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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the reply by Lord Davies of Oldham on 12 March (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 1262), whether the A400M CargoLifter will be delivered; and, if not, what alternatives there are. [HL2238]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): A contract for the development and production of the A400M aircraft was signed with Airbus Military on 27 May 2003 by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR) on behalf of participating nations (Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey and the UK).
EADS/Airbus Military have recently presented a proposal for taking the A400M programme forward and announced that they wish to discuss the delivery schedule and specific performance characteristics. The implication of this proposal on the delivery of A400M is being studied by the nations and OCCAR.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Following the announcement of delays by Airbus Military on the A400M programme, we are considering our options with partner nations and the company.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information on the number of asylum seekers, excluding dependants, from Zimbabwe who were recognised as a refugee and granted asylum or not recognised as a refugee but granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave in the
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Statistics for 2008 are published in the table B of the supplementary web tables published with the Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical SummaryFourth Quarter 2008. This table shows applications received for asylum in the UK (excluding dependants) and initial decisions broken down by country of nationality.
These publications are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider imposing a public service obligation under European Regulations 2408/92/EEC and 95/93/EEC in order to reserve slots used by bmi for services to Heathrow Airport from Durham Tees Valley Airport. [HL2329]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The criteria for imposing a public service obligation (PSO) were set out in Guidance on the Protection of Regional Air Access to London, published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in December 2005. It can be found on the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/domestic/praa/.
It is for regional stakeholders to apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for a PSO to be imposed. No such application has been received in relation to the Durham Tees Valley to Heathrow route.
The EU rules governing the imposition of PSOs on air routes have been refined by Regulation EC 1008/2008. The department will be revisiting the 2005 guidance in the light of this, but we do not anticipate making large-scale changes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take in response to the recent remarks by President Klaus of the Czech Republic at a conference in New York, in which he sought to refute climate change concerns. [HL2060]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The UK Government continue to work closely with the Czech EU presidency, which recognises the importance of tackling climate change. Its published presidency
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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): At present, the Government consider technologies that aim to reduce the time that carbon dioxide emissions remain in the earth's atmosphere to be speculative and unproven. However, the Government are keeping them under review, as they might ultimately have a role to play in helping to ameliorate climate change, particularly if emissions reductions are not achieved quickly enough or climate change turns out to be worse than projected.
The Government have no present plans for funding any significant research on these technologies. However, we welcome the Royal Society's current study on geo-engineering, which will help to indicate which, if any, of these options might be viable and suitable for further research.
The Natural Environment Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council support research relevant to better understanding such geo-engineering options, their viability and potential environmental consequences. Research Councils are funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, but under the Haldane principle (the idea that decisions about what to spend research funds on should be made by researchers rather than politicians) researchers set their own detailed research priorities.
We assume that technologies that might reduce the time that carbon dioxide emissions remain in the earth's atmosphere do not include carbon capture and storage technologies, which aim to prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere from point emission sources.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal by the East-West Institute for the establishment of a Network For Parliamentarians for Conflict Prevention and Human Security. [HL2151]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels in October 2008, as an initiative of the EastWest Institute's International Task Force on Preventive Diplomacy.
The Department for International Development's (DfID) assessment is that the network will be valuable in helping to build understanding and consensus at the national and international level on approaches to conflict prevention and early response. In its policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict (2007) DfID states its commitment to building local, national and international capacity to manage conflict. The network can contribute to thisby raising awareness of the importance of preventing violent conflict and promoting diplomatic initiatives. It will be important that the network develops strong links with the UN, EU and regional organisations to unify conflict prevention efforts.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what penalties exist for commercial violation of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003; and whether they consider these sanctions to be an effective deterrent. [HL2158]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the independent regulator of both the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR).
The Government consider that the powers and sanctions available to the ICO are an effective deterrent to non-compliance with the DPA and PECR. However, the ICO's powers are kept under constant review and the Government have proposed to enhance these powers in the Coroners and Justice Bill to provide a further deterrent to non-compliance.
Non-compliance with an information notice, an enforcement notice or a Schedule 9 warrant is a criminal offence. The penalty is the statutory maximum on summary conviction and an unlimited fine on indictment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 March (WA 200), why £5,000 has been transferred to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; and how this contributes to the relief of poverty in developing countries. [HL2230]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The ability of the Department for International Development (DfID) to relieve poverty in developing countries depends critically on the skills of its staff. Whilst some of these skills are specific to international development, otherssuch as leadership, project management and people managementapply across the Civil Service. The Skills Strategy for Government, launched in 2008, recognised that departments could achieve more by working together on these common issues. This will involve building stronger professions within government, helping departments to work together to procure and commission training, and influencing universities and colleges to train the present and potential future workforce more closely in line with Government's needs. In line with every other department, DfID has therefore agreed to contribute about £3 for each member of its staff to the costs of delivering the strategy, which is managed by Government Skills (the Sector Skills Council for central government, and part of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills). As well as leading to more effective delivery of programmes such as international development, the skills strategy will drive savings for departments which significantly exceed their contributions to its funding.
Lord Tunnicliffe: Much of the work the Department for International Development (DfID) undertakes in fragile states on addressing the millennium development
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Work on early warning is not funded under a central or distinct programme. It is carried out by DfID staff spread across a number of departments and country offices and draws on a range of assessments, including those of other government departments as well as publicly available material. It is not therefore possible to give a figure for DfID expenditure in this area.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what instructions and advice are being given to (a) the police, and (b) returning officers, to prevent postal voting fraud taking place in the European and local elections on 4 June. [HL2141]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Electoral Commission have produced updated guidance for police forces in England, Wales and in Scotland for the European and local elections taking place on 4 June 2009. The guidance is designed to alert police forces to issues that may arise in the run-up to polling day, on polling day itself and at related events, and provides an explanation of potential offences, powers of arrest, maximum penalties and time limits for prosecution, and guidance on partnership working.
The commission is also responsible for the provision of guidance to returning officers in relation to the management and conduct of elections. They continue to issue detailed written guidance and work with returning officers, electoral registration officers, political parties, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police on strategies for preventing and detecting electoral malpractice.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the Government of Israel to lift the embargo on construction materials and other goods entering Gaza to enable the rebuilding of houses and services. [HL2200]
Lord Tunnicliffe: Access for much-needed materials will be critical for early recovery and reconstruction to take place in Gaza. Following the Secretary of State's visit to Gaza on 1 March, he met Isaac Herzog, the Israeli Minister responsible for co-ordinating aid to Gaza, and pressed for improved access and a relaxation of restrictions on the type of goods that are allowed across the border.
The Foreign Secretary has also pressed Isaac Herzog on the need for improved access, and the Prime Minister recently wrote to Prime Minister Olmert on this issue. In the last month officials from both the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have had meetings with the Israeli Government on the need for greater access.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Young of Norwood Green on 12 January (WA 103), whether it is necessary for all students attending English and Welsh universities to apply for a student loan even if they do not wish to have one in order to avoid being categorised as a foreign student. [HL2249]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): No. Government loans for tuition fees and living costs are not mandatory and eligible students may apply for tuition or maintenance loans as they wish. Student loans are affordable and designed to ensure that finance is not a barrier to higher education.
Higher Education Institutions in England charge eligible students the regulated rate of fee whether they have applied for student support or not. Eligibility to the regulated fee charge is determined by the Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments.
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