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Baroness Taylor of Bolton: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made on 15 December 2009 (Official Report, cols. WS221-WS222) by the Secretary of State for Defence, the right honourable Bob Ainsworth, announcing a new future rotary wing strategy which will see the Ministry of Defence deliver increased levels of helicopter capability. In addition to the procurement of at least 22 Chinook helicopters, the new strategy will see the retirement of the whole Sea King fleet by early 2016, and the modification of the Merlin Mk3/3a fleet to allow it to contribute to helicopter lift operations on both battlefield and ship-borne littoral operations, in the way that Sea King Mk4 does today.

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The new strategy assumes post-2016 that all maritime helicopter requirements will be met from the Merlin and Wildcat fleets.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The Army is currently equipped with suitable helicopters for its conflict operations. These include Apache, for delivery of the find and attack function, and Lynx Mk7 and Mk9, which operate primarily in a battlefield reconnaissance role. We are upgrading Lynx Mk9 with powerful new engines to allow them to operate in Afghanistan all-year round.

Beyond this, in addition to the helicopter capabilities provided by the Army Air Corps, the Army is supported by RAF Chinook, Merlin and the Navy's Sea King Mk4 helicopters which deliver vital lift capacity in the battlefield domain. Over the next 10 years, the Ministry of Defence intends to invest some £6 billion in its helicopter capability, including procurement of the new Lynx Wildcat, which we confirmed in December last year.



Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Department for Work and Pensions is represented on the Department of Health-led steering group, which works with the National Autistic Society and other organisations following the recent consultation A better future: a consultation on a future strategy for adults with autistic spectrum conditions and the publication on 15 October 2009 of the Public Accounts Committee report Supporting people with autism through adulthood. A formal response to the consultation is expected to be published early next year.

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Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Disability employment advisers can seek help, where appropriate, from a network of work psychologists who offer a range of local services aimed at helping disabled customers progress into work.

Disability employment advisers can approach their access to work colleagues for advice on the support available to an autistic person. Where access to work support is required, the disability employment adviser will work with the customer and access to work adviser to ensure appropriate support is in place for the commencement of paid employment.

Aviation: Commercial Aircraft


Asked by Lord Tyler

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The information requested can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Banking: Bonuses


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The banks in which the Government are a shareholder are managed on an arm's-length commercial basis by UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which is wholly owned by the Government.

UKFI is working with the banks as a shareholder to ensure they offer incentives based on the Government's remuneration principles and to protect the interest of the taxpayer. In return for taxpayer support provided, both banks have agreed: not to pay discretionary cash bonuses in relation to 2009 performance to any staff earning above £39,000; and executive board members will defer bonus payments due for 2009 until 2012, to ensure that their remuneration is better aligned with the long-term performance of their banks. "UKFI has

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worked with these banks to implement among the most far reaching reforms of any large bank in the world".

As regards remuneration practices in the wider banking sector, the Government and FSA are implementing the FSB Standards agreed by G20 members at the Pittsburgh summit. These include benchmark requirements for the structure of remuneration and will ensure there is a consistent international approach. In addition, the Government have announced that where bank (and building society) employees are awarded discretionary bonuses, in whatever form, above £25,000 in the period from the Pre-Budget Report to 5 April 2010, the banks paying these bonuses will pay an additional bank payroll tax of 50 per cent on the excess bonus over £25,000.

Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Myners: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Banking: Lloyds


Asked by Lord Wilson of Tillyorn

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The concerns of Foundation for Scotland have been raised with Lloyds Banking Group and we have asked that they are addressed expeditiously. The ongoing discussions are a matter for the foundation and Lloyds Banking Group.

Asked by Lord Stewartby

Lord Myners: I have today replied to the noble Lord's Question. I apologise for the delay and resolve in the new year to answer all Parliamentary Questions promptly and fully.

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Banking: Private Equity


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Mergers and acquisition activity is generally a commercial matter for the boards and shareholders of the companies involved. The Panel on Takeovers and Mergers is the independent body that administers the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers and supervises and regulates takeovers. Its central objective is to ensure fair treatment for all shareholders in takeover bids.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government's shareholdings in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI). UKFI's objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability, and to act in a way that promotes competition.

Under UK company law, the responsibility of boards is to act in the interests of all shareholders, and UKFI will robustly hold the boards of its investee companies to account in this regard.

Child Support Agency


Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The outcomes of the Operational Improvement Plan (OIP) which ran from April 2006 to March 2009 can be found in the Child Support Agency (CSA) quarterly statistics.

The OIP was developed to improve agency performance in the short to medium term while Sir David Henshaw carried out his review of the child maintenance system.

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Sir David's review was completed in June 2006 and led to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) report on handover to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (the commission), published in December 2008, noted that the Operational Improvement Plan was acknowledged to have driven up performance and made the CSA a more businesslike organisation. The commission continues to act upon the findings of the handover report.

There are no plans to issue any further documentation relating to the OIP.

Children: Forced Labour


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We are concerned by non-governmental organisation and media reports that there are Palestinian workers in Israel and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley who are paid below the Israeli minimum wage, who do not enjoy the same legal protection as Israeli co-workers and who work in unsafe conditions. Our Consulate General in Jerusalem is currently following up on these reports.

China: Gao Zhisheng


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We remain concerned at the case of Gao Zhisheng. We have consistently raised this case with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We raised it at our 2008 UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing as part of an individual case list. In this we asked for details of the charges brought against him. The Chinese responded that "he had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment with probation of five years and one year's deprivation of political rights for instigating subversion".

After co-ordination among EU member states, the EU Presidency raised the case with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 28 January 2009. We also worked with our European partners to ensure that his case was raised at the last EU/China Human Rights Dialogue on 19 November 2009.

We will continue to monitor his case and raise it at every appropriate opportunity.

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China: Human Rights


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We remain concerned about detention facilities in China and continue to encourage increased transparency in Chinese detention facilities. We do this through our UK/China Human Rights Dialogue, the EU/China Human Rights Dialogue, and through project work.

Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Emissions


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Defra Ministers and officials meet regularly with representatives of the England livestock sector including the NFU and EBLEX, the English Beef and Lamb Executive. NFU and EBLEX are working with other livestock organisations and agricultural sectors in England on a greenhouse gas action plan to meet agriculture's low carbon transition plan target for GHG reductions by 2020. EBLEX also recently published part one of its environmental roadmap: Change in the Air- The English Beef and Sheep Production Roadmap.

The devolved Administrations are responsible for emissions from agriculture in their respective parts of the UK.

Climate Change: Deforestation


Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Brett: Latin America has a vital role to play in reducing emissions from deforestation. The UK presently provides support for reduced deforestation through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and

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the Forest Investment Programme (FIP). Some of the finance administered by these bodies will go to Latin American countries. Levels of finance for reduced deforestation are under negotiation at the climate talks in Copenhagen and we expect these to rise substantially in the years ahead. The UK will meet its share of this.

Climate Change: Population


Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Climate change, population growth, energy demands and the fundamental determinants of health such as food and water are all interconnected. Population growth will increase demand for basic services such as food, water and energy. Climate change will make it more difficult to meet these demands, particularly in developing countries. That is why we need to take necessary action to limit climate change by reducing emissions, and help developing countries to adapt to climate change that cannot be avoided.



Asked by Baroness Falkner of Margravine

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Security and intelligence officials routinely monitor the security implications of a wide range of matters. The police have the powers needed to deal with public order issues.

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

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