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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): There is no proposal to introduce an EU tax. The Government believe that taxation is a matter for member states to determine at a national level.
Whether they will investigate the Housing Corporation's treatment of the black and minority ethnic-led Presentation Housing Association, or ask the Equality and Human Rights Commission to do so. [HL6220]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government have no plans to investigate the actions of the Housing Corporation in relation to Presentation Housing Association, which it has placed under regulatory supervision.
If it appears to the Housing Corporation that there may have been misconduct or mismanagement, the corporation may direct an inquiry into the affairs of a registered social landlord (RSL). Where, as a result of that inquiry, the corporation is satisfied that there has been misconduct or mismanagement, or that the management of the RSL's land would be improved if it were transferred, the corporation may direct such a transfer. The consent of the Secretary of State, under paragraph 27 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1996, is required for such a direction to transfer. It would not therefore be appropriate for the Government to comment on any individual case, as doing so might be held to pre-empt any decision that the Secretary of State may subsequently be required to take.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission can conduct formal inquiries where it appears to the commission that there are persistent inequalities, human rights or good relations issues that need highlighting. It can also conduct formal investigations where there is evidence of unlawful discrimination.
Schedule 1 to the Equality Act 2006 states that the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of ensuring that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is under as few constraints as reasonably possible in determining (a) its activities; (b) its timetables; and (c) its priorities. It is therefore up to the commission to decide whether to take action in any particular case.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 30 October (WA 120) regarding the western Orissa rural livelihoods project, what were the income levels in the target communities (a) in 2000, and (b) at the most recent date for which figures are available. [HL6104]
Lord Tunnicliffe: In the areas covered by the western Orissa rural livelihoods project, the average household income in the financial year 2000-01 was Rs 14,803 per year (about £185 at current exchange rates). The average household income rose to Rs 24,811 per year (£310 at current exchange rates) in the financial year 2006-07. This represents an increase of about 67 per cent over a period of six years.
Whether the Phorm/121 Media technology tested by BT creates literal copies and adaptations of copyright-protected works in transmission without a licence for the purposes of Sections 107 and 110 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. [HL4868]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) sets out a number of exclusive rights for copyright owners. These rights include the right to prevent the unauthorised copying of all or a
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Whether there has been any infringement of the copyright will depend on the facts of that particular case and is a matter for the courts to determine, not the Government. Copyright owners and enforcement agencies can seek to take action if they consider that an infringement has occurred.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) does not provide assistance directly to the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. DfID's assistance to the development of civil society and the protection of minorities in Kurdistan is delivered through the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Through its nationwide IMPACT programme in Kurdistan, UNICEF is training 75 programme managers and health workers from hard-to-reach districts, distributing midwifery and obstetrical kits to areas that contain many internally displaced people (IDPs) and conducting technical assessments of the impact on wells of the drought currently affecting northern Iraq. WFP is distributing food to IDPs across Kurdistan as part of its nationwide food distribution programme.
The ICRC and UNHCR have both provided assistance, in the form of blankets, heaters, jerry cans, cooking tools, plastic sheeting and food to people who are living in tent camps, having returned to Kurdistan from being refugees in neighbouring countries. IOM has provided them with emergency fuel. In the wake of the flash flood that occurred in Choman district in September, IOM also provided to 100 IDPs assistance, which included kerosene heaters, stoves, water tanks and generators.
What information has been provided to government auditors by the Northern Ireland Office concerning the possible double payment of income tax by members of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission; and what response there has been from the auditors. [HL6138]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: In accordance with the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 as amended by the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 (Accounts and Audit) Order 1998, the Comptroller and Auditor-General examines, certifies and reports on the Parades Commission's financial statements. While I can confirm that the Northern Ireland Office has not double-paid Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) any employer-based taxes, the commissioners' personal liability for income tax and national insurance is a matter for the individuals and HMRC. HMRC will not disclose information to a third party concerning an individual's tax position.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Crawley on 22 July (WA 276) concerning the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, why the information was not provided instead of placing reports in the House of Lords Library; and what is their practice on when to place documents in the Library. [HL6301]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The information was not provided because it was already available in the public domain. Unless there is a statutory requirement to place a document in the Library, consideration is given on a case-by-case basis.
What assistance they are giving, through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations, to Palestinian refugees from 1948 living in Bourj al-Barajneh and other camps in Lebanon; and what political and diplomatic efforts are being made to improve the rights and prospects of those refugees. [HL5727]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The UK Government support Palestinian refugees in the Lebanon through diplomatic engagement and through supporting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the United Nations. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is funding over £3 million-worth of projects over the next three years, including with NGOs. These projects focus on support for Palestinians in the Lebanon and cover a range of issues, including education and vocational training.
The Department for International Development (DfID) is providing £100 million over five years from 2007 to support the operations of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the region. UNRWA spends approximately 20 per cent of its budget in the Lebanon. In this financial year (2008-09), DfID has provided £19 million to UNRWA, of which £3.8 million is estimated to be for Palestinian refugees in the Lebanon.
The UK Government engage with the Lebanese Government through the British embassy in Beirut. The embassy has regular discussions with the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, in the Prime Minister's Office, which is responsible for co-ordinating relief efforts, and with UNRWA. The Foreign Secretary raised the issue of Palestinians during his visit to the Lebanon in June 2008. Ministers have also raised the issue of camps with their Lebanese counterparts.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 15 October (WA 5355), how long undetermined applications may remain with the relevant deciding authorities before they are deemed invalid. [HL6155]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): If an applicant fails to provide the necessary environmental information required by the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Mineral Permissions and Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 within the required time period, planning permission is automatically suspended until such time as all the required information is provided. Further working of the mineral operations will then be a breach of planning control. Should the environmental information continue not to be provided, following suspension of two years the mineral planning authority will be under a duty to make a prohibition order ceasing those parts of the planning permission covered by the failure to provide that information.
Where all the required environment information has been provided and a mineral planning authority fails to determine the relevant application within 16 weeks of receipt of that information, the applicant will have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State on the basis of non-determination.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Race equality councils are independent charitable bodies and are not accountable to government. The Government have not made any formal assessment of the impact of race equality councils on their local areas.
Whether they have received advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about positive action to overcome any institutional racism in the United Kingdom's political bodies and among poor white communities; and, if so, what action is proposed. [HL6265]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): We have received no formal advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission regarding positive action. Both in its response to the government Green Paper A Framework for Fairness on our plans to introduce a new Equality Bill and in the course of regular meetings with officials, the commission has identified its position with regard to positive action. However, that position does not include any specific reference to institutional racism, either as a separate entity or as it may relate to political bodies or poor white communities.
The Government have already announced their intention to use the forthcoming Equality Bill to broaden the scope of voluntary positive action measures that can be taken to the full extent allowed by European law. Those positive action measures will be open to a wide range of bodies, such as political parties, service providers, employers and public authorities, to use on a voluntary basis.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): No assessment has been made. Decisions on bonuses are a matter for Network Rail's independent remuneration committee. Bonuses are determined against key performance indicator targets set by the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in accordance with condition 28 of Network Rail's network licence.
As part of the ORR's Periodic Review 2008 final determinations, published on 30 October, the ORR announced that it would conclude in December its analysis of the results of its industry consultation on proposed changes to Network Rail's network licence to strengthen the company's accountability. The ORR will then undertake the required statutory consultation to enable the implementation of the changes from 1 April 2009.
The ORR proposes in future to require Network Rail's remuneration committee to be more transparent in its executive bonus decision-making process and to explain how it has taken into account input from third parties such as the ORR.
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