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Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government welcome Mr Hammarberg's recent comments on juvenile justice, pre-trial detention of elected representatives, demining of villages and resettlement of refugees. We consider Mr Hammarberg to be an authority on this subject.



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Internet: Broadband

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government have supported the home access programme, which is close to providing the expected 270,000 grants to low-income households where children who are eligible qualify for a free computer and/or broadband internet access. It is expected that all the grants will be issued by this summer and there are no plans to extend the scheme. However, a component part of the scheme to provide equipment for those with special needs will continue until around September this year.

Further funding for digital inclusion will need to be considered within the context of the comprehensive spending review.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Cybermoor Ltd provides broadband services in Alston Moor, Cumbria and in the South Tyne and Carrshield Valleys, Northumberland. It has approximately 350 customers. The Alston Cybermoor project has been evaluated several times. The details of where to find the evaluations can be found at: http://www.cybermoor.org/index.php?option= com_mtree&task=viewlink&link_id=825&Itemid=l0.

IRA

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have no plans to hold a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder of churchgoers at the Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church in County Armagh by the IRA.



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Iran

Questions

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Shutt of Greetland: We are not aware of the statement referred to by Lord Corbett. However, we remain concerned about Ms Ashtiani's fate and have taken every opportunity to raise this case with the Iranian Government both bilaterally and through the EU, including on 19 July when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Alistair Burt, met with the Iranian ambassador. We will continue to monitor the case and remind Iran of its obligations as a party to the various UN human rights conventions.

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The UK is concerned by the ongoing detention of a number of individuals arrested following the protests in Tehran in June 2009 and welcomes Amnesty International's efforts to draw attention to this. We continue to highlight our concerns both bilaterally and through the EU. On 12 June 2010, in a Statement, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary expressed his concern for the deterioration of human rights in Iran since the elections, and called on the Government of Iran to guarantee to their citizens the basic human rights and freedoms that they are entitled to, and that they are committed to as a member of the international community.

Ismail Besikci

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Shutt of Greetland: There were no UK or EU observers present at Dr Ismail Besikci's trial.



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Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Shutt of Greetland: We regard east Jerusalem as occupied territory. Its Palestinian population has rights under the Geneva Conventions. Forcibly transferring people out of the city for political reasons, as appears to be the intention in this case, is illegal. Such actions erode trust between the parties at a crucial time. The UK, through the EU, has raised the matter with the Israeli Government.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building. East Jerusalem is regarded as occupied territory under international law-we do not recognise Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem. House demolitions or the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem, such as the recent evictions which took place in the Old City, are deeply unhelpful. We view any attempts to change the facts on the ground as a serious provocation likely to raise tensions, as well as being harmful to the peace process and, of course, in contravention of international law. We strongly support the statement of 26 July 2010 by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton to this effect.

Kabul Conference

Questions

Asked by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Promoting and protecting human rights forms an important part of our work in supporting the Afghan Government to "promote a more inclusive political process", as my honourable friend Alistair Burt said during the Statement. Progress made on human rights in Afghanistan since 2001 must not be lost, and the importance of involving women in decisions about the future of the country is fully

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recognised. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said to the House on 21 July, "there is tremendous support for women's rights in Afghanistan, and we must continue to be true to that in how we conduct ourselves, including in any political settlement".

Asked by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The UK is fully supportive of the Afghan Government in their work to protect and promote women's rights. We are supporting the establishment of a Human Rights Support Unit in the Ministry of Justice. This unit will strengthen the capacity of the Afghan Government to fulfil their human rights obligations. Its mandate is to co-ordinate human rights policy and legislation across the Afghan Government. The unit will be instrumental in assisting ministries and line ministries in implementing their human rights responsibilities, including under the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan.

Late Payments Directive

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

Lord Shutt of Greetland: A revised late payment directive, largely consistent with current UK legislation, was published in April 2009. Negotiations between member states have been ongoing since then.

The Minister of State for Business and Enterprise wrote in July 2010 to the chair of the House of Lords European Union Select Committee and the chair of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, providing an update on negotiations and explaining the UK negotiating position.

The current text provides suppliers with the certainty of an upper limit on payment periods for contracts with public authorities while maintaining business-to-business contractual freedoms (which can be vital for new and growing businesses seeking new markets).

Natural England

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford



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Lord Shutt of Greetland: Natural England has two members of staff who deal with inquiries from Parliament. The external affairs function overall employs 60 full-time equivalent staff in support of Natural England's statutory general purpose under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, including the promotion of the natural environment and the protection of biodiversity, and the promotion of access to the countryside and open spaces.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: All ministerial and official letters between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) since 11 May 2010 will be placed in the Library of the House.

These are:

Letter dated 11 May 2010 from NIO official to Chief Commissioner;

Letter dated 13 May 2010 from the Chief Commissioner to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland;

Letter dated 17 May 2010 from the Secretary of State's Private Office acknowledging receipt of correspondence from the Chief Commissioner;

Letter dated 3 June 2010 from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the Chief Commissioner responding to the 13 May letter;

Letter dated 7 June from the Chief Commissioner to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland;

Letter dated 21 June 2010 from NIO official to the Chief Executive;

Letter dated 25 June 2010 from NIO Director-General to the Chief Commissioner;

Letter dated 6 July from NIO official to Chief Executive;

Letter dated 6 July from the Minister of State for Northern Ireland to the Chief Commissioner in reply to 7 June letter;

Letter dated 8 July 2010 from Chief Executive to NIO official in reply to 25 June letter.

