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At 30 November 2007 271 civil servants over the age of 50 had accepted offers of early retirement and 288 civil servants under 50 had accepted offers of early severance under the schemes run by the department. The total cost of both retirement and severance elements of these schemes during financial year 2007-08 is estimated at £47 million.
Whether officials of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the voluntary early retirement scheme aged 50 years and over can retire on an immediate full pension; and, if so, why this is being offered to those retiring early voluntarily. [HL581]
Lord Rooker: The Civil Service Compensation Scheme is a statutory scheme made under the Superannuation Act 1972. This sets out the compensation terms to be provided to civil servants on termination of contract. There are two main categories of compensation; namely, flexible and compulsory terms. For staff aged under 50 (or with short service), the compensation comprises a cash lump sum calculated by reference to age and length of service; the compulsory terms are more generous than the flexible terms. For staff aged between 50 and 60, pension benefits are paid early and service is enhanced by a maximum of six and two-thirds years. In addition, those departing under the compulsory terms receive a cash lump sum of up to six months pay.
The Civil Service Management Code sets out the circumstances in which the different categories of compensation should be used. While departments may, in some circumstances, have the flexibility to decide on the tariff to be offered, they cannot vary the underlying terms of that tariff.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: There are 16 transactions resulting in UK driving licence issue that fulfil applications for a UK driving licence, delivered though face-to-face, phone, paper and web channels. In GB these are delivered through the DVLA and in Northern Ireland through the DVA. Each combination of transactions and delivery route has a different cost attached.
However, only a minority of these transactions involves a charge to the applicant. Many transactions such as application for vocational licences, renewal after medical suspension, reregistration on change of details, renewal after the age of 70 are provided free of charge for policy reasons.
The principle therefore adopted by the DVLA, in line with Treasury guidance, is to recover the whole of the processing costs for such transactions in as close a manner as possible through fee levels levied on those transactions that do bear a charge. Public consultations are regularly undertaken to confirm the regime in place and the balance of fee levels charged.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government's figures for receipts from the UK's upstream oil and gas activity are calculated on the basis of all activity, both onshore and offshore, from the whole of the UK's continental shelf. They are not split down by geographical area and we are therefore unable to provide the breakdown that is requested. As there is no classification of oil and gas fields as English, Scottish or Welsh and there is no accepted view on what comprises Scottish waters it would not be possible to undertake such an exercise and the Government have not done so.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The recent Department for Transport Road Traffic Forecasts for England published in October 2007 uses the current Department for Business and Regulatory Reform (BERR) projection for the long-term oil price. This is $53 per barrel by 2020 in 2006 prices. Similarly, the department's UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts used the BERR work for its central estimates for oil prices. Both publications also included sensitivity analysis where oil prices were assumed to be both higher and lower than the $53 central estimate using $80 and $25 per barrel respectively. Details are available at: www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/roadpricing/researchtrafficcongestion www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/environmentalissues/ukairdemandandco2forecasts/
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government have no plans to make any changes to the Disability Discrimination Act as a consequence of any recent European Court of Justice ruling.
What has been the total expenditure to date of public funds on the Galileo project; what further expenditure is included in the public spending plan for each of the next three years; and which other European Union countries are contributing financially to this project. [HL299]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The European Union (EU) and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) have jointly funded the design and development of Galileo. Approximately €1.6 billion
11 Dec 2007 : Column WA30
European Finance and Transport Ministers have recently agreed a way forward for the funding of Galileo over the 2007-13 financial perspective. Ministers have acknowledged the Commission's estimate, based on a public procurement, of €3.4 billion (£2.3 billion) over the period to 2013 for deployment and initial operation of the system. It is intended that future funding for the deployment and initial operation of Galileo will come directly from the EC budget and there will be no further contributions made to the project via the ESA. The Commission anticipates the following expenditure profiling over the next three years on Galileo:2008: €940 million2009: €800 million2010: €990 million
EU member states make contributions to the EC budget as a whole and not to individual spending programmes within it. Consequently, all EU member states may be said to be contributing financially to Galileo.
