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Written Answers

Volume 669: debated on Thursday 24 February 2005

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers

Thursday, 24 February 2005.

Northern Ireland: Weapons Seizures

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 19 January

(WA 101), what weapons have been recovered by the Police Service of Northern Ireland since 10 April 1998; when they were recovered; in what countries they are believed to have been manufactured; and in which year. [HL917]

PSNI has advised that the information sought is not held centrally and would have to be gathered manually. Given the breadth of this request it would incur disproportionate cost to carry out this exercise and would divert limited resources from PSNI operational service.

Waterways Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations have been made to the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure on behalf of the 20 Waterways Ireland staff who will not accept an internal investigation into allegations of staff bullying; what were the dates of the representations; and what was the department's response. [HL946]

Representations on this matter have been made to the sponsor departments. These representations explicitly requested that they be treated as confidential and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on them.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which jetties in the Enniskillen area Waterways Ireland has recently replaced with floating jetties; when this took place; for what reason; at what cost; when the previous jetties were put in place, and at what cost. [HL947]

The fixed timber jetties at Broadmeadow and at Regal Pass in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh are currently being replaced with 300 metres of new floating jetties. They are being replaced for health and safety reasons at a cost of approximately £300,000.The timber jetties were constructed, prior to the establishment of Waterways Ireland, by the Rivers Agency of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the 1970s and 1980s and the costs are not available.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 January

(WA 727) concerning recruitment to Waterways Ireland, whether the posts of directors were subject to the law of the United Kingdom. [HL1118]

Employment in the posts of director in Waterways Ireland is likely to be subject to the law of the United Kingdom.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 31 January

(WA 2) concerning recruitment to Waterways Ireland, what difficulties are being experienced in recruiting technical staff. [HL1119]

The prevailing competitive market conditions in the construction related industry has resulted in some difficulties being experienced by Waterways Ireland in recruiting technical staff.

asked Her Majesty's Government:In the case of complaints of bullying from 21 members of staff at Waterways Ireland, who decided that an external enquiry should be held in one case when internal enquiries were held in all other cases; and what was the basis for this decision. [HL1194]

All such complaints should be dealt with in accordance with agreed procedures. The exception, to which the question refers. was a complaint made before agreed procedures were in place and the decision on the procedure to be used in this case was made by the sponsor departments with the agreement of the principal parties involved.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 12 October 2004

(WA 49–50) concerning appointments to Waterways Ireland, what were the qualifications required for the post of director of marketing and communication [HL1270]

I understand from the chief executive at Waterways Ireland that the criteria required for appointment at this level are that the person must have a minimum of 10 years' experience, including at least five years at a senior level, in administration or management. The current director of marketing and communications meets these criteria.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What marketing and communications qualifications the director of marketing and communications of Waterways Ireland holds. [HL1272]

I understand from the chief executive at Waterway Ireland that the criteria required for appointment at this level are that the person must have a minimum of 10 years' experience, including at least five years at a senior level, in administration or management. The current director of marketing and communications meets these criteria.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the appointment to the position of marketing and communications director for Waterways Ireland was a promotion for the person appointed. [HL1273]

The appointment in question represented a promotion for the person involved.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 8 February

(WA 96) concerning Waterways Ireland appointments, who was appointed director of corporate services. [HL1322]

The appointment to the post of director of corporate services has not yet been finalised.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 January

(WA 173) concerning Waterways Ireland, what position the director of marketing and communications held in the Irish department previously responsible for waterways. [HL1324]

It would not be appropriate for Her Majesty's Government to comment on personnel matters in the Irish Civil Service.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many applicants there were for the post of head of administration in marketing and communications in Waterways Ireland; on what basis was the appointment made; and where the successful applicant worked before appointment. [HL1351]

asked Her Majesty's Government:In the years 2003 and 2004, how much was paid in overtime to staff of Waterways Ireland in Eire and Northern Ireland. [HL1352]Baroness Amos: Waterways Ireland's overtime payments were as follows:

PeriodRoIUK
20031,983,59356,226
20041,673,15759,982
The figures are in euros as this is the operating currency of the body.

