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Immigration: Yarl's Wood

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The levels of support and supervision for staff employed by private sector contractors who operate immigration removal centres on behalf of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) are a matter for the companies concerned.

BIA officials in centres monitor staffing levels to ensure that the minimum requirements for each centre are met. Performance measurement mechanisms are in place to impose performance points where staffing levels are not met and result in financial deductions from the contractor's operating fees.

Iraq: Palestinian Refugees

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): We are in close contact with our international partners and aid agencies regarding the situation for displaced peoples both in Iraq and in neighbouring countries, including the Palestinian community, which the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates to number about 15,000.

In 2007, DfID has contributed £7 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to support vulnerable groups, including displaced Iraqis and Palestinians living in Iraq. Both the UNHCR and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are also providing support to Palestinians living in refugee camps on the Iraq-Syria border. In 2007, we have contributed £1.5 million to the UNHCR regional appeal and £15 million for UNRWA’s work among refugees in the Middle East.

Iraq: Refugees

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) there are 750,000 Iraqis currently in Jordan, 1.2 million in Syria and 40,000 in Lebanon.

In January, the UNHCR launched a $60 million appeal to address the influx of refugees into Iraq’s neighbouring countries and the plight of displaced people inside Iraq. DfID has contributed £1.5 million to this appeal, part of a £10 million package that we have spent on humanitarian assistance in Iraq in 2007. This contribution will help provide food, shelter, water and sanitation and legal protection mechanisms for Iraqi refugees across the region. This appeal is now fully funded. Since 2003, DfID has provided over £125 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq.

Land Management: Ecosystem Assessment

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

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government have commissioned several scoping studies exploring ways of valuing ecosystem services and which valuation techniques are most appropriate under different circumstances. Defra, the lead department, has identified a range of situations where aggregation of ecosystem services valuation will be important, including:

when considering the multifunctional benefits at a given site or when calculating the likely changes in site values under different options in a decision; and development of national accounting processes that look at the aggregate value of natural capital in adjusted measures of economic prosperity.

A current project, entitled An Assessment of the Economic Value of England's Terrestrial Ecosystem Services, aims to provide evidence on the economic value of England’s terrestrial ecosystem services that demonstrates the multi-functional values of ecosystems. This builds on a related project which is developing a methodology for analysing the state and trends of England's ecosystem services. Key outputs of this study will be an investigation of methodologies for combining and aggregating, both spatially and temporally, values based on different valuation techniques, and assessments of the suitability of existing studies for benefits transfer. This study should provide an assessment of the strength and gaps in the evidence base across England's ecosystem services, which will enable better targeting of future research to reduce the uncertainties in valuation of ecosystem services.

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

Lord Rooker: Under certain controlled circumstances, restocking of freshwater fish will help to maintain and improve an ecosystem. However, it is not a panacea, and great care must be taken that species are matched to the right ecosystem and that harmful non-native species are not inadvertently introduced. Improvement of the aquatic environment is often a more sustainable course of action than stocking. Permission to introduce any fish into English or Welsh inland waters must be sought from the Environment Agency, prior to their introduction.

In Scotland, in any salmon fishery district for which there is a district salmon fishery board, it is necessary for a person to obtain written permission of the board before introducing any salmon to inland waters in the district.

When it is brought into force, the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 will make provisions for the regulation, by order of Scottish Ministers, of introductions of fish to certain marine waters for the purposes of preventing those waters becoming infected. The 2007 Act will also make it an offence for any person to intentionally introduce live fish or the live spawn of fish into inland waters, or be in possession of such fish or spawn with the intention of introducing them to inland waters, without permission of the appropriate authority. Where the fish are salmon, and the waters are in a district for which there is a district salmon fishery board, the Act specifies that the authority shall be the relevant district salmon fishery board, replacing the current provisions. Where the fish are salmon but there is no board, or where the fish are other than salmon, the appropriate authority is the Scottish Ministers.

Marine Environment

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

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): No assessment has been made of the value of ecosystem services or whether it is being eroded by the trade in wild-caught specimens. The Government commissioned a study, Marine Biodiversity: An Economic Valuation, as part of the evidence-base building process for the Marine Bill. It provides examples of marine biodiversity value, but such values are not identified or attributed specifically to trade in wild-caught specimens.

The effects of trade on specific corals and tropical fish are due to be discussed at the forthcoming 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in the Hague between 3 and 15 June. Those discussions will focus on data concerning trade volumes and the specific threats they pose for the conservation of the species concerned in the wild. The proposals, however, include information and references to studies, where they have occurred, into the species’ role within its ecosystem, and the threats they face, including but not limited to trade. CoP14, proposal 19 concerns the Banggai cardinalfish, while proposal 21 concerns 26 species of corrallium.

