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Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government have no plans to do so.

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Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Bach: Section 6(3)(b) of the Human Rights Act states that “public authority” includes “any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature”. The most recent judicial guidance on the interpretation of functions of a public nature in Section 6(3)(b) of the Human Rights Act was given by the Appellate Committee in the case of YL v Birmingham City Council and others[2007] UKHL 27. The specific circumstances of that case were addressed by the further provision in Section 145 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, which is now in force.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Bach: Any person or body that satisfies the conditions under Section 7 of the Human Rights Act—in particular being a “victim” for the purposes of Section 7(1)—may bring proceedings under that section of the Act.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Bach: Legal persons may already benefit from the convention rights in so far as it makes sense for them to do so. Section 7(7) of the Human Rights Act states that a person is a victim of an unlawful act only if he would be a victim for the purposes of Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights if proceedings were brought in the European Court of Human Rights in respect of that unlawful act. Article 34 of the convention states that the European Court of Human Rights may receive applications from any person, from non-governmental organisations or from groups of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation of the convention rights.

India: Orissa


Asked by Lord Harries of Pentregarth

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): An EU delegation, which included a representative from our High Commission

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in New Delhi, visited Orissa between 9 and 12 December 2008 to assess the latest situation. They observed that the situation in Orissa remained sensitive, tense and unsettled and that some of those affected by the violence had still not returned to their homes. However, the delegation received assurances from the Orissa State Director General of Police that all measures had been taken to prevent and suppress any repetition of the violence that took place in 2007 and 2008. The EU presidency also wrote to the Indian Government to reiterate EU concerns on this issue. Our High Commission and its EU partners in New Delhi continue to monitor the situation closely.

Inherited Estates


Asked by Baroness Turner of Camden

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The regulation of insurance inherited estates is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which sets the rules covering the management of with-profits funds.



Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Patel of Bradford: As stated in the Written Ministerial Statement by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 16 December (Official Report, col. WS 113), an estimated 95,000 pensioners have been overpaid. Full details of the position of each individual affected are not yet available, so it is not possible to say what will be the maximum percentage reduction in pension payments from the correction. When schemes write to individual pensioners with the details, the letters will contain information prepared by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This will list DWP benefits with brief details on eligibility criteria and contact information. Departments responsible for the schemes affected and DWP are seeking to identify customers who may be more vulnerable, and exploring what additional support could be provided.

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Prison: Ex-Servicemen


Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The information requested is not available. Data from nationally representative surveys of some 2,000 sentenced prisoners near release conducted in 2001, 2003 and 2004 showed the proportion of prisoners who had previously served in the Armed Forces in those years as 6 per cent, 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

We are currently exploring with the Ministry of Defence ways to better identify the number of veterans currently serving prison sentences as well as the factors associated with their offending. A number of options are currently being assessed.

Railways: Cross-country


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The decision to withdraw this service was made after analysing passenger and capacity demand. The withdrawal of this service has resulted in three sections of track in west London no longer being served by franchised passenger services.

The Department for Transport is not proposing to discontinue passenger services over these sections of track and is currently looking at demand to ascertain the frequency of train services over these sections of track. Therefore, initiation of the closure procedure under Section 24 was not appropriate.

Railways: Engineering


Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government have made no such assessment. This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The noble Baroness should contact Network Rail's chief executive at the following address for a response to her Question: lain Coucher, Chief Executive, Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.

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Road Pricing


Asked by Lord Hanningfield

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government have not given any guidance to their contractors in the demonstrations project on where to carry out the road-user trials in the project. As part of the trials, the volunteers will be driving anywhere in England and Wales but we will also require a focus on the extent of driving within up to 15 local authority boundaries selected by the contractor, forming no more than two contiguous groups.

There are no powers for local authorities to permit or refuse permission for any legitimate use of roads for which they are responsible, including for research activity such as this.

As the actual location of the trial activity has no bearing on the results from the project, there is no reason for the Government to consult local authorities whose boundaries happen to be used for the project. Neither have we required that the contractors themselves should consult those local authorities.

Security Sector Reform


Asked by Baroness Northover

Lord Brett: In financial year 2007-08, the Government spent over £31 million in support of security sector reform (SSR) initiatives in developing countries, both through the Department for International Development (DfID) and through the Conflict Prevention Pools (CPP). During this period we funded over 40 SSR programmes in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, many of which span several years.

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At a global level, DfID has played a leading role in improving the international community's approach to SSR. We led the development of new SSR guidelines in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which were launched in April 2008.

Examples of the Government's SSR programmes include:

the Democratic Republic of Congo, where DfID is establishing a £70 million, five-year security sector accountability and police programme;Sierra Leone, where DfID assisted the police to ensure that free and fair elections could take place in 2007; andMalawi, where DfID-funded work has improved the awareness, quality and availability of justice services for the poor, particularly women, children and the vulnerable in Malawi.

DfID is committed through its 2008-11 departmental strategic objectives to increase spend on programmes that improve security and access to justice for the poor in priority countries. DfID has already increased its spending by £7 million, from £31 million in 2007-08 to a projected £38 million in 2008-09.

Shipping: Ferry Operators


Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): On 24 October 2008 marine surveyors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued a formal improvement notice to the MV CANNA requiring the training of its crew in the carriage of dangerous goods and observance of its document of compliance.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Lord Adonis: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) carries out compliance checks on heavy goods vehicles at or close to ports throughout the country. In planning checks VOSA takes into account volumes of traffic through each port and the rates of non-compliance. In the first half of the current financial year (April-September 2008) over half of the vehicles checked at Dalar Hir near Holyhead were issued with prohibition notices for mechanical defects, drivers' hours' irregularity or overloading. A similar proportion of vehicles were checked near Liverpool docks with similar rates of offending.

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Transport: Buses and Coaches


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Department for Transport is currently preparing an initial impact assessment on the European Commission's proposal for a new regulation on bus and coach passenger rights. The department will shortly be consulting on the proposal to help inform the Government's position and it is intended that the initial impact assessment will form part of that consultation. Any operator will be able to respond to the consultation, and the department will be seeking the views of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the trade association for the bus and coach industry, that represents both small and large operators. An Explanatory Memorandum (EM 16933/08) on the proposal was submitted to Parliament on 13 January 2009. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Transport: Schemes


Asked by Lord Smith of Leigh

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The department has already announced an extra £700 million to be brought forward and spent on capital projects as part of the Government's fiscal stimulus package. This included £300 million on the procurement of diesel units as part of the department's high-level output specification for Britain's railways and £100 million on improvements to the A46.

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Further to that, the department has announced details on spending of up to £6 billion to increase capacity on Britain's road network.

Capital is allocated after careful consideration is given to the risks involved, the economic benefits on offer and on value for money.

United Nations Special Representative


Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK fully supports the proposal to move the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Somalia (UN SRSG) and his office from Nairobi to Mogadishu, when security conditions allow. We would look at what assistance we could provide at that time.

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