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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Capital expenditure in the sovereign base areas in Cyprus for the past three years falls into two main categories, which are detailed in the following table:
|Million||FY 2007-08||FY 2008-09||FY 2009-10|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made to bring into operation the lifts and air conditioning in the Ledra Palace, Cyprus, where United Kingdom troops in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus are accommodated. [HL2156]
Lord Astor of Hever: The renovation and refurbishment of the Ledra Palace Hotel continues as part of an agreed three-year programme (2007-10) between the Republic of Cyprus and the UN. As part of this programme, work is under way to install a new heating and air-conditioning system. Heating and air-conditioning units for all rooms has been delivered and will be installed once the Public Works Department of the Republic of Cyprus has installed and commissioned a new power distribution cable to improve Ledra Palace Hotel's connection to the electrical grid. All work is due to be complete by 31 December 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The departmental capital expenditure to provide facilities in Germany for work completed in each year over the past three financial years is shown in the following table:
|Financial Year||2007- 08||2008- 09||2009-10|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are no plans to use the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court as a Personnel Recovery Unit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were treated at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit at Headley Court in each of the past 10 years; how many of those treated were classed as severe cases; and how many of those treated had limb replacements, in whole or in part.[HL2152]
Lord Astor of Hever: The defence patient tracking system (DPTS) started to capture all patients treated at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court on 1 October 2008. To report on the number of patients seen at DMRC Headley Court before this date would require a manual trawl of individual paper medical records, which would incur disproportionate cost.
As at 30 June 2010, of the 3,892 patients 171 had injuries that included a traumatic or surgical amputation, partial or complete, for either upper or lower limbs. A
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Bank of England's Special Liquidity Scheme will be extended beyond January 2011 and, if not, whether a successor arrangement will be introduced if United Kingdom banks are unable to fund existing loans without recourse to some form of state support. [HL2195]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS) is a Bank of England scheme. The drawdown period for the SLS closed on 30 January 2009. The scheme will run until the end of January 2012 before it terminates and it will not be extended. The Financial Services Authority monitors banks' funding plans, including whether they are preparing appropriately for the withdrawal of support and what implications this has for their liquidity position and overall business models. The Bank of England has also been reviewing the plans of the major UK banks.
The Bank of England continues to provide liquidity insurance through its ongoing market operations, including in regular indexed long-term repos auctions and via the bilateral discount window facility.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether sales can be made, in whole or part, of the investments held by United Kingdom Financial Investments in the ordinary shares of Lloyds Banking Group or Royal Bank of Scotland before the Independent Commission on Banking has reported.[HL2198]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK Financial Investment's (UKFI) remit is to devise and execute a strategy for disposing of the Government's investments in an orderly and active way. In determining the circumstances in which UKFI might recommend a sale of the shares in Lloyds Banking Group plc and in Royal Bank of Scotland plc, UKFI will be guided by its overarching objective to create and protect value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with
11 Oct 2010 : Column WA34
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether continued funding and liquidity support for banks will be conditional on individual banks meeting Her Majesty's Government's declared intention to take robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses. [HL2196]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Any decisions regarding funding and liquidity support are taken, if required, on a value for money basis, taking into account implications for the wider economy and financial stability implications. This would also include the decision whether any conditionality should be attached.
The Government referred in the June Budget to action being taken to tackle unacceptable bonuses. In addition to introducing a banking levy, the Independent Commission on Banking is looking at structural and non-structural measures to reform the banking system and promote competition. The Government will consult on a remuneration disclosure regime and, working with international partners, will explore the costs and benefits of a financial activities tax on profits and remuneration. The Government have also asked the Financial Services Authority as part of its review of its remuneration code to:consider imposing more stringent requirements on the deferral and award of pay;examine mechanisms for strengthening the link between performance and remuneration to ensure that incentives are aligned with the long-term performance of the firm; andconsider how to vary capital requirements to offset risk in remuneration practices.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We support the UN Special Rapporteur's call for the UN to consider a Commission of Inquiry and are working with a number of countries to build the necessary international support. The Government believe that Burma's leaders must be held to account for the human rights abuses catalogued by the UN over many years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The coalition Government will not hold a Care Matters Ministerial Stocktake in 2010-11. The Government are enforcing a marketing and advertising freeze as part of their drive to control expenditure and to cut the structural deficit by £6.2 billion this year. Non-essential conferences are included in this freeze.
