Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 707: debated on Friday 6 February 2009

Written Answers

Friday 6 February 2009

Broadcasting: Audio Description

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have taken place between Ofcom and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding increasing the targets for audio description television services. [HL1073]

DCMS officials have regular discussions with Ofcom officials on television access services for people with sensory impairments, including matters relating to audio description.

Fire Engines

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to requiring all fire engines to be in a colour visible at night and not in red. [HL1067]

No recent consideration has been given to requiring all fire engines to be in a colour other than red. The Department for Transport has given a temporary exemption from existing lighting regulations to permit the use of red retro-reflective markings on the side of fire engines and intends to amend legislation later this year to make this exemption permanent.

Fishing: Trawlermen Scheme

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by Lord Carter of Barnes on 11 December 2008 (WS 76), whether the new trawlermen scheme will be applied to claims that were made in the correct timeframe but where the claimants have since died leaving a widow still living. [HL760]

We propose that claims under the new scheme may be made by the personal representatives (someone who has the legal authority to deal with the deceased's affairs) of former Icelandic water trawlermen who are deceased. We expect to issue a consultation document setting out our detailed proposals shortly, and expect the new scheme to be formally launched in the summer.

Government Departments: Christmas

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have issued to any government department or public body on the use of the word Christmas. [HL329]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which public bodies, including government departments, have omitted the word Christmas from cards sent at this time of year. [HL330]

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

Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the particular responsibilities of local authorities in conducting evictions of elderly Gypsies and Travellers from unauthorised encampments. [HL1167]

Advice on local authorities' responsibilities when taking enforcement action against Gypsies and Travellers is set out in our Guide to the Effective Use of Enforcement Powers. Part 1 states that local authorities have an obligation to carry out welfare assessments on unauthorised campers to identify any welfare issues that need to be addressed before taking enforcement action against them. Part 2 states that taking “default” enforcement action, under Section 178 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, can be extremely traumatic for vulnerable residents in a site such as the elderly and that careful thought needs to be given to ensuring that action taken to restore a site to its original state is proportionate and considered. Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping states that, where bailiffs or other agencies and contractors are employed to take such enforcement action, a code of expected behaviour should be drawn up. This code must recognise that private bodies have a local authority’s human rights and race relations responsibilities while acting as its agent.

Housing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to follow up the Prime Minister's statement to the New Local Government Network conference on 29 January that, “if local authorities can build social housing in sustainable communities that meets the aspirations of the British people for the 21st century, then we will be prepared to give you our full backing and put aside any of the barriers that stand in the way of this happening”. [HL1199]

We are consulting on changes to the revenue and capital rules that currently redistribute nationally some of the rent and capital receipts from new council housing. These changes would allow councils to keep the full revenue and capital returns from their investment. We are also inviting councils to bid for capital subsidy (social housing grant) from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 23 January (Official Report, 23/1/09; col. WA 238), whether they will examine the results of the decision in November 2005 by the Scottish Government to suspend the right-to-buy scheme in designated areas to mitigate the shortage of affordable housing. [HL1208]

This is a devolved matter. The Government are aware of the development of the modernised right to buy in Scotland. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced a new Scottish secure tenancy (SST). Existing tenants with the right to buy (RTB) whose tenancies were converted to SSTs retained the RTB on the same terms and conditions (commonly referred to as preserved RTB entitlements). People taking up new tenancies created after introduction of the SST are entitled to a modernised RTB.

Under the 2001 Act, local authorities in Scotland can apply to Scottish Ministers to have pressured areas designated. To justify designation, local need for social rented housing must be substantially in excess of the local stock, and it must be demonstrable that matters are likely to be worsened by tenants exercising the RTB. Twelve pressured area designations have so far been made in 11 local authority areas since October 2005. In all these cases, the pressured area is a part of the local authority area only. Within these pressured areas, the RTB is suspended for tenants with modernised RTB entitlements for up to 5 years, which can be extended. Tenants with preserved RTB entitlements are unaffected.

