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17 Oct 2005 : Column WA107

Written Answers

Monday, 17 October 2005.

Child Poverty

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Following her speech on social mobility of 26 July 2005 the Secretary of State has received two pieces of correspondence from Reverend Paul Nicolson of the Zacchaeus Trust 2000. These representations highlighted the effects of child poverty, stated the reverend's support for the Government's commitment to tackling poverty and emphasised the need for work to take place across government.

In her reply the Secretary of State said that the Government are clear that poverty can and does blight the lives of children and families. That is why the Government are committed to tackling both the causes and effects of poverty; halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020. To this end, the Department for Education and Skills is investing in affordable childcare to allow parents to work, high quality early years provision and parenting support to provide children with the best possible start in life, and is committed to raising standards in education and reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training, to ensure that everyone can achieve their full potential.

However, the Government recognise that the problem of child poverty cannot be tackled by one department alone. That is why in July 2004 we published the Cross-government Child Poverty Review; setting out the steps we will take across government to eradicate child poverty.

Cross-government action to improve outcomes for children, young people and families, is also being taken forward through the Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme, which focuses on improving five outcomes for children: staying safe; being healthy, making a positive contribution; enjoying and achieving; and achieving economic well being. As a result, local authorities and their partners are working, through local change programmes, to create better integrated children's services which are more responsive to the needs of all children, young people and families.
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Defence Budgets

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 14 July 2005 (Official Report, col. WA 167).

European Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): UK Blood Services have been preparing for the implementation of these regulations for some time. Although they introduce some additional requirements, there is no indication that their implementation will have any significant or detrimental impact on the United Kingdom blood supply.

A regulatory impact assessment concluded that most of the requirements in the proposed regulations were already covered by central guidance and best practice standards in the UK—thus the costs were being, or would be, incurred anyway. The Department of Health has made £200,000 available to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to meet the set up cost of developing a reporting system for serious adverse events and reactions. Any additional cost incurred by an individual hospital will depend on how far it is compliant with current requirements and best practice.

European Rapid Reaction Force

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: In January 2004, France announced the establishment of the Rapid Reaction Corps-France at Lille. It has been designated as a NATO High Readiness Force (Land) Headquarters, the seventh within the NATO force structure. On reaching full operational capability by the end of 2007, it will be
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capable of deployment on a wide range of missions as directed by NATO; and could also be made available for EU-led, coalition or national operations. The UK currently contributes five personnel to the headquarters at Lille, and plans to increase this to 10 by mid-2006.

Income Tax Revenue

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Increasing all personal allowances to £7,500 and abolishing the starting rate of 10 per cent, such that the first £2,090 above the personal allowance is absorbed into the basic rate band and the 40 per cent. tax band starts at the same gross income (£37,295) as at present, would reduce income tax revenue by an estimated £7.7 billion.

The additional cost to the above option of enabling the £7,500 income tax allowances to be transferred between couples in receipt of child benefit and offset against the basic income tax band of either partner is estimated at a further £3 billion.

These costings assume that the first £2,090 of taxable income above personal allowance is taxed at 22 per cent. on earnings and 20 per cent. on savings and 10 per cent. on dividends.

Information on the first costing is based upon the 2002–03 Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) while information on the second costing is based on the 2003–04 Family Resource Survey (FRS)—both surveys projected forward to 2005–06 in line with Budget 2005 assumptions.

The figures exclude the effect on national insurance contributions and any estimate of behavioural response to the tax changes, which could be significant given the scale of the changes.

Iraq: Transfer of Security Responsibility

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Drayson: We will stay in Iraq until our job is done and will not make significant changes to the United Kingdom's force posture in Iraq until we, coalition partners and, in particular, the Iraqis are confident that the conditions are right. The conditions that will permit the transfer of security responsibility to the Iraqi security forces have been defined by the Joint Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility, and are based on four broad categories: an assessment of the insurgents' threat level; Iraqi security forces' ability to take on the security task; the capacity of provincial bodies to cope with the changed security environment; and the posture and support available from coalition forces.

We expect the committee's recommendations to be confirmed soon. Thereafter, assessments will be made to determine which areas of Iraq are ready to transfer to Iraqi control. While we do not want to be in Iraq any longer than is necessary, we will not be deflected from our task. We have made a commitment to the Iraqi people and it is important that we honour that commitment and see our task through.

Joint Strike Fighter Programme

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The competitive Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) concept demonstration phase ended in October 2001 and was followed by the system demonstration and development phase. The electrical system of the first conventional take-off and landing JSF aircraft was tested as planned on 7 September 2005. The assembly of the first flight-test F135 engine has commenced and is expected to be ready for the first JSF flight in autumn 2006. First flight of the short take off and vertical landing variant is planned for September 2007. These milestones are in accordance with the current contract.

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