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Data for 2009 are not yet available.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Public Finances


Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): All civil servants are required to carry out their duties in accordance with the Civil Service Code which sets out the core values and standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Railways: Contracts


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Gross cost contracts would place all revenue risks of passenger train operations with the public sector and would require the Government to be more greatly involved in specification and monitoring of all elements of rail operations, including the setting of fares, timetable development, revenue protection, service quality and marketing activities. We do not believe that government involvement in such an approach would benefit users or franchisees.

The Government believe that the ability of private sector operators to attract more passengers, grow the market, improve the service and receive the revenue benefits of such actions is a key element of the current franchise model and one of the reasons for the significant growth delivered in recent years.

Our discussions with operators have generally supported this view.



Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave him on 2 February 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 31).

Sport: Clubs


Asked by Lord Pendry

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government have not had any recent discussions with local authorities about the Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme. However the Minister for Sport recently visited a

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number of sports clubs in Sheffield that are CASC registered, coinciding with which DCMS issued a press release promoting the benefits of the CASC scheme and encouraging more clubs to register.

Sufi Muslim Council


Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): I refer my noble friend to the Answers given on:

6 July 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 116);

15 December 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 221); and

16 December 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 254).

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Department for Communities and Local Government currently has no plans to award funds to the Sufi Muslim Council in 2010.

Syria: Kurds


Asked by Lord Hylton

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We are concerned about human rights in Syria. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has raised human rights when he has met Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem. My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Mr Lewis, reiterated in a Westminster Hall debate on 24 June 2009 that Kurdish rights were still not legitimised within the Syrian constitution. We have highlighted our concerns about the general situation of Kurds in Syria in our 2008 annual human rights report.

My officials in Damascus have regular contact with Kurdish human rights defenders and monitor the situation closely, including the rights to citizenship and language rights. They have been following the cases of Hassan Ibrahim Saleh, Mohamed Mustapha, Maroof Mullah Ahmed, Anwar Nasso, Dilbireen Osei Hamdeen and Havraz Mohammed Amin Hassan. We have not raised their cases specifically-among the many hundreds of political prisoners in Syria-but with the EU are focusing our lobbying on a small number of high-profile individuals (such as the prominent human rights lawyer Haitham al Maleh).

The criminal justice system in Syria is in need of reform and, where possible, we have sought to push this process forward. Unfortunately, it is common for detainees to be denied access to legal representation for some time while in custody. Of particular concern is the Supreme State Security Court, a special court that exists outside the ordinary criminal justice system to prosecute those perceived as challenging the Government. This court is exempt from the rules of criminal procedure that apply in Syria's criminal courts. Defence lawyers usually see their clients for the first time on the day of the trial and the court denies them the opportunity to engage in oral defence or call on witnesses. Most trials consist of four short sessions, often less than 30 minutes each. Defendants have no right to appeal their verdict to a higher tribunal.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: Reports unfortunately confirm that Ehsan Fattahian was executed on 11 November 2009, and that Fasih Yasamani was executed on 6 January 2010. Both executions happened

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in Iran. We are also aware of a number of other Kurds in Iran with pending death sentences who are facing imminent execution.

On 20 November 2009, the EU presidency summoned the Iranian ambassador in Stockholm to condemn a spate of executions, including Mr Fattahian's, and plead for clemency in the case of 13 others, all of Kurdish origin, facing the same fate. The presidency noted there was credible information to suggest that the sentences appeared to be politically motivated. On 20 January 2010, my honourable friend Ivan Lewis raised the cases directly with the Iranian ambassador, expressing concern at reports that they faced imminent execution. Mr Lewis reiterated our long-held concerns about the trials not meeting international standards, and urged the Iranian Government to show clemency.

These executions undermine Iran's claimed commitment to justice, human rights and democratic values. Our long-standing opposition to capital punishment under all circumstances is clear; we raise these concerns with the Iranian authorities bilaterally and through the EU at every appropriate opportunity. We did so on over 70 separate occasions last year, and will continue to do so.

Taxation: Avoidance


Asked by Lord Newby

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) allocates all resources on the basis of identified risk. HMRC staff cover the full range of risk-based compliance work. It is therefore not possible to provide a breakdown of the budget allocation in the manner requested.

Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Myners: The Government are committed to ensuring that new legislation minimises the opportunities for avoidance. All new measures are scrutinised by tax avoidance experts as part of the policy development process to ensure they are well targeted and effective. Consultation, where it is possible, also helps identify potential weaknesses in draft legislation. In the longer term the Government are committed to making further improvements to the robustness of the tax framework by developing principles-based or thematic approaches to legislation.

The Government will continue to use intelligence obtained from the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regime and other sources to keep track of new developments in the avoidance market and where necessary will act swiftly to close down abusive schemes.

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Taxation: Capital Gains Tax


Asked by Lord Newby

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HMRC holds limited data on the number of individuals and trustees using all or part of their annual exempt amount (AEA) and therefore it is currently not possible to estimate the revenue implications from the proposed reductions to the AEA.

Due to the difficulties of assessing the large behavioural responses which would result from a change of this kind, a reliable estimate of the revenue implications of applying capital gains tax at the marginal rate of income tax can be determined only at disproportionate cost.

Taxation: Havens


Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

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The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for International Development work with a number of multilateral institutions including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Monetary Fund which monitor the use of tax avoidance and tax shelters across a wide range of countries including those in Africa. Action to address tax havens is currently under discussion at a number of international working groups. HMRC is not aware of an increase in offshore deposits in African tax havens since the economic downturn and has seen no evidence of Somalia developing as a tax haven used by UK residents.



Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Data on all foreign nationals imprisoned for terrorist offences since 2001 could only be answered by breaching cost limits.

However, information on terrorist arrests and outcomes and stops and searches is published in the following Home Office statistical bulletins:

9 Feb 2010 : Column WA128; and

Transport: Tax Incentives


Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): There are two incentives available specifically for bus travel to work. The first exempts an employee from tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) on the benefit of an employer-provided work bus service, subject to certain conditions. There is a second exemption from tax and NICs where an employee benefits from an employer giving a subsidy or other support to a bus service provider to introduce, continue or improve a local public bus route. This exemption is subject to certain other conditions and does not apply where a subsidy is provided for local bus services generally.

There are no specific incentives for rail travel to work. However, an employer can provide an interest-free loan, or a loan with a rate of interest below normal commercial rates, to an employee. Subject to certain conditions about the amount of the loan, the interest foregone on the loan is not treated as a taxable benefit. This loan may used to assist the employee in the purchase of a season ticket for public transport by bus or rail but is not confined to this purpose.

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