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The decision has not caused any practical problems in Gibraltar waters. However we are concerned that Spain should seek to have an area of BGTW listed and that this listing should have been approved. Under the habitats directive Spain has obligations to establish management priorities for its SCIs but cannot give full effect to these obligations for this particular site as it overlaps BGTW. The UK is the only state competent to propose an SCI within BGTW. The Government of Gibraltar have commenced an action against the European Commission in the European Court of First Instance seeking annulment of the offending parts of the relevant listing. The UK has been granted permission to intervene in support of this action.

Nature Conservation: Wild Flowers


Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Plantlife's report is a useful contribution to the debate on future priorities but there is more positive work under way, both on plant conservation and research, than Plantlife acknowledges. Measures to conserve and restore biodiversity, including wildflowers, are underway in all four countries of the UK, under our strategic framework, Conserving Biodiversity-the UK Approach. They include protecting the best sites for wildlife, taking targeted action for priority species and habitats, embedding biodiversity into policy, engaging people, developing the evidence base, and influencing and implementing international agreements. Conservation is a devolved matter, and is being taken forward under separate biodiversity and environmental strategies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On protecting the best wildlife sites, 88.9 per cent of SSSI land in England is now in target condition. The December 2010 target of 95 per cent remains challenging but achievable. As part of Natural England (NE)'s new notification strategy, regional teams will look closely at site boundaries, amending them where necessary, while specialists will consider any gaps in coverage. Agri-environment schemes in each part of the UK complement our designated sites and represent a major delivery mechanism for conservation. In England, environmental stewardship makes an important contribution to the conservation of wild plants by targeting vulnerable species and habitats, and provides

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a range of wider options for grassland, field margins, hedgerows and ditches which help increase plant diversity in general. Data from Plantlife and the Botanical Society of the British Isles are being used to improve the targeting of these options.

On targeted action for priority species, NE, as lead delivery body for the England biodiversity strategy, is working with Plantlife and other partners to identify priority areas for the conservation of priority species and habitats. NE currently provides £119,000 annually to Plantlife's action for plants in England project and an additional £163,000 through the Countdown 2010 Fund. The Forestry Commission also has a range of programmes in place which will directly contribute to increasing the level of activity called for by Plantlife in woods and forests.

On research, the Countryside Survey, conducted in 2007, was a major Government-funded survey of botanical diversity at a cost of about £9 million. This unique survey enables us to measure and understand the status and changes in plant diversity, probably in greater detail than is available for any other country in the world. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has a long-standing contract with the Biological Records Centre under which half of the work is explicitly on plant groups. JNCC also provides staff resources for work on plants and fungi, particularly in support of the global strategy for plant conservation and in supporting data collation and publication on the national biodiversity network.

Defra also provides the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew with an annual operating grant in aid of £17.6 million together with a variable capital amount which was set at £8.75 million in 2008-09 and £10.9 million in 2009-10. Kew plays a major domestic and international role in plant conservation, supporting the study and conservation of both the plant and the fungal kingdoms with basic taxonomy, collections, horticultural and scientific expertise, the ex-situ collections in the millennium seed bank, ground-breaking work developing techniques for ex-situ conservation, identifying protected plants in international trade, and its important work on education, training and public awareness.

Helping plants and other biodiversity to adapt and become more resilient to climate change remains one of our biggest challenges and that is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently announced a review of England's wildlife and ecological network. This will look at what benefits can be gained by connecting sites both within designated areas and outside them.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission


Asked by Lord Laird

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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Northern Ireland Office holds two pieces of written correspondence for this period from the department to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, one at ministerial level and one at official level, both dated 10 November 2008. Copies of these letters have been placed in the Library of the House.

Pakistan: Visit of Shahid Malik MP


Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer given in the other place by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Shahid Malik) to the honourable Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Bob Neill) on 27 October 2009 (Question 290657).

Pensioners: Personal Allowances


Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The approximate cost of increasing age-related personal allowances for people aged 65 and over by £2,000 for 2010-11 and applying statutory

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uprating in subsequent years can be extrapolated from table 1.6 Direct Effects of Illustrative Tax Changes, available at

The estimates in the table are based on the Budget 2009 forecast and the relevant section is shown below.

Extract from table 1.6 Direct effects of illustrative tax changes

£ million cost/yield

Income tax

Allowances and reliefs

Change age-related personal allowances by £100




Information on the income tax effect for 2010-11 by income decile of all people aged 65 and over is shown in the table below. No one aged 65 and over with income below the current levels of age-related personal allowances, or above the income level at which the age-related allowances are reduced to the basic personal allowance for those aged below 65, would benefit.

DecileMean (£)























Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The pension cost in British Waterways' Accounts for 2008-09 is made up of:

current service cost (cost of accrual of new benefit and expenses);interest cost (the cost of having one less year until the liabilities fall due);expected return on assets (the return on the fund assets over the year based on the expected rate of return at the start of the year for each type of asset held); andpast service cost (cost of providing benefits not previously funded for, such as augmentations)

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The main reason for the increase in 2008-09 was the increase in the interest cost, though pension costs will be volatile each year, because they are based on market indices at the date of calculation.

Salaries are only used in the calculation of the current service cost, which actually went down over the year. Therefore, the change does not directly relate to the salary change over the year, but rather the method of valuing the benefits on the accounting basis.

As a result of the triennial valuation carried out as at March 2007, the pension fund contribution rates as a percentage of salary were increased from July 2008 as follows:

Old rateNew rate







Police: Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Laird

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): This is an operational matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: This is an operational matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House.

Political Honours Scrutiny Committee


Asked by Lord Marlesford

Baroness Crawley: The Political Honours Scrutiny Committee (PHSC) was established in 1923.

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The PHSC was abolished in 2005, following the recommendation by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) in its July 2004 report A Matter of Honour: Reforming the Honours System (HC 212-I). Future arrangements for the scrutiny of honours were set out in the Government reply Reform of the Honours System (Cm 6479) and in Propriety and Honours and Propriety and Peerages (Cm 7374), the Government's response to the PASC fourth report of the Session 2005-06 and second report of the Session 2007-08.

Pollution: Airborne Particles


Asked by Lord Berkeley

Baroness Thornton: The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) first addressed this question in 1998. The committee concluded then that there were insufficient United Kingdom data to allow acceptably accurate quantification of these effects.

In the light of new evidence, COMEAP returned to this question in 2001. The committee published a Statement on Long-term Effects of Particles on Mortality1 in which it concluded that effects on all-cause mortality were "more likely than not". A number of coefficients were considered but deemed less likely than a coefficient of 1 per cent. per 10 micrograms per cubic metre reduction in exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

This year in the report entitled Long-term Exposure to Air Pollution: Effect on Mortality2 the committee has updated its estimate and recommends a coefficient of 6 per cent per 10 micrograms per cubic metre reduction in exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Coefficients have also been recommended for cardiopulmonary mortality, 9 per cent and lung cancer mortality, 8 per cent.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

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