Northern Ireland Act 1998: Section 75

Northern Ireland Act 1998: Section 75

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress they have made in the review of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act concerning the extension of the public bodies designated within the Act's remit to include the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Office of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, as envisaged in the report of I May 2003,

Continued Implementation of the Agreement. [HL1032]

The two strands of the Joint Declaration commitment referred to in the Question—the review of the Section 75 equality duty and the process of designation —are entirely separate. Professor Eithne McLaughlin and Neil Faris were commissioned to carry out the independent element of a review of the operation of Section 75 and the Government published their report on 9 December 2004. A period of public consultation on the review will commence shortly.Separately Translink, as an integral part of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCO) was designated by Order in Council in July 2004. The Government have concluded that convincing arguments in favour of the designation of the post of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or the BBC have not yet been advanced, but it remains open to interested parties' views.

Northern Ireland: Departmental Underspend

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 January

(WA 171) concerning underspending by Northern Ireland departments, for each department, what the funds transferred to the current year were used for. [HL1120]

Any underspends which arose in areas where automatic end-year flexibility (EYF) arrangements applied (primarily capital investment, and allocations in respect of executive programme funds and education and library boards) were retained by the relevant department for use in the same area in the following financial year. All residual underspend (i.e. in areas not covered by automatic EYF) was surrendered for reallocation in the course of the June 2004 monitoring round. This round also dealt with general reduced requirements declared by departments, and it is not possible separately to identify spending funded by the residual underspend.

Ulster-Scots Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:On what date the 2003 budget for the Ulster-Scots Agency was agreed with the government of the Republic of Ireland. [HL1139]

Ministers agreed the recommended allocation for the 2003 budget on 26 February 2003.

Northern Ireland: Political Advisers

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 January

(WA 176) concerning a document of 10 April 2003 entitled Ministerial Decision Making: Interim Procedures, whether the practice not to consult advisers about decisions for cross-border bodies means that there is no Unionist impact; and, if so, whether this is consistent with the spirit of the Belfast agreement of 1998. [HL1140]

We do not agree that the involvement or otherwise of political advisers in decisions relating to cross-border bodies means that there is no Unionist impact.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 January

(WA 176) concerning political advisers during a period of suspension of devolution in Northern Ireland, whether there was an agreement on the issue of consultation with political advisers between the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. [HL1141]

On 19 December 2002 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland gave a written undertaking to the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party that advisers could have the same prior access to relevant documents on North/South decisions as they had before suspension.He also undertook to make arrangements to ensure that each decision made under the exchange of notes remained transparent.

Prime Minister: Meetings

asked Her Majesty's Government:On what occasions since 1 September 2004 the Prime Minister has attended meetings which included members of the Irish Republican Army Council; who attended those meetings; and what was discussed. [HL1193]

I have nothing further to add to the Answer I gave on 25 January 2005 (Official Report, col. WA 147).

Northern Ireland: Northern Bank

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the statement of Chief Constable Hugh Orde that the Northern Bank notes stolen in the £26.5 million Belfast robbery were merely "waste paper" is accurate and valid. [HL1210]

The chief constable's comment followed the Northern Bank's decision to withdraw from circulation its current bank notes, and replace them with notes of a different colour and style. Given the expected timetable of a change over, any move to achieve the value of the stolen notes exposes those responsible for the robbery to the risk of detection thereby rendering the notes valueless.

