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The National Audit Office can also audit the accounts of regulatory bodies and report on their procedures and practices. Bodies created by statute will be obliged to lay accounts and reports before Parliament each year. Further, government departments, Ministers and statutory regulators listed in the schedule to the Parliamentary Commissioners Act 1967 are answerable to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in relation to complaints about their activities.

Executive agencies, which are not creatures of statute, will normally account to Ministers, who in turn will answer to Parliament for the actions of their agencies.

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The National Audit Office (NAO) has prepared value for money reports on all of the regulatory bodies in the public sector since 1997. It is also the financial auditor for most of the regulatory bodies' resource accounts. From 2010-11 the NAO will audit the Financial Services Authority (FSA) accounts.

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Schools: Foreign Languages


Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Ofsted's self-evaluation form has been simplified to align with the new inspection evaluation schedule, removing many of the detailed prompts. However, inspections of schools will continue to cover the quality of teaching and learning of the curriculum and how it meets the needs of the pupils, which can include coverage of languages.

Ofsted also continue to carry out its rolling three-yearly subject reports into the teaching of each national curriculum subject, including modern foreign languages. The next one of these for languages is due in the autumn term of 2010.

Shipping: Lighthouse Authorities


Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The board members and officers of the General Lighthouse Authorities are each required to comply with a code of best practice, based on the Cabinet Office's Guidance on Codes of Practice for Board Members of Public Bodies. The codes include a duty to comply with the seven principles of public life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Nolan committee).

The standards and rules governing use of public money apply to the General Lighthouse Authorities, whose annual accounts, which are consolidated into the General Lighthouse Fund Accounts, are subject to full National Audit Office inspection. Copies of the General Lighthouse Fund Accounts are placed in the Libraries of the House.

Corporate governance is monitored through internal and external audit reviews as well as by the Secretary of State's nominated General Lighthouse Authority non-executive directors at Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board.

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Asked by Lord Berkeley

Lord Adonis: Trinity House and the Commissioners of Irish Lights are not designated public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses is a public authority under the Act and has received 44 requests for information, and answered 43. The request outstanding is being processed and will be answered within the 20-day statutory timeframe for a response.

Shipping: Marine Guidance


Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): We are in the final stages of revising Marine Guidance Note 298 following a period of consultation and hope to publish a revised version in the spring.

Shipping: Piracy


Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Since 1 October 2005 five British vessels have reported being subject to acts of piracy.

Sport: Clubs


Asked by Lord Pendry

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): No assessment has been made of how the business rates revaluation will affect amateur sports clubs because we do not hold data centrally on which hereditaments they occupy across the country. However, community amateur sports clubs are eligible for a

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minimum 80 per cent relief on their business rates bills and local authorities can increase this relief if they wish to 100 per cent.

The five-yearly business rates revaluations make sure each business pays its fair contribution and no more by ensuring that the share of the national rates bill paid by any one business reflects changes over time in the value of its property relative to others. The 2010 revaluation will not raise a single extra penny for government.

Asked by Lord Pendry

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Community amateur sports clubs are eligible for a minimum 80 per cent relief from their rates bills. Local authorities have discretion to increase the level of relief to those clubs to 100 per cent.

The five-yearly business rates revaluations make sure each business pays its fair contribution and no more by ensuring that the share of the national rates bill paid by any one business reflects changes over time in the value of its property relative to others. The 2010 revaluation will not raise a single extra penny for government.

Over a million properties will see their business rate liabilities come down as a result of revaluation. The Government have put in place a £2 billion relief scheme to limit the impact on the minority with bill increases, which in 2010-11 will ensure that no property occupied by amateur sports clubs or any other occupier will see its rates bill increase by more than 11 per cent as a result of the revaluation, with maximum increases capped at just 3.5 per cent for small properties. That is on top of the wider support available to help ease business pressures including discounted rate bills for small businesses and deferring tax payments.

Sport: Greyhound Racing


Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Davies of Oldham: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The noble Lord should write to the chief executive of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) requesting this information. The GBGB holds responsibility for the governance, regulation and management of the sport of licensed greyhound racing in England, Scotland and Wales.

It can be contacted at:

Greyhound Board of Great Britain

Procter House1 Procter StreetWC1V 6DW

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Sri Lanka


Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We continue to take every opportunity to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to make progress on national reconciliation, through taking forward the need for a fully inclusive political solution which addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. It remains our view that this is the only way to achieve lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Reconciliation will depend in a large part on the Government of Sri Lanka protecting and promoting the rights of all Sri Lanka's social, ethnic and religious communities. Following the recent presidential election in Sri Lanka my right honourable friend the Prime Minister wrote to President Rajapakse urging him to use his mandate to take forward genuine reconciliation. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary also discussed this issue when he spoke to Foreign Minister Bogollagama on 5 February 2010.