Ofsted

Questions

Asked by Lord Bowness



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): These are matters for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the noble Lord and copies of her replies have been placed in the Library.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is a founder member of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), alongside the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport and the Mayor of London. OPLC will take responsibility for management and development of the Olympic park and venues in legacy, when the park is handed over in 2013. OPLC's role will be to ensure that the use of the park venues post-Games is maximised for both elite and community use. This will leave a legacy of excellent sporting venues, including a Stadium and Aquatics Centre, in the heart of East London.

DCMS takes the lead on sports participation for government. Since taking office two months ago, the new coalition Government have already taken three steps that will increase participation by young people in sport:

to increase sport's share of National Lottery funding to 20 per cent, which was envisaged when the lottery was set up;

the Secretary of State at DCMS has announced plans for a new Olympic-style school sport competition; and

Government have asked sport's national governing bodies to increase to 30 per cent the amount of money that they commit to grass-roots sport from their broadcast deals.



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Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have no immediate plans to do so.

Railways: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

Earl Attlee: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State, as the special member of Network Rail, did not vote at the company's annual general meeting.

Railways: Grand Central Railway Company

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

Earl Attlee: The Grand Central Railway Company is an open access operator and not a franchise operator. The performance of this operator is a matter for Network Rail as the owner of the rail infrastructure, and the Office of Rail Regulation, which granted it the access rights. As it is an open access operator, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport has no powers to terminate its operation.

Railways: Value for Money

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley



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Earl Attlee: The Rail Value for Money study team accepts submissions in all formats. Electronic submissions should be sent to alan.thornton@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

Roads: Congestion

Questions

Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not provide advice on the effects of air pollutants on health on a location-specific basis. There is no reason to think that the effects of exposure to traffic-generated air pollutants on health in London would be qualitatively different from those in Birmingham. However, a wealth of advice is provided on the effects of air pollutants on health. The Department of Health takes advice on this subject from the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP). This committee's website provides access to detailed reports on the effects of air pollutants on health. Emphasis has been placed on the effects of long-term exposure to particles (traffic is a key source) on the development of cardiovascular disease: a detailed report is available on the COMEAP website. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead department on air quality and provides advice via the Defra banding system for air quality. This system relates levels of pollution (indicated by a series of bands from 1 to 10) to effects on health. Such information is available on the Defra website. This advice applies to people living in areas affected by traffic congestion and to those living in less busy areas.

Roads: Speed Cameras

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: No estimate has been made about the number of additional fatalities and serious injuries which would result from any suspension of fixed speed cameras in England and Wales. Neither have estimates been made of the changes of revenue to HM Treasury.

The Government have already announced that they will not be providing any further central funding for

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new fixed cameras. It is for highway authorities and the police to decide how they tackle local road safety problems, including making decisions about the intensity of deployment of fixed speed cameras.

Sarfraz Ibrahim

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Minister for the Civil Service decides whether a member has forfeited their benefits under the Civil Service pension arrangements. In practice, the Scheme Management Executive (formerly the Civil Service Pensions Division) at the Cabinet Office liaises between the Minister and Departments on individual cases.

The Sarfraz Ibrahim case will shortly be referred to the Minister for the Civil Service for his consideration.

Schools: Academies

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We recognise that schools which apply to convert to academy status will incur costs for services such as legal advice. The impact assessment completed for the Academies Bill provides a one-off cost of £78,000, which is an estimate of the average cost to the school. The department provides a flat-rate grant, normally £25,000, as a contribution to these costs for outstanding schools which are converting to academy status.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough



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Lord Hill of Oareford: Schools with a budget deficit that wish to convert to academy status may still do so, although if they have a significant deficit their application may be postponed until they have managed this down to a reasonable level. When a school with a deficit is approved to convert, the department will pay the local authority an amount equivalent to the deficit. The Young People's Learning Agency, the agency responsible for funding academies, will recoup the amount through a reduction in the recurrent funding paid to the academy. Detailed guidance will be provided on the procedure to be followed by the local authority.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

Lord Hill of Oareford: Academy trusts, like maintained schools, are not required to make off-site provision for permanently excluded pupils. From the sixth school day of a permanent exclusion, the local authority is statutorily responsible for ensuring that suitable full-time education is provided to pupils of compulsory school age regardless of whether they are excluded from an academy or maintained school.

Academy trusts are responsible, however, for providing education during a fixed period exclusion. Where a pupil is given a fixed period exclusion of a duration of six school days or longer, the academy has a duty to arrange suitable full-time educational provision from and including the sixth school day of the exclusion. This does not apply to pupils of non-compulsory school age.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Hill of Oareford: It is up to all schools, including academies, to provide parents and students with appropriate information regarding qualifications. We have not made any assessment of this information.

The Government want to see more pupils engage and excel in science, including increasing numbers studying science at GCSE. This will ensure more young people consider taking physics, chemistry and biology at A-level. We will be looking at accountability arrangements to make sure there is proper recognition of the key subjects which all pupils need to learn throughout their time at school, including science, and make sure there are no perverse incentives that limit engagement, attainment and progression.

Schools: Literacy and Numeracy

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are committed to ensuring that children develop high-quality literacy and numeracy skills. We are looking at ways to strengthen the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics in primary schools, in order to provide every child with the best start possible in literacy. We are also currently considering ways to support improvement in mathematics. We have committed £89 million for 2010-11 to continue the Every Child suite of programmes, which provide early intervention for those children who are struggling most with both literacy and numeracy. We will set out our proposals for improving standards in literacy and numeracy in the forthcoming education White Paper.