North/South Ministerial Council Secretariat

asked Her Majesty's Government:On what date the North/South Ministerial Council Secretariat gave approval to Waterways Ireland to appoint a director without open competition despite the legal advice to the secretariat dated 8 July 2002; and [HL1221]Whether paragraphs 5 and 6 of the legal advice, dated 8 July 2002, to the Joint Secretary of the North/South Ministerial Council have been adhered to at all times in the appointment of senior staff by the cross-border implementation bodies; and, if not, why not. [HL1222]

It is not a function of the North/ South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat to approve appointments of staff in the implementation bodies, and the advice in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the advice to which the noble Lord refers was specific to the particular circumstances of filling the post of chief executive in the Ulster-Scots Agency.

Northern Ireland Statistics And Research, Agency

Unemployment, Statistical and Technical Issues was commissioned from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency; why it was commissioned; when it was published; and for what reason. [HL1223]

The document Unemployment, Statistical and Technical Issues was commissioned from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. The document was intended to inform the development and monitoring of labour market policy. The document was published on the OFMDFM website on Monday 31 January 2005. The reason for publication was to provide open access to the document which was being released under a Freedom of Information request.

Northern Ireland: Equality Of Opportunity

asked Her Majesty's Government:Who commissioned a report on equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland from DTZ Pieda of Edinburgh; how the firm was chosen; how much the report cost; and whether the consultants will consider equality of opportunity for teachers. [HL1224]

Research on equality of opportunity is an addition to an existing labour market dynamics study commissioned from DTZ Pieda by the equality directorate of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The firm was chosen in order to maximise the benefit and value of its original work including the collection of a large corpus of relevant data. The cost of this additional research is estimated to be in the region of £6,500, subject to final agreement on the detail of a work programme. This work programme and costs will be published in the OFMDFM research branch website.It is not intended to include a consideration of equality of opportunity for teachers in this research. This issue has already been the subject of an investigation by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland under Article 71(2) of the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998. The commission's findings and recommendations on the issue of the teachers' exception will be considered in the context of the development of a Single Equality Bill for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland: Housing Associations

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many voluntary housing associations there are in Northern Ireland; how many of these associations had a performance audit by the housing branch of the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development in 2004; and how many of the associations made a financial loss in 2003. [HL1260]

There are currently 39 voluntary housing associations registered with the housing division of the Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland. In 2004 the housing division regulation and inspection team commenced performance audits in four of the registered housing associations and progressed a further seven performance audits which had been ongoing from the previous year.Two registered housing associations recorded a deficit in their annual audited accounts for the year of account ending on 31 December 2003 or the first accounting period, ending after that date.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many meetings about staffing the housing branch of the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development has held with (a) the South Ulster Housing Association; and (b) the Gosford Housing Association since 1 January 2004; and whether anyone from the department involved in these meetings was an applicant for employment by either of these two housing associations. [HL1261]

Members of staff from the regulation and inspection branch of housing division in the Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland have held one meeting about staffing with South Ulster Housing Association and one meeting with Gosford Housing Association since I January 2004.

An officer from the division's regulation and inspection team that had been involved in the meeting about staffing in Gosford Housing Association had applied for a post in South Ulster Housing Association. Having declared this potential conflict of interest up front, this officer was not involved in the meeting, nor had access to the inspection papers relating to staffing in South Ulster Housing Association. Housing division is satisfied that any actual or perceived conflict of interest was appropriately handled in this instance.

Northern Ireland: Nationalist And Unionist Festivals

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have carried out any detailed analysis of funding for Nationalist and Unionist festivals in Northern Ireland since 1 January 2003; if so, how much each received per year; and for what projects. [HL1323]

The majority of NI departments do not record or hold information in respect of the community background of recipients of this funding. Therefore it has not been possible to conduct a detailed analysis in respect of community background.

