|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
What is their response to the statement by the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) on 19 June that at least 230 civilian deaths have been caused by international and Afghan government forces since the start of 2007; which of the recommendations they accept; and what action they will take, unilaterally, through NATO and through liaison with Operation Enduring Freedom and Afghan military forces to ensure conformity with international humanitarian and human rights law and to protect civilian lives. [HL4520]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: All civilian casualties are a source of profound regret. Any loss of innocent lives is a tragedy. The UK joins the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief in condemning the actions of armed insurgents causing civilian casualties. The Taliban is responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties, deliberately launching attacks from civilian locations such as schools and using suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices. The Taliban is quick to exaggerate and exploit any deaths caused by international forces.
International forces, including UK forces, seek at all times to avoid loss of civilian life. The targeting process, weapons selection, doctrine, training and rules of engagement are all in line with international humanitarian and human rights law and the law of armed conflict.
The Afghan security forces operate alongside two international forces, the International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom. Co-ordination between these groups is therefore key and has been the subject of further work over recent weeks. We are satisfied that there are sensible, pragmatic command and control relationships between the forces and that these are reassessed regularly.
All reports of civilian casualties are investigated promptly and thoroughly, in co-ordination with the Afghan authorities. Where the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan chooses to investigate an incident, it is entirely free to do so.
Whether discussions between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency will result in integrated pollution prevention control charges being reduced for pig and poultry farmers. [HL4579]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): I recently met representatives of the intensive livestock rearing industry to discuss permit charges and, in particular, how annual charges might be reduced through streamlined approaches to inspection. The Environment Agency and the National Farmers Union are currently considering options, including what greater use might be made of assurance scheme visits.
The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 require permit applications to be accompanied by the prescribed fee. The Environment Agency must seek to recover its full costs in accordance with HM Treasury guidance. The agency will review the costs when the majority of the applications have been assessed and the full extent of the work is known.
How many times the current Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Logistics) travelled as an ordinary passenger on the airbridge (a) from the United Kingdom to Iraq; (b) from Iraq to the United Kingdom; (c) from the United Kingdom to Afghanistan; and (d) from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom; and on what dates these journeys took place; and [HL4532]
How many staff the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Logistics) has whose work is exclusively related to airbridges (a) from the United Kingdom to Iraq; (b) from Iraq to the United Kingdom; (c) from the United Kingdom to Afghanistan; and (d) from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom; and what ranks they hold; and [HL4533]
What budget the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Logistics) has for the purposes of his responsibilities for airbridges (a) from the United Kingdom to Iraq; (b) from Iraq to the United Kingdom; (c) from the United Kingdom to Afghanistan; and (d) from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom. [HL4534]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (ACDS (Log Ops)) uses the military airbridge as required by his current appointment. He has used it extensively in previous appointments and most recently in June 2007 to Afghanistan, just a short time after assuming his current appointment.
ACDS (Log Ops) does not have staff dedicated to the detailed execution of air movements but, as the 2* chairman of the Air Movements Stakeholder Group set up in late 2006, he is responsible for ensuring that the efforts of the many agencies working directly in this area are properly co-ordinated.
As the MoDs air movements process co-ordinator, ACDS (Log Ops) does not have budgetary or command responsibility for assets but is accountable to the Chief of Defence Materiel for air movements process, policy
5 July 2007 : Column WA185
Whether, following the collaboration with the French on design development for three Future aircraft carriers, they have decided to collaborate on the construction of these warships; if so, (a) whether collaboration would be on a Government-to-Government or industry-to-industry basis; and (b) what impact this would have on the Future aircraft carriers programme. [HL4549]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Work with France on potential further co-operation on aircraft carriers is currently progressing at both a governmental and industrial level. Any such co-operation must deliver cost savings and must do so without delaying UK or French programmes.
In view of the responsibility of Bridges Community Ventures Limited for £20 million of taxpayers money, which members of its board are either (a) not resident, or (b) not domiciled in the United Kingdom for tax purposes. [HL4618]
Whether age discrimination legislation prevents local councils that run weekly two-hour walks as part of their adult education programme from giving concessions to pensioners on the fees they charge.[HL4502]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): Guidance on the vocational training aspects of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations is available on the DBERR website. It is aimed at, among others, providers of further and adult education.