Schools: National Curriculum

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government have made clear their intention to restore the national curriculum to its original purpose: a core national entitlement organised around subject disciplines. We will be announcing further details of our plans in the autumn, including details of the timescales for the review itself, and how and when we will be inviting evidence. We plan to consult a wide range of teachers, academics and other interested parties including Members of this House and Members of Parliament. We will ensure that all the evidence submitted is placed in the Libraries of both Houses in due course.

Sheffield Forgemasters

Questions

Asked by Lord Young of Norwood Green

Lord Shutt of Greetland: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my noble friend Lady Wilcox on 27 July, Official Report cols. WS 150-52.



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Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Shutt of Greetland: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my noble friend Lady Wilcox on 27 July Official Report cols. WS 150-52.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Shutt of Greetland: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my noble friend Lady Wilcox on 27 July Official Report cols. WS150-52.

Students: Injuries

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The increase is probably due, at least in part, to guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive in 2005. Before then, there was some misunderstanding of the reporting requirements under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Some schools believed that accidents to pupils during organised sports lessons did not have to be reported under RIDDOR.

In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive published an education information sheet, Incident-reporting in Schools (Accidents, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences), which can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/edis1.pdf. This information sheet said that all accidents that occurred in curriculum sports activities and resulted in pupils being taken to hospital for treatment should be reported.

The policy on this issue has been reviewed more recently, and the Health and Safety Executive will issue revised guidance to explain that the only sporting accidents that need to be reported are those where there was a lack of supervision, or where equipment was faulty.



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Sunday Trading

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Schedule 4 to the Sunday Trading Act 1994 has been repealed-similar provisions now form Part 4 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The Government have no plans to extend to distribution workers the rights of shop workers not to work on a Sunday. We believe the current balance of the legislation is right.

The Government currently have no plans to amend the Sunday Trading Act 1994.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Shutt of Greetland: None. The Government currently have no plans to relax the Sunday trading restrictions in the Sunday Trading Act 1994.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Since the beginning of May 2010 the Government have received no representations from trade unions on Sunday trading; one from a retail organisation; none from other groups; and two from individuals via their Members of Parliament.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



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Lord Shutt of Greetland: Towards the end of the Turkish EU accession negotiations the Commission will conduct an assessment of the potential for migration between Turkey and the EU, and make recommendations for necessary controls. It does not make sense for the Commission to conduct this assessment now, because the negotiations are unlikely to near completion for some years. Meanwhile, the Turkish economy is growing strongly and Turkey is going through rapid change.

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear in his speech in Ankara on 27 July 2010, the British Government strongly support progress in Turkey's EU accession process.

UK Investment

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government see inward investment as a key driver of growth. We are committed to creating the conditions which will make the UK an even more attractive destination for foreign direct investment. For example we are reducing corporation tax, cutting red tape, improving support for research and development, and streamlining the business start-up process, with a sharper and more commercial focus across all government departments. We will ensure that our conduct of foreign policy upgrades support for business.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department under the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills tasked to attract a continuing high level of quality foreign direct investment to the UK, and to enhance the competitiveness of companies in the UK through overseas trade and investments. Subject to decisions by the Government, including in the comprehensive spending review, UKTI plans to deliver further increases in productivity and efficiency, and in its emphasis on assisting high-value investment projects into the UK.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The UK Government are next due to report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2014. The Department for Education is working with key

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stakeholders including non-government organisations, the devolved Administrations and children and young people in taking forward the UN committee's concluding observations published in October 2008.

Visas

Questions

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government work closely with industry partners to understand and influence all factors which impact on the UK's ability to attract trade, investment and tourism to the United Kingdom, including visa arrangements. We also take into account external studies on this subject in designing visa policy and operations.

The UK Border Agency, which is responsible for the UK's visa service, is committed to operating an efficient visa service that facilitates legitimate travel and trade to the UK. The UK's points-based system for work and study offers a clear decision-making process for applicants and officials, with the flexibility to adapt to the changing economic needs of the UK.

The UK's visa regime is designed to support the drive to attract the brightest and the best to the UK, while ensuring that our borders are secured from illegal immigration and the potential threat of terrorism. We will continue to keep the effectiveness of our arrangements under review.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Shutt of Greetland: My noble friend Lady Wilcox will write to the noble Viscount and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Voluntary and Community Sector

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



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Lord Shutt of Greetland: The compact on relations between government and the voluntary and community sector in England was agreed between government and the voluntary and community sector represented by the Compact Working Group in 1998. It was refreshed and relaunched in December 2009 and a copy of the refreshed compact was placed in the Library.

Voluntary Sector: Awards

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is overseen by officials in the Office for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office on behalf of Buckingham Palace. The award's administration and media campaigns are managed under contract by ConsolidatedPR. The cost of this three-year contract is £300,000 per year.

The contract and work of ConsolidatedPR is regularly reviewed in monthly meetings with the Office for Civil Society, which is extremely satisfied with how the administration of the award is conducted. The media campaigns by ConsolidatedPR have also been evaluated by an independent company, Metrica, which stated that its work illustrated well implemented and proactive public relations campaigns which increased the awareness and profile of the award among the UK public.

Answers received between Monday 9 August and Monday 16 August 2010

Bank of England: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government recognise the importance of close working between the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) throughout the transition to the new regime, including through secondments of key staff. The practical details will be for the Bank and the FSA to resolve. Their day-to-day operations are, and will remain, independent from government.



