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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The sale of Chelsea Barracks completed on 31 January 2008 for a total consideration of £959 million. Payments to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be split evenly over the five years ending 31 January 2011 with the initial two payments having already been received. Although a final cost, including legal, marketing and other professional fees, in connection with the transaction has still be determined, these are expected to be in the order of £1 million.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The current directive provides an option for the UK to extend the derogation from 2010 to 2012. Exercising this option would require the UK to make a formal request to the European Commission before 1 January 2009 and this issue is currently under consideration.
What steps they are taking to ensure the provision of suitable terminal equipment on buses and in the offices of bus companies, in order that smartcards can be used efficiently in connection with the concessionary fares scheme in England. [HL2144]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have no plans to require smart readers to be installed on all buses in England. In areas where there are no smart readers, the new concessionary bus passes can simply be shown to the bus drivers as they are now.
We have provided a total grant of £31 million to fund the distribution of around 6 million smartcard
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|Concessionary fare take-up by area type: England 2002-06 Source: National Travel Survey|
|Men and women aged 60 and over|
|Take-up rate (per cent)|
Local authorities are responsible for forecasting likely future take-up in their area based on local knowledge. In estimating the likely cost impact of the new concession an assumption of 85 per cent pass take-up across England was used. We currently expect authorities outside London to issue around 6 million passes for the new concession.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Currently, pure biodiesel used in off-road applications attracts a duty rate of 30.35p per litre, the same as biodiesel used on roads, but then users are able to claim a rebate of 27.22p per litre, giving an effective duty rate of 3.13p per litre. Where biodiesel is blended with conventional fuel for use in agricultural machinery it is also subject to a duty rate of 56.94p per litre. Pure biodiesel used as a heating fuel is not subject to duty. In addition, people who produce less than 2,500 litres of biofuel in any year pay no duty on this fuel.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): All nominations for life peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission with the exception of new Ministers and Law Lords.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker (WA 45) on 19 February concerning the Northern Ireland Human Rights Forum, what is meant by the word significant in the phrase not have a significant impact on equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland. [HL2081]
Lord Rooker: Significant in the context of the Written Answer (WA 46) on 19 February 2008 refers to the adjudged scale of an adverse differential impact in relation to any of the categories set out in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, following a screening exercise.
Lord Rooker: On receipt of Mr Justice Weir's detailed judgment the Secretary of State met the chief constable and the chairman of the Policing Board. He subsequently met representatives of the Omagh families.
The implications of the judgment are far-reaching and consequently a range of steps have been taken. The Policing Board has announced an independent external overview of the investigation; Professor Brian Caddy is conducting a review of low-template DNA analysis; the Police Ombudsman's investigation is ongoing; and the Secretary of State has commissioned a review of the forensic science concerns raised by the judge.
What plans they have to promote energy efficiency in prison buildings; and what plans they have further to promote energy efficiency education among offenders, prison staff and their families following the energy efficiency project in the Severn Wye area. [HL2113]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Prison Service will undertake an energy awareness campaign across the prison estate in April 2008. The service is working with the Carbon Trust to undertake energy surveys in three geographic areas which will be completed by March 31 2008. The report produced by the consultants Severn and Wye Energy Agency will be further considered with a view to its implementation as funds allow.
Whether they have any proposals for passengers to benefit from the £14 million fine imposed on Network Rail by the Office of Rail Regulation in respect of the overruns of emergency work on the West Coast Main Line early this year. [HL2265]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: This is a matter for the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), whose investigation has concluded that the problems experienced over the New Year were part of a continuing breach by Network Rail of its network licence. The ORR is now consulting on its response.
Network Rail is exploring urgently with passenger and freight operators and user representatives the option of funding a package of customer improvements worth £14 million. If agreement can be reached by the end of the month, the ORR could decide to endorse this rather than imposing its proposed penalty on Network Rail for breaching its licence.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 6 February (WA 193), when they expect the litter to be cleared from the A13 between the M25 and the A1089; and whether they will make representations to Thurrock Council and Essex County Council about the litter on the A13 between the A1089 and the A130. [HL2201]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Thurrock Borough Council is the litter authority, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for the A13 within its borough. It has two crews dedicated to clearance of litter on the A13 verges within Thurrock on a daily basis. Litter clearance on the central reserve requires traffic management for
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The agency has also contacted Essex County Council, which is the highway authority for the A13 between the A176 and the A130. Essex County Council has advised that the next inspection will be on the 12 March and the next thorough litter picking is scheduled for Spring 2008 by Basildon District Council, the litter authority. Litter at lay-bys continues to be collected weekly with verges and slip roads cleared monthly.
The Highways Agency continues to monitor the trunk road section of the A13 for litter as part of its route stewardship. The agency makes representations to the relevant litter authority for clearance where
6 Mar 2008 : Column WA192
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