|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Government are monitoring the market for high-cost credit closely, including through the new Consumer Finance Forum, chaired by Gareth Thomas, the Minister for Consumer Affairs. Our analysis suggests that lenders within this sector are beginning to support higher income groups or having to leave the market altogether because of their own financing difficulties. This is putting low-income groups at risk of being forced into the hands of illegal money lenders. We have established dedicated illegal money-lending teams across the UK to tackle this criminal activity, but we also want to avoid further restricting access to credit for these more vulnerable groups. The Government are not persuaded of the case for an interest rate cap because of the risk it will force more low-income consumers into the hands of illegal lenders. This view was supported by the Competition Commission in its market investigation of the home credit sector.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): It is the responsibility of local highway authorities to assess the effectiveness of measures to improve the safety of cyclists in their areas.
The department has also just commissioned an evaluation of all 12 of the new cycling demonstration city and towns. The evaluation will assess outcomes under all of the DfT Delivering a Sustainable Transport System (DaSTS)/Towards a Sustainable Transport System(TaSTS) goals, including safety. We expect the evaluation to report in autumn 2012.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Government have reviewed the current framework and coverage of employment rights, including those for temporary and agency workers, to see if they were appropriate and fair and supported the aim of high participation in work. In March 2006 the outcome was published in our policy document Success at Work; protecting vulnerable workers, supporting good employers. We concluded that the existing framework met the labour market's current needs and there was no immediate need for further legislation in this area.
This remains our view. We will, however, be launching a consultation in the near future on the implementation of the EU Agency Worker's Directive, which will,
17 Mar 2009 : Column WA22
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial provision they are making in (a) the current financial year, and (b) 200910, for informing migrant and temporary workers of their employment rights and entitlements, through citizens advice bureaux, churches and community centres, and other bodies. [HL1683]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Government are spending £1.2 million in this financial year on an awareness campaign to inform vulnerable workers, including migrant and temporary workers, about their employment rights. As part of this campaign, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is working with grassroots organisations, such as churches, mosques, community centres, and citizens advice bureaux, to distribute information and literature. We plan to invest a further £2.5 million on this campaign in each of 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The Government have also spent £95,000 in this financial year on raising awareness of the national minimum wage among migrant workers through outreach work, posters and online activity. This has included working with the Polish, Lithuanian and Slovakian press in the UK, and working with various community organisations.
Baroness Vadera: If migrants come into the UK from outside the EU on a work-based migration route it is on the understanding that they are self-sufficient, so the question of being in an underclass does not arise.
While in work, temporary and migrant workers make an important contribution to the national economy; we will not tolerate employers who exploit such workers. We continuously monitor the impact of our strategy to protect vulnerable workers, as set out in our policy statement Success at WorkProtecting Vulnerable Workers, Supporting Good Employers (March 2006). Most recently, we have implemented the measures emerging from the Vulnerable Workers Enforcement Forum, including a campaign on the employment rights for which Parliament has legislated targeting
17 Mar 2009 : Column WA23
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): There is currently no legislation which provides for such compensation. However, under certain circumstances, employees who are laid off may be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment from their employer. Information about these payments is available on the www.businesslink.gov.uk and www.direct.gov.uk websites. Employees who are laid off or on short-time working may be able to claim jobseekers allowance for a limited period and should contact Jobcentre Plus about eligibility.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 3 March (WA 139), what improvements in participation and reduced discrimination for black and ethnic minority groups can be directly attributed to Public Service Agreement 15 (Equality). [HL1940]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Government Equalities Office is the lead department for Public Service Agreement (PSA) 15 and reports on progress in delivering this PSA in its departmental reports. Success in relation to civic participation and workplace discrimination is measured through statistical indicators informed by data from the citizenship survey. For both of these indicators, baselines have been set but it is too early to assess progress against them.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether asbestos cement roofing material, in use throughout the United Kingdom, is also regarded as a hazardous waste under European Union rules in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. [HL1918]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Asbestos is classified as a hazardous waste in the European Waste Catalogue (EWC), which applies throughout the European Union.