Parliamentary elections will be the next opportunity for Sri Lankans of all communities to elect their representatives. They need to be able to make their choices freely and in an atmosphere untainted by violence.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Brett: The latest UN figures of 15 January 2010 estimate that approximately 187,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have been released from the camps in Vavuniya to either their places of origin or to institutions and host families

While we welcome the returns, we are urging the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to release all IDPs and to allow full access for humanitarian agencies to all areas of return. This is critical to ensure families recover their lives and livelihoods.

We also urge the Government of Sri Lanka to allow ICRC access to the 12,000 suspected former combatants who remain detained in numerous locations.

The Department for International Development (DfID) has contributed £12.5 million of humanitarian assistance to help those displaced and support their returns in Sri Lanka. This funding is being provided to impartial humanitarian agencies.

Asked by Lord Patten

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Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: Our High Commission in Colombo has expressed our concerns over religious freedoms to the Sri Lankan Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management. In addition, last year the EU expressed its concern at a draft Bill relating to religious freedoms, which was awaiting further discussion in the Sri Lankan Parliament. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Sri Lankan Government about any legislation that reduces freedoms protected by international human rights law.

Stamp Duty


Asked by Lord Newby

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The information is not available. It is not possible to provide an estimate of the charge in revenue as no stamp duty land tax (SDLT) returns are available for transactions of this kind.

Taxation: Avoidance


Asked by Lord Newby

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The most recent estimates of tax avoidance are set out in the HMRC publications Measuring the Tax Gap 2009 and Protecting Tax Revenues 2009. These estimate that total avoidance accounted for around 17.5 per cent of the UK net tax gap of £40 billion in the latest year for which figures are available. Separate estimates are not available for avoidance relating to disclosed schemes undertaken by companies or individuals.

The disclosure regime provides vital intelligence on avoidance, which helps the Government to act swiftly to close down schemes where necessary. Since 2004 the Government have legislated to close down over £12 billion in avoidance opportunities using intelligence provided by the regime. At the 2009 Pre-Budget Report the Government announced consultation on a package of measures to further strengthen the disclosure rules, including the introduction of enhanced penalties, a requirement for promoters to provide lists of their clients, and amendments and additions to the "hallmarks" which describe disclosable schemes. These will help

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ensure that the disclosure regime keeps pace with the market and continues to be effective in protecting tax revenues against artificial tax avoidance schemes.

Asked by Lord Newby

Lord Myners: HMRC does not have an estimate of the cost of tax evasion broken down by individuals and companies.

At PBR 2009 HMRC published an estimate that tax losses due to evasion account for approximately 17.5 per cent of the overall tax gap. This information is available in Protecting Tax Revenues 2009 which can be found at HMRC estimates that the overall tax gap was £40 billion in 2007-08. This estimate includes losses from error, non-payment and artificial

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avoidance as well as deliberate evasion. This information is published in Measuring Tax Gaps 2009, which can be found at and is available in the House of Commons Library.

Asked by Lord Newby

Lord Myners: The relevant table has been included on the following page, and is also available online at

The amounts attributable to tax evasion and tax avoidance are not identifiable separately.

Figures for 2009-10 will be published in HMRC's 2010 autumn performance report.

Table 4: Tackling non-compliance
Results of work Tackling non-compliance (£m)
Summary of Additional Liability (1)2005-062006-072007-082008-09

Local Compliance

Corporation Tax Enquiries





Self-assessment Business Enquiries





Self-assessment Non-business Inquiries(2)





VAT Interventions





Excise Interventions





Employer Compliance





Construction Industry Reviews





International Trade Interventions





Capital Gains Tax Inquiries(4)





Hidden Economy





Broader Coverage








Large Business Service

Corporation Tax Enquiries





VAT Interventions





Employer Compliance





Petroleum Revenue Tax





Excise Interventions





International Trade Interventions





Environmental Interventions





Specialist Investigations(6)

Civil Interventions



SI Excise Yield(7)


Business International (8)

Corporation Tax Interventions





Excise, Customs, Stamps and Money

Stamps Tax





Charity Assets and Residency

Income Tax and Inheritance Tax








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