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To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to reducing the number of electricity pylons and miles of overhead lines; and whether they are assessing (a) the likely impact on the countryside of the National Grid's proposals to increase them, (b) the potential impact on national parks and beauty spots, and (c) alternative ways of transmitting electricity.[HL687]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): For new lines, it is for the regulatory price control and planning processes to determine the appropriate balance between need, cost and environmental impact of electricity transmission towers (pylons) and overhead lines in each location.
These issues are currently assessed as part of the planning process in the environmental statement (ES) for each proposal, which describes aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the project. The ES includes assessments of significant effects, including landscape, visual, land use and cumulative impacts. ESs also include assessments of alternative routes, which, where relevant could include undergrounding specific parts of the route. These principles are all included in the draft national policy statements, which the Infrastructure Planning Commission will use when examining applications.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will work with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency to include nuclear power as a source of carbon-free energy in the policies to be adopted at the United Nations Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Cancun in December.[HL657]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government are committed to working towards an ambitious global climate deal that will limit emissions, and we will be working with our international partners, both in the European Union and bilaterally, to secure practical progress in tackling climate change by the time of the next Conference of Parties in Cancun in November this year. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies. Emissions savings achieved by countries through the use of nuclear power are recognised as emissions reduction policy actions in National Communications submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat.
The flexible mechanisms established under the Kyoto Protocol (the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation) exclude emissions savings achieved through the use of nuclear power. There is currently no international consensus on whether nuclear power could be brought into these mechanisms, which means that it is unlikely that any change will be made to the rules at Cancun.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government are committed to increasing the amount of renewable heat in the UK; this is a crucial part of ensuring we meet our renewables targets, cutting carbon and ensuring energy security.
We are currently considering the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) proposals. Clearly there are benefits to the scheme, but we must also balance the impact of the long-term costs, particularly given the financial constraints we must work within and the potential impact that funding options could have on vulnerable people. We are aware that there is uncertainty in the renewable heating industry and want to provide certainty and clarity as quickly as possible, but must make sure that we make the right decision. We will look to make an announcement on the future of the proposed scheme as soon as possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the United Kingdom's gross financial contribution in sterling in 2009 to (a) the European Union, (b) the Commonwealth, (c) the World Trade Organisation, (d) the United Nations, (e) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (f) the International Monetary Fund, and (g) the World Bank.[HL535]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The United Kingdom's interests are represented through its membership in various international institutions and fora. Information regarding the UK's financial relationship with a particular institution is a matter for the relevant government department.
The Government's latest estimate of the UK's gross contribution to the European Union, after taking account of the UK abatement, was published in Table 3, page 62, of the 2009 European Community Finances White Paper (Cm 7640). This was published on 20 July 2009 and is available in the Library of the House. The figure for 2008 is £7,791 million and the estimate for 2009 is £7,770 million.
Information on UK financial contributions to the IMF is available on a net basis for 2008-09 in the Government's latest report to Parliament on the UK and the IMF, published in June 2009. Quota subscriptions determine the amount a member country can be asked to lend to the IMF. The UK's net contribution under
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Information for the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are matters for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The relevant information is available in the FCO's annual report. The most recent annual report shows that for 2009-10 the FCO's budgeted provision for the Commonwealth Secretariat was £4.6 million, for the UN regular budget was £75.6 million and for the OECD was £12.5 million.
Information on the World Trade Organisation is a matter for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The WTO subscription for the calendar year 2009 was £6,061,004 (Swiss Francs 9,652,149) paid on 26 January 2009.
Information on the World Bank is a matter for the Department for International Development. Data on UK financial contributions to the World Bank are available for 2008-09 in Statistics on International Development 2009 on the DfID website. In 2008-09 the UK contributed £524.8 million to the International Development Association and £49.8million for multilateral debt relief contributions to the World Bank. In addition, the UK contributed £595 million to trust funds which are administered by the World Bank.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are a number of benzodiazepine medicines authorised and marketed in the United Kingdom. Information supporting the safe use of medicines is provided to doctors and pharmacists in the Summary of Product Characteristics and for patients in the patient information leaflet. Patient information leaflets of prescribed medicines are intended to supplement the advice given to patients by health professionals.
