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Iraq: Members of Former Regime

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The coalition has been successful in apprehending some of the "most-wanted" figures of the Saddam Hussein regime. Our efforts continue, but it is not appropriate to disclose operational details.

Sudan

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 7 April the Government of Sudan lifted flight restrictions imposed on the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team in March. On 7 April the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Envoy announced that the Verification Monitoring Team's (VMT) mission to Bentiu had been suspended. This followed concerns expressed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army about the tasking of the VMT. The IGAD Special Envoy has now proposed a compromise position which we hope will be acceptable to both parties. We continue to work with the US, Norway and the mediators to ensure the operationalisation of the VMT as soon as possible.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cessation

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of hostilities between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement does not extend to the conflict in Darfur.

Gibraltar and Morocco: Territorial Waters

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any talks have taken place between the United Kingdom and Spain in relation to the territorial waters between Gibraltar and Morocco.[HL2849]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: No.

Middle East: Destruction of Palestinian Homes and Property

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to stop the large-scale demolition of Palestinian houses being carried out by the Israeli Army at Nazlat Issa in the West bank, Rafah in Gaza and Kafr Kassem in Israel.[HL2875]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr O'Brien) has made representations to the Israeli Ambassador about the demolitions in Nazlat Issa. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the matter with the Government of Israel and continues to do so.

We are greatly concerned about the destruction of Palestinian homes and property. Such actions are provocative, exacerbate tension and undermine efforts to end violence and to return to negotiations.

TUPE Regulations

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to implement European Community Council Directive 23 of 2001, dated 12 March 2001, on the approximation of the laws of member states relating to the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses; and what is the reason for the delay in consultations on this directive.[HL2984]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The existing provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981—the TUPE Regulations—meet the requirements of the 2001 directive, which was a consolidation of earlier directives. The Government nevertheless proposes to amend the TUPE Regulations in order to improve their operation, and has been carrying out an extensive process of consultation on its proposals. We announced in February that the next stage in this process, formal

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public consulation on draft revised regulations, will take place later this year. We aim to have the revised regulations in force by April 2004. Consideration of the issue of protection of occupational pension rights on transfer is, however, being taken forward separately in the context of the reform of pensions legislation, and was addressed in the DWP/HMT Green Paper Pensions in the Workplace last December.

Sustainable Energy Research

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans to provide higher support levels, international centres of excellence and demonstration projects for research and development to assist United Kingdom industry develop programmes in renewable power technology including wind, wave, tidal and photovoltaic.[HL3044]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government have allocated £348 million for capital grants and support for research, development and demonstration programmes in sustainable energy.

The Government have in addition allocated a further £28 million to the Research Councils in last year's spending review to support a new cross-council programme, "Towards a Sustainable Energy Economy" (TSEC) which should more than double Research Council investment in sustainable energy research by 2005–06. This will enable the UK Research Councils to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to research issues in the sustainable energy field, including the development of a UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) of high international standing.

The TSEC programme will build on new cross-council programmes such as the SUPERGEN and Carbon Vision Programmes. SUPERGEN involves the engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research (ESCR) and the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) which will jointly invest £25 million over five years in a range of sustainable energy research including marine, biomass, hydrogen, photovoltaic, fuel cells, and future networking projects. The £14 million Carbon Vision programme will be supported jointly by the Research Councils and the Carbon Trust.

The DTI provides capital grants for offshore wind, bioenergy, and photovoltaics projects, and supports demonstration projects in wave and tidal energy through its Renewable Energy R&D Programme. It supports small-scale community and household projects in a variety of renewable energy technologies through its Clear Skies programme.

The Government are setting out their plans more fully in their response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry, Towards a Non-Carbon Fuel Economy: Research, Development and Demonstration.

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British Energy

Lord Brennan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest position regarding the restructuring of British Energy.[HL3143]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In the light of today's publication of British Energy's preliminary results for the financial year 2002–03, I am taking this opportunity to inform the House about two aspects of the restructuring plan: the value of the aid that Her Majesty's Government have agreed to give to the company based on BE's estimates of its liabilities; and the company's plan to dispose of its 50 per cent stake in Amergen, its joint venture in the US.

Value of the aid

In his statement to the House on 28 November 2002, my noble friend Lord McIntosh said that the Government would contribute significantly to the company's £2.1 billion of historic nuclear fuel liabilities that are managed by BNFL and extend to 2086. In addition he said that the Government would underwrite the fund that will be used to pay for the costs of decommissioning BE's nuclear power stations. These costs together with BE's uncontracted liabilities were estimated in the company's statement to the Stock Exchange on 28 November at £1.6 billion. To the extent that BE's payments fall short of the fund's requirements, the Government will make up the difference. He stated that the cost to government of meeting these liabilities would average £150 million to £200 million a year for the next ten years and would fall thereafter. The DTI is currently considering how the value of its aid for BE should be reported in its annual accounts for 2002–03, and will be discussing this with the National Audit Office,

BE today has estimated the total value of government's indemnity as £3.6 billion (net present value) in their preliminary annual results for their financial year 2002–03. This figure is simply the difference between their estimate of the total liabilities underwritten by government and funds held by the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF). It does not include an estimate of the future contributions by BE to the NLF to fund its own liabilities.

We expect the European Commission may shortly disclose, as part of the state aids process, a valuation of £3.3 billion (net present value) for the aid. This figure was prepared according to EC requirements. It is calculated by discounting the estimated amount of aid that government might provide after taking into account an estimate of the amount that the company will contribute to fund its own liabilities.

This £3.3 billion figure includes £0.9 billion for the estimated value to BE of a tax disregard provided for in the Electricity (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, the commitment to contribute significantly to the historic nuclear fuel liabilities, and an estimate of government's contribution to decommissioning and uncontracted liabilities. The tax disregard will not result in any extra cost to the Government. It has been provided to avoid a large tax charge hitting BE as a

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result of the aid and thus the need for the aid to be correspondingly higher to achieve the same effect.

It is important to note that estimates of this kind are subject to a significant degree of uncertainty, particularly when different accounting treatments, assumptions, and discount rates are used in their calculation. The key points are that government's underlying commitment remains the same as it was last year and that our estimates of the cost to government (£150 million–£200 million a year on average for the next 10 years falling thereafter) is unchanged.

Amergen

British Energy has been taking steps to realise its 50 per cent interest in Amergen, in accordance with the restructuring principles agreed with the Government on 28 November 2002.

The company had planned to be in a position to enter into a sale agreement by 30 June 2003. I understand from BE that although discussions with a number of interested parties are ongoing, this timetable will not now be achieved. British Energy, however, has reaffirmed its intention to dispose of its interest in Amergen as soon as practicable.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has confirmed to British Energy that, in view of the progress made to date to sell British Energy's interest in Amergen, she can continue to support the restructuring. However, as my noble friend said in his statement to the House on 28 November, the Government remain prepared for administration in the event that, for whatever reason, the restructuring fails.


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