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Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development has a comprehensive programme of research aimed at sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, and reducing hunger, poverty and malnutrition in low-income countries. We support:advanced scientific research of high developmental relevance, commissioned through open competitions in collaboration with the UK Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council;international research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which produce international public goods, technology, new crop varieties and improved natural resource management solutions aimed at poor farmers, predominantly in Africa and South Asia;sub-regional agricultural research networks in Africa, to consolidate research efforts of their national members on common themes and priorities, in line with national and regional agricultural development programmes such as the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP); and research on changing the farming practices of poor women and men who can most benefit from new research findings. This capitalises on the achievements of the department's current and past investment in research in sustainable agriculture by accelerating research uptake in low-income African countries.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether the re-transmission of foreign broadcasts on national FM frequencies, which was stopped by the Government of Azerbaijan on 1 January 2009, has recommenced; and, if not, whether they expect the re-transmissions to recommence in the future following the representations made by a range of multi-national organisations.[HL2418]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Foreign radio retransmissions on Azerbaijani FM frequencies have not yet resumed. However, all the stations banned on FM continue to broadcast in Azerbaijan on short wave radio and via the internet. This remains a concern for us.
There is no indication that the Government of Azerbaijan will change their position soon. We and partners from the EU, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation continue to engage Azerbaijan on improving media freedom, and we fund a number of local projects in support of media freedom.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions in each year from 2005 to 2009 bailiffs were used to collect unpaid court fines in England and Wales; and what was the cost in each year to public funds.[HL2304]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): HMCS issues distress warrants to private bailiff companies as a method of collecting unpaid fines in England and Wales. This collection is carried out under contract to HMCS, which provides that the costs of execution are paid by the defaulters. Therefore there is no cost to public funds for this method of enforcement.
|Year||Distress Warrants Issued to Private Bailiffs|
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what directions they have given to those banks in which the taxpayers have a holding concerning the provision of mortgages of 90 per cent or more to first time buyers.[HL2297]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In February 2009, Lloyds Banking Group plc (LBG) and the Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) entered into two-year legally binding lending commitments.
In year two of the lending commitments, LBG and RBS have agreed to £3 billion and £8 billion respectively to households, on commercial terms and subject to market demand. These commitments include ensuring that mortgages across the loan to value (LTV) bands and up to at least 90 per cent LTV are made available to first-time buyers.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what they have done to ensure that arrangements for bonus clawback work as they and the Financial Services Authority envisage; and whether the amounts clawed back will be published by the Financial Services Authority or whether individual banks will be required to publish this information.[HL2247]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have asked the Financial Services Authority (FSA), as part of its review of the remuneration code, to examine mechanisms for strengthening the link between performance and remuneration to ensure that incentives are aligned with the long-term performance of the firm, including clawback arrangements.
Further details on the revision of the remuneration code and the FSA's consultation can be found at: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Library/Policy/CP/2010/10_19.shtml
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how much financial support they have paid to retail depositors in Icelandic banks to date; how much of that has been retrieved; and what is the estimate of the amount that will not now be retrieved.[HL2346]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Details of the financial support provided to retail depositors in Icelandic banks and repayments received for the 2009-10 financial year are set out in the Treasury's resource accounts for 2009-10 (HC261).
Total gross support in respect of Heritable Bank, Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander (KSF) and Landsbanki amounted to just under £7.76 billion as at 31 March 2010. This £7.76 billion comprises £6.68 billion of loans to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to cover depositors' claims up to £50,000 and £1.08 billion to cover depositors' claims above the
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HM Treasury expects to retrieve the full balance of the loans advanced to the FSCS. With regard to the £2.3 billion paid out on behalf of the DIGF, discussions to agree repayment terms are ongoing between the UK and Iceland. Retrieval of HM Treasury top-up payments made in respect of Heritable Bank, KSF and Landsbanki will depend upon recoveries from the respective administration processes. Forecast rates of recovery are published by Ernst and Young, the administrator appointed for Heritable and KSF, and by the winding up board for Landsbanki.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord Sassoon on 28 July (Official Report, col. 1289-92), whether they provide guidance to the Bank of England regarding the asset purchase facility (APF); and whether they have the power to instruct the Bank of England to limit any further use of the APF in support of quantitative easing to the purchase of securities issued by or in support of private sector companies and the provision of new residential mortgages.[HL2411]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England has independent operational responsibility for monetary policy. The MPC decides on the 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 MPC's independence is critical for maintaining credibility in the UK's monetary policy framework.
