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Written Answers

Volume 704: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

Written Answers

Monday 27 October 2008

Afghanistan: Drinking Water

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much drinking water for Her Majesty's Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan has been imported from or via Pakistan in each month of 2008. [HL5500]

The amount of drinking water imported between January and September 2008, the last complete month for which figures are available, from or via Pakistan for the UK's Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan, is shown in the following table:

Month 2008

Nearest Thousand Litres

January

1,973

February

177

March

249

April

76

May

291

June

397

July

668

August

733

September

839

Bottled water is also purchased commercially from a newly commissioned Afghan-run plant. In addition, a water bottling plant at Camp Bastion produces bottled water for UK troops.

Agriculture

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure international support for the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. [HL5569]

The reports of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) present findings and a range of options for different stakeholders (governments, private sector, academics and civil society) to consider. We are assessing these in taking forward the Government's international support to developing countries on agricultural knowledge, science and technology. Through our financial contribution to the IAASTD, we are supporting the publication and dissemination of the IAASTD reports to a wide range of international stakeholders.

We are also already taking action in line with IAASTD's findings. In April, the Department for International Development (DfID) announced that it planned to increase its investment in agricultural research to £400 million over five years. This investment will include research on environmentally sustainable solutions, focus on the needs of farmers, address gender issues, look to build public-private partnerships, look at the impact of markets on poor farmers, and support traditional and modern technologies. All of these are advocated by IAASTD.

Agriculture: Bluetongue

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for any future outbreaks of bluetongue disease, in particular the BTV-1 strain that is affecting cattle in France; and whether there are any products available to control that disease. [HL5630]

Before bluetongue was detected in the UK, Defra worked in partnership with industry to produce the bluetongue control strategy which sought to limit the impact of an incursion of bluetongue in the UK. We are currently working with experts and industry to update the bluetongue control strategy to reflect the latest available information on all bluetongue serotypes and the lessons learnt from this year's roll-out of protection zones and vaccine for BTV-8.

Defra remains vigilant to the threat of BTV-1 incursion. To that end, Defra is closely monitoring the situation in Europe. Post-import testing of cattle and sheep is carried out to detect BTV-1. If BTV-1 is detected in imported livestock, our short-term strategy will be to slaughter affected animals, establish control zones with movement restrictions, and carry out investigations, in the same way as when BTV-8 first entered the UK in September 2007. This will continue to be our policy unless evidence suggests that BTV-1 is circulating in the UK.

However, the longer term strategy for BTV-1 will depend on how the virus spreads in Europe and the movement restrictions imposed in affected member states.

If BTV-1 continues to spread to the point where incursions via midges become more likely, vaccination may become more important as a control strategy.

There are no vaccines currently licensed for use against BTV-1 in the UK. However, Defra is in discussion with potential vaccine providers, the veterinary profession and industry stakeholders about plans for 2009.

Agriculture: Set-aside

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are proceeding with plans to take farmland out of production and to compensate for the loss of set-aside's environmental benefits; and, if so, whether the land that they will designate will be that which was previously set-aside. [HL5605]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) recognised the importance of the potential loss of set-aside by commissioning additional environmental monitoring and asking Sir Don Curry to bring together key stakeholders to oversee this work and investigate mitigation options.

Sir Don Curry's high-level set-aside group reported in July 2008 and the Secretary of State agreed that measures were needed as soon as practicable to mitigate the environmental impact of set-aside loss. The Secretary of State issued a statement on the next steps on 25 July. This included commissioning the Rural Payments Agency and Natural England to work up how the preferred option—managing a small percentage of their land primarily for environmental purposes—could be delivered in practice. Their report and the conclusion of the health check are not expected until late in the year when the Secretary of State will assess the next steps.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they propose to remove 5 per cent of English arable land from production as set-aside land; and what assessment they have made of the effects on competition of this measure if other countries do not introduce equivalent proposals. [HL5631]

The Government support the abolition of set-aside, but the Secretary of State recognised the potential environmental impacts by commissioning additional environmental monitoring and asking Sir Don Curry to bring together key stakeholders to oversee this work and investigate mitigation options.