Northern Ireland And Eire: Co-Operation In Education

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 19 January (

WA 101), whether the Belfast agreement, signed on 10 April 1998, provided for practical co-operation in education between Northern Ireland and Eire; and, if so, how it so provided. [HL1353]

Paragraphs 8 and 9(i) of Strand Two of the agreement set the framework for discussions which led to the North/South Ministerial Council identifying education as a matter for co-operation and implementation where existing bodies would be the appropriate mechanism for co-operation in each separate jurisdiction. Within this matter a range of issues were identified for initial consideration by NSMC and others were subsequently included, by agreement of both sides, at education sectoral meetings of NSMC.Joint working groups of the two education departments are taking forward work on the education issues identified.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Since the entry into force on 2 December 1999 of the North/South Ministerial Council agreement, whether the Department of Education in Northern Ireland has had dealings with the education department in Eire which have not been reported to the council. [HL1355]

There is nothing in the North/South Ministerial Agreement made between the British and Irish Governments which requires the Department of Education to report all its dealings with the Irish Department of Education and Science to the council.

Montserrat

asked Her Majesty's Government:What further consideration they are giving to proposals for facilitating cruise ship visits to Montserrat, sports tourism, a safe harbour for fishing boats during the hurricane season and a recreation area for the needs of the local population. [HL1381]

Small cruise ships already visit Montserrat from time to time, with passenger landings subject to sea conditions. While some improvements to passenger handling and harbour facilities might be possibilities for the future, the present transport infrastructure priority of the Montserrat Government and DfID is completion of the island's new airport and re-introduction of fixed-wing air services this year. Some good recreation areas and facilities already exist, such as football and cricket pitches and two all-weather sports courts. The possibility of more facilities will be considered as part of development of a new capital town at Little Bay. DfID is also supporting work to develop Montserrat's excellent potential for more tourism.

European Union-Japan Action Plan

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will seek to accelerate progress on the United Kingdom's proposals within the European Union-Japan action plan; and which priority areas they will put forward. [HL1209]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The action plan agreed in 2001 remains the principal framework for European Union (EU)-Japan cooperation across a wide range of issues. These include international peace and security, trade and financial issues, global and societal challenges, and people to people exchanges. Since the adoption of the action plan, the EU and Japan have strengthened their cooperation in these fields. The UK will seek to build on this during our EU Presidency, and will ensure that a meeting of the Steering Committee for the EU-Japan Action Plan will be held in our presidency.We welcome further development of EU-Japan dialogue reflecting the conclusions of the 2003 EU-Japan Summit; in particular on international security and conflict issues, and the global environment, where the EU and Japanese positions have much in common.

Blasphemy

Blasphemy

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, having regard to the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ireland in

Corway v. Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Limited (1999) IR 485, that permission should not be given to institute a criminal prosecution for blasphemy in view of the uncertain state of the law relating to that offence, they consider that the common law offence of blasphemy to be obsolete and unenforceable in the United Kingdom. [HL1200)]

The Government do not consider the Irish Supreme Court case of Conway v. Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Limited means that the common law offence of blasphemy is obsolete and unenforceable in the United Kingdom. The Irish case concerns the status of the Irish common law offence of blasphemy. The Irish Supreme Court found that it was not clear what the elements of the blasphemy offence are in Irish law, in light of the Irish Constitution, and so agreed that the Irish High Court was right not to authorise a private blasphemy prosecution.We will however continue to keep the blasphemy laws in England and Wales under review.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on S February (

WA 98), what is the relevant link between the benefits of the new provision against incitement to religious hated and the issue of whether the blasphemy laws should be repealed. [HL1339]

The Government do not consider that the benefits of the new provision on incitement to religious hatred and the issue of whether blasphemy should be repealed are linked.

Public Order Act 1986: Section 4A Prosecutions

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many prosecutions have been brought for offences contrary to Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986; and how many of these prosecutions were successful. [HL1301]

The number of defendants proceeded against and found guilty of offences under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 in England and Wales, as identified in the Home Office court proceedings database, are shown in the attached table.

Information for Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Office and for Northern Ireland for the Northern Ireland Office.

Statistics for 2004 will be available in autumn this year.

