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What action has been taken by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland or any other agency against those who ploughed up a bird sanctuary in Strangford Lough in December and January. [HL213]
Lord Rooker: The Department of the Environment has investigated damage caused by ploughing during the period 27 December 2004 to 3 January 2005 to an area of special scientific interest at Strangford Lough. The findings of this investigation have been referred to the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of prosecution action and a case has now been listed for hearing by the courts on 13 June 2005.
Lord Rooker: There are no plans to sell the Stormont estate. The feasibility of including some government office buildings at the south-eastern corner of the estate in a strategic development plan for the wider Northern Ireland Civil Service estate is currently being considered. Parliament buildings, Stormont Castle, Stormont House and the surrounding parkland are specifically excluded from the proposals.
Lord Rooker: The current review of the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 will consider the level of protection for the Irish hare. Following the 2004 survey of the Irish hare population in Northern Ireland, which indicated a significant increase in numbers, a further survey in 2005 has been commissioned. Once the results are known the Department of the Environment will be finalising its proposals for amending the Wildlife Order as a basis for a public consultation exercise. Any decision to change the level of protection for the Irish hare under the Wildlife Order will be based on a consideration of the conservation case and the associated scientific evidence. The public consultation exercise will offer all stakeholders with the opportunity to provide their views on this issue.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The maximum waiting time for any first out-patient following general practitioner referral has been reduced to 17 weeks and will continue to fall to a maximum of 13 weeks by the end of 2005. By 2008 the maximum wait from referral to start of treatmentincluding out-patient appointments and any diagnostic testswill be just 18 weeks. For dermatology currently the median time waited to be seen by a consultant is a little over seven weeks.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Television advertising of most gambling products is prohibited by the advertising code, which is administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on behalf of Ofcom. The ASA is not aware of any such advertising taking place.
However, although under current legislation online poker sites may not themselves be provided from this country, gambling companies, including those online poker sites, are permitted to sponsor television programmes. This sponsorship is subject to rules enforced by Ofcom, whose new broadcasting code will come into effect on 25 July 2005. Ofcom has a range of sanctions available if these rules are breached by broadcasters.
When the Gambling Act 2005 comes into force it will extend the definition of advertising, in relation to gambling, to include sponsorship. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport may make regulations
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about the form, content, timing and location of non-broadcast advertisements for gambling, while Ofcom will continue to be responsible for setting standards for the broadcast advertising of gambling.
There will also be a new offence of advertising foreign gambling. Foreign gambling means gambling which takes place outside the European economic area, or, if organised by remote means, is not subject to any regulation by an EEA state. The Secretary of State may specify additional, non-EEA, states which will be exempt from the foreign gambling offence.
What plans they have to collect data indicating the percentage of people killed or injured in road traffic accidents involving passenger vehicles in the United Kingdom that were not taxed, not insured or not in possession of a valid MOT certificate. [HL283]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Information on road accidents involving personal injury is collected by the police and reported to the department in a standard format for statistical purposes. Details of whether vehicles involved were taxed, insured or in possession of a valid MOT certificate are not part of the information collected.
The department is investigating the possibility of establishing whether vehicles involved in accidents had a current vehicle excise duty licence at the time of the accident by referring to administrative records held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
The feasibility of linking accident data to the MOT data on HGVs and PSVs is being explored. If successful then it may also be possible to identify the MOT status of private vehicles involved in accidents following MOT computerisation.
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When they expect to receive Sir Patrick Brown's report of his review of the business appointment rules, which was announced by the Prime Minister in July 2004; and whether they will publish the report; and [HL92]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have received Sir Patrick Brown's report of his review of the business appointment rules. The Government will publish the report once they have considered the findings. The Government will announce at that time how they intend to take forward the recommendations.
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