Sir Don Curry's high-level set-aside group reported in July 2008 and the Secretary of State agreed that measures were needed as soon as practicable to mitigate the environmental impact of set-aside loss. The Secretary of State issued a statement on the next steps on 25 July, which included commissioning the Rural Payments Agency and Natural England to work up how the preferred option could be delivered in practice. That option would involve farmers managing a small percentage (as yet undefined) of their land primarily for environmental purposes. The RPA/NE report and the conclusion of the CAP health check are not expected until late in the year, when the Secretary of State will assess the next steps.

Decisions on the overall approach, and the detailed arrangements which will determine the impacts, for example, on farming or the environment, will need to be taken in the context of the agreement on the CAP health check.

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many cattle are likely to be culled in the next three years following their decision not to cull tuberculosis-infected badgers; and at what projected cost to farmers and the taxpayer. [HL5634]

My department has not attempted to estimate the numbers of cattle likely to be slaughtered under the bovine tuberculosis (TB) control regime in the next three years, or the likely costs.

It is very difficult to make such forecasts due to the chronic, multifactorial and insidious nature of bovine TB. The number of cattle slaughtered as TB reactors and direct contacts largely depends on (i) the underlying prevalence of the infection in the cattle (and badger) population and (ii) the intensity and accuracy of the TB screening programme for cattle herds. The former is subject to cyclical changes in the endemic TB areas that are difficult to predict, whereas the latter is subject to annual changes as TB herd testing frequencies are reviewed every year in response to the incidence of herd breakdowns in the previous years. Furthermore, the enhancements to the TB testing regime introduced over the past two years (such as pre-movement testing and gamma-interferon blood testing) are expected to result in higher numbers of reactors being identified each year, at least in the short to medium term.

In relation to costs, compensation rates and salvage income will vary over time with market prices.

Banking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the board members of United Kingdom banks which participated in the bank reconstruction fund will be held to account for their stewardship of the businesses for which they were responsible. [HL5622]

Decisions relating to individual board members are a commercial matter for the banks concerned.

The Government have required that banks participating in the Government's recapitalisation scheme do not pay cash bonuses to board members in 2008.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much public money has been made available in the past month per person on the Scottish electoral roll for rescuing the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS. [HL5628]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer set out in his Statement to the House of Commons on 13 October the details of the support made available to financial institutions participating in the Government's recapitalisation scheme.

Bovine Tuberculosis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many new incidents of bovine tuberculosis were reported in 2008; how many cattle were culled; at what cost to farmers and the taxpayer; and what were the comparable figures for the past five years. [HL5633]

The information requested is provided in the table below. The data provided are for England:

Year

Total Number of New TB Herd Incidents

Number of Cattle Slaughtered Under TB Control Measures

Compensation 2

2008

2,0091

14,2231

£21,663,1883

2007

3,183

19,794

£14,674,397

2006

2,721

16,007

£16,905,990

2005

2,904

23,135

£32,137,697

2004

2,612

17,306

£21,759,277

2003

2,516

17,551

£23,450,663

Notes:

All data provided are provisional and subject to changes as more data become available.

Data for the number of new herd incidents and cattle slaughtered are sourced from the Animal Health Database (Vetnet). 2005-07 data extracted on 18 March 2008, and 2003 and, 2004 data extracted on 7 March 2006.

1 Provisional data for 1 January to 30 June 2008. Data downloaded from the Animal Health Data Warehouse (Vetnet) on 6 August 2008.

2 Compensation—includes payments to farmers for reactors and contact animals which are compulsorily slaughtered. This figure also includes payments for haulage/valuers fees and salvage money received by the Government for those carcasses which are permitted to go into the food chain or are eligible for over 30 month scheme payments. Source of information is Defra's Oracle financial system.