The previous Government and the Governor of the Bank of England established the framework for the APF policy. This was set out in an exchange of letters between the governor and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer which were dated 17 February and 3 March 2009. The 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's website.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government , further to the reply by Lord Sassoon on 28 July (Official Report, col. 1289-92), what assessment they have made of the decline in the M4 monetary measure and its impact on the availability of credit; and what plans, if any, they have to reverse this decline. [HL2412]
Lord Sassoon: The Bank of England's inflation report published in August 2010 makes an assessment of M4 and the availability of credit. The report points out that the growth rates of bank credit remained weak in 2010 Q2 relative to recent averages. These trends reflect in part the severe monetary squeeze precipitated by the financial crisis. Banks have tightened the supply of credit and fewer loans have been advanced, reducing deposit growth.
The Government have recently published a Green Paper on business finance to help inform and take forward their agenda on credit and other sources of finance for businesses. The Government invited views from businesses, investors and lenders to suggest approaches for enhancing access to appropriate sources of finance and will comment on responses to the Green Paper in due course. Further information about the Green Paper is available here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/businessfinance.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The coalition Government have articulated their ambition to ensure the flow of credit to viable SMEs. Our consultation on business finance issues, Financing a private sector recovery, closed on 20 September, and received many responses from a wide range of firms, business representative bodies, individuals and investors. We are currently considering the Government's response which will be given shortly.
The British Bankers' Association (BBA) has now published the report of the BBA Taskforce which was previously announced in the Green Paper. This report Supporting UK business sets out 17 actions across three broad areas to which the taskforce banks have committed. These actions will help to address access to finance issues which support bank lending to small businesses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD) Action Plan on the Availability of Medicines for Bees is published on the VMD website (www.vmd.gov.uk). It is an ongoing action plan, agreed with stakeholders, and was last updated in July 2010. The VMD and stakeholders are taking forward all the agreed actions. A meeting to review the action plan is expected to take place in January 2011.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Charities Act 2006 has not yet been reviewed. Section 73 of the Act requires the appointment of a person to review generally its operation within five years of its receiving Royal Assent.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they or coroners in England and Wales publish details of inquests held, names of deceased, date of death, verdicts, and any jury or coroner recommendations, either online or otherwise.[HL2429]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Details of individual inquests are not published by either the Ministry of Justice or coroners in England and Wales. The Ministry of Justice does not hold such information, but it publishes annually on its website the bulletin statistics on deaths reported to coroners, England and Wales. This includes for the calendar year, both in summary form and by individual coroner's district, the numbers of deaths reported, inquests held, and verdicts returned in each category of verdict. The Ministry of Justice also publishes online a bi-annual
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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have no plans to make the records that exist directly available to the public. Costs of making records available have not, therefore, been assessed.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Her Majesty's Courts Service systems do not automatically collate this information and it has been collected by manual returns from the enforcement offices of each HMCS area. This information is collected in fiscal year format.
|Year||Total Warrants Issued||Arrest Warrants Issued||Distress Warrants Issued|
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what was the annual cost of employing court enforcement officers to ensure compliance with warrants for the non-payment of fines in England and Wales in each year from 2005 to 2009.[HL2306]
Lord McNally: Unfortunately on this occasion the department is unable to provide information in relation to the cost of employing CEOs as, due to the period of time in question, any information which could be provided would be subject to inaccuracy and disproportionate costs.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many kilometres of fibre optic cables have been independently inspected and placed into service in the Alston, Cybermoor and Fibremoor projects in Cumbria by Cybermoor Ltd; and with what results.[HL2469]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many customers of Cybermoor Ltd and Cybermoor Services Ltd are receiving a working service of Next Generation Access (NGA) Broadband; and where they are located.[HL2471]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Neville-Jones on 17 June (WA 127), what assessment they have made of the impact of data protection legislation on the ability of members of Parliament and the general public to judge whether individual foreign persons convicted of serious crimes are being deported with appropriate despatch.[HL2102]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): In order to comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, which regulates the processing of personal data, the UK Border Agency is limited in the information it can provide when the request for individual case information is made by someone who is not the subject of the case. Other than the exceptional cases, cases of national security or requests from the courts, the UK Border Agency must ensure it has the written authority of the individual concerned before the information is divulged to anyone else.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will respond to the National Deaf Children's Society's report Hands up for Help! which calls for deaf children to have fair access to help from specialist teachers of the deaf.[HL2165]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government will be publishing a Green Paper on special educational needs and disabilities, which will explore how we can improve support for all children with special educational needs and disabilities, including those with hearing impairments. The Hands up for Help! report is being considered as part of the consultation the department is undertaking to inform the development of the Green Paper.