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Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 26 July 2010 the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision reached a broad agreement to allow some recognition within group common equity of the minority interest supporting the risks of banking subsidiaries and to allow deductions to be made from common equity for unconsolidated investments in the common equity of financial institutions when the holdings exceed certain thresholds.

The effect of the deduction from capital of certain minority stakes in bank subsidiaries will be to strengthen the quality of banks' capital, as minority interests represent ownership of a proportion of a subsidiary by third parties and may not be capable of absorbing losses that arise at a parent bank. The effect of the deduction from capital of investments in unconsolidated financial institutions will be to reduce the further double counting of capital in the financial system.

The objective of the leverage ratio is to develop a simple, transparent, non-risk-based measure that is calibrated to act as a credible supplementary measure to the risk-based requirements. The proposed measures have been calibrated on the basis of an extensive quantitative impact study to ensure that the ratio fulfils its backstop function effectively.

Going forward, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision proposes to use a transition period to assess whether the proposed design and calibration is appropriate over a full credit cycle and for different types of business models.

Detailed questions about the UK's stance at the BCBS should be directed to the UK representatives; that is, the Bank of England and the FSA.

Banking: Supervision

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Tougher regulatory standards are essential to strengthen financial stability. However, as agreed by G20 Leaders, the UK is committed to ensure that these new standards are phased in over a timeframe that is consistent with sustained recovery and limits

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market disruption. The transition period for most new standards remains to be decided. However, on 26 July 2010 the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS) reached a broad agreement that the leverage ratio and net stable funding ratio should be phased in gradually, with full implementation by 2018. It proposes to use this transition period to assess whether the proposed design and calibration is appropriate over a full credit cycle and for different types of business models.

Detailed questions about the UK's stance at the BCBS should be directed to the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority, which represent the UK on the BCBS.

Banks

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): According to the Bank of England's latest Financial Stability Report, since December 2009, UK banks have made some progress towards raising capital through increased retention of income. The Bank of England estimates that excluding loss-making banks, the dividend payout ratio of UK banks was 39 per cent in 2009, compared with an average of 50 per cent between 2005 and 2008. This allowed profitable banks to retain an extra £2 billion of earnings.

The regulatory monitoring of the solvency of pension funds is undertaken by the Pensions Regulator (tPR). Under its normal procedures, tPR routinely makes assessments of the solvency of defined benefit pension schemes. This includes the effect of corporate actions of banks, or any other defined benefit scheme provider, when recovery plans are submitted in the event a scheme has a deficit.

Bosnia Herzegovina

Question

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Government are convinced of the importance of constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). This is now an international legal obligation following the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the Sejdic-Finci case on 22 December 2009. We also believe that constitutional reform is necessary in order

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to improve political functionality in a way which will allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to make quicker progress towards EU integration. We are disappointed by the absence of committed follow-up within BiH to the ECHR's verdict and urge all Bosnian leaders to work constructively together to resolve their differences on this issue. We will continue to make the case for constitutional reform in our contacts with Bosnian politicians, both before and after elections in October.

British Embassies

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's objective of attracting trade to the United Kingdom of commercial sections of British embassies charging United Kingdom private sector organisations for advice.[HL1784]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The activities of the commercial sections of British diplomatic missions are carried out by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), a government department jointly under the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. UKTI works in close collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

UKTI publishes an annual performance and impact monitoring survey report, which includes an analysis of UKTI's charging regime. Users of charged-for services are asked about their willingness to pay more for those services. Analysis of those user data indicated that over half of the respondents would be willing to pay 50 per cent more for the service, with a further 18 per cent willing to pay 25 per cent more.

UKTI charges for these services because charging ensures that customers make informed choices about which services they value and how frequently they use them and Her Majesty's Treasury has instructed UKTI to recoup part of the running costs of its overseas network and to move towards full cost recovery.

Broadband Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): As already advised (HL Deb, 29 June 2010, col. 267W), Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) has not received any funding from central government departments or agencies. The Government have not carried out any assessment of MDDA's procurement or project delivery record.

Conditional Fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The previous Government attempted to tackle high costs associated with conditional fee agreement success fees in one area only, namely defamation. This government are determined to tackle disproportionate civil costs more generally, and will therefore not be implementing the Draft Conditional fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010. As I announced to the House on 26 July 2010 (Official Report, Col. WS 121), we will be consulting in the autumn on the reform of Conditional Fee Agreements in all cases in which they are used. This consultation will take forward the recommendations made by Lord Justice Jackson in his report, Review of Civil Litigation Costs.

Counterfeit Notes and Coins

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England's Annual Report for 2009 reported that counterfeits accounted for just 0.0046 per cent of the 12 billion banknotes sorted in

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high-speed note sorting machines by members of the note circulation scheme. About 85 per cent of counterfeit notes are taken out of circulation by this method. For the calendar year 2009 there were 566,000 counterfeit banknotes removed from circulation, with a face value of £11.1 million: this marked a 20 per cent fall on 2008. Ninety-five per cent of these were £20 notes.

For coins, the most recent survey conducted by the Royal Mint found that its sample contained a £1 coin counterfeit rate of 2.81 per cent. This would give an approximate total value of £41 million for counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. The Royal Mint does not currently undertake regular surveys for other denominations. It is widely believed (by the Royal Mint, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and industry partners) that there is not a significant counterfeit issue with any other denominations.

