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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): United Utilities is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the public sewerage system in north-west England. Maintenance and repair of private sewers connecting to the public system in the north-west are the responsibility of those served by them.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government have no plans at present to extend smokefree legislation beyond the parts of premises covered by Part 1, Chapter 1 of the Health Act 2006.
Baroness Crawley: The Department for International Development (DfID) is committed to delivering value for money. As part of the evaluation process we need to determine the impact of possible variations in out-turn costs and other key parameters on the economics of the project. The sensitivity check and cost-benefit analysis are part of this work.
Baroness Crawley: Two tenders for the airport contract have been received. These are currently being evaluated to determine whether they represent value for money. We will know more once this work has been completed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government take every opportunity to revoke previous instruments which have become obsolete when new secondary legislation is introduced. For example, the Climate Change Levy (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2903) revoked five spent instruments.
If an enabling Act, or the enabling section of the Act, is repealed, instruments made under it will lapse unless they are saved. Secondary legislation may also become spent, either because it was expressed to have effect only for a limited period, or because it no longer has any effect. Many instruments therefore cease to have effect without being specifically revoked.
Estimates of the numbers of families with tax credits awards, including information on over and underpayments by local authority, based on final family circumstances and incomes for 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, are available in the HMRC publication Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards. Supplements on Payments in. Geographical Analysis for each relevant year. This is available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/ cwtc-geog-stats.htm
Lord Davies of Oldham: Since 1997, the Government have introduced a number of financial incentives to encourage eco-friendly behaviour, including reduced VAT rates for the professional installation of energy-saving materials and microgeneration technologies, and the landlords energy saving allowances to encourage private landlords to improve energy efficiency of their properties. Individuals can also take action within their own homes that both reduces their impact on the environment and provides financial benefits by reducing their energy bills. The Government have recently launched the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT), which obliges energy suppliers to install energy efficiency measures and promote reductions in carbon emissions for households. Under the CERT scheme, many energy companies offer free and discounted loft and cavity wall insulation. Further to this, the 2006 Pre-Budget Report announced a stamp duty land tax relief for new zero-carbon homes, and Budget 2008 announced that this incentive would be extended to new flats. Budget 2008 also provided further incentives to choose eco-friendly transportation by announcing significant reform of vehicle excise duty. In addition, the Government have provided funding to support eco-friendly lifestyle, for instance through the low carbon building programme.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The construction and supply of a qualifying ship (one whose gross tonnage is not less than 15 tonnes and which is neither designed nor adapted for use for recreation or pleasure) is VAT zero-rated. Parts and equipment supplied in the course of construction of a qualifying ship are also VAT zero-rated. However, parts and equipment supplied to a government department or any part of the Scottish Administration are generally VAT standard-rated. This treatment applies to both prime contractors and other contractors involved in construction and supply.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Shipbuilding is zero-rated for value added tax provided it meets certain criteria and this was taken into account in setting the budget for the future aircraft carriers, for which the contract as a whole will be zero-rated. This zero-rating is expected to apply to naval shipbuilding work undertaken by the joint venture to be formed by BAES and VT Group and there will, therefore, be no impact on the naval programme.
What will be the effect on pensioners and people on low incomes of BT's new pricing structure for customers not paying by direct debit, standing order or via the internet; and whether they will refer the new pricing structure to the Office of Fair Trading. [HL2650]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): The universal service obligation placed on BT by the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), means that there are special tariff schemes offered to vulnerable customers by the company. Currently these are the light user scheme and In Contact Plus, which are not affected by additional payment charges. The effect on pensioners and people on low incomes of BT's new pricing structure for customers should be mitigated by customers who are eligible moving to the special tariff schemes.
A new special tariff service, BT Basic, to replace the current schemes will be available from mid-2008, offering a low-cost home phone service to those on low incomes and pensioners who are in receipt of certain government benefits. BT Basic will not include an extra charge for consumers who do not pay by direct debit and, in contrast to previous social telephony products, will be available to consumers who have pre-pay mobile phones and/or broadband services.
Ofcom has examined any regulatory concerns about communications providers additional charges and a report was published on 28 February 2008. Ofcom is currently consulting on introducing new guidance for communications providers who levy additional charges on consumers such as for not paying bills by direct debits. This will spell out Ofcom's view of the law and what providers have to do to meet their obligations under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 to ensure that additional charges are fair and transparent. Once the guidance has been finalised, Ofcom is proposing to give providers three months to comply. Ofcom will then start an enforcement programme.
Ofcom has used its powers to regulate BT and other providers of communications services for the purpose of consumer protection and to have regard to the needs of pensioners and people on low incomes. Referring the BT pricing structure to the Office of Fair Trading is unnecessary.
What participation there was by United Kingdom-based agencies in the exercise Cyber Storm II organised by the United States Department of Homeland Security; what conclusions have been drawn about the readiness of the United Kingdom's critical national infrastructure to withstand a major cyber incident; and whether there are any plans for a United Kingdom-focused exercise. [HL2929]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Representatives of a number of UK government departments and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure participated in the Cyber Storm II exercise as part of the UK Government's commitment to rehearse security procedures and plans regularly. The exercise used UK-based and international scenarios to test the UK's ability to respond to a variety of simulated incidents.
The United States Department of Homeland Security will publish a summary report of the exercise in due course to which the UK will contribute. There are no plans to publish a separate UK report, and we do not announce publicly our future plans for testing security procedures.
What actions they are taking, with reference to the comments submitted by them to the public hearing in Strasbourg on 11 July 2007, to ensure that their anti-terrorism and torture policy is in accordance with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Saadi v Italy on 28 February. [HL2814]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In its judgment in Saadi v Italy, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights reaffirmed the existing Article 3 case law, which was set out in Chahal v the UK. We are satisfied that our counterterrorism policy and practices are consistent with that case law. We will not deport someone where there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk they will face torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or that the death penalty would be applied in their case.
We believe that our policy on torture is clear and consistent with case law from the European Court of
21 Apr 2008 : Column WA270
Baroness Crawley: European Union (EU) funding to Turkey in the period 2007-13 is provided under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). IPA includes components for regional development, rural development and human resources development which are specifically targeted to benefit regions where GDP per capita falls below 75 per cent of Turkish national average.
In 2008 the European Commission plans to allocate 52 per cent of the overall IPA spend in Turkey (€538m) to these regionally focused programmes. The remaining EU assistance is targeted at national level to help Turkey make progress towards meeting the requirements for EU membership.
What assessment they have made of (a) the number of illegal Haitian migrants landing on the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and (b) the repatriation costs to the TCI Government's budget of illegal migrants, for each of the past five years for which figures are available. [HL2639]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The responsibility for immigration in the Turks and Caicos Islands is delegated to the local government. Its Immigration Department has provided the following information for illegal migrants who have been repatriated, but no details are available for illegal migrants who have entered the territory undetected.
|Number of illegal Haitian migrants repatriated from the Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Source: Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Department|
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