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8 Jun 2010 : Column WA31

Written Answers

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Abortion: Advertising

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Under the existing broadcast advertising rules non-commercial providers of post-conception advice services are permitted to advertise on television in the UK. There has been no change to the advertising code or the law in this regard.

Broadcast advertising is strictly controlled by the Advertising Standards Authority working in a co- regulatory partnership with Ofcom. This regulatory regime is independent of Government and sets the standards for all television advertising. It is the responsibility of Ofcom's licensees, the commercial TV channels and radio stations, to observe the statutory codes on advertising standards and practice.

If, in exceptional circumstances, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport was persuaded that the rules in this area were not strong enough, there are, ultimately, powers under the Communications Act to direct Ofcom on the descriptions of advertisements that should not be included in programme services.

Asylum Seekers: Legal Advice

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Legal help is currently available to all eligible asylum seekers from the outset of their claim. UKBA and LSC are working with key asylum partners and plan to test the 2007 Solihull pilot principles of an enhanced legal service across an entire UKBA region.

The process aims to improve the quality of initial asylum decision-making by front-loading the system and achieving cultural change in the asylum determination process on the part of the decision maker and adviser.

This will allow Government and their delivery partners robustly to test the benefits of the process and assess the viability of a national rollout.



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Aviation: Volcanic Ash

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: The Civil Aviation Authority's Safety Regulation Group has a safety risk management process (SRMP) for UK air operations that monitors safety performance and establishes safety strategies and takes any necessary actions accordingly. The risk analysis process looks at the overall system as opposed to specific areas and is used to identify the most significant safety risks for UK aviation.

The most recent analysis was conducted in 2009, volcanic ash was not identified as an area requiring additional work as the existing international guidance was considered sufficient to ensure the safety of air operations.

This process is described in paragraph 1.9 of the CAA Safety Plan 2009-11: www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP786.pdf.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Employment and support allowance was introduced in October 2008 and existing incapacity benefits continued in payment. The current plans are to begin the reassessment of cases receiving the old style incapacity benefits in October 2010 with a small trial to test and learn from the process, with the national reassessment programme planned to run from spring 2011 to March 2014. The key tool to support reassessment is the work capability assessment which is carried out by a healthcare professional and delivers an assessment of the extent to which a claimant is capable of work. We are aware that some people need much more support to manage their conditions and get help to find work and moving them to employment and support allowance is the best way to do that. We know this is a big undertaking and are working on plans to make the change happen as smoothly as possible for all customers. We also plan to evaluate how employment and support allowance is working in order to ensure that it meets its objective of helping people back to work.



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A person receiving employment and support allowance will have their capability for work reassessed at intervals determined by their individual circumstances.

Cyclists: Deaths

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: There are a number of initiatives under way at present, aimed at improving cycle safety. These include promoting bikeability cycle training; promoting the Highway Code and safe road use, including use of protective equipment such as high visibility clothing and cycle helmets; providing more safe cycle routes; guidance to local authorities on the design of safer road infrastructure, including effective cycle-specific measures as well as more general measures that benefit all road users such as 20 mph zones and better traffic management; improvements to motor vehicle driver testing and training; and new measures on lorry mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists and pedestrians. The measures on lorry mirrors should be of particular benefit to women who are over-represented in fatal cycle incidents involving lorries in London. All this is against a background of encouraging more people to cycle while minimising the risks of cycling.

Education: Languages

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We announced on 7 June that the development of the three academic diplomas will stop immediately. This means that the Diploma in Languages and International Communication will not be introduced in September 2011.

Energy: Carbon Emissions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government have committed to push for the EU to demonstrate leadership in tackling international climate change, including by supporting an increase in the EU emission reduction target to 30 per cent by 2020.

We do not yet know the details of how EU-wide efforts to move to 30 per cent would be shared across member states but we recognise for the UK it would

8 Jun 2010 : Column WA34

require a more stringent target for 2020 than the current 34 per cent reduction enshrined in the Climate Change Act, and tighter carbon budgets in the period 2013 to 2022.

The Climate Change Act requires that the Government obtain and take into account the advice of the Committee on Climate Change before amending the level of targets or carbon budgets, and amendments are subject to parliamentary approval (affirmative procedure).

Energy: Fuel Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The latest projections indicate that fuel poverty in England is likely to rise to around 4.6 million households in 2009. The projections are based on known changes in prices, and conservative estimates of income change and energy efficiency improvements in the housing stock. Projections for 2010 will be published on 14 October, which will be based on known aggregated price increases and will not be able to identify the change in fuel poverty with any specific measure.

Environment: Aarhus Convention

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The UK ratified the Aarhus convention in February 2005 and submitted an implementation report to the Aarhus Secretariat in 2008 detailing the measures taken to comply with it. This includes measures to comply with Article 9(4) which provides that procedures to provide access to justice are "fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive".

The issue of compliance with Article 9(4) has been raised in cases before the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, and the European Commission has raised concerns about the expense of the procedures available in the UK for providing access to justice in the context of the public participation directive (which implements some of the requirements of the Aarhus convention in the EU). The Government are considering their response to the Commission's concerns.



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EU: Financial Services

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Sassoon: The Government are committed to maintaining London and the wider UK's status as a leading centre for providing financial and related services, and will factor this objective into all negotiations with EU and international partners. The UK's financial services sector is important to the UK and as part of a wider European and global sector. It is therefore necessary to ensure the right regulatory framework in order that the sector's full potential for the UK can be realised.

The Government will implement European Union law in accordance with its obligations under the EU treaties in an effective, timely and proportionate way, thereby minimising any regulatory burden.

EU: Treaties

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The referendum lock is not intended to catch all treaty amendments. It depends on whether the treaty includes the transfer of further powers or competences from the UK to the EU. Accession treaties would not be subject to a referendum as they do not involve such transfers.

European Public Prosecutor

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government do not support the creation of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP) and have made it clear that they would not participate in its establishment.

The Government are giving careful consideration to the UK's current extradition arrangements worldwide-including the European arrest warrant (EAW)-to ensure they operate effectively and in the interests of justice. A range of options are being considered and the Government will make an announcement in due course.



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Food: Chicken

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The tables below provide details of the imports into the UK of live chickens from EU countries and non-EU countries for the period 2007 to 2009 and the five countries from which the UK imported live chickens in 2009 as recorded in the Official Overseas Trade Statistics for EU countries and the European Commission's Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) database for non-EU countries.

World Trade Organisation rules do not allow us to ban imports on the grounds of the welfare standards applying in third countries. Within the EU there is a well established principle in Community law of the free movement of goods. Council Directive 2007/43/EC sets down minimum welfare standards for meat chicken production within member states.

UK imports of live chickens from EU countries, 2007-09
Number of chickens
Country of dispatch200720082009

EU

France

1,754,366

254,716

1,804,534

Germany

508,272

396,836

51,819

Irish Republic

2,539,179

3,172,903

3,273,357

Netherlands

456,297

378,056

2,140,833

Sweden

711

EU Total

5,258,115

4,202,511

7,270,543

(c) Crown Copyright

Source: HM Revenue and Customs.

Data prepared by Trade Statistics, Economics and Statistics Programme, Defra.

2009 data are subject to amendments.

EU data based on EU 27.

UK imports of live chickens from non- EU countries, 2007-09
Number of chickens
Country of dispatch200720082009

Non EU

Brazil

3,000

Canada

22,880

58,800

U.S.A.

502,187

351,278

359,820

Non EU Total

528,067

410,078

359,820

Source: European Commission's Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) database.


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