial assessment of the property, the potential energy savings from measures and likely eligibility for Green Deal finance. The recent Green Deal consultation sought views on whether further protections were needed to retain impartiality and transparency in the process and we are currently analysing responses on this issue.
Lord Marland: The occupancy assessment will provide householders with information about their actual use of energy and the impact on likely savings from the installation of measures. This will enable them to make an informed choice about whether the Green Deal and Green Deal finance is right for their circumstances.
Lord Marland: The methodology for the occupancy assessment for the Green Deal is being developed with input from a wide range of expert stakeholders. We will be providing more information on the methodology, including a version of the assessment tool for wider testing and feedback, on the BRE website shortly.
Lord Marland: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Climate Change met with the larger energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF, E.On, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) to discuss the Green Deal in January 2012. The timetable for the introduction of the Green Deal was one of the items on the agenda.
Lord Marland: The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been involved in regular meetings at official level with stakeholders connected to the development of national occupational standards and training for Green Deal assessors. This has included working with asset skills to communicate the opportunities for training providers through workshops and roadshows throughout the United Kingdom.
Lord Marland: The Government published draft legislation alongside its consultation on 23 November 2011. It is available here: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA241
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government will set the framework for the rollout of smart meters across Great Britain, and energy suppliers will then be responsible for planning the installation of smart meters for their customers. This year, the Government will define the technical specifications for smart metering equipment, and will place regulatory obligations on suppliers to complete the rollout of smart meters by 2019. The mass rollout of smart meters is expected to start in late 2014, although some suppliers will be installing meters that comply with the technical specification before that date. The Government are working with energy suppliers as they develop their detailed plans for installing smart meters.
Lord Marland: The Smart Meters Implementation Programme has been working during foundation stage on the development of a strategy for consumer engagement. This has involved an extensive programme of research and stakeholder consultation, through which we have sought to deepen our understanding of how consumers might respond to smart meters, and the types of activities that might be necessary to encourage consumer engagement. This builds on work carried out in phase 1 of the programme, such as Ofgem's Consumer First Panel workshops, which involved primary research with energy consumers.
We are aware of a number of assessments of awareness of, and support for, smart metering. They vary, but typically the assessments suggest that awareness is fairly low whereas support for smart metering among those who are aware is higher.
The programme has commissioned both quantitative and qualitative research to help us assess consumer awareness and support for smart metering, the results of which are expected this spring. We expect to carry out further research over the coming year to track awareness and explore particular aspects in more depth. We also continue to learn from suppliers' early rollout and stakeholder research where possible.
Lord Marland: The Smart Meters Implementation Programme has been working on the development of a strategy for consumer engagement. We will be publishing a consultation on the strategy soon, which will include proposals regarding building consumer awareness and confidence in smart metering.
Lord Marland: The Smart Meter Implementation Programme continues to explore with interested parties-including the smart meters' consumer advisory group-the needs of vulnerable consumers to ensure they benefit from the installation of smart meters.
Suppliers have primary responsibility for delivering the rollout. The Government consulted last summer on licence conditions, which will be finalised this year and which will require suppliers to develop an installation code of practice for smart meters. The code will oblige suppliers to identify vulnerable consumers and meet their needs, and it will supplement existing provisions under the Equality Act 2010 and the electricity and gas supply licence conditions.
In developing the specification for the metering equipment, the Government have taken account of research by Consumer Focus and Ricability and are seeking to ensure that the design of the in-home display is accessible to as many consumers as possible, including those with impairments.
DECC has jointly funded with Consumer Focus research by National Energy Action to develop a better understanding of the needs of vulnerable consumers. The department is looking at what further research and piloting may be needed to explore the implications of smart metering for vulnerable customers and how any additional support is best delivered.
Lord Marland: The Government are developing minimum technical specifications for the smart metering equipment to ensure technical interoperability and promote effective operation of the end-to-end system. We intend to publish this in March 2012. The Government will also undertake additional work this year on other technical issues including an evaluation of home area
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA243
In relation to the data and communication services to support the smart meters system, proposed solutions will be evaluated against a range of criteria including cost, technical suitability, reliability, deliverability, coverage and flexibility.
Lord Marland: We will require energy suppliers to install smart meters for their customers and to take all reasonable steps to reach everyone, including making arrangements with individual customers for the necessary access to their property. However, there will not be a legal obligation on individuals to have a smart meter and we do not expect energy suppliers to take legal action to fit a smart meter if they cannot get the householder's co-operation.
