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Baroness Thornton: A cohort of frontline health workers was vaccinated in 2005 to deal with any initial suspected or confirmed case of smallpox if they were to occur. The cohort comprised a total of 516 vaccinated personnel of whom 147 were doctors, 164 were nurses, 100 were ambulance staff, 32 were scientists and 73 held other related healthcare occupations. All were carefully screened and monitored and none had adverse complications that required vaccinia immunoglobulin. In order to maintain their protection against smallpox, a programme of revaccination commenced in 2008 and is ongoing. There is no proposal to increase the numbers of people in the cohort.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to vaccinate for smallpox and anthrax (a) members of the emergency services who will be involved in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and (b) others likely to be involved in transportation, stewarding and activities within the Olympic village during the games; and whether such treatment will be voluntary. [HL1095]
Baroness Thornton: The current risk assessment for the 2012 Olympic Games does not indicate any need to change the current national preparedness arrangements in relation to smallpox or anthrax. There are, therefore, no plans to introduce vaccination against anthrax for any of those involved in the Games nor to increase the numbers of people in the current cohort of healthcare workers who are vaccinated against smallpox. This risk assessment, as with all other assessments, will be kept under review in the context of the Games, as will our systems for the detection of, and response to, infectious diseases in the United Kingdom and any new challenges they may present.
Baroness Thornton: The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the United Kingdom to recognise work done in their local communities. Her Majesty's Government have no plans to introduce any further awards to recognise long service by voluntary groups in the health sector.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In total, 3,540,080 items of mail were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2009. The House of Lords received 885,020 of these, or 25 per cent. These figures do not include courier items or internal mail.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will acknowledge or reply to the letter to the Foreign Secretary of 18 November 2009 from Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of Interpal, regarding the status of that organisation. [HL952]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether payment of £8.4 million by the Government of the Isle of Man to health authorities in north-west England for patients referred for specialist treatment and the existing reciprocal health agreements between the United Kingdom and other countries outside the European Union were considerations in the decision to end this year the reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man; and whether they will reconsider the decision. [HL1065]
Baroness Thornton: All relevant factors were taken into consideration in deciding to terminate the current agreement with the Isle of Man. The decision was made on economic grounds and took account of the payment of £8.4 million for elective treatment commissioned by the Isle of Man, which is partly offset by a financial allocation provided by the United Kingdom Government. The Government are not minded to revisit the decision to end the current agreement.
Lord Brett: Kazakhstan will officially unveil its full chairmanship programme on 14 January 2010 when Foreign Minister Saudabayev addresses the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council in Vienna.
We expect Kazakhstan to balance its work across all three OSCE dimensions, and that priority items on its chairmanship agenda will include tolerance and non-discrimination; the rule of law; protracted conflicts; and issues relating to Afghanistan.
Lord Brett: Kazakhstan is working hard to manage its responsibilities across the full range of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)'s activities. As with all OSCE chairs, it can expect scrutiny from the international community.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to encouraging mechanisms to ensure a transparent process for ensuing rounds of elections in Nigeria; what assessment they have made of the report by the Electoral Reform Committee led by Justice Mohammed Uwais; and what assessment they have made of the merits of option A four of that report. [HL1132]
Lord Brett: The UK is working hard to encourage transparent elections in Nigeria, and to improve democratic governance more broadly, including through the Department for International Development's Deepening Democracy in Nigeria and Democratic Governance for Development programmes, joint-funded by the European Commission, Canadian International Development Agency and United Nations Development Programme.
The UK welcomes the report of former Justice Mohammed Uwais' Electoral Reform Committee. It is now for the Nigerian National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, and the presidency to work together, with civil society, to agree reforms that deepen the democratic process based on independent and transparent electoral institutions. The UK and international partners will continue to support these efforts where we can.
Lord Brett: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had open and frank exchanges with the Overseas Territory leaders (except Gibraltar, which did not attend) at this year's Overseas Territories Consultative Council on a wide range of subjects. We agreed the following in a communiqué issued after the meeting:we would continue discussions on the relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories;the principles of good governance will be reported;the UK would, where appropriate, assist the territories to meet their international obligations;respect for human rights and the need to safeguard children will be guaranteed;territories would extend to all the populated territories of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, during the course of 2010;the territories would manage their finances so they are better placed to guard against downturns in their economies;the Overseas Territories borrowing guidelines will be reviewed;the importance of implementing recommendations from the Foot review of British offshore financial centres will be implemented in full; andthe UK would support efforts to tackle crime in the Overseas Territories.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the terms of reference, outputs, timing and measures of success of the Penfold review of non-planning consents were decided by the steering board, or whether they were decided before the steering board was set up; and, if so, by which department or departments. [HL1217]
The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): The terms of reference, outputs, timing and measures of success of the Penfold review of non-planning consents were all decided by the steering board at its first meeting on 10 December 2009.
