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The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Filkin: At least one of the trial centres will be smaller than the 750-bed centres that we are pursuing at DSDC Bicester and RAF Newton. It may be that such a centre, because of its smaller size, can be in or on the edge of an urban area. We are also continuing to discuss with the Refugee Council its idea of a core and cluster accommodation centre.

Site searching has continued since we made our initial announcement in January 2002, as we said it would. In addition to the sites we have identified ourselves, a number have been put forward by potential bidders. We shall not be putting into the public domain details of such sites unless and until they are considered to be serious prospects for the siting of an accommodation centre.

5 Feb 2003 : Column WA38

Food Imports

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Autumn Performance Report 2002, why there is no target under objective 3; and at what level of imports of food normally produced in the United Kingdom will the food supply chain be deemed to fail the sustainability test.[HL1407]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Performance target 5 serves both objective 3 and objective 4. The Government do not have a target for the level of imports of indigenous-type food.

The Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food, published on 12 December, sets out how the Government intend to deliver a range of outcomes relevant to farming and food, including the development of competitive and efficient industries producing safe and attractive products that consumers, both at home and abroad, want to purchase.

Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Annual Report

Lord Morgan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate annual report will be published.[HL1482]

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate annual report has today been published and laid before Parliament. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the Houses.

Down/Ards Area Plan

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Down/Ards Area Plan went on-line on the web; how many days were allocated for a consultation period; when the consultation period was due to end; and whether an extension for the consultation period can be made.[HL980]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The draft Ards and Down Plan 2015 was published on Tuesday 10 December 2002. It is not available on the web. A period of six weeks from the publication date of development plans for receipt of objections is specified in Article 4 of the Planning (Development Plans) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1994. In the case of the Ards/Down plan this period ended on Tuesday 21 January 2003. This statutory six-week period cannot be extended.

5 Feb 2003 : Column WA39

Safeway Takeover Bids

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they expect from the Competition Commission to the current bids for the takeover of Safeway; and whether any action is being considered by the Department of Trade and Industry.[HL1413]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating the bids for Safeway and will advise my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in due course whether these raise competition concerns meriting further in-depth investigation by the Competition Commission. My right honourable friend follows the advice of the Office of Fair Trading on whether to refer a merger to the Competition Commission, save in exceptional circumstances.

Ex-offenders: Housing

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will allocate additional funds in the coming financial year for social housing to meet the needs of persons discharged from prison; and, if so, how much.[HL1199]

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Housing Corporation continues to provide capital funding through the Approved Development Programme (ADP) to meet the needs of a wide range of groups in the community, including ex-offenders. The amount of funding available for this client group within the 2003–04 ADP has not yet been determined.

Revenue funding for housing related support services will be provided under the Supporting People programme and administered by local authorities from 1 April. Local authorities have now submitted their shadow supporting people strategies. These are currently being analysed and will provide valuable data on the supply of services for everyone who needs them, including ex-offenders, so helping to inform and direct future action.

National Electronic Register

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the timetable for introducing the national electronic electoral register.[HL1307]

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: We expect that a national electronic register could be fully operational within two years of all stakeholders in this complex project agreeing how to proceed and the necessary regulatory framework and resources being in place. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is continuing to work closely with all stakeholders to achieve this.

5 Feb 2003 : Column WA40

Council Tax Revaluation

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the revaluation of council tax will impact on the amount paid by council tax payers in different tax bands by region.[HL1393]

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Subject to parliamentary approval of the current Local Government Bill, council tax revaluation in England will be in 2007, using 2005 data on property values. The impact of the revaluation will therefore depend on future property values as well as on decisions yet to be taken on, for example, the structure of bands.

Social Services Spending by Local Authorities

Lord Smith of Leigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In how many local authorities there is significant underspending on social services.[HL1394]

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister no longer takes the view that the grant distribution formulae for social services can represent Government's view on what councils need to spend. The new formulae aim to reflect the relative costs of service provision and are part of the means by which we allocate a fixed total of general grant. The level of spending on social services by individual local authorities is for them to decide in consultation with their council tax payers.

Car Labelling

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the results of the consultation on car labelling undertaken by the Department for Transport.[HL1418]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): On 21 March 2002 the Department for Transport published a consultation on the possibility of introducing a comparative environmental label for cars. In all, 36 organisations and four private individuals responded to the consultation. Almost all agreed to the Government's proposal to pilot a comparative car label. The majority of the respondents favoured an A-G energy label format similar to that used on domestic fridges and freezers. A full summary of responses has been published on the DfT website at In the light of the responses, the department is now finalising the arrangements for a pilot scheme which will be launched later this year.

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