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Written Answers

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 17 April 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Agriculture: Dairy Cows

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the evidence for the advice which recently appeared on the farmed animals page of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' website that during milking of dairy cows the case for wearing disposable latex or rubber gloves is indisputable particularly where contagious pathogens are the main source of contamination. [HL2986]

That wearing rubber gloves and keeping them clean can help reduce bacterial contamination during milking has been our advice since the publication of our advisory booklet Treatment and Prevention of Mastitis in Dairy Cows in 1999 and on the Defra website as part of our advice on reducing mastitis in dairy cows since 2002.

Bacteria, including the bacteria that cause mastitis, can be passed from cow to cow by stock-keepers during milking and it is demonstrably easier to ensure a high level of hand hygiene when wearing rubber gloves. This advice was originally submitted by ADAS, an agricultural consultancy with which Defra has an advisory contract, and is generally recognised, from practical experience, to be good milking parlour routine.

Animal Welfare: Horses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What contingency plans are in place to deal with a possible outbreak of African horse sickness in the United Kingdom; and [HL3005]

What assessment they have made of the impact of a future United Kingdom outbreak of African horse sickness on the country's equine industry. [HL3006]

The severity of the disease and the controls to monitor and restrict movement of horses could significantly affect the equine industry in the UK. Introduction of the disease could be either through the windborne carriage of infected midges from the near-European continent if disease were to be confirmed there, which is not the case at present, or through the illegal introduction of infected equines. It is a requirement that owners who suspect an equine of being affected with African horse sickness notify Animal Health (formerly the State Veterinary Service).

European Union rules permit imports of horses only from countries or regions which are free from African horse sickness. Pre-export tests are required for all horses from free countries in Africa or the Middle East.

Council Directive 92/35 provides for compulsory notification and the setting up of a protection zone of at least a 100-kilometre radius around an infected premises. This, together with a surveillance zone of at least a further 50 kilometres, would have to remain in force for at least 12 months.

African horse sickness is included in The Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992 to implement the slaughter requirements of EU Council Directive 92/35/EEC, which lays down control rules and measures to combat African horse sickness.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many scientists are engaged in research into bluetongue and allied diseases such as African horse sickness; and whether data from this work are held centrally. [HL3007]

The wide-ranging research work on bluetongue and associated diseases is undertaken by Pirbright (in containment facilities), and some other research (not requiring containment) is carried out in a number of other facilities, such as universities. The total number of scientists engaged in this area of work is around 36. This figure can fluctuate a little with the allocation of part-time staff and changes in student and post-doctorate numbers.

The knowledge base on bluetongue and African horse sickness is predominantly centralised at Pirbright, and the laboratory co-operates internationally in respect of its work on this area. This is reflected by its status as a European Community reference laboratory for bluetongue and is the OIE reference laboratory both for bluetongue and African horse sickness. All research undertaken at Pirbright is published.

Armed Forces: Drug Tests

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many random drug tests were performed on military personnel in 2006; how many of these were positive, and for which drugs or combination of drugs. [HL3038]

A total of 129,888 random drug tests were performed on military personnel in 2006, of which 844 were positive (0.65 per cent). The breakdown showing drugs or combination of drugs detected for each service, and for the Armed Forces as a whole, is shown in the table below.

2006

Royal Navy

Army

Royal Air Force

Armed Forces

Number of random tests performed on military personnel

12,505

104,499

12,884

129,888

Number of personnel testing positive (percentage of tests carried out)

57 (0.46%)

769 (0.74%)

18 (0.14%)

844 (0.65%)

Drug or combination of drug involved:

(percentage of positive tests)

Heroin

1

1

2 (0.24%)

Cocaine

35

340

8

383 (45.4%)

Cocaine/Ecstasy

34

2

36 (4.3%)

Cocaine/Ecstasy/Amphetamine

3

3 (0.36%)

Cocaine/Ecstasy/Cannabis

6

6 (0.71%)

