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11 May 2009 : Column WA153

Written Answers

Monday 11 May 2009

Air Quality: Carbon Dioxide

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere varies seasonally and regionally. Data collected by the Earth System Research Laboratory at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate that the globally averaged concentration in 2008 was 385 parts per million by volume. (It is important to note that this value may change slightly, depending on recalibration of the reference gas mixtures used, and other quality control procedures).

Airports: Taxes

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Rates in the air passenger duty regime have always taken account of the destination of journeys.

The reformed air passenger duty, due to take effect from 1 November 2009, increases the number of distance bands.

Moving to a four band structure provides stronger environmental correlation and ensures those who fly further and contribute more to emissions pay more.

Aviation: Passengers

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Section 14 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 gives the police the power, subject to commencement through secondary legislation, to require a carrier, on request, to capture passenger and crew identity and other service data on domestic routes.



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The Government are considering the use of these powers on routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland only. This is to strengthen counterterrorism checks on international travellers who attempt to evade checks by travelling through the Republic of Ireland into or out of the UK. There are no plans to introduce these powers on other domestic UK routes, such as crossings to the Isle of Wight nor any other offshore islands. The Government will consult fully on the detailed terms of any implementation legislation, including the forms of identity that would be needed, before the powers are introduced.

Belfast Agreement: Parity of Treatment

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): There is nothing further I can add to the previous Answer given on 23 February (Official Report, col. WA 8).

Child Tax Credit

Question

Asked by Baroness Noakes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The table below sets out the costs of the increase in child tax credits as announced in Budget 2009 for the years 2010-11 and 2011-12.

2010-112011-12 *

Increase in the child element of CTC by £20 above indexation

£140 million

£170 million

Child Trust Funds

Question

Asked by Baroness Noakes



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The cost of making payments to the child trust fund accounts of disabled children of £100 per year, with £200 per year to the accounts of severely disabled children, is £15 million in 2010-11 and £15 million in 2011-12. For 2011-12 costs are included within the spending growth assumption for 2011-12 onwards. Allocations of spending within this assumption will be announced in the next spending review.

Children: Poverty

Questions

Asked by Baroness Noakes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): In 2006-07 there were 2.9 million children in relative low-income poverty, a fall of 600,000 children from 1998-99. Measures announced in and since Budget 2007 will lift around a further 500,000 children out of relative poverty.

Asked by Lord Ouseley

Lord Myners: The Government have pursued a comprehensive strategy to support families on lowest incomes:

introduced the national minimum wage in 1999, which has been increased by 24 per cent in real terms since then;introduced working tax credit in 2003, the first system of inwork support for families without children;rising support for families with children through tax credits meaning that four out of 10 families with children now receive more in tax credits and child benefit than they pay in income tax;by April 2009 child benefit and the child tax credit guarantee support for the first child of £3,820 a year for families with an income of less than £16,040 a year;introduction of a child benefit disregard in housing benefit (HB) and council tax benefit (CTB) by October 2009 will make HB and CTB more generous for low-income families with children (benefiting a working family with one child by up to £17 per week, and more for larger families); andintroduction of pension credit in 2003 means that no single pensioner has to get by on less than £130 a week, compared to £69 in 1997.

As a result of direct tax and benefit measures introduced since 1997, by April 2009-10, in real terms, households in the poorest fifth of the population are

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on average £2,850 a year better off; families with children in the poorest fifth of population are on average £4,750 a year better off. Between 1998-99 and 2006-07 relative child poverty fell by 600,000 children, and measures announced in and since Budget 2007 will lift around 500,000 more children out of relative poverty.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Newby

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): Pay arrangements for the Senior Civil Service are managed centrally by the Cabinet Office and are based on recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): As part of the EU climate and energy package, agreed in December 2008, the EU is committed to increasing its emissions reduction target for 2020 from 20 per cent to 30 per cent as part of a global agreement for the period beyond 2012, provided that other developed countries commit to comparable targets and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities. Government Ministers meet regularly with their counterparts in other EU member states, including Sweden, to discuss climate change matters.

