|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government are not aware of any evidence that evaluates whether the introduction of civil partnership registration schemes that are open to opposite-sex couples have affected the rate of heterosexual marriage.
Opposite-sex couples already have the option of making a legally recognised commitment through marriage. The costs of extending the availability of civil partnership registration to opposite-sex couples would depend entirely on the number of couples who currently choose not to get married but would choose to make a similarly formal commitment by registering a civil partnership.
The Government do not propose to extend the rights and responsibilities proposed under the scheme to cohabiting same-sex couples who choose not to register, or to cohabiting opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry. The costs of doing this have therefore not been quantified.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government's decision to propose a civil partnership registration scheme for same-sex couples only was taken on the basis of policy considerations. The Government developed their proposals on civil partnership registration to address a specific shortcoming in the current treatment of same-sex couples. Opposite-sex couples have the option of gaining legal recognition for their relationships, through getting married. Same-sex couples do not have that option. The Government's proposals would ensure that all same-sex couples, like opposite-sex couples, have the opportunity to make a legally-recognised commitment to each other and to gain rights and responsibilities to reflect that commitment.
The Government do not propose to extend the rights and responsibilities proposed under the scheme to cohabiting opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry (or to cohabiting same-sex couples who choose not to register). The costs of doing so were not calculated during the policy-making process.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The law already provides a mechanism through which opposite-sex cohabiting couples can secure legal recognition for their relationships. Same-sex couples currently have no option. The cross-government working group on raising public awareness about the consequences of opposite-sex couples remaining unmarried will be an important step towards improving the current misunderstandings of people's legal protections. It is important that people make informed decisions about how they take responsibility for themselves and their families.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The decision to classify a post office branch as urban or rural is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. The company classifies as rural any post office within a community of less than 100,000 inhabitants. Above that, the post office is classified as urban. I understand that the company has a sophisticated geographical mapping model that enables it to adopt a consistent approach to classification across the country.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: (a) The Government did not rely on the Information Age Partnership (IAP) in rejecting the key recommendation for a new task force to bring greater coherence to the United Kingdom's new style computer industry, in the Science and Technology Committee's report, Chips for Everything. The Government saw no need to set up a new task force when existing fora, such as the IAP, provided a mechanism for engaging key partners.
(c) The Electronics Innovation and Growth Team is tasked to identify the key issues that will shape the future of the electronic industry and how the UK can best respond to the competitive challenges that it will face. Its scope is wider than the computer industry. It will draw on views and evidence from a range of sources, including the Chips for Everything report. It will not however be tasked specifically to advise on the report.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: I understand from Post Office Ltd that as of 4 July 2003, 120,000 Post Office card accounts had been opened. I further understand from the Department for Work and Pensions that figures for 27 June 2003 indicate that 450,388 customers had opted for a Post Office card account. The number of accounts opened will grow rapidly in the period ahead. However once issued with a personal invitation document it is a matter for individual customers to complete the account application process.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government have always considered printer cartridges as consumables. The WEEE Directive only applies to whole products placed on the market and not to individual components, sub-assemblies or consumables. Computer memory chips, camera film, CD-ROMS, floppy disks or even batteries are not covered as individual items. They need only be recycled at the end of their life when still retained within the whole device and it is the producer of the original whole product who is responsible, not the manufacturer of each part. However printer cartridges are described, it is clear that they too fall into this cadre of items and are not separately covered.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: A strategic environmental assessment has been completed for the second round of offshore windfarm development. The environment report covers the full range of environmental impacts including economic impacts and visual sensitivity. It also identifies additional studies that need to be carried out. These include further work on the distribution and main flight paths of seabirds including migratory, feeding and roosting patterns and their behavioural response to windfarms. The environmental report is available on the web at http://www.og.dti.gov.uk/offshore-wind-sea/process/envreport.htm.
Recent data on the distribution of seabirds in the Greater Wash Strategic Area are available on the web at http://www..wwt.org..uk/publications/default. asp?PubID=50. The University of Wales Bangor has commenced a project on the displacement of birds (especially Common Scoter) from benthic feeding areas due to wind turbines.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page