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Written Answers

Volume 698: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2008

Written Answers

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Afghanistan: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are making representations to the Government of Afghanistan concerning revocation of the death sentence pronounced on Mr Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, and the reinstatement of Ms Malalai Joya as a member of the Parliament. [HL1709]

The Government were concerned to hear about the case of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh. We are opposed to the death penalty. We fully support the right to freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial. We are pursuing the matter in Afghanistan through the EU and UN. The office of the UN Special Representative in Afghanistan has already been called publicly for a review of the case.

Malalai Joya was suspended by her peers in Parliament in May 2007 after a media interview in which she said that the Afghan Parliament was worse than a “stable or zoo”. She was suspended under Parliament's Rules of Procedure. Ms Joya has the right to challenge the decision, but has not yet chosen to do so. The Government, together with EU partners, regularly raise the importance of freedom of expression in Afghanistan and look forward to Ms Joya and Parliament resolving this internal parliamentary issue.

Africa: Leadership Course

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made on the British Council's Inter Action Leadership course for Africans. [HL1576]

The British Council's “Inter Action” programme seeks to develop a powerful network of like-minded leaders, supporting inter-cultural dialogue, across a wide range of countries, and provide these individuals with new skills to defuse conflict within communities and among factions.

Since 2004, 1,200 emerging leaders from 19 African countries have completed the “Inter Action” course, with a further 1,800 people having participated in the programme through associated events and conferences.

Agriculture: Foot and Mouth Disease

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many farmers whose livestock was slaughtered during the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2007 also had meat in cold store that was destroyed; and whether any of them have been compensated for that. [HL1636]

Two farmers who had livestock culled during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2007 also had meat in cold store on their premises. This meat was destroyed. Compensation is not payable for consequential losses, but Defra met the costs of collection and disposal in these instances.

Animal Welfare: Squirrels

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the buffer zone in place keeping grey squirrels from accessing red squirrel habitats. [HL1577]

The red squirrel reserves in northern England were chosen as being the sites most likely to sustain populations of red squirrel, through a combination of factors including favourable habit, defendable location, management potential and supportive landowners.

The buffer zones are the surrounding area of land, typically the 5 kilometres from the edge of the reserve that grey squirrel control habitat management is being targeted in order to protect the reserve areas from grey squirrel incursion. This land varies between reserves from open moorland, thorough mixed woodland and farmland to urban areas.

Work is currently under way to re-map the buffer zones in order to take greater account of land use and topography, which will help direct future habitat management and grey squirrel control efforts.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the development of a vaccine to control squirrel pox, which is common in the grey squirrel population. [HL1578]

A three-year PhD study of the epidemiology and transmission of the disease in grey squirrel started in June 2007 at the Moredun Institute funded by the Scottish Executive. The Wildlife Ark Trust has also raised funding for the first stage of a programme to develop a squirrel pox vaccine for the red squirrel.

Armed Forces: Gulf War Veterans

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 14 January (WA 236–7), who bears responsibility for the incorrect decision, shortly before he died, to cut Gulf War veteran the late Mr Terry Walker's war pension by 60 per cent; and whether there has been a review of other cases in order to conclude that Mr Walker's case has no bearing on that of any other Gulf War veteran. [HL1532]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave today to the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

The War Pension Scheme is an individual case jurisdiction scheme and, therefore, the rules of the scheme are applied to the particular evidence and facts of a case. After investigation, it is clear that the mistake made when reviewing Mr Walker's assessment relates solely to the particular circumstances of his case and has no bearing on other cases. There are no plans, therefore, to undertake a review of other Gulf War cases.

