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House adjourned at twenty-one minutes before six o'clock.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Kandahar Airfield plays an essential role in the British and allied military commitment to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, a role that is likely to increase as the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expands into the south of the country. It is important, therefore, that collectively we ensure that the airfield and the aircraft that use it are suitably protected.
The UK has been using Kandahar as a base for its Harrier GR7 Force since September 2004 and now has much of our deployed helicopter fleet there. It is only right that the UK shares some of the burden in protecting this joint facility. While we currently provide some help, we are well placed to make that help still more effective. We have a specialist airfield defence capability that few of our partners have and the skills it would bring will enhance security arrangements at Kandahar Airfield.
I have accordingly decided to commit the 130-strong 34 Squadron of the RAF Regiment to Kandahar Airfield. This unit will deploy within the next few weeks and join Afghan, Canadian, Romanian and US forces defending the airfield and its environs. I am confident that this is an appropriate national contribution to the crucial task of protecting a facility of central importance to the success of the wider NATO mission in Afghanistan.
This coin will be in addition to a Crown piece to celebrate the diamond wedding anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, a two-pound coin to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and a 50p piece to commemorate the centenary of the scouting movement.
Collector versions of all these coins will be released at a premium above face value. In the case of the
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two-pound coins and the fifty pence piece, during the course of 2007 versions will also become available at face value from banks and post offices.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Gerry Sutcliffe) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today laying before Parliament, with the Comptroller and Auditor General, the annual report and accounts for 200304 for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. It is being laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Ministers at the same time. The annual report and accounts will be published by 30 June.
Publication of the annual report and accounts is later than usual because of the need to bring the accounting for the tariff scheme cases fully in line with the requirements of financial reporting standard 12 (provisions, contingent liabilities and contingent assets). The accounts estimate the final settlement value of cases in progress and the predicted value of applications which have not yet been received in respect of crimes that have already occurred. As a result, the balance sheet at 31 March 2004 shows net liabilities of £1,210 million and an operating deficit of £48.9 million.
In 200304 the authority received 70,595 applications for compensation and resolved 77,487. The number of cases outstanding at 31 March 2004 was 84,990. The proportion of cases decided within 12 months was 74.4 per cent.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My honourable friend the Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today granted consent to the application by Riverside Resource Recovery Ltd to build an energy-from-waste power station in Belvedere, south east London. This decision was taken after careful consideration of the recommendations from the public inquiry inspector who oversaw two public inquiries that looked into this application in 2003 and 2005.
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This energy-from-waste station will be fuelled by waste which would otherwise have to go to landfill. London has a serious waste problem much of which it currently exports to landfill in the home counties. I agree with the inspector that even if London were to meet the ambitious recycling targets envisaged by the Mayor for London there will still be ample residual waste to fuel the station. This decision will make an important contribution to tackling London's waste problem.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Anne Lambert, deputy permanent representative, UKREP, represented the UK at the Energy Council in Luxembourg on 8 June. Discussion focused on the EU's international relations, the internal energy market and sustainable energy.
On international relations, Commissioner Piebalgs summarised the EU's external energy priorities as a comprehensive energy agreement with Russia and coherent, systematic dialogues with key supplier, transit and consumer countries. He said that multilateral action would be most effective, citing the need for working together within the International Energy Agency and on an international agreement on energy efficiency. He provided updates on the Energy Community Treaty for South East Europe, on the EU-OPEC dialogue and on EU relations with Russia. On Russia, he said that the EU should develop a partnership of mutual self-interest covering investment, diversification, reliability of supply and demand, third-party access and non-discrimination; and that the Commission was considering a comprehensive energy agreement as part of the post-PCA relationship.
In welcoming the Commission's work, some member states emphasised that energy remained a national competence and that Energy Ministers should be informed and involved in agreeing Commission activity in advance. One member state emphasised that progress with Russia depended on establishing a relationship based on trust. Another member state stated that the relationship must be reciprocal and based on the Energy Charter Treaty principles, ensuring that EU companies can operate freely in Russia.
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The council adopted conclusions on the internal market. The internal market had been on the agenda at the informal dinner on the eve of the council, during which Commissioner Piebalgs detailed the next steps on the Green Paper:
Discussion of the internal market during the formal council focused on the role of regional markets, on steps needed to complete the market and on diversification. The Commission supported regional initiatives, while warning that these should not undermine the overall objective of a single energy market. The Commission said that it would continue to monitor and assess progress, reporting at the end of the year. Co-ordinated diversification of supply sources, relevant infrastructure and new technologies were also crucial. The Strategic Energy Review would bring all this together.
All Ministers supported regional markets as a building block to developing a single market. Two Ministers said that existing regional markets could be extended to other member states and explicitly invited the UK to join the north-west market, which now involves Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Many Ministers emphasised the need to harmonise regional markets to ensure the development of the main objective of a fully functioning internal market.
The UK advocated political engagement in the development of regional markets and in effective unbundling and market transparency. Several member states supported the UK, though one viewed further unbundling requirements as unnecessary.
On diversification, many member states identified increased interconnection, development of renewables and energy efficiency technologies as the key drivers. Some member states pressed for the development of indigenous sources of supply, including nuclear power. Others wanted a common approach to diversification, but some noted that responses related to member states' individual circumstances.
One member state questioned the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme's carbon pricing policy, noting its significant impact on electricity prices. The Commission thought that the ETS fundamentally worked, though it needed refining
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before the next stage. Another member state thought security of supply more important than liberalisation, while another noted that it was developing security of supply indicators with the UK and Commission.
On sustainable energy, the council adopted conclusions on a Biomass Action Plan. The Commission said that, in implementing this, priority would be given to a proposal on renewable heating and cooling and to the strengthening of the biofuels directive. The Energy Efficiency Action Plan would emphasise implementation and enforcement of existing legislation, measures to address energy consumption and financial incentives. The Energy star negotiation with the US had concluded with agreement on significant improvements in standards and coverage. The Commission hoped other key consumer countries would join. Some member states emphasised the importance of updating labelling legislation.
In conclusion, Finland, the incoming presidency, identified its energy priorities as: developing European energy policy, particularly renewables and energy efficiency; the internal market; and Russia.
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