Cocaine/Amphetamine

6

6 (0.71%)

Cocaine/Amphetamine/Cannabis

1

1 (0.12%)

Cocaine/Cannabis

33

33 (3.9%)

Ecstasy

9

73

2

84 (10.0%)

Ecstasy/Amphetamine

9

9 (1.1%)

Ecstasy/Amphetamine/Cannabis

3

3 (0.36%)

Ecstasy/Cannabis

10

10 (1.2%)

Cannabis

11

221

4

236 (28.0%)

Amphetamine

15

15

15 (1.8%)

Amphetamine/Cannabis

4

4 (0.47%)

Benzodiazephine

1

10

2

13 (1.57%)

Armed Forces: Procurement

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Following the Enabling Acquisition Change report and Bowman Combat Infrastructure Platform Programme, how they intend to engage HM Treasury and other relevant government departments to develop a more responsive procurement approvals process. [HL3033]

The Ministry of Defence is actively engaged with HM Treasury to develop a more responsive procurement approvals process. HM Treasury aside, although engagement with other government departments does take place in the context of the approvals process, this does not impact on approval time lines.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the status of the Ministry of Defence JAMES 2 database. [HL3035]

The Joint Asset Management & Engineering Solutions (JAMES) programme consists of a series of information system-enabled logistic process and business change projects. JAMES 2 is the second increment of a Land project which is being delivered in support of the Whole Fleet Management (WFM) Defence Change Programme. The first increment, JAMES 1, is currently being rolled out to the Army.

Benefits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, following their announcement during the Report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill on 19 March (Official Report, col. 1022) of a change in the permitted work rules, they will set out all the new rules regarding permitted work for those on benefits. [HL3023]

The change to the permitted work rules announced at Lords Report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill means that, within employment and support allowance (ESA), anyone claiming either the contributory or the income-related benefit will be able to earn up to £86 per week for up to 52 weeks without it affecting their benefit entitlement. The current rules for supported permitted work will apply to contributory ESA and, in addition, those customers on income-related ESA who are able to undertake supported permitted work will be able to do so for up to 52 weeks. We are also looking at ways in which a similar concept to the current personal capability assessment exempt group in Incapacity Benefit could be brought forward into ESA.

Other rules around work, for example the permitted work lower limit and the ability to undertake unlimited voluntary work, will also be brought forward into ESA.

British Coal Compensation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the financial consideration received upon the sale to UK Coal Limited and its predecessors of the assets and liabilities of the former British Coal Corporation and British Coal Opencast Executive. [HL3112]

In 1994, the assets of the British Coal Corporation were offered for sale in the form of five regional coal companies and a number of stand-alone “care and maintenance” collieries. Following the selection of RJB Mining plc as preferred bidder for the three English companies and Ellington and Thorne Collieries, the relevant assets were combined to form one company, Central and Northern Mining Ltd. RJB Mining plc purchased that company on 29 December 1994 for an agreed price of £815,300,000.

RJB Mining Plc changed its name to UK Coal plc in 2001.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the loss of pension rights by former employees and current pensioners maintaining entitlement under the former British Coal pensions schemes. [HL3113]

When the British Coal Corporation was privatised in 1994, the Government guaranteed that the pension entitlements of members of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme would always be met and would always rise in line with inflation. That commitment has been, and continues to be, honoured. Additionally, scheme members are entitled to a 50 per cent share of any periodic valuation surpluses. This has helped enable very substantial bonus pensions to be awarded over and above guaranteed, index-linked pensions.

Care Services

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What study they have made of the findings and recommendations of Carers UK's report Caring for Sick or Disabled Children: Parents' Experiences of Combining Work and Care; and what action they are considering arising from the report.[HL2634]

The report is wide ranging. In so far as parents' experiences of combining work and care is concerned, the Government have an excellent track record in providing choice and flexibility to help parents balance their work and family responsibilities. We introduced the right to request flexible working for parents of young and disabled children in 2003. We have been monitoring the impact of this legislation and have recently extended it to carers of adults. The law has been a considerable success: almost 25 per cent of employees with dependent children under the age of six have requested flexible working in the past two years and four out of five requests are accepted.