The terms of reference to the Penfold review can be found at www.bis.gov.uk/penfold.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the recruitment process for the position of independent reviewer for the Penfold review of non-planning consents; and what are his terms of engagement and remuneration. [HL1218]
Lord Davies of Abersoch: Research across BIS and CLG, with input from the Whitehall and Industry Group, identified Adrian Penfold as a strong candidate for the role of independent reviewer. Following advice
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To ask Her Majesty's Government to which department or departments the Penfold review of non-planning consents will report; and which Minister or Ministers will make a decision on which recommendations to accept. [HL1219]
Lord Davies of Abersoch: Decisions on which review recommendations to accept will be taken collectively by the relevant government departments at the appropriate time. The Better Regulation Executive, within BIS, will co-ordinate the government response to the review. Ian Lucas, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, will be the Minister with responsibility for agreeing the cross-government response.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Penfold review of non-planning consents can propose changes to the regulatory regimes relating to non-planning consents; or whether its focus will be on the systems involved in issuing consents. [HL1220]
Lord Davies of Abersoch: The Penfold review terms of reference enable the review to consider how obtaining consents, that are considered problematic by developers and other stakeholders, could be made simpler and more cost-effective. On this basis, the review has the ability to make recommendations affecting both regulatory regimes and to the systems involved in issuing consents.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): In general, the Government do not hypothecate revenue. Income from taxes and other revenues are pooled in the Consolidated Fund so that spending can be prioritised across the range of government activities in the most efficient way.
Last December, the Government and other EU member states committed to non-legally binding commitments to spend sums equivalent to half of the revenues from EU ETS auctioning to tackle climate change both in the EU and in developing countries. One of the possible areas identified for funding was reducing deforestation and increasing afforestation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 20 October 2009 (WA 65) stating that "Natural England's Stakeholder Working Group on Rights of Way is still expected to deliver its final report by the end of 2009", what has caused the delay in delivering the report; and when the group is now expected to report. [HL1045]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The stakeholder working group largely completed its deliberations before the end of 2009. The group agreed that an additional meeting should be held in late January to enable members to seek and discuss any final comments from key contacts within their sectors on the package of recommendations it has developed. The group is expected to report in February.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have commissioned research to find measures to combat phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death); and whether they have assessed its practical effect over the next decade. [HL1051]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Defra and the Forestry Commission have funded research into the diseases caused by Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae since 2002 and 2003 respectively. This has included research into managing the pathogens in woodlands, heritage gardens, heathlands and plant nurseries. A policy review and public consultation was held in 2008 on these two pathogens; this was supported by an impact assessment of the policy and management options, and by pest risk analyses. It concluded that increased effort was required to protect woodlands, heathlands, heritage gardens, and nurseries, thereby reducing impacts on the environment and rural economies.
As a result, a new five-year disease management programme was established on 1 April 2009, led by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). The programme includes three elements: disease control; awareness and behavioural change; and research. The research (£1,500,000 over five years) will directly support the other elements of the programme, especially disease control. A mid-term review of progress on all elements of the programme will be carried out in 2012 and again in 2014.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Tables have been placed in the Library showing, for each nationality, the number of (a) student visa applications received and (b) student visas issued in each of the financial years from 2004-05 to 2008-09. This information is not available for previous years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 7 December 2009 (WA 104), whether any assessment
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The Government's position on British Waterways' (BW) non-operational property assets is set out in the Government's asset portfolio. This was published on 7 December 2009 alongside the Smarter Government White Paper. The Government currently have no plans to dispose of BWs' non-operational assets. However, the Government recognise that there may be benefits in considering alternative structures for BWs' business as a whole, including its property portfolio, such as mutual or third sector structures. Under any scenario, ensuring the continued maintenance and protection of the waterways will continue to be an important objective for the Government.
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