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Whether they will recalculate the consumption of wine given by HM Revenue and Customs for each of the years 200001 to 200607 on the basis of the method contained in ONS Methodological Series No 37 paper Estimating alcohol consumption from survey data: updated method of converting volumes to units. [HL1685]
Lord Davies of Oldham: While the ONS methodology gives a single estimate of the current strength of wine it does not show how the strength may have increased over the last few years. HM Revenue and Customs is currently reviewing the methodology it uses to calculate the consumption of pure alcohol from wine, in conjunction with the Office for National Statistics and the Department of Health, in view of new information. Once the review is complete HMRC will recalculate their estimates of the consumption of wine since 2000-01 on the basis of the new methodology.
Figures on the average strength of beer were given in my Written Answer of 10 December 2007 (Official Report, col. WA 15) as this is the strength which links the two published data series on pure alcohol clearances of beer, and on total clearances of beer. However a strength estimate is only necessary in the calculation to convert pure alcohol clearances to quantities for the small proportion of total beer clearances which are not home produced. This is in contrast to clearances of spirits for which we only produce data on pure alcohol and not total clearances and an average strength is not needed.
Further to the 2005 report of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on Housing: Building a Sustainable Future, whether they plan to encourage companies that insure newly built homes to include part L of the building regulations, relating to energy and water efficiency, in their policies. [HL1388]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): We have no current plans to do so. Companies that insure newly built homes are private companies and the Government do not seek to influence what should be in their policies. Under current legislation it is the function of building control bodies, comprising both local authority building control and private sector approved inspectors, to ensure that any building work complies with all of the requirements of building regulations, and there is no current intention to alter this position.
What is the grant provided by them in the current financial year to each local authority in England for the issue of concessionary bus passes; and how much the authorities estimate the concessionary bus passes will cost them in the current financial year; and [HL1524]
What will be the grant provided by them in the financial year 200809 to each local authority in England for the issue of concessionary bus passes; and how much the authorities estimate the concessionary bus passes will cost them in that financial year. [HL1525]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Travel concessionary authorities (TCAs) responsibilities for implementing the statutory minimum travel concession will generally result in costs in three areas: issuing passes, reimbursing operators, and administering the scheme.
The Government are paying a grant of over £31 million in total to TCAs in England outside London in this financial year (2007-08) to cover the cost of issuing concessionary travel passes. The amount of grant to London is to be confirmed. The grant to each TCA is based on £4 per pass currently in circulation, uplifted by 20 per cent to recognise that the new concession is likely to be more attractive than the existing one. It is not possible to say how much it will cost each TCA to produce passes as this will depend on a number of factors, including the state of their existing data on concessionaires and whom they have contracted with to produce their passes. Details of the grant to cover the cost of passes are available in a supplementary table to this Answer in the Library of the House.
The costs of reimbursing bus operators and administering concessionary travel schemes are generally covered by amounts included in the formula grant settlement for each TCA. TCAs do not separately identify the costs of administering the scheme in their returns to Government.
The department is also paying a special grant in the following three years (2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11) to cover the cost of improving the statutory minimum bus concession from free off-peak local travel to free off-peak travel anywhere in England. The proposed
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What changes they propose to make to the policies and working arrangements of the Department for Children, Schools and Families following the signing of the CentralLocal Concordat on 12 December 2007, both in general and in specific response to the agreement in the concordat (a) that there should be a presumption that powers are best exercised at the lowest effective and practical level; (b) that central government undertakes to progressively remove obstacles which prevent councils from pursuing their role, including reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes, the ring-fencing of funds for specific purposes and the volume of guidance it issues, (c) that the number of national indicators should be around 200; (d) that in relation to the negotiation of new-style local area agreements this objective will require major changes in behaviour and practice from central government departments, their agencies, government offices, councils and local partners; and what is the process and timetable for such changes. [HL1725]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is fully committed to the principles set out in the Central-Local Concordat, including in particular the new performance management arrangements for local authorities and their partners, based on a single set of 198 national indicators and a limited number of targets agreed in local area agreements (LAAs). The new system of comprehensive area assessment will significantly reduce the burden of inspection for children's services from next year; DCSF has contributed over £1 billion of funding to the new, un-ring-fenced area based grant for 2008-09; and the number of targets DCSF agrees with local authorities will be significantly reduced from April by the transition to new LAAs. DCSF is currently working closely with other government departments, government offices, national agencies and others to agree the new LAAs with local authorities and their partners by June.