Magna Carta

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in June 2015. [HL1154]

Olympic Games 2012: Funding

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of relevant documents listing all transfers of (a) financial obligations and (b) material commitments made by the Olympic Delivery Authority for the 2012 games which impact upon the budget of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. [HL1007]

The candidate file which was submitted to the International Olympic Committee in November 2004 to support the UK’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games set out the relationship between capital costs, borne by the Olympic Delivery, Authority (ODA), and venue overlay costs, borne by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). Specifically, themes 6 and 8, table 6.6.2b and tables 8.4.1 to 8.4.4 refer. Copies of the candidate file were placed in the Library of the -House following the bid in November 2004.

Since winning the right to host the Games in 2012, the ODA and LOCOG have been working closely together to agree the detail of their respective responsibilities for building the venues and equipping them for the Games. However, the detailed agreements which result from this work cannot be placed in the Library of the House at this time as they would contain information that relates to the commercial interests of both organisations and their disclosure would be likely to prejudice these interests. At the appropriate time, when negotiations are concluded, they will be.

Petitions: Downing Street Website

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many petitions have been created on the 10 Downing Street website petition facility since its creation; how many have been rejected; and for what reasons. [HL790]

To ask Her Majesty's Government (a) what systems are in place for monitoring petitions on the 10 Downing Street website since its creation, and in particular for monitoring (1) how many persons have signed a petition, and (2) how many people have signed each petition in each appropriate range; (b) what systems are in place for dealing with petitions, informing petitioners how their petition is being dealt with, and reporting back on the action taken; and (c) what proportion of petitions have been assessed as achieving any change in policies or the delivery of policy. [HL791]

The No. 10 e-petitions system was established as a means for facilitating greater engagement with the public, giving them an opportunity to make their views known to the Government. They are not referenda and are in no way a legislative substitute for Parliament. An e-petition has no legal status; however, to protect the service from abuse, petitions must satisfy some basic terms and conditions. The terms and conditions are set out on the website at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/terms. fifty thousand petitions have been received since its creation.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the terms and conditions of the Number 10 Downing Street e-petition scheme are established by law. [HL818]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Number 10 Downing Street e-petition scheme is required by law to respond to petitions submitted to it; and, if so, what steps such laws require 10 Downing Street to take by way of providing a response. [HL819]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is meant by “senior management” as set out in the terms and conditions of the Number 10 Downing Street e-petition scheme; and whether it is defined in law. [HL820]

The Number 10 e-petitions system was established as a means for facilitating greater engagement with the public, giving them an opportunity to make their views known to the Government. They are not referenda and are in no way a legislative substitute for Parliament. An e-petition has no legal status, however to protect the service from abuse petitions must satisfy some basic terms and conditions. The terms and conditions are set out on the website at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/terms. 50,000 petitions have been received since creation.

Public Lavatories

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will extend the provisions of the Public Lavatories (Turnstiles) Act 1963 to include lavatories provided for public use within private developments. [HL947]

Lavatories provided for public use in private developments are covered by disability discrimination legislation, which requires that reasonable adjustments be made to enable disabled people to access those services. In addition, the British Standard BS8300 (Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people—Code of Practice) states that, “where turnstiles or other similar forms of access control, e.g. those with rotating arms, are used, a complementary side-hung gate should be installed to provide access for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility”.

These provisions aim to ensure that, where turnstiles are used, alternative access, or access to alternative facilities, is available to people with limited mobility.

Waste Management

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities will be piloting “pay as you throw” schemes under the Climate Change Act 2008; and what pilot operations will be included in each area. [HL605]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my right honourable friend the Minister for Farming and the Environment on 22 January 2009 on Household Waste Incentives (Col. 40WS).

Waste Management: Reduction Schemes

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the announcement that no local authorities will carry out pilot waste reduction schemes under the Climate Change Act 2008, they plan to make a further request to local authorities; and, if so, whether it will be based on changes in the rules and financial inducements. [HL1008]

Defra wrote to all local authorities in England in June 2008 inviting formal expressions of interest in piloting a scheme to be submitted by the end of 21 January 2009. No local authorities have so far come forward. If in the future any local authorities wish to discuss how they can manage their waste more sustainably, Defra and the Waste and Resources Action Programme will be available to provide support.