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Questions

Asked by Earl Howe



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government advise against the cosmetic use of sunbeds, including coin-operated sunbeds, particularly by minors. The Cancer Reform Strategy commits the Government to reviewing the options for possible regulation of the sunbed industry, but no final decisions have yet been taken.

The assessment of any perceived health benefits of cosmetic sunbed exposure, relative to health risks, is a matter about which individuals make their own choices. To help ensure that these choices are informed, the United Kingdom health departments fund the annual Sunsmart campaign which is the national skin cancer prevention campaign. It provides evidence-based information about skin cancer and in 2009 will raise awareness of the dangers of sunbeds. In addition the Department of Health in England has worked with the Health and Safety Executive which has recently issued revised guidance for sunbed operators and users. Some time ago the UK health departments also asked the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation and the Environment (COMARE) to set up a sub-committee on sunbeds. It is expected to report shortly.

Taxation: Private Residence Relief

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Tax policy changes are considered through the Budget process in the usual way. The Government consider a range of factors when formulating tax policy and keep all aspects of the tax system under review.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Myners: HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) compliance staff work across a number of taxes. The full-time equivalent of the time spent by compliance

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staff on private residence relief as part of their wider work could only be established at disproportionate cost.

Private residence relief is an automatic entitlement where the conditions are satisfied; no claim is necessary. Taxpayers are required to tell HMRC about chargeable gains if private residence relief is only due in respect of part of the gain. All such cases would be risk assessed against information held by HMRC and inquiries made where it appears that material amounts of tax are at risk.

HMRC also carries out a large number of checks into property disposals where the disposal has not been notified to HMRC but available information indicates that the taxpayer never resided in the property. In a substantial proportion of these cases the issue is whether private residence relief is due.

Terrorism: Channel Project

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Between April 2007 and December 2008, 228 referrals were made to the Channel project.

(a) Between April 2007 and December 2008 the known age range of those referred to Channel as potentially vulnerable to violent extremism and in need of multi-agency support was seven to 50 years. The majority of referrals were aged between 15 and 24 years.

(b) Of those referred to Channel as potentially vulnerable to violent extremism and in need of multi-agency support, 93 per cent were male.

Terrorism: Internet

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): As set out in my previous Answer, data collected on terrorism prosecutions do not differentiate between online and offline actions and we are unable to accurately separate all internet-related terrorism prosecutions from other terrorism prosecutions, in which the internet may have played a part.



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From 11 September 2001 to 31 March 2008, 521 terrorism arrests resulted in a charge. Of this 340 were considered terrorism-related. To 31 March 2008, there were 196 convictions for terrorist-related offences, of which 102 were convicted under terrorism legislation and 94 under non-terrorism legislation.

Transport: Vehicle Testing

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) monitors prohibition rates carefully both nationally and at individual sites. VOSA's strategy of targeting has led to a steady increase in national prohibition rates since 2003, with a small reduction in 2008-09. Figures for individual sites are more variable. The figures for Liverpool and Holyhead have been placed in the House of Commons Library. The figures vary year on year, but generally reflect the upward national trend. VOSA's planning is based on a 5 per cent increase in prohibition rates for the current year to reflect continuing improvements in targeting. However, increases in checks at any site could lead to higher deterrence which could cause prohibition rates to decline.

United Nations: Olympics

Question

Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We welcome the International Olympic Committee’s contribution to the work of the UN and would support its application for observer status at the UN General Assembly.

War Crimes

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Information collected centrally by the Ministry of Justice on the court proceedings database does not separately identify offences under the International Criminal Court (ICC) Act 2001 and the War Crimes Act 1991. Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are recorded as murder or ancillary offences. Other offences against the administration of justice in relation to the ICC may be dealt with as the corresponding domestic offence.

The Genocide Act 1969 was repealed by the International Criminal Court Act 2001 on 31 August 2001.

Zimbabwe

Questions

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, including the increase in violent farm invasions, with credible reports of police being complicit. Although the approximately 70 political detainees who were in custody when the inclusive government was formed have been released, they are under strict bail conditions and there are reports of continued state harassment. We will continue to monitor the human rights situation closely and to put pressure on the Government of Zimbabwe to honour their commitments to improve respect for human rights and the rule of law.



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Asked by Lord Sheikh

Lord Malloch-Brown: We continue to support civil society organisations in Zimbabwe, including those working for an inclusive and transparent constitutional review process. We are speaking to the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and the relevant parliamentary committee about their plans, and stand ready with other donors to provide support when we see evidence of a just, inclusive and transparent constitutional review process.

Asked by Lord Sheikh

Lord Malloch-Brown: We estimate there are 3,000 British people in Zimbabwe who may qualify for this scheme, according to age, although not all will want to apply for it. It is difficult to say precisely how many people will apply or how many of them will be eligible, but we estimate that the number of successful applicants is likely to be about 750, although the actual numbers taking up the scheme could ultimately be higher or lower than this.


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