Armed Forces: War Pensions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 12 December 2007 (WA 54–5) about the cut from 100 per cent to 40 per cent in Gulf War veteran Mr T E Walker's war pension shortly before his death, what steps have been taken to prevent such incorrect cuts happening again; who was ultimately responsible for the incorrect decision to reduce Mr Walker's war pension; and whether at any stage the Prime Minister was informed of the handling of this case. [HL1466]

The War Pensions Scheme provides no-fault compensation for ex-service personnel disabled as a result of service before 6 April 2005. Awards are based on the percentage degree of disablement due to service, which is assessed by comparing the condition of the claimant with a normal healthy person of the same age and sex. In cases where the evidence shows that an individual's degree of disablement due to service has changed since the last assessment was made, the assessment may be revised on review and the pension rate changed as appropriate.

The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (formed 1 April 2007), which is responsible for making this decision, strives to ensure that all decisions made are in accordance with the rules of the scheme and in accordance with the evidence. It is with regret that not all the correct procedures were followed in this case. In light of that error, any case where a reduction in war pension assessment is proposed is now subject to a further check to confirm that the new decision is appropriately supported by the rules and in line with the evidence before the reduction is implemented.

Aviation: Overbooking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidance they have given to airlines concerning encouraging volunteers to surrender their reservations on overbooked flights. [HL1676]

The Government have not given any specific advice to airlines concerning overbooked flights. Airlines should be aware of their obligations under Article 4 (1) of Regulation (EC) 261/2004. These are to agree conditions and benefits with passengers who volunteer to surrender their reservations. Additionally, under the regulation, passengers are offered the choice between reimbursement, within seven days, of the full cost of the ticket or re-routing.

Aviation: Passengers Denied Boarding

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many passengers were denied boarding on British airlines during the last year. [HL1674]

The Government do not hold this information as airlines are not required to report cases of denied boarding. However, the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) recorded 536 complaints in 2006-07 about denied boarding. Some of these would have been about foreign airlines. These form 5 per cent of the total number of complaints handled by the AUC. The percentage of passengers who complain out of the total number who are denied boarding is not known.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether European Commission Regulation 261/2004 applies to downgraded passengers as well as those denied boarding on British airlines; and, if so, (a) how many passengers were downgraded on British airlines during the last year; and (b) what are the compensation rights of downgraded passengers. [HL1675]

Regulation (EC) 261/2004 does also apply to downgraded passengers on British airlines. However, the Government do not receive information on how many passengers have been downgraded over the year. The Air Transport Users Council has statistics for the number of complaints made about denied boarding, but there is no separate category for downgrading.

The compensation rights are quoted in Article 10 (2) of the regulation: the air carrier will reimburse the passenger, within seven days, with a percentage of the price of the ticket, according to the distance travelled. This being:

(a) 30 percent of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less;

(b) 50 percent of the price for all intra-Community flights of more than 1,500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres;

(c) 75 percent of the price for all flights not falling under (a) or (b).

Benefits: Incapacity Benefit

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House the list of 480 illnesses used by the Department for Work and Pensions in the administration of incapacity benefit, as released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and cited in the Times on 19 November 2007. [HL1630]

The department uses the World Health Organisation's international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems to administer incapacity benefits.

The latest version of this list has been placed in the Library.

Cameroon

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will press the Commonwealth Secretariat to make representations to the Government of Cameroon about freedom of expression and assembly for opponents of President Paul Biya's plan to change the constitution to allow him to contest the presidential election in 2011. [HL1637]

We are in discussions with our international partners, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, about governance and democracy in Cameroon, including the question of possible amendments to the constitution. While this is a matter for Cameroonians to decide, the UK has stressed to the Government of Cameroon the importance we attach to a full, free and fair debate about altering the constitution. Opponents to the abolition of presidential term limits should be free to express their views and have the right to free assembly.

Our High Commission in Yaoundé makes regular representations to the Government of Cameroon about maintaining freedom of expression, including lobbying against the imposition of any kind of restriction of press freedom.

Children: Asylum Seekers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will include the children of asylum seekers in child poverty statistics. [HL1571]

Children of asylum seekers are already included in the child poverty statistics unless they live in households that have been resident in the UK for less than six months or live in communal addresses such as hostels, hotels and boarding houses.