The Government share the aspirations the National Deaf Children's Society and parents have for deaf and hearing impaired children. It is a priority to improve the educational outcomes for all children and we recognise the important role specialists, such as teachers of the deaf, play in meeting this goal.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Electoral Commission is wholly independent of government and is accountable to Parliament through the Speaker's Committee of the House of Commons. A member of the Speaker's Committee responds to questions about the operation of the Electoral Commission in the House of Commons. There is no mechanism for answering such questions in the House of Lords.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what public intervention subsidy is given to home generators of electricity by (a) photovoltaic cells, (b) water wheels, and (c) wind generators; and what is the maximum kilowattage allowed to be generated in each case. [HL2580]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The feed-in tariffs (FITs) scheme provides financial support to incentivise small-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by individuals, householders and others who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. The technologies supported by FITs include solar photovoltaic, hydro and wind projects currently up to 5MW.
Under FITs, generators receive both a generation tariff and an export tariff. The generation tariff differs by technology type and scale, and is paid for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated. There is no cap on how much electricity can be generated. The generation tariffs for the above mentioned technologies start at:
A full table of technologies and tariffs available under the scheme can be found at www.decc.gov.uk/fits.
The tariffs for year 1 of the FITs (2010-11) were set to provide a 5-8 per cent return on investment (ROI), taking into account all potential benefit streams (generation tariffs, export tariff and bill savings).
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made towards strengthening the Manufacturing Advisory Service to support British-based suppliers to the nuclear industry; and what public funds have been, or are budgeted to be, invested in it.[HL2540]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In July 2009, the then Government announced £8 million additional support to the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) as part of the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy for Low Carbon and Advanced Manufacturing. This was to assist British manufacturers to take advantage of opportunities in all the newly emerging low-carbon sectors. In order to focus support for suppliers, or potential suppliers, to the nuclear industry, the Government asked MAS NW to act as lead centre for the nuclear sector and allocated £245,000 to ensure that MAS could provide specialist advice on civil nuclear. MAS does this in partnership with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Following the MAS civil nuclear conference on 27 September, 110 manufacturers have requested a formal on-site review through MAS to help them assess the most appropriate action needed to become credible suppliers.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how the new European supervisory authorities and the European Systematic Risk Board will be funded; and how the United Kingdom's contribution will be determined and paid.[HL2245]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The legislation adopted by the European Parliament on 22 September 2010 establishes that the budget of the European supervisory authorities (ESAs) will be split between European Union (EU) funds and obligatory contributions from the national public authorities competent for the supervision of financial institutions. Initially, the budget of the ESAs will be financed 40 per cent from EU funds and 60 per cent through obligatory contributions from the national public authorities.
The contribution from the national competent authorities shall be made in accordance with a formula based on the weighting of votes set out in Article 3(3) of the protocol on transitional provisions annexed to the treaty on European Union and to the treaty on the functioning of the European Union.
As regards the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), the European Central Bank shall ensure a secretariat and thereby provide analytical, statistical, logistical and administrative support to the ESRB.
Lord Sassoon: The three European supervisory authorities (ESAs) will each have a board of supervisors, whose voting members will take or delegate the decisions
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA146
Therefore the three ESAs will each have a voting member from the UK, as well as the ability to bring up to three additional non-voting members. The voting UK member will be the head of the national public authority competent for supervision of the relevant sector (ie banking, insurance or securities). Where there is more than one competent authority responsible for supervision, the authorities shall agree on common representation. Where an item to be discussed falls within the competence of another national body, the UK member may bring along a non-voting representative of that body.
The European systemic risk board will have a general board on which the UK will hold two seats: a seat for the Governor of the Bank of England as a voting member; and a seat for a non-voting representative from the competent national supervisory authority. For this non-voting seat, the representative will rotate according to the item discussed, unless national authorities have agreed a common representative.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what is the purpose of the European Union Joint Situation Centre; what are its powers; whether it has relationships with the United Kingdom security services; and what impact, if any, it has on the rights of United Kingdom citizens.[HL2365]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The EU situation centre provides analysis and assessments of situations both overseas and internally within the EU to support EU policy-making and crisis management. The situation centre benefits from exchanges of information with the UK and all other member states, including their diplomatic, intelligence and security services. Given that its role is limited to informing European policy and decision-making, it has no impact on the rights of UK citizens.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give details of all agreements made with the European Union since 12 May which give the Union new powers or extend existing powers; and what parliamentary scrutiny they have received.[HL2289]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will establish a mechanism to monitor the activities of the institutions of the European Union, including the European Parliament, in relation to possible encroachment upon United Kingdom sovereignty. [HL2366]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 6 October 2010, the forthcoming EU Bill will include a sovereignty clause to reaffirm once and for all the sovereignty of our Parliament. EU law has effect in this country solely because Parliament wills that it should through the 1972 European Communities Act. This sovereignty clause will therefore place on the statute book the truth that what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo.