The Government remain committed to improving outcomes for looked-after children and listening to the views and experiences of children and young people to help inform policy and improve the services they receive. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families will regularly meet groups of looked-after children and care leavers to hear their views from October 2010. The Government will also continue to use the reports produced by the Children's
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, on 13 July (Official Report, Commons, col. 797), when they expect to complete their review of counterterrorism and security powers, and in particular of the Prevent strategy; and whether they will publish the conclusions of the review.[HL2218]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We expect to complete the review of counterterrorism and security powers in the near future and will announce the outcome of the review to Parliament at the earliest opportunity. The outcome of the review will be published, together with a report on the review by Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC.
In the draft Home Office Structural Reform Plan we made a commitment to review the Prevent strand of CONTEST, and publish it by January 2011. The Government expect to announce further details about the review shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to implement the recommendation of the Bradley Report to establish a Criminal Justice Mental Health team for every court and every police station in England and Wales.[HL2208]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to implement the proposal in the coalition agreement "to explore alternative forms of secure, treatment-based accommodation for mentally ill and drugs offenders."[HL2209]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government are committed to improving the way offenders access treatment and are rehabilitated. Following Lord Keith Bradley's 2009 report, the cross-departmental Health and Criminal Justice Programme (HCJP) was established and is currently undertaking work programmes which support these outcomes.
Through the HOP, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department of Health are working together to see how diversion at police stations and at courts, as well as alternative forms of treatment based accommodation, can contribute to this goal.
The Government's ideas and plans in this area will be set out in a sentencing and rehabilitation Green Paper, in a mental health strategy and a drugs strategy, which are due to be published this year. Recently discussions have taken place at ministerial and senior official levels between the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice to align respective health and criminal justice policy. Further discussions are planned before the end of this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the human rights implications of the use of capital punishment for drug offences; and what assessment they have made of the International Harm Reduction Association's evidence that United Kingdom financial support for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is used for counternarcotics operations that have resulted in the death penalty for drug offences.[HL2180]
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) counternarcotics projects take into consideration any potential human rights implications. Where there is a serious risk of the death penalty being imposed as a result of UK assistance, the Government seek assurances that anyone found guilty will not face the death penalty.
We welcome the UNODC's undertaking to implement a more formal assessment process of the risks of its assistance resulting in the death penalty for drug offences in response to the International Harm Reduction Association's report.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have set out a major programme of political reform and will consider the implications for the delivery of elections in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): One of the five anaerobic digestion demonstrator projects is operational and the remainder
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Each facility has already undergone a baseline evaluation to ensure that the ongoing evaluation has a comparison base. The evaluation of the programme will have a range of different activities within it designed to establish robustly the programme's impact. Reports will be completed and published once the whole suite of tests is finished. It is envisaged that the whole programme may run for up to two years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Energy from waste has a key role in the Government's commitment to work towards a zero waste society and be the greenest Government to date. To this end, the Secretary of State has announced a full review of waste policy in England. As part of this review, we will provide guidance to local authorities and industry on how we can optimise the recovery of energy from food and green waste.
Optimising energy generation, rather than maximising it, is key as there are also potentially significant environmental benefits in using food and green waste to produce heat, transport fuel and compost. However, whilst recovering energy from green and food waste can play an important part in meeting carbon budgets, landfill directive and renewable energy targets, this should not come at the expense of waste prevention, which is environmentally preferable and further up the waste hierarchy.
The coalition's programme for government also committed to introduce measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion (AD). Defra and DECC Ministers jointly chaired an AD round table on 6 July to discuss with stakeholders what actions the Government need to take to realise this commitment, and how it can be achieved in a cost-effective way. Defra and DECC are working on a joint AD action plan, in association with industry, the action plan, which will be published in spring 2011, will set out the economically realistic capacity for the AD industry and the steps to be taken by government and industry to realise its ambition.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the outcome of the workshop they held on 21 September to consider the threat of disruption to the nation's electricity transmission networks by electromagnetic pulses caused by coronal mass ejections or similar events.[HL2207]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The workshop held on 21 September 2010 was part of ongoing work by HMG to understand better the likelihood and impact of a severe space weather event. Representatives from government, regulators, industry and asset owners from the communications, transport and energy sectors, together with space weather experts from the UK and the US, discussed the predicted severity of future space events and contingency and resilience measures sectors have in place to reduce the risk. Following the main meeting, an energy-specific workshop discussed what is being done to limit impacts of space weather on electricity networks-a topic on which the Department for Energy and Climate Change is continuing to work with the electricity supply industry.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have not made an assessment of the compatibility of United Kingdom law with the Seventh Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lord McNally: The Government have committed to establish a commission to consider the case for a UK Bill of Rights, which would incorporate and build on our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government believe any decision that they take to add to these obligations should be considered in the context of the work of the commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to bring the relevant provisions of the Equality Act into force to enable them to ratify Protocol No. 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL2141]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 27 July (Official Report, col. 1235) that the European
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The European Investigation Order is not an agreement between national Governments but a draft directive of the European Union. Consequently, as and when agreed, the United Kingdom will be unable to withdraw from the directive.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): On Wednesday 8 September, the coalition Government announced a review of the UK's extradition arrangements. The review will examine the UK's operation of the EAW, including the way in which those of its safeguards that are optional are transposed into UK law. The purpose of the review is to recommend ways to ensure that the UK's extradition arrangements, including the EAW, work both effectively and in the interests of justice.
