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30 Jun 2009 : Column WA29



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Agriculture: Bluetongue

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Defra has no plans to impose an import ban on cattle and livestock from areas in Europe affected by bluetongue. Provided that EU movement rules for bluetongue susceptible species are being complied with, the risk posed by bluetongue in other member states is very low, and does not justify such a ban. Also, BTV-8 is being effectively managed through vaccination in most EU member states.

Movements of bluetongue susceptible species are governed by EC Regulation 1266/2007, which was developed with the best available scientific advice, balancing risks proportionately against impact on trade. Where new evidence has become available, rules have been adjusted. We will continue to consider emerging evidence and any implications for movement conditions.

As of 3 November 2008, all of Great Britain became a single confluent restricted zone for Bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8). We are therefore effectively in the same BTV-8 restricted zone as neighbouring EU member states. Animals can be moved freely within this restricted zone, and to and from other BTV-8 restricted zones in Europe provided that they meet the generic import/export requirements and are accompanied by an export health certificate which has been signed by an official veterinarian. In the case of BTV-1, we are not part of this restricted zone which currently includes France and Spain. In this case movement controls into the UK are much stricter.

We have implemented a robust post-import testing regime for all imported livestock, and where livestock test positive for Bluetongue, appropriate risk management action will be taken, depending on the serotype detected. Since December 2008 no imported livestock have tested positive for bluetongue. We urge industry to consider the risks and check the health and vaccination status of livestock when sourcing susceptible animals from abroad.

Alcohol

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA30

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Youth Alcohol Action Plan set out the actions that Government will take to tackle young people's drinking through a mixture of education, enforcement and action with industry. Both of the national policy recommendations that the GLA report makes are already being addressed through delivering our Youth Alcohol Action Plan's commitments related to education.

We are currently revising the drug and alcohol guidance for schools, and Ministers have announced their intention to making drug and alcohol education statutory as part of personal, social, health and economic education, subject to consultation and parliamentary process. We are also developing a national communication campaign to discourage harmful drinking among under-18s. Our recent consultation on Children, Young People and Alcohol is part of this development work and the results will inform the campaign and the appropriate branding.

For those young people who do develop problems there are a record number of treatment places available for substance misuse (23,905 nationally). Alcohol is the second most common issue for young people currently in treatment.

Broadcasting: Analogue Radios

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The information is not available in the form requested. However, Ofcom's research in September 2008 showed that about 45.9 million analogue radio devices were in use at least once a week:

DeviceUsed at least once a week (millions)

Personal music player with radio

9.1

Mobile phones with a radio

5.3

Clock radios/alarm clocks

8.8

Radio sets/portable radio sets

8.4

Hi-fis/music systems with radio

14.3

In addition Ofcom's research showed that there were about 22.5 million cars with an analogue radio.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA31

Lord Carter of Barnes: The Digital Upgrade Plan contained in the Digital Britain report proposes that on a determined date all services carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes will cease broadcasting on analogue. At the same time small local commercial stations and community stations will occupy the vacated FM spectrum. Commercial broadcasters have been fully engaged in these plans.

Burma

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma. Over 2,100 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, continue to be detained. Political freedoms are completely absent and any dissent is brutally crushed. Treatment of Burma's ethnic groups is of particular concern.

Appalling human rights abuses are undoubtedly happening in Burma. However, as Burma is not a state party to the Rome statute, it would require a Chapter VII UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation in the country to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. In the past two years our efforts have helped to secure unprecedented Security Council action on Burma, in the form of two strongly worded presidential statements. It is, however, highly unlikely that the council would agree to pass a binding resolution on this issue. Our efforts to secure a non-binding resolution on Burma in 2007 were blocked by other members. We regularly test the degree of consensus as we seek Security Council action and strong resolutions in the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

Chagos Islanders

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government have been invited by the European Court of Human Rights to submit written observations on the admissibility and merits of the application by the Chagos Islanders and to inform the registry of the Government's position concerning a friendly settlement by 17 July 2009. The Government expect to meet that deadline.



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA32

Cyprus: Property

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has no direct jurisdiction in relation to disputes over property between private parties. The ECJ works in conjunction with the national courts of the EU member states, which themselves apply Community law. Any national court which is called upon to decide a dispute involving Community law may, and sometimes must, submit questions of Community law to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. Turkish Cypriots may pursue relevant complaints before the courts of member states where those courts have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: We have made no assessment of the role of the Greek President of the European Court of Justice in the Apostolides v Orams case. The European Court of Justice is an independent judicial institution. We have no reason to doubt the court's impartiality.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Jonathan Rees, director general of the Government Equalities Office, is responsible for completing the annual appraisal of the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The appraisal is based on OCPA guidelines which assess the chair's performance against objectives agreed for him and the commission.



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA33

Euro

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the then Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Statement on the five tests assessment in June 2003. The determining factor underpinning any government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest and whether the economic case for joining is clear and unambiguous.

Fishing: Netting Restrictions

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): UK fisheries departments continue to fund a range of work, in collaboration with the industry, looking at making the respective fishing activity more selective in terms of either species or size. The industry is encouraged to use any such gear modifications which prove successful. For example, the UK has been working with the industry on ways to avoid North Sea cod, but still allow fishermen to continue to fish stocks such as North Sea haddock. We have instigated a system whereby fishers are granted additional fishing days where they adhere to closures to avoid spawning or young cod, and are willing to change gear that catches fewer young fish, or create fishing plans that commit to significantly reducing cod discards.

Gambia

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA34

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): Mrs Fulton has requested that no information be given out about her case. Our high commission in Banjul have raised a number of issues on Mr Fulton's behalf with the Gambian Ministry of Interior. We understand that Mr Fulton was sentenced on 26 March 2009 to an additional three years' imprisonment for forgery, but is appealing against the sentence. Consular staff last visited Mr Fulton on 19 June 2009. Consular staff are not medically trained, but with the permission of a detainee can ensure that any medical problems they might have are brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government's decision to seek the release and return of former residents was limited to those who were lawfully resident in the UK prior to their detention. Following the safe return of five former legal residents to the UK, only one individual with this status, Shaker Aamer, is at Guantanamo Bay, where he has been held since February 2002. We requested his release and return to the UK in August 2007. The US has so far declined our request, owing to security concerns. We continue to make clear that our request stands for his release and return. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with the US regarding Mr Aamer's welfare, and are in frequent contact with his family and legal representatives.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Burnett

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer of 15 June 2009, given by the honourable Member for Dudley North (Official Report, col. 17W).

Asked by Lord Burnett



30 Jun 2009 : Column WA35

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The latest household estimates for England were released in the Communities and Local Government statistics release of 21 May 2009 and accompanying live tables. The web links are show below:

link to household estimates and projections statistics release: http://www.communities.gov.uk/ publications/corporate/statistics/2031households0309.link to household estimates and projections live tables: http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/ housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/householdestimates/livetables-households/.

There were 21.5 million households in England in 2006, a 1 per cent increase from 21.3 million in 2005 and a 9 per cent increase from 19.7 million in 1996.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): I refer to the Answer given to the noble Lord on 15 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 182-83), which explains the Government's approach to reporting on international human rights and foreign policy. As such, the Government do not set or maintain a list of countries where they monitor human rights abuses, potential or actual.


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