3 Provisional figure for 1 January to 30 September 2008.

Children: Poverty

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many (a) people and (b) children are living in poverty in the United Kingdom; what were the figures in (1) 2005, (2) 2006, and (3) 2007; and what is the projected figure for 2008. [HL5533]

Poverty is a complex and multidimensional issue and, as such, there are many possible measures of poverty.

Definitions of low income households are set out in the annual national statistics publication, Households Below Average Income, available on the DWP website and in the Library. This reports numbers of individuals in households below or persistently below 50 per cent, 60 per cent and 70 per cent of median household income before and after deducting housing costs, and the number of children in low-income households and in material deprivation.

Statistics for the years requested are presented below for people and children in households with incomes below 60 per cent of median income in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. Before and after housing costs based on the median income of the year in question. 1998-99 information has been included where available, to give context to more long-term trends.

Table 1: Numbers of people in households with incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income, United Kingdom, 1998-99 and 2004-05 to 2006-07 (millions).

Year

Before Housing Costs

After Housing Costs

1998-99

11.2

14.0

2004-05

10.0

12.1

2005-06

10.4

12.8

2006-07

10.7

13.2

Table 2: Numbers of children in households with incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income, United Kingdom, 1998-99 and 2004-05 to 2006-07 (millions).

Year

Before Housing Costs

After Housing Costs

1998-99

3.4

4.4

2004-05

2.7

3.6

2005-06

2.8

3.8

2006-07

2.9

3.9

Projections for 2007-08 are not available, with levels of low income dependent on a range of factors including growth in earnings, other incomes and levels of employment.

Notes

1. These statistics are based on households below average income data.

2. Small differences should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.

3. The reference period for household below average income figures is single financial years.

4. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication, Households Below Average Income series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or “equivalised”) for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living. Median incomes are used as the national average in the publication.

5. The figures are based on OECD equivalisation factors.

6. Figures have been presented on both a before-housing-cost and after-housing-cost basis. For before-housing-cost, housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage interest payments, structural insurance payments and ground rent and service charges) are not deducted from income, while for after-housing cost they are.

7. Numbers of people and children in low-income households have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 people or children.

8. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Courts Service: Public Expenditure

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consult the Civil Justice Council, the Bar Council, the Law Society and other stakeholders before reducing public expenditure by the Ministry of Justice in ways which may have an adverse impact on access to justice, including affecting levels of staffing in courts and tribunals, computer systems supporting Her Majesty's Courts Services and the Tribunals Service, public law child care proceedings, and cost recovery for immigration appeals. [HL5698]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Jack Straw) and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice have been in communication with stakeholders about the Ministry of Justice's performance efficiency programme, and further contact will be made by the relevant senior officials in the MoJ on plans for engagement as more detailed work is undertaken to put our plans in place. The House of Commons in voting supply and setting taxation rightly expects that all taxpayers funded services are as efficient and effective as possible.

Courts: Fees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they have taken to inform people receiving a specified means-tested benefit (income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, pension guarantee credit or working tax credit) of their eligibility to receive a full remission under the new civil court fees remission system, which came into force in October 2007; and how many people have applied for full remission since then; and [HL5593]

How many people in the past year have been granted full remission under the civil court fees remission system; and [HL5594]

How many people in the past year have been granted part remission under the civil court fees remission system; and [HL5595]

(a) who is conducting research into whether the new civil courts fees remission system is operating efficiently and meeting the needs of users and future users; and (b) what public funds have been allocated for the research. [HL5596]

Publicity material regarding the fee remission system is displayed in all courts and a leaflet outlining the system is given to every court user who requests information on any court process that requires a fee to be paid. Her Majesty's Court Service works in partnership with advice agencies and other support services to ensure widespread access to information regarding the system.

Since the introduction of the new fee remissions scheme, for the three quarters that data are available (from 1 October 2007 to 30 June 2008), almost 114,000 people were granted an automatic full remission from fees totalling more than £15 million. In this same period, 5,000 people have been granted part remission, or in some cases full remission, based on an assessment of income and expenditure, totalling £800,000.

