Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA61

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA61

Written Answers

Thursday 18 December 2008

Airports: Security


Asked by Lord Hanningfield

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Aviation security is regulated under the national aviation security programme (NASP), and subject to inspections by both UK and EC transport security inspectors. Continual dialogue takes place on issues across a range of NASP measures and appropriate rectification action is taken where necessary.

Both in the past year and month, transport security inspectors have had a series of discussions at all those airports. This routine dialogue is both as a result of issues identified as well as ongoing efforts to enhance further airport security. It is not appropriate for obvious reasons to discuss the details.

Alcohol: Misuse


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Diageo plc gave a detailed response to the Government’s recent public consultation on alcohol and a copy of their response has been placed in the Library.

A report on the consultation, summarising responses to the consultation, was published on 3 December and will be used by Ministers to support decision-making on future policy, legislation and service provision intended to reduce alcohol harm.

The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health jointly announced on 3 December that the Government intend to introduce legislation to create and enforce a mandatory code of practice for alcohol retailing. More than 90 per cent of respondents to our consultation supported a mandatory code. An independent review, carried out by KPMG, on behalf of the Home Office, found that many retailers were not abiding by voluntary standards for the responsible selling and marketing of alcohol.

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA62

On 5 November, I announced a new Alcohol Improvement Programme providing tools and support for National Health Service primary care trusts in reducing alcohol harms.

Further announcements on issues in the consultation such as the inclusion of health and unit information in advertising and the outcome of future monitoring of the voluntary agreement on alcohol labelling will be made in due course.

Armed Forces: Aircraft


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We remain fully committed to the carrier project and the contract which we signed in July 2008 for manufacture of the two ships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Asked by Lord James of Blackheath

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: A one to two-year delay to the Future Carrier programme will be integrated into the plans that have been established to allow for the recruitment and training of a full ship's company for both vessels, but is unlikely to have a material impact.



Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): As a matter of course, HM Treasury does not comment on individual financial institutions.

Banking: Bank of Ireland


Asked by Lord Laird

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA63

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): As a matter of course, HM Treasury does not comment on hypothetical situations.

Business Support


Asked by Baroness Noakes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Business Payment Support Service started offering help to businesses from the afternoon of 24 November 2008. It is a demand-led service offered to viable businesses in temporary financial difficulties as a result of the current economic conditions. The amount of tax payments spread through this service and the length of time it will be needed will depend on the needs of business. HM Revenue and Customs will not charge additional late payment surcharges on tax payments which are spread, although interest will continue to be payable on those taxes where it applies.

Crime: Drink Driving


Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The consultation paper, Combating Drink Driving: Next Steps, published in 1998, includes at Annex 2 an estimate of the effect on road casualties of amending the legal limit, including an explanation of the assumptions and exceptions it made. I explained in the House on 11 December (Official Report, col. 483)why we consider that additional information is required to make an appropriate assessment. Our consultation document, Road Safety Compliance Consultation, published on 20 November, summarises at paragraph 3.60 the various measures we are taking

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA64

to gather additional evidence. It says that our intention is to review the new evidence in the course of finalising our road safety strategy beyond 2010.

The main elements of new work we have in hand are:

analysis of data from new digital screening equipment, including new information on the involvement in accidents of drivers below the present limit;a drink-drive prevalence survey; andother quantitative and qualitative research to paint a clearer picture of those who do drink and drive, and the circumstances in which they do so.

The consultation document also invites those consulted to contribute additional evidence they have, or which they think should be considered.

Crime: Fuel Laundering


Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Since 1 January there have been six convictions for the offence of being knowingly concerned in the evasion of duty for the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down. This figure relates to both smuggling and laundering of fuel.

Criminal investigation and prosecution for smuggling and laundering of fuel form only one part of HMRC's approach to tackling oils fraud in Northern Ireland, together with the investigation/prosecution of wider oils excise offences, combined with a strong regulatory control system and civil penalties regime.