The ONS is responsible for allocating ethnicity groups with a code for recording purposes. Once the ONS has allocated Gypsies and Irish Travellers with a code, the MoJ will circulate a change request. This request will ensure that the change is implemented across the justice agencies in an appropriate and timely manner, including within Prison-NOMIS. A timescale for this change has not been agreed yet.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to address the differences in financial support provided for widows whose husbands died from infection by contaminated NHS blood products depending on when patients died and whether they were infected with HIV or hepatitis C.[HL2160]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that patients infected by contaminated NHS blood products are able to obtain insurance policies at affordable rates, as in the Republic of Ireland.[HL2161]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): These issues were raised when my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Anne Milton) met patients and their representatives in July. We are currently looking at the needs and wishes of those who have been infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C by National Health Service-supplied contaminated blood and blood products, and their families. We intend to report the outcome of this work by the end of this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the future of the Haemophilia Society, as recommended in Lord Archer of Sandwell's report on NHS-supplied contaminated blood and blood products.[HL2162]
Earl Howe: We have committed to fund £100,000 per annum to the Haemophilia Society for the next five years. The first year's payment was made in 2009-10. We intend to make the first instalment of £50,000 for 2010-11 shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that at least 25 per cent of their health funding overseas goes to support human resources for health in the poorest countries. [HL2077]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that at least 25 per cent of all new United Kingdom overseas health funding is directed to support human resources for health in the worst affected countries.[HL2078]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the United Kingdom's current budget for health and health systems is spent on addressing the human resources for health crises in the world's poorest 20 countries.[HL2079]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DFID) provides funding for human resources for health as part of our broader support to health system strengthening in our partner countries. Spending on human resources is not routinely disaggregated from broader health system expenditure. However, in 2009 a retrospective review of health spending at country level, it was estimated that approximately 25 per cent of DfID's health spending supported human resources for health. This includes salaries and retention initiatives, pre-service education and training, enhancing skills and productivity and management and supervision of front-line health workers.
All DfID expenditure through country programmes and multilateral organisations prioritises interventions in the 57 countries identified by the World Health Organisation as having an insufficient density of health professionals per 1,000 population to increase capacity to provide a package of essential services. All 20 of the world's poorest countries, as defined by gross national income per capita, and identified by the World Bank, are beneficiaries of UK support for health either directly through our country programmes or through multilateral channels or both.
DfID's future spending on health, including support to human resources for health (HRH), will be informed by the Comprehensive Spending Review and the current Bilateral and Multilateral Aid Reviews that have been commissioned by the Secretary of State for International Development.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) fully supports the development, adoption and implementation of national health plans. These plans are complemented by international support that aligns with national priorities. These include costed and comprehensive workforce plans.
We will continue to work with national Governments and our international partners to promote the development and funding of national health workforce plans. This includes ongoing support to the Global Health Workforce Alliance to build knowledge about best practice.
DfID's future spending on health will be informed by the Comprehensive Spending Review and the current Bilateral and Multilateral Aid Reviews that have been commissioned by the Secretary of State for International Development.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the inclusion in the final statement of the UN high-level plenary meeting on the millennium
11 Oct 2010 : Column WA43
Baroness Verma: Yes. The millennium development goal summit outcome document, which welcomes the United Nations Secretary-General's global strategy on women's and children's health, was developed with the full and active support of the UK Government. The global strategy highlights the critical need to build stronger health systems staffed with sufficient skilled health workers. It also calls for the additional domestic and international funding to enable the recruitment of between 2.5 to 3.5 million additional health workers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what specific plans they have to support the implementation of the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, following its endorsement by the WHO World Health Assembly in May 2010. [HL2082]
Baroness Verma: The UK Government actively supported the adoption of the World Health Organisation's voluntary Code of Practice. We are encouraged that our work leading up to the UN high-level plenary meeting on the millennium development goals secured further recognition of the Code of Practice in the outcome document. The document highlights the importance of national and international actions to increase the retention of skilled health personnel in developing countries.
