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Written Answers

Volume 703: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

Written Answers

Thursday 17 July 2008

Agriculture: Recycled Plant Matter

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of the stalks, leaves and roots of food crops grown commercially in the United Kingdom are recycled for (a) composting; (b) biogas; (c) biomass; and (d) use in coal-fired power stations; and where the remainder goes. [HL4744]

A small amount of cereal straw is composted for use by the mushroom industry, but very little other agricultural plant material is composted. Most of the biogas plants in the UK are fuelled by animal manures and waste from the food processing chain, rather than crop residues.

Around 9 per cent of the sugar beet crop (around 650,000 tonnes a year) is used in the production of transport biofuels. Around 2 per cent of cereal straw (around 200,000 tonnes) is used to generate electricity in dedicated biomass power stations. Around 200,000 tonnes of agricultural residues (including cereal straw), wastes and energy crops, are used to generate heat. Around 2.3 million tonnes of a wide range of woody biomass and biomass wastes (including forestry residues, paper industry waste and imported plant wastes), are co-fired with coal.

The vast majority of the remaining residues from crop and horticultural production are either returned to the soil to help build soil organic matter content and provide nutrients for following crops, or are used as animal feed or bedding, which is then recycled to land.

Airports: Heathrow

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will re-appraise the cost-effectiveness of transport projects, including expansion of Heathrow airport, following their revision of the projected price of oil in 2020. [HL4670]

In line with the Better Regulation Executive's impact assessment guidance, the department is currently updating the Heathrow impact assessment following the consultation. This will include updating of any underlying assumptions including oil price projections.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are in favour of a sixth terminal and a third runway at Heathrow airport. [HL4800]

The Government support the development of a third runway at Heathrow subject to meeting local environmental conditions on air quality and noise, and improving public transport access. This position was set out in the 2003 Future of Air Transport White Paper.

In February this year, the Government completed the consultation “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” which provided evidence on meeting the conditions for a third runway with associated passenger terminal facilities. Decisions on this are expected later this year.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which individual flights obtained a waiver to land at Heathrow Airport prior to 6 am over the past six months; and, in each instance, what was the reason for the waiver. [HL4944]

During the period January to June 2008, 191 dispensations were granted, 177 related to delays, seven were VIP flights and seven were emergency related.

There have been restrictions on night flights at Heathrow since 1962. The underlying principle of these restrictions is to preserve the balance between the need to protect local communities from excessive aircraft noise at night and the operation of services where they provide economic benefits. These restrictions are reviewed periodically.

The current regime which applies from October 2006 until October 2012 comprises restrictions on the types of aircraft which may be operated throughout the “night period” (11 pm to 7 am).

In addition, further restrictions apply between 11.30 pm and 6 am (the night quota period). In the latter period, first, the noisiest types of aircraft cannot be scheduled to operate. Secondly, the Department for Transport sets two limits—on the number of aircraft movements and on the amount of quota points that may be used. Neither limit may be exceeded. The quota points system allocates a quota count (QC) number to each different type of aircraft for landing and taking-off according to the amount of noise generated. Every time the aircraft operates in the night quota period its number of QC points is deducted from the total for the season. There are two seasons—summer and winter.

The regime provides for a stepped reduction in noise quota over the life of the current regime (i.e. until 2012), encouraging operators to use the quietest aircraft available to them.

There is provision for certain flights to be disregarded from the requirement to be counted against the movements and quota limits in exceptional circumstances. These include cases where there are:

delays to aircraft which are likely to lead to serious congestion at the airport or serious hardship or suffering to passengers; and

delays to aircraft resulting from widespread and prolonged disruption of air traffic.

Normal operational delays do not fall under these rules and provision has to be made for these to be covered within the allocated movement and quota limits.

Bonuses: DCLG

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many staff working for the Department for Communities and Local Government were paid a bonus in each of the past five years; and what was the total amount of bonuses paid by the department. [HL4693]

I refer the noble Lord to the reply given to the honourable Member for Twickenham (Dr Vincent Cable) by my honourable friend the Member for Gloucester. (Parmjit Dhanda) on 25 June 2008, Official Report, col. 343W.

