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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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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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a list of all events involving United Kingdom-registered commercial aircraft with a take-off weight greater than 5,700kg recorded on the Civil Aviation Mandatory Occurrence Report database from 1 January 2000. [HL885]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to follow the governments of the United States and certain European Union member states in ensuring effective cuts in salaries and bonuses for senior directors and executives of banks in receipt of public money. [HL262]
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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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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Lloyds Banking Group have explained to them why, after seeking to reduce by half payments made under covenant to the Lloyds TSB Foundations, they rejected the counter proposal from Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland which would ensure that funds continue to be distributed to charities in Scotland. [HL88]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will answer HL88, tabled on 19 November by Lord Wilson of Tillyorn relating to the Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland; and what is the reason for the delay in answering. [HL656]
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.
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.
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received about use of illegal child labour, payment of wages less than the minimum, and unsafe working conditions in the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank; and whether they will discuss those matters with the International Labour Organization. [HL614]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will continue to press for access by the International Committee of the Red Cross to all places of detention in China; and whether they will raise the matter bilaterally and multi-laterally, including at sessions of the European Union-China Human Rights Dialogue. [HL755]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to hold discussions with representatives of the United Kingdom beef and lamb production sectors to reduce their carbon dioxide emission targets for 2020. [HL782]
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.
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 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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether United Kingdom intelligence and counter-terrorism officials were consulted on the security and public order implications of the publication of the book The Cartoons that Shook the World by Jytte Klausen. [HL717]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 2 December (WA 41), what are the public service agreement indicator sets for the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism [HL791]
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