Lord Marland: The Government are currently developing specifications for smart metering equipment which it intends to publish shortly. These are based on an agreed set of minimum functional requirements, and will be important in helping to ensure that meters rolled out are interoperable and deliver the required functionality. It is also undertaking other work during 2012 to examine whether further specifications might
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA244
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the total financial subsidy provided to the top 15 recipients of subsidy under the scheme for promoting wind farms for electricity generation (excluding public limited companies); and what the estimated amounts are for each of those recipients. [HL15795]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Renewables Obligation (RO) is currently the main financial mechanism by which the Government incentivises the deployment of large-scale renewable electricity generation. It is a market based subsidy; Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) are issued in respect of generation, and are trade-able commodities which have no fixed price. Electricity suppliers purchase ROCs, but the amount a supplier pays for a ROC is dependent on bilateral commercially confidential negotiations between the supplier and generator.
The RO is administered by Ofgem, who do not hold information on whether the operator of a generating station is a public limited company. The table below lists for the period December 2010 to November 2011, the top 15 wind generating stations (both onshore and offshore), the operator of the station, and an estimate of the value of ROCs received based on the provisional data from Ofgem. The total estimate for these 15 stations is £387 million out of total RO support in 2010-11 of £1285 million .
|Generating Station||Organisation listed as operator of station||Number of ROCs issued to date for generation that took place between Dec 2010 and Nov 2011||Estimate of RO support (£m) (Nos of ROCs x ROC value for 2010-11 of £51.48)|
 These estimates use the HMT/DECC definition of RO support cost, where the total RO support cost in a given year equals the Obligation level for the year in ROCS times the buyout price. This is also equal to the ROC value times ROCs submitted for compliance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any assessment of the new measures being adopted in Denmark in permitting wind turbine installation near housing areas; and whether they have made any assessment of the research on how low-frequency noise is affecting people in Denmark.[HL15495]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government continue to monitor how various renewable energy issues are tackled in other countries, including the process for allowing onshore wind-turbine development, and to keep abreast of relevant research on the potential impact of noise.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the donor assessments commissioned by the Department for International Development into the impact of the villagisation programme in Ethiopia will be published.[HL15574]
Baroness Rawlings: The Department for International Development became aware of allegations surrounding the villagisation programme in late 2010 and immediately took steps to investigate them. Assessments into the impact of the villagisation programme were commissioned by the Development Assistance Group (a group of 26 donors, including the UK, who provide aid to Ethiopia). The UK led multi-donor missions to Gambella and the Somali Region.
The UK has asked other donors involved in the villagisation assessments for their approval to release these reports but we do not yet have permission from all the agencies concerned. However, we have provided the Ethiopian Government with guidelines on resettlement best practice and these have been placed in the House of Commons Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the issue of villagisation was last raised with the Government of Ethiopia; and whether they raised concerns about human rights abuses and worsening levels of food insecurity associated with this programme.[HL15575]
Baroness Rawlings: My right honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, raised our concerns about human rights and implementation of the villagisation programme when he visited Ethiopia between 28 to 30 January.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings in the recent Human Rights Watch report Waiting Here for Death that Ethiopia's villagisation programme in Gambella region is involuntary and has been associated with significant human rights violations. [HL15576]
Baroness Rawlings: The UK Government led an independent multi-agency mission to Gambella in February 2011. The UK government continues to track developments with the villagisation programme and will continue to raise any concerns with the Ethiopian Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that United Kingdom aid provided to Ethiopia under the Protection of Basic Services programme is not used to support Ethiopia's villagisation programme.[HL15577]
Baroness Northover: The UK Government do not provide direct support for villagisation despite requests from the Ethiopian Government to do so. It is possible that a small proportion of UK support to the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme is being used to provide services for poor people at resettlement sites. PBS has very robust monitoring and audit arrangements and we are confident that these systems will prevent any misuse of UK aid funds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to initiate or support a humanitarian impact assessment into the effects of Ethiopia's villagisation programme in Gambella, in the light of the findings in the Human Rights Watch report Waiting Here for Death.[HL15578]
The January 2012 multi-agency food security assessment for Ethiopia was conducted at villagisation sites, as well as in other parts of the country. This assessment found that, in Gambella, 48,100 people would be in need of food aid between now and June 2012. This does not suggest a significant increase in numbers of people requiring assistance in that region, compared to previous assessments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the arrangements for European Union financing of Caribbean countries under the Cotonou Agreement; when there will be disbursements to the individual Windward Islands; and what plans the UK has to support economic diversification strategies as part of the United Kingdom-Caribbean forum.[HL15814]
Baroness Northover: The European Development Fund (EDF) provides development assistance to 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement. The 10th EDF provides €22.682 billion for the period 2008-2013, of which €1.1 billion is allocated to the Caribbean.
