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12 Dec 2006 : Column WA179

Written Answers

Tuesday 12 December 2006

Afghanistan: UK Personnel

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): There are currently some 1,050 United Kingdom personnel serving with the headquarters of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in its role as headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). On current plans, that should reduce to around 125 personnel from February 2007, when the headquarters of the ISAF will be provided by a composite headquarters generated from across the alliance.

Alcohol and Drugs: Rehabilitation of Addicts

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Large studies in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America have shown improved outcomes for clients who have undergone residential rehabilitation. The American Drug Abuse Treatment Outcomes Study (DATOS) showed good outcomes at one year for people who had been treated in residential rehabilitation programmes, with cocaine and heroin use reduced by two-thirds from intake levels. The British National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS) showed that about half of the clients were abstinent from heroin and other opiates for three months after residential treatment. Injecting was halved and needle-sharing reduced by more than two-thirds.

NTORS also showed that clients with more complex drug use make better gains in residential rehabilitation than in community treatment. Improved outcomes were most likely to be found among clients who spent longer in residential rehabilitation, with those staying in treatment for at least three months more likely to have positive outcomes.

There is limited evidence regarding the effectiveness of structured day programmes for drug misuse. Hence, currently there is little evidence concerning the relative effectiveness of the two settings in successful drug rehabilitation.



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The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has recently published a Review of the Effectiveness of Treatment for Alcohol Problems, which concludes in regard to alcohol rehabilitation that,

However, the review confirms that residential services may not always be more costly than out-patient services. (Note: “out-patient” in this analysis includes day service provision).

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: This information is not available centrally.

Animal Welfare: Wild Birds

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

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government agree with the conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority's report Animal Health and Welfare Risks Associated with the Import of Wild Birds other than Poultry into the European Union, including those on welfare. The full report is available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/ahaw/ahaw_opinions/ahaw_op_ej410_captive_birds.html.

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

Lord Rooker: On 4 December, the European Union (EU) Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health voted to extend a complete ban on the import of wild birds until 31 March 2007. The extension was justified in terms of allowing time for the Community to introduce proposals dealing with concerns outlined in the European Food Safety Authority's report on Animal Health and Welfare Risks Associated with the Import of Wild Birds other than Poultry into the European Union.

As the Prime Minister wrote in his letter to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on 5 December, the UK intends to press other member states and the European Commission to extend indefinitely the ban on the commercial import of wild birds from 1 April 2007, with exceptions for recognised international conservation programmes. This would protect both human and animal health, while benefiting the welfare of wild birds.

Draft proposals circulated by the Commission detail an extremely strict import regime, with only a small number of countries (Australia, Bulgaria, some states of Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Croatia, Israel, New Zealand, Romania, Tunisia and the USA) able to export to the EU. The proposals also contain a requirement that birds come from authorised breeding colonies and strict rules about permissible transportation time. We expect very low levels of imports as a result of these high standards, which are necessary to safeguard bird health.

On welfare, veterinary officers (VO) from the State Veterinary Service will use their professional judgment to enforce welfare law. Under quarantine regulations, the death of any bird during the quarantine period should be reported to the VO supervising the quarantine as soon as is reasonably practical. It is illegal for a person to remove or dispose of a carcass of a captive bird which dies in quarantine, unless a veterinary inspector has authorised its removal or disposal. Quarantine approval will be revoked if requirements are not met.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is receiving a large volume of customer correspondence relating to the single payment scheme (SPS).

In July 2006, RPA introduced a new correspondence monitoring system which provides details of the number of outstanding pieces of correspondence. The position between July to November is as follows:

Month endNumber of outstanding correspondence

July

36,659

August

27,589

September

22,420

October

14,226

November

12,143

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Before the implementation of the single payment scheme the Rural Payments Agency employed approximately 686 full-time equivalent staff involved in processing the schemes replaced by the SPS. The current number of full-time equivalents working on SPS processing is approximately 2,043. This represents an increase of approximately 1,357 full-time equivalents, mostly at administrative officer level, with an approximate cost of £9.6million.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: As at 7 December 2006, 2,953 farmers have not received a full payment under the 2005 single payment scheme, although 1,977 of these farmers have received a partial payment.

As announced on 7 November 2006 by David Miliband, full payments for the 2006 scheme year will begin in the early part of next year and where full payments are not possible partial payments should start in mid-February for eligible claims above €1,000. The Rural Payments Agency estimates that the partial payments process would take around three weeks.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord McKenzie of Luton: HM Revenue and Customs has made no such decision. The commissioners of HM Revenue and Customs have no legal authority to refrain from collecting tax which is properly due under the law. However, the commissioners do have discretion to defer the payment of tax in cases of genuine hardship, and apply such discretion in the case of farmers as they do for other taxpayers.

Disabled People: Employment

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the National Statistician, Karen Dunnell, dated 12 December 2006.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning what percentage of staff currently employed in each government department are registered as disabled people; and what the comparable figures were for each of the last five years (HL 26).

Diversity statistics are published annually in the Civil Service Statistics report on the Cabinet Office website. The latest publication, for 2005, presents statistics on permanent staff in post for all staff and Senior Civil Service level by department and disability status.

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/publications/xls/report_2005/table_p.xls

Comparable statistics have been prepared on an ad hoc basis for 2003 and 2004 and have been placed in the House of Lords Library.

For earlier years, statistics on disability status are available only by responsibility level and Government Office for the Regions. Links are provided to the relevant tables. Information by department could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Please note that information on disability is collected on voluntary self-classification questionnaires and there is considerable non-response. For example, in April 2005, the disability status of 26 per cent of staff was unknown. Non-response particularly affects those moving between departments. Therefore, the statistics on disability should be interpreted with some caution, particularly year-on-year changes.

Elections: Review of Systems

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The review is being carried out internally and the cost has been absorbed by my department's electoral policy division. The precise costs of this ongoing work have not been recorded, as members of the review team perform a variety of duties.

Gulf War Illnesses

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): As indicated in the Answer given by my noble Friend Lord Bach on 17 November 2003 (Official Report, col. WA255-6), the facts of the medical countermeasures programme were known to researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down and will have been taken into account in their work.

Intellectual Property: Copyright

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott):: The Government welcome the Gowers review of intellectual property, published on 6 December, and as set out in our response in the Pre-Budget Report, we will take forward those recommendations for which we are responsible. There are a number of recommendations in the review intended to modernise the copyright regime. These include:

strengthening enforcement by bringing the penalty for online infringement of copyright into line with the current penalty for physical infringement of copyright;enacting Section 107A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, so giving trading standards officers new duties and powers to enforce copyright infringement;

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improving access to content with a new limited private copying exception for format shifting of works and allowing private copying for research to cover all forms of content;enabling education provisions to cover distance learning and the use of interactive whiteboards;improving the provisions around archiving and preservation so that historical records do not become obsolete;creating an exception to copyright for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche; and proposals will also be made to the European Commission that they look at the issue of access and use of content where the copyright owner is hard to trace, so-called “orphan works” and the issue of creative, transformative or derivative works.

The Government look forward to working with all stakeholders in taking forward these and the other recommendations in the review.


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