The report also highlights several issues under the term “the benefits trap”. We are aware of these concerns and there is pre-existing work in development as well as existing policy measures in places. For example, we are developing an information provision strategy to improve information provision for carers across all DWP services and channels, including DWP customer-facing staff at agencies (Jobcentre Plus, Disability and Carers Service and Pensions Service), leaflets, relevant marketing campaigns and helplines. This will aim to co-ordinate messages and information for carers about benefits, work options, training and pension planning.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much money has been moved from funding acute healthcare to social services closer at home in the last financial year, in line with the targets set in the White Paper Our Health, our Care, our Say. [HL2916]

Figures are not available. The White Paper does not set any numerical targets for the National Health Service or social care. Primary care trusts will however need to demonstrate in the 2008 planning round that they have a clear strategy for the development of primary and community services, including ambitious goals for the shift of resources rooted in the White Paper vision. In the mean time, we are developing metrics that can be used to measure the shift of care closer to home, which includes the need to promote preventative interventions and health and well-being, with stronger local services and support to reduce the prevalence of physical and mental illness.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they reconcile their aspirations relating to choice, early intervention, prevention and local services as set out in the White Paper, Our Health, our Care, our Say, with the current local authority social care budgets and the need for local authorities to set higher eligibility thresholds in regard to social care. [HL2917]

We are committed to the delivery of the vision and goals of the Our Health, our Care, our Say White Paper. We continue to make substantial investment to support local authorities in placing more emphasis on prevention, early intervention and bringing about the transformation of services to give service users more choice and control. This is backed up by the recent commissioning framework for health and well-being which provides primary care trusts and local authorities with a framework to work together to improve the health, well-being and independence of their populations.

We are investing £60 million over the years 2006-08 in the partnerships for older people projects, to enable councils to develop innovative ways to help older people avoid emergency hospital admissions and to live independently in their own communities. The projects are testing and evaluating innovative ways of enabling health and social care communities to create a sustainable shift in their whole system towards prevention. We are also piloting individual budgets, designed to increase choice and control, and to support people in decisions about their own lives. Learning from these projects and others will help local authorities, working together with their partners in the National Health Service, to make locally appropriate decisions about the most effective use of their resources.

The department has provided guidance to councils with social services responsibilities, but local authorities set eligibility criteria for who qualifies for local authority funded social care.

Climate Change

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have proposals for an official, simple, climate change adverse emissions tabulation, showing the carbon effects for different product usages, to serve as a guide for the public on best practice. [HL2736]

The Government recognise the need to work with business and individuals to help make changes that benefit the environment, including becoming more energy efficient.

As a key part of this work, the Government will make efforts to help people understand the link between their own actions, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and climate change. We are developing, in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust (EST) a web-based CO2 calculator for individuals and households. Based on an individual's or household's lifestyle, the calculator will provide a profile of the user's direct CO2 emissions. It will also give tailored recommendations about how these can be reduced.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to establish the proportion of global warming caused by natural, solar or cosmic forces as against the influence of man-made carbon dioxide. [HL2859]

The Government fund extensive research into the effects of natural and human factors on the climate through the research councils, predominantly the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), and Defra. Defra's activities include the funding of the world-leading Met Office Hadley Centre.

UK research made a significant contribution to the recently published Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report assessed the relative contributions of different natural and man-made forcings on the climate over the past century. It concluded that it is very likely that observed global warming over at least the past 50 years was predominantly caused by increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Changes in solar output may have contributed to some early 20th century warming, but cannot explain the recent strong rise in global temperatures.

Over the century as a whole, the warming effect of changes in solar output is estimated to have been only around one-tenth of that due to the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. There is no evidence suggesting that cosmic ray variations have played a significant role in warming over the past century.

