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12 Nov 2009 : Column WA190

Armed Forces: Type 45 Destroyers

Question

Asked by Lord Selkirk of Douglas

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: There are six ships being built as part of the Type 45 Destroyers Programme and all six are in various stages of build, including five ships in the water. The first of class, DARING, is expected to enter service in early 2010 while the remaining five vessels Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan will enter service progressively through to the middle of the next decade.

Armed Forces: Typhoon

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We currently have no plans to retrofit RAF Typhoons with thrust vectoring nozzles.

Armed Forces: War Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester



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The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As I advised my noble friend in the Answer I gave on 5 October 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 462), no arrears of payment of unemployability supplement were made by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency as a result of this change. Any arrears that accrued would have been for state pension, which falls within the responsibilities of the Department for Work and Pensions, and which does not hold this information.

Details of the number of war pensioners to whom arrears were paid and the amounts involved when legislation was changed in 2006 to permit this are not held, and corporate knowledge of any measures taken at that time to ensure that personnel were made aware of this entitlement no longer exists. If my noble friend is aware of any war pensioners who have not received the correct state pension payment as a result of this issue, I shall, subject to the provisions of their personal details, be happy to arrange for their cases to be investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Armed Forces: Wounded Personnel

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Defence Medical Services (DMS) provide an extensive range of medical treatment and wider welfare support for wounded service personnel. This starts in the operational theatre, with life-saving medical treatment on the frontline and in our field hospitals. Those who need further specialist care back in the UK are normally returned to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, which is at the leading edge in the treatment of multiple trauma injuries as commonly sustained by our battle casualties, and has a military-managed ward.

If patients require further rehabilitation care they may be referred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey, or for outpatient treatment at one of the MoD's 15 military regional rehabilitation units. We also provide mental health care for those who need it, primarily through our 15 military out-patient Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK plus centres overseas; in-patient care is arranged for those who need it.

Wider support to those who are injured is overseen by a Welfare Coordinator, who will work with appropriate specialists to offer support and advice in such areas as housing, access to services and counselling if required, as well as providing support through key transition points, such as a move to or from Headley Court. If injured personnel are discharged from the services, the responsibility for overseeing welfare provision switches to the Veterans Welfare Service, run by the Service

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Personnel and Veterans Agency. We also provide compensation to those injured in the line of duty through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

All medical and welfare provision is regularly reviewed internally to ensure it remains fit for purpose. In addition, an independent external review of the Defence Medical Services was carried out in 2008-09 by the Healthcare Commission; a new Defence Medical Inspector General post was created in 2008, whose remit includes following the commission's review with a wider internal review across the whole DMS and other appropriate defence process owners. Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff, is also currently chairing a review of the AFCS to assess its effectiveness.

Ascension Island

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Our assessment of whether the services received from the Ascension Island Government represent best value for money takes into account not only the quality and quantity of services received but also the value of services provided by the MoD to the Island authorities and community. The taxation regime in Ascension Island together with the services provided by the MoD are unique and therefore the assessment of value for money does not constitute a precedent.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): An independent review, commissioned by the Ascension Island Government, is currently being undertaken.

The purpose of the review was to provide advice on alternative taxation regimes appropriate to Ascension's circumstances and also to provide advice on alternative non-taxation options such as levies or charges. Any alternative proposal will need to generate sufficient revenue to meet the provision of common services on Ascension. In line with government policy on the

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overseas territories, it is not envisaged that Ascension Island will receive budgetary support or grant aid but that it should remain self-financing-that is, with costs met by those using the island.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: The Ascension Island employing organisations meet formally in London each quarter. The meeting is chaired by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Ascension Island Administrator and representatives of the Ministry of Defence attend the meeting. Representatives of the employing organisations, which include the former members of the London Committee are kept informed of developments on all Ascension Island Government issues, and have an opportunity to make representations on any of the subjects covered. The dispute over unpaid property tax was discussed at the last meeting.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): This issue has not been raised formally with the United States Government or the United States Air Force. However, routine discussions on issues on Ascension Island affecting both the UK and USA regularly take place.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The decision by the Ascension Island Government to remove a variation in the Ministry of Defence's annual property tax liability, which had the effect of almost doubling the tax payable, is still in dispute. Discussions are still ongoing to resolve the issue and we await the outcome of the HMRC-led study, supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, into tax arrangements on Ascension Island.



12 Nov 2009 : Column WA194

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It has not proved possible to answer the Question tabled in the time before prorogation, but I will write to the noble Lord separately.

Aviation: Air Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review and announces fiscal changes in the normal PBR/Budget cycle.

Azad Ali

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

Baroness Crawley: Mr Azad Ali is a civil servant employed by HM Treasury.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Warner



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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government recognise that the Glass-Steagall Act 1933 prohibited, in the United States, commercial banks from underwriting securities and investment banks from taking deposits. The Government note that the Act was repealed in 1999.

As set out in Reforming Financial Markets in July 2008, the Government do not believe that provisions imposing artificial limits on activity are an appropriate means of managing the risks posed by systemically significant financial institutions.

Instead, the Government's policy for dealing with financial firms whose failure could pose a systemic threat includes:

enhanced prudential regulation, including differential capital requirements for banks' riskier activities;maintaining stronger resolution arrangements, including the requirement that firms prepare "living wills"; andgeneral measures to increase the efficiency and stability of financial markets, including stronger market discipline and improvements to market infrastructure.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England meet regularly to discuss a range of issues.

Banking: Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The recapitalisation of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and RBS's participation in the asset protection scheme are both subject to state aid approval from the European Commission. The Treasury has reached an in-principle agreement with Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes as to the pricing and consequent disposals that RBS must make as a result of receiving state aid, including the disposal of RBS's insurance business, including brands such as Churchill and Direct Line. RBS has been closely involved throughout the negotiations.

The Government welcome the in-principle agreement and strongly support the EU's state aid and competition framework. It is vital that institutions that require state aid support do not have unfair commercial advantage over their competitors. The package of disposals is now subject to agreement by the college of Commissioners, which is expected shortly.



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The disposal of RBS Insurance along with the other divestment obligations will take place over a four to five-year period. The sale will help strengthen RBS's balance sheet and enhance long-term viability. The sooner RBS returns to stand-alone commercial viability, the sooner taxpayers will be able to recover their investment.

Biometric Data

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It has not proved possible to answer the Question tabled in the time before prorogation, but I will write to the noble Lord separately.

Cabinet Office: Strategy Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

Baroness Crawley: Information about internal discussion is not normally disclosed.

Care Services: Children

Questions

Asked by Lord Rooker


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