The guidance makes it clear that age-related practices, such as age-related fee concessions, may be objectively justified where they are a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. It is for providers to produce evidence of such objective justification if called upon
5 July 2007 : Column WA186
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under the Extradition Act 2003 the district judge in this country must consider whether a person's extradition would be compatible with that person's ECHR rights, within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): The domain name system in the UK is operated by the private sector therefore the Government have no direct formal role in planning the management capacity of the UK country code top-level domain.
Nominet UK, a private not-for-profit company, runs the registry for dot.uk internet domain names: it is responsive to the internet industry through its membership structure and works in the interests of all stakeholders.
JANET(UK) is responsible for the country code dot.gb. This domain is considered dormant. It remains reserved and is unavailable for new registrations in order to avoid potential confusion with the well established dot.uk domain.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: On 27 June, the quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) principals announced the right honourable Tony Blair's appointment as quartet representative. As set out in the quartet statement of 27 June, the former Prime Ministers mandate is to: mobilise international assistance to the Palestinians,
5 July 2007 : Column WA187
Under what legislative authority HM Revenue and Customs is able to respond to requests from overseas tax authorities for information from United Kingdom organisations or companies about moneys paid to non-United Kingdom nationals resident overseas. [HL4554]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The obligation to provide information to overseas tax authorities derives from a variety of European Union instruments and bilateral arrangements with countries and territories overseas. However, the legislation permitting disclosure that is most relevant to such requests is Section 197 of the Finance Act 2003 in relation to requests by EU member states under Council Directive 77/799/EEC, as amended, and Section 173(4) of the Finance Act 2006 in relation to requests made under the terms of a bilateral tax arrangement.
What powers HM Revenue and Customs has in the event that informal requests made by it for assistance from United Kingdom organisations or companies in connection with requests from overseas tax authorities are declined. [HL4555]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The most relevant powers are those contained in Section 125 of the Finance Act 1990 and Section 174 of the Finance Act 2006. The UK's normal domestic information powers for the purposes of administering VAT and excises may also be used for the purposes of administrative co-operation with other EU member states in those fields, in accordance with the relevant EU regulations.
What safeguards are in place to ensure that only reasonable and proportionate requests by overseas tax authorities for the provision or the exchange of information about individuals are acceded to. [HL4556]
Lord Davies of Oldham: A number of such safeguards exist. In particular, all requests must conform to the terms of the appropriate instrument governing exchange
5 July 2007 : Column WA188
The UK authorities are not obliged to provide any information unless the overseas tax authority is bound by, or has undertaken to observe, rules of confidentiality with respect to the information which are not less strict than those applying to that information in the United Kingdom.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The United Kingdom has bilateral agreements providing for exchange of information on request with 120 countries and territories. The full list of agreements in force is available on the HM Revenue and Customs website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/in_force.htm
Whether HM Revenue and Customs invariably responds positively to requests made by the tax authorities of the Government of Russia for the provision or exchange of information about individuals. [HL4558]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Under the terms of the bilateral double taxation convention between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, the competent authorities of both contracting states exchange such information as is necessary for carrying out the provisions of the convention or the domestic laws of the contracting states on a reciprocal basis. If a request falls within the terms of the convention, and none of the restrictions set out in the convention or in UK domestic law apply, then the UK competent authority will endeavour to respond positively to the request.
How many requests for the provision or exchange of information from the tax authorities of the Government of Russia they have received in the past 12 months; and how many requests they have acceded to. [HL4559]
Lord Davies of Oldham: HM Revenue and Customs does not release statistics on the number of exchanges of information with individual countries and territories, as release of this information may be detrimental to tax enforcement and the operation of the relevant arrangements under which the information is exchanged.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information is not available in the format requested. Translation services are available to the departments agencies through the ethnic translation services framework to translate forms, leaflets, reports and letters. A breakdown of each agency's costs is not available.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|