Crime: Property


Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The information available is as follows. A total of £135.7 million of criminal proceeds were recovered in 2007-08. An additional £33.2 million was recovered in the period April-June 2008.

Development Aid


Asked by Baroness Northover

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA65

Lord Tunnicliffe: In its policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict (2007) the Department for International Development (DfID) states its commitment to ensuring that all our development work is conflict-sensitive. For some time now, we have used Strategic Conflict Assessments and other analytical tools to improve our understanding of the interaction between our activities and the potential for violent conflict. Evidence shows this approach reduces the potential harm of development assistance and makes the most of potential benefits.

But we recognise the need to do more. DfID is currently piloting internal conflict audits which examine the conflict sensitivity of existing development programmes. We are also strengthening staff skills and capacities for working in conflict, and developing a series of guidance papers on Effective Working in Situations of Conflict and Fragility. We have recently funded a consortium of NGOs to lead a £2.1 million project to develop best practice on conflict sensitivity.

DfID promotes sustainable security through direct programming and by integrating security issues into poverty reduction programmes. Conflict sensitivity is incorporated into all of our security and justice work—and increasingly so into our development assistance in countries affected by conflict.

The policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict is available on the DfID website at

Disabled People: UN Convention


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government's intention is to achieve ratification at the earliest practicable opportunity. We have made considerable progress since the then Minister for Disabled People's Parliamentary Written Statement of 6 May (Hansard ref col. 29WS) which identified the issues under consideration. I am pleased to say that no reservations or declarations will be required in respect of aspects of mental health legislation; choice of place of residence; and cultural services. The Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Department for Children Schools and Families are finalising the terms of their reservations and/or declarations in respect of service in the Armed Forces, immigration and citizenship and the provision of special education. My department is considering whether there is a need for a reservation in respect of Article 12 (legal capacity) and the review of arrangements for benefit appointees. Given the steps that remain, our ambition is to ratify this convention in the spring of 2009. The time from signature to ratification of similar conventions by the UK varies considerably, and is on average four years, but we plan to ratify this convention in two years.

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA66

Energy: Street Lighting


Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The provision of street lighting on local roads is a matter for individual local authorities.

The Highways Agency policies are designed for their network. Local authorities' highways networks will be more varied and each authority will have to take account of their own circumstances. Guidance on the reduction of obtrusive light is published by the Institution of Lighting Engineers on their website .

EU: Taxation


Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Davies of Oldham: The earlier Question to which the noble Lord refers related to the financing of the European Community (EC) Budget and, specifically, whether there would be a shift from financing via national contributions, as now, to a system whereby proceeds from a direct ELI tax went directly to the Community.

In that context, while a notional level of national value added tax (VAT) receipts is one element in determining member states' contributions to the EC Budget, how such contributions are actually financed is entirely a matter for member states to decide. There are no national tax revenues hypothecated to finance the EC Budget: all VAT receipts accrue to the Exchequer.

As far as the structure and rates of specific taxes are concerned, these are generally a matter for member states. In relation to VAT, rules on some aspects of tax structure and minimum rates of taxation have been agreed by the Council of Ministers by unanimity with a view to ensuring the smooth functioning of the single market, in line with the provisions of Article 93 of the treaty establishing the European Community.

The most significant obligations taken on by the UK in relation to VAT occurred in 1973, in the UK's accession to the then European Economic Community, and as part of the 1993 package of measures relating to the completion of the internal market.

18 Dec 2008 : Column WA67

Changes to EC VAT agreements are subject to the unanimous agreement of all member states. The Government have always made clear that the UK will not agree to any proposals that would harm our social objectives or undermine the fairness of the UK VAT system.

Fire and Rescue Service: Firebuy


Asked by Lord Brookman

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): It is not general practice for the reports of gateway reviews to be made more widely available. Firebuy has decided not to publish this gateway review.



Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Apart from the social benefits noted in my Answer to the noble Lord's earlier Question on this subject, in Official Report, for 1 October 2007, col. WA162, sales of social housing generate capital receipts which are available for reinvestment in social housing.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page