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Since April 2009 we have provided over a thousand FARDC officers with training on a huge range of subjects, including logistics, communications, and leadership, with further courses planned until spring 2010. We have also developed an administration school for the FARDC and refurbished their catering and logistics schools.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with heads of states and governments in the Great Lakes region about creating and maintaining a permanent and effectively monitored ceasefire in the Kivus and across the Great Lakes region. [HL1016]
Lord Brett: Any permanent ceasefire in the Kivus will require close co-operation between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. We welcome the recent rapprochement between Rwanda and DRC-including the recent exchange of ambassadors-which has led to greater co-operation and stability in the region. Our ambassador in Kinshasa and High Commissioner in Kigali are in close contact with their respective host Governments and continue to engage on this issue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they opposed the 6 per cent increase in the European Union budget for 2010 when the amended draft budget was discussed in the Council of the European Union. [HL1078]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Through tough negotiation the Government secured an EU budget for 2010 that was below the level of the Commission's proposals and almost €5 billion (4 per cent) lower than that proposed by the European Parliament, saving the UK taxpayer almost half a billion pounds. The budget included reductions in spending that represents relatively poor value for money, such as administration, and appropriate allocations for areas of better value for money such as external aid.
A key driver for the size of the 2010 budget is the financing of the European economic recovery plan, as well as additional support for structural and cohesion funds for the new member states, many of whom have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. The overall budget increase is also partially driven by the expected acceleration in the delivery of those funds across the EU.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Barbara Follett, on 9 December 2009 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 390W), what was the average purchase price, excluding value added tax,
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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Between April 2008 and March 2009 there were 79 Members who attended the House but claimed no expenses. This includes Ministers, office-holders and Members who attended but died during the year. Full details of claims made in this time period are available on the Parliament website at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HoLallowances0809.pdf.
Lord Brett: Anti-conversion laws have been introduced by some Indian states. Alongside EU partners we have raised the subject at meetings with Indian officials in the context of the EU-India human rights dialogue. We maintain a constructive dialogue with the Indian authorities about human rights and minority rights issues more generally in India.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead on 16 December 2009 (WA 246), whether their position on alleged injustices against residents at Camp Ashraf by the Iraqi authorities takes account of their representations to the Government of China in the case of Akmal Shaikh. [HL1054]
Lord Brett: The UK opposes the death penalty and takes action in all cases to try to prevent UK nationals being executed. Akmal Shaikh was the first EU/British national to be executed in China in 50 years. Twenty-seven high level representations were made to the Chinese authorities dating back to November 2008 by my right honourable friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign
13 Jan 2010 : Column WA161
Camp Ashraf is part of a sovereign and democratic Iraq and the situation there is a matter for the Government of Iraq. We regularly discuss Camp Ashraf with the Iraqi Government, including with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Ministers for Human Rights, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs. We continue to underline the need for the Iraqi authorities to deal with the residents of Camp Ashraf in a way that meets international standards.
Lord Brett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to strongly support the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the full implementation of those norms laid out in the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The UK will continue to urge Pakistan to uphold the rights of all its citizens, including religious and other minorities. The UK will continue to work with our partners in the EU to highlight the issue of human rights with the Government of Pakistan. In 2009 the EU issued two demarches, most recently in December 2009, both of which specifically pressed the Government for immediate progress on minority rights. The Government of Pakistan announced in December 2009 a series of measures designed to improve inclusion and tolerance towards religious and other minorities, including local-level committees to resolve disputes and a national minorities day. These issues will remain a focus of our bilateral lobbying and multilateral work in 2010.
In 2010, UK-funded projects will be focusing on areas including addressing the misuse of the blasphemy laws, improving women's rights, education, governance and justice reform and urging Pakistan to ratify and effectively implement the remaining two international treaties focusing on Human Rights (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated cost of uprating the basic state pension on the basis of the higher of average earnings or retail prices index from (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012, and (d) 2015. [HL149]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Baseline projections of expenditure on pensioner benefits used for these costings assume that the basic state pension is increased by earnings from 2012. Prior to 2012, projections assume that the basic state pension is uprated by the greater of RPI or 2.5 per cent.
If the basic state pension were to be uprated by the higher of earnings or prices in 2010, the weekly value of the basic state pension to pensioners would be below the 2.5 per cent increase committed to by the Chancellor at Budget 09.
A policy of uprating the basic state pension on the basis of the higher of average earnings or the retail prices index from 2015 is equivalent to the baseline. Therefore there would be no additional cost compared to the baseline projections for part (d).
|Additional basic state pension spend from uprating the basic state pension by the higher of earnings or retail prices index, £ billion 2009-10 price terms, net of income related benefits, UK and overseas.|
|(a) From April 2010||(b) From April 2011||(c) From April 2012|
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 15 December 2009 (WA 215), what are the estimated peak volume and peak number of lorries per day required to remove the excavated material from the central stations and shafts for the Crossrail project. [HL935]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The estimated total bulk volume of excavated material from the central stations and shafts is 3.1 million cubic metres. Detailed estimates as to the peak volume and peak number of lorries per day required to remove this material have not yet been completed by Crossrail Limited.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the targets for timekeeping performance for East Coast main line services for this year; and what levels of timekeeping were achieved by Great North Eastern Railways and National Express in each of the past five years. [HL1161]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Targets for timekeeping performance are an operational matter for East Coast, and I suggest that the noble Lord contacts Elaine Holt, Chair of East Coast with his question at: Elaine Holt, Chair, East Coast, 1/18 Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR.
The public performance level moving annual average achieved each year on the Intercity East Coast franchise from January 2001 to January 2010 is shown below together with the name of the train operator.
|Year Ending||Public Performance Level Moving Annual Average (percentage)||Train Operator|
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