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6 Nov 2006 : Column WA79

Written Answers

Monday 6 November 2006

Act of Union 1707: 300th Anniversary

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland will be marked by a commemorative £2 coin which will be issued in 2007, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Parliament on Thursday 15 June 2006.

At present I am not aware of any other plans to mark the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland.

Afghanistan: Government

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Government referred to in the first line of the Written Answer by the Lord President and Leader of the House of Lords, the right honourable Baroness, Lady Amos, to the noble Lord on 9 October (Official Report, cols. WA 1-2) was the Government of Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan have not yet made a formal proposal to establish a department for the promulgation of virtue and prohibition of vice.

Benefits: Disability

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Depending on their personal circumstances, disabled people have access to the full range of social security benefits including disability living allowance and attendance allowance. In 2005-06, disability living allowance and attendance allowance provided over £13 billion towards the extra disability-related costs of almost 4.4 million disabled people in the United Kingdom.



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British Citizenship

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): There are no separate ethnic minority citizenship rules and what is referred to on our consulate-general in Hong Kong’s website are the terms of the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997. The word “rules” in the website is being replaced with “Act” to avoid confusion, and the erroneous reference to the Ethnic Minorities Citizenship Act 1997 is being replaced with a reference to the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997. A copy of the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The Note Verbale from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal to our embassy in Kathmandu was placed in the Library of the House on 6 October under cover of the reply of my noble friend the Minister of State for Criminal Justice and Offender Management, Lady Scotland of Asthal, QC, to the noble Lord on 19 July (Official Report, col. WA 179).

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State said in his Statement on 22 June (Official Report, col. 1478) that delivery of the 2006 single payment scheme will be very challenging and that he did not want to commit to a particular payment timetable until the chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency has had an opportunity to make a realistic assessment of the prospects. That remains the position. Once a payment timetable has been decided, my right honourable friend will make a Statement to the House and publish performance targets for the agency.



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Compensation: Department of Trade and Industry

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Department of Trade and Industry paid out a total of £11,951.67 in compensation to former employees in 2005-06. To provide information for earlier years would incur disproportionate cost.

Compensation: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The total Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spend on compensation in each year since 1996 is as follows:

Financial Year 1996-97

£49,773.99

Financial Year 1997-98

£50,937.26

Financial Year 1998-99

£155,332.47

Financial Year 1999-2000

£221,393.98

Financial Year 2000-01

£145,444.90

Financial Year 2001-02

£362,928.71

Financial Year 2002-03

£129,943.75

Financial Year 2003-04

£537,521.38

Financial Year 2004-05

£1,663,241.28

Financial Year 2005-06

£235,427.51

These figures include compensation payments made in relation to personal injury cases.

Compensatory payments for dismissal come under three areas: payments resulting from awards against the FCO in an employment tribunal; payments for dismissal on grounds of poor performance; and payments for dismissal on grounds of poor attendance.

The FCO retains central records on employment tribunal cases from 2003 onwards. During this time there have been no awards made against the FCO arising from dismissals. The FCO did however pay the sum of £1,500 in 2005 through a compromise agreement in settlement of an unfair dismissal claim.

The FCO does not retain central records of compensation payments in respect of inefficiency/poor attendance. However, any compensatory payments the FCO has made in this regard were awarded within the rules governing such payments set out in the Civil Service Management Code.



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The figures for 2003-04 and 2004-05 include compensation payments for personal injuries sustained as a result of the bombing of our consulate-general in Istanbul.

Conventions

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Of the 630 treaties, conventions and related instruments for which the United Nations (and its predecessor the League of Nations) is depositary, there are currently 156 by which the UK has not consented to be bound, either through ratification or its equivalent. The UK has signed, but not ratified, 25 of these. I will arrange for a list to be placed in the Library of the House containing details of these treaties and conventions.

International agreements made by the EU or the European Community (EC) are binding on the UK as a member state. Agreements entered into by the EC and the member states (so-called “mixed agreements”) are subject to national ratification or its equivalent. The number of such agreements which have been signed but not yet ratified by the UK cannot be accurately assessed without incurring disproportionate cost.

Culture: ICONS

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: ICONS is a Culture Online project run in partnership with Cognitive Applications. All project costs are provided out of public funds. The running costs amount to £43,500 each month (£522,000 per year). The project ends in March 2007, but has been designed to become a self-sustainable non-profit organisation after that date. The total cost therefore amounts to approximately £1,000,000.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: ICONS is a Culture Online project run in partnership with Cognitive Applications. Its objective is to foster a creative collaboration between cultural institutions and individuals, and to provide a broad access to a rich resource of material about our lives and cultural heritage.



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The total number of unique visitors to date is 714,342. This is much higher than the visitor target for the first year of 150,000 unique visitors. Audience participation with the ICONS site remains high. For September 2006 the figures were:

Nominations: 452

Votes: 9,045

Defra: Budget

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As a consequence of decisions in the recent reviews of its budgets by the department on the funding of bodies that in turn commission work from the Central Science Laboratory, the level of work at the laboratory funded indirectly by the department in 2006-07 is expected to reduce by around £220,000 (0.5 per cent of total turnover) compared with earlier expectations. The reduction has affected the provision of non-R&D scientific services in support of sustainable agriculture. The consequent loss of five funded posts has been accommodated through redeployment to non-Defra work and natural turnover.

Electoral Law: London Local Elections

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government have noted the commissioner’s report and will consider its contents carefully. We believe that the legislation, guidance and better joint working between police and electoral administrators, introduced in time for the May 2006 elections, worked well in both deterring fraud and helping to expose it in the small number of places where attempts were made. We are confident that the further measures in the Electoral Administration Act 2006 will ensure that the May 2007 elections are even more secure from any attempted fraud.



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Energy: Nuclear Waste

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The management of radioactive waste is a devolved issue. However, the UK Government and the devolved Administrations are working together on a UK-wide basis to take forward the managing radioactive waste safely programme.


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