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2 Nov 2009 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 2 November 2009

Afghanistan: Casualties

Question

Asked by Lord Swinfen

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The majority of service personnel injured in Afghanistan will be treated in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, under the auspices of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). RCDM has a patient welfare fund, which meets in full any costs incurred by service patients for the provision of television in Selly Oak and other Birmingham hospitals.

Service personnel hospitalised elsewhere within the UK are eligible to claim a daily incidental expenses allowance of £5 to cover daily living costs. Those personnel injured on operations also remain eligible to receive the operational allowance (£13.08 daily) up to the date at which their tour was projected to end had they not been injured.

Additionally, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) dongles along with laptops are provided to military patients on request. If a military patient has any reason to pay for TV cards or dongles out of their own pocket, they are reimbursed.

Additional facilities covered by the PWF include (not an exhaustive list) meals out, cinema trips, outings to football matches, et cetera, as well as weekend local leave in local hotels.

Armed Forces: Aircraft Carriers

Questions

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Government remain fully committed to delivering the two ships of the Queen Elizabeth class, recognising the importance of HMS "Queen Elizabeth" and HMS "Prince of Wales" to our future carrier strike capability, wider defence needs and the sustainability of the UK shipbuilding sector. The QE class are key enablers to sustaining the sovereign capabilities signalled in the defence industrial strategy, in particular the high-end design, systems engineering and combat systems integration required to support the Royal Navy in the 21st century.



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Any major changes, such as the cancellation of a carrier, to the QE class contract would first require a period of negotiation between the MoD and Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to agree what changes would need to be made to the programme. This would include any potential financial penalties resulting from that change, which could be significant. We have no intention of pursuing this course.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: I refer you to the previous Answer given by my noble friend Lord Drayson on this subject on 9 July 2009 (Official Report, cols. 759-60). The latest cost and time estimates are currently going through the department's approval process. As is normal practice, we will not make any firm announcements until this process has completed.

Armed Forces: Drumadd Barracks

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Drumadd Barracks, Armagh, were declared surplus by the department as part of the Northern Ireland normalisation process and handed over to Defence Estates for disposal on 6 July 2007.

The barracks are currently vacant and being maintained by Defence Estates, which is working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive on future plans for the site.

Avian Flu

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Baroness Thornton: The risk factors and lessons learned from all outbreaks of avian influenza, whether of low or high pathogenicity in birds, have been taken into consideration in the formulation of our contingency plans for, and response to, outbreaks of avian influenza in the United Kingdom. The last outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of type H7 (H7N7) in the UK was in June 2008. It is considered highly likely that this highly pathogenic infection derived from a pre-existing low pathogenicity infection (LPAI) of type H7, as was the case in the outbreak of Italy in 1999, which was caused by avian influenza type H7 (H7N1).



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Spain has reported this month its first ever outbreak of HPAI in chickens caused by type H7. There remains a constant low risk of the introduction of both HPAI and LPAI into the UK via wild birds, though there is negligible likelihood of introduction of HPAI into the UK through legal trade with Spain.

Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The banks in which the Government have a shareholding are managed on an arm's-length commercial basis by United Kingdom Financial Investments (UKFI). UKFI has been working with government investee banks to ensure that incentives are much more strongly linked to long-term value creation, and is currently negotiating with the banks in respect of their 2009 performance year remuneration. The Government expect their investee banks to be at the forefront of implementing the FSA's code of practice on remuneration and the G20 agreement on remuneration.

Banks

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The regulations governing the supervision of branches of European economic area (EEA) banks are set out in European legislation. These regulations apply equally to banks headquartered in the UK and outside the UK, but within the EEA. Under the single market legislation, a bank authorised in one member state has a right to establish a branch in another member state. Day-to-day supervision of branches of EEA banks trading in the UK is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The FSA's responsibilities over EEA branches are set by EU law and include shared responsibility for liquidity but exclude all other areas of prudential monitoring. Recent changes to the EU's capital requirements directive permit the supervisor of a significant branch to be a member of a supervisory college. This should provide supervisors of branches with a better picture of the health of the financial group and alert them to emerging problems the group may be facing.