We are continuing the collaboration between the Department for International Development and the Department of Health on the implementation of the principles and recommendations in the Code of Practice for the recruitment of international health personnel, which cover both the future UK reporting to the WHO and our international activities with partner countries.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): A remit letter for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) outlining their priorities for the coming period will be issued following the spending review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual remit letter dated 20 July 2009, what steps HM Revenue and Customs have taken to reduce the £27.7 billion of tax debt.[HL2090]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual remit letter dated 20 July 2009, what was HM Revenue and Custom's target debt reduction over the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period; how has this been monitored; and what progress they have made against the target so far.[HL2091]
Lord Sassoon: There were no formal targets for the reduction of tax debt over the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period. However, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) aims to collect debt more quickly during 2010-11. It has targets to reduce by 8 per cent (compared with 2008-09) the proportion of debt not settled within 30 days of becoming overdue, and reduce by 13 per cent the amount not settled at 90 days.
HMRC has continued successfully to develop its approach to collecting debt. During 2009-10 it began to implement a revised debt management strategy based on the segmentation of debtors according to risk and previous behaviours, tailoring and targeting its collection activities to increase the likelihood of recovery, improving the speed of collection, and reducing costs.
HMRC's recently published consolidated accounts for 2009-10 and Part 3 of the accompanying report of the Comptroller and Auditor General provide an overview of progress made in the department's management of debt. This is available at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-accs-0910.pdf.
Receivables, as reported in paragraph 3.2 of the 2009-10 HMRC Trust Statement (available at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-accs-0910.pdf) fell from £27.7 billion at 31 March 2009 to £26.1 billion at 31 March 2010-a 5.8 per cent reduction. Receivables in the trust statement represents amounts due from taxpayers in respect of established liabilities at the end of the reporting period for which payment had not yet been received. This reduction was achieved despite an increase of £3.5 billion in the amount of debt passed for recovery and despite the recession making debts more difficult to recover.
The Government have recently announced new plans to tackle non-compliance in the tax system by making £900 million available to raise additional revenue from those who undermine the tax system. As part of these plans, funding will be available for placing up to £1 billion per year of tax debt out to private debt collection agencies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual remit letter dated 20 July 2009, what steps HM Revenue and Customs have taken to protect tax revenues through tackling avoidance, evasion and non-compliance.[HL2092]
Lord Sassoon: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has set out its compliance strategy and the approach to reducing tax gaps in Protecting Tax Revenues 2009 (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2009/protect-tax-revenue-5450.pdf), published with the 2009 Pre-Budget Report. HMRC has also detailed how it intends to meet its departmental objectives for 2010-11 in the HMRC business plan: Delivering our Vision; Business Plan 2010-11 (http://www.hmrc/gov.uklabout/bus-plan-2010-11.pdf).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual remit letter dated 20 July 2009, what progress HM Revenue and Customs has made towards its target of reducing the tax gap by at least £7 billion by 2010-11. [HL2093]
Lord Sassoon: Over the current spending period HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a target to reduce aggregate tax losses by £7 billion. This will require HMRC to close the annual tax gap by at least £4 billion in 2010-11. Based on progress in the first half of 2010-11, HMRC expects to deliver a tax gap reduction of between £2 billion and £4 billion this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they intend to take following the decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 15 September, calling on the United Kingdom to give priority to the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v United Kingdom (No 2) "without any further delay and to inform the Committee of Ministers on the substantive steps taken in this respect".[HL2137]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The United Kingdom Government recognise that they need to provide a response on this issue to the Committee of Ministers. The Government have been actively considering the issue over the summer and this work is continuing.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have responded to calls for a public inquiry into the Claudy bombings. As my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Deputy Prime Minister have said, the Government do not believe that there is likely to be any further evidence for a public inquiry to consider.
The Government have co-operated fully with the police and Police Ombudsman investigations, making all papers available to them. Sadly, many of the individuals involved in the case, including the then chief constable, Cardinal Conway, Father Chesney and the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are all now deceased.