The new system has been in place for one year and PriceWaterhouseCoopers is undertaking research on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to assess whether the scheme is operating effectively and meeting the needs of our users. £100,000 has been allocated to this research and findings will be reported in spring 2009.

Economy: Growth Forecasts

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the Ernst & Young Item Club's quarterly economic outlook saying the United Kingdom economy is in recession. [HL5748]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their latest projections of economic growth for the third and fourth quarters of 2008. [HL5749]

Energy: Double Glazing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy, on 10 July (Official Report, House of Commons, 1784W), whether there was any discussion concerning the inclusion of double glazing or low-emissivity glass when directive 2006/112/EC was drawn up. [HL5624]

Directive 2006/112/EC was a recast of existing EU VAT legislation (the 6th VAT directive and subsequent amendments). The recast procedure does not permit the introduction of substantive legal changes, and is intended only to clarify previously amended law. The inclusion of double glazing or low-emissivity glass in the reduced rate schedule would have amounted to a substantive change and was therefore not discussed when Directive 2006/112/EC was drawn up.

Fees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 15 July (WA 137–8), which Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs bodies and agencies are charging fees based on a two-year estimate of inflation; and whether that practice takes account of changes in costs involved in the make-up of those fees. [HL5506]

None of the bodies or agencies of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs applies a two-year estimate of inflation to the calculation of its fees. They do, however, through regular reviews and up-ratings, take account of changes in the costs making-up fees.

Flooding: India

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of their assistance for the recent flood emergency in the Indian states of Bihar and Orissa has been through local non-governmental organisations. [HL5566]

The Department for International Development (DfID) has provided £1.15 million in response to the floods in Bihar, channelled through UNICEF. Fifteen per cent of this assistance has been directed to local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), particularly those providing support on water and sanitation, hygiene education, and behaviour change.

In Orissa, the Government of Orissa are dealing with the situation adequately and have not requested external support.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many new local channels of humanitarian aid they have identified in Bihar during the recent emergency, inside and outside government; and with what results. [HL5567]

The recent floods in Bihar met with a huge response, much of it outside formal channels. Donations were given by corporate donors, political parties and Indian citizens living in India and abroad. Exact figures are not available. However, we are aware of announcements by at least five major corporate contributors, amounting to over £3 million, and a reported £10 million in contributions from individuals. There has also been some aid provided in kind—such as other states providing teams of doctors from medical colleges. This is in addition to the Government of India's own response of £125 million and 125,000 tonnes of food for the relief efforts, and the response of donors, including the Department for International Development (DfID).

The Government of Bihar have put a system in place to channel individual and corporate contributions to support the state's relief and recovery efforts. This is working well, making a positive contribution to the overall relief effort through the provision of food, clothing and cash assistance to those affected by the floods. Some contributions are taking place outside organised channels, and ensuring the effective co-ordination and delivery of the different resources will continue to be a challenge.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of poverty statistics and recent experience during the flood emergency, they will make Bihar a priority state for the Department for International Development in India. [HL5568]

Bihar became a priority state for the Department for International Development (DfID) two years ago, because of its alarming levels of poverty, its vulnerability to flooding and the commitment of the state government of Bihar to address these problems.

Food: Meat

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the report in Meat Journal on 20 June that Vion Food Group has acquired Grampian, and in the light of the avian flu investigation of 2006–07 in Norfolk, how they will ensure that the use in the United Kingdom of meat from other parts of the Vion Food Group will be monitored and controlled. [HL5540]

All consignments of meat imported into the UK from other EU member states and outside the EU must have been produced in accordance with the harmonised Community rules laid down in European Community legislation. Imported meat for human consumption must come from approved premises and must have a health mark or identification mark to confirm it is fit for human consumption.

Random checks are carried out at points of destination by official veterinarians to ensure products meet the requirements, and the delivery of official controls in plants is subject to audit by the Meat Hygiene Service.