This clause will not alter the existing order in relation to EU law, since EU law takes effect only through an Act of Parliament, either through the 1972 European Communities Act or subsequent regulations made under that Act, or through other primary legislation, but it will put the matter of parliamentary sovereignty beyond speculation.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): There is no existing EU proposal to raise direct tax. Direct tax remains a matter for member states to determine at a national level. The UK continues to defend the principle of tax sovereignty.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has regular discussions with its EU partners on a number of issues related to the Middle East peace process including the European Union Israel Association Agreement.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the framework agreement agreed between the European Commission and the European Parliament to give the Parliament additional decision-making powers.[HL2518]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The framework agreement updates an existing agreement which has governed the relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission since 1990, and which was last updated in 2005. The new text has been negotiated given the new mandates of European Parliament and Commission, updated to reflect the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty.
Concerns have been expressed within the council that the framework agreement could potentially breach the requirement for the Commission and the European Parliament to act within the limits of the powers conferred upon them by the Lisbon treaty by both conferring powers on the European Parliament beyond the treaty and limiting the Commission's autonomy. The council is therefore proposing to issue an official declaration noting its intention to monitor the operation of the framework agreement and reserving its right to bring a legal challenge before the Court of Justice at a later date if it considers that either or both institution subsequently applies the framework agreement in a way contrary to the treaties. The UK has been in the forefront in pushing within the council to secure a robustly worded council declaration in response to the framework agreement, and the Government will continue to push this line as discussions on these texts progresses.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 27 September (WA 399) concerning pension provision for former employers of the First Trust Bank, whether they will ensure that, in any sale of the Bank, pensions paid to those who live in the United Kingdom will be maintained at the current level.[HL2295]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The pension arrangements of First Trust Bank, including the level of current pension provision, are a matter for the scheme trustees and the sponsoring employer. As I said in my previous reply on 27 September (WA 399) there is a statutory framework that applies to schemes
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA149
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills staff have received, or are due to receive, increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales.[HL2536]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No increments have been paid in BIS so far this year. The department has entered the two-year Civil Service-wide pay freeze for staff outside the Senior Civil Service this year and is currently considering the position in relation to contractual progression payments alongside the £250 payments to lower earners.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Communities and Local Government staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales.[HL2604]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The number of CLG staff who have received or will receive a pay increment in the year ending 5 April 2011 will be approximately 735. The pay bill will increase by 1.4 per cent due solely to increments.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of staff at the Government Equalities Office have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ending 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales.[HL2657]
Baroness Verma: Full information on the question will be available once the Government Equalities Office has finalised its 2010-11 pay remit later this year. I will then write to the noble Lord with the information requested.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Northern Ireland Office staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ending 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales.[HL2658]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Following the devolution of policing and justice powers on 12 April 2010, arrangements are still to be finalised for transition of staff in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to a sponsor department. It is therefore not possible to provide this information at this time. I will write to the noble Lord once this information becomes available.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of Communities and Local Government for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL2683]
|Year||Approximate Saving in Salaries||Approximate Saving in Non-Consolidated Performance Awards|
The figures in the table cover the pay settlement period for the CLG main department of August to July each year and include all increases in base pay for staff below the Senior Civil Service. Actual net savings from a freeze on salaries and increments will reduce broadly in proportion to the level of staff reductions required once the outcome of the comprehensive spending review is announced.
The Senior Civil Service has not been included in the salary section of the above table as there are no automatic progression points in the Senior Civil Service pay structure. The bonus amounts for the Senior Civil Service have only been included in the year 2010-11 as the percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is not yet known.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many websites are operated by, or on behalf of, agencies of the Department for Education; and what is (a) the cost of maintaining those websites, (b) the number of hits each website received, and (c) the
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA152
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Full year statistics for the websites maintained by each of the department's arm's-length bodies (ALB) are available only for 2008-09 and 2009-10 and are outlined in the table below:
|ALB||Number of websites||Number of visits (2008-09)||Costs (2008-09)||Number of visits (2009-10)||Costs (2009-10)||Number of websites closed|
Statistical information is not available for Becta which is in the process of closing down. Figures have not been included for the YPLA as this ALB was only formed in 2010. In line with the requirements of the UK Transformational Government Policy, the department and its ALBs are working to rationalise the number of websites by March 2011.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Minister without Portfolio (Minister of State) is unpaid. This information is available in the House Library and UK Parliament website under the section entitled Her Majesty's Government.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States on the future of Guantanamo Bay and its implications for the credibility of the United States' common commitment to law, human rights and justice.[HL2241]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has long called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. President Obama has been clear that he wants to see the Guantanamo Bay detention facility closed and we
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The noble Lord may also be aware that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister reiterated our request for the release and return of Shaker Aamer, the last former legal resident detained at Guantanamo Bay. The Government remain committed to seeking his return, and we continue to engage with the US Government on his case.
