|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): There is a wide range of social security benefits in the UK, with different rules governing how
19 Jun 2007 : Column WA30
Rules on the entitlement to income-related benefits for EU citizens vary depending on which member state they are from and how long they have resided in the UK. A8 and A2 nationals who come to the UK to look for work or who have worked for less than 12 months cannot normally access benefits. This is because their right to reside in the UK is subject to their being self-sufficient.
Local authorities have a duty to support certain categories of people who are subject to immigration control, have no recourse to public funds and are assessed as having a need for care and attention that is over and above a simple lack of accommodation and subsistence.
What is their assessment of the importance of environmentally sensitive policies in the future of energy production and the development of the necessary infrastructure, including that for energy distribution, in particular within national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and similar areas. [HL4065]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): Integrating environmental, social and economic objectives is central to this Government's plans for the production and distribution of energy to meet our national needs. Proposed reforms to the planning regime for major infrastructure projects, set out in our White Paper Planning for a Sustainable Future, include making it mandatory to consult statutory bodies such as national park authorities when making decisions that affect them.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): Between 1976 and the early 1990s, the UK carried out a major geothermal research programme at a cost in excess of £50 million. The key conclusions from the programme were that the UK is unlikely to see major developments based on geothermal aquifers or the hot dry rock (HDR) method due to a limited
19 Jun 2007 : Column WA31
More recently, interest has been growing in the use of ground source heat pumps. This technology can be applied to buildings of virtually any scale, including domestic dwellings. It relies on heat exchange with the ground immediately beneath or close to buildings. This technology is now increasing its profile in a growing microgeneration market.
Both Defra and the DTI, in collaboration with the Heat Pump Association, have helped to establish the UK Heat Pump Network to develop a partnership between manufacturers, specialist advisers and user groups. This network will ensure that independent and authoritative advice is available on the application and use of heat pumps.
The DTIs low-carbon buildings programme, with a £86 million budget over three years, provides support for a range of microgeneration technologies, including ground source heat pumps. More information on the grant levels and how to apply is available at www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The energy White Paper published in May 2007 set out estimates of the investment requirements in the electricity and gas sectors over the period to 2020. It concludes that, if we are to maintain levels of electricity generation capacity equivalent to those available today, around 20GW to 25GW of new power stations will be needed by 2020. Current forecasts of gas demand also imply that we will need to increase our import capacity by 2020 by an extra 12 bcm to 24 bcmequivalent to 15 per cent to 30 per cent of 2006-07 import capacity. The White Paper can be found at: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/whitepaper/page39534.html.
What steps they are taking to prepare a national strategic plan for future energy production which takes into account social, environmental and aesthetic considerations for the siting of the energy infrastructure, including that for energy distribution. [HL4066]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The 2007 planning White Paper Planning for a Sustainable Future sets out government proposals for planning reforms that would facilitate delivery of the infrastructure needed to ensure that national energy needs are met. The Government will be publishing a series of national policy statements on energy that will integrate economic, social and environmental objectives.
What is their assessment of the importance of the secure and safe storage of nuclear waste in any future development of nuclear power; and what criteria they will use to determine such security and safety. [HL4064]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): Radioactive waste from any new nuclear power stations would likely require on-site interim storage in facilities capable of holding the waste in a safe and secure condition for long periods prior to final disposal within a geological disposal facility. Throughout any interim storage, radioactive waste would be managed in accordance with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) national strategy for interim storage, which is currently under review, with regulatory scrutiny from the nuclear safety, security and environmental regulators (the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency). The future role of nuclear power in the UK is contingent on the outcome of the current consultation, The Future of Nuclear Power.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The immediate steps that are taken when an oil spillage from shipping or from an offshore installation occurs around the United Kingdom coastline are laid out in the National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations (the national contingency plan). Copies of the national contingency plan have been placed in the Library of the House.
The national contingency plan addresses pollution from ships and offshore installations. Should the United Kingdom be threatened by pollution from a land-based source, the Environment Agency would be the lead body, with assistance from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency if necessary. This arrangement is set out in an operating agreement between the two organisations.