In the interests of transparency, the Government have published the key document they hold relating to discussions about Father Chesney. I have placed a copy of the Secretary of State's statement of 24 August and the Deputy Prime Minister's comments of 8 September in the Library of this House. Both documents record the full apology made by the Government in response to the Police Ombudsman's report.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend Alistair Burt met the Iranian Ambassador on 20 September to discuss a range of human rights concerns, including the plight of the Baha'is. The Minister made it clear that the UK remains extremely concerned by the sentencing of the seven Baha'i leaders to 20 years imprisonment, which we understand has now been reduced to 10 years. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in his statement of 11 August 2010, these sentences are unacceptable. Both the UK and international community deplore the unacceptable victimisation of the Baha'i faith by the Iranian state.
We will continue to remind Iran of the international commitments it has freely signed up to. We will also urge the Iranian Government to cease its harassment of the Baha'i minority, and to respect the rights of other minority groups.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to Iran about the sentence of 20 years imprisonment for seven members of the Baha'i administrative body; and what was the response.[HL2171]
Lord Howell of Guildford: My honourable friend Alistair Burt met the Iranian Ambassador on 20 September to discuss a range of human rights concerns, including the plight of the Baha'is. The Minister made it clear that the UK remains extremely concerned by the sentencing of the seven Baha'i leaders
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We will continue to remind Iran of the international commitments it has freely signed up to. We will also urge the Iranian Government to cease its harassment of the Baha'i minority, and to respect the rights of other minority groups.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My honourable friend Alistair Burt met the Iranian Ambassador on 20 September to discuss a range of human rights concerns, including the plight of the Baha'is. The Minister made it clear that the UK remains extremely concerned by the sentencing of the seven Baha'i leaders to 20 years imprisonment, which we understand has now been reduced to 10 years. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in his statement of 11 August 2010, these sentences are unacceptable. Both the UK and the international community deplore the unacceptable victimisation of the Baha'i faith by the Iranian state.
We will continue to remind Iran of the international commitments it has freely signed up to. We will also urge the Iranian Government to cease its harassment of the Baha'i minority, and to respect the rights of other minority groups.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The human rights situation in Iran is deplorable and has deteriorated markedly since the disputed election result in June 2009, when police and security forces resorted to excessive and sometimes lethal force against demonstrators. According to Amnesty International, the human rights situation in Iran was at its worst level in 20 years.
My honourable friend Alistair Burt met the Iranian Ambassador on 20 September to discuss this and a range of human rights concerns. During this meeting, the Minister made it clear that the UK remains concerned by the restrictions on ordinary Iranians, and the ongoing detention of a number of protesters and human rights defenders. We reminded Iran that the Iranian authorities have an obligation to guarantee all its citizens the basic human rights and freedoms enshrined in the many international treaty bodies to which Iran is signatory, as well as in the Iranian constitution.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Iraqi authorities about the detention without charge and alleged torture of Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a dual British and Iraqi national detained in Iraq since December 2009.[HL2136]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As soon as we knew of allegations that Mr Ramze Ahmed had been subjected to torture, senior officials from our embassy in Baghdad met the Director of Consular Affairs at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to express our serious concern at the allegations, to request that the Iraqi Government carry out an investigation and to seek assurances on Mr Ahmed's future welfare.
Since then we have repeatedly made clear to the Iraqi authorities how seriously the UK takes these allegations and the importance of an investigation. These representations include our ambassador in Baghdad writing to Foreign Minister Zebari on 2 June 2010, officials raising the allegations with the Minister for Human Rights on 12 August and our ambassador raising the allegations with Foreign Minister Zebari in person on 22 August. The Iraqi authorities have undertaken to investigate the allegations and we continue to push for that investigation to conclude as swiftly as possible.
We are clear with the Iraqi authorities that prisoners should be dealt with by due process and should be treated in line with internationally accepted standards regarding fair trials and prisoners' rights, including being informed of the charges against them. We make these points particularly clear when a British national is detained. This is done where possible in conjunction with the prisoner and their legal representative.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the planned value of British aid to Iraq in (a) 2009-10, and (b) 2010-11; how much of this aid will be provided multilaterally; and how much, broken down by budget heading, is provided through (i) voluntary organisations, and (ii) the Government of Iraq. [HL2190]
Baroness Verma: Bilateral official development assistance (ODA) from the Department for International Development (DfID) to Iraq in 2009-10 and planned expenditure in 2010-11, broken down by sector, is as follows.
|DfID Support (by sector)||2009/10 (Disbursements) in £millions||2010-11 (Planned) in £millions|
DfID supports the Government of Iraq through technical support and has not provided budget support to the Government of Iraq or funding to voluntary organisations. In 2009-10, an economic development project was delivered through the non-government organisation CHF International to the value of £1.3 million and we made a contribution to the International Red Cross of £4.5 million.