Bovine Tuberculosis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the European Commission have confirmed that their decision not to cull badgers in bovine tuberculosis-affected areas will not result in infraction proceedings being taken by the European Union against the United Kingdom; and [HL4860]

Whether there is any legislation giving the European Commission power to start infraction proceedings against the United Kingdom for not culling badgers in bovine tuberculosis-affected areas; and, if so, what it is. [HL4861]

The European Commission has provided no such confirmation, but none has been sought. It is unlikely that infraction proceedings against the UK would be considered on these grounds and no such proceedings are anticipated.

There is no specific legislation giving the European Commission power to start infraction proceedings against the United Kingdom for not culling badgers in bovine tuberculosis-affected areas. There are of course general obligations under European law to control the spread of TB, and infraction proceedings can arise whenever the Commission considers there has been a failure correctly to implement EU law. The decision to set a policy of not issuing licences to farmers to cull badgers to prevent bovine TB has not resulted in any such failure.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they finance or direct research into claims that the spread of bovine tuberculosis is encouraged where farmers use maize as cattle feed or where badgers are found to suffer from trace element deficiencies. [HL4863]

The role of maize in the spread of M. bovis has not been specifically investigated by any Defra-funded research projects. However case-control studies carried out as part of the randomised badger culling trial (RBCT) did investigate associations between a number of feed types and risk of a herd TB breakdown. Studies TB99 and CCS2005 found an association between feeding silage and the use of grass feeding types for grazing/forage and an increase in risk of TB breakdown, respectively. The findings of these studies are in the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB. In addition, TB99 also identified not using feeding supplements as a risk factor for confirmed cases of TB.

Defra remains open minded about the possibility of a nutritional link but because of the number of variables involved and the likelihood a causal link could never be proven, we are not inclined to fund further research into this subject.

No research projects have been carried out which specifically investigate the association between BTB and trace element deficiencies in badgers.

Cluster Munitions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ask the Government of the United States to remove the maximum possible amount of American cluster munitions stored in the United Kingdom during the first two years of the agreed eight-year period. [HL4876]

Bilateral discussions with the United States on the implications of the Oslo Convention on US cluster munitions stockpiled on UK territory are continuing. We expect to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion soon.

Environmental Protection: Protective Costs Order

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many protective costs orders have been granted by the Supreme Court of England and Wales for environmental cases since 2000. [HL4577]

The information requested is not held by the Ministry of Justice. It could be compiled only through a manual file search covering all relevant cases heard by the Administrative Court in the past eight years.

Equality: Disabled People

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in view of the petition of the European Disability Forum calling for a specific European Union directive on disability, which gathered 1.3 million signatures, and the requirements of the United Nations Convention on Disability Rights, they will propose maximum protection against discrimination on the ground of disability in the proposed European Union directive on equal treatment, produced by the European Commission on 2 July. [HL4753]

The Government welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s proposal for a new anti-discrimination directive and will work constructively with our European and domestic partners to ensure that any directive adopted is effective in tackling discrimination across the EU.

Food: Pork and Bacon

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is taking to implement the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative in respect of its purchasing of pork and bacon; what proportion of pork and bacon purchased is British; what attention is given to farm assurance, animal welfare, and health and nutrition; and how often purchasing policy is reviewed. [HL4828]

The department is working with its catering contractor to implement the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative. All pork and bacon is purchased from British farm-assured suppliers.

Football: Crowd Surges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many (a) deaths, (b) injuries, and (c) other incidents caused by crowd surging, have occurred at football matches involving teams from the top two English divisions in each of the past 30 football seasons.[HL4795]

This information is not held centrally. However, the Football Licensing Authority (FLA), the body responsible for spectator safety at football grounds, has advised that it is aware of the following incidents at Football League grounds in England and Wales during the period concerned where deaths or significant numbers of injuries occurred and where crushing or crowd surging may have been a factor:

Year

Ground

Deaths

Injuries

1978

Leyton Orient

-

30

1980

Middlesbrough

2

Not recorded

1981

Hillsborough

-

38

1984

Walsall

-

20

1989

Hillsborough

96

400+

1989

Middlesbrough

-

19

The FLA is also aware of a number of incidents where smaller numbers of spectators and/or stewards have been injured in crowd surges since 1989 but does not hold detailed information on these.

The major improvements in the grounds and in crowd management over the past 15 years have largely eliminated crowd surges in seated areas, though they have occurred when spectators have spilled over into gangways or when players have gone to the crowd during a goal celebration.

