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To ask Her Majesty's Government in relation to the latest figures showing exercise of police stop and search powers, what proportion of those searches related to operations specifically against knife crime. [HL3313]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The information requested is not available. Information on the individual circumstances of stops and searches is not reported to the Home Office; therefore, it is not possible to identify which stops and searches resulted from operations specifically against knife crime.
Available information from 2007-08 shows that, of the 1,045,923 stops and searches conducted in England and Wales under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), 98,529 were for offensive weapons (including knives). Also, 12,447 arrests for possession of offensive weapons resulted from stop and search procedures under Section 1 of PACE during this period.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the changes envisaged in the Postal Services Bill and the change of regulatory framework for postal services, the commitment to a continued Universal Services Obligation for postal services means that the obligation will continue to apply to citizens, businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland on the same terms as those in the rest of the United Kingdom; and whether any subsequent changes in the obligation will be agreed in consultation with Consumer Focus and specifically with the Consumer Focus post covering Northern Ireland. [HL2980]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Government's first priority is to secure the provision of a strong universal postal service. We want to protect customers by securing the universal postal service, at the current standards we enjoy in the UK, and this will, of course, include customers in Northern Ireland.
The new Postal Services Bill enshrines in legislation the minimum requirements of a universal postal service. The result is that the minimum requirements of the universal postal service are protectedthere will always be at least one collection and at least one delivery of letters every working day, and there will always be a one price goes anywhere service.
Once the Bill becomes an Act, and Ofcom takes responsibility for regulation of the postal services market, it will conduct a market assessment which will help decide which products should be provided as a universal service. Ofcom will consult fully, including with Consumer Focus, before it reaches decisions on this very important area.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Presbyterian Mutual Society is currently in administration. The Government have made no estimate of the number of members of the society who may have lost part or all of their investment. The administrator website now states that his report is delayed, that he will be providing a statutory progress report on or before 16 June and he hopes to put a formal arrangement to the members in September.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The information in respect of train operators which have franchise contracts with the Department for Transport is set out in the table below.
|Train Operating Company||Cap and Collar arrangement||DFT Entitlement State Date||Cap and Collar arrangement||TOC Entitlement Start Date|
Although this made no mention of railway level crossings, the Road Safety Act 2006 gave the Secretary of State new powers to improve safety around railway level crossings, either following a request from the crossing operator or at his own instigation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The UK does not have a mandatory retirement age. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations aim to tackle unjustified age discrimination in employment and vocational training. The default retirement age, which employers may use if they wish, and the employee's right to request working beyond retirement age were introduced to deliver the Government's labour market objectives of recognising the need for workforce planning and avoiding adverse impact on the provision of occupational pensions and other work-related benefits. Our position was also set out in the joint Written Statement by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to the House on 14 December 2004 at col. 127WS.
Baroness Vadera: We are of course monitoring the developments in the labour market and have introduced a wide range of help for businesses and households in order to help them deal with the current economic situation and prepare for the future.
In terms of the policy on the default retirement age we remain committed to undertaking an evidence- based review. With the assistance of representatives of the business community, trade unions and age groups we are in the process of gathering the evidence which will be needed to enable us to undertake this review in 2011. If the conclusion of the review is that the evidence demonstrates a default retirement age is no longer necessary, we will take the necessary steps to remove it.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 30 April (WA 77), whether the introduction of traffic officers has released the police from traffic duties and patrols; and, if so, what is the financial saving to police budgets. [HL3386]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Prior to the introduction of Highways Agency traffic officers, it was estimated that the associated transfer of particular roles and responsibilities would free up the equivalent of 540 full- time equivalent police officers. The police remain, however, responsible for tackling crime and enforcing the law on roads as elsewhere and for investigating road traffic collisions. Police patrols can also provide reassurance and increase public confidence. It is for individual chief officers to decide how to deploy their resources as they consider most effective and appropriate, including the resources freed up by the introduction of traffic officers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): All schools need to balance the benefits of continuity and change in striving to improve all aspects of their provision. Schools have three-year funding settlements which give them the confidence and stability to plan their budgets for the long term. Revised school improvement and performance management arrangements are in place to support more streamlined school strategic planning.
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