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We can confirm we have received all three missing passports, which will be returned to the holders. We, and the EU, have also been informed by the Israelis that all the personal belongings have now been sent to Turkey, to the organisers of the Flotilla (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (Insani Yardim Vakfi) (IHH)). We understand that the Turkish authorities agree this to be correct. My honourable friend Alistair Burt explained this to the British nationals who he met on 17 June 2010.
We have also asked exceptionally our consular staff in Istanbul to follow up with IHH which still holds over 300 pieces of unclaimed luggage, including watches, phones and cameras. Our consular staff have taken photos of everything that was seen in IHH's storage, which we will shortly be distributing to the British nationals involved so they can attempt to identify any property that is theirs.
We have also been informed by the Israeli authorities that the return of magnetic and media equipment is under consideration by the Israeli Defence Forces. We will continue to press for its return and availability for use in the inquiry, as required by those conducting it.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department engages Atos Healthcare as its current provider of occupational health services. The department does not hold any personnel records for Atos Healthcare, which is a private company.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 June (WA 118-19), on what date officials in the Department of Health last met officials in the Republic of Ireland's Department of Health and Children to discuss compensation for those infected with contaminated blood; which officials in both countries were involved; what record was taken of the meeting; and whether they will place the record in the Library of the House.[HL666]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There have been no meetings between officials in the department and officials in the Republic of Ireland's Department of Health and Children to discuss compensation for those infected with contaminated blood. However, contact has been made via telephone or in writing, most recently in February and March 2010 when confirming information for the March v Secretary of State for Health judicial review.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government recognise that there is a continued need for affordable housing and remain committed to its provision. At present the Homes and Communities Agency provides grants to housing associations, local authorities and other providers to deliver affordable homes for both social rent and low-cost home ownership. Decisions on future levels of funding for the provision of new affordable housing will be made in the spending review.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Work and Pensions undertakes an assessment of the impact on specific groups as part of the policy development process. The DWP will publish formal impact assessments in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which departments, agencies and other organisations were requested by an official of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to sponsor or finance Independent Networks Co-operative Association Ltd since its formation; for what purpose; and on what dates.[HL818]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has not approached any other department, agency or other organisation regarding the funding of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the Government of Iraq about the death penalty there; and whether their stance on the death penalty in Iraq is the same as their stance on the death penalty in other countries.[HL733]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. Together with EU partners, we promote the abolition of capital punishment around the world.
The UK regularly makes representations to the Government of Iraq on the death penalty. Our ambassador in Iraq wrote to the Iraqi President and Prime Minister on 17 May 2010 outlining our opposition to the death penalty. Along with 22 other countries, the UK raised concerns over the use of the death penalty in Iraq during Iraq's Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010. On three occasions in 2009, we joined other EU member states in delivering demarches to the Iraqi Government against the death penalty.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jonathan Djanogly) who has policy responsibility for legal aid and legal services has met partners from one major criminal legal aid firm who wrote to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Kenneth Clarke) shortly after the General Election.
As set out in my Written Ministerial Statement of 23 June 2010 (Official Report, cols. WS 108-110), the Government are intending to seek views in the autumn on proposals for reform of legal aid following the internal policy assessment that is now in train.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate the balance of powers between the United Kingdom Parliament and the European Parliament following the implementation of the Lisbon treaty.[HL649]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are examining the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with the UK Parliament. The common law is clear-the UK Parliament is sovereign. We are examining whether the common law provides sufficient ongoing and unassailable protection for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are committed to the radical devolution of power, away from Westminster and Whitehall to local councils, communities and homes across the nation. This includes more financial freedom for local government in exchange for greater transparency and accountability to citizens. Localism and decentralisation are key priorities. They will allow radical reform and enable councils to deliver savings. Rapid progress is already being made in this balance of power shake-up, including:consultation with councils about where best to reduce burdens on them;a move away from the wasteful inefficiency of central targets and towards local accountability with the scrapping of comprehensive area assessment which cost taxpayers between £12 million and £39 million a year; and
The Government have already taken action on expenditure reductions by pledging to freeze council tax for 2011-12, and will seek to freeze it for a further year, in partnership with local government. The Government have also provided councils with greater flexibility for local spending decisions through removing restrictions on some £1.2 billion of grants this year. There is still a lot of potential gain through new practices, for example shared services, joint working and smarter procurement procedures. The radical town hall transparency that this Government have announced will be a driver for such change.
In the Queen's Speech, legislation was announced which, alongside other policy changes, will devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of their intention to abolish the Standards Board for England, they will instruct the board and the First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) (a) to suspend all outstanding cases, and (b) not to accept any new cases, until the future of those bodies has been determined.[HL753]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Government cannot give instructions countermanding statute. However, we will include in the Bill to devolve greater powers to councils, announced in the Queen's Speech for this Session, provisions to repeal the legislation that established the current local authority members' conduct regime, including the Standards Board for England and the First-tier Tribunal.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 3 June (WA 9), who has the power to terminate prosecutions in Northern Ireland, to decide that sentences may be reviewed, and to review sentences. [HL727]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): A prosecution may be terminated before its conclusion in a number of ways. The prosecutor may withdraw a case or may offer no evidence. The court may also stop a case from proceeding by acceding to a defence abuse of process argument or if, at the conclusion of the prosecution's case, it considers the defendant has no case to answer. The specific power to issue a nolle prosequi-which was formerly held by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and which acts to terminate any prosecution on indictment-was transferred on devolution of justice and policing to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. The power to seek leave to refer a case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration on the grounds of undue leniency has similarly been transferred to the director. Whether the sentence is reviewed or changed is a matter for the Court of Appeal.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of offenders issued with a caution in the Metropolitan, West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police Force Areas 2004 to 2008 (latest available) can be viewed in the following table.
|Number of offenders issued with a caution by the Metropolitan Police, West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police, 2004 to 2008 (1)(2)(3)|
(1) The cautions statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been cautioned for two or more offences at the same time the principal offence is the more serious offence.
(2) From 1 June 2000 the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and warnings. These are included in the totals.
(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much revenue was generated by the General Lighthouse Authorities from inspecting offshore renewable installations and oil and gas platforms in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007, (d) 2008, and (e) 2009; and how much has been generated this year.[HL486]
Earl Attlee: None. The General Lighthouse Authorities do not levy a charge for inspection of aids to navigation. Inspections are normally undertaken by the authorities during the course of their operational activities and they therefore incur little additional expenditure.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): An estimate of the deaths attributable to passive smoking among United Kingdom adults was published in a report by Professor Jamrozik in the British Medical Journal in 2005 (333; 812-17), which indicated that the annual number of deaths was 10,700. This evidence was cited by the Royal College of Physicians in March 2010 in their report Passive Smoking and Children, which also goes on to consider the wider health impact of passive smoking.
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