For example, DfID provides £10 million to the "COMPETE Caribbean" programme to support private sector development and competitiveness in the region. So far seven firms have been shortlisted for funding to help develop new products and export opportunities. DfID also provides £10 million to support the implementation of the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they propose to respond to the call for a co-ordinated European Union approach to online gambling as set out in the Green Paper on online gambling in the internal market.[HL15860]
Baroness Rawlings: The Government's response to the European Commission's green paper on Online Gambling in the Internal Market can be found on the Commission's website at https://circabc.europa.eu/faces/jsp/extension/wai/navigation/container.jsp? FormPrincipal:_idcl=FormPrincipal:libraryContentList: pager&page=l&FormPrincipal_SUBMIT=1.
The Government believe there is scope for practical co-operation to take place between member states, whilst ensuring that unnecessary duplication and
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA248
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether discussions at meetings under the European Union-Israel Association Agreement concerning the human rights clauses of the agreement always include points relating to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; and, if not, whether they will press for their inclusion.[HL15698]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is clear that the human rights clauses of the European Union (EU)-Israel Association Agreement are an important part of the framework governing co-operation between the EU and Israel.
Human rights discussions formed significant parts of the last meetings of both the EU-Israel Association Council (the ministerial-level body overseeing the Association Agreement) in February 2011 and the EU-Israel Association Committee (the senior official body) in September 2011. Human rights will again be raised by the EU at the next meetings of these bodies. These human rights discussions take into account the situations in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The EU will continue to raise on a routine basis any concerns it has over human rights in these areas (and elsewhere) within the relevant structures of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The UK has been clear that it is not in favour of upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement until there has been substantial progress towards a two-state solution. Improvements in the human rights situations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will form an essential part of this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 9 February (WA 95), what is the relevance of the European Union capital market directive IV to the operation of the single market.[HL15754]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 20 July 2011, the European Commission adopted legislative proposals for the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) 4. These proposals are currently being
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA249
The Government support the completion of the single rule book on EU banking through harmonised definitions and minimum prudential requirements. It is important, however, that member states remain ultimately responsible for financial stability in their respective jurisdictions. The Government are, therefore, very concerned that this approach may constrain the ability of member states to respond flexibly and in a timely manner to systemic risks in their respective jurisdictions, or to mitigate fiscal risk, through macro-prudential policy or implementing higher prudential standards on a permanent basis, that is consistent with the single rule book.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government are considering plans to promote active ageing in all settings to mark the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): None. As an independent authority, the OFT has discretion to investigate cases based on the evidence and according to its prioritisation principles.
I note that the OFT has been given undertakings in lieu by extended warranty providers and, before taking a final decision on whether to accept these and not make a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission, is inviting comments (by 7 March) on the likely effectiveness of the undertakings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many administration staff, managers, firearms inquiry officers, firearms licensing officers and other administrators have been employed (1) full-time, and (2) part-time, in the administration of grants and renewal and variations of firearms and shotgun certificates in each police force in each of the last four years.[HL15886]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The latest available information shows the full-time equivalent number of police officers and staff with the function of firearms/explosives licensing in each police force area in England and Wales, as at 31 March in each of the years 2008 to 2011. Figures are not available centrally broken down into full-time and part-time staff, nor broken down by specific role within this function.
|Number of police officers and police staff within the function firearms/explosives1 in each police force area in England and Wales, as at 31 March 2008 to 31 March 20112, 3|
|Police Officers||Police Staff|
1 Firearms/explosives function is defined as staff who are predominantly employed in the processing of applications and in making inquiries for firearm and shotgun certificates, renewals, rejections, appeal and firearms surrendered to police custody, or in connection with the licensing and security of explosives and explosives stores.
3 This table contains full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Because of rounding, there may be an apparent discrepancy between the totals in this table and totals in similar published tables.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|