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Lord Whitty: The views of the country biodiversity groups for England, Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive on the production of new HAPs for ponds of high ecological quality and other habitat types were presented to the standing committee of the UK Biodiversity Partnership in September 2002. The committee accepted the scientific case for them as priority habitats but agreed to postpone the addition of any new HAPs under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan until a full review of existing plans has been carried out in 2005.
Lord Whitty: The Government's Biodiversity Strategy for England was published on 24 October and is in the Libraries of both Houses. The strategy sets out a range of measures which will benefit water and wetland biodiversity as a whole, including that of small water bodies.
With specific regard to the conservation of small water bodies, the strategy makes a commitment to promote pond conservation measures through agri-environment schemes and by increasing recognition of local biodiversity action plans in the land use planning system through the proposed revision of Planning Policy Guidance 9. It makes a further commitment to consider preparation of habitat action plans for ponds and other water and wetland habitat types following the review of existing habitat action plans in 2005.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): UK state pensions are uprated for pensioners living in the former Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia under the bilateral social security agreement with that country which has been in force since 1958. Following the break up of the former Yugoslavia, the agreement has continued to be applied to the now separate independent republics: the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro); Bosnia-Herzegovina; Croatia; Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The agreement provides that where a person would be entitled to a benefit which is covered by the agreement while in or resident in one country, it shall be payable to that person while he or she is in or resident in the territory of the other. This would include any annual uprating of benefits.
The UK has a social security arrangement with Canada, which first came into operation in 1960. It is limited in scope and is not reciprocal. Its provisions are limited soley to helping people coming to the UK from Canada to qualify for UK benefits by allowing periods of residence in Canada to be treated as periods when UK contributions had been paid in claims for UK benefits made after arrival here. It does not allow for
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): There is no requirement for compulsory registration for nannies or checks on their qualifications, but we keep these issues under review.
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): With the agreement of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury as the Minister responsible for HM Customs and Excise, I can confirm that in the light of the circumstances that led to the prosecution offering no further evidence in a series of linked prosecutions relating to London City Bond currently being heard at Liverpool Crown Court, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and I will be asking a High Court judge:
Richard Broadbent, chairman of HM Customs and Excise, has welcomed the setting up of the review. Review of Current Practices and Procedures Relating to Disclosure, Associated Investigation Techniques and Case Management in HM Customs and Excise's Criminal Cases Terms of Reference
And, having regard to changes in the law or practice as indicated below, changes in relevant procedures and guidelines and to changes in practice within HM Customs and Excise that have taken effect since 1995:
In respect of HM Customs and Excise criminal investigations, to review current compliance with best practice in the use of investigation techniques (e.g. the classification and handling of individuals providing information) and the management and control of cases to the extent these are relevant to the discharge of the prosecution's obligations in any subsequent criminal proceedings.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland made a Statement this afternoon in another place. A copy of his Statement has been placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): Some surface station operators closed lifts as part of their mitigation measures during the period of the fire brigades' strike. Any such decision is a matter for the station operating company as the health and safety dutyholder.
A variety of risk assessments were completed by the rail industry prior to the strike, including considering the failure of station lifts. Railway safety assessments considered that the risk of ceasing rail operations and forcing rail traffic onto the roads would present a significantly greater risk than putting into place identified mitigation measures.
Mitigation measures in relation to lifts included emergency procedures for manual winding of the lift and calling out lift engineers, staff accompanying passengers using lifts and restricting lift use. If a station operator decided to close its lifts to passengers but make them available to staff, it would have needed to have assessed the risks of this under normal employee health and safety legislation, but the Health and Safety Executive's HM Railway Inspectorate is not aware of widespread use of any such "closed" lifts by railway staff.
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