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Prime Minister: Official Residences

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Downing Street complex forms an integral part of the Cabinet Office estate. I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to the honourable member for Fareham (Mr Hoban) on 8 October 2007 (col. 1W).

Chequers is a private trust and managed by independent trustees. The trustees are committed to making Chequers more environmentally sustainable. They have reduced the ambient temperature within the House, installed low-energy light bulbs, increased thermal insulation in roof spaces and installed secondary glazing.

Prisoners: Length of Sentence

Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The No One Knows research report published by the Prison Reform Trust in 2007 suggests that between 20 per cent to 30 per cent of offenders have learning difficulties or learning disabilities.

However, information on the total numbers of indeterminate sentence prisoners with learning disabilities or learning difficulties and who are held in custody beyond their tariff period is not currently available centrally.

The information could be collected only at disproportionate cost by examination of a substantial number of individual case records.

Prisons: Buprenorphine

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Prisons have a comprehensive framework of security measures in place to reduce the supply of all illicit drugs into prisons, including buprenorphine. These measures can be adapted to meet local needs.

On 13 March my right honourable friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (David Hanson) announced in a Written Ministerial Statement (Official Report, cols. 26-28WS) that mandatory drug testing for buprenorphine would be extended to all prisons from 1 April. In addition, the National Offender Management Service is undertaking a campaign warning prisoners of the dangers involved in the illicit use of buprenorphine and reminding prisoners of the available drug treatment options.

The director-general of the Prison Service has commissioned David Blakey, a former inspector of constabulary, to conduct a review of the effectiveness of measures to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs into prisons.

Railways: Class 142 Units

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The length of time these trains are deployed in the Exeter area is a matter for First Great Western.



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Railways: First Great Western

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As part of the passenger benefits investment First Great Western agreed to procure additional units so that it could strengthen the Cardiff-Portsmouth services between May 2008 until the summer passenger change date in 2011. It is expected these services will remain strengthened post-2011 and will form part of the high-level output specification dialogue.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Discussions are in the early stages with First Great Western on the solution to meet the high-level output specification (HLOS) capacity requirements identified.

Railways: Watford to Brighton

Baroness Hanham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: All newly procured dual-voltage trains will be deployed on the Thameslink route.

From December 2008, journeys between Brighton and Watford, avoiding the London Underground, will still be possible, albeit with a change of trains at Clapham Junction, as happens in the morning peak today.

Russia: Human Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: We regularly raise the issue of Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights with the Russian authorities and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity, including through the bilateral and EU/Russia human rights dialogues. The next EU/Russia human rights meeting is scheduled for 17 April.

Both the UK and Russia agree on the need for reform of the European Court of Human Rights to ensure it functions more effectively. The UK believes that Protocol 14 must be implemented to achieve this goal. We are disappointed that Russia is the only Council of Europe member state not to have ratified the protocol. We, in concert with the majority of Council of Europe member states, the EU presidency and other EU member states have called on Russia to ratify Protocol 14 swiftly.

Supreme Court

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My noble and learned friend, Lord Falconer of Thoroton made a Statement to this House on 14 June 2007. The estimated set-up cost of the Supreme Court remains at £56.9 million. However, as is to be expected in a building of this age, some damage to the fabric of the building has been found, which we are investigating. I will make a Statement to the House when the full extent of the damage is known.

Pending further information, the programme continues to be on target to deliver on time and within the budget.

Taxation: Supermarkets

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: HMRC maintains an ongoing dialogue with all large companies about their tax planning activities and where avoidance through artificial structures or artificial schemes is identified, HMRC will take robust action to counter this. Avoidance is unfair on the majority of taxpayers who do pay their fair share, and undermines the funding of public services.


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