In addition, DfID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence jointly fund the Conflict Pool to support a range of activities that include conflict prevention, stabilisation and discretionary peacekeeping. In 2009-10, the Conflict Pool provided £11.5 million of support to Iraq and in 2010-11 has allocated a further £6.8 million.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK fully supports the position of the European Union, as expressed by the Foreign Affairs Council in December 2009 and by the European Council in September 2010.
"Recalling the EU's position as expressed at the Association Council in June 2009, the Council reaffirms its readiness to further develop its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The EU reiterates its commitment towards the security of Israel and its full integration into the region, which is best guaranteed through peace between Israel and its neighbours".
"Negotiations on all final status issues should lead to a two-state solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
In this context, the European Union deems it indispensable that both parties observe calm and restraint and refrain from actions that could affect negatively the progress of the negotiations. It calls on both parties to uphold previous commitments and to strive to create an environment conducive to a successful outcome. The European Union recalls that settlements are illegal under international law and calls for an extension of the moratorium decided by Israel. It continues to call for a complete stop to all violence, in particular rocket fire and terrorist attacks.
Recalling the council conclusions of June 2010 on Gaza, the European Union also stresses that for peace to be sustainable, a durable solution needs to be found for Gaza. It welcomes the recent measures announced by the Israeli Government as an important step forward. It calls for full implementation and complementary measures in order to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza. The EU has offered its assistance for achieving this objective. The European Union calls for a solution addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns".
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the United Nations Secretary General's statement on 20 March 2010 that "All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped"; and, if so, how they plan to support this aim.[HL2194]
We have called on Israel to extend its moratorium on settlements and we are very disappointed to hear that the moratorium has not been renewed. We remain very concerned that talks could falter on this issue and call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Government to show leadership to resolve this so the parties can focus on the real challenges ahead. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made this clear to Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman on 27 September.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure free access to Serbian Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo; and whether they have discussed this issue with any British non-governmental organisations.[HL2189]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK consistently urges the Kosovo Government to fulfil the terms of the Kosovo Comprehensive Settlement Proposal in all areas, including freedom of religion. Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO force that is currently responsible for protecting and enabling access to key Serbian Orthodox sites, is in the process of transferring responsibility to the Kosovo Police Service in full consultation with the Serbian Orthodox Church and taking into account the political and security conditions on the ground. Our embassy in Pristina is in regular contact with Serbian Orthodox Church representatives in Kosovo. For example, on 10 August officials met priests of the newly opened St Nicolas Church in Pristina, who expressed satisfaction at the protection given to them by the Kosovo Police.
Our officials in Pristina have held discussions with the British non-governmental organisation the Soul of Europe about a proposed religious co-operation project in Kosovo and have assisted it by facilitating other contacts in Kosovo, including with the Minister for Communities and Returns.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is not aware of any data regarding Life Support Engineering Ltd and its supply of oxygen equipment to NHS bodies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their strategy for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries will prioritise the health and rights of adolescent girls, among whom pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death.[HL2113]
Baroness Verma: Adolescent girls are twice as likely to die during childbirth as those in their twenties, and girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth. Preventing unintended pregnancies and ensuring pregnancy and childbirth is safe for all women, particularly for adolescent girls, will make a vital contribution to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) to reduce maternal and child deaths.
Reproductive, maternal and newborn health is a major priority for the UK Government and the Department for International Development (DfID) is currently developing a new business plan that will be based on the best evidence available of what works, including how best to enable adolescent girls to access better reproductive health services.
Baroness Verma: About 14 million adolescent girls become mothers every year, with 90 per cent living in developing countries. Young mothers often lack knowledge about sex and the risks of sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS. Girls under 15 are also five times more likely to die in childbirth.
Investing in adolescent girls breaks the cycle of poverty. Research has suggested that when a girl in a developing country receives more than seven years of education, she marries four years later, has fewer children and her children are more educated and healthier. Improved access to reproductive health and education services for adolescents are priorities for the UK Government as a way of promoting women's choice in the developing world.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation and rape, on maternal mortality rates and the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls in developing countries.[HL2115]
Baroness Verma: Violence against women by a partner is a global public health problem and a human rights violation directly linked to women's lack of status and power. Intimate partner violence in many settings increases during pregnancy, and can have damaging, even fatal, consequences for the health of the woman and her baby. Women who are physically abused in pregnancy are more likely to suffer miscarriage or seek induced abortion and the violent partner is more likely to have multiple sexual relationships, so increasing the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Female genital mutilation or cutting is a human rights and a health issue for both mothers and babies. While it has been known for decades that it causes severe pain and can result in prolonged bleeding, infection, infertility and even death, a 2006 landmark study by the World Health Organisation provided clear evidence that complications in deliveries are significantly more likely among women with female genital mutilation or cutting.
