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The investigation of public order offences by the police and the training which underpins the exercise of police powers must be carried out in a way which does not conflict with the principles set out in the convention. The Human Rights Act itself and ultimately the courts provide a check if the police were to act in a non-compliant, discriminatory way.

Post Office

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Post Office will remain entirely owned by Government. The Government will judge the suitability of the potential partner in Royal Mail under the terms of the Bill we have published against a number of criteria, the most important of which are:

the ability to add value to Royal Mail as a whole, including by assisting in the transformation of Royal Mail's letters business and the modernisation of the network; andthe price offered for a minority stake or partnership and the ability to finance the investment.

Public Bodies

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): No UK bank has been asked to look at businesses in difficulty by reference to their location in any parliamentary constituency in which the sitting Member of Parliament has a majority fewer than 5,000.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI) has been set up to manage the Government's investments in financial institutions. These investments currently comprise holdings in RBS, holdings in the Lloyds Banking Group, and in due course, UKFI will manage the 100 per cent ownership of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley. It’s overarching

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objectives are to protect and create value to the taxpayer as a shareholder, with due regard to financial stability and acting in a way that promotes competition.

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My officials have been speaking to representatives from those public bodies who would be affected by this proposed duty, in addition to representatives from other public sector bodies, the private sector, the third sector, trade unions, and others.

Public Service Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Progress on delivering the public service agreements (PSAs) is reported by departments to Parliament in the departmental annual reports (published in spring/summer) and the autumn performance reports.

The first autumn performance reports assessing progress to date on the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review PSAs were published at the end of 2008.

Senior responsible owners are appointed for each PSA, and are responsible for monitoring and driving delivery of the PSA including internal reporting of progress. The Prime Minister's Delivery Unit also advises the Prime Minister and the Chancellor throughout the spending period.

Questions for Written Answer: Unanswered Questions

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): I am not aware of the precise circumstances which caused the delays referred to, but have made it very clear to departments that I regard such delays as wholly unacceptable. I will continue to monitor

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performance closely and to take vigorous action with departments who fail to answer Written Questions within prescribed timescales.

Schools: Truancy

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Ministry of Justice collects data for England and Wales on prosecutions brought against parents under the Education Act 1996 for the offence under Section 444(1) of failing to secure their child's regular attendance at school; and for prosecutions under Section 444(1A), the aggravated offence of knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly. It is possible, because of the way courts record data, that some data are collected under the more general heading of various offences under the Education Act 1996.

The information on the number of parents sentenced and given fines or immediate custodial sentences in the Greater Manchester area is detailed in the table below. The Ministry of Justice only collects information on prosecutions based on police force regions.

The department also collects and publishes data on penalty notices (fines) issued by local authorities in England to parents for not ensuring their child's regular attendance at school. The figures for the last three school academic years are detailed in the table below. Data are collected only at local authority level.



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Adults sentenced for child truanting offences (1) in the Greater Manchester Police Force Area, 2005-07
FinedImmediate Custody

2005

Parent failing to secure their child's regular attendance at school

176

58

Parent knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly without reasonable justification to cause him or her to attend school

0

1

2006

Parent failing to secure their child's regular attendance at school

492

0

Parent knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly without reasonable justification to cause him or her to attend school

51

4

2007

Parent failing to secure their child's regular attendance at school

481

1

Parent knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly without reasonable justification to cause him or her to attend school

105

0

School Academic Year—Penalty NoticesEnglandManchester LA

1 August 2005 to 1 September 2006

12,150

118

2 September 2006 to 31 August 2007

14,625

195

September 2007 to 31 August 2008

18,291

278

Small Businesses

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): Official data relating to small business closures in 2008 and the first two months of 2009 are not yet available.

The Office for National Statistics is responsible for producing annual statistics on the number of small businesses opening and closing in the UK. This publication, Business Demography,is available on its website at www. statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=15186.

The latest publication (released 28 November 2008) relates to business births and deaths in 2007. Data relating to 2008 will not be published until autumn 2009, and 2009 data will not be published until autumn 2010.

Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Information on the number of people in the city of Manchester who have received support from the National Health Service to stop smoking in each of the past four years is not available in the format requested. However, information on the number of people setting a quit date and successfully quitting through the NHS Stop Smoking Services is available for Manchester primary care trust (PCT) in 2006-07 and 2007-08, and for Central Manchester, North Manchester and South Manchester PCTs in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. The information is available from the following publications, which have already been placed in the Library.

Manchester PCT was formed on 1 October 2006 following the merger of Central Manchester, North Manchester and South Manchester PCTs.

Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2007 to March 2008. This information can be found in table 3.5 on page 28.

Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2006 to March 2007. Information for Central Manchester, North Manchester and South Manchester PCTs (old breakdown) can be found in table 2.12 on page 19. Information for Manchester PCT (new breakdown) can be found in table 5.4 on page 65.

Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2005 to March 2006. This information can be found in table 4.12 on page 38.

Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2004 to March 2005. This information can be found in table 19 on page 53.

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): There is no direct link between tax revenue and UK contributions to the EC Budget.

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Details of the sources of revenue by which member states finance the EC Budget can be found on page 37 of the 2008 European Community finances White Paper (Cm 7462), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): I thank the noble Lord for alerting us to the fact that the website of the British consulate-general in Hong Kong lists the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) as a country which British National (Overseas) passport holders can visit without a visa. This is incorrect. Following the judgment by the House of Lords on 22 October 2008, all visitors to the territory require a permit. The BIOT Administration have asked the British consulate-general to amend its list.

The BIOT Administration do allow private yachts to moor at certain sites in the outer atolls of Peros Banhos and Salomon. Each yacht has to apply for a permit in advance from the BIOT Administration. BIOT customs and immigration officials use the BIOT patrol vessel, the “Pacific Marlin”, to check such visitors.

Wales: Personal Debt

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Data on personal debt at the total UK level are provided by the Bank of England. Total personal debt in the UK at the end of 2006 was £1.29 trillion, at the end of 2007 £1.41 trillion, and at the end of 2008 £1.46 trillion. No data are yet available for 2009. Data on average personal debt, or data broken down by countries or regions, are not available.

Waterways: Pollution

Question

Asked by Lord Teverson

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Environment Agency collects monthly samples of water from the River Fal Estuary in Cornwall to assess the quality of the water. These samples do not indicate that the estuary is polluted or that water quality is declining overall.

However, during heavy rainfall, run-off from fields which may contain slurry and from overloaded sewers can have localised and short-term impacts. The Environment Agency is therefore working with farmers to ensure that farm management plans are in place to prevent and minimise the degree of run-off to the estuary during heavy rain.

Significant investment by South West Water has also been made in the sewage systems which discharge into the estuary. Each main sewage works has full treatment facilities, which include the use of ultra violet disinfection in recognition of the potential impact of bacterial contamination on shellfish beds.


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