The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carries out regular programmes of inspection visits to all member states. Among other things, this legislation sets out the licensing, structural and veterinary supervision requirements to be applied in production plants.

House of Lords: Multifaith Prayers

asked the Chairman of Committees:

Whether there is scope for including multifaith prayers at the beginning of sittings of the House of Lords. [HL5730]

Prayers are read by the Lords Spiritual in their capacity as representatives of the established Church. If any Member submits a written proposal to change these arrangements, I will ensure that it is considered by the Procedure Committee.

Housing: Disability

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why no disability impact assessment was carried out prior to introducing the local housing allowance; whether the provision of extra housing space for disabled persons with live-in carers is classified as a housing need or a social care need; and how many people have applied for discretionary housing payments. [HL5618]

During the Welfare Reform Bill regulatory impact assessment it was acknowledged that the majority of disabled recipients lived in the social rented sector and would not be covered by the local housing allowance (LHA). It was, therefore, not appropriate to carry out a detailed disability impact assessment prior to introducing LHA. It is estimated that 5 per cent of pensioners and 10 per cent of working-age people who are disabled live in the private rented sector.

In circumstances where disabled tenants are limited in the type of property they can rent in the private sector, because they may need certain additional facilities, local authorities are able to consider the use of discretionary housing payments (DHP) to ensure that tenants can find decent accommodation that meets their need. The DHPs are entirely at the discretion of the local authority concerned, and are subject to annual cash limit. As they are administered by local authorities, the number of customers who may have applied for DHPs is not known.

The provision of extra housing space for a disabled person with live-in carers is not automatically classified as a housing need or a social care need. The LHA rate that a disabled person is entitled to would be based on the number of people who occupy the property in the same way that it is for other people.

International Labour Organisation: Decent Work

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they will take to implement the provisions of the International Labour Organisation's Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted at the 97th International Labour Conference in June 2008. [HL5586]

The Government strongly support the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. Since its adoption in June 2008, the Government have been actively engaged in consultations with the ILO and its constituents on implementation and follow-up and will participate fully in future governing body discussions, where specific actions and related timescales will be developed.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress the United Kingdom has made to implement the International Labour Organisation's decent work agenda. [HL5587]

The Government are confident that labour conditions in the United Kingdom are consistent with the four elements of the International Labour Organisation's decent work agenda. These are: employment opportunities; labour standards; social dialogue; and social protection.

The Government also engage with the ILO to help other member states meet the aims of the decent work agenda and take action where necessary.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are working with the International Labour Organisation to influence and design the decent work country programme for other International Labour Organisation members; and, if so, what steps they have taken. [HL5588]

The Government influence and support the design and implementation of decent work country programmes (DWCP) through a partnership framework agreement with the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Government provide funding from April 2006 to March 2009. The agreement specifies particular objectives that the ILO should achieve, while allowing some flexibility on how funds are spent.

The four main objectives are: making a full and successful transition to a DWCP approach; strengthening the results-based management system; ensuring that key areas where the Government's development policy interests overlap with the ILO's comparative advantage are strengthened and fully embedded in the DWCP approach; and the implementation of poverty-focused DWCPs in developing countries.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland spent on taxis in each of the past five years. [HL5703]

This is an operational matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Official Report and the Library of the House.

Northern Rock

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, since the nationalisation of Northern Rock, the company known as Granite has been included in the group accounts; and, if not, why not; and [HL5782]

Whether all Northern Rock off-balance-sheet results are included in the group accounts; and [HL5783]

What is the latest value of derivatives in the accounts of Northern Rock. [HL5784]

During this period of temporary public ownership, Northern Rock is managed by its board at arm's length from the Government on commercial principles. It is a matter for the company's management to release specific business updates or provide any required disclosures in their audited annual report and accounts.