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Offence description

Principal Statute

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Causing intentional harassment, alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Part I, Section 4A as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 154100405162951,0094931,2707161,459730
Racially aggravated causing intentional harassment, alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)

*

*

*

*

*

*

32430215
Religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)

*

*

*

*

*

*

........
Racially or religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)

*

*

*

*

*

*

........
Total for all offencesPublic Order Act 1986100405162951,0094931,2737181,889945

2000

2001

2002

2003

Offence description

Principal statute

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Causing intentional harassment, alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Part I, Section 4A as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 1541,3906511,4517481,4427711,566819
Racially aggravated causing intentional harassment, alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)771407948448815400835444
Religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)........11139
Racially or religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment alarm or distressPublic Order Act 1986 Section 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 31(1)(b) and (4)........12188079
Total for all offencesPublic Order Act 19862,1611,0582,3991,1962,2701,1902,4941,351

* = Not applicable

.. = Not available

(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.

(2) Staffordshire Police Force was able only to supply a sample of data for magistrates' courts proceedings covering one full week for each quarter for 2000.

Estimates based on this sample are included in the figures, as they are considered sufficiently robust at this high level of anlysis.

Source:

RDS—Office for Criminal Justice Reform.

Welsh And Scottish Regiments: Recruitment

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish the recruitment statistics for the Welsh and Scottish regiments over the past 10 years. [HL1048]

Recruitment statistics down to regimental level are not routinely published. Therefore the current and historical Welsh and Scottish regiments recruitment data are not readily available in the format requested. This information will take some time to compile and verify.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts and found guilty at all courts for offences, under the Public Order Act 1988 Section 4A. England and Wales, 1996–2003:

I will provide the noble Lord with the information as soon as it is available.

Future Aircraft Carrier

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their current best estimate of the in-service date for the two new aircraft carriers. [HL1077]

Our target in-service dates for the two future aircraft carriers remain 2012 and 2015. But in-service dates will not be formally set until main gate investment decision.

Joint Combat Aircraft

Joint Combat Aircraft

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their current best estimate of the in-service date for the joint combat aircraft. [HL1078]

The joint combat aircraft (JCA) ISD noted for planning purposes in the initial tailored main gate was December 2012. The "tailored" main gate was an interim approval point for the system development and demonstration phase of the programme. Subsequently the schedule for introducing this aircraft into service has been extensively reviewed in the light of the time taken in the United States to resolve the well known weight growth problems incurred by the STOVL variant of the JSF aircraft. Planning assumptions are now based on a revised ISD of December 2014. A firm decision on the ISD does not have to be made before the UK purchases significant numbers of aircraft. Our first planned purchase is December 2008 and by this time, with aircraft design frozen and initial development flights complete, the JCA programme will have increased maturity to make informed decisions on in-service dates. This approach remains coherent with our intention to introduce the JCA progressively onto the future carriers. This progressive approach seeks to de-risk the integration of the various complex elements of the carrier strike capability.

Raf: Boards Of Inquiry

asked Her Majesty's Government:Under what express provision of the statutory scheme for Royal Air Force boards of inquiry in force in 1994 senior reviewing officers could express their opinion on the findings of the members of the board of inquiry before whom evidence was laid; and under what provision they could substitute their own verdict on the facts for that of the board members. [HL1325]

The Royal Air Force board of inquiry procedure is governed by statutory rules made under Section 135 of the Air Force Act and the Chapter 17 of the Queen's Regulations for the Royal Air Force. These procedures were, as at 1994, amplified and explained by Chapter 8 of Air Publication (AP) 3207—The RAF Manual of Flight Safety, which itself is promulgated under the authority of the Defence Council in accordance with Section 2 of the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917. Paragraphs 147 to 149 of that document make specific reference to the ability of higher authorities to disagree with recommendations and observations of the board of inquiry, and actions they should take if they do so. Boards of inquiry and reviewing officers do not reach "verdicts" as such.

