Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Credit Cards: Annual Percentage Rates

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: As the noble Lord is no doubt aware, the Government are nearing the conclusion of their review of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and plan to publish a consumer credit White Paper outlining their proposals in December.

Alongside the White Paper, we will be consulting on draft regulations to reform laws on the advertising of consumer credit and the form and content of credit agreements. Among other things these will create new requirements to ensure that annual percentage rates (APRs) and other key financial information are displayed more transparently, both in promotional material and on the face of agreements; and will set out the basis of which such APRs should be calculated.

Electricity Generation: Renewable Sources

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Yes. The Government remain committed to the target of achieving 10 per cent of the United Kingdom's electricity supply from renewable sources by 2010. While this target is ambitious, we are doing all we can to achieve it.

The key instrument for delivering the target is the renewables obligation, which was introduced relatively recently, in April 2002. We are starting from a low base; in 2002, only 1.7 per cent of the UK's electricity was generated from renewable sources eligible for the renewables obligation.

13 Nov 2003 : Column WA224

Total eligible renewables generating capacity in 2002 was 1,513 MW. The recent energy White Paper—Our energy future—creating a low carbon economy—estimated that to hit the 10 per cent target, we would need to install approximately 10,000 MW of renewables generation capacity by 2010. While this would require a steep change from the current rate of installation, the level of renewable energy projects receiving consent has risen encouragingly. Over 1,100 MW of renewable capacity has been given planning consent so far during 2003, and some of this capacity is at present under construction. In addition, the required build rate to meet the 2010 target is only just over half that achieved in Germany over recent years, and about the same as that achieved in Spain.

Parliament Square: Loudhailers

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will have discussions with the relevant authorities with a view to banning the use of loudhailers in Parliament Square; and, if so, whether such a ban should apply only when Parliament is sitting or at all times.[HL5140]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The use of loudhailers in Parliament Square is a matter for the local authority, which in this case is Westminster City Council, to decide on how to proceed, using its powers under Section 62 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The use of loudspeakers in the street for advertising entertainments, trades or businesses is banned. Other uses are restricted to the hours between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless the local authority has agreed otherwise and has considered the effect on the surrounding area before doing so. A local authority is not required to serve an abatement notice and offenders are automatically subject to prosecution which could result in a fine of up to £5,000 for the first or subsequent offence.

However, all public authorities are also bound by the Human Rights Act 1998.

I understand the authorities of both Houses have discussed these issues with the local authority.

Common Agricultural Policy: Expenditure in UK

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much direct expenditure under the common agricultural policy took place in each of the 12 regions and nations of the United Kingdom in the most recent financial year for which data exist.[HL5290]

Lord Whitty: The table below shows the direct expenditure paid by Defra to farmers and traders in England under the common agricultural policy in the

13 Nov 2003 : Column WA225

2002 EU financial year. This expenditure has been analysed by government office region, based on the postal code of the recipient. In cases where the postal code was unknown or out of date it was not possible to allocate payments to a specific region; this expenditure has been shown under the heading "undefined". Questions regarding payments under the common agricultural policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be directed to the devolved authorities in Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland administration.

RegionExpenditure £000
East Midlands209,662
North East73,117
North West86,740
South East196,533
South West206,478
West Midlands123,647
Yorkshire and Humberside171,399

Demonstration Farms

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided to establish its own network of demonstration farms when Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) already has such a network and is partially supported by the Government.[HL5389]

Lord Whitty: The Government said in March 2002 that they would set up a pilot network of demonstration farms in response to recommendations made by the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food. The policy commission noted the existence of LEAF and other demonstration farms and said that these models needed to be built on and expanded.

The contract to administer, monitor and report on the pilot network was won by the ELITE consortium of land-based colleges. They have worked with LEAF and others to deliver the pilot, which is due to end on 31 March 2004. Its aim is to test the effectiveness of different types of demonstration farms and associated activities in improving the economic and environmental performance of farms and their integration into the food chain and wider rural economy.

The project is currently being evaluated. The evaluation team has been asked to provide a blueprint for the development of future publicly funded demonstration farm activities.

13 Nov 2003 : Column WA226

Whole-farm Assessment Schemes

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) how near the Linking Environment and Farming audit is to a satisfactory whole-farm assessment scheme; and (b) which factors currently absent from the Linking Environment and Farming audit are required for it to be 100 per cent satisfactory as a whole-farm assessment scheme.[HL5390]

Lord Whitty: The Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) audit supports and promotes farming practices that are compatible with the system of integrated farm management (IFM) LEAF have developed. However, not all farming practice is compatible with the LEAF audit, a good example being organic production. A satisfactory whole-farm assessment scheme should be inclusive and open to the widest range of farmers possible, and to all farmers if it seeks to be a regulatory tool.

In developing the whole farm appraisal we aim to reduce the amount of paperwork that farmers have to face. Making use of data already provided by farmers for existing audits such as LEAF will help reduce the need for farmers to submit the same data twice.

Water Poisoning

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases there have been of water poisoning in the United Kingdom in the 10 years (a) before and (b) since the introduction of the European Union Water Directives.[HL5266]

Lord Whitty: I understand that there are no central, retrievable records of any significant incidents affecting the quality of public drinking water supplies during the period 1970–1980.

Between 1980 and 1990 major incidents affecting the quality of public water supplies were notified to the former Department of Environment. With the exception of a serious incident in July 1988 when the public water supply to Camelford was contaminated with aluminium sulphate, there are very few records of such notifications.

Regional water authorities were privatised in 1989 and the Drinking Water Inspectorate was set up in 1990 under powers in the Water Act 1989. That Act created an offence of supplying water "unfit for human consumption". The Act did not define a meaning of "water unfit". This is left to the courts to decide on the basis of the evidence and circumstances in each individual case.

Proceedings against water companies in England and Wales for supplying such water are initiated by the Chief Drinking Water Inspector acting on behalf of Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the National Assembly for Wales.

13 Nov 2003 : Column WA227

Between 1990 and the end of 1998, the Drinking Water Inspectorate initiated proceedings against eight water companies for supplying water unfit for human consumption on 14 occasions. Most of the cases related to incidents that occurred between 1994 and 1997 and involved the supply of discoloured water. The companies pleaded guilty to the offence in 13 of the cases; the unsuccessful case related to an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis associated with the water supplied.

Since January 1999, there have been 18 prosecutions against nine water companies, mostly involving the supply of discoloured water. All the prosecutions were successful.

Cases of contaminated drinking water in Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for the devolved Assemblies.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page