Reproductive, maternal and newborn health is a major priority for the UK Government and the Department for International Development (DfID) is currently developing a new business plan that will be based on the best evidence available of what works, including how best to address gender-based violence and its effect on maternal health outcomes.
Baroness Verma: There is very clear and compelling evidence that the level of educational attainment of girls and women is a significant determinant of health through pregnancy and childbirth. Completion of secondary education by girls, more so than primary completion, has a strong positive effect on women's empowerment and is associated with higher age of marriage, lower birth rates and mortality, better maternal care and reduced vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.
Reproductive, maternal and newborn health is a major priority for the UK Government and the Department for International Development (DfID) is currently developing a new business plan that will be based on the best evidence available of what works, including the role education plays in improving reproductive and maternal health outcomes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The work of the new Defence Reform Unit will look at the senior rank structure to see whether it is appropriate for the post- strategic defence and security review world. This work will aim to conclude by July 2011, but some reforms will be implemented before then.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland will be taken into account in determining the level of financial support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. [HL2149]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Funding for the Police Service of Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive. However, Her Majesty's Government are in regular contact with the Justice Minister and the chief constable, and have made clear that the Northern Ireland Executive will have access to the reserve to meet any exceptional security pressures relating to policing and justice. £50.3 million has been made available from the reserve in 2010-11. This includes £12.9 million made available by this Government to the chief constable in June this year.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) released, as part of its Budget forecasts on 22 June 2010, projections for whole economy employment to 2015-16.
Further information on its employment forecast, including projections for general government employment, was released on 30 June 2010 in its document OBR forecast: Employment, which can be found on the following webpage at http://budgetresponsibility. independent.gov.uk/publications.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the latest estimate of the level of public expenditure as a proportion of the gross domestic product; and how this compares with the latest estimate made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[HL2112]
Lord Sassoon: The forecast at the June Budget, by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), was that total managed expenditure peaked at 47.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009-10. It is forecast to decline every year throughout the forecast period, down to 39.8 per cent of GDP by 2015-16.
The most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimate for public expenditure uses different methodology to that of the OBR and does not take into account consolidation announced by this Government. Treatment of pension contributions and depreciation explains the majority of the difference between the two sources.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make it their practice that when answering Parliamentary Questions Ministers should refrain from giving personal views in conflict with those of the Government.[HL2105]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): I refer to the Answer given by my right honourable friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Sir George Young) to the honourable Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) on 22 July 2010 (OA col. 562-563).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the recent consultation on packaging, recycling targets and the fact that there are no statutory targets for 2011 and beyond, what steps they will take to support the packaging and associated industries in maintaining their performance with regard to recycling.[HL2283]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We are working to ensure that targets for 2011 will be in place before the start of the year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of recent action by Russian authorities against non-governmental organisations promoting
11 Oct 2010 : Column WA55
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Strong, independent civil society and the observance of fundamental rights are essential to foster and protect democratic freedoms in Russia as elsewhere. We are concerned by reports that human rights non-governmental organisations and those exercising their right to free assembly in Russia have been subjected to pressure from the authorities. Through our direct contacts with the Russian Government and working with our EU partners we look to address these issues, to uphold our values while promoting UK interests.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): When a school converts to academy status they benefit from a range of freedoms. Academies are free to choose the composition of their governing body, although they should include a minimum of two parent governors and the principal.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Ministers Sir Philip Green met, and when, in the month preceding the announcement on 13 August that he was to conduct a review of government expenditure; which Ministers he met and when between 14 August and 23 September; how many meetings he had with senior officials between 14 August and 23 September; and whether he met with officials from HMRC in this period.[HL2197]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: There is a commitment to publish details of Ministers' external meetings on a quarterly basis. Information for the period preceding Sir Philip Green's appointment will be published in due course. Sir Philip Green has been commissioned by the Prime Minister to scrutinise government spending and identify inefficiencies and potential future savings. Sir Philip will report to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister to the Cabinet Office. Sir Philip has held meetings as appropriate for the purposes of his review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their promise to invest further in infrastructure in July 2010, whether they have any plans for capacity building in relation to the Government of St Helena. [HL2111]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development is providing over £4 million in technical assistance to the St Helena Government (SHG) for 2010-11, a proportion of which is helping to build capacity. We recognise, however, that SHG will face additional capacity constraints in implementing the reforms needed to open the island's economy to inward investment and increased tourism once the airport contract is signed. We have informed SHG that we are ready to discuss further assistance once they are able to define those needs.
