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9 Jun 2010 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Wednesday 9 June 2010

ACS: Law Solicitors

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As the legal profession and its regulatory bodies are independent of government and self-regulating, a complaint about the activities of a firm would need to be made to the appropriate approved regulator as defined in the Legal Services Act 2007.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is responsible for the conduct of solicitors, has informed me that it is undertaking an investigation into ACS: Law Solicitors the results of which will be published shortly.

Applications for orders under the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction are made to the courts, and is a matter for the court to decide whether each individual application is granted.

Algeria

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Algerian constitution provides for freedom of belief and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person's religion. The UK discusses the human rights situation in Algeria, including freedom of religion and belief, with the Government of Algeria both bilaterally and through EU and UN mechanisms. Under the EU-Algeria Association agreement, Algeria has made a commitment to prevent discrimination on grounds of religion in relation to education, employment, training and housing, and to ensuring that those who consider themselves victims of discrimination have access to judicial and administrative procedures to challenge their treatment.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



9 Jun 2010 : Column WA42

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Since 2000, contracts with a total value of some £160 million have been placed with BAE Systems for unmanned combat air system and unmanned air system development and risk reduction work.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

Baroness Verma: Since 2004, the UK has supported two programmes-the Chars Livelihoods Programme and the Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme-that have so far reduced the vulnerability of more than 900,000 poor Bangladeshis to climate change. This has been achieved by raising homes above flood level, strengthening embankments, building cyclone shelters and improving early warning systems.

In 2008, we helped the Government of Bangladesh develop their climate change strategy and action plan. The plan sets out a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change by strengthening food security, managing disaster risks, promoting energy efficiency and low-carbon growth, and building human and institutional capacity. This will benefit 15 million of the most vulnerable people. We have committed £60 million to the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) to support the implementation of the plan.

Broadband Delivery UK

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Broadband Delivery UK was set up on 1 April 2010 as a team within the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. In line with normal practice the team reports to a BIS senior civil servant, who reports to BIS Ministers. Broadband Delivery UK does not have a board.

Civil Service: Redeployment

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley



9 Jun 2010 : Column WA43

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: As part of the drive to reduce the UK's budget deficit the Government will need to ensure value for money across public services. A wide range of measures will be considered to achieve this and no decisions have been made by the Cabinet Office on outsourcing or to move public sector jobs off shore.

Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In the quarter January to March 2010 there were 7.71 million working part time of which 6.54 million were employees. The rest were largely made up of the part-time self-employed.

The right to request flexible working gives employees (rather than individuals) the right to request a contract variation. This means that individuals can make requests to change their way of working to accommodate caring commitments. This can include requests to work from home; to change the time their working day starts or finishes; to work compressed hours (e.g. to work longer hours for four days each week in order to take the 5th day off); to work term time only; or to work part time.

The coalition agreement commits to: extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, consulting with business on how best to do so. This is intended to give all employees more choice and flexibility in their working practices to enable them to balance their work and family commitments.

It is for individuals and their employers to agree on the working pattern that is most appropriate.

EU: Financial Assistance to Member States

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): EU finance Ministers at an extraordinary meeting of the ECOFIN Council on 9 May agreed to establish a European financial stabilisation mechanism to support euro-area member states, totalling €500 billion.

Up to €440 billion of the sum would be provided by euro-area member states (and others who choose to participate) through a special purpose vehicle. The UK has chosen not to participate in the special purpose

9 Jun 2010 : Column WA44

vehicle and will not make contributions; and there is, therefore, no question of any liability arising to the UK.

Up to €60 billion of emergency finance could be provided in accordance with Article 122(2) of the Lisbon treaty. Should this element of the mechanism be called upon, the European Commission would raise the money on the capital markets, guaranteed by the EU budget. Loans would be granted in parallel with IMF programmes and would be subject to policy conditionality. Only where there were defaults on loan repayments would there be a cost to the EU budget.

In this circumstance, all member states would be liable for a share through their monthly subscriptions to the EU budget: based on the UK's contribution to the 2010 EU Budget, the UK's share would be approximately 13.6 per cent of any increase, or up to a maximum of around €8 billion. Any increase to the UK's contribution would be within the limits of the EU own resource ceiling already agreed by Parliament through the European Communities (Finance) Act 2008.

EU: UK Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have no plans to commission such an analysis. We believe that membership of the EU is in the national interest of the United Kingdom. We intend to champion vigorously the interests of the UK and play an active role within the EU on areas of common interest.

EU: UK Presidency

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Preparations for the UK chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), which begins in November 2011, are at an early stage. UK priorities will focus on the CoE's core activities: human rights, the rule of law and democracy. A high priority will be the reform of the CoE, including the European Court of Human Rights, to enable it to carry out its mandate as efficiently as possible.



9 Jun 2010 : Column WA45

European Gendarmerie Force

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) is a police force with a military status that has full police powers in the jurisdiction of participating states, capable to respond to the full spectrum of police missions, both under civilian and military control. The UK is not part of this initiative. The Government see no circumstances in which they would consent to an EGF operation in the UK.

The EGF is a multinational initiative of five states: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. It is aimed at improving crisis management capability in sensitive areas and supports peacekeeping missions around the world. Romania joined on 17 December 2008. The cost is borne by the participating countries.

The legal basis for the EGF is the treaty concluded between the signatory states. It is an international treaty concluded between the signatories in their capacity as sovereign states, not as member states of the EU. Consequently, the treaty was not concluded under the EU treaties. As such, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has no jurisdiction to rule on the treaty.

The treaty does provide (Article 5) that the EGF may be put at the disposal of the EU. However, action taken by the EGF if acting in this capacity would be an operational not legislative matter, and therefore would also not be subject to the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

Government Departments: Ministerial Code

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information sought is set out below.



9 Jun 2010 : Column WA46

DateDeptMinisterDirectionCategory

2010

DCLG

Rt Hon John Denham MP

Proposals for new unitary local Government structures for Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk

VFM

2010

MOJ

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

Pleural Plaques

Regularity and VFM

2010

MOD

RT Hon Bob Ainsworth MP

Basra memorial wall dedication ceremony

VFM

2010

BIS

Lord Mandelson

North West Development Agency's funding for Blackpool Leisure Assets

VFM

2010

DCLG

Rt Hon John Denham MP

North West Development Agency's funding for Blackpool Leisure Assets

VFM

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans used the most cost-effective and efficient methods to join the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk. The option to travel by Eurostar and use a car sourced locally by the British Embassy was investigated and would have cost approximately £1,952, broken down as follows:

Item/CostMinister (£)Officials (£)Total (£)

Eurostar

135

135

270

Embassy Car

1,600

0

1,600

Accommodation

0

50

50

Subsistence

12

20

32

Total

1,747

205

1,952


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