Embryology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, with reference to paragraphs 2.51 and 2.52 of the White Paper on the Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, genetic modification of either embryonic stem cells or tissue stem cells is clearly distinct from genetic modification of cells which are still part of an embryo; and what the ultimate aims or purpose of such research might be, in particular if such genetically modified embryos are not intended for use in reproduction. [HL2935]

As stated in the White Paper Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: Proposals for Revised Legislation (including establishment of the Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos), the Government are not convinced of the need to preclude research activities that involve alteration of the genetic structure of the embryo, as part of legitimate research projects. This position is, in principle, already recognised in the legislation by the provision of a secondary legislative power.

The Government intend to remove, for research purposes only, the restriction on altering the genetic structure of a cell while it forms part of an embryo. This is distinct from genetic modification of embryonic stem cells or tissue stem cells not forming part of an embryo. Aims of such research on embryos could include, for example, understanding how specific gene defects lead to symptoms of disease or failure of embryo implantation.

Licensing controls applicable to projects of research involving human embryos will continue to apply. Licences cannot authorise any activity unless it appears to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to be necessary or desirable for one or more of the purposes specified in legislation, and unless the authority is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the particular research project.

Energy: Biofuels

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of biofuels in the United Kingdom is sourced from British crops, and what proportion from imported commodities.[HL3053]

Current biofuel sales in the UK are from both domestic and imported sources. We do not hold statistics on the relative share of each.

To further develop the supply of biofuels, a renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO) will be introduced in April 2008 which will require 5 per cent of fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010. To ensure that biofuels are sourced sustainably, the Government are proposing to develop a carbon and sustainability scheme as part of the obligation. Obligated companies would be required to report on the level of carbon savings achieved and on the sustainability of their supplies. This will help us to identify the source of the biofuel.

We anticipate that the RTFO will be met from both imported and domestic sources. A number of companies are building, or planning to build, biofuel processing plants in the UK which will use UK-grown crops (such as oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet) as feedstocks. The current production capacity is 614,000 tonnes per year (not including minor-scale plants). The majority of this has only come on stream in recent months.

Energy: Household Generation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much money has been paid out from the grant scheme to help householders generate their own power through solar panels and wind turbines; and how many homes have received such a grant. [HL3124]

The up-to-date statistics for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 1 household stream can be found at www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/info/ and by going to the view statistics pages.

Health: Audiology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the impact on waiting times for digital hearing aids of the ending of the public/private partnership in this area; and how the capacity provided by the independent sector under this scheme will be replaced; and [HL2887]

How they propose to integrate training, qualifications and standards between the National Health Service and the independent sector in delivering the Audiology Framework set out in the Department of Health document, Improving Access to Audiology Services in England; and [HL2888]

Whether they will set targets and dates for the number of patient pathways to be delivered under the Audiology Framework set out in the Department of Health document, Improving Access to Audiology Services in England, in order to ensure that waiting time targets are met; and [HL2889]

When they will introduce a national tariff for the provision of digital hearing aid services. [HL2890]

The current public/private partnership ended on 31 March 2007. The department is working with strategic health authorities (SHAs) to finalise the numbers of audiology pathways that will be commissioned in future, with the waiting time objectives set out in Improving Access to Audiology Services in England firmly in mind. These pathways will be commissioned in part from National Health Service providers and in part from the independent sector.

Some independent sector activity may be procured locally. In addition, the department is procuring activity on a national regional basis on behalf of local commissioners. The first of this activity—part of the independent sector treatment centre phase 2 diagnostics procurement—is due to come on stream shortly. Further activity will be procured nationally subject to the outcome of the current work with the SHAs. The waiting time objectives are set out in the aforementioned document and will drive local activity levels. Activity targets are not necessary in this context.

