|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Blatch: The Government intend to undertake a significant reinforcement of the asylum determination system, and of the independent Immigration Appellate Authorities in respect of their responsibility for hearing asylum appeals.
The United Kingdom fully adheres to its obligations towards genuine refugees. But the number of abusive or otherwise undeserving asylum applications has grown massively since the late 1980s. Currently, nearly 80 per cent. of asylum applications are rejected outright, and the great majority of appeals are dismissed. It is not in the interests of genuine asylum seekers for the system to be overloaded with applications from people whose real motives have nothing to do with a well founded fear of persecution.
Additional money is being made available to fund 150 additional determination staff in the Asylum Division of the Home Office, and there will be a corresponding reinforcement in the independent appeal system. Once the additional staff are in post and trained, it will make possible an additional 7,000 initial decisions annually.
Lord Inglewood: As announced in the gracious Speech on 16 November 1994, the Government intend to bring forward legislation to change the status of the Crown Agents. In advance of the enactment of the legislation, expenditure will be incurred on preparatory advisory services, and suppliers have been contracted to provide these services.
Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a Spring Supplementary Estimate for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Overseas Development Administration External Assistance Vote (Class II, Vote 5). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure, estimated at £59,000, will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The Budget and the Financial Statement together produced an average increase in road fuel duties of 10.9 per cent. and an average price increase of 7.0 per cent. Economic analysis, using price elasticities calculated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, suggests that as a result demand for road fuel will fall by around 1.9 per cent. This reflects a number of factors, including the incentives towards reduced use of vehicles, more careful driving and substitution into more fuel efficient vehicles.
Repairs to all buildings have been liable to the standard rate of VAT since 1973. The VAT paid on repairs is charged by registered builders throughout the UK, who periodically declare to Customs the total VAT charged by them to all of their customers. There is no further analysis of these figures.
Lord Henley: VAT is charged at the standard rate on all sales of works of art in the United Kingdom where there is a liability to the tax. However, following Royal Assent to the Finance Bill, certain works of art, antiques and collectors' pieces which are presently exempt from VAT on importation into the United Kingdom from outside the European Community will become subject to VAT. In practice, the standard rate will apply, exceptionally, to a reduced taxable value (approximately 14 per cent. of the full value) and subsequently the effective rate of import VAT will be 2.5 per cent.
Lord Henley: The 8 per cent. reduced rate of VAT is unique and applies exclusively to supplies of domestic fuel and power. The Government have no plans to apply this reduced rate to anything other than domestic fuel and power.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): This is an operational matter for the Highways Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to my noble friend.
The A.90, south of the Forth Road Bridge is the responsibility of Lothian Regional Council. They installed two short lengths of the plastic vane type anti-glare screen on top of the central reserve safety fencing in the summer of 1988 at two locations where the road alignment was such that headlight glare from opposing vehicles had been identified as a particular problem.
This type of screen was the subject of a trial on a section of the M.6 in Warwickshire in the mid 1970s and, whilst it was generally effective in cutting-off light from oncoming vehicle headlights, the installation had no significant effect on the number of injury accidents along this length of motorway.
The results of the trial are reported in Report No. SS 1058:1976, published by the Social Survey Division of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, TRRL Report No. SR 327:1977 and TRRL Report No. 955:1980. Copies of these reports are in the House Library.
I have no general plans to install anti-glare screens on other motorways and dual carriageways. However, should a specific problem of headlight glare be identified due to the alignment on a section of road, then the provision of an anti-glare device might be considered.
Viscount Goschen: The Secretary of State for Transport's powers are to be found in the Highways Act 1980. He has no powers to direct local highway authorities to enter into an agency agreement with another local highway authority or with a National Park authority.
The Secretary of State for Wales exercises within the Principality functions that the Secretary of State for Transport exercises in England. No other Minister has powers of direction over a local highway authority.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): Historic buildings, including churches, play a leading role in generating expenditure by tourists, many of whom will include visits to a church when holidaying in England. Government funding for the repair and maintenance of historic churches is channelled through English Heritage, which expects to offer £13.5 million in grant-aid for churches, and £4.5 million for
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|