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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead on 1 February (WA 6), what is the severest sanction that the European Union can impose on member states which refuse to pay fines after further infraction proceedings under articles 258 and 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union have been unsuccessful. [HL1867]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): For serious and persistent breaches the European Union "may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council" (Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union).
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many projects involving credit terms of less than two years have been supported by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in each of the past five years; and what is their total value. [HL1882]
The First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council (Lord Mandelson): In respect of contracts with less than two years' credit terms, the number of insurance policies/guarantees issued by ECGD in each of the past five years, including aggregate contract values, was:
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many projects of less than £10 million in value have been supported by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in each of the past five years; and what was the total value of such projects in each year. [HL1883]
Lord Mandelson: The Government are currently carrying out a public consultation on proposed revisions to the Export Credits Guarantee Department's (ECGD) business principles and ancillary policies, including on
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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Myners on 27 January, what are the definitions in the European directive on prospectuses which prevent Alternative Investment Market-listed shares being eligible for inclusion in an ISA. [HL1670]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The UK tax system differentiates between listed and unlisted shares for tax purposes. One of the qualifying conditions for the eligibility of shares for ISA tax relief is that they must be listed on a recognised stock exchange.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) now generally uses the term "admitted to trading on an EU Regulated Market under Title III of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID)", to determine which securities would meet the HMRC definition of "listed". AIM is not an EU-regulated market under Title III of MiFID, and so shares traded on it do not meet that definition.
To enable AIM-listed shares to be included within an ISA, the Government have to amend the ISA regulations. In doing so, the Government would have to consider the risk to ISA investors of allowing not only shares held on AIM, but potentially all other secondary markets worldwide, to be eligible for ISA tax relief. The Government would also have to review the wider tax reliefs currently available to AIM-listed shares, which would mean reconsidering advantageous treatment for AIM shares around inheritance tax, and access to the enterprise investment scheme (EIS) and venture capital trusts (VCT).
|Figures in £ millions|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure they are getting value for money from audit firms; and what steps they are taking to ensure that medium-sized firms have access to tender processes. [HL1730]
Lord Myners: Individual government departments are responsible for ensuring they obtain value for money from the contracts they enter into with audit firms. Contracts will be subject to the procurement rules and practices of each government department, but will be based on the policy and standards framework maintained by the Office of Government Commerce, and should comply with the principles of fair and open competition.
It is the Government's policy to encourage and support all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete for public sector contracts where this is consistent with value for money policy and UK regulations, EU treaty principles and EU procurement directives. The Office of Government Commerce provides government departments with guidance on opening supply opportunities to SMEs, building effective relationships with them, and removing some of the barriers they can face in the delivery of government contracts. The Government-supported web-portal www.supply2gov.gov.uk also offers consolidated access to lower-value opportunities from across the UK public sector, improving the visibility of public procurement opportunities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what investigations they have undertaken into the possible savings that might be achieved from using audit services of smaller firms not currently on approved lists. [HL1731]
Lord Myners: The procurement of such services is the responsibility of individual government departments who are encouraged to use the services of small and medium-sized firms wherever this is consistent with good value for money.
The Treasury is, however, currently consulting departments on proposals that aim to deliver internal audit work across government in a more efficient and effective manner whether internally or externally sourced.
Lord Myners: Individual central departments are responsible for determining the criteria to be used for including firms on their approved lists for audit services. The Treasury does not maintain a central record of the criteria used.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that where financial institutions offer products claiming to be driven by environmental considerations their claims are easily verifiable by consumers. [HL1820]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA). I have asked the FSA to write to the noble Baroness on the issue that she raises.
Until November 2009, the European Union (EU) provided €9 million per month for the supply of 8.8 million litres of industrial diesel for the power station in Gaza. The EU has clarified that the ending of this support was the subject of a comprehensive discussion with the Palestinian Authority (PA), in which it was agreed that EU funds should be focused on other priorities. The PA has since undertaken to bear the cost of fuel from its own budget.
Lord Brett: Officials of the Department for International Development (DfID) are in regular contact with the European Union, United Nation (UN) agencies, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regarding power supplies in Gaza.
Around one-third of Gaza's power needs are provided by Gaza's electricity plant. The restrictions on fuel supply means that the plant does not run at full capacity, leading to power cuts of four to five hours a day for several days each week. NGO and UN partners
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Cooking gas is used for both the preparation of food and heating. In the last two months the amount of cooking gas imported into Gaza has varied between 24 per cent and 42 per cent of the pre-blockade levels. NGOs have highlighted this shortfall as a significant humanitarian concern, particularly during winter. Periodic consignments of petrol and non-industrial diesel are allowed into Gaza for UN Relief and Works Agency use, but supplies for the open market through the crossings have been sporadic. The bulk of Gaza's diesel and petrol needs are met by supplies brought through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
To ask Her Majesty's Government for each of the last three years for which figures are available, how many people were eligible for performance bonuses and special bonuses in the Ministry of Defence and its agencies, by civil service band; how many people received each type of bonus, by civil service band; what the average payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band; and what the maximum payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band. [HL4]
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): An element of the MoD overall pay award is allocated to non-consolidated variable pay related to performance. Non-consolidated variable pay awards are funded from within existing pay bill controls, and have to be re-earned each year against pre-determined targets and, as such, do not add to future pay bill costs.
For details on the maximum and average payments for staff in the Senior Civil Service I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given in the other place on 26 January 2010, (Official Report, col. 796W) to the honourable Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr Leech). In 2006-07, 271 SCS staff were eligible for a non-consolidated performance payment; 181 received one. In 2007-08, 266 were eligible and 186 received an award. In 2008-09, 268 were eligible and 187 received an award.
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