Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

31 Oct 2001 : Column WA161

Written Answers

Wednesday, 31st October 2001.

Poverty Reduction: EU Aid Programme

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that the European Union's aid programme has a poverty reduction focus.[HL819]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Government's objectives for improving the contribution of European Community development programmes to poverty reduction were first set out in a Department for International Development strategy document published in December 1998. Many of those objectives have been achieved, including negotiation of a new agreement between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific states, signed in Cotonou in June 2000, which has poverty reduction as its overarching goal; agreement--for the first time--on a clear European Community development policy with poverty reduction as its central objective; and a new structure for the implementation of European Community development programmes, including the establishment of the EuropeAid Cooperation Office on 1 January 2001.

The Government published their revised objectives for European Community development programmes in August 2001. These focus on supporting the effective implementation of the new policies, including reversing the decline in the proportion of European Community aid allocated to poor countries; promoting trade policies that help developing countries benefit from the global economy; integrating action on environment issues into European Community development policies to promote sustainable poverty reduction; and developing effective responses to crises, conflict and humanitarian disasters. The Government are working in a wide range of ways in collaboration with the Commission, the European Parliament, other member states and with civil society to support efforts to achieve these objectives.

UK Passports

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many United Kingdom passports are at present valid; and what arrangements exist to ensure that passports are returned for cancellation on the death of the holder.[HL955]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): It is estimated that there are 43,855,981 valid British passports, equivalent to 73.4 per cent of the population. Every passport contains a reminder that it should be returned for cancellation on the death of the holder. The Passport Service is seeking to establish arrangements to receive routine notifications of death as part of its work on improving fraud countermeasures.

31 Oct 2001 : Column WA162

Culture On Line

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost to the Treasury of the preparatory work to set up Culture On Line carried out under the auspices of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[HL904]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Five million pounds was allocated to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the 2000 Spending Review to allow initial development of the project, including the creation of a business case to support continued investment in Culture On Line; £1,757,075 has been spent to date.

Red Diesel

Lord Donoughue asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the percentage reduction of tax levied on the category of diesel fuel known as red diesel; when this privilege was introduced; which classes of users benefit from this reduction; how much was the cost to the taxpayer of this concession in the last full tax year; and how much was the financial benefit of the concession to the farming industry in (a) the last tax year and (b) the total benefit over the last ten tax years.[HL919]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Red diesel is gas oil which has been marked with a red dye and a tracer chemical making it eligible for a rebated rate of excise duty. The effective duty rate is currently 3.13p per litre. This is around 93 per cent lower than the ultra-low sulphur diesel rate of 45.82p per litre.

The concept of rebated duty on heavy oil was first introduced in 1928. The system of marking gas oil that was eligible for a rebate was introduced in 1961.

Red diesel may be used as fuel not only for certain agricultural vehicles but also for other off-road vehicles and in some commercial central heating systems. Under the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 it must not be used as fuel for road vehicles. Schedule 1 to that Act (excepted vehicles) categorises the types of vehicles which are not considered to be road vehicles and which can, therefore, use red diesel as a fuel when travelling on the public road in the circumstances set out in the schedule. The intention of Schedule 1 is to limit the use of red diesel to vehicles that only use the public road on very limited occasions.

Quantities of red diesel released for consumption in 2000-01 are provisionally estimated at 6,879 million litres. Assuming this level of consumption, application of the ultra-low sulphur diesel rate would have raised additional revenue of around £3 billion. In practice, the cost would be considerably less than this because an increase in the duty rate would reduce the demand for red diesel.

Customs data on payments of duty on red diesel do not indicate the end-use. Therefore no estimate has been made of the financial benefit to the farming industry.

31 Oct 2001 : Column WA163

War Pensions Agency

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there has been a change in the status of the War Pensions Agency in the last 12 months.[HL557]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Government announced on 8 June 2001 that responsibility for the War Pensions Agency (WPA) was tranferring from the Department for Work and Pensions (formerly the Department for Social Security) to the Ministry of Defence. The WPA's status as an agency remains unchanged.

Interception of Communications Commissioner

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to publish the next annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner.[HL1062]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Prime Minister has laid before the House the annual reports for 2000 of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Swinton Thomas, and the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the Rt Hon Lord Justice Simon Brown. The confidential annexes have been excluded in accordance with Section 58(7) and 60(5) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The annual reports will be available on the Cabinet Office website.

Travel and Tourism: Impact of Terrorist Crisis

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions has received from the Council for Travel and Tourism about the impact of the "terrorist crisis on the travel and tourism industry" and the need for government assistance; what reply is being sent; and what action is being considered.[HL869]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has received a letter from the Council for Travel and Tourism requesting government assistance for airlines and airports and calling for Ministers to reassure the public that it is safe to fly.

The council has been informed that the Government have made no decisions about whether to make aid available to UK airlines, other than to underwrite third-party war risk insurance. Control of state aid is a matter for the European Commission and any further aid offered would have to be compatible with

31 Oct 2001 : Column WA164

the Commission's guidelines on emergency aid measures, as set out in its recent communication on the repercussions of the terrorist attacks in the United States on the air transport industry.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions has recently completed a tour of UK airports, promoting air travel.


Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes in planning policy guidance and Building Regulations they have introduced to deliver a sustainable approach to construction, as outlined in Building a Better Quality of Life. [HL943]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Building a Better Quality of Life sets out the Government's strategy for more sustainable construction. It highlights the key role planning plays in underpinning more sustainable construction by enabling the provision of homes and buildings, investment and jobs in ways that are consistent with the principles of sustainable development. The guidance we have issued since the strategy was published has continued to underline the importance of planning for sustainable development.

The strategy does indicate that the Building Regulations were being reviewed to see what contribution they could make to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2001, SI 2001/3335, were laid before the House on 11 October 2001. These regulations made changes to the technical requirements with regard to Part L, conservation of fuel and power. It is estimated that these measures will contribute 1.4 MtC in 2010 of the overall 23 per cent cut in the UK's greenhouse gas emissions that we set out in our Climate Change Programme published last November. The regulations will come into force on 1 April 2002.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page