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What was the cost of (a) the work that took place to the main road outside the Palace of Westminster (Abingdon Street/New Palace Yard) during the Summer Recess, and (b) the arrangements made in this area for the State Opening of Parliament. [HL168]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The main road outside the Palace was closed during the Summer Recess to enable Westminster City Council to undertake essential repairs to the road surface. The House Committee took the decision in June that this scheduled road closure should be used as an opportunity to move the Corus barriers further from the Palace as envisaged under phase 2 of the Corus security programme. Further work was undertaken during the five days immediately after State Opening to replace the temporary installation with the final barriers.
The cost of the surface repair work was met by Westminster City Council. The road layout works and provision of components for the Corus barriers were undertaken by the parliamentary estate at a cost of £835,395. Further costs may arise due to additional requirements such as extra signage. The arrangements made in the area for the State Opening of Parliament, including the removal and reinstatement of the barriers, cost £70,100.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Hearts and minds are at the core of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, and providing a tangible improvement to the lives of ordinary Afghans is crucial to the success of the mission. The UK presence in Afghanistan makes a vital contribution by bringing together military and civilian experts to help to create the local security environment necessary for economic progress and by helping to fund and promote sustainable development. Overall, the security situation in Afghanistan is stable, although it is fragile in places, and there remains a threat from suicide attacks and local ambushes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The readily available data cover admissions to NHS hospital beds occupied by service personnel recovering from injuries sustained on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. High-dependency beds are typically used for cardiological, neurological and burns critical care.
As at 5 November, there were no high-dependency NHS hospital beds occupied by service personnel recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan or Iraq. Over the past 18 months, admissions to such beds have never exceeded 10 in a single month. Where patient numbers are low, in order to preserve patient confidentiality we do not confirm numbers below five. On a quarterly basis, the figures over the period were as follows:
|Month||Number of admissions|
Further to the replies by Lord Drayson on 19 June (Official Report, cols. 87-88) and 11 October (Official Report, cols. 341-43), what steps they have taken to ensure that the mistaken decision to cut the late Mr TE Walkers war pension shortly before his death by 60 per cent is not paralleled in the treatment of other veterans of the conflict now receiving war-related pensions. [HL158]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency strives to ensure that all decisions made are in accordance with the rules of the scheme and in accordance with the evidence. Any cases where a reduction in assessment is proposed is now subject to further check to confirm that the new decision is in line with the rules and evidence before the reduction is implemented.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced in his Lord Mayors banquet speech on 12 November 2007 the Governments willingness to extend export laws to control brokering and trafficking of small arms and potentially other weapons.
This announcement follows a review of the current export control legislation launched on 18 June 2007. The review included a public consultation that specifically sought the views of respondents on a range of change options, including in relation to the trade (trafficking and brokering) controls. The public consultation closed on 30 September. The Government are currently considering the detailed comments received and will issue their initial response to the review by 31 December.
Whether they are aware of budgetary instability being caused to local authorities and commercial bus operators by the operation of the free concessionary bus pass scheme for older and disabled people in England including the impact on other local government services; and whether they will review the funding and administration of the scheme to bring it into line with the structure of the successful schemes being run by the Scottish and Welsh devolved Administrations. [HL224]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: From April 2006, older and eligible disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. The Government provided an extra £350 million in 2006-07 and a further £367.5 million in 2007-08 to fund the extra costs to local authorities. This funding was provided via the formula grant system in line with the wishes of local government to have greater freedom and flexibilities in how they use their funding.
The Government are providing local authorities in England with an extra £212 million next year, which is based on generous assumptions about the probable cost impact of the new national concession. This funding will be provided by special grant reflecting the views of local government. The Department for Transport is currently consulting on the formula basis for distributing the special grant; the consultation closes on 23 November. In addition, we have announced that we will be providing local authorities with approximately £30 million for the issuing of the national pass.
The Government are confident that the extra funding being provided is sufficient to cover the total additional costs to local authorities of this improvement in the statutory minimum. Any discretionary local enhancements, such as peak bus travel, are funded from an authoritys own resources.
The policy on concessionary fares is a devolved issue and the different approaches taken in Scotland and Wales reflect very different circumstances from those that pertain to England. In England there is no single scheme but a statutory minimum concession, which local authorities can enhance if they so wish. This is consistent with the views expressed by local government during discussions over implementation of the national concession.
The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 includes powers to change the way in which the national bus concession is administered in the future. However, there are no plans at present to centralise the arrangements.
What arrangements are in place to monitor the impact of actions taken by government departments in pursuit of their statutory duties to promote good relations between people of all backgrounds. [HL106]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Government departments themselves monitor the impact of the actions that they take in pursuit of their statutory duty to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups. The Civil Service Diversity Champions Network, which consists of board-level members from each government department, oversees progress against the Civil Service 10-point plan, which includes the requirement to embed equality and diversity into all aspects of their work. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has responsibility for assessing compliance with the public sector duties.
Why there is no reference to the Cultural Olympiad in the name of the Culture and Creativity Advisory Forum which was set up to advise and support the Government in developing the cultural programme for the 2012 Olympics and ensuring a lasting cultural legacy. [HL156]
The Culture and Creativity Advisory Forum was set up to provide advice to the Government and LOCOG on the development of the Cultural Olympiad programme and on how to ensure a cultural legacy for the whole country.
No specific consultations have been held by the Culture and Creativity Advisory Forum with organisers of previous Cultural Olympiads. However, the membership includes individuals with experience of organising large-scale cultural programmes.
The Cultural Olympiad is an informal working title given to the cultural programme of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and therefore there is no need to include it in the name of the Culture and Creativity Advisory Forum.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and with a number of our non-departmental public bodies to deliver a range of projects as part of the Cultural Olympiad, with the vision that the programme will celebrate London and the UK welcoming the world, will inspire and involve young people and will generate a positive legacy. A successful Cultural Olympiad will be one in which that vision is delivered. We are working with LOCOG to ensure that each project or the framework for projects is best established to meet each element of the vision.
Which museums, galleries and libraries have agreed to participate in the International Exhibitions Programme; how much money has been set aside for the programme; and how much has already been spent; and [HL62]
We are working with a number of partners to make the most of the unique opportunities that the Games present. The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is co-ordinating a number of projects in partnership with a variety of organisations that will run projects and events at various times between 2008 and 2012 as part of Cultural Olympiad.
LOCOG, working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is also working in partnership with a number of bodies to develop the vision, scope and detailed business plan for each of these projects, including a consideration of costs and options for funding.
There is scope for other organisations to get involved in major projects as they develop. Once LOCOG and partner organisations have completed
20 Nov 2007 : Column WA57
How many people who have not previously participated in arts-related events as (a) a performer; (b) an artist; and (c) a spectator or visitor, they envisage participating in the Cultural Olympiad. [HL64]
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