Whether they will introduce amending legislation extending the definition of unlawful discrimination in the Race Relations Act 1976 to include discrimination based on descent, so as to comply with the obligations imposed on the United Kingdom by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and with the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. [HL4263]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Caste discrimination is not explicitly prohibited by UK law. We are currently assessing the evidence of caste discrimination in the UK and are considering this issue as part of the discrimination law review.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 24 May (WA 126), whether minutes were taken of the meeting to discuss the European Union constitution at Sintra on 13 May; and, if so, whether these minutes are available for public scrutiny. [HL4258]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UK did not attend the meeting in Sintra on 13 May, which was an informal meeting of current and incoming presidencies hosted by Commission President Barroso. We are not aware of any record of this meeting.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 24 May (WA 127), how many European Union regulations were withdrawn (a) during the United Kingdom presidency of the European Union, and (b) between the end of the United Kingdom presidency and 1 January 2007. [HL4256]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): In 2005, the Commission's screening of 183 pending proposals from before 2004 resulted in the withdrawal of 68 proposals. In 2006, the Commission screened more than 80 pending proposals and announced the withdrawal of a further 10 of these in its legislative and work programme for 2007.
Lord Triesman: The House of Commons Standard Note SN/IA/2088 provides the following aggregate figures for 2003 and 2004 of directives, regulations and decisions agreed at EU level by the Commission and the Council, based on the Commissions Reports on the Activities of the European Union:20031,557;20041,477.
The note also provides unofficial figures for 2005 and 2006. The Commissions recent communication Better Lawmaking puts the number of Commission proposals at 439 and 474 respectively for 2005 and 2006.
What assessment they have made of the speed and provision of best value being provided by Firebuy through their recommending a single preferred bidder on a 15-year contract to supply personal protective equipment for the fire and rescue service. [HL4162]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Detailed assessments have been undertaken by Firebuy Ltd in the decision to award the contract for the integrated clothing project to a single service provider for 15 years. These included economic viability, service delivery, independent garment trials and best value.
Best value encompasses the principles of the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) and considers the whole-life costs as well as the purchasing price. The kit offers improvements in firefighter safety as well as making a positive contribution towards reducing barriers to recruitment and achieving efficiencies as part of the overall government agenda.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by the Minister of State for Transport, Dr Ladyman, on Wednesday 13 June 2007 (Official Report, Commons, cols. WS 115-17).
Concerning their fleet of Toyota Prius cars operating in Whitehall (a) what is the average daily distance travelled by each of these cars; (b) what is the average fuel consumption in miles per gallon of the fleet; and (c) what is the average cost per mile including depreciation of running the fleet. [HL4230]
What assessment they have made of the clinical and public service implications of the remarks of Professor Nicholas Fisk of Imperial College, London, on (a) the survival rates of patients treated with cord blood compared to those given bone marrow transplants; (b) the validation of cord blood as a first-line treatment for leukaemia; and (c) the size of public cord blood banks in the United Kingdom and their capacity. [HL4292]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The recent finding that stem cell transplantation using umbilical cord blood is comparable to unrelated bone marrow transplantation for treating leukaemia is encouraging. The Government and NHS Blood and Transplant are monitoring these developments extremely carefully. The Government accepted the findings of the United Kingdom Stem Cell Initiative in 2005 and announced investment of over £100 million to 2008 to develop stem cell therapies. Further investment in all forms of stem cell research will be kept under review in the future spending rounds.
NHS Blood and Transplant is developing strategic and business plans for the funding and development of the British Bone Marrow Registry and the Cord Blood Bank beyond 2009. These are due to be submitted to the department in the autumn of this year.
Whether any priority for National Health Service care has been given to, as a World War II veteran and cancer patient, Eric Friar (who is also suffering from dementia and is almost blind) by his primary care trust in Gloucestershire; and whether they are considering any action in relation to or as a result of this case. [HL4102]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I am sorry to hear that Mr Eric Friar is in a poor state of health. I am advised by NHS South West that Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT) is in touch with Mrs Friar about the care required for her husband.
Guidance on the right of disabled war pensioners to receive priority treatment in National Health Service hospitals was published in HSG (97)31. The right is not absolute and the guidance specifies that NHS hospitals should give priority to war pensioners, both as out-patients and in-patients, for examination or treatment that relates to the condition or conditions for which they receive a pension or received a gratuity (unless there is a emergency case or another case demands clinical priority).
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|