The US shares our belief that a strong commitment to law, human rights, justice and democracy is integral to the pursuit of our strategic objectives, not least our shared security. Bilaterally, we continue to work alongside the US around the world to promote human rights. Our complementary strengths, networks and alliances play an important role in this regard.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the 2010 report from the United States Department of Veterans' Gulf War Illnesses Task Force to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and its relevance to the undiagnosed illnesses of British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War; and whether there is any action they are considering as a result.[HL2361]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We have noted the publication of the Final 2010 Report of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Gulf War Illnesses Task Force to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the recent publication of the Veterans Affairs Final Regulation on "Presumptive" Illnesses for Gulf War and Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans. These publications relate to US policy and Veterans Affairs (VA) services to 1990-91 Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans so their relevance to the UK needs to be seen in that context, and there are no direct implications for the ill-health reported by UK Gulf veterans or on our own UK services. The task force report covers research into Gulf veterans' illnesses which is always of interest to the Ministry of Defence. We note the VA comment relating to the presumptive regulations that "at this time, VA does not believe there is a single Gulf War Illness or Syndrome". This is consistent with the current UK position.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A joint guideline was issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence in 2006 on the treatment and care of people with dementia in health and social care. The guideline covers the identification, treatment and care of people with dementia, including the management of behavioural symptoms. The NICE quality standards for dementia published in 2010 also advises that people with dementia who develop behaviour that challenges should be offered an assessment at an early opportunity to establish generating and aggravating factors, and that interventions to improve such behaviour or distress should be recorded in their care plan.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what procedures exist to enable officials of the European Court of Human Rights to take part in human rights dialogues between the United Kingdom and other Council of Europe member states.[HL2219]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are no such procedures for bilateral discussions. Any involvement of Court officials would be by mutual agreement.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government who monitors the activities of the Content Industries Directorate at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that the key performance indicators laid down by that department are complied with before any payments are paid to the Independent Networks Co-operative Association; and what steps will they take to recover monies paid in the cases of failures to comply with those stipulated key performance indicators.[HL2472]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The grant awarded to the Independent Networks Co-operative Association is subject to the usual financial controls and audit procedures of the department. The grant offer letter contains provision for the Secretary of State to reclaim funds already paid if certain circumstances arise, but at present the Government have no plans to do so.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of India to ensure that the Rt Rev. Raphael Cheenath and Dr John Dyal are granted a fair trial in accordance with international human rights law.[HL2355]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The right reverend Raphael Cheenath and Dr John Dyal are not on trial nor have any charges been made against them in relation to the 2008 communal violence in Orissa.
The UK and EU have welcomed the Indian Government's efforts to ensure the restoration of law and order in Orissa and offers of compensation and assistance to the victims of the 2008 communal violence. We will continue to pursue with the appropriate Indian authorities any human rights concerns and the need to bring to justice those responsible for perpetrating the violence, and to ensure that those left homeless are resettled.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the desirability of a common cross-border insolvency regime for systemically important banks; and what steps, if any, they have taken to achieve this.[HL2313]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are strongly committed to work at the international level on ensuring that all countries have credible resolution tools and powers in place to deal with bank failure and address the risks associated with systemically important financial institutions. The G20 has tasked the Financial Stability Board (FSB), in conjunction with the Basel Committee, to develop detailed policy recommendations by the time of the Seoul summit. The Government await the recommendations from the FSB, but have made clear that, as part of this work, all countries should aim to have resolution regimes which make it possible to resolve all large complex banks without taxpayer support.
At the European level, the European Commission has initiated work to develop a crisis management framework and is exploring reform of insolvency law, alongside preventive, early intervention and bank resolution measures. A communication is expected shortly and will set out further details of the Commission's plans in this area. The Government will play an active role in proposing appropriate changes to the draft framework.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to reduce the United Kingdom's representation on the International Monetary Fund;
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA156
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government fully support reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In particular, for the IMF to be legitimate in the eyes of all its members, it must be representative of the modern global economy. This means giving a greater say to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries. As a strong global economic power and in light of the UK's significant financial contributions to the IMF, we fully expect the UK to retain a strong voice at the IMF.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel regarding five cases between May and July 2010 of children shot in the legs whilst collecting building gravel in Gaza.[HL2318]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is extremely concerned by reports of such incidents. We have called on the Government of Israel to adhere to international and human rights law and will continue to do so.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Israel has a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which applies safeguards to Israel's nuclear research reactor. The IAEA's inspection and verification activities are limited to material, equipment and facilities specified in their safeguards undertaking. At the end of 2009, the IAEA Secretariat concluded that nuclear material, facilities or other items to which safeguards were applied in Israel remained in peaceful activities. The UK accepts the IAEA's conclusions.