Conservation: Old Street Magistrates' Court

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In light of Old Street Magistrates’ Court no longer being required by the Ministry of Justice, what steps they are taking suitably to conserve the building and satisfactorily effect the transition to new ownership and new use. [HL1622]

Old Street Magistrates' Court is not a holding on the estate of Her Majesty's Courts Service (an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice). Up until 1 April 2005 magistrates' courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates' courts committees. In June 2004, the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority agreed a surrender of their leasehold interest in Old Street Magistrates' Court back to the freehold owners of the site (the Metropolitan Police Authority), who paid the GLMCA a capital payment in consideration of the lease surrender and disposal of their equity interest.

Crime: Honour Killings and Coercion

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will issue appropriate guidance to the courts on sentences for honour killings, coercion and related violence. [HL1564]

It is generally for the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council to produce guidelines for the courts on sentencing. It has published a guideline on Overarching Principles: Domestic Violence, which is available at the following link: www.sentencinguidelines.gov.uk/guidelines/council/final.html. The council has also recently consulted on draft guidelines on “Assaults and other offences against the person” and a definitive guideline will be published soon. Where a defendant is convicted of murder, the mandatory sentence is life and the statutory principles which the court must follow in deciding the minimum term to be served before release may be considered by the Parole Board are set out in Section 269 of and Schedule 21 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Crime: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people did not return to a court while on bail in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [HL1506]

Where a defendant in a criminal case does not surrender to his bail the court will issue an arrest warrant or a bench warrant requiring the police to bring him to court.

Information on the number of arrest and bench warrants issued and executed in Northern Ireland was not centrally collated prior to the introduction of a new IT system in October 2006. Consequently, it is not possible to provide the requested information for the years prior to 2007 without incurring disproportionate cost.

The following table details the number of defendants who had an arrest or bench warrant issued against them in 2007.

Number of defendants who had an arrest or bench warrant issued in 2007

Crown Court

85

Magistrates' Courts (including Youth Court)

3250

Total

3335

Crime: Prevention

asked Her Majesty's Government:

To what extent reformed offenders are being used in crime prevention and offender rehabilitation programmes; whether they approve of this approach, particularly for offenders under 25; and in what ways they may be able to use it more widely. [HL1642]

Ex-offenders have an important role to play in the work to rehabilitate offenders. The role of mentoring is seen by the Prime Minister as a key intervention for changing behaviour. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has received Russell Commission funding from the Office of the Third Sector to run four mentoring projects for young adult offenders aged 18 to 25 years. The mentors will be in the same age group, and, where possible, will include ex young adult offenders.

NOMS has an ex-offender on its Offender Management Programme Board and offenders are used in a range of activities in prison and the community such as advisers, counsellors and mentors.

Cyprus

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the United Kingdom, as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, supports President Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in his offer of 5 September 2007 to resume full negotiations aimed at finding a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. [HL1666]

We continue to urge all parties to start negotiations, based on the 8 July agreement, as soon as possible. Time is not on the side of a settlement. For this reason, it is crucial that no preconditions are placed on a return to negotiations and that every party to the Cyprus problem is focused on the objective of making decisive progress.

Eggs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will review their decision to ban conventional cage egg units in England in 2012 if other European Union countries delay introducing a similar ban; and [HL1633]

What plans they have for English cage egg producers if a ban on cage egg units is not introduced in Scotland and Wales. [HL1634]

The Government are still committed to the 2012 deadline for an EU-wide ban on the use of conventional cages for laying hens. We welcome the European Commission's recommendation, in the recently published report on the welfare of laying hens in various production systems, to maintain that deadline. The report says there is no need to prepare any proposals to amend the existing directive on the welfare of laying hens, so any speculation on what would happen if there were changes to European Union law is entirely hypothetical.