Prisoners: Disabilities

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 22 July (WA 277), how many of the 3,431 prisoners referred to (a) have learning difficulties or learning disabilities, and (b) are unable to participate in offending behaviour programmes. [HL5712]

The information requested is available on neither the Public Protection Unit database nor any other central database, and to provide the information requested would require manual checking of individual records which could be carried out only at disproportionate cost.

Where an individual with learning difficulties or disabilities is assessed as not suitable at present to participate in an offending behaviour programme, further work may be possible to prepare that individual for the programme, for example, by improving learning skills. One-to-one work may also be considered. If an individual is still unsuitable, other interventions or activities may be provided to try to meet the individual's needs.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prisons have developed an action plan in accordance with Prison Service Order 2855 (prisoners with physical, sensory and mental disabilities); and [HL5713]

Whether the Prison Service monitors the development in prisons of action plans in accordance with Prison Service Order 2855 (prisoners with physical, sensory and mental disabilities).[HL5714]

The requirement to complete an action plan was introduced in the revised Prison Service Order 2855 Prisoners with Disabilities on 3 April 2008, and as a baseline in Standard 8 Prisoners with Disabilities. Standard 8 Prisoners with Disabilities, which was revised at the same time as Prison Service Order 2855 Prisoners with Disabilities on 3 April 2008, contains a baseline which requires each prison to develop an action plan. This standard is subject to self audit by the prison according to a set timetable. Monitoring of self audit is carried out by area offices or the Office of the Director of Offender Management (where appointed). There is currently no national monitoring of the development of action plans, though a system will now be implemented to capture this.

Prisons: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prisoners in Northern Ireland are classified as educationally retarded; and what are the classifications used; and [HL5597]

What steps they take to ensure that prisoners in Northern Ireland who are educationally retarded do not re-offend. [HL5598]

Those committed to prison in Northern Ireland are assessed by prison education departments to ascertain literacy and numeracy standards, using classifications set by the Department of Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland). Level one broadly equates to Grades D-G in GCSE and is considered to be the basic level necessary for adults. Over 70 per cent of those entering prison are assessed as falling below level one in literacy and over 80 per cent as falling below level one in numeracy.

All prisoners have access to education. Although this is not mandatory, all those who have low levels of literacy and numeracy are actively encouraged to develop their skills and many do so. For example, 71 prisoners in Maghaberry have achieved level one in literacy and 65 in numeracy since the beginning of April 2008.

Developing literacy and numeracy also helps prisoners better to access the wide range of programmes designed to assist in resettlement and reduce the risk of re-offending.

Public Prosecution Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidance they have given to the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland about the employment of part-time staff. [HL5640]

The Public Prosecution Service adheres to the Northern Ireland Office's personnel and equal opportunities policies and practices. These include a range of family-friendly policies such as job-sharing and part-time working designed to assist staff to combine their work and domestic responsibilities.

Railways: Network Rail

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether appropriate financial incentives exist for Network Rail and the train operating companies to work together to secure efficiency in excess of the levels agreed in franchises and in the Rail Regulator's periodic review. [HL5685]

There are currently no specific direct financial incentive mechanisms in place to encourage Network Rail and the train operating companies to work together to secure efficiency in excess of the levels agreed in franchises and in the Rail Regulator's periodic review.

We would support the development of such incentives, provided they could be demonstrated to provide value for money.

Railways: Rolling Stock

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why, in its response to the Competition Commission's provisional findings in its rolling stock leasing market investigation, the Department for Transport is reported to have said that “changes to the franchising system do not provide a reliable or even remotely timely remedy” to the provision of new rolling stock for the railways. [HL5644]

The Department for Transport's response to the Competition Commission's provisional findings is available on the Commission's website at www.competitioncommission.org.uk/inquiries/ref 2007/roscos/responses_provisionalfindings.htm and the remedies that relate to franchising are discussed fully in annex A, part 2. The quote (from paragraph 1.16 of this document) does not refer solely to new rolling stock.