There are a number of elements to the prevention of counterfeit notes and coins. Issuing authorities are responsible for designing banknotes and coins with appropriate security features, educating the public and retailers about the security features, and working with the cash supply industry to ensure that there are robust systems for the removal of counterfeits from circulation. Local police authorities and the National Central Office for the Suppression of Counterfeit Currency within the Serious Organised Crime Agency are responsible for finding and stopping the criminals involved in the production, distribution and passing of counterfeit notes and coins.

Counterfeit banknotes and coins are worthless, with the face-value loss being borne by the individual or company deemed to be in possession of the counterfeit at the time of discovery. Issuing authorities do not replace counterfeit notes and coins with genuine notes and therefore do not suffer any face-value loss or replacement costs for their discovery.

Crime Prevention

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have set out their proposed approach in Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting police and the people. We will replace bureaucratic accountability with democratic accountability. Police officers should be crime fighters, not form writers, so we will take action to allow the police to concentrate on dealing with the public's priorities rather than those set by those in Whitehall. The introduction of police and crime commissioners will make the police accountable to the right people-local communities.

Our specific measures include:

reforming the performance management framework for policing by dismantling the key performance indicators that burden police forces;

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supporting police officers in using their discretion in how crimes and incidents are dealt with by amending health and safety practices that prevent police officers from intervening and protecting the public and returning charging decisions to officers for more minor offences from November 2010; andscrapping the stop and account form in its entirety and reducing the burden of the stop and search procedures. We will also be looking at how we can maximise the use of technology to further reduce the paperwork in policing.

Finally, we will ask the service to examine its own processes and doctrine, which can lead to unnecessary bureaucracy. Police and crime commissioners will be ultimately responsible for getting the balance right between preserving the information needed to focus on the public's priorities and removing what is inefficient or unnecessary.

Croatia

Question

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is a strong supporter of Croatian accession. As well as working closely with fellow EU Member States to set clear accession criteria, the UK is providing practical assistance in Croatia. We are using British expertise to help reform its judicial system, and strengthen Croatian skills and capacity in the fields of agriculture, financial controls, competition and regulatory impact assessment.

Cumbrian Shooting Incident

Question

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The chief constable has commissioned a report on the circumstances surrounding the grant and any subsequent renewal of Mr Bird's certificates by Cumbria Constabulary. This is being conducted by a national expert on firearms licensing appointed by the Association of Chief Police Officers. A report is expected by October.

Data Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA478

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): ): Any decision to commence the new defence in section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 needs to be considered in the broader context of the penalties available for section 55 offences. The government are currently considering that matter.

Debt Relief Orders

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government do not fund or support automated or unsolicited telephone calls about debt relief orders.

Education: Languages

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The information is in the table below:

UK domiciled applicants and accepted applicants to full-time undergraduate courses at UK institutions in modern languages by number of languages studied at A2 level, 2005-06 to 2009-10.

Number of languages taken at A2 level
OneTwo or more

Academic year of entry

Applicants

Accepted applicants

Applicants

Accepted applicants

2005

3,261

1,926

2,698

2,123

2006

3,160

1,735

2,644

2,021

2007

3,179

1,796

2,656

2,009

2008

3,146

1,937

2,543

1,915

2009

3,098

1,904

2,453

1,922



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA479

Elections

Questions

Asked by Lord Rennard

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As indicated in the Written Answer provided by my honourable friend the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform (Mark Harper) on 14 July 2010, Official Report, col. 798W: Many of the cost elements of running the proposed referendum on the alternative vote system will be similar to those for a general election. The previous Government estimated the cost for conduct elements of the 2010 general election in Great Britain at £82.1 million (Official Report, 30 March 2010, column 1079W). Based on this, and our modelling for the 2009 European and 2010 general elections, it can be estimated that the cost of conduct elements for the proposed referendum will be similar. We have made initial assumptions about the conduct costs of a referendum were it not to be combined with any other polls and on that basis we currently estimate a saving of £17 million on the conduct costs of the referendum through combination.

Additionally, as indicated in the Written Answer by my honourable friend the Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter) of 6 July, Official Report, col. 144W, the Electoral Commission has estimated that the cost of its own activities in relation to the referendum at £9.3 million.

Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, designated lead campaign organisations are entitled to send a referendum address post free, similar to the entitlement in place for candidates at general elections. The cost of funding this entitlement does not form part of the costs of the conduct of the poll. The government are considering how this entitlement will apply at the referendum on the alternative vote.

Asked by Lord Rennard



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA480

Lord McNally: Information regarding the dates of Boundary Commission reports and the general election at which the new boundaries were implemented is set out in the table below.

5th General Review4th General Review3nd General Review

Date report submitted

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

Oct 2006

Nov 2004

Jan 2005

Sep 2006

April 1995

Dec 1994

Dec 1994

June 1995

Feb 1983

Feb 1983

Jan 1983

Oct 1982

UK Parliamentary general election at which the new boundaries were brought into effect

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

May 2010

May 2005

May 2010

May 2010

May 1997

May 1997

May 1997

May 1997

June 1983

June 1983

June 1983

June 1983

Information relating to the cost of the fifth general review in each part of the UK is set out in the table below.

Cost of 5th General Review

England

£10,800,000

Scotland

£957,120

Wales

£659,534

NI

f l,200,000

It should be noted that the final cost of the review in Wales has increased slightly from previous estimates.

Information relating to the cost of boundary reviews before the fifth general review is either not held, or could only be obtained at disproportionate cost, with the exception of the fourth general review in England which cost £4.95 million. The official record also shows that in April 1983, the operating costs of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland during the period 1974 to 1983 (the period immediately preceding the publication of the third general review) totalled £1,295,783.