Although member states may decide to classify as non-hazardous any of the hazardous wastes listed in the EWC, they can only do this where they consider that the waste does not display any of the hazardous properties listed in Annex III to the Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC). They must notify the European Commission of such proposed changes, and other member states would then be consulted about whether such a change should be made to the EWC.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Davies of Abersoch): Our consulate-general in Jerusalem and our embassy in Tel Aviv have been in regular contact with British Gas Group regarding the natural gas resources off the coast of Gaza since British Gas Group first began exploration in 1999. Discussions have also taken place in the past year with the Cabinet Office and UK Trade and Investment. The most recent meeting on this matter was between the head of UK Trade and Investment at the British consulate-general in Jerusalem and representatives of British Gas Group in December 2008.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the British Gas Group concerning the agreement to sell natural gas from the Gazan gas field to Israel via a pipeline to Ashkelon. [HL1710]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received about the renegotiation of the agreement made by the British Gas Group to sell natural gas from the Gazan gas field to Israel via a pipeline to Ashkelon following Israel's military action in Gaza. [HL1711]
No agreements have been reached. BG Group negotiates directly with the Israel Electric Company and waits for the new government Cabinet to be formed in order to take the negotiations to higher levels. The issue of transferring the Gaza gas from the field to Ashkelon following the military action in Gaza has not been agreed on yet.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to encouraging the involvement of the authorities in Gaza in the negotiations on the agreement made by the British Gas Group to sell natural gas from the Gazan gas field to Israel via a pipeline to Ashkelon. [HL1712]
Lord Davies of Abersoch: No such agreement exists. The competent Palestinian organisations are the Palestine Investment Fund and the Palestinian Energy Authority. The UK does not recognise the legitimacy of the current authorities in Gaza.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 24 February (WA 50), what are the reasons for the delay in announcing the timetable for the start and completion of their second consultation on measures to comply with the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst (No 2) and with the obligation imposed on the United Kingdom by Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights to comply with the Court's final judgment. [HL1868]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government remain committed to a two-stage consultation process in response to the Hirst (No 2) judgment. This is a sensitive and complex issue, and we must take account of a wide spectrum of opinion, as well as the practical implications for the courts, prison authorities and the conduct of elections. The solution that we reach must respect the court's judgment, whilst reflecting the traditions and context of the United Kingdom.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to give effect to the convention right of prisoners to vote in the next general election in accordance with the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst (No 2). [HL1869]
In response, the UK Government have undertaken the first stage of a two-stage consultation. The Government will consider their proposals for implementing the judgment following the second-stage public consultation, to which they are committed. It would be premature to formulate proposals before the second consultation has been completed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 28 January (WA 62) concerning the payment of bonuses to officials of the Northern Ireland Office, why the non-consolidated performance element of pay for staff at grades D2 to A is less than one seventeenth of that for the senior Civil Service. [HL1330]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The SCS reward arrangements are managed centrally by the Cabinet Office and are based on recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body, including the size of the non-consolidated performance-related pot. The reward arrangements for staff below SCS are delegated to individual departments, and agreed with HM Treasury, including that element of the pay bill which can be used for bonuses.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a requirement that all funding allocated to staff bonuses for the Northern Ireland Office should be spent in the year for which that allocation has been made; and what happens to funding that remains unspent. [HL1433]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Government's response to the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body determines the maximum amount which can be spent on non-consolidated performance bonuses for senior Civil Service staff in particular years. This amount is expressed in terms of a percentage of the senior civil service pay bill which may only be used in recognition of performance during the year in question and cannot be used for any other purpose.
For staff at grade A and below, an element of the annual pay remit must be used to recognise performance. At present the amount which can be spent on non-consolidated performance bonuses and special bonuses
17 Mar 2009 : Column WA27
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 27 February (WA 114), why the Department of Communities and Local Government does not keep a separate record of the number of petitions they receive, the text of them and the number of signatories; and why they do not publicise on their website details of the petitions they receive and the actions taken on them. [HL1895]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 27 February (WA 114), whether they will introduce to the Department of Communities and Local Government the proposals set out for local authorities in Part 1 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill to notify a petition organiser in writing of what steps the department has taken or proposes to take in response to the petition and its reasons for doing so. [HL1896]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 27 February (WA 114) indicating that a letter is normally sent to the originator of a petition confirming receipt, what criteria are applied in deciding whether to send such a letter; and what proportion of petitions do not receive such a letter. [HL1897]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many petitions the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform received in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008; what steps the department has taken to publicise them; and whether they will put the text of the petitions received and the number of signatures in the Library of the House. [HL1898]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Although the department records the number of letters it receives, we do not count the number of petitions separately. The text of petitions and the number of signatures could only be provided at disproportionate cost, again because they are not stored separately from other forms of correspondence.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|