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29 Oct 2008 : Column WA165



29 Oct 2008 : Column WA165

Written Answers

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Armed Forces: Complex Weapons

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As an entity, Team CW does not undertake such activity. Any work undertaken by the individual companies within the construct is a matter for their own commercial judgment. The Ministry of Defence makes assessments of the world market, including sharing information on emerging military requirements and potential system solutions with international colleagues.

Armed Forces: Costs

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The normal operating cycle of every warship includes periods of lower readiness, typically for maintenance or refit. It is not our practice to comment on matters relating to specific readiness levels of individual ships, as to do so could enable deductions to be made that could be prejudicial to national security.

The only relevant instance of withdrawing ships from service without one-for-one replacements has arisen from the decision not to purchase further Type 45 destroyers beyond the six already on order. Hence eight Type 42 destroyers will be replaced by six Type 45s. However, the decision not to purchase the seventh and eighth Type 45s will not achieve any savings in production costs in 2008-09 or 2009-10.

Asylum Seekers

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The United Kingdom Border Agency can arrange re-documentation interviews with the embassy of asylum seekers' country of origin once a decision to refuse the application has been made. In some areas case owners will wait until the asylum seekers’ appeal rights are exhausted before seeking a re-documentation interview.

Courts Service: Budgets

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) was published in November 2007. It is a public document.

As part of the agreed CSR07 settlement and as part of the Ministry of Justice-wide savings initiative, Her Majesty's Courts Service agreed to deliver savings as follows:

£82 million in 2008-09;£46 million in 2009-10 (after an £11 million increase in fee income); and£17 million in 2010-11 (after a further increase of £16 million in fee income).

In 2008-09, an additional £27 million saving is required due to a predicted shortfall in civil and family fee income.

As part of the agreed CSR07 settlement and as part of the Ministry of Justice-wide savings initiative, the Tribunals Service agreed to deliver as follows:

£9 million in 2008-09;£19 million in 2009-10 (£4 million due to increase in fee income); and£45 million in 2010-11 (£16 million due to increase in fee income).

This includes the £54 million savings agreed across the CSR period and the increase in fee income in 2009-10 and 2010-11 which will reduce our net budget requirement.

Courts Service: Public Expenditure

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government will maintain their commitment to access to justice through the provision of courts, tribunals, and legal aid and assistance. All areas of expenditure by government have to be in the context of delivering value for money for the taxpayer.



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Crime: Drink-driving

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): We explained in the report of the second review of the Road Safety Strategy (February 2007) that we intend to keep the case for a reduction in the drink-drive legal limit under review. The Government are committed to public consultation on further measures to reduce alcohol-related road casualties and will publish a consultation document, which includes this subject, before the end of the year.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has informed me that it does not routinely collect data for its register on the number of eggs used in embryo research projects.

The authority has also advised me that research licence R0152 was renewed on 18 June 2008. At that time, the HFEA's executive informed the licence committee that progress with the project had been hampered by the refurbishment of the laboratories and by the availability of good-quality eggs. The centre has recently received funding from the Medical Research Council that will enable it to develop its egg sharing for research programme and it is hoped that this will enable the research to progress at a faster pace.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Darzi of Denham: The scientific consensus is that it is too early to say what type of stem cell will be best for any particular clinical application. That is why the United Kingdom Government are and always have been supportive of the use of stem cells from all sources, including embryos, foetuses, adult tissue and umbilical cord.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: Progress continues to be made in many areas of stem cell research, including therapeutic cloning. However, it is impossible to predict when and if patients may benefit from any type of research. That is why the United Kingdom Government are and always have been supportive of the use of stem cells from all sources, including embryos, foetuses, adult tissue and umbilical cord.

Euro

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's Statement on the five-tests assessment in June 2003.

Fridges

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The European Commission published a proposal on 11 September to revise the current EC Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

The proposal makes no changes to the existing requirements to ban the use of virgin HCFCs in the maintenance and servicing of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment from 1 January 2010 and restates the further ban on the use of all HCFCs for such purposes from 1 January 2015.



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Government: Online Transactions

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Patel of Bradford: There are many different ways of securing communications between government departments and citizens. The appropriate method is adopted to suit the needs of the particular business. Such security and authentication regimes include measures such as: traditional cryptography, transport layer security, and X.509 server certificates as well as digital certificates. Many of the secure links between government departments use traditional cryptography which does not use certificates.

Where personal or sensitive information is exchanged electronically with a member of the public, this is usually secured through the use of the industry standard transport layer security (TSL) and an X.509 server certificate rather than using a HMG root certificate.

Central government departments with internet websites using personal or other sensitive information are required to implement appropriate protective measures. Normally, this would include the use of the industry standard transport layer security (TSL) one component of which would be an X.509 server certificate. In exceptional cases client certificates are also used.

Some public key certificates issued by the Government can be expected to be held overseas. For example, certificates relating to verifications of passports need to be held overseas in order to check the authenticity of UK passports.

Certificates issued to departments or their agencies contain no reference to individuals or their personal information. There is no requirement for these certificates to be treated confidentially.

Some certificates are issued to individuals and could contain personal information. In such instances, the handling of these certificates would need to comply with the relevant data protection principles.

Data stored in the UK and overseas must adhere to data protection legislation.



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Health: Physiotherapy

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Physiotherapists can already train to become supplementary prescribers, prescribing in partnership with a doctor.

The department has recently begun a scoping project to look at mechanisms for supply and prescribing of medicines by allied health professions.

Any profession that aspires to prescribe needs to have a robust business case, demonstrating strong benefits to patients, without compromising patient safety.

Housing: VAT

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): European VAT agreements allow member states the option to apply a reduced VAT rate, of not less than 5 per cent, to certain specified supplies of goods and services. These include the provision, construction, renovation and alteration of housing, as part of a social policy.

Where 5 per cent VAT rates are available for a given supply, the UK Government have applied these only where they provide the best-targeted and most cost-effective support for their objectives.

Consistent with this, as part of the Government's policy to increase the availability of housing stock by bringing substandard housing back into use, a 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT has been applied to the renovation of residential properties that have not been lived in for two years or more.

All taxes are kept under review and any changes in this area will be considered as part of the normal Budget process.

Immigration: Removal Centres

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Detention centre rules entitle every detained person to retain their personal property save where such retention is contrary to the interests of safety or security.

Ministry of Defence: Commercial Logistics Operations

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD intends to engage with key industry players and interested parties. A full assessment of the opportunity for commercial logistics operations to sit alongside MoD activities and utilise the Bicester rail infrastructure and locations will be made to determine if it offers value for money to the taxpayer.


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