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Further to the Written Answer by the Minister for the Environment, Mr Phil Woolas, on 5 February (Official Report, Commons 976W), whether ditch and watercourse clearance can be covered under the entry-level stewardship scheme. [HL3011]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There are ditch and half ditch management options available as part of entry-level stewardship (ELS) which include some provision for clearance. However, these would need to be adopted with other options from the scheme to achieve the necessary points total. Ditches managed by third parties, such as internal drainage boards, are not eligible. Moorland Grips are also ineligible. There is not a specific ditch and watercourse clearance option. The scheme's aim is primarily to secure widespread environmental benefits.
Ditches in ELS may be cleaned only once during the agreement period, and then only half the length of the ditch may be cleaned. The exception is where vegetation needs to be removed from the bottom of a ditch for flood prevention. This may be cut annually between September and February. Any dredging or spoil must be levelled along the bank and vegetation allowed naturally to regenerate.
What additional safeguards against the transfer of foot and mouth disease through vectors such as wind, wild animals and humans would be provided by the electronic implant tagging of sheep, above those offered by double tagging and comprehensive movement records. [HL2969]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): None. The electronic identification of sheep is intended to aid their traceability, not to reduce their susceptibility to disease.
Whether the Arts Council is required to provide information to them about the sexuality of members of the management committee, boards, governing bodies or councils of theatre organisations, as stated in question 22 of the Arts Council's grant form; and if so, what the justification is for this requirement. [HL3015]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Sexual orientation monitoring is not currently a formal DCMS requirement. We recognise, however, that as a responsible public body Arts Council England needs to monitor its overall grant-making programmes in terms of gender, ethnic background, disability and sexual orientation.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 1 April (WA 145), when the uprating arrangements for United Kingdom state pensions paid to recipients in Overseas Territories were last reviewed; what the outcome of the review was; and what the cost would be of uprating United Kingdom state pensions to recipients in Overseas Territories. [HL3018]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): All the department's policies are kept under review. The UK state pension is uprated for UK pensioners living overseas where there is a reciprocal social security agreement or a legal requirement to do so. The provisions on the non-uprating of UK state pensions for some pensioners living abroad have been the subject of litigation in the domestic courts, all of which found in favour of the Government. The issue is now the subject of an application for a hearing to the European Court of Human Rights.
The cost of up rating the UK state pension for recipients residing in the British Overseas Territories where state pension is frozen would be just under £500,0001 for 2008-09 on the assumption that the frozen pension is brought up to the current value and then up rated. The current estimate is that it would cost around £440 million to bring all frozen rate pensions up to the current rate and this would be an ongoing cost increasing year on year.
What control the Charity Commission exercises on the conduct and activities of interim managers, including receivers and managers, who the commission appoints to stand in for trustees of a charity; and [HL3038]
Whether they are aware of any cases, including current cases, where interim managers appointed by chairmen to stand in for trustees have committed charity funds up to (a) £100,000; (b) £500,000; (c) £1,000,000; (d) £2,000,000; and (e) over £2,000,000; and, if so, whether they will provide details and the date of each case; and [HL3039]
Whether they are aware of any cases where interim managers appointed to stand in for the trustees of a charity have acted as liquidators or in another professional role for a trading company associated with that charity; whether charity funds were used to reward interim managers for two or more such roles; and, if so, whether they will provide details and the date of each case. [HL3040]
Lord Davies of Oldham: These Questions are a matter for the Charity Commission as the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. The commission's chief executive will write to you and a copy of his response will be placed in the Library.
In respect of the Cabinet Office, on how many occasions in the past year malicious programs have compromised its computer systems; for each occasion, how many machines were affected; how long it took to remove the programs from the system; and what the impact was on the department's activities.[HL3004]
Lord Davies of Oldham: It is not in the interests of the UK's national security for departments to confirm whether they hold information about attacks against their IT systems. This would enable individuals to deduce how successful the UK is in detecting these attacks and so assist such persons in testing the effectiveness of the UK's IT defences. This is not in the public interest.
In respect of the Department for Transport, on how many occasions in the past year malicious programs have compromised departmental computer systems; for each occasion, how many machines were affected; how long it took to remove the programs from the system; and what the impact was on the department's activities. [HL2986]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is not in the interests of the UKs national security for departments to confirm whether they hold information about attacks against their IT systems. This would enable individuals to deduce how successful the UK is in detecting these attacks and so assist such persons in testing the effectiveness of the UKs IT defences. This is not in the public interest.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is already an offence under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835, as amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888, to cycle on a footway (the pavement adjacent to the carriageway). The maximum fine is £500 or the police can issue a fixed penalty notice costing £30.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 1 April (WA 1478), whether the statement that a solution lies only in the context of a United Nations-brokered comprehensive settlement to reunite the island denoted their intention to sustain a Greek Cypriot veto and maintain the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community. [HL3046]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Our objective in Cyprus is to support the UN's efforts to broker a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem. We applaud the leaders' recent agreement to restart negotiations and to open Ledra Steet. For the first time since 2004, there is a genuine prospect of progress. This must be the primary focus of our efforts. It is only through reunification of the island that the Turkish Cypriots can fully assume their rightful place in the economic and political life of Europe.
In support of the UN's efforts, the EU has an important supporting role to play, through reducing economic disparities between the two communities, and by bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to Europe. Achieving trade liberalisation with Turkish Cypriots is, in particular, an important part of these objectives. We will continue to support strongly all such initiatives.
Further to the ministerial correction by the Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire, on 5 February (Official Report, Commons, 56MC), what were the grades of the 575 Work and Pensions staff dismissed for unsatisfactory attendance between April 2007 and 15 November 2007; what proportion worked outside London; what percentage were aged (a) 17 to 25, (b) 26 to 35, (c) 36 to 45, (d) 46 to 55, and (e) 56 or over; and how many had a degree. [HL3013]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information that is available on the department's personnel computer system is contained in the three tables below. Information about the number of dismissed employees who had a degree is not available. The cost of obtaining it would be disproportionate.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The requirement for IT-based driving theory test examination services was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union in February 2003 and 67 expressions of interest were received. Nine companies were selected to submit tenders and following a rigorous evaluation process, the contract was awarded to Pearson Driving Assessments Limited (PDA), a UK-registered company.
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