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To ask Her Majesty's Government why bankers recruited by the Government into UK Financial Investments Ltd to manage the state's £37 billion stake in retail banks will be eligible for bonus payments. [HL1393]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Some element of performance-related pay is now the norm in the great majority of organisations in both the public and private sectors. UK Financial Investments will be no exception to this, and as with other publicly funded organisations all remuneration arrangements must deliver value for money for the taxpayer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 9 February (WA 163) concerning the Belfast agreement of 1998, what was agreed concerning the transparency and accountability of cross-border implementation bodies. [HL1540]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The accountability arrangements for the operation of the north/south implementation bodies are set out in the agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland who established the implementation bodies on 8 March 1999. The operation of the bodies is a matter for the devolved authorities in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): British and Mauritian Government officials met in London on Wednesday 14 January 2009. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a dialogue between the UK and Mauritius on the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) as agreed
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Officials discussed the latest legal and policy developments relating to BIOT. British officials set out the view of the UK on sovereignty and how the United Kingdom had to bear in mind its treaty obligations with the USA. Mauritian officials set out the view of Mauritius on sovereignty. There were discussions on fishing rights, environmental concerns, the continental shelf, future visits to the territory by the Chagossians and respective policies towards resettlement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Government do not hold data that indicate which local authorities have specialised services to address the effects of domestic violence on children. Local authority children's services are best placed to assess the type and levels of support required. Therefore the provision of local services must be determined locally, based on local need and priorities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to assign each child a lifetime number and keep a permanent record of school achievements, exclusions and expulsions for access by potential employers; and, if so, what is the reason. [HL1473]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Department for Children, Schools and Families is not planning on assigning a lifetime child number for employers to access records of school achievements, exclusions and expulsions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Government do not collect data that indicate which local authorities have dedicated support workers for children in refuges. The provision of local services must be determined locally, by local authorities, based on local need and priorities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): We have no plans at present to undertake research into the sexual exploitation of children and young people by other children and young people.
At present, the Government consider that geo-engineering options are speculative. It is important, though, to keep them under review, particularly those that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as geo-engineering might ultimately have a role to play in helping to ameliorate climate change; particularly if emissions reductions are not achieved quickly enough or climate change turns out to be worse than projected.
The Government thus have no plans at present for funding any significant research on geo-engineering. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has however been funding, as part of the Integrated Climate Programme at the Met Office Hadley Centre, a small set of modelling studies on the impacts of geo-engineering options on the climate system, to help assess their environmental implications.
Research Councils are funded by DIUS but under the Haldane principle they set their own detailed research priorities. The Natural Environment Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council support a wide range of research that is relevant to geo-engineering, particularly in the areas of climate dynamics, which helps us understand potential environmental effects of large-scale geo-engineering, and carbon capture and storage, an accepted way of removing atmospheric carbon dioxide, at source.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in 2008 they hosted a reception on their property in Hillsborough, County Down, for Co-operation Ireland; and, if so, why; when; how much it cost; and who organised it. [HL1284]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: On 24 November 2008, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland hosted a reception to mark the retirement of Tony Kennedy as chief executive of Co-operation Ireland and the appointment of Peter Sheridan as the new chief executive. The event, attended by over 300 guests, was organised by the Northern Ireland Office at a total cost of £5,736.35.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to (a) review the administration of money laundering regulations, and (b) simplify the regulations so far as they affect law-abiding citizens. [HL1043]
To help interpret the requirements of the regulations within the UK's specific context and to avoid prescriptive application, HM Government employ a risk-based approach to implementation. This enables businesses to apply simplified customer checks in many situations, to have discretion over how they verify customers' identities, and to rely upon customer checks already
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In the Treasury's consultation on the regulations, it committed to reviewing their implementation after a period of two years. It is intended that this review will coincide with a review of the underlying third money-laundering directive by the European Commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 21 January (WA 204), whether they are pressing the European Union to schedule the next round of political dialogue with Cuba at an early date; and whether the conditions and welfare of political prisoners of all religious faiths will be on the agenda. [HL1245]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Discussions to schedule the next meeting of the political dialogue are ongoing between the EU and Cuba. As human rights is a central element of the EU common position on Cuba and the dialogue itself, we will push for it to be included at the next meeting.
The UK/EU takes every opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the Cuban Government. During Cuba's universal periodic review, at the UN Human Rights Council on 5 February 2009, the UK made a statement expressing concern about the continued detention of more than 50 political prisoners and called on Cuba to end restrictions on freedom of expression and association.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they hold regarding the dates of requests by the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture for an invitation to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the dates of the replies. [HL1166]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We have been informed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the special rapporteur on torture has not requested a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the time being.
The special rapporteur on internally displaced persons visited the DRC in January and briefed the UN Human Rights Office and the Diplomatic Corps. His visit focused on a wide range of human rights abuses. The group of special rapporteurs for the DRC is expected
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To ask Her Majesty's Government following the announcement that Personal, Social and Health Education could become a statutory part of the curriculum for key stages one to four, how Sir Alasdair MacDonald will involve young people in his review of this proposal to ensure he takes their needs into account. [HL1403]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): We have asked Sir Alasdair MacDonald as part of his review to consult with young people, parents, schools, communities and other key stakeholders to find the most effective way forward. He is taking evidence from young people through a variety of forms, including meetings, written evidence, school visits and focus groups, to ensure that their needs are taken into account.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Our objective is for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be a world leader in addressing discrimination, promoting equality and harnessing differences as an employer, service provider and principal deliverer of UK foreign policy. There are a number of ways in which we do this.
As an employer, we aim to recruit people from different backgrounds, in order to make better policy. We also promote and use equality impact tools to ensure major policies and initiatives do not have a disproportionately negative impact on any of our staff.
As a service provider, we aim to ensure that diverse groups and their needs are catered for in contingency planning and ensure that our partners subscribe to the same expectations of behaviour as we do.
Finally, as a developer and deliverer of UK foreign policy goals, we work to promote anti-discrimination measures in other countries through promoting implementation of international conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also provide financial and technical support for programmes that target underrepresented or marginalised groups both through our human rights strategic programme
24 Feb 2009 : Column WA41
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Work on the new agreement to succeed the current EU-Israel Action Plan is being taken forward by the European Commission, the presidency and Israel. These discussions have been delayed by the events in Gaza. There is no formal timetable going forward, but we expect discussions to resume shortly. Once the Commission, presidency and Israel have made progress on the detail, there will be further discussion between Member States.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their policies on reducing child poverty do not include a policy to reduce the number of single-parent families through information, motivation and support for two-parent families. [HL1438]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Government's policies on reducing child poverty cover all children at risk of being in poverty, which includes two-parent as well as single-parent families. As part of this comprehensive approach, we provide targeted support for families who are separating or are at risk of doing so. As part of our measures to combat child poverty, we announced in December that £5.5 million would be available between 2009 and 2011 for new pilots to better co-ordinate local support for separating parents.
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