Government: Minister for the East of England

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions the Minister for the East of England has visited (a) the east of England and (b) Essex since her appointment. [HL4692]

Since her appointment, the Minister for the East of England has undertaken 23 official visits to the east of England, three of which were to Essex. A fourth visit to Essex will take place following the Summer Recess.

Health: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many treatments for depression using the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence-approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy, Beating the Blues, have been commissioned by primary care trusts since March 2007; and [HL4765]

What estimate they have made of how many people are currently able to access National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence-approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy treatments at their local primary care trusts; and [HL4766]

What steps they are taking to extend access to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence-approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy across England. [HL4767]

The detailed information is not held centrally.

However, the Government are investing annual funding rising to £173 million in the third year (2010-11), to train 3,600 extra therapists and treat 900,000 more people in those three years.

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme is relieving distress and transforming lives by offering National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) evidence-based treatments to people with depression and anxiety disorders. Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy is recommended by NICE and, where clinicians feel appropriate, can be offered as part of a broader package of care.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many primary care trusts provide National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence-approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy at a level sufficient to meet NICE guidelines; and [HL4792]

What assessment they have made of the provision of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence- approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy treatments nationally. [HL4793]

The information requested about how many primary care trusts (PCTs) provide National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)-approved computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) is not held centrally.

CCBT is recommended by the NICE technology appraisal TA097, and the directions on NICE appraisals impose an obligation on PCTs to ensure that CCBT is normally available to be prescribed or supplied and administered to patients.

The department's role is to set out a strategic framework and secure adequate funding for the NHS and adult care services. PCTs are responsible for providing local health services, including the provision of CCBT, and together with their strategic health authorities are responsible for deciding which services to plan, commission and develop to meet the health needs of their local communities.

NICE published its guidance Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression and Anxiety in February 2004. NICE will be consulting on review plans for this guidance in September 2008.

Health: Cord Blood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent contact they have had with the private cord blood banking industry; and [HL4796]

What stakeholder meetings have taken place as part of the Department of Health review of cord blood; and [HL4797]

How much the review of cord blood has cost.[HL4798]

Departmental officials have been assisted in the cord blood review by the consultancy firm Technopolis Ltd. The total cost for this work will be £65,682.50.

As part of the review, an expert workshop was held on 28 May 2008 with nearly 40 delegates, including representatives from the Anthony Nolan Trust and the private cord blood banking industry.

Health: Vaccines

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the light of the recent review of the National Health Service by Lord Darzi of Denham, whether they will extend the proposals to speed up the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence appraisals process for new therapeutic drugs to the assessment of vaccines. [HL4762]

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is responsible for assessing vaccines. Its Terms of Reference are:

“To advise the Secretaries of State for Health, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on matters relating to communicable diseases, preventable and potentially preventable through immunisation”.

Homelessness

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they will take to encourage local authorities in London to introduce a pan-London programme to help the homeless and rough sleepers. [HL4645]

We are working to publish an updated rough sleeping strategy in the autumn, building on the achievements of the past 10 years. In April, we published a discussion paper, Rough Sleeping 10 Years On: From the Streets to Independent Living and Opportunity, which set out our initial thinking on updating the strategy. This included the proposal that, to secure effective delivery of the updated strategy, we would work to facilitate a new London delivery partnership to renew the drive to bring and keep entrenched rough sleepers in, work with those most at risk to prevent rough sleeping, and improve opportunities and outcomes for former rough sleepers. We have received a good response to the discussion paper, and are now analysing responses.

The Government are committed to sustaining the two-thirds reduction in rough sleeping in England and further to reduce numbers, particularly in London. In December 2007 we announced homelessness grant funding of £200 million over the next three years. This is the biggest ever cash injection for homelessness services.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [HL]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many amendments Ministers have tabled to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill since it was introduced; how many hours of debate have been held on such amendments; and what proportion of text in the current version of the Bill was altered by amendments tabled by Ministers. [HL4743]

In total, 131 amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill were tabled by Ministers during its passage through the House of Lords, and 118 amendments, many reflecting changes proposed in the Lords, have been tabled by Ministers during the Bill’s passage through the House of Commons. The latter figure includes 32 amendments tabled for debate at Commons Report stage, resulting from discussions during Committee stage. Most of these amendments clarify meaning in the Bill. The text of all amendments tabled is available from the usual sources, and all debates on the Bill are recorded in the Official Report.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Northern Ireland Regiments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to mark the role played by the Royal Irish Regiment and other service members from Northern Ireland in Iraq and Afghanistan. [HL4816]

Plans are currently under way to recognise members of the Armed Forces from Northern Ireland, including members of the Royal Irish Regiment, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Larne Borough Council has conferred the Freedom of the Borough of Larne on the Royal Irish Regiment and discussions are under way between the council and the regiment for it to receive this honour in the autumn. In addition, a number of other councils have been in discussion with Headquarters Northern Ireland and 38 (Irish) Brigade about the possibility of them facilitating “welcoming home” parades for the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland.