It is important that common standards should apply to NHS services whichever organisation provides them, and the department is working with NHS providers and the independent and voluntary sectors to ensure harmonisation. This work includes the development of education and training programmes for introduction during 2007-08. As the recent document made clear, the department is committed to considering the introduction of national audiology tariffs as soon as practicable bearing in mind the recommendations of the Lawlor review of payment-by-results.

Health: Dyspepsia

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they propose to take in order to encourage doctors who treat patients with dyspepsia or gastro-oesophageal reflux to follow the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines by prescribing intermittent treatment with proton pump inhibitors and alginate barrier preparations. [HL3054]

Health professionals have a duty to provide the best possible healthcare for their patients based on current guidance, including that issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Health: Stem Cell Therapy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the use of stem cell therapy in cases of liver cancer, reported by surgeons at the University of Düsseldorf in Radiology; and what implications their research has for liver cancer patients in the United Kingdom; and [HL3029]

What research is being done in the United Kingdom into the use of stem cell therapy in cases of liver cancer. [HL3030]

We are aware of the recent report of clinical research at the University of Dusseldorf on a small number of patients, which suggested that the use of bone marrow stem cells could enhance current treatments of patients with liver cancer. However, as with all clinical research, these studies must be extended to larger numbers of patients and replicated by other clinical research groups before we can make any firmer conclusions about the safety and efficacy of the technique.

The Government are fully committed to exploring the promise of stem cells in all areas of medicine, including cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Despite rapid progress in this area, much more laboratory and clinical research, in both stem cells and other areas of medicine, must be carried out before we can see benefits to patients. That is why we have doubled our levels of support for stem cell research to £100 million for the period 2006-07 and 2008-09.

National Minimum Wage: Migrant Workers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Department for Work and Pensions has received complaints from migrant workers about wages of less than the national minimum; and, if so, how many complaints have been received. [HL3094]

The information is not collected centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The national minimum wage, which is enforced by HMRC on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry, applies where non-agricultural work is undertaken. The Agricultural Wages Order, which provides for an agricultural minimum wage rate, is enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in England and by the National Assembly for Wales's agriculture department in Wales. Any complaints received by the Department for Work and Pensions are passed to the relevant department for consideration.

Intelligence

to ask Her Majesty’s Government

On how many occasions since 1997 they accepted intelligence obtained under duress by a third party. [HL2679]

National Insurance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 29 March (Official Report, col. WA 318), whether they will provide a more accurate figure for the number of national insurance numbers currently held on the Department for Work and Pensions customer information system than the approximately 76 million referred to in the Answer. [HL3128]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What criteria must be fulfilled to issue an individual with a national insurance number; and what checks are in place to ensure that individuals are not issued with more than one number. [HL3132]

Responsibility for the allocation of national insurance numbers (NINOs) to UK resident juveniles (shortly before the individual's sixteenth birthday) rests with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. DWP (Jobcentre Plus) is responsible for the administration of the adult NINO allocation process. For a NINO to be issued under the adult NINO allocation process, an individual must be able to prove their identity and fulfil one of the following criteria:

prove their right to work in the UK where the NINO application relates to employment; or

have claimed, or be the partner in a claim to, a social security benefit or tax credit where NINO application relates to a benefit or tax credit claim; or

be required to possess a NINO in order for a student loan to be awarded.

In order to ensure that individuals are not issued with more than one number, all NINO applications are subject to a rigorous identity checking process. This process includes thorough face-to-face interviews, the use of document examination tools for the verification of identity documents, and an extensive search of the DWP computer system for any existing NINO prior to the allocation of a new NINO.

NHS: Finances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether money was taken from the budgets of Essex primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the National Health Service financial position across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken. [HL2914]

Returning the National Health Service to overall financial balance has been a key priority in 2006-07. As part of the strategy to achieve this, strategic health authorities (SHAs) have top sliced resource allocations made to their primary care trusts (PCTs), thereby creating SHA reserves. The level of any contributions is based on the financial and service circumstances of individual organisations, and is always underpinned by the principle of fairness.

