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9 Dec 2009 : Column WA123

Written Answers

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Alcohol: Duty


Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uses a number of processes to identify alcohol that has not had duty paid on it. These include: use of risk and intelligence information; targeted assurance testing of businesses' systems and procedures; credibility testing of alcohol supply chains; physical checks at revenue traders' premises, including warehouses, wholesalers and retailers; and the use of criminal and civil investigation techniques against the highest-risk individuals and businesses.

Specifically in relation to spirits, all bottles and other retail containers of a specific size and alcohol content held for retail sale in the UK must bear a duty stamp.

HMRC works in partnership with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) to detect illicit alcohol entering the UK. This includes risk-based targeting and challenging of both commercial freight consignments and individual travellers arriving from other EU member states and non-EU countries.

At Budget 2009 the Government announced the renewal of HMRC's and UKBA's tackling alcohol fraud strategy. This includes a number of further measures aimed at helping HMRC identify alcohol that has not had duty paid on it. These changes are being progressed alongside the wider HMRC powers review, which will ensure that HMRC has effective powers to protect alcohol revenue duties.

HMRC publishes details of alcohol seizures on a financial year basis in its annual autumn performance report. Figures for 2005-06 to 2008-09 are provided below:

Product2005-06 (in litres)2006-07 (in litres)2007-08 (in litres)2008-09 (in litres)











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Animal Health


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The health of animals is central to Defra's work of protecting livestock and controlling and eradicating disease.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal, or for an owner or keeper to fail to provide for an animal's welfare needs. This includes the need for a suitable environment (place to live); for a suitable diet; to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; to be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable); and to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

The Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, published in 2004, aimed continuously to improve the health and welfare of kept animals while protecting society, the economy, and the environment from the effect of animal disease.

The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), in his annual report on Animal Health for 2008, summarised progress and developments in UK animal health and welfare. Recent successes include:

the successful implementation of a voluntary bluetongue vaccination campaign in England and Wales, delivered in partnership with the veterinary profession and livestock industries;the effective control of two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in England, due to a co-ordinated response from Defra, Animal Health, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Health Protection Agency, the Environment Agency and local authorities;major progress towards the elimination of BSE in cattle;continued progress on the control of salmonella in poultry and the launch of an industry-led zoonoses control programme for pigs; andgood progress in Northern Ireland on the control of bovine brucellosis and Aujeszky's disease in pigs.

Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) continues to be a challenge. In 2009 the EU approved the UK bTB Eradication Plan, which reflected the control strategies being pursued in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Defra continues to work on developing a bTB vaccine for both badgers and cattle in order to provide a new tool to help control the spread of the disease from wildlife.

A full copy of the CVO's report can be found on the Defra website.

Armed Forces: Aircraft


Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

9 Dec 2009 : Column WA125

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence periodically receives approaches from individuals and commercial bodies offering services, including the provision of aircraft for use on the airbridge to Afghanistan. Many of these discussions are informal and provide a method of seeking advice on the bidding process as well as determining levels of interest. The department does not routinely record informal discussions. However, since November 2007, six formal proposals have been received and were examined in line with departmental guidelines. Recently, defence equipment and support has set up the Defence Suppliers' Service and issued direction and guidance to all Ministry of Defence directorates on how to handle inquiries of interest and unsolicited bids from commercial suppliers.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The airbridge to Afghanistan is absolutely critical for the success of current operations. We use two air transport solutions for the movement of service personnel: direct flights from the UK into Afghanistan, using military air transport aircraft; and commercial chartered flights to a Middle East hub followed by military flights into Afghanistan.

Since November 2007, six unsolicited bids for air transport direct to Afghanistan have been received from Kellogg Brown and Root Limited, Fortis Aviation Services and Solutions, Omega Air, BAe Systems, Crown Aviation Consulting and Government Affairs (Services) Limited. Each of these proposals was formally examined in line with departmental guidelines. The companies were informed that at the time we did not wish to progress further with their offers but that should the situation change and a requirement emerge, the Ministry of Defence would consider a competition and, therefore, advertise the need for such services in accordance with departmental guidelines.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: There are no current plans to reduce the numbers of either Tornado or Harrier aircraft numbers prior to 2015. However, the MoD routinely reviews its forward plans to deliver defence capability to ensure they are sound and that resources are allocated in line with defence priorities. Top priority is given to achieving success on operations in Afghanistan and tough decisions will have to be taken to ensure that this is the case. Planning round 10 (PR10) is currently underway.

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As is usual, a wide range of options is being considered in PR10. No final decisions have yet been taken. As nothing definite has been agreed, it is premature to speculate about specific measures.

Armed Forces: Armoured Fighting Vehicles


Asked by Earl Attlee

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): At the time the Bulldog project was initiated, the mean distance between failure (MDBF) for the AFV430 MkII power pack was reputed to be in the order of 250 kms. The Bulldog powertrain has steadily improved in reliability since its introduction and is now delivering an MDBF of 4850 kms as at November 2009.

Asked by Earl Attlee

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: Yes. Despite whole-life buys of spares made in support of the AFV430 MkII drive trains, it was judged that these spares would be exhausted by the revised out of service date of 2015. This, combined with the increasing obsolescence of the power pack components, was one of the main reasons for initiating the Bulldog project, for which the contract was signed in November 2005, and these issues have now been resolved.

Asked by Earl Attlee

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: This information is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Earl Attlee

9 Dec 2009 : Column WA127

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The steering and brakes on the AFV430 are part of the same system. This would not be legal for a new civilian vehicle. The Bulldog conversion, however, meets current legislative requirements for armoured fighting vehicles.

Armed Forces: Compensation Scheme


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The military careers of Armed Forces personnel who claim under the Armed Forces compensation scheme or through the courts should not suffer as a result of that claim.

Armed Forces: Fatalities


Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The 655 deaths in Northern Ireland is sourced by the Northern Ireland Police Service and includes any deaths that occurred to either Ulster Defence Regiment personnel or Royal Irish Rifles personnel. The figure is only for those that died as a result of terrorist action and for those that died in Northern Ireland.

The figure of 763 deaths reported to have occurred in Northern Ireland is not an official MoD figure. This figure was derived from a list compiled by the Daily Telegraph and published in the book Lost lives: The story of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles (Edited by D McKittrick, S Kelters, B Feeney, C Thornton, published 1999 Trafalgar Square, ISBN: 184018227X).

Asked by Lord Laird

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Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The information regarding the number of British military fatalities in the Republic of Ireland during 1919 to 1922 and Iraq during the British Mandate of Mesopotamia 1920 to 1932 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Although details about UK service personnel who died during the period 1919 to 31 August 1921, the date of the official cessation of World War I following an Order in Council under the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act which declared the war ended, are held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they do not indicate where the individual died. The names for those who died after 31 August 1921 and the end of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia in 1932 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Helicopters


Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Over the past few months we have been re-examining our future helicopter plans and as part of this work we have had discussions with industry. We expect to conclude this work shortly and will make any announcements thereafter.

Constable of the Tower of London


Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Constable is a ceremonial role, an honorary office which receives no remuneration. Accommodation provided by the Historic Royal Palaces is designed for occasional use in support of his ceremonial functions, rather than permanent residence.

The appointment itself is approved by Her Majesty the Queen after recommendation is given by the Prime Minister.

Council Tax


Asked by Lord Bates

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will always endeavour to gather property information from other sources, such as Rightmove, in order to minimise the inconvenience to taxpayers of having to gather the information it needs by visiting a property. Internal inspections of houses are particularly rare as most of the information required to ascribe a council tax band can be established externally. The VOA does not use information from the Land Registry for council tax purposes.

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