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26 Nov 2008 : Column WA291



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Written Answers

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Agriculture: Hill Farm Allowance

Baroness Byford 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 on-going reconciliation work being carried out by the Rural Payments Agency suggests currently some 3,300 hill farm allowance claimants were overpaid for 2006 to a total overpayment value of around £1.5 million.

A proportion of these would be below a de-minimis repayment level.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Information about the number of hill farm allowance (HFA) claimants living on common land is not held by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

A total of 2,200 (31 per cent) HFA claimants have included some common land as part of their claim for 2009 HFA. The RPA can consider individual circumstances where it is necessary to recover overpayments.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: During 2006, and in order to effect swift payments, customers received hill farm allowance payments before single payment scheme claims had been fully validated. Claimants were advised of this at the time and the potential need for later correction.

The Rural Payments Agency has been working to reconcile and correct the data since.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The hill farm allowance (HFA) team at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is continuously working with other sections of the RPA to consider whether there is scope to offset outstanding underpayments under other schemes against HFA overpayments.

Agriculture: Small Businesses

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): There are two main definitions of a small company. First, there is a definition in the Companies Act 2006 that allows for companies that meet the criteria to benefit from simplified accounting requirements. These criteria are derived from the European Union (EU) fourth company law directive. Secondly, the EU has a definition that applies to all Community policies that favour small and medium-sized enterprises. This is the definition used when applying the EU's state aid rules. There are separate rules for the agricultural sector to reflect the specific challenges faced by small firms involved in agricultural production.

For both definitions the key criteria used are number of employees, turnover and annual balance sheet. There is no differentiation between business sectors; therefore, farms, horticultural enterprises and smallholdings that meet the necessary criteria would be deemed to be small businesses.

Assisted Dying

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): There is a consensus among clinical experts that accurate and effective use of strong opioid drugs to ease suffering does not cause a reduction in a patient's life expectancy: that is, there is no risk of harm if they are administered correctly.



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Banking

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): RBS Group plc, Lloyds TSB plc and HBOS Group plc have announced the terms on which they are participating in the Government's recapitalisation scheme. Details are set out in the placing and open offer agreements that were placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament on 18 November.

These banks are also eligible to use the Government's credit guarantee scheme (CGS). By the end of December, in total, participating banks will have accessed some £100 billion of funding under the CGS. Figures for individual banks are confidential.

Banking: Business Loans

Lord Chadlington asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): I regret the delay in responding to the noble Lord. I will write to him shortly to answer his Question and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.

Banking: Iceland

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): In line with usual constitutional arrangements, the UK Government will represent the Crown Dependencies in its negotiations with Iceland.

Arrangements for depositors in banks in the Isle of Man remain a matter for the Government of the Isle of Man. Deposits with Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man) will be subject to the Isle of Man Deposit Compensation Scheme.

Arrangements for depositors in banks in the Channel Islands are a matter for the Government of the Channel Islands.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme would pay compensation to eligible claimants up to the limit of £50,000 per person per authorised institution in the UK. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme does not cover deposits with banks outside the UK,

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other than deposits with branches of UK banks established in other EEA states under EEA rights. Other deposits, including those made by UK residents or by British citizens resident outside the UK, would be covered by any locally operated deposit-guarantee schemes.

Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man) is a subsidiary of the Icelandic bank, Kaupthing, and not a branch of a UK bank. Deposits are therefore covered by the guarantee scheme operating in the Isle of Man and not the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Myners: The FSA intensified its supervision of deposit-taking by Icelandic banks (including through increased contact with firms, more frequent visits and enhanced reporting requirements) from the beginning of 2008. As the economic situation deteriorated during the year, and particularly since September, the FSA worked increasingly with the banks concerned. As the Memorandum of Understanding between HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the FSA sets out, the FSA informs the tripartite of its concerns on a regular basis.