To help develop the capacity of the local population, we will continue to support SHG's Adult Vocational Education Strategy (AYES). AYES, which forms part of a wider lifelong learning strategy, will equip a significant proportion of the working population of St Helena with key professional and technical skills.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 13 July (WA 126), whether they have received any response from the Government of Tanzania in relation to the concerns raised about the proposed route of the new trunk route through the Northern Serengeti.[HL2184]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No response has yet been received. Tanzania is in the middle of an election campaign, with elections on 31 October. The new Tanzanian Government, formed after that date, will need to take a formal position on plans for any new road through the Northern Serengeti. The UK will, with its EU partners, continue to press for a rigorous environmental appraisal of any proposal for a new road through the Serengeti National Park
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the article in Nature 2010 volume 467, Road will Ruin Serengeti, about the proposed route of the new trunk route through the Northern Serengeti, and what action they will take.[HL2185]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of the concerns raised about the proposed new trunk road by the authors of this article, and by environmental and conservation groups that work in the Serengeti National Park.
We understand that plans for constructing a new road will be considered, at ministerial level, by the new Government following Tanzania's presidential and parliamentary elections on 31 October. The UK will, with its EU partners, continue to press for a rigorous environmental appraisal of any proposal for a new road through the Serengeti National Park.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the revised edition of Measuring Tax Gaps 2009 published in March 2010, what is their estimate of the tax gap in (a) absolute and (b) percentage terms; and what steps they are taking to avoid underestimating the "avoidance tax gap" caused by a failure to recognise avoidance schemes used by business, partnerships and individuals.[HL2094]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon):Measuring Tax Gaps 2010 states that the most recent estimate of the size of the tax gap is £42 billion, or 8.6 per cent of total tax liability (www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/measuring-tax-gaps.pdf).
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a range of tools to detect avoidance. The disclosure of tax avoidance schemes (DOTAS) regime provides early information about tax avoidance schemes and those who use them. The Finance Act 2010 introduced a range of amendments intended to strengthen the DOTAS regime to provide HMRC with better information about avoidance. HMRC also detects avoidance through its compliance work and real-time engagement with large businesses. Avoidance detected in these ways will inform future estimates of the tax gap.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they calculated the figure of £7 billion quoted by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury as the amount of revenue that could be saved by action on tax avoidance and tax evasion.[HL2166]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the figure of £7 billion quoted by the Chief Secretary of the Treasury as the amount of revenue that could be saved by action on tax avoidance and tax evasion is a one-off or annual amount.[HL2167]
To ask Her Majesty's Government when HMRC first calculated the figure of £7 billion quoted by the Chief Secretary of the Treasury as the amount of revenue that could be saved by action on tax avoidance and tax evasion.[HL2168]
Lord Sassoon: The Government will make £900 million available over the spending review period to raise additional revenues from those who undermine the tax system and seek to avoid paying their fair share. This should bring in around £7 billion per annum by 2014-15 in additional tax revenue.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) routinely measures and monitors various performance metrics such as the yield-to-cost ratio of its work as well as making use of a number of statistical models. These were used as part of the spending review process to
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the time taken to transport victims of serious accidents, and critically ill individuals, to the appropriate critical care hospital facility. [HL2118]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The transportation of critically ill patents is co-ordinated between critical care and ambulance services. The appropriate clinical standards used by clinicians are determined by the Intensive Care and Paediatric Intensive Care Societies. Historically these standards have only covered inter-hospital ventilated patients, but both societies are currently updating their standards to cover both the unventilated patient and patients who require transportation from the scene of an accident to an emergency department as quickly and safely as possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the response to the consultation Information, Advice and Guidance Services for Young People: Directions and Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, published in March 2010, and whether it will implement the guidance.[HL2206]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education will publish a report on the consultation on the Information, Advice and Guidance Services: Directions and Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities shortly, as it is required to do under the Government Code of Practice on Consultation. The Government are currently considering how best to secure high-quality careers guidance and IAG for young people.
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