Freedom Of Information Act 2000

Freedom Of Information Act 2000

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their policy on disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 of entries in official ministerial diaries detailing the names of persons who attended meetings with Ministers and the dates of such meetings. [HL1196]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs
(Baroness Ashton of Upholland)

All requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, including information relating to records of meetings are considered on a case-by-case basis. The Freedom of Information Act operates on the presumption that all information held by public authorities should be available, subject to the 23 exemptions of the Act. Whether or not information is exempt under the Act requires the exercise of judgment in each case. The majority of the exemptions also require that the public interest in releasing the information should be weighed against the public interest in withholding it. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it, the information must be disclosed. The assessment of the public interest has to be made in all the circumstances of the case, on a case-by-case basis as far as each request is concerned.

Olympic Games 2012: London Bid

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 3 February

(WA 62), whether, for the avoidance of misunderstanding, they will draw to the attention of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that differing criteria based on local guidelines were used in table 12.14, page 43, volume 3 of the London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games; and whether they will give an assurance that all debates and Questions together with Answers reported in Hansard referring to the 2012 Olympic Games will be forwarded as a routine form of information to the IOC. [HL1180]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
(Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

A commission from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited London between 16 and 19 February to evaluate London's bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the visit the bid team discussed the detailed content of our candidate file, including security issues, with the evaluation commission. We will provide the IOC with whatever information it requests to help it make a full assessment of London's bid.

Rural Job Centres

Rural Job Centres

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many rural job centres were closed between 1997 and 2004; and whether any new centres were opened during this period. [HL1184]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions
(Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

The information requested is not available for the period before Jobcentre Plus was formed in April 2002.Between April 2002 and December 2004 a total of 203 offices were closed nationally. Between October 2001 and December 2004 we opened a total of 542 new and refurbished offices to support delivery of the integrated Jobcentre Plus services.Between one half to two-thirds of the 203 closures to December 2004 are either located in rural areas or serve a catchment area which includes rural communities. However, the areas previously served by these closed sites have benefited from investment in the new integrated Jobcentre Plus service, and more than 300 new and made-over sites could be considered rural or serving areas including rural populations.Jobcentre Plus customers may now access the service through a greater choice of channels and it is no longer necessary to visit a jobcentre to find work. The entire job bank of around 400,000 local, national and international job vacancies are accessible through the Internet. Over the past year we have seen the number of hits on our jobsearch website increase by 40 per cent. A job vacancy service is also available over the telephone through Jobseeker Direct.

Benefit Fraud

asked Her Majesty's Government:In the past five years, how many payments have been made to local authorities by central government to encourage them to initiate fraud proceedings against benefit recipients; how much those payments were in each case; and what are the total payments to each local authority. [HL1256]

The available information has been placed in the Library. Data are not available prior to 2001–02.

Nuclear Power Stations

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the statement by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 26 January that "the major closedown of nuclear power stations begins in 2020" (

Official Report, col. 1259) is consistent with the existing programme of nuclear power station closures that will result in only three nuclear power stations remaining open by 2020. [HL1257]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry
(Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

I regret that my statement the noble Baroness refers to was misleading. The current estimated closure dates of the existing nuclear power stations are given in the table below. However, on current plans, around 30 per cent. of installed nuclear capacity will be operating after 2020 and these dates do not take account of further possible lifetime extensions for British Energy's AGR and PWR plants. Any decisions to seek extensions would be a matter for the company which would need to evaluate the safety, technical and economic cases, within the overall regulatory framework.

Nuclear Power StationEstimated closure dateType of reactorInstalled capacity MW
Dungeness A2006Magnox450
Sizewell A2006Magnox420
Oldbury2008Magnox434
Dungeness B2008AGR1,110
Wylfa2010Magnox980
Hinkley Point B2011AGR1,220
Hunterston B2011AGR1,190
Hartlepool2014AGR1,210
Heysham 12014AGR1,150
Heysham 22023AGR1,250
Torness2023AGR1,250
Sizewell B2035PWR1,188
Total4 Magnox1852 MW
7 AGRs
1 PWR

