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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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

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.

Government: Office Equipment

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Davies of Oldham: The average purchase price in 2009 of a ream of A4 80gsm photocopier paper was £2.09.

House of Lords: Members' Expenses

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

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.

India: Religion

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

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.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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

Secretary and other Ministers. The basis for these representations mainly centred on Mr Shaikh's mental health. Mr Shaikh's mental health was a crucial aspect of evidence that the Government believed the courts should have considered before they delivered the sentence.

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.

There is no link between the two issues.

Pakistan: Religion

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

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).

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



13 Jan 2010 : Column WA162

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).

The information requested in relation to parts (a), (b) and (c) is given in the table below:

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

2010-11

-0.3

0.0

0.0

2011-12

-0.3

0.0

0.0

2012-13

0.0

0.3

0.3

2013-14

0.0

0.3

0.3

2014-15

0.0

0.3

0.3

2015-16

-0.1

0.3

0.3

Railways: Crossrail

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley



13 Jan 2010 : Column WA163

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.

Railways: East Coast

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

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 EndingPublic Performance Level Moving Annual Average (percentage)Train Operator

06 Jan 2001

79.0

GNER

05 Jan 2002

70.5

GNER

04 Jan 2003

68.5

GNER

03 Jan 2004

73.6

GNER

08 Jan 2005

76.4

GNER

04 Jan 2006

81.2

GNER

06 Jan 2007

84.4

GNER

05 Jan 2008

81.9

NXEC

03 Jan 2009

85.5

NXEC

09 Jan 2010

88.9

East Coast

Asked by Lord Moonie

Lord Adonis: I understand that there is no bonus scheme in place for the senior staff of East Coast in this financial year.

Railways: High Speed Lines


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