Top-sliced resources are held in the SHA reserves on behalf of the NHS. The SHA can use these reserves to balance the overall financial position within its area—not by physically moving money around the system to bail out individual organisations, but by setting the resources against instances of overspending by trusts and PCTs at aggregate economy level.

We have been clear that SHAs should maintain the integrity of the allocations system, with contributing PCTs being entitled to repayment of their contributions over a period which does not normally exceed the three-year allocation period. We have asked SHAs to make sure that, as far as possible, PCTs with the greatest health need are the first to be repaid. However, any repayment is dependent on affordability within the SHA economy, and is inextricably linked to the speed and stability of financial recovery in the NHS as a whole.

The table shows PCT's in Essex top-slice forecast outturn allocation at quarter 3, 2006-07.

PCT name

Q3 2006-07 PCT forecast outturn top-slice £000's

Mid Essex PCT

0

North East Essex PCT

7,800

South East Essex PCT

8,900

South West Essex PCT

18,400

West Essex PCT

2,500

Source: Financial monitoring returns quarter 3 2006-07

Pollution

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much they will contribute over the next three years to the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme which monitors the concentration of air pollutants; and what assessment they have made of how this contribution compares to contributions which other European countries have pledged to make. [HL3071]

Defra is the lead department for the Government on the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA). Other key government funding partners at this stage include the Department of Trade and Industry, the Natural Environment Research Council and Ministry of Defence.

The Government are contributing to the GMES programme through two major routes. First, the UK is contributing €11.04 million to phase 1, segment 1 of the ESA GMES Space Component Programme. This makes the UK the fifth largest contributor to this part of GMES. Secondly, as a major contributor to the European Union, the UK is indirectly funding 18 per cent of the €1.2 billion that is dedicated to GMES from within the EU FP7 Space Programme, which amounts to €216 million.

As yet, there is no firm decision on the level of UK subscription to the second phase of the ESA GMES Space Component Programme. Defra will continue to engage with the Commission, ESA, other government departments and UK stakeholders to ensure, as far as possible, that GMES meets UK needs and provides good value for money.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the importance of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme as a component of their policies to monitor and forecast the level of air pollution. [HL3072]

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme shows potential for contributing to air quality monitoring and forecasting policies at various levels. The aspiration to make data (from ground and satellite networks) more readily available, efficiently acquired and fit for purpose is welcome.

Current air quality monitoring at member state level is determined by a European directive that stipulates the use of certain technologies and standards which must be adhered to. This is usually delivered through ground-based sensor networks. Satellite data are not used as they cannot meet the required data quality criteria, but they could still be useful for giving greater insight into air quality issues, for instance, through quantifying diffuse or remote sources such as international shipping or ammonia emissions from agricultural land.

Air quality forecasts are based on operational models used by the UK Met Office. In future, we expect to see greater use of assimilated satellite data to help enhance these models, particularly in terms of trans-boundary transport of pollutants. Currently, the use of satellite data is mainly restricted to research activities. The ESA Promote project demonstrates the potential for a host of air quality and atmospheric composition services to be delivered. Whether they can fully transition to operational status will depend on many factors, including the accuracy and reliability of data acquisition.

Roads: Litter Collection

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how much of the motorway and trunk road network of England the Highways Agency has sub-contracted responsibility for litter collection to local authorities; and what arrangements are in place to ensure that adequate standards of cleanliness are maintained on those sub-contracted sections; and [HL3087]

Whether the current arrangements for litter clearance along the motorway and trunk road network in England is satisfactory. [HL3088]

The Highways Agency (HA) does not subcontract to local authorities any cleansing on roads under its jurisdiction. The HA has a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to clear litter and refuse from the strategic road network, which includes all motorways and some A-roads and trunk roads. The cleansing duty on other roads is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. To ensure satisfactory standards, cleansing is undertaken in accordance with the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse. A map of the roads under HA jurisdiction is available on its website.