Supply Of Extended Warranties On Domestic Electrical Goods Order 2005

asked Her Majesty's Government:Why the consultation period on the Supply of Extended Warranties on Domestic Electrical Goods Order 2005 (S.I.2005/37) was only one month long and ended on 20 December 2004. [HL1218]

The Government held two rounds of public consultation on the Supply of Extended Warranties on Domestic Electrical Goods Order 2005. The first period ran for 12 weeks from 28 July 2004 to 22 October 2004. The Government then revised the order after reviewing the representations received. The second round of consultation was a supplementary one and therefore ran for a shorter timescale of 30 days, from 18 November 2004 to 20 December 2004.

Information And Consultation Of Employees Regulations 2004

asked Her Majesty's Government:Who is responsible for organising the ballot and counting the votes in an election to be held under Regulation 14 of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (S.I.2004/3426). [HL1219]

Under Regulation 14 of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, negotiating representatives may either be elected in a ballot, or appointed by employees directly. If a ballot is held, the employer must ensure that all employees are entitled to take part in the election and that the employees are all represented during subsequent negotiations. One way of doing this would be to appoint an independent ballot supervisor to oversee the election.

Pesticides Safety Directive Study

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 4 February (

Official Report, cols. WA 68–69), on what evidence from:

  • (a) human toxicological data;
  • (b) non-human mammalian toxicological data;
  • (c) general practitioner medical records;
  • (d) pesticide company doctor medical records;
  • (e) Health and Safety Executive Employment Medical Advisory Service medical records;
  • (f) information provided by the National Poisons Information Service;
  • (g) data from biochemical investigation tests; and
  • (h) other information
  • the Pesticides Safety Directorate has concluded that "62 incidents … did not demonstrate a causal link between the pesticide and symptoms described". [HL1364]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
    (Lord Whitty)

    The Pesticides Safety Directorate has not drawn any conclusions from the limited data submitted. The reports provided in response to this exercise do not contain the toxicological data or medical records necessary to demonstrate proof of a causal link. The results of the study have been sent to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) and the Health and Safety Executive's Pesticides Incident Appraisal Panel (PIAP) which are currently considering them.

    Freight Transport

    asked Her Majesty's Government:For each trunk road or motorway, how many lorry journeys would be added to road traffic volumes if the current levels of support for company neutral revenue support were cancelled. [HL1227]

    The Government do not intend to cancel their support for rail freight activity that takes lorry traffic off the roads. Indeed, the Government have just announced that up to £2 million of additional money will be made available in each of the next two years for new applications for company neutral revenue support and track access grant.The SRA expects that CNRS will support around 650,000 container movements on rail in 2004–05. All of these movements are potential lorry journeys, although details of the roads that each would have used are not available.

    A12

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list by date, cause and location, fatal accidents which have occurred since 1978 on the section of the Al2 road between the north end of the Wickham Market bypass and Blythborough [HL1263]

    Her Majesty's Government do not hold records over such a length of time nor in the detail requested for this section of road which although a trunk road until 2001, has since been the responsibility of Suffolk County Council as local highway authority.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are satisfied with the safety of the A 12 road from Ipswich to Yarmouth since it was detrunked; and whether they have plans to retrunk it. [Hl1264]

    The A12 was detrunked between Ipswich and just south of the Bascule Bridge, Lowestoft, early in 2001.Since then it has been the responsibility of Suffolk County Council as local highway authority. It is for the council to take a view on the safety of the road and to consider and, if appropriate, bring forward, improvements. The Government have no plans to retrunk this section of the road.

    Vehicle Registration Certificates: Fraud

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many prosecutions have been made of those who are alleged to have forged signatures or committed other acts of fraud on Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency form D5. [HL1283]

    The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency does not take forward prosecutions of those who are alleged to have forged signatures or committed other acts of fraud on the vehicle registration certificate. This is a matter for the police. The agency has no information on the number of prosecutions taken forward in this area.