Thursday 11 December 2008
Armed Forces: Aircraft
I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Armed Forces in the other place on 10 November 2008 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 775W).
Banking: Business Loans
The EIB has been financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since 1968. The €30 billion fund dedicated specifically to small firms over the period 2008-11 was created on 23 September 2008, when the EIB decided to reform its SME lending facilities. As well as earmarking this increased amount of potential lending available, the EIB also simplified and modernised its lending aimed at small firms. EIB loans will continue to reach them through on-lending by national commercial banking intermediaries.
On 30 October 2008 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that, based on the UK's shareholding in the European Investment Bank (EIB), British small businesses should be able to benefit from around £4 billion of lending from the EIB between 2008 and 2011.
In the 2008 Pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out that, as a first step, following negotiations between UK banks and the EIB, £1 billion of EIB funds will be available to British small firms by the end of 2008.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which areas of research were considered to be high priority based on documentation relayed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council in each year between 2006 and 2008. [HL34]
The areas of research considered to be high priority for consideration by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) are outlined in its annual horizon scanning reports. These annual reports are circulated to stakeholders including the department and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and can be found at: www.hfea.gov.uk/en/1554.html. Copies of the reports have been placed in the Library.
In matters of assisted reproduction technology, the department would consider seeking the advice of bodies such as the HFEA and MRC if it were minded to commission research in this area.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 September (WA 353–54) and 16 October (WA 67), which department or authority should examine the papers referred to in Lord Alton of Liverpool's letter to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on 6 November 2008; and why the HFEA's statutory remit does not include studying and commenting on evidence that may contradict their conclusions. [HL35]
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that it considers the broad range of evidence available as part of its statutory duty to keep under review information about embryos and any subsequent development of embryos. However, the HFEA does not consider that this duty obliges it to produce, routinely, commentaries on such information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many human embryos have been created in each year since the commencement of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990; how many cloned human embryos have been created since 2001; and how they intend to report to Parliament on the number of animal human hybrid embryos created annually following the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. [HL60]
The figures for the number of embryos created from the commencement of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 until 2006 have been published by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in Table 25a of its document A long term analysis of the HFEA Register data (1991-2006). The document has been placed in the Library and can be found at www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/HFEA_long_term_data_91-06_version1_revision4.pdf.
The HFEA has informed me that the number of embryos created in 2007 was 215,366.
The HFEA does not routinely require research centres to submit data on the number of embryos created during research projects for collection on its register. Research centres provide this information as part of regular progress reports to the authority on each licensed research project. The creation and use of human admixed embryos (hybrid embryos) will also be monitored in this way.
Houses of Parliament: Police Arrest
On 3 December the Lord President informed the House (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 20) that she had asked the House authorities to prepare a report setting out the current position on this matter. In the mean time, it is clear that, before the police were permitted to enter the House of Lords’ part of the Palace of Westminster to arrest a Member or search a Member’s office, Black Rod would need to establish their authority so to do. Black Rod would consult other House authorities, including in particular the Lord Speaker and the Clerk of the Parliaments. In the absence of Black Rod, the Yeoman Usher may act in his place (Standing Order 13(4)).
The Highways Agency has replaced most of its lamps with smaller, brighter lamps that can be better controlled. These smaller lamps allow lighting designs that result in most of the light being directed downwards which reduces the light pollution.
The Highways Agency has also modernised its lighting standards so that all new lighting is designed to ensure all light is directed downwards and no light is emitted above the horizontal. The Campaign for Dark Skies recently presented an award to the Highways Agency in recognition of its work on these lighting standards.
Under the Highways Agency sustainability development action plan, there is a commitment to reduce the agency's operational energy use. On 14 October 2008, the Highways Agency announced that it would be introducing a midnight to 5 am switch-off of road lighting at some motorway sites following a safety assessment. While this is intended to reduce carbon emissions, it would also reduce pollution of the night sky from road lighting.
I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given to the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, on 27 October 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 146).
Civil commercial aircraft movements at RAF Northolt are limited to 7,000 per calendar year and are permitted between 0800 and 2000 hours seven days a week. However, RAF Northolt is currently operating restricted hours at weekends between 1000 and 1600. Flights are restricted to those carrying fewer than 30 passengers.
Given the size of the runway and the available fire cover, there is a limitation to the size and shape of aircraft that the station can accommodate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who decides on the use of Royal Air Force Northolt for civilian aircraft; and who gets priority over its use. [HL40]
To ask Her Majesty's Government who determines priority if demand for use of Royal Air Force Northolt exceeds availability; and on what basis. [HL41]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any special deals have been negotiated with any operators for the use of Royal Air Force Northolt by civilian aircraft; if so, with whom; and on what basis. [HL44]
Use of RAF Northolt for civilian aircraft is permitted under the MoD wider markets initiative which utilises the station's irreducible spare capacity. There is an agreement with one commercial operator which leases a hangar at the station that provides a guarantee of a fixed number of landing slots. This benefit arose from a tender competition which was open to all civil operators.
The use of the remaining irreducible spare capacity, within the voluntary ceiling of 7,000 civil commercial movements per year, is available to all civilian operators on a first-come, first-served basis.
The RAF levies charges for aircraft parking and landing. These are set at market rate, which is determined by reference to other similar commercial airfields in the local area. Charges are set by RAF Northolt and these are reviewed on an annual basis by the station. Additionally, a hangar is leased out for civilian aircraft use for which the charges were determined through an open competition.
Other aircraft services, including refuelling and passenger handling, are provided by private companies. The charges made by those companies are a matter for them.
Income received by RAF Northolt from civilian aircraft using the airfield facilities is set out in the table below.
Year Total per annum £ Million 2003-04 2.00 2004-05 2.62 2005-06 3.09 2006-07 3.78 2007-08 4.17
Total per annum £ Million
Note: Receipts for de-icing are not included as these are not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Railways: St Pancras Train Shed
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 29 September (WA 300–01), to what extent the Answer took into account (a) the disapplication of Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and whether this disapplication was rescinded on completion of the works at St Pancras as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project; and (b) the normal powers of the 1990 Act, including those of the local authority under Section 38 to issue a listed building enforcement notice in respect of any such works. [HL80]
Details of Network Rail's debt held and interest paid for each financial year from 2003 to 2008 are published in Network Rail's annual report and accounts, available online at www.networkrail.co.uk.
Details of Network Rail’s net debt and interest payable assumptions for 2009-14 were published by the Office of Rail Regulation in its Periodic Review 2008: Determination of Network Rail's Outputs and Funding for 2009-14—Regulatory Asset Base and Net Debt Assumptions. This document is available from the Office of Rail Regulation's library, or online at www.rail-reg.gov.uk .
Full address for Network Rail annual report and accounts: www.networkrail.co.uk/browseDirectory.aspx?dir=\Annual%20Report%20and%20Accounts&pageid=3221&root=
Full address for ORR periodic review 2008 determination: www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/pr08-NRs_op_fund_09-14.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what considerations governed the decision to prevent retired persons of independent means with close connections with the United Kingdom being able to apply to retire in the United Kingdom whilst elderly dependent relatives, who live alone abroad, will be able to return. [HL85]
The reforms we are making to the immigration system will ensure that all future citizens must demonstrate they have earned the right to remain here permanently. We believe it is right to remove the retired persons of independent means route due to the limited numbers entering on it and because the amount of disposable income they had may not match the demands they place on public services.
We continue to believe it is right to allow a parent or grandparent aged 65 or over to come to the UK in the limited circumstances where they are financially dependent on the relative present and settled in the UK and have no other close relatives in their own country to turn to for financial support.