Embryology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 12 December 2007 (WA 58) and by Lord Darzi of Denham on 10 January (WA 217), what are the realistic outcomes of research involving nuclear transfer; and whether the same objectives might be achieved more readily by other means. [HL1461]

The Government are committed to all avenues of research which have the potential to lead to treatments and cures for serious diseases and medical conditions. Cell nuclear replacement for the creation of embryos (therapeutic cloning) is one avenue of embryo research which it is hoped will lead to stem cell therapies, and to a better understanding of disease.

New research, involving the reprogramming of human somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells also offers hope of cell-based therapies and disease models. This technology, however, is in its infancy and significantly more data would be needed before any conclusions could be drawn about its effectiveness.

Energy: Bills

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make it compulsory for monthly energy bills to be accurate and contain timely information on energy usage, as proposed in the energy White Paper. [HL1660]

In the energy White Paper, the Government proposed that gas and electricity suppliers should provide information about historical consumption on bills. They consulted on a draft statutory instrument setting out this requirement in August 2007, as part of their wider consultation on metering and billing. It will set out its next steps shortly. The Government have not proposed that customers should receive monthly bills.

Energy: Fuel Poverty

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many households in the United Kingdom are in fuel poverty; what proportion of those are in rural areas; how many of those in rural areas are unable to access pipeline gas; and how the number of households in fuel poverty has changed over the past 10 years. [HL1635]

The most recent figures for the UK show that there were approximately 2.5 million households living in fuel poverty in 2005.

A detailed breakdown of the fuel poverty figures for England is available in the “Fuel Poverty 2005—Detailed Tables” at www.berr.gov.uk/files/file42705.pdf. This shows that of the 1.5 million fuel poor households in England, approximately 434,000 (29 per cent) live in rural areas. From the data source used to calculate fuel poverty numbers, the English House Condition Survey (EHCS), it is not possible to identify households that have no access to pipeline gas; however it is possible to identify those that are not on the gas network, either out of choice or because it is not available to them. Around 270,000 of the rural fuel poor households were not on the gas network in 2005.

The table below shows estimates for the number of households in fuel poverty since 1996.

Level of fuel poverty—total in millions of households

Year

1996

1998

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

UK

6.5

4.75

2.5

2.25

2

2

2.5

England

5.1

3.4

1.7

1.4

1.2

1.2

1.5

Energy: Renewables

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Jones of Birmingham on 3 December 2007 (WA 161) and 12 December 2007 (WA 60–1), whether they will amend the original regulatory impact assessments to provide a new assessment of the likely cost to consumers of expanding the grid network to accommodate power flows from renewable generators brought into being under the renewables obligation. [HL1390]

Work is under way to determine the costs of expanding the grid network to accommodate new renewables generation brought forward by the renewables obligation, as well as to look at the potential costs of new renewables generation to meet the EU 2020 target.

We will include the costs associated with the renewables obligation in the Impact Assessment of the Banding of the Renewables Obligation which will be published alongside the draft Renewables Obligation Order 2009.

Energy: Smart Meters

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to make it a requirement for smart meters to be in all homes by 2017, as outlined in the energy White Paper; and how they will go about this. [HL1661]

In the energy White Paper, the Government set out their expectation that all homes would have smart meters within 10 years. In August 2007, as part of its consultation on metering and billing, it sought detailed views about the range of issues surrounding smart metering. It will set out its views on next steps shortly.

EU: Galileo Project

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the remarks by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 17 January (Official Report, cols. 1416–9), how the estimate of the Galileo project's contribution to the United Kingdom economy of £14 billion by 2025 was made. [HL1600]

The figures were calculated by ESYS Consulting Ltd in an independent study for the Department for Transport and the British National Space Centre, assessing the likely benefits for UK industry from having access to both Galileo and the Global Positioning System. The study concluded that under the most likely scenario, the total cumulative UK Global Navigation Satellite System benefits from 2013 to 2025 was likely to be £14.2 billion.

The full report is available from the Department for Transport website at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/science research/technology/downstreamstudy.pdf.