On 4 May, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland hosted a party for the family members of service personnel who were on operational service overseas, in order to demonstrate his support not only for those deployed on operations but for the children and family members who wait at home for their safe return.

On 2 June, the Minister for Health in the Northern Ireland Executive hosted a reception for 204 (Northern Ireland) Field Hospital (Volunteers) prior to members from that unit deploying to Afghanistan.

Olympic Games 2012: Weymouth

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action the South West Regional Development Agency is taking to maximise cruise ship tourism in connection with the 2012 Olympic events at Weymouth, in particular to encourage such ships to visit other south-west ports.[HL4784]

South West RDA and South West Tourism will maintain their relationship with Destination South West. Destination South West (DSW) is a partnership bringing together organisations from across the region to increase and sustain the number of cruise ships that call at the south-west ports. The partnership is funded by contributions from partners and the European Union Regional Development Fund. The partners include ports, tourist attractions, local government and other public and private sector organisations.

Destination South West is proposing that it works with the international cruise lines and other marine related organisations to deliver themed itineraries that would encourage cruise ships to be based in the south-west ports throughout the Olympics; with the addition of day and overnight visits to London for Olympic events. It also wishes to investigate opportunities for providing floating accommodation at the events and to serve the main London programmes.

Weymouth and Portland are the centre of significant regeneration and development activity; some £370 million of public and private sector investment is in the pipeline, including the development of the Pavilion site (£120 million, mainly private), Osprey Quay (£150 million public/private split), the relief road from Dorchester to Weymouth (£84 million) and improvements to the railway station (part of the Olympic transport package which costs £18 million).

The South West RDA is supporting a DCMS Sea Change bid which will complement and add value to other investment and will focus on creating public places that can be the setting for events and activities, the creation of cultural and historic routes through the town and the development of a creative industries centre through refurbishment of a building. This is a £3 million bid to the Sea Change programme. Other funding is from local partners and other bids. This includes funding for new public art as part of the regeneration programme.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much the South West Regional Development Agency has budgeted to ensure a legacy for south-west ports and tourism after the 2012 Olympic events at Weymouth. [HL4785]

The South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) has developed the South West England Strategy for the 2012 Games, which focuses on five key legacy areas: business development, sporting opportunity, tourism and regional image, community engagement and cultural celebration; with a framework fund of £2.9 million over three years.

South West RDA is investing over £2 million per year for three years to implement its tourism strategy, “Towards 2015.” They will invest to improve quality and skills and to support new developments in tourism. Each destination (DMO) receives £50,000 per year for the development of local partnerships and initiatives. South West RDA also invests in public realm projects designed to have a positive impact on visitors to the region in the lead up to and after the Olympics.

South West RDA is also an active partner and contributor to the Welcome to Britain project and Partners for England.

Pesticides

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the proposed banning of pyrethroids will extend to household products for the treatment of flea, mite and tick infestations; and [HL4569]

Whether the inclusion of glyphosate on the proposed European Union list of banned pesticides will cover products used in private gardens, and by gardeners employed in the public sector by organisations such as the National Trust; and [HL4570]

What assessment has been made of the effect on the environment of banning all the pesticides on the proposed European Union list; and what products they will recommend that local authorities, the Highways Agency and British Waterways use to control pests and weeds; and [HL4571]

Further to the Written Statement by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 24 June (Official Report, Commons, 6–7 WS), why the co-decision proposal updating the rules on placing plant protection products on the market was to be adopted by the council without further discussion; whether this is normal procedure; and, if so, what rules decide which proposals are adopted in that way. [HL4572]

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council reached political agreement on 23 June on a compromise text of the Slovenian presidency for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the council concerning the placing of plant protection products (essentially agricultural pesticides) on the market. The Government expect the text to be adopted as the common position of the council and communicated to the European Parliament for its second reading in the autumn, in accordance with the codecision procedure laid down in Article 251 of the treaty.