Arrangements relating to Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man) (KSF IOM) are a matter for the Government of the Isle of Man. KSF IOM is not a subsidiary of KSF in the UK, but of the Icelandic parent company. Oversight of KSF IOM is the responsibility of the Isle of Man’s Financial Supervision Commission, and deposits with KSF IOM will be subject to the Isle of Man's deposit compensation scheme.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Myners: The EC deposit guarantee scheme directive provides a framework through which depositors are able to claim compensation in the event of a bank default. All EEA (European Economic Area) member states must ensure that the deposit guarantee scheme directive is implemented in their territories. It will be up to the member state concerned to comply with the directive and ensure that its scheme has sufficient resources (whether through collecting levies from other firms, borrowing, pre-funding or a combination of those options) to pay all claims on it, including those from depositors in other member states.



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Banks: Charges

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): On 8 October this year, the Government announced a package of measures to support the stability of the financial system, protect ordinary consumers and businesses, and safeguard the interests of the taxpayer.

As part of their investment, the Government agreed a range of commitments with the banks supported by the recapitalisation scheme. These conditions are set out on the HM Treasury website at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_105_08.htm.

Bees

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): (a) An economic evaluation carried out by ADAS Consulting Ltd in 2001 estimated the value of honey bees to commercial pollination at approximately £120 million, although a recent reassessment taking into account changes in crop areas and values suggests that the value may have increased to some £165 million.

(b) There are estimated to be 44,000 beekeepers managing 274,000 colonies.

(c) The annual average honey harvest is 25-30Kg per colony but can be higher or lower depending on a number of factors. It is likely to be significantly lower this year because of the poor spring and summer weather and disease problems.

(d) The ADAS study estimated the total annual revenue for beekeepers to be £11.3 million from honey production, pollination fees and other sources. Using the numbers of beekeepers estimated in the study, commercial bee farmers had an average income from these activities of £6,500 per annum, while non-commercial beekeepers had an average income of £264 per annum.



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Benefits: Disability Living Allowance

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The maximum payment of disability living allowance that can be made to a person in a 52-week period is £5,915. This can be paid in addition to any income from other benefits or from employment.

Information on the main disabling condition of disability living allowance claimants is currently collated using one of 49 codes. Under this coding system, people with alcohol dependency are grouped together with those who are dependent on drugs and those with alcoholic liver disease. It is, therefore, not possible to disaggregate alcohol dependency from those other conditions.

From 20 October 2008 improvements in the use of information technology allowed the Department for Work and Pensions to expand the number of disability codes used for disability living allowance purposes to allow for a more detailed analysis of conditions, including the differentiation between those associated with dependency or abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Bloody Sunday: Saville Inquiry

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

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Government share the public concern about the recent delay to the report of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. The inquiry is independent of government and any decision on whether to publish such information would be a matter for the inquiry. Lord Saville informed Government of this delay in a letter dated 4 November 2008. Copies of the letter have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Northern Ireland Office has drawn the noble Lord's suggestion to the attention of the inquiry.

Children: Care

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Promoting the well-being of children is at the heart of the Children's Plan (2008) which sets out the Government's ambitions for children and their families over the next 10 years.

Under Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 local authorities and their relevant partners are required to co-operate to improve children's well-being. Well-being is defined in the 2004 Act in a way that reflects the five Every Child Matters outcomes, including physical and mental health, emotional well-being and protection from harm and neglect. Subsequently, the Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a duty on schools to promote the well-being of their pupils.

The Government have also introduced three measures of children's well-being in their local authority national indicator set, which is a reflection of the importance the Government attach to this issue.

One of those measures refers particularly to the emotional health of looked-after children as local authorities are under a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of these children. In 2007 the Government published an ambitious reform programme in the Care Matters White Paper, which seeks to improve outcomes for looked-afterchildren. Measures to improve looked-after children's well-being are at the heart of this programme and include new statutory guidance on the health of looked-after children, which will emphasise the centrality of promoting well-being to ensuring successful outcomes for these children.


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