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Our latest estimate is that the first year cost of unfreezing overseas pensions is around £440 million without paying arrears. The latest National Insurance Fund surplus was estimated at £34.26 billion for the tax year 2005-06 by the Government Actuary's Department. The latest National Insurance Fund surplus therefore exceeds the estimated cost of unfreezing overseas pension by £33.82 billion. However, the surplus in the fund is taken into account by the Government in determining their spending priorities. Any unplanned increase in pension payment will therefore need to be funded through taxation.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: In the recent past, my department has had three meetings with Australian Ministers and officials at which the issue of not uprating the UK state pension to persons living in Australia was raised. From time to time, we receive correspondence from MPs and individuals about the issue.
Whether they have studied the report on assassinations and disappearances in the Philippines produced by Judge S Melo; and whether they will make representations to the Government of the Philippines on its findings. [HL4849]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We continue to be concerned about extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and have raised the issue with the Philippine Government on a number of occasions. We have seen Judge Melo's report and welcome the steps announced by President Arroyo in response to recommendations made in the report and are waiting to see how these measures are implemented. We also welcomed the visit by Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, to the Philippines in February and will encourage the Philippine Government to follow both his initial recommendations and those in his final report when it is published. President Arroyo has requested technical assistance from the EU to support the Philippine Government's efforts to address extra-judicial killings. The EU sent a needs assessment mission to the Philippines in June to identify what areas of technical assistance might be required. The UK supported the mission by providing a UK expert in witness protection and prosecutorial systems.
Whether the British embassy in Manila or the European Union collected details about killings of political, religious and social activists in the Philippines during the last three years; if so, what is their estimate of the number of deaths and woundings; and whether their analysis gives any indication that persons profiting from gambling and sexual services have encouraged extra-judicial killing. [HL4850]
Lord Malloch-Brown: Neither our embassy in Manila nor the EU has the resources to make a detailed analysis of these killings. However, we share the view expressed by UN special rapporteur Philip Alston that the number is much too high. As he also made clear, the problem of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines does not just affect left-wing activists. Political violence associated with the recent national elections led to the deaths of politicians from all parties, as well as supporters, innocent bystanders and election officials. Other groups who have been targeted include journalists, lawyers and judges, while in some towns there are allegations of vigilante death squads targeting criminals. Many of the killings are attributed to private actors, with motives allegedly including land and business disputes, political rivalry and the protection of criminal interests.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 26 June (WA 140-1) regarding staff associations which receive grant in aid from the Home Office, whether the staff associations mentioned levy a contribution on members or whether they are fully financed from public funds. [HL4765]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): We are aware that some of the diversity staff support associations in receipt of Home Office grant-in-aid funding receive finance through membership fees and also through other sources, including training and consultancy work, sale of merchandise, donations and social events. These associations are not fully funded through public funds.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 26 June (WA 140-1), whether, since the National Black Police Association offers support to minority groups whose skin pigmentation is other than black, they have considered a change of name to one which does not refer to colour so as to reflect the wider purpose of the association. [HL4766]
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 26 June (WA 140-1), whether the review of the diversity support staff associations will take full account of the Government's policy to promote integration and, if necessary, recommend withdrawal of financial support to those associations which fail to do so. [HL4767]
Lord West of Spithead: Each of the diversity staff support associations works towards a common goal of establishing a culturally diverse police service that is representative of, and meets the needs of, the communities it serves. The terms of reference are currently being developed for the review and, in order to ensure that the review is fair to all associations concerned, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage or pre-empt the outcome of this review.
What measures they have undertaken in recent years to enforce United Kingdom ambient air-quality limit values so as to ensure compliance with the parameters in European Union Directives 96/62/EC, 99/30, 00/69, 02/3 and 04/107. [HL4792]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): We expect the limit values to be met in the majority of locations within the allotted timescale through existing national measures already in place or planned to come into effect. We are currently updating our national air-quality strategy, which considers additional policy measures that may be needed to help us achieve national and European air-quality standards. The new strategy will be published this summer.
In the UK, compliance problems are not widespreadthey generally apply at highly localised hotspots (such as street corners, which are greatly influenced by traffic). In 2006, most people (around 99.9 per cent of the population) were already breathing air that complied with the limit values. In those areas where improvements in air-quality can be made, local authorities are required to designate air-quality management areas under Section 83 of the Environment Act 1995 where air-quality objectives are not being, or are unlikely to be, met. Around 200 local authorities have designated air-quality management areas to date.
Council Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air-quality assessment and management places a statutory obligation on the Government to produce a plan which explains action that we will take to bring areas of exceedence back into compliance. A copy of the latest plan is available on the Defra website.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): Issues concerning lost and damaged mail and its appropriate compensation are a matter for Postcomm, the independent regulator for the postal services sector.
Whether they will revise the current procedure where customers whose mail is lost receive compensation only if it reaches its destination, and do not receive compensation if it does not reach its destination. [HL4658]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The contracts require adherence to all statutory legislation which includes the requirement to comply with race equality legislation. This applies to both agents and subcontractors of the providers.
Providers, therefore, are required to ensure they comply with all statutory legislation in place at the time of contract award and any applicable legislative changes, including those relating to race equality and diversity that are subsequently enacted.
HM Prison Service introduced its protocol (PSO 2800) for managing race equality in September 2006. This order was written by the public sector service for the public sector and there was no expectation on its part that this would apply to the contracted sector.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 4 July (WA 181), how many stations in the new East Midland franchise will not have either booking facilities which are available to passengers or ticket vending machines that work in place by 11 November 2007; and what timetable has been agreed for these facilities to be available in future. [HL4809]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: On 11 November 2007, there will be 87 stations operated by the new East Midlands franchise. Eleven will have booking offices and ticket vending machines and another 14 will have booking offices. Sixty-two stations will have no ticket issuing facilities. However, 90 per cent of all tickets issued for journeys beginning at stations in the East Midlands franchise begin at stations already having booking facilities.
Whether they are aware of any assessment made by the European Commission of road deaths among those aged under 25 years; what were the results of any such assessment; and what action they are taking to reduce the percentage of people under 25 killed on the roads. [HL4853]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The European Road Safety Observatory website (www.erso.eu) provides a recent report on novice drivers aged 18 to 24 years which proposed countermeasures to reduce their high casualty rate. The Government's road safety strategy, reviewed earlier this year, sets out what is needed to make Britain's roads safer, including for those aged under 25 years. That includes a proposal to reform fundamentally the way people learn to drive consistent with the vocational frameworks now being established across the education system and in industry. There will be a consultation on that later this year.
The new child road safety strategy 2007, published in February, sets out an action plan of measures to help reduce casualties to children under 16 between now and 2010including some that are new and some that are continuing or developing existing measures; for example, more local safety schemes and greater promotion of safer road use by everyone under the THINK! banner.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The table below shows scheme length (route kilometres) and additional lane kilometres added to the trunk road network since 1997. The Highways Agency does not hold relevant data prior to 1997.
|Financial Year||Scheme Length km||Lane km added to HA network||Cost per lane km in cash terms (£m)||Cost per lane km in real terms (£m)|
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Data on road schemes and adoption of roads by local authorities are not collected centrally. Annual figures on kilometres added and associated costs are therefore not available.
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