Data from the Local Environmental Quality Survey of England 2005-06 show that there has been a steady improvement in cleansing performance over the past three years. However, the survey indicated a rise in levels of detritus on rural roads and other highways.

Somaliland: Aid

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their budget for aid to Somaliland in each of the years covered by the Comprehensive Spending Review; and how these amounts will be allocated. [HL2156]

DfID has a single programme for Somalia and Somaliland. We estimate that 30 to 40 per cent of this allocation benefits Somaliland. For the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) period 2005-08 our programme framework rose from £12 million in 2005-06 (increased to £18.75 million in response to severe drought in the Horn of Africa), to £15 million in 2006-07, and will rise further to £21 million in 2007-08. Our assistance to Somaliland will continue to increase as the overall programme framework increases.

The 2008-11 CSR figures have not yet been decided. We estimate that once again around 30 to 40 per cent of this allocation will benefit Somaliland. Our support to Somaliland will continue to include assistance to education, the rule of law, government capacity building and community grants (all primarily channelled through UN agencies), plus continuing humanitarian assistance through international NGOs and other agencies as needed.

Somaliland: Livestock Ban

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 27 March 2006 (WA 100), what progress has been made on ways of overcoming the livestock ban against Somaliland by neighbouring states; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the Somali Joint Needs Assessment in which the overall reconstruction package for Somaliland was expected to be contained. [HL2159]

The livestock ban, which applied across the whole of Somalia, was lifted in 2006. Since then there has been an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever, resulting in an import ban by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and various Middle East countries, and further weakening the sector. The European Commission is supporting the establishment of a comprehensive support strategy necessary to sustain the livestock sector, so that it can regain its former prominence. It entails the setting up of a reliable and cost-effective animal health service in order to enhance livestock production and domestic and export trade of livestock and livestock products. Improving the livestock sector is also an important component of the Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) and Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP).

The Somali Joint Needs Assessment runs to six volumes and is available on the following website: www.somali-jna.org. Work is currently under way, managed by the World Bank and UNDP on behalf of the Somali authorities, on the Reconstruction and Development Plan (the outcome of the JNA process), which will be made available on the same website once it is finalised. There is no clear deadline for this at present although draft versions of volumes 1 to 4 of the RDP are currently available online.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 12 March (WA 99) and 16 March (WA 160) (a) why further public consultation and regulatory impact assessment on the mandatory fitting of conspicuity markings to heavy goods vehicles are necessary, when a recent regulatory impact assessment and public consultation demonstrated public support for the introduction of this requirement; and (b) whether they will now draft an amending statutory instrument to make conspicuity markings mandatory on all newly registered heavy goods vehicles. [HL3044]

Instructions for a draft statutory instrument to amend further the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 are in preparation. The amending instrument will cover not only retro-reflective tape but also “battenberg” markings for specified special vehicles, an amendment to the existing definition of “emergency vehicle” and provisions on lighting requirements for goods vehicles parked at night.

As part of the statutory procedure for amending the regulations, consultation is required. In addition, Cabinet Office guidance requires a regulatory impact assessment on all proposed changes to government policy which might affect the public or private sectors, charities, the voluntary sector or small businesses to be issued with every such consultation.

Transport: Vehicle Registration

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to allow data relating to vehicle ownership to be exchanged between European registration authorities with a view to enforcing fines and penalties imposed on foreign-registered vehicles. [HL3043]

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency does not have the legal authority to release information to foreign authorities seeking to enforce fines and penalties. We are aware that the European Commission is funding research to identify the steps that could be taken at a European level to implement a pan-EU approach to cross-border enforcement of traffic offences involving all member states.

Further information is contained in the department's response in January to a Commission consultation paper Respecting the Rules: Better Road Safety Enforcement in the European Union. A copy of the response can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/roadsafety_library/consultations/enforcement_20061106/enforcement_united_kingdom.pdf.