Elections: Voting System

Questions

Asked by Lord Rooker

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Alternative Vote system set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill allows voters to express as few or as many preferences (up to the number of candidates) as they wish.



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA481

Asked by Lord Rooker

Lord McNally: We have not carried out an exhaustive survey of voting systems used in other countries. A key feature of the Alternative Vote system set out in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill is that voters may express a preference for as few or as many candidates (up to the number of candidates) as they wish. This is an 'optional preferential' form of the Alternative Vote system. It is understood that such a voting system is used, for example, in elections to the Legislative Assemblies in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia; and for the Irish Presidential election.

Asked by Lord Rooker

Lord McNally: There was no single source used for the definition and operation of the Alternative Vote system proposed in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill. Cabinet Office officials used a range of sources to prepare the clauses on the system included in the Bill. This included drawing upon UK and international experiences of voting systems.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government are dedicated to getting the scrutiny system right. Scrutiny is a top priority and we are looking at ways that control, scrutiny and accountability on EU issues Government can assist Parliament in strengthening. This includes discussion of the role that Parliamentary scrutiny plays in holding the Government to account on EU decision making.

EU: Member States

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA482

Lord Shutt of Greetland: There have not been any changes in European Community and European Union treaties since 1972 which have resulted in a transfer of competences to the Member States.

Following the amendments introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union now provides for the possibility of return of a European Union competence to the Member States. Article 2(2) TfEU provides that "the Member States shall exercise their competence again to the extent that the Union has decided to cease exercising its competence."

Declaration 18 in relation to the delimitation of competences annexed to the Final Act of the Intergovernmental Conference which adopted the Treaty of Lisbon underlines that the Member States may, in an Intergovernmental Conference and in accordance with the ordinary revision procedure provided for Article 48(2)-(5) of the Treaty of European Union, decide to amend the Treaties upon which the Union is founded, including either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.

The examination of the EU's existing competences promised in the "Programme for Government" will consider whether the balance of competence between the EU and the UK in certain areas currently falls in the right price.

EU: Well-being and Sustainability

Question

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government continue to work with the European Commission, Eurostat and other EU member states on developing broader indicators of well-being and sustainability, building on the Commission's communication GDP and Beyond-Measuring Progress in a Changing World, from August 2009 (see EM 12739/09).

The UK has taken an active part in discussions with EU partners on the recent report by the Commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress (by Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi, 2009). The Government are committed to developing broader indicators of well-being and sustainability at a national level, with the Office for National Statistics and the Cabinet Office leading work on taking forward the report's agenda across the UK.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published on 30 July Measuring Progress: Sustainable Development Indicators 2010. This annual publication presents an overview of quality of life and sustainable development, and is available at www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/progress. Defra has been extensively involved with Eurostat on sustainable development and well¬being indicators at the EU level.



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA483

European Protection Order

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The United Kingdom opted in to the European Protection Order on 30 March this year.

Finance: Euro Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK-based clearing houses, operating to high prudential standards, currently clear euro-denominated derivatives trades. The Government believe that UK-based clearing houses should be able to continue to compete effectively in this market.

Financial Sector: Risk

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury regularly monitors "best buy" tables of interest rates on deposit accounts as one indicator of financial sector risk and as an indicator of competitive dynamics in the depositor market.

Financial Services: Supervision

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA484

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Supervision of the United Kingdom's financial services remains with the United Kingdom.

Firearms: Licensing

Question

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Information is not held centrally on the number of certificate holders reviewed by individual police forces prior to renewal. However, the Home Office holds data on the number of revocations. Certificates can be revoked if the chief police officer is satisfied that the holder can no longer be entrusted with firearms. In 2008-09, one firearm certificate and seven shotgun certificates were revoked in the Cumbria police force area.

First World War Commemoration

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As my honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans said in the Adjournment debate of 8 July 2010, in the other place (Official Report, Commons, col. 636):

"We will be discussing with colleagues across Whitehall, particularly in Department of Culture, Media and Sport, how the centenary may be commemorated, and we will work with other interested parties, such as the Imperial War Museum, to develop a co-ordinated approach to ensure that the centenary is given the highest possible profile".

General Election

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We welcome the Electoral Commission's report on the administration of the May 2010 UK

27 Sep 2010 : Column WA485

parliamentary election and will look closely at the issues which have been raised. A formal response to the report will be provided within the next six months.

Government Departments: Female Staff

Questions

Asked by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Ministers are appointed on the basis of their experience and expertise. The Government are seeking to encourage greater representation of women in Parliament.

Government Departments: Websites

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The information requested on maintenance costs and number of page impressions for websites managed by agencies, non-departmental public bodies and trading funds of the Ministry of Defence has been placed in the Library of the House.

Since 2007, seven websites have been closed by MoD agencies, trading funds and non-departmental bodies as follows: two closed in 2007-08, two closed and one moved out of MOD's ownership in 2008-09, one closed in 2009-10, and one closed in 2010-11. A further five websites are due to be rationalised by 31 March 2011.

From April 2011, the Central Office of Information will include the information requested regarding agencies in its annual report on the government web estate.

Asked by Lord Newby

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for 256 websites, using over 40 different languages, which are managed from the central FCO web platform. They include the Department's corporate website and its Posts overseas, in order to provide information about Britain, its foreign policy and consular services for British nationals abroad. A full list of these websites and their addresses was provided in a written answer on 16 June 2010, Official Report, column 471W.

