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Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is now responsible for establishing the standards for pilot licensing in the European Union. EASA is currently reviewing proposals for private pilots ratings and will consult on revised draft rules later this year. The Civil Aviation Authority, with the support of government, continues to work to influence the development of European requirements with the aim of helping EASA meet its primary objective of ensuring a high uniform level of safety.

Civil Service: Redeployment

Question

Asked by Earl Attlee

Baroness Crawley: The Cabinet Office does not hold central statistics on the number of employees in redeployment pools across the Civil Service.



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Education: Home Schooling

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The letter will not be withdrawn. Its purpose was to set out local authorities' existing duties for children with special educational needs (SEN) who are educated at home, taking account of the Lamb inquiry report into parental confidence in the SEN system. Following correspondence received from the Education Otherwise Disability Group the department will be sending out a clarification of paragraph 12 of the letter to local authorities.

A copy will be placed in the House Library and on the department's website.

Egypt: Rafah Crossing

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The protocol establishing the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah forms part of the annex to the 2005 Access and Movement Agreement which was signed by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States. In practice any decision to redeploy the mission at the crossing point would require the agreement of those three parties and would also require no objection to be raised by the Egyptian Government.

Given the current security situation in the Gaza strip and the ongoing control of the Palestinian side of the crossing by the Hamas authorities, we do not expect any such redeployment in the immediate future. Internally, the decision to reactivate the mission will be made at the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC) by 27 member states. The PSC's decision would depend on the Mission's evaluation of the security situation and the status of the Rafah Crossing Point facilities, including the Liaison Office in Kerem Shalom.



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Elections

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): At parliamentary elections, the last day both for the delivery of nomination papers and for the receipt of postal vote applications is the 11th working day before the date of the poll.

For elections to the European Parliament, the last day for the delivery of nomination papers and list of candidates of registered parties is the 19th working day before the date of the poll. This is eight working days prior to the last day for receipt of postal vote applications, which is the 11th working day before the date of the poll.

Elections: Wards

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Finsbury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We have received one representation from Matthew Taylor MP on behalf local Councillor Bert Briscoe. As we explained in response to that representation, such changes to electoral arrangements in local authorities (including ward name changes) are entirely the responsibility of the independent Electoral Commission (from 1 April 2010 the responsibility of the new Local Government Boundary Commission for England). There is no role for the Secretary of State in these matters.

However, provisions in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 allow Cornwall Council to change the name "Moresk" although if the council were to seek to do this within five years of the order establishing the electoral arrangements the Local Government Boundary Commission would need to approve the change. I understand that such consent would not be unreasonably withheld.



17 Mar 2010 : Column WA183

Electoral Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Electoral Commission was established by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. That Act provided the commission with powers to require information or documents relating to income and expenditure from supervised individuals or organisations (as defined in that Act). These powers enable the commission to carry out its monitoring function of checking whether relevant restrictions have been complied with.

In addition to these powers, Schedule 1 to the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 provides the commission with new powers to enable it to investigate certain suspected offences under the 2000 Act or certain other breaches of the regulatory rules set out in that Act. These include a power to require, through a court if necessary, the disclosure of documents for the purposes of an investigation. There is also a power to require individuals to attend at a specified time and place to answer oral questions put by the commission in connection with an investigation. It is a criminal offence for any person to fail, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any requirement from the commission to provide documents or attend an interview. It is intended that these powers will support the use of the new civil sanctioning powers of the commission which are given by Schedule 2 to the 2009 Act.

As set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 24 November 2009 (Official Report, Commons, cols. 68WS-70WS), the Government's intention is that the Electoral Commission's new investigatory and civil sanctioning powers will be brought into force with effect from 1 July 2010.

Energy: Electricity

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Ministers from the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and Norway have together launched the North Seas Offshore Grids Initiative, which commits the 10 countries to working together to develop offshore infrastructure in the North, Irish and Baltic Seas. In recognition of the fact that the complexity of the initiative calls for political support from governments, we intend to sign a Memorandum of Understanding later in the year, which will set out a strategic work plan.