EU: Ioannina Compromise

asked Her Majesty's Government:

For each year since 1994, how many times the Ioannina compromise has been invoked in decisions of the European Union Council of Ministers; and on how many such occasions the United Kingdom Government was (a) in the majority, and (b) in the minority. [HL1467]

We have identified two occasions on which the Ioannina compromise has been invoked in the council:

at the Agriculture Council on 24 and 25 October 1995, on the issue of national aids to farmers—on that occasion, the UK, Sweden and Italy were in the minority; and

at the Telecommunications Council on 18 December 1996, on the issue of postal liberalisation—on that occasion, the UK, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark were in the minority.

The Ioannina compromise has also been used in informal negotiations on other occasions but, since the results of these negotiations are not recorded in the formal council record, it is not possible to provide figures.

Gershon Review: DfT

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the case of the Department for Transport, how many (a) voluntary and (b) compulsory redundancies have been taken to date as a result of the Gershon review; what is the total departmental bill for each type of redundancy; and what is the natural wastage during the Gershon period to date for the department. [HL991]

The Department for Transport and its agencies had no compulsory or voluntary redundancies since April 2004 when Gershon targets were set. It has, however, facilitated headcount reductions by undertaking voluntary early staff exit schemes, including early retirements.

Gershon targets apply only to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Central Department (DfT(C)). Since April 2004, 399 staff have left though voluntary early staff exit schemes in DVLA and DfT(C) at a cost of £38.08 million. These figures include all voluntary exits and it is not possible to identify which are directly related to Gershon and headcount reductions. During the same period, there have been 2,764 permanent staff that have left because of natural wastage in DfT(C) and DVLA.

Government: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What appointments the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland had during December 2007 in Northern Ireland. [HL1263]

The disclosure of some of the information requested, including details of internal or interdepartmental meetings with ministers or officials, would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs.

The information that can be disclosed is set out in the following table. In addition to those functions listed, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has regular meetings with political parties, local politicians, the Minister of State, internal and external stakeholders and his officials.

Week Beginning

Engagement

3 December

Official opening of Government Building

10 December

Visit to Belfast Telegraph

Meeting with Chris Sidoti

Christmas reception at Hillsborough

17 December

Press conference on Omagh Bombing

Christmas reception at Hillsborough

Meeting with Orange Order

Meeting with Chief Constable and Sir Desmond Rea

Meeting with the Quinn family

Guantanamo Bay

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they last discussed the continued functioning of the Guantanamo Bay camp with the United States authorities; and when they expect the United States to comply with the United Kingdom's official request for the camp to be closed down quickly. [HL1653]

The Government have an ongoing dialogue with the US Government on how best we can work with them to see the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Recent discussions have focused on the Government's request for the release and return of five men who, while not UK nationals, were legally resident in the UK prior to their detention. Three of these men were released from the detention facility and returned to the UK on 19 December 2007. We will continue to encourage our allies to consider taking steps similar to our own, such as accepting the transfer of detainees deemed eligible for release, in order to reduce the number of those detained at Guantanamo Bay and hasten the closure of the detention facility.

Health: Toxic Products

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the steps being taken by companies and retail outlets to warn the public of the health hazards contained in certain consumer products with advertisements and suitable warnings on labels, particularly where such products contain carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxins. [HL1359]

We have made no such assessment. Any adverse impact on human health and the environment arising from the use of consumer products is controlled effectively by a range of measures.

The safety of certain consumer products containing chemicals is governed by the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002, which are administered by the Health and Safety Executive. These regulations require that manufacturers identify the dangers to human health and the environment of products containing chemicals, classify them under an EU-wide classification system and package them safely. If a product contains hazardous chemicals it must be labelled with the appropriate warning symbols indicating the hazards and with phrases explaining the dangers and how to use the product safely.

The Dangerous Substances and Preparations (Safety) Regulations 2006, which are administered by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, prohibit the sale to the general public of products containing chemical substances classified as category 1 or 2 carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxins.