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The Government believe that the rules and safeguards for cross-border branching within the EEA should be strengthened to reduce the likelihood, and cost, of the failure of a foreign branch. The European Economic and Financial Affairs Council agreed, in October 2009, to invite the European Commission to further review the home-host arrangements for branches under the EU single passport. The Government will play an active role in proposing appropriate changes to the framework.

Financial institutions outside the EEA wishing to establish an authorised presence in the UK can open either a branch or a subsidiary. The FSA will authorise institutions as a branch once the home regulator has been assessed for equivalence to UK and EEA supervisory standards, and once the whole firm has been assessed as meeting the FSA's threshold conditions for authorisation.

Bicycles

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The information requested is not available.

However, estimates are produced of pedal cycle traffic on all roads in Great Britain. These show a 20 per cent increase between 1998 and 2008, from 4.0 billion to 4.7 billion vehicle kilometres. Figures are not available for Northern Ireland.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Questions

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The NAO value-for-money report quoted the following figures for single payment scheme information technology costs calculated to reflect IT depreciation, amortisation, running costs and contractors.

YearCost

2005-06

£63.323 million

2006-07

£57.125 million

2007-08

£63.348 million

2008-09

£63.073 million

Total

£246.869 million



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Asked by Baroness Byford

Lord Davies of Oldham: All of the 34,499 single payment scheme cases identified in 2007 as requiring their entitlements to be reviewed to reflect new information on their accounts have been completed. In many cases the full payments had been made so adjustment of payments was not necessary. The NAO value-for-money study reports corrections on 27,757 in 2008 and early 2009.

Cyprus: Peacekeeping Operations

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The renovation and refurbishment of the Ledra Palace Hotel continues as part of an agreed three-year programme between 2007 and 2010 between the Republic of Cyprus and the UN. All work on the external fabric of the building is complete providing a watertight structure. All roofs have now been repaired and/or replaced, the fire detection and alarm systems have been installed, asbestos removal in the boiler rooms and cellars is complete, the floor covering in the gymnasium has been replaced and the ration store refurbished. The recommissioning of rooms in the west wing is complete and a total of 35 rooms have been handed over to the UN forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP). In addition to this, the renovation of the Ledra Palace Hotel medical centre is nearing completion.

There is no direct cost to the UK for this work. The work is being carried out by the Republic of Cyprus in an arrangement with the United Nations and we do not have visibility of the associated costs.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Regulations

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The 2005 Whole Farm Approach business case was reviewed in 2008, and the estimate for savings expected by 2009-10 was revised downward from £3 million to £2 million to reflect lower than originally anticipated farmer take-up. The system is working well and receiving positive feedback from those farmers who use it.

The system is now providing online access to the cattle tracing scheme and access to the single payment scheme is scheduled to be available in 2010.

Taken together with other online services and a rapidly growing number of users, we expect the current review of the business case to confirm delivery of the forecast benefits and for further benefits to be identified.

Savings are achieved through prepopulated online forms, immediate validation, improved advice and guidance, and similar facilities which should make the online system quicker and easier for farmers and their agents to use. These savings will be reflected in the annual simplification plan, due to be published each December.

Department for Transport: Budgets

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Department for Transport's agencies are currently in the process of preparing their budgets for 2010-11. Budgets will be formally set following the completion of the department's business planning round in the first quarter of 2010.

Economy: Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): This Government have always recognised the benefits that regulations can bring when there is a clear need for intervention and the rules are designed and implemented in the right way. Given that regulatory changes bring costs for business and society we will continue to make prioritised choices on regulation.

This report shows through case studies how the Government's approach to better regulation can not only minimise costs but also maximise the benefits that necessary regulation brings to society. A range of stakeholders representing businesses, employees and consumers signed a joint statement with Government

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on 19 October (available via http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file53233.ddoc. A copy is available in the Library of the House) setting out how better regulation approaches help deliver benefits and minimise costs.

Education: Home Schooling

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): On 9 October Mr Badman sent a report to Mr Barry Sheerman MP setting out a detailed local-authority-level analysis of child protection plans relating to home-educated children. His letter of 28 October, also to Mr Sheerman, sets out further information relating to other information he collected in the course of the review about abuse and neglect. Both pieces of correspondence are on the department's website at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/ete/independentreviewofhomeeducation/irhomeeducation/.


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