The regulation will extend to all uses of plant protection products within the scope defined in the text, including those authorised for amateur use and for use in public gardens. It will not, however, extend to uses of household products for treatments such as flea, mite and tick infestations within the scope of Directive 98/8/EC concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market.

The eventual effects of the regulation cannot be predicted with certainty at this stage. The Pesticides Safety Directorate has published an assessment of the potential impact of proposals for approval criteria based on hazard and for comparative assessment and substitution of substances approved as candidates for substitution. A copy of the report, which considers 286 active substances, including glyphosate and pyrethroids, has been put in the Library of the House. It will not be possible to confirm which substances are likely to be caught by the regulation, and which are likely to remain available for continued use to control pests and weeds, until the negotiations are concluded and its provisions have been finalised.

Police: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 24 June (WA 236) concerning a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer injured in a recent car bomb, whether he has been replaced for day-to-day work purposes. [HL4485]

The Chief Constable has provided me with the following answer:

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 24 June, Official Report, col. WA 236 and would also advise him that while the injured officer remains on sick absence, his post will not be filled on a permanent basis.

Public Prosecution Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 3 June (WA 47), why the average salary of a legally qualified employee in the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland increased by 18.8 per cent between 2006–07 and 2007–08; and whether this increase will be maintained annually. [HL4660]

The average salary has not increased by 18.8 per cent. Although total salaries have increased, so too has the average number of staff for each period—in line with the number identified by a capacity model at the Public Prosecution Service inception.

The average salary of legally trained staff actually fell over the period 2006-07 as the major increase in staff numbers was at the lowest grade (equivalent to deputy principal). The average salary of legally trained staff rose by 2.6 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08.

All salary increases were in accordance with NIO pay settlements.

RAF: Transport

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What transport aircraft for troop movements are currently on order by the Ministry of Defence; and what are the make, cost, and anticipated delivery date of each. [HL4687]

The information is as follows:

Aircraft

Contractor

No

Forecast Cost

Date

A400M

Airbus Military Sociedad Limitada

25

£2.63 billion

2011 (Note 1)

Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (Airbus A330- 200 derivative) (Note 2)

AirTanker Ltd

14

£ 13 billion (Note 3)

2011 (Note 4)

Notes:

1. In Service Date based on acceptance into service of the seventh aircraft.

2. Will provide both a replacement air-to-air refuelling and strategic air transport capability.

3. Represents the current estimated whole cost of providing this capability throughout the life of the FSTA programme.

4. Planned date for introduction to service of first FSTA tanker aircraft.

Temporary Accommodation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the document Sustainable Communities: Settled Homes; Changing Lives–A Strategy for Tackling Homelessness, published in March 2005, still represents their policy on homelessness; and [HL4699]

Whether they will reconsider the target to halve the number of people in temporary accommodation between 31 December 2004 and 2010 in the light of current economic circumstances and changing conditions in the housing market; and, if not, why not; and [HL4700]

Whether local authorities which had few households living in temporary accommodation on 31 December 2004 should be excluded from the target for each local authority to halve the number in such accommodation by 2010. [HL4701]

Sustainable Communities: Settled Homes; Changing LivesA Strategy for Tackling Homelessness continues to represent our policy for tackling and preventing homelessness, which includes the target to halve the number of households in temporary accommodation to 50,500 by 2010.

Meeting the 2010 temporary accommodation target is a national target and therefore it is essential that all local authorities contribute to the achievement of a 5 per cent reduction in temporary accommodation use. We see this target, and effective implementation of the measures needed to achieve it, as milestones on a route towards a longer-term minimum level of homelessness and temporary accommodation use in every area.

We have responded to the current economic circumstances by providing £340,000 to fund an additional 34 court desks to ensure legal representation on the day for lender and landlord repossessions.

We are conscious that the number of households in temporary accommodation will vary significantly from one area to another. Our main focus is on those authorities with the highest numbers in temporary accommodation. We are taking a proportionate approach to working with authorities with low numbers in temporary accommodation.

To date, around one-third of local authorities have already met the 2010 target, and local authority temporary accommodation reduction plans indicate that the target will be met.

Tourism: Cruise Ships

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average amount spent per cruise ship passenger in south-west ports.[HL4786]