House of Lords: Security Staff

asked the Chairman of Committees:

What proposals he has for ensuring the comfort and safety of security staff who work at Black Rod's Garden Entrance. [HL1714]

The House undertakes to do all that is reasonably practicable to provide safe and healthy working conditions for its employees and to enlist their support in achieving this. Health and safety auditing is carried out on a regular basis in all offices to ensure this policy is achieved.

Identity Security

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any projects in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been suspended or delayed due to concerns about identity security; if so, which projects have been delayed; and what the impact on the overall performance and work of the Office will be. [HL1568]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has needed to make a careful examination of a wide range of business processes involving personal data and this has involved a substantial commitment of staff resource. To date, there have been no significant delays to any projects, nor is any long-term impact on the work of the FCO anticipated.

Police: Databases

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the retention of bioinformation profiles for those not charged with or convicted of an offence has a significant impact on crime detection rates. [HL1514]

Information on the number of crimes that have been detected using DNA profiles and fingerprints taken from suspects who had, previously been arrested but not charged, or convicted, of an offence is not held centrally as detections are achieved through integrated criminal investigation and not by forensic science alone.

Some research information is, however, available on the number of DNA profiles taken from those arrested but not charged and from those arrested, charged but not convicted of an offence that have resulted in a DNA match, thus providing the police with an intelligence link on the possible identity of the offender and assisting in the detection of crimes.

In April 2004, an amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 came into effect which enabled the police to take and retain DNA and fingerprints from persons who had been arrested for a recordable offence. In the period April 2004 to December 2005, the retention of DNA profiles of arrested persons who had not been charged or proceeded against had resulted in matches with crime scene profiles from over 3,000 offences including 37 murders, 16 attempted murders and 90 rapes.

In May 2001, an amendment to PACE 1984 came into effect which enabled the police to retain DNA samples taken from persons who had been charged but not convicted of an offence. In the period May 2001 to December 2005, an estimated 200,000 DNA samples taken from people charged with offences had also been retained on the National DNA Database, which would previously have had to be removed because of the absence of a conviction. From these, approximately 8,500 profiles of individuals have been linked with crime scene profiles, involving nearly 14,000 offences. These offences included 114 murders, five attempted murders, 116 rapes, 68 sexual offences; 119 aggravated burglaries and 127 of the supply of controlled drugs.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many individuals have been given access to the National DNA Database for the purpose of non-operational research; and, of those, how many were given access to datacards as well as DNA records. [HL1517]

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) states that DNA samples and the profiles derived from them can only be used for the purposes of prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or, since April 2005, for the purposes of identifying a deceased person.

Requests for the release of profiles or samples must be approved by the National DNA Database (NDNAD) Strategy Board. In the first instance, requests are made to the custodian of the NDNAD, who provides the board with details of the request, together with his observations on its merits, for the board to consider. In accordance with the requirements of PACE, the board does not approve any research unless it has clear operational benefit to the police.

Therefore, no access to the NDNAD has been given to any person or organisation for non-operational research.

Police: Operation Pentameter

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House the full evaluation report on Police Operation Pentameter 1. [HL1648]

We expect to publish an evaluation report of Pentameter 1 in the spring. This will present the salient issues and lessons learnt from the operation but will not contain restricted operational information as to do so would breach confidentiality and jeopardize effective law enforcement.

Powers of Entry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which Bills currently before Parliament contain provisions for, or amendments to, powers of entry. [HL1519]

The information requested is set out in the attached table. In addition the Climate Change Bill and the Energy Bill include provisions to enable the Secretary of State to create powers of entry under regulations.

The draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill, which has been published for parliamentary consideration, also contains provisions for, but does not include any amendments to, powers of entry.