We continue to call on Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state, and to place all its nuclear materials and facilities under a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is concerned by reports of alleged torture and abuse of Palestinian children held in detention by Israel. We have called on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that human rights and international law is upheld.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the alleged use of Palestinian children as human shields by the Israeli military; and what representations they have made to the government of Israel on this matter.[HL2317]
Such incidents highlight the need for Israel's investigations into allegations in the Goldstone report and those made by credible non-governmental organisations to be transparent, independent and credible. We continue to make this clear.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have welcomed the positive initial assessment of observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament. This noted that the election provided voters with a genuine choice, that political parties were able to campaign freely and that, overall, the elections constituted a further consolidation of the democratic process. The assessment also highlighted some areas of the electoral framework that need to be improved. We will work with international partners to encourage progress in that respect and on Kyrgyzstan's broader reform agenda.
Lord Howell of Guildford: It is particularly important that a new Government continue to pursue the political process to build democratic institutions in Kyrgyzstan.
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To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many people are directly employed by the Local Government Improvement and Development Agency; how much it spent in the last five years on consultancy fees; and how many of those consultants were retired or former councillors.[HL2261]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department does not hold this information. Local Government Improvement and Development (formerly the Improvement and Development Agency) is part of the Local Government Group, led by the Local Government Association.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Innovation centres and business and science parks currently receive funding from a range of sources including the private sector, local authorities, and regional development agencies.
The coalition agreement stated that the Government will support the creation of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), which will be joint local authority-business bodies established to replace the RDAs and to promote local economic development. The Government are currently considering the initial outline proposals received from prospective partnerships, many of which have indicated their intention to build on existing innovation strengths and assets including innovation centres and science parks located in their areas. Further details on the establishment of the LEPs and the transfer of RDA functions, including investment in innovation infrastructure, will be provided in the sub-national growth White Paper due for publication after the forthcoming spending review.
Science parks and innovation centres will also be able to apply for support from the £150 million loan facility announced by the European Investment Bank on 11 October. This facility is specifically targeted at supporting the UK knowledge economy, and eligible projects include higher and further education campus redevelopments, and relocation and construction of specialist science park and start-up company incubator facilities.
In addition, the Government are also looking closely at proposals to establish a network of technology and innovation centres in the UK that will complement existing institutions and will enable industry to exploit new and emerging platform technologies. Further development of these proposals is subject to the outcome of the spending review.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many miners employed by the National Coal Board were denied compensation under the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease scheme on the ground that they were surface workers.[HL2687]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): To date, just under 10,000 claims have been removed from the British Coal Respiratory Disease Litigation Claims Handling Agreement as they related to men that had not been employed underground by British Coal.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government how many miners employed by the National Coal Board received compensation under the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease scheme even though they never worked underground and were employed on the surface.[HL2688]
Lord Marland: The British Coal Respiratory Disease Litigation Claims Handling Agreement was originally established to compensate underground workers. It has subsequently been amended to include some men with mixed underground and surface employment. Men with pure surface employment have never been eligible to receive compensation under the terms of the claims handling agreement and therefore (save for any instances of fraud or administrative error) no compensation payments should have been paid by the department under the terms of that agreement to any such men.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government would oppose a change in the law as being out of keeping with our nation's long-standing approach to religious tolerance. A ban on what citizens can wear in the street would be an attack on the British rights and values of freedom of speech, freedom to associate and freedom of worship.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's annual accounts are audited each year by the National Audit Office and have all been certified to date by the Comptroller and Auditor General as in accordance with the Northern Ireland Act 1998. A copy of the commission's annual report and accounts is placed in the Library of this House each year. The commission's 2009-10 report and accounts will be published in due course.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: All ministerial and official letters between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) since 8 July 2010 will be placed in the Library of the House.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government which new participating employers have enrolled in the Universities Superannuation Scheme in the past three years; what are the criteria governing admissions for non-public sector bodies; and what are the present rates of employer and employee contributions payable to the scheme.[HL2348]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): This is a matter for the Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited. The Government have no involvement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): There are no singles or couples rates as such. The basic state pension is paid as an individual benefit. However, a person whose own basic state pension entitlement is less than £58.50 (April 2010 rates) may receive a state pension based on their spouse's or civil partner's national insurance contribution record. The maximum amount they can receive in combination with any basic state pension of their own is £58.50 per week. To qualify, both they and their spouse or civil partner must have reached state pension age. For a married man or a civil partner, their wife or civil partner must have been born on or after 6 April 1950.
