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5 Feb 2008 : Column WA163

5 Feb 2008 : Column WA163

Written Answers

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Armed Forces: Northern Ireland Domestic Rates

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): All Service personnel, on operational deployment in Iraq and other designated operational areas, who pay rates in Northern Ireland will be eligible to claim council tax relief on the same basis as those deployed personnel who live in Great Britain.

Armed Forces: Pay

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There were no overpayments recorded on the Joint Personnel Administration system for December 2007. There were, however, two underpayments of £105.00 and £37.75 respectively, due to a 24-hour delay in the issue of payable orders. Both underpayments were paid the following day.

Bail: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The granting of bail is a matter for the courts and it is for the judge or magistrate, acting on the basis of the information before him or her, to make decisions on individual cases.

Banking: Proof of Identity

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: The UK's money laundering regulations require firms to identify their customers and to verify that identity based on material obtained from reliable and independent sources. The UK does not specify that firms carrying out those checks must see a driving licence.

Financial services firms carrying out these checks receive practical guidance from the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG). The JMLSG guidance discusses the wide range of evidence of identity that firms can accept. The latest JMLSG guidance was issued in November 2007, was endorsed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in December, and is publicly available on their website at www.

Bloody Sunday: Saville Inquiry

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The cost of the Saville inquiry is £181.2 million (as of December 2007).

The tribunal are currently engaged in compiling their final report. The tribunal have advised that it is not possible at this stage to give a precise indication of when the report will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, due to the complexity and volume of evidence with which they are dealing. It is our understanding that the submission of the report is not imminent, and that recent media speculation that the report will be concluded in May 2008 has no basis in fact.

Children: Fostering

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): In the year ending 31 March 2007, the last year for which we have data, in England, out of 1,420 new private fostering arrangements, 1,410 initial visits were carried out; in Wales 57 initial visits were made in respect of 60 notified private fostering arrangements. These initial visits form part of the process for assessing the suitability of private fostering arrangements. We do not collect data on the other safeguarding checks local authorities should be conducting.

Information is not held centrally, for England or Wales, on the number of visits subsequent to initial visits.

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These are devolved matters. While similar arrangements operate in Wales, where the Children Act 2004 also applies, there are different arrangements for private fostering in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Data Storage

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Currently, the only access to fingerprint data by persons outside the United Kingdom is through the law enforcement entity of a sovereign state that has signed the accords and protocols of Interpol. Searches are undertaken by prior consent on a case-by-case basis and are managed by the UK National Central Bureau (UK NCB) of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

There are many initiatives to share DNA information internationally. However, no person or organisation outside the UK has, or will have, access to the National DNA Database (NDNAD). Any requests for information have to be processed by staff in the UK and disclosure is governed by strict guidelines.

The advent of the Schengen acquis and the PrĂ1/4m Treaty may, in due time, allow further access. However, these interfaces are yet to be defined.

Duty-free Allowances

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: On 1 December 2008, the tax-free allowance for travellers entering the EU by air and sea will rise to €430. This equates to about £290, which doubles the current allowance.

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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have around 4,500 officers who cover UK ports and airports. The officers are employed on a multi-functional basis, working on a wide range of duties, and not solely to enforce the duty-free personal allowance. It is therefore not readily possible to assess the direct impact of raising the personal allowance to £1,000, although any increase in the allowance would lead to an overall reduction in the administrative cost in collecting and accounting for duty.

To enforce the current duty-free allowance, officers intercept and challenge passengers following risk-based profiles. They also accept payment from passengers at red points. As statistics are not currently collated in respect of activities in relation to personal allowances, figures relating to the number of travellers with up to £1,000 of goods stopped in the green channel in the last 12 months cannot be obtained except at a disproportionate cost.

The total amount of revenue collected from travellers entering the UK in 2007 was £12.8 million. However it is not possible to differentiate between customs duty, excise duty and VAT except at a disproportionate cost.

EU: Galileo Project

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The European Commission's working document of May 2007 accompanying the Commission Communication Galileo at a crossroad: The implementation of the European GNSS Programmes ( /staff_doc_galileo_en_final_16052007.pdf), suggested that reasons for the failure included continuous unresolved disputes over the share of industrial work, unresolved negotiations on the transfer of design risk, the technical complexity of the programme, and insufficiently strong and clear public governance. Ministers at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in June endorsed the Commission's analysis, and concluded that the deployment phase of the programme would best be carried out with an alternative procurement model.

Falkland Islands: Unexploded Ordnance

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): On 20 November 2007 the final report of the joint working party for the carrying out of a feasibility study on the clearance of landmines in the Falkland Islands, and its two annexes, were made available on the Ottawa Convention website at The Field Survey Report, produced by Cranfield University, was also made available. I will arrange for copies of all these documents to be placed in the Library of the House.

Forced Marriage

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government's Forced Marriage Unit provides advice and assistance to British nationals facing forced marriage both in the UK and overseas. The unit also offers support to non-British nationals in the UK. The unit undertakes an extensive outreach programme to raise awareness of forced marriage issues among potential victims and relevant professionals. The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Justice, will provide legislative safeguards to victims or potential victims within the UK. The Act is expected to be operational by autumn 2008. Under the Act, guidelines produced by the Forced Marriage Unit for police, health professionals, education professionals and social workers will be reissued on a statutory footing.

Gift Aid

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Gift Aid consultation closed on 30 September 2007. A summary of consultation responses is available on the HM Treasury website and a further report on progress will be made in the spring.

Health: Drug Tariff

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The healthcare professionals who advised the department on the classification were asked to focus on whether or not products could meet similar medical need. They were not asked to consider price.

The panel will be reconvened but it will be extended to include representatives from industry and patients.

Over 5,000 items are listed in Part IX of the Drug Tariff. In relation to the proposed classification that was published in September 2007, 478 editorial changes have been requested; the majority could be considered errors, for example incorrect reference codes. In addition, 124 omissions have been identified mainly as a result of companies’ change of ownership during the course of this consultation. These will be corrected when the classification is revisited.

The role of National Health Service specialist nurses is outside the scope of this review and we do not anticipate that their workload will be affected. However, officials have met with representatives from the NHS, for example representatives from the Royal College of Nurses and the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists. They have also met with a nurse who specialises in childhood incontinence, as such patients have very special needs.

Under their terms of service, dispensing appliance contractors are not required to do anything but dispense an appliance. However, many of them employ nurses of their own; these nurses make home visits to patients

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at the discretion of the contractor. While we recognise the contribution these individuals make to patient care, we believe that their role is to complement the work of NHS specialist nurses. As such, we need to ensure that they are suitably qualified to deal directly with patients.

Given this, in the proposed amendments to dispensing appliance contractors' and pharmacists' terms of service it states:

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