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Whether they will consult the Civil Justice Council, the Bar Council, the Law Society and other stakeholders before reducing public expenditure by the Ministry of Justice in ways which may have an adverse impact on access to justice, including affecting levels of staffing in courts and tribunals, computer systems supporting Her Majesty's Courts Services and the Tribunals Service, public law child care proceedings, and cost recovery for immigration appeals. [HL5698]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Jack Straw) and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry
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What steps they have taken to inform people receiving a specified means-tested benefit (income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, pension guarantee credit or working tax credit) of their eligibility to receive a full remission under the new civil court fees remission system, which came into force in October 2007; and how many people have applied for full remission since then; and [HL5593]
(a) who is conducting research into whether the new civil courts fees remission system is operating efficiently and meeting the needs of users and future users; and (b) what public funds have been allocated for the research. [HL5596]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Publicity material regarding the fee remission system is displayed in all courts and a leaflet outlining the system is given to every court user who requests information on any court process that requires a fee to be paid. Her Majesty's Court Service works in partnership with advice agencies and other support services to ensure widespread access to information regarding the system.
Since the introduction of the new fee remissions scheme, for the three quarters that data are available (from 1 October 2007 to 30 June 2008), almost 114,000 people were granted an automatic full remission from fees totalling more than £15 million. In this same period, 5,000 people have been granted part remission, or in some cases full remission, based on an assessment of income and expenditure, totalling £800,000.
The new system has been in place for one year and PriceWaterhouseCoopers is undertaking research on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to assess whether the scheme is operating effectively and meeting the needs of our users. £100,000 has been allocated to this research and findings will be reported in spring 2009.
Further to the Written Answer by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy, on 10 July (Official Report, House of Commons, 1784W), whether there was any discussion concerning the inclusion of double glazing or low-emissivity glass when directive 2006/112/EC was drawn up. [HL5624]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Directive 2006/112/EC was a recast of existing EU VAT legislation (the 6th VAT directive and subsequent amendments). The recast procedure does not permit the introduction of substantive legal changes, and is intended only to clarify previously amended law. The inclusion of double glazing or low-emissivity glass in the reduced rate schedule would have amounted to a substantive change and was therefore not discussed when Directive 2006/112/EC was drawn up.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 15 July (WA 1378), which Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs bodies and agencies are charging fees based on a two-year estimate of inflation; and whether that practice takes account of changes in costs involved in the make-up of those fees. [HL5506]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): None of the bodies or agencies of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs applies a two-year estimate of inflation to the calculation of its fees. They do, however, through regular reviews and up-ratings, take account of changes in the costs making-up fees.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) has provided £1.15 million in response to the floods in Bihar, channelled through UNICEF. Fifteen per cent of this assistance has been directed to local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), particularly those providing support on water and sanitation, hygiene education, and behaviour change.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The recent floods in Bihar met with a huge response, much of it outside formal channels. Donations were given by corporate donors, political parties and Indian citizens living in India and abroad. Exact figures are not available. However, we are aware of announcements by at least five major corporate contributors, amounting to over £3 million, and a reported £10 million in contributions from individuals. There has also been some aid provided in kindsuch as other states providing teams of doctors from medical colleges. This is in addition to the Government of India's own response of £125 million and 125,000 tonnes of food for the relief efforts, and the response of donors, including the Department for International Development (DfID).
The Government of Bihar have put a system in place to channel individual and corporate contributions to support the state's relief and recovery efforts. This is working well, making a positive contribution to the overall relief effort through the provision of food, clothing and cash assistance to those affected by the floods. Some contributions are taking place outside organised channels, and ensuring the effective co-ordination and delivery of the different resources will continue to be a challenge.
Lord Tunnicliffe: Bihar became a priority state for the Department for International Development (DfID) two years ago, because of its alarming levels of poverty, its vulnerability to flooding and the commitment of the state government of Bihar to address these problems.
With reference to the report in Meat Journal on 20 June that Vion Food Group has acquired Grampian, and in the light of the avian flu investigation of
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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): All consignments of meat imported into the UK from other EU member states and outside the EU must have been produced in accordance with the harmonised Community rules laid down in European Community legislation. Imported meat for human consumption must come from approved premises and must have a health mark or identification mark to confirm it is fit for human consumption.
Random checks are carried out at points of destination by official veterinarians to ensure products meet the requirements, and the delivery of official controls in plants is subject to audit by the Meat Hygiene Service.
The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carries out regular programmes of inspection visits to all member states. Among other things, this legislation sets out the licensing, structural and veterinary supervision requirements to be applied in production plants.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Prayers are read by the Lords Spiritual in their capacity as representatives of the established Church. If any Member submits a written proposal to change these arrangements, I will ensure that it is considered by the Procedure Committee.
Why no disability impact assessment was carried out prior to introducing the local housing allowance; whether the provision of extra housing space for disabled persons with live-in carers is classified as a housing need or a social care need; and how many people have applied for discretionary housing payments. [HL5618]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): During the Welfare Reform Bill regulatory impact assessment it was acknowledged that the majority of disabled recipients lived in the social rented sector and would not be covered by the local housing allowance (LHA). It was, therefore, not appropriate to carry out a detailed disability impact assessment prior to introducing
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In circumstances where disabled tenants are limited in the type of property they can rent in the private sector, because they may need certain additional facilities, local authorities are able to consider the use of discretionary housing payments (DHP) to ensure that tenants can find decent accommodation that meets their need. The DHPs are entirely at the discretion of the local authority concerned, and are subject to annual cash limit. As they are administered by local authorities, the number of customers who may have applied for DHPs is not known.
The provision of extra housing space for a disabled person with live-in carers is not automatically classified as a housing need or a social care need. The LHA rate that a disabled person is entitled to would be based on the number of people who occupy the property in the same way that it is for other people.
What steps they will take to implement the provisions of the International Labour Organisation's Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted at the 97th International Labour Conference in June 2008. [HL5586]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government strongly support the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. Since its adoption in June 2008, the Government have been actively engaged in consultations with the ILO and its constituents on implementation and follow-up and will participate fully in future governing body discussions, where specific actions and related timescales will be developed.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Government are confident that labour conditions in the United Kingdom are consistent with the four elements of the International Labour Organisation's decent work agenda. These are: employment opportunities; labour standards; social dialogue; and social protection.
Whether they are working with the International Labour Organisation to influence and design the decent work country programme for other International Labour Organisation members; and, if so, what steps they have taken. [HL5588]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Government influence and support the design and implementation of decent work country programmes (DWCP) through a partnership framework agreement with the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Government provide funding from April 2006 to March 2009. The agreement specifies particular objectives that the ILO should achieve, while allowing some flexibility on how funds are spent.
The four main objectives are: making a full and successful transition to a DWCP approach; strengthening the results-based management system; ensuring that key areas where the Government's development policy interests overlap with the ILO's comparative advantage are strengthened and fully embedded in the DWCP approach; and the implementation of poverty-focused DWCPs in developing countries.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: This is an operational matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Official Report and the Library of the House.
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