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Her Majesty's Government are also supporting the initiatives to develop concentrated solar power and wind energy in North Africa and the Middle East, for example the Mediterranean Solar Plan, being taken forward by France and the current Spanish presidency of the European Union. These involve strengthening the European grid and increasing links with the producer countries so that the renewable energy can be transported to Europe. In February, I spoke at a seminar organised by DESERTEC, an international network of scientists and engineers who promote investment in concentrated solar power in North Africa.

More generally, we are working with governments and regulators in other member states to put in place the regulatory framework to facilitate the cross-border grid investments which will be needed to transport low-carbon energy supplies across the European Union.

Energy: Palm Oil

Question

Asked by The Earl of Selborne

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Ofgem reports that power stations accredited under the UK's Renewables Obligation Orders used about 7.4 million litres of palm oil in the period April 2008 to March 2009. The Renewable Fuels Agency reports that 127 million litres of palm oil biodiesel were supplied under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation in the UK in the period mid April 2008 to mid April 2009. We are not aware of any commercial use of B30K oil.

European Commission: General Report 2009

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The report is the responsibility of the Commission and not of member states. However, it does include comment on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. And as an annual report it is unsurprising that it does not cover the Lebanon war in 2006.

In other sections the report draws attention to EU humanitarian funding (page 65) some of which is apportioned to both Gaza and Lebanon, and to the EU Election Observation Mission to Lebanon (page 63). The Foreign Affairs Council comments frequently on these issues, most recently on Gaza in its December conclusions.



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Expenditure: Office Equipment

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is a non-departmental public body belonging to the Home Office, which it has done so since its creation. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) does not provide any support to the ISA for the purchasing of paper on their behalf.

The total spend for photocopying paper purchase by DCSF for the period 1 January to 31 December 2009 was £22,108.16

The data has been provided by the department's supplier for stationery, Banner Business.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): Officials, including the ambassador, in Tel Aviv have continued to raise our concerns over access to Gaza with the Israeli

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authorities, including the new head of the Israeli army department overseeing the crossings. We remain deeply concerned by the restrictions on the crossings, not just for imports of humanitarian and reconstruction materials, but also for exports, on which the restoration of the Gazan economy depends.

Our understanding is that recent reductions in oil imports have mainly been due to problems surrounding the transfer of utility payments from the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which places the fuel orders. The Government of Israel recently agreed to allow a further shipment of glass into Gaza.

Government Departments: Consultancy Services

Questions

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord Brett: The information cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate costs.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): In Defra, public relations cover a wide range of activity which forms an important element of a broader communications mix. This can include advertising, direct marketing, live events and publications. Defra does not use public affairs consultants.

The table below shows public relations activity procured via Defra's Communications Directorate since FY 2006-07 using the COI public relations framework. Please note that we are unable to share the 09-10 figures at this time as they have yet to be fully audited.

Detailed spend by Defra agencies is not held centrally and could only be collated at disproportionate cost.



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17 Mar 2010 : Column WA188

Financial yearPR agencyCampaignExpenditure (£)

2006-07

EdComs and Blue Rubicon

Defra Year of Food and Farming

50,872

Amazon PR

Sustainable Development

48,973

Trimedia Harrison Cowley

Act on CO2 campaign

49,250

Amazon PR

Sustainable development

48,973

2007-08

Trimedia Harrison Cowley

Act on CO2 campaign (including a series of regional roadshows)

476,301

Munro and Forster

Waste

64,424

Trimedia Communications UK

Climate Change Champions

32,216

EdComs and Blue Rubicon

Defra Year of food and Farming

242,578

2008-09

EdComs and Blue Rubicon

Defra Year of food and Farming

28,230

Trimedia Communications UK

Act on CO2 campaign

78,529

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The department uses public relations agencies for raising public awareness on specific issues. Public relations agencies are employed for specific communications tasks, most commonly working alongside our press office to provide campaign support in local, regional and specialist media. The department's expenditure on public relations for complete financial years, since its formation in June 2007, is outlined in the table below.

YearTotal spend (£)

2007-08

2,333,000

2008-09

4,023,403

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord Davies of Oldham: The costs of the department's contracts with public relations consultancies in each of the past three years are as follows:

YearPR consultancySpend

2007-08

N/A

zero spend

2008-09

Edelman

£186,495

Fleishman-Hillard Group Ltd

£1,175

2009-10

Edelman

£241,323


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