Olympic Games 2012: Costs

Lord James of Blackheath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The design of Olympic venues is following a standard Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) staged development process. At each stage, an appropriate level of cost analysis is being undertaken to reflect the stage of design and to provide the cost estimate for the project. All the estimates include contingency to allow for the impact of potential design changes.

The current exercise, which is being overseen by the Olympic board, will complete the design work, reviewing the brief against proposals for legacy use, costs and timetable within the boundaries of the candidate file and costs review. The result will be a more detailed design and a more detailed cost analysis.

Passports

Lord Stevens of Ludgate asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Liverpool office of the Border and Immigration Agency has improved access to its services, opening from 9 am to 9 pm. The office does not deal with new passport applications but helps customers calling about immigration or citizenship applications, including returns of documents such as overseas national passports. There are no plans to extend the service further.

Police: DNA Database

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): In July 2005, the Forensic Science Service, which was at the time a Home Office agency, identified 26,138 profiles from individuals which had been returned to it by the National DNA Database (NDNAD) between 1995 and 2004 but which it had not then actioned. By January 2006 all these had been loaded to the NDNAD or otherwise dealt with.

The new procedure adopted since this event, as reported in the NDNAD annual report for 2005-06, is that all forensic laboratories which process individual profiles for police forces in England and Wales are now required to send weekly and monthly lists to the NDNAD data quality and integrity team (DQIT) of their individual profile records which have failed to load to the NDNAD. The DQIT checks these against PNC and returns the required information to the laboratory to assist in their resolution and resubmission of the load failures in a timely manner. The DQIT presents a quarterly trend report to the NDNAD operations group, chaired by an ACPO rank police officer, which shows the load failure rate.

The Government are satisfied that these changes will prevent any substantial backlog of unprocessed load failures building up in future.

Roads: Pricing Schemes

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No decisions have been taken on whether to introduce a national road pricing scheme. As a result, no decision has been made on the form of any scheme. In the first instance, the Government are working with interested local authorities to bring forward local schemes as local solutions to local problems.

Sport: Cricket Tours of Zimbabwe

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government note with interest the decision by the Australian Government to threaten to ban the Australian cricket team from playing in Zimbabwe later this year.

Both the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport wrote to Ehsan Mani, president of the International Cricket Council, in 2005 asking whether the ICC could reflect on the current situation and take a view on whether it sees international cricket fixtures against Zimbabwe as appropriate while such widespread human rights abuses are taking place.

An England and Wales Cricket Board team is not due to travel to Zimbabwe until 2012, and we will be discussing the tour with the ECB closer to the time.

Taxation: Amnesty

Lord Burnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: HM Revenue and Customs has introduced arrangements so that offshore account holders can disclose any income and gains not previously included in their tax returns. The arrangements are open to individuals and companies.

The deadline for notifying HMRC of the intention to make a disclosure is 22 June 2007. Those intending to make a disclosure then have until 26 November 2007 to submit a full disclosure and payment.

The principle of penalty mitigation for those who make disclosures is well established and, for those who meet the terms of the offshore disclosure arrangement, the penalty will be 10 per cent of the taxes underpaid. These arrangements are not an amnesty, because tax, interest and penalties are all payable.

In addition, to ensure fairness, persons who approach an HMRC office by 22 June 2007 to make a disclosure that does not involve an offshore account will receive the same treatment as is available under the offshore arrangements.

Further information is available online at https://disclosures.hmrc.gov.uk or from the dedicated helpline: 0845 302 1401.

Transport: Number Plates

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Home Office has, since 1993, made a total capital investment of £37.15 million for the police use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology.

Police forces are responsible for managing their own budgets and expenditure therefore it is not possible to state how much capital they have invested in ANPR during the same period.

Transport: Rail and Water Freight

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The table below outlines the total payments of grant made through the company neutral revenue support, freight facilities grant and track access grant schemes during 2006-07. No payments were made through the rail environmental benefit procurement scheme during 2006-07 as it only came into operation from 1 April 2007.

Grant RecipientSchemeGrant Paid (£m)

Direct Rail Services

CNRS

1.14

Eddie Stobart

CNRS

0.15

EWS

CNRS

1.44

Fastline

CNRS

0.06

Freightliner

CNRS

16.55

GB Railfreight

CNRS

2.75

John G Russell (Transport) Ltd

CNRS

0.41

Kuehne + Nagel

CNRS

0.23

Parkview

FFG

1.11

ABP

FFG

0.006

Clydeboyd

FFG

0.018

Henty Oil

FFG

0.202

Green Line Oils

FFG

0.137

McGrath Bros

FFG

0.756

British Waterways

FFG

1.370

London Concrete

FFG (ALSF)

0.494

EWS

TAG

0.97

EWS

TAG (ALSF)

0.17

Direct Rail Services

TAG

0.05

Key

CNRS

Company neutral revenue scheme

FFG

Freight facilities grant

FFG (ALSF)

Freight facilities grant funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund

TAG

Track access grant

TAG (ALSF)

Track access grant funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund


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