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Written Answers

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Armed Forces: A400M

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The in-service date of the A400M (defined as acceptance into service of the seventh aircraft) is 2011.

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The UK Government have ordered 25 A400M aircraft.

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The A400M prime contractor, Airbus Military, is free to select equipment through competition so that the programme is organised and managed as cost-effectively as possible. However, in 2003, Airbus UK estimated that the A400M programme would directly create up to 2,500 high-quality jobs in the UK—notably in design and advanced manufacture. It also calculated that indirect employment could bring that figure to over 8,000. There has been no update to these figures since 2003.

Aviation

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Other than where the European Commission has been granted a mandate on behalf of the European Union and its member states, the Department for Transport negotiates bilateral air service agreements with other countries on behalf of the UK. These set the legal framework within which airlines operate on a commercial basis. The UK's objectives in negotiations are to achieve the best overall outcome for the UK and generally to seek a liberalisation of the market concerned. The UK's

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bilateral air services arrangements are regularly reviewed, and as such seek to reflect changes in the global aviation market.

Aviation: Taxation

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Chancellor announced at Pre-Budget Report 2007 that air-passenger duty would be replaced by a per-plane duty in November 2009. A formal consultation on this new tax, which considered all aspects of the operation of the duty, closed on 24 April. Over 160 responses were received and Treasury officials are currently considering and analysing these responses in the policy design process. No decisions have yet been made on the design of the duty. The Chancellor will announce the policy in the autumn. The initial impact assessment published with the consultation document made an estimate of carbon reductions from the increase in the duty of 0.5MtCO2 in 2010-11. As the details of the duty are not set, it is not possible to make any further estimates.

Coroners

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): In 2006-07, 250 cases which were classified as suicide were dealt with by coroners, and in 231 of these cases the coroner determined that an inquest should not be held.

In 2007-08, 224 cases which were classified as suicide were dealt with by coroners, and in 210 of these cases the coroner determined that an inquest should not be held. Information is not available prior to April 2006 when the new Coroners Service for Northern Ireland was established.

Families or other interested parties do not have the right to determine whether an inquest should be held. That power rests with the coroner. It is, however, normal practice for coroners to consult families before reaching a decision on whether or not to hold an inquest. There are no plans to change the law at present.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government have no plans to extend the Coroners and Death Certification Bill to Northern Ireland. Developments in England and Wales will, however, be taken into account in considering the need for reforms in Northern Ireland.

Crime: Murder

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Between 1963 and 2006-07, a total of 116 persons in England and Wales are known to have been killed by persons who had been previously convicted of homicide.

As with previous Answers, the figure excludes persons who have been killed by those who may have been convicted outside England and Wales (for whom there is incomplete information), and persons who have been killed by those not previously convicted of homicide by reason of their mental state.

Crime: Sentencing

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal delivers judgments on sentencing in Northern Ireland, within the relevant statutory framework set by Parliament. The cases concerning sentencing for the offence of burglary include:

R v O'Keefe (16.2.98)—domestic burglary by a persistent offender;R v Megarry [2002] NICA 29 (“sneak thieving”); and R v Murray and Armstrong [2003] NICA 24 (aggravated burglary).

Judges may also have regard to sentencing guidelines in England and Wales.

The Government have no current plans to amend the law in relation to the sentences available in respect of convictions for burglary.

European Court of Justice: Judges

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



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The terms and conditions for judges and advocates-general of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) are set out in European Communities staff regulations. The basic salary of members is €19,063 per month, equivalent to approximately £182,000 per year at current exchange rates.

Members of the ECJ belong to the contributory final salary pension scheme paid for from the general EU budget. A contribution of 10.25 per cent is deducted from their monthly basic salary. After ceasing to hold office, members of the ECJ are entitled to a pension for life payable from the age of 65. The amount of pension is calculated on the basis of 4.275 per cent of their final basic salary per year in office. The maximum pension shall be 70 per cent of the basic salary last received.

Members of the ECJ are entitled to sickness, occupational disease, industrial accident and birth and death benefits under a social security scheme funded by the Communities, to which they contribute 2 per cent of their basic salary. This scheme reimburses 80 per cent of medical costs.

European Court of Justice: Staff

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

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In this year's budget, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has asked for the creation of a number of new posts, including in relation to the recent introduction of the “urgent preliminary ruling procedure”—a procedure established for dealing with references from national courts, in particularly urgent cases arising in the area of justice, freedom and security (which could include cases relating to detained persons, or family law cases involving children).

The ECJ will receive a definite answer when the ongoing budgetary procedure is finalised. If the budget provisions are approved by the budgetary authorities, the council and the European Parliament, the Court will start recruiting the additional staff.

Freedom of Information

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Freedom of Information Act is working effectively with a total of 105,000 requests dealt with under FOIA by central-government-monitored bodies during the period 2005 to 2007. Ninety per cent of these requests were answered within time; that is, a response was provided within

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the standard deadline or a permitted deadline extension was applied. Of those requests where it was possible to give a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought, 64 per cent were granted in full.

Currently, the Government are considering the response to their recent consultation on extending the coverage of the Act and are awaiting recommendations from a review of the 30-year rule commissioned last October by the Prime Minister. Other than any proposals they may put forward resulting from those initiatives and a number of minor orders, such as the order currently before Parliament to add six public bodies to the list of public authorities subject to the Act, the Government have no plans for reform at present. The legislation is, however, kept under constant review.

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My department does not hold information on estimated costs of responding to individual requests. Public authorities are not obliged under the Freedom of Information Act to calculate the costs of dealing with requests.

Frontier Economics published a report in October 2006, which estimated the average cost of dealing with an initial request to central government at £183, including civil servants' time.

A copy of the full report can be found in the Libraries of both Houses.

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The department does not hold information on estimated costs of responding to individual requests. Complying with the Freedom of Information Act does not require compilation of such estimates.

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence does not hold information on estimated costs of responding to individual requests. Complying with the Freedom of Information Act does not require compilation of such estimates.



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Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold information on estimated costs of responding to individual requests. Complying with the Freedom of Information Act does not require compilation of such estimates.

Government: Online Transactions

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: There are online communications between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and customers, although the majority of interactions are still either by phone or by post. No such breaches of security have yet occurred and HMRC is confident that the risk of fraudulent use of a digital certificate is very low. HMRC makes taxpayers aware of the risks of online fraud on its website.

Any liability would depend on the precise circumstances in which such a security breach occurred.

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Applications for passports can be completed online. However, the completed form is posted to the applicant to be signed and for photographs and any necessary documents to be attached before the form is returned to the Identity and Passport Service. It is not possible to issue a passport other than as a printed book containing an electronic chip.


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