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20 July 2009 : Column WA267



20 July 2009 : Column WA267

Written Answers

Monday 20 July 2009

Afghanistan

Questions

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): On 29 April 2009, (Official Report, Commons, col. 871), the Prime Minister announced the way forward for UK policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Prime Minister sets out the balance between the UK's political, development and military activities in support of the international community's effort to tackle the insurgency and create an effective and accountable state in Afghanistan. The level of resources required to support the UK's engagement in Afghanistan is reviewed regularly.

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Bolan Park was built in Bolan, Lashkar Gah, in 2007 at the request of the governor of Helmand and in response to an identified local need: it functions as a symbol for security and development in the area. The park is providing much needed recreational space and facilities for the people of Lashkar Gar and the surrounding area, in particular women and children. One of the first major events hosted at the park was a US-funded agricultural fair to promote legal livelihoods, attended by 1,700 Afghans. The park was also used for a successful cultural event organised by the Helmand governor, which attracted more than 2,000 local people.

The UK provided funding for the park through the provincial reconstruction team. This park is open to men, women and children with one day each week being set aside for women's exclusive use. The park cost around £420,000 and was built alongside the Helmand river. The costs of the park reflect the fact that during construction gabion walls were put in place to support the river bank, which helps prevent erosion, and to support the Bolan bridge. In addition, the park has extensive lighting which is important for improving security at night.



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Armed Forces: Service

Question

Asked by Baroness Garden of Frognal

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Army has no plans to enable soldiers who were recruited under the age of 18 on or before 1 January 2008 to convert their minimum term of service to four years from their first day of duty.

Asylum Seekers: Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The UK has not been informed of the number of detainees at Kirklareli Guest House in Turkey. The facility has an official capacity of 400 detainees. Some human rights reports state that overcrowding is a problem in Kirklareli.

The EU has made clear that Turkey should "continue with alignment with the acquis in the field of asylum, in particular through the lifting of the geographical limitation to the Geneva Convention and through strengthening protection, social support and integration measures for refugees".

Migrants caught transiting Turkey illegally include nationals from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

Banking: Asset Protection Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Those former HBOS assets proposed for inclusion in the APS are subject to due diligence by the Treasury and its advisers. This work is focused on estimating the expected losses on those assets. Further details of the results of that due diligence will be provided after it has been completed and the final terms of the participation agreed with Lloyds Banking Group, subject to restrictions on the disclosure of commercially confidential information.

Banking: Treasury and HMRC Payments

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): No payments have been made to either company by HMRC, DMO or OGC. Some payments were made by HM Treasury to UBS, but the disclosure of further details would involve the release of personal information, as it relates to a single individual on secondment.

Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): On 26 February 2009 the Treasury announced agreement in principle with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to participate in the asset protection scheme (APS). Agreement in principle with Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) was reached on 7 March. As part of their participation in the APS, RBS and LBG agreed specific and legally binding additional lending commitments with HM Government commencing on 1 March.

RBS's total lending commitments are £25 billion- £9 billion of mortgage lending and £16 billion of business lending over the next 12 months.

LBG's total lending commitments are £14 billion- £3 billion of mortgage lending and £11 billion of business lending over the next 12 months.

Redacted versions of each bank's lending agreement deed poll were published on the HM Treasury website on 15 July in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

HM Treasury is monitoring the performance of RBS and LBG against the lending commitments and will report on progress to Parliament on an annual basis.

British Coal Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract

The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), together with South Yorkshire Police, is investigating allegations of serious

20 July 2009 : Column WA271

and complex fraud in relation to the handling of claims brought under the DTI administered Coal Health Compensation Scheme.

The investigation began in July 2005 and is continuing. It would not be appropriate to give details of an ongoing investigation. The Attorney-General receives regular updates on the progress of SFO cases from Richard Alderman, and she is keen for all investigations to be concluded at the earliest possible point. This must however be balanced with the need to investigate all reasonable lines of inquiry to ensure that all relevant information has been considered fully.

The SFO investigation has cost just over £440,000 to date, from July 2005 when it began, to the present. The SFO is not able to provide a figure for the costs incurred by South Yorkshire Police in this investigation as police resources are allocated and maintained by the individual force.

There are a number of outstanding lines of enquiry to be pursued, but the SFO is working hard to conclude the investigation by the end of the year.

Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract

Lord Bach: The Legal Complaints Service (LCS) has provided the following information:



20 July 2009 : Column WA272

Number of complaintsOutcome

2,160

Complaint conciliated

673

Complaint not upheld

159

Complaint outside our jurisdiction

43

Complaint resolved without our intervention

565

Complaint upheld

6

Complaint upheld but no action

449

Complaint withdrawn by customer

139

Customer has not responded

109

Referred back to firm under Rule 15

2

Sols reasonable offer

73

Within jurisdiction but investigation declined

1

Complaint referred to SDT

67

Complaint/Allegation noted-Ongoing other action

4

Customer to pursue legal remedy

1

Customer to seek advice/gather evidence

147

closed temporarily

9

Not pursued by Instigator

21

Other

782

Ongoing

5,410

Total

Prior to 2008, the LCS did not keep specific data on the amount of individual awards. A lump sum figure of £602,414.03 was awarded over the period 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2007. Post January 2008, the breakdown is as follows:

Compensation amounts awarded from 1 Jan 2008 to 30 June 2009

£1 to £25

3

£25.01 to £50

3

£50.01 to £ 100

22

£100.01 to £200

83

£200.01 to £300

180

£300.01 to £400

219

£400.01 to £500

284

£500.01 to £600

165

£600.01 to £700

105

£700.01 to £800

110

£800.01 to £900

96

£900.01 to £ 1000

92

£1000.01 to £ 1500

244

£1500.01 to £2000

33

£2000.01 to £3000

24

£3000.01 to £4000

6

£4000.01 to £5000

3

Over £5000

2

Total

1,674


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