The patient information leaflets for benzodiazepines available in the UK contain clear advice about the recommended duration of treatment, which should not be for more than two to four weeks, and that treatment should be stopped gradually as benzodiazepines may cause side effects on abrupt withdrawal. The term "withdrawal syndrome" does not appear in patient information leaflets but there are references to "withdrawal reactions or symptoms".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they have given to the Council for Information on Tranquillisers, Antidepressants, and Painkillers, and
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To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are consulting general practitioners and the medical profession as part of their review of the causes and effects of benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal. [HL594]
Earl Howe: In looking at the problem of addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medicines, the department has commissioned three reviews: a literature review on published evidence; an audit of primary care trust prescribing records to assess the scale of over-prescribing; and an audit of addiction clinicians to map the assistance that is available to help people withdraw from prescription and over-the-counter medicines. We expect this information to be available by the end of the year. We will then share this evidence with interested organisations and individuals, including doctors, to inform discussions about future policies and services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Increasing awareness of tuberculosis (TB) among groups at risk of infection and healthcare professionals and providing accessible services are key factors in improving early diagnosis and treatment.
The department is funding TB Alert (a United Kingdom charity) to increase awareness of TB among groups most vulnerable to TB and among primary care health professionals. This is supported by the Health Protection Agency.
In addition, the department is supporting National Health Service TB services in London by piloting a Find and Treat service to identify cases of TB among people who are homeless or have other complex social needs, and ensure they have prompt support and complete treatment, to help prevent drug-resistant TB.
It is envisaged that the London TB Commissioning Board will be supported on a day-to-day basis by a London TB Commissioning Unit. The unit will be funded jointly by all primary care trusts in London, and is expected to be operational in September 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The key lessons learned from HMS "Atherstone's" deployment (and from other deployments of the same type) focus primarily on methods to improve the Royal Navy's capability to conduct operations in challenging climates and on ways to most effectively maintain naval deployments around the world. I am withholding the detail of the lessons learned as this would, or would be likely to, compromise the efficiency, security and capability of the Armed Forces.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate current attempts to deport Palestinians from east Jerusalem to the West Bank; and, if so, whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel following the investigation. [HL571]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is extremely concerned by recent reports of Palestinians' residency permits being revoked. We can confirm that President Abbas has requested the Israeli Government to rescind their decision.
We will continue to raise with the Israeli Government our concerns about Israeli policies in Jerusalem, which threaten to cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Those policies include the routing of the barrier on occupied territory, settlement activity both within and around East Jerusalem, and increasingly restricted access to Jerusalem for Palestinian residents.
We believe the only long-term solution is a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem the future capital of both states, and a fair settlement for refugees.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): For the financial year 2010-11, the Independent Safeguarding Authority's (ISA's) total resource budget is £16.8 million. The ISA is funded through Grant in Aid payments from the Home Office.
In the coalition agreement, the Government made a commitment to review the vetting and barring scheme. On 15 June the Government confirmed that registration with the vetting and barring scheme would not commence on 26 July 2010 and that the scheme would be remodelled. Until this remodelling has taken place, we have decided to maintain those aspects of the new scheme which are already in place, but not to introduce further elements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Governments of Turkey and Iran about respecting the frontiers of Iraq and compensating villagers who have suffered damage to houses and crops as a result of recent military attacks.[HL586]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is for the Iraqi Government to decide whether to make representations to the Governments of Turkey and Iran over recent
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers continuously review the deployment of Foreign and Commonwealth Office resources and align them with UK interests. However, we have no current plans to end our presence in Basra. We have had a consul in Erbil since January 2007.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received a request from the Government of Kyrgyzstan to investigate the location of money transferred out of Kyrgyzstan by banks controlled by Maxim Bakiyev, the son of the deposed President of Kyrgyzstan, who was recently detained in the United Kingdom by the UK Border Agency; and, if so, how long they envisage that investigation would take.[HL579]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is not government policy either to confirm or deny the existence of a request for mutual legal assistance in any particular case.
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