Table of Government Bills

Government Bills before Parliament

Contains power of entry

Amends existing power of entry

Counter Terrorism Bill

Yes

No

Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

Yes

No

Crossrail (Hybrid Bill) Bill

Yes

Yes

Education and Skills Bill

Yes

No

Health and Social Care Bill

Yes

Yes

Housing and Regeneration Bill

Yes

No

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

No

Yes

Local Transport Bill

No

Yes

Pensions Bill

No

Yes

Planning Bill

Yes

No

Prisons: Domestic Violence Programmes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In how many male prisons domestic violence programmes are running. [HL1657]

Five prisons in England and Wales are delivering accredited domestic violence programmes. The five prisons are Acklington, Erlestoke, Gartree, Manchester and Whatton.

Regulators: Criminal Prosecutions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In respect of (a) the Environment Agency; (b) the Forestry Commission; (c) the Gangmasters Licensing Authority; (d) the local fisheries committees; and (e) Natural England, how many criminal prosecutions were brought by that regulator for each of the last three years for which figures are available; and, of those cases, how many gave rise to a conviction. [HL1373]

The following represent the number of criminal prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency; the Forestry Commission in England; the Forestry Commission in Wales; and Natural England. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has not, to date, instituted any criminal proceedings.

The Environment Agency

Year

Total No. Prosecutions

Conviction

2005

887

876

2006

744

723

2007

724

702

The Forestry Commission: England

Year

Total No. Prosecutions

Conviction

2005

10

6

2006

15

13

2007

9

9

Wales

Year

Total No. Prosecutions

Conviction

2005

2

2

2006

3

3

2007

1

1

Natural England

Year

Total No. Prosecutions

Conviction

2005

2

2

2006

2

1

2007

1

1

The Sea Fisheries Committee(s) (SFCs) is the committee responsible for the management and conservation of fisheries in England and Wales, within a radius of six nautical miles. The SFCs are part of the local authority and undertake their own enforcement action. Defra does not hold the information requested.

Roads: A13

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date the Highways Agency last inspected the cleanliness of the A13 trunk road between the M25 and the A130; and whether the agency's managing agents will take action to have the litter cleared from that stretch of road. [HL1664]

The Highways Agency has responsibility for the section of the A13 between M25 and A1089. The remainder of the A13 up to the A130, which is not trunk road, is the responsibility of Thurrock Council and Essex County Council. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 litter clearance is the responsibility of the local authorities except for motorways and a few all-purpose trunk roads. For the Highways Agency section of the A13 the responsibility for litter clearance falls to Thurrock Council.

The agency monitors its roads for litter as part of its route stewardship and brings issues to the attention of the relevant local authority. It is currently working in partnership with Thurrock Council to ensure that litter is cleared between the M25 and A1089.

Terrorism: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland. [HL1611]

The security situation in Northern Ireland has vastly improved in recent years. However, the serious attacks on two PSNI officers last year and the recent decision by the chief constable to alert the public to an increased risk of terrorist activity highlight the continued threat posed by a small number of individuals. I have every confidence in the PSNI's ability to combat the threat posed by these individuals. The PSNI work tirelessly to thwart the activities of all those involved in criminal activity in Northern Ireland and bring them to justice for their crimes.

Northern Ireland now has a successful devolved administration with a focus on improving life for all the people of Northern Ireland. This future must include engagement with the IICD by all paramilitary organisations and paramilitary activity.

Thames Barrier

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the light of the possible rise of sea levels, what is the expected life span of the Thames Barrier; what plans they have to replace or alter the Barrier; and when any such replacement or alteration will happen. [HL1465]

The Environment Agency is currently undertaking its “Thames Estuary 2100” project to deliver a flood risk management plan for the tidal Thames through to the end of the century.

It will recommend what will be required to manage increasing flood risk, and when it will be required, depending on the impacts of climate change. An assessment of the current estuary defences, including the Thames Barrier, and the options for future flood risk management will be included in this research.

The project is due to report its recommendations to the Government at the end of 2009. Findings currently indicate that the tidal defences provide a better standard of protection than previously understood and so are unlikely to require any major changes until after 2030. Under the Government's current climate change guidance for future sea level rise the Thames Barrier, with some modification, may even continue to provide protection to London through to the end of the century.