What is the forecast underspend in the Objective 2 regional programmes in this calendar year for each English region; how much is forecast to be paid back to the European Union under the rules; how these figures compare with the preceding calendar year; and what are the top 10 underspending projects in each region. [HL426]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The expenditure on Objective 2 programmes in English regions will continue until the end of this calendar year. It would be misleading to speculate on the final outturn as forecasts are constantly changing and projects are still submitting grant claims.
No decision will be taken on whether repayments will be required under the rules until the new year. The Commission will decommit any part of the fund which has not been spent by the end of the calendar year and the resources available from the fund will be reduced by the unspent amount.
As spending is ongoing and we do not yet know whether there will be repayments, we cannot yet compare this year with the last. However, such a comparison will be possible in the new year, once spending for the current year has finished and the final outturns are known.
What assessment they have made of the effects of proposals to shift the functions of 46 fire and rescue centres to nine regional command centres in addressing emergencies such as major flooding. [HL440]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The case for FiReControl was made in an independent review of the FRS control rooms conducted by Mott Macdonald in 2000 and was subsequently revisited following the tragic events of 9/11 in 2001. Recent events have strongly reinforced the need to move to an integrated, resilient network of regional control centres.
The FiReControl project will enhance the capability of the fire and rescue service (FRS) in England to deal with major emergencies such as natural disasters, industrial accidents and terrorism. The capacity of the network, and the way it will operate, have been designed specifically to deal with surges in demand similar to those which occurred during the recent floods.
Our analysis has shown that the current 46 control rooms have limitations. They use different technologies so cannot communicate seamlessly with each other; they do not have access to each other's information so can deploy resources only within their FRA area; also they can take messages and pass them back only if other control rooms are overwhelmed. Under the new arrangements, these problems are addressed and regional control centres will be able effectively to mobilise resources anywhere in the country.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Marine Bill will not include provisions specifically for the security of fisheries around the British Overseas Territories. However, the Bill will make certain enforcement powers exercisable in relation to English and Welsh registered fishing boats and to British nationals wherever they may be active, whether inside or outside of UK waters.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): We will review approaches to urban drainage as part of the upcoming government water strategy, Future Water, due to be published in early 2008. This will take into account recommendations from the independent review of the summer flooding being undertaken by Sir Michael Pitt.
To support this work, the Government, along with UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), are spending £2 million on 15 integrated urban drainage pilot studies around the country to test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding. The pilots are intended to clarify responsibilities for urban drainage management and are due to complete in spring 2008.
For 2005-10, Ofwat has allowed water and sewerage companies a programme of nearly £1 billion to safeguard homes against the risk of sewer flooding. This would resolve or mitigate every known high-risk problem of internal flooding from overloaded sewers where companies' plans confirmed action was needed by 2010. The Government have announced their intention to improve management of the overall sewerage system by transferring private sewers and drains draining to the public system into the ownership of water and sewerage companies.
Gullies are provided to drain water from roads and their maintenance is the responsibility of the relevant highway authority. The term spillway is most commonly used in the design and operation of reservoirs where it is important to have sufficient overspill capacity to maintain the safety of the dam structure. In the context of urban drainage, it is important that the design of the urban fabric allows safe routes for the outflow of excess surface water. Planning guidance encourages this though it can be difficult to achieve in established developed areas.
Lord Rooker: Flood risk management is a devolved matter and Defra has policy and funding responsibility in England. Funding is made available to manage risk from both rivers and the sea. Information on the proportion invested in flood management of rivers is not held. The table below shows the budget allocation for Defra flood defence budgets for the past three years.
|Defra Flood Defence Budgets|
|£s Final Allocation|
|Defra Flood Defence Budgets|
|Final Allocation||Outturn||Underspend||% of Allocation|
|(1) In these years the majority of EA funding was through local authorities|
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