The quote summarises the department's view of whether the provisional remedies suggested by the Competition Commission are likely to remedy the problems in the rolling stock market which the commission has identified for the older rolling stock on the rail network. New rolling stock is already on the way, with 1,300 new and additional rail vehicles planned by 2014 and over 400 already ordered.

Recycling: Batteries

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Joan Ruddock, on 14 July (Official Report, House of Commons, 25W), whether, in view of the quantity of ferromanganese, zinc and mercury that is recoverable from used batteries, they plan to facilitate one or more battery recycling plants in the United Kingdom. [HL5625]

The lack of UK recycling capacity for portable batteries reflects the relatively low level (about 3 per cent) of batteries that are currently collected for recycling. There is greater recycling capacity for industrial and automotive batteries where the percentages of batteries collected are much higher.

The EU batteries directive requires large increases in collection, treatment and recycling of portable batteries over the next few years. The targets are for at least 25 per cent of portable batteries to be collected, treated and recycled by 2012 and 45 per cent by 2015. These increases will provide opportunities for UK companies to invest in recycling capacity.

The batteries directive also bans the use of mercury in most batteries so that we would not expect much mercury to be recovered from waste batteries.

Roads: A55

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will facilitate more rest zones for truck drivers on the A55. [HL5654]

The A55, apart from a small stretch running from Chester to the Welsh border, runs primarily within Wales. The provision of lorry parking and rest areas is a devolved matter, and as such the National Assembly for Wales has policy responsibility for the provision of lorry parking and rest areas in Wales. The provision of rest areas for drivers is a priority within the Wales freight strategy.

Transport: Independent Transport Authorities

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they are taking to set up the independent transport authorities as proposed in the Local Transport Bill; and what particular actions are being taken in the Greater Bristol and the Solent areas. [HL5647]

The Local Transport Bill provides that the six existing passenger transport authorities in England will become integrated transport authorities (ITAs). It also enables authorities in these and other areas to carry out reviews of existing governance arrangements for planning and delivering transport in their area and—where necessary—to make proposals to improve these, including the possible establishment of new ITAs. It will be for authorities in areas such as Greater Bristol and the Solent themselves to draw up proposals for the establishment of new ITAs, if they consider that this would be likely to improve the planning and delivery of transport in their area.

Waste Management: Fly Tipping

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will enable farmers and landowners to transport materials that have been tipped illegally on their land to the nearest convenient landfill site without a waste transport certificate. [HL5661]

Farmers and landowners must be registered with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier in order to transport illegally tipped waste from their property to a licensed waste facility.

The local authority or landfill site operator would charge normal commercial rates when accepting that waste.

A waste transfer note is required between both parties in the transfer of the waste.

The Environment Agency is the regulatory body for the relevant legislation in England and Wales and takes a proportionate approach to enforcement.

Waterways: Rivers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which rivers in the United Kingdom have been studied using the system developed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to measure endocrine disruption from steroid oestrogens; and whether the results are available to the public. [HL5656]

The predictive model used in the Catchment Risk Assessment of Steroid Oestrogens from Sewage Treatment Works, commissioned by the Environment Agency from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, includes 357 river catchments split into some 10,313 river reaches (21,452 km) covering 122,000 km2 of the inland waters of England and Wales. Estuaries and coastal waters, and sewage treatment works serving very small communities, were excluded from the model. The model predictions of risk have been mapped in an Environment Agency Science Report—SC030275/SR3 Catchment Risk Assessment of Steroid Oestrogens from Sewage Treatment Works, which can be found on its website in the publications catalogue.

Weeds

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have held discussions with the relevant local authorities and other associations over their role in containing the spread of ragwort on land under their stewardship. [HL5318]

No recent discussions have been held with local authorities or other associations specifically about controlling the five injurious weeds including common ragwort (senecio jacobaea) covered by the Weeds Act 1959. But Defra has published a code of practice on how to prevent the spread of ragwort and alongside Natural England is willing to work with local authorities and other associations on this matter if further guidance is required.