The maximum rate of basic state pension made up of a person's own national insurance contributions record (£97.65 from April 2010) is commonly referred to as the "singles' rate". A combination of this rate and state pension based on a husband's, wife's or civil partner's national insurance contributions record is commonly referred to as the "couples' rate".
State pension is paid to people who claim it after reaching state pension age and who fully or partially meet the contribution conditions. A person can get a basic state pension by building up enough qualifying years before state pension age. A qualifying year is a tax year in which a person has sufficient earnings upon which they have paid, are treated as having paid or have been credited with, national insurance contributions.
One qualifying year of paid or credited national insurance contributions will give entitlement to some basic state pension. People who have fewer than 30 qualifying years will get one-thirtieth of the full basic state pension for each qualifying year they have. Both paid and credited national insurance contributions will count equally towards basic state pension entitlement.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what was the annual cost of (a) recruiting, (b) training, (c) equipping, and (d) maintaining, horses for use by the Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police in each of the past three years for which figures are available. [HL2393]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost of (a) selecting, (b) training, (c) equipping, and (d) paying, officers of the Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police in each of the past three years for which figures are available.[HL2394]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, in the past three years for which figures are available, what was the number of horses, police officers and civilian personnel in the Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police; and what was the total annual cost of the branch.[HL2395]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The information requested is not collated or held by the Home Office, and is a matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and its police authority.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government when the code of practice on the management of police pursuits will be issued to police forces, following the public consultation conducted by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).[HL2417]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The circumstances surrounding the death of Olaseni Lewis are currently being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). We await the conclusion of this investigation.
Baroness Neville-Jones: The circumstances surrounding the death of Colin Holt are currently being independently investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). We await the conclusion of this investigation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Survey and monitoring data collected by members of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society are collated by a volunteer recorder and the results have been published by the Biological Records Centre as provisional atlases of bees, wasps and ants. The verified raw data behind the atlases are available via the National Biodiversity Network gateway website.
In addition, Defra has joined together with four other major researchers to launch an insect pollinator initiative which will consider the wider problems facing pollinators. Up to £10 million will be available under the initiative. Defra is providing £2.5 million of this.
Nine projects have been selected for funding based on their scientific quality, impact and strategic relevance and these were announced on 22 June. Further details are available on the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council website.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord McNally on 30 June (WA 289) and 22 July (WA 251), whether they will take into account the views of the public when reaching their conclusions concerning the proposed grant of votes to prisoners.[HL2101]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has made a robust commitment towards detecting, removing and preventing all forms of corruption in partnership with the police.
A dedicated corruption prevention unit (CPU) works with regional corruption prevention managers, the front line and partner agencies to raise staff awareness, develop an understanding of the extent and nature of staff corruption in prisons and related HQ functions and, where practicable, to prosecute identified instances of corrupt behaviour. Each prison has an identified local corruption prevention manager with responsibility for raising awareness of the risks from corruption, helping staff in reporting and taking forward action including working with the police in support of prosecution.
A joint memorandum of understanding was agreed between ACPO and NOMS in October 2008 and gives the primacy for investigating and prosecuting individual cases of staff corruption to the police. NOMS also uses internal disciplinary proceedings to take action, up to and including dismissal, against member of staff who is found to be involved in corrupt activities where there is insufficient evidence to support police prosecution.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 12 July (WA 1101), which other central government quangos they have announced their intention to abolish; and how much will be saved in each case.[HL2275]
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 27 September (WA 553), whether they will make a full economic assessment of their decision to abolish the regional development agencies.[HL2498]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): As part of the preparation for the Public Bodies Bill announced in the gracious Speech given by
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA165
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are committed to securing the long-term future of the Royal Mail and to preserving the universal postal service for everyone in the UK. To do that, the Government introduced the Postal Services Bill to the House of Commons on 13 October. At the same time the Government published a policy statement which sets out our plans in detail-Delivering for the Future-A Universal Mail Service and Community Post Offices in the Digital Age.