The cost of maintenance and hosting for the Department's corporate website in 2007-08 was c. £515,000. The running costs (hosting and maintenance) for the platform in 2008-09 were £1.45 million, and in 2009-10 the costs were £1.47 million.

In line with industry standards and Central Office of Information (COI) guidance TG 116, the number of page impressions for the FCO web platform has been reported as a measure of the volume of site usage. This is a more reliable measure than the number of "hits", which would also include requests for additional files associated with a web page that the user has not directly requested. The page impressions for the corporate website in 2008-09 were 204,351,716 and in 2009-10 the page impressions were 222,571,651. Page impressions for 2007-8 are not available; however the number of unique visitors was recorded as 9,583,348.

With the launch of a single platform and domain in 2008, the FCO closed all Post websites and domains. In line with COI standards TG101, TG105 and TG125, the FCO is engaged in an active programme of deleting, phasing-out, redirecting (to the National Archives) or converging (onto the FCO web platform) independent websites and domains.

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government Equalities Office (GEO) operates one website.

(a) The cost of maintaining its own website was:

£4,091.45 in 2008-09 (website launched on 19 December 2008)

£10,995.00 in 2009-10

(b) The number of page impressions for its own website was:

725,901 from 19 December 2008-19 December 2009

711,301 from 20th December 2009 - 1st August 2010



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA487

In line with industry standards and COI guidance TG116, the number of page impressions has been reported as a measure of the volume of site usage. This is a more reliable measure than the number of "hits" which would also include requests for additional files associated with a web page that the user has not directly requested.

(c) GEO closed no websites in this period.

The Women's National Commission (WNC) is an advisory non-departmental public body sponsored by the Government Equalities Office and it operates one website.

(a) The cost of maintaining WNC's website was:

£176.25 in 2008-09

£389.28 in 2009-10

(b) The number of hits on the WNC website from March 25 2010 to July 28 2010 is 271,810. The WNC has been formally recording hits for the website since March 25 2010.

(c.) No website were closed by WNC in this period

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: On 12 April 2010 the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) transferred responsibility for policing and justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) as it is now configured does not have any agencies.

Government: Training

Questions

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): This is a matter for the National School of Government. I have asked the chief executive for the National School of Government to respond directly to your PQ about ministerial training.

Letter from Rod Clark, Principal and Chief Executive, National School of Government, to Lord Norton of Louth, dated August 2010

The National School of Government works with the Cabinet Office to provide the Ministerial programme, details of which are available on the National School's website at: www.nationalschool.gov.uk/policy/MinisterialProgramme



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA488

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

Lord Strathclyde: The National School of Government (NSG) works with the Cabinet Office to provide training to new Ministers as necessary in order to carry out their duties effectively under the Ministerial Code. As part of its ministerial training programme, the National School of Government offers induction training to all new Ministers and provides follow-up training at their request. Constitutional practices and conventions are covered as necessary.

NSG has not provided training for officials working directly for the DPM. However, the Elections and Democracy Division and Parliament and Constitution Division in Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Constitution Directorate transferred to Cabinet Office to form the new Constitution Group. They provide direct support to the Deputy Prime Minister and his ministerial team in taking forward his responsibilities for constitutional and political reform. They bring considerable in-depth expertise on constitutional practices and conventions and receive additional training and support in new areas as appropriate.

Grassroots Grants

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The Government intend to fund the Grassroots Grants programme in full for the duration of the current spending period until the end of March 2011. The local endowments that the programme has built will continue to provide revenue for use as grants into the future. Up to March 2010, the endowment has seen £26.9 million raised by communities and then matched by government to create a total fund of nearly £49 million.

Gulf War Illnesses

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA489

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): No. Ministerial correspondence often contains information about a constituent and is often complex and/or sensitive. It is considered appropriate to place a copy of letters in the Library of the House if it is requested and correspondents have given their consent to do so.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by Lord Crisp

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for regulation of insurance companies. The FSA reviewed the private medical insurance market, along with other non-investment insurance products, when revising its Insurance Conduct of Business Rules in 2008. The FSA undertakes ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance with its rules, and industry codes and guidance must have regard to FSA principles of treating customers fairly.

Health: Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Crisp

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government do not engage with the insurance industry, or examine the practices of private health insurance companies, during the process of publishing plans to increase access to new cancer drugs for NHS patients.

The Government remain committed to addressing instances of mis-selling in the insurance sector. The Government are consulting on the creation of the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority (CPMA), which will be responsible for making all financial services conduct of business rules, including those relating to private medical insurance. The CPMA will take a strong approach to enforcement of conduct of business rules to ensure credible deterrence in areas such as mis-selling.



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA490

Homelessness: Rough Sleepers

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Westminster Council, together with its local partners, including the voluntary sector and the police, is responsible for tackling rough sleeping in the borough. CLG has provided £6.6 million homelessness grant in 2010-11 to Westminster Council to help it prevent homelessness with majority being spent on rough sleeping services.

The department does not keep information on either the number of rough sleepers or hostel bed availability within a mile of the Palace of Westminster. The 2010 rough sleeper count for Westminster showed 147 people sleeping rough on a single night. There is also extensive hostel provision for rough sleepers across the borough.

The Minister for Housing announced on 23 July a review of how rough sleepers are counted and for a more comprehensive method of assessing the scale of the problem. Charities and councils are being asked for their views on proposed improvements in a consultation taking place over the summer and final guidance will be published in September.