Following the publication of the European Commission's climate and energy package, whether they will ring-fence money raised by auctioning of European Union Emissions Trading Scheme carbon permits for energy savings, investments in renewable energy and other measures to combat climate change. [HL1659]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government's spending priorities are not, in general, determined by the way in which the money is raised. Hypothecating revenues to particular spending programmes imparts inflexibility in spending decisions and can lead to a misallocation of resources, with reduced value for money for taxpayers. The spending review process ensures that resources are allocated efficiently to deliver government objectives and ensures priorities, such as education and health, receive the increased levels of funding, as set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
The CSR increases Defra's budget by 1.4 per cent in real terms, from £3,508 million in 2007-08 to £3,960 million. This increase allows the Government to allocate substantial resources to tackle climate change including the Environmental Transformation Fund, and increased resources for flood defences to help the UK adapt.
Whether the United Kingdom, as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, has made any representations to Tassos Papadopoulos and the Greek-Cypriot leadership to reconsider their rejection of President Talat's offer of 5 September 2007 to resume negotiations. [HL1667]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We have not made any representations to President Papadopoulos regarding Mr Talat's offer in September 2007. It is vital however, if progress is to be made, that there exists constant contact and dialogue at all levels between the two communities. We continue to urge all parties to take measures to help build trust on the island and demonstrate the necessary political will to turn words into actions.
Whether the United Kingdom, as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, has discussed with Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, the package of proposals presented by President Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus at their meeting on 16 September 2007. [HL1668]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We have not discussed with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, the package of proposals presented by Mr Talat, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, in September 2007. However, we were encouraged by Mr Talat's expression of support for the 8 July agreement and the list of confidence-building measures that he proposed.
We continue to encourage all parties to the Cyprus problem to engage fully with the efforts of the UN to achieve a comprehensive solution based on the 8 July
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Whether the United Kingdom, as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, has taken steps to assist the Turkish-Cypriot people, as promised by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair after the referendum on the Annan Plan on 24 April 2004. [HL1669]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We continue to support fully the EU's commitment of 2004, reaffirmed in 2007, to support the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, thereby facilitating a settlement.
The EU aid package of €259 million is starting to make a visible difference to the lives of Turkish Cypriots. To date, €88 million have been tendered for, €33 million have been contracted and €12 million have been spent.
At the same time, we remain committed to achieving further trade liberalisation and will continue to support the efforts of the EU presidency to secure such an agreement. Improving the ability of Turkish Cypriots to trade with the EU will bring the community closer to Europe and reduce dependence on Turkey.
However, while efforts to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community are important, ultimately this isolation will only be fully lifted in the context of a UN brokered comprehensive settlement to reunite the island.
What is their assessment of Ban Ki-Moon's recent report on Cyprus; and whether, as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, they will implement paragraph 47 of that report, which encourages economic, social and cultural ties between the international community and the Turkish-Cypriot people. [HL1670]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We fully endorse the remarks made in the latest report from the UN Secretary-General that it is regrettable that the ongoing debate on the lifting of the isolation of Turkish Cypriots has become a debate on recognition. We remain committed to supporting the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, thereby facilitating a settlement.
The recent UN Security Council Resolution on Cyprus (1789) was agreed with consensus among the five permanent members of the Security Council. The resolution stressed the importance that all parties focus on making decisive progress towards a comprehensive settlement in 2008.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 7 January (WA 152), what was the outcome of deliberations on the appropriateness of the term child donor in the context of proposed new paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, inserted by paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, with particular reference to the term used in the analogous situation in proposed new paragraph 10; and whether they intend to change the term to child patient. [HL1615]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government have no plans to change the term child donor in the context of proposed new paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 at the present time. The use of the term child donor has the specific meaning set out in that paragraph and does not have any broader meaning. The Government do, however, recognise the need to ensure clarity in the use of terminology and will consider this matter further as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill progresses.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 8 January (WA 196), what are the relevant criteria with which imports from the Channel Islands must comply in order to benefit from low value consignment relief. [HL1689]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Goods imported into the United Kingdom from the Channel Islands are generally subject to import VAT in the same way as goods imported from any country outside the European Union.
EC Legislation provides that import VAT is not payable on commercial consignments, for example on goods purchased over the internet, if the total value of the goods in the consignment does not exceed £18. This de minimis limit is set out in Article 22 of Council Directive 88/331/EEC amending Directive 83/181/EEC as regards exemption from value-added tax on the final importation of certain goods.
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