Asked by Lord Dykes



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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are as yet no definite plans for a visit to the Commission for Sustainable Development in Stockholm. However, the UK Government continue to discuss the UNFCCC climate change negotiations and EU efforts with Sweden and other EU member states through formal and informal meetings, at both ministerial and official level. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is due to hold a bilateral meeting with the Swedish Environment Minister later in May ahead of the Swedish presidency.

Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The UK Government welcomed the Swedish Energy and Climate package announced on 5 February as an ambitious proposal which effectively places Sweden firmly as a world leader on climate change. Such strong ambition from the upcoming holder of the EU presidency enhances the credibility of the EU as a leader in international negotiations and will help encourage comparable action from international partners. The UK continues to work towards its target of 34 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The UK Government welcomed the Swedish Energy and Climate package announced on 5 February as an ambitious proposal which effectively places Sweden firmly as a world leader on climate change. The UK continues to demonstrate its ambition and leadership through the Climate Change Act which made the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut emissions, adapt to climate change, and commit to a low-carbon economy. The Act contains some of the world's most ambitious and far-sighted climate change targets.

Courts: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The two officials were suspended in August 2005. The officials have been receiving their salaries while on precautionary suspension and have been paid £149,000 and £128,000 respectively.



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Criminal Records Bureau

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) operates to a set of published service standards (PSS) which include issuing 90 per cent of standard disclosures within 10 days and 90 per cent of enhanced disclosures within 28 days. Between April 2008 and March 2009 the CRB has issued 396,000 standard disclosures and 3,459,000 enhanced disclosures.

During this period the CRB has exceeded PSS for standard disclosures with a cumulative total of 99.1 per cent issued within 10 days and has not met PSS for enhanced disclosures, issuing 88.6 per cent within 28 days.

The CRB has been receiving a higher than anticipated volume of disclosure applications. There are a number of reasons for this, but the volumes have put a great deal of pressure on both the CRB and the police forces. Consequently, some applications are taking longer to deal with.

Forces have been responding effectively and positively to these high intakes and this has enabled record numbers of disclosures to be issued in recent months.

For those forces which, for a variety of reasons, have been having greater difficulty with the increased demand, the CRB has been working very closely with them to address what additional help and support they need in the form of IT and workflow management expertise, accommodation and a 10 per cent increase in staff resources. The CRB has increased its own staff resources by 11 per cent to provide support for the police disclosure units and the bureau continues to monitor their performance regularly.

A joint improvement plan has been initiated aimed at reducing the number of aged cases, which are those applications that have been outstanding for longer than 25 days. Aged cases are those which cause the most difficulties for applicants, employers and other users of the disclosure service. This improvement plan has contributed towards a steady decline in the number of these cases over recent months. Monthly performance figures for each of the police forces for their part of the disclosure service are now published on the CRB website at www.crb.gov.uk.

Debt

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The UK Government are owed a total of £2,813 million (including accrued interest) by emerging and developing countries, as defined by the International Monetary Fund. The 10 emerging and developing countries with the greatest sovereign debts to the UK are:

Indonesia;Sudan;Iraq;Serbia;Zimbabwe;Cuba;Egypt;Republic of Congo;Democratic Republic of Congo; andSomalia.

Debt: United States

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The UK has not included the First World War debt to the United States of America in the national debt since 1944-45.

Department for International Development: Comprehensive Spending Review

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): At Budget it was announced that the Department for International Development (DfID) will make a further £155 million in 2010-11 value for money savings as part of the additional £5 billion cross-departmental savings, taking its total savings to £647 million over the CSR period. DfID is able to make savings while its budget increases at an average annual real growth rate of 11.4 per cent over the 2007 CSR period.

Detail on how the £647 million of savings will be delivered is set out in DfID's value for money delivery agreement, and the addendum, which was published alongside Budget. These are available online at:

www.dfid.gov.uk/aboutdfid/audit-committeeVfM-Delivery-Agreement.pdf.

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