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2 Jun 2009 : Column WA75

2005-062006-072007-08

Defra

8.2

7.5

6.0

Animal Health (previously SVS until 1/4/07)

9.1

Government Decontamination Service (created on 1/10/05)

4.7

Marine and Fisheries Agency

10.5

Central Science Laboratory (now FERA)

N/A

6.6

6.3

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

5.0

6.5

11.0

Pesticides Safety Directorate (now part of the HSE from 1/4/08)

9.8

8.6

7.8

Rural Payments Agency

7.8

6.9

8.6

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

9.4

9.5

9.9

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

11.0

10.9

8.2

Separate figures for core Defra, Animal Health, Government Decontamination Service and the Marine and Fisheries Agency for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are not available. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science figure for 2007-08 covers the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.

Records of rates of absence for reasons other than sickness are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defra and its agencies closely monitor sickness absence, including benchmarking sick absence rates against Cabinet Office figures for the Civil Service. Policies and good working practices are in place to reduce sick absence including conducting return-to-work interviews, occupational health professionals advising on the medical and Disability Discrimination Act aspects of cases, training on stress awareness for managers and staff, and support from staff welfare services.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Discussions have taken place at ministerial and official level with Atlantic Philanthropies concerning various aspects of its work in Northern Ireland in the past. Neither Ministers nor officials have met Atlantic Philanthropies specifically to discuss human rights issues.

We are aware that a proposal has been made by Atlantic Philanthropies to contribute funding for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to carry out particular projects. No direct discussions have taken place between the Northern Ireland Office and Atlantic Philanthropies about this proposal. The proposal is currently being assessed and no funding has changed hands in relation to it.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Human Rights Act 1998 applies throughout the United Kingdom.



2 Jun 2009 : Column WA76

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has said it will share the outcome of the research by Ernst & Young on the family advocacy market with stakeholders, including the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), when it becomes available in the next few weeks. The report should not go to the fundamental structure of the final schemes, which are now being determined after the closure of the consultation “Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010” on 3 April. The FLBA has already submitted a response to that consultation. Rather the report will provide additional data for the impact assessment of the effects of the proposed scheme. The FLBA is represented on a stakeholder working group set up by the LSC which has continued discussions, since the consultation closed, on the final structure of the scheme.

Northern Cyprus

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): There has been one case of which we are aware. In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot authorities deported Gary Robb from north Cyprus and put him on a flight to the UK via Turkey. This was their independent decision, on which we are not qualified to comment. However, we applaud the determination of the Turkish Cypriots to ensure that the northern part of the island is not a haven for fugitives from justice.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Malloch-Brown: As we do not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, there is no mutual legal assistance treaty in place. Therefore, no formal request for assistance has ever been made.

2 Jun 2009 : Column WA77

However, in the interests of justice, we maintain close contact with the Turkish Cypriots on organised crime issues.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Malloch-Brown: The UK does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. No formal relationship therefore exists in respect of anti-criminal and anti-terrorist operations. However, the UK maintains a constructive dialogue with Turkish Cypriots on many issues of immediate concern. We welcome their recent efforts to combat international organised crime, including the adoption of stronger anti-money laundering controls. We also welcome the recently launched bi-communal sub-committee on crime and criminal matters, which provides a mechanism for the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to exchange information on this important issue.

Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Home Office and the police service have a target to achieve value for money improvements worth £1,694 million per annum by March 2011 compared with during 2008-09; that includes saving a cash reduction in Home Office expenditure of £150 million as the department's contribution to the Government's programme to secure £5 billion savings in public expenditure by 2010-11.

Alongside other parts of the department and government, the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism and the police service will play a full part in maximising value for money in public expenditure. Performance is reported in my department's annual report.

Prisoners: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



2 Jun 2009 : Column WA78

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: At 18 May 2009 the breakdown of prisoners in Northern Ireland was as follows: Protestant 36.6 per cent, Roman Catholic 49.9 per cent, others 13.5 per cent.

The last recorded figures for the general population are those recorded in the NI Census of 2001: Protestant 53.1 per cent, Roman Catholic 43.8 per cent, others 3.1 per cent.

However, when making comparisons with the above figures it would be necessary to take into account differences in the age profiles and the eight-year time interval.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has a legal obligation to accept everyone who is committed to prison by the courts and as such has no influence over particular religious groups entering the prison population.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Northern Ireland Prison Service carried out a review of equality of opportunity of prisoners on the basis of religion, in relation to its Section 75 statutory duties. The resulting report The Inside View was published on 12 May 2009. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House.

Sefton Coast: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible, in partnership with other key departments, for driving the neighbourhood renewal agenda, improving cross-government working to secure cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhoods. Local authorities are working with the police, other partners and stakeholders to reduce crime and disorder in their areas, and the Strategic Rail Authority, for example, is also playing an important role in improving local station facilities for passengers such as better lighting and security CCTV at stations.

Southern African Development Community

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley



2 Jun 2009 : Column WA79

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): British missions in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries closely follow developments in their respective countries, including on land reform, through contact with relevant government ministries and representatives from the farming industry. SADC Governments, bar Zimbabwe, have expressed their commitment to land reform policies based on a “willing seller, willing buyer” approach and on fair commercial valuation of farms. We do not believe that other SADC countries will interpret their land reform policies in a similar way to Zimbabwe. The SADC Tribunal, based in Namibia, made a landmark ruling in November 2008 in favour of Zimbabwean commercial farmers in a case against the Government of Zimbabwe. This ruling declared that the land reform process in Zimbabwe was illegal and that the appellants had been subject to racial discrimination, highlighting the disparity in land reform policies between Zimbabwe and other SADC countries. The UK has always supported a fair, pro-poor and transparent land reform policy in Africa.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Monson

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The information requested is provided in the table below.



2 Jun 2009 : Column WA80

YearNumber of higher rate taxpayers aged 60 or over (thousands)

2006-07

525

2005-06

465

2004-05

423

2003-04

349

2002-03

328

Transport: Local Bus Service

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): While the Government are aware that a number of European Union member states provide local bus services under public service contracts, no assessment has been made as to the proportion provided under public service contracts in other member states compared with those in the United Kingdom.

Treasury: Minutes of Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): As my Answer of 12 May made clear, it is long-standing practice that the Government do not normally publish details of the meetings of UK Ministers and officials with their counterparts in other governments as to do so might prejudice free and frank discussions. I have nothing further to add.


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