Institutional Investors: Voting Records

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA491

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The proportion of institutional investors who publicly disclose their voting records has increased since 2004. Considered voting at company meetings is one of the ways in which investors can act as effective owners of the companies in which they invest, and it is important that all institutional investors disclose their voting in order to improve transparency in this area.

The Financial Reporting Council's planned approach to assessment is given in its report Implementation of the Stewardship Code published in July 2010. The Investment Management Association will be reviewing disclosure of voting as part of its next engagement survey, which will take place later this year and will include independent oversight.

The Government will comment on this and other related corporate governance issues when they set out their views on the regulation of takeovers in the light of the Takeover Panel's recent consultation.

Kazakhstan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We want to strengthen all aspects of our relationship with Kazakhstan, but focusing in particular on bilateral trade and investment. UK Trade & Investment, in partnership with the Kazakh-British Trade and Industry Council (established in 1995 and directed by ministers and by senior business leaders), has identified a number of priority sectors for co-operation. These include: natural resources; legal and financial services; vocational education and skills development; telecommunications; transport; construction; power generation; agriculture and food processing; environmental protection; healthcare; and tourism, culture and sport. The 14th meeting of the Council, which took place in London on 16 June 2010, concluded an updated Protocol on bilateral co-operation in these and other areas.



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA492

Kurds

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Government have had no such discussions with the governments of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Licensed Premises: Closure Notices

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Two closure notice powers are available: under Section 169A of the Licensing Act 2003 and Section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

Data on closure notices issued under Section 169A of the Licensing Act 2003 (as amended by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006) is published in the Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Bulletin and can be accessed on the DCMS website at the following link; data are available from April-March 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09: http://www.culture.gov.uk/ what we do/research and statistics/4865.asp x

Data on closure notices issued under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 are not collected centrally.

Monetary Policy Committee

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England Act 1998 requires the Court to determine the terms and conditions of service of the four members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The guidelines under which the MPC operates provide that departing members observe a three-month purdah period during which they cannot take up any post that represents a conflict of interest with their role in setting interest rates. As stated in the Bank of England

27 Sep 2010 : Column WA493

annual report under the section on remuneration, on leaving the Bank external members of the MPC are paid their salary for a period of three months, during which period the Bank has the right to veto any employment that would conflict with their former MPC responsibilities.

Asked by Lord Barnett

Lord Sassoon: The Bank of England Act 1998 sets out the statutory framework for the Bank of England, including the role and composition of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), and provides that "A representative of the Treasury may attend, and speak at, any meeting of the Committee". The non-voting Treasury representative plays a key role in liaison between the Treasury and the Bank to ensure appropriate co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy. For example, the Treasury representative will brief the MPC on major events such as the Budget and the Pre-Budget Report.

Money: Supply

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England has operational responsibility for monetary policy including use of the asset purchase facility (APF).

The Bank of England publishes quarterly reports on the APF in addition to minutes of the MPC meetings and a quarterly Inflation Report that sets out detailed economic analysis and inflation projections on which the MPC bases its decisions. Section 1 of the May 2010 Inflation Report discusses recent developments in money and asset prices. It points out that money holdings in 2010 Q1 grew at the fastest pace since 2008 Q2, though the four-quarter growth rate was well below the recent average. More recent data on the Bank of England's preferred measure of broad money, which excludes holdings by intermediate other financial corporations, increased for four consecutive months from February to June 2010.

Asked by Lord Myners



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA494

Lord Sassoon: The independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England has operational responsibility for monetary policy. The MPC decides on use of measures, including the asset purchase facility (APF), in order to target 2 per cent inflation, as measured by the 12-month change in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

The APF framework requires the Chancellor to authorise the overall limit on asset purchases. Open letters exchanged between the Chancellor and the governor agreeing the limit for APF purchases can be found on the Bank of England website.

Office for Budget Responsibility

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The arrangements for Sir Alan Budd on his departure from the OBR are set out in an exchange of letters between Sir Alan Budd and Sir Nicholas Macpherson, available on the OBR's website at http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As the Chancellor made clear in his letter of 19 July 2010 to the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC), providing the TSC with a power of veto of over the appointment of the chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is an unprecedented step which reflects the unique position the OBR chair will hold. This procedure will not be replicated for other appointments.

The Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is subject to a pre-commencement hearing before the TSC. The Governor and Deputy Governors of the Bank of England attend appointment hearings for the Monetary Policy Committee, not the Court, and they are called only once the appointment has been announced. Non-executive members of Court and other members of the FSA board, apart from the chairman, are not subject to pre or post-commencement appointment hearings by the TSC. There are no plans to change these arrangements.



27 Sep 2010 : Column WA495

Olympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Three quarters of the 10 million tickets available will be open to the public via a ballot process. Under EU competition law, LOCOG must ensure that all EU citizens, including everyone in the UK, are given fair and equitable opportunities to purchase London 2012 tickets. Of those people that have signed up with LOCOG for ticketing information, 96 per cent are from UK residents and 32 per cent are from Greater London.

Parliamentary Constituencies

Question

Asked by Lord Grocott

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The five largest Parliamentary constituencies by area are set out below. As the table shows, of the present constituencies only Ross, Skye and Lochaber has an area larger than 12,000 square kilometres.

ConstituencyArea (Sq Kilometres)Total electors as of 1st December 2009

Ross, Skye & Lochaber

12716

51,934

Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross

8710

47,263

Argyll & Bute

7127

67,461

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey

4931

72,390

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale

4359

74,847

Police: Staff Associations

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon


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