Copies of the statement were laid in the House Libraries and it can also be viewed on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill's website at http:www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/d/10-1206-delivering-universal-mail-service-community-post-offices.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): It is not possible to answer this question precisely because a significant number of civil servants in the department make a contribution to the promotion and development of academy schools as part of their wider role. There are currently 123 civil servants in the Department for Education engaged directly in work on policy development and programme delivery related to academy schools.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Sixteen free school applications have been approved to progress to the business case and plan stage. None has yet been rejected.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether there have been instances of staff at the Serious Fraud Office experiencing allergic reactions and burns from material that has been stored over long periods of time, prior to this happening in September 2010; whether other departments or agencies have experienced similar problems; and whether any standard procedure for dealing with this risk was prepared and made available to the Serious Fraud Office, government departments and agencies; and, if so, when.[HL2274]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Prior to September 2010 there had been no incidents of allergic reactions or burns from material that has been stored over long periods of time at the Serious Fraud Office. There have been to date four incidents where staff working with case papers have experienced skin irritation. These have all been treated with off-the-shelf anti-histamines and the symptoms then subsided.
The Serious Fraud Office works proactively to minimise health and safety risks and manage identified risks whilst ensuring the timely progression of its casework. As part of this approach, the Serious Fraud Office takes day to day precautionary measures to provide its staff with the option to use personal protective equipment including gloves, aprons and masks when dealing with material that has been in storage for a long period of time.
As a result of these minor incidents the SFO further enhanced its existing process by contacting the National Archive for guidance on dealing with documents that have been in storage for long periods of time. That advice has been implemented and included only handling the material in one designated area and sealing material in containers when not in use. In addition, the SFO has also sought guidance from a leading pest control company which advised that the documentation in question does not contain any insect infestation.
There is no specific guidance issued to government departments on the risks associated with handling such old material, and although the Health and Safety Executive does collate reported information about such incidents it is not able to break this information down by organisation, government or otherwise.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 28 September (HL1964), whether Sir Philip Green or his advisers have been given access to details of
19 Oct 2010 : Column WA167
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The remit of Sir Philip's review includes an assessment of whether government leases and contracts entered into since 2007 offer value for money. As part of this assessment, Sir Philip Green and his advisers have had access to some limited information about government leases in order to make an initial assessment of value for money.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Sir Philip Green's key findings and recommendations were published on Monday 11 October 2010, on the Cabinet Office website and a copy has been placed in Library of the House. As an independent reviewer, Sir Philip is of course able to comment on his review.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government which Secretaries of State, Ministers and senior civil servants Sir Philip Green and Mr Ian Grabiner met, and when, in the six weeks before the announcement that Sir Philip would be carrying out a review into government expenditure; and which Secretaries of State, Ministers and civil servants they and their officials have met since the announcement of the review, and when.[HL2244]
The STA can voluntarily submit a qualifications credit framework (QCF) proposal to ensure ongoing accreditation of its swimming qualifications before 31 December 2010, as it has already done with a number of other qualifications it provides.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government expect citizens to pay tax that is due by law. The Government will take action against tax avoidance schemes that claim to produce results completely at odds with the intentions of Parliament. That is why the Government support the Code of Conduct on Taxation for banks and are asking them to adopt it by the end of November 2010.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are currently considering when to commence this Act. I will write to the noble Lord when we have made a decision and will place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.
To Ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take into account the impact on areas like Cumbria of the proposal to replace the current day visitors indicator with an indicator based on foreign visitor rights as proposed for the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services Relative Needs Formula.[HL2224]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The consultation on local government finance formula grant distribution closed on 6 October 2010. Ministers will take into account all the representations that have been received when making decisions about changes to the formula grant distribution system ahead of the 2011-12 settlement. This will include the representation received from Cumbria County Council.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), led cross-Whitehall work on an assessment The Economic Consequences of Turkey joining the EU, for the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee in December 2007. The assessment concluded:
"Apart from the political benefits of improved peace, stability and security, the Government believes that Turkish EU accession will bring potentially significant benefits and a range of economic impacts stemming from increased trade and foreign direct investment, improved institutions in Turkey, free movement of labour, dynamic gains and other political impacts such as energy security and the promotion of peace and stability in the region".
The assessment was presented to the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee (BEC) as evidence for its report published on 23 June 2008 Keeping the door open: Turkey and EU Accession, which made a detailed study of the political and economic case for Turkish EU accession. The BEC's report concluded:
To Ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of Vietnam to promote religious freedom and protect individuals' rights to freedom of belief, in light of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights which referred to religious freedom in Vietnam as "patchy".[HL2336]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK, with our EU partners, regularly raises human rights issues with the Vietnamese authorities. My right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister raised human rights issues when he met Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung at the Asia Europe Meeting Summit, 4 and 5 October, in Brussels. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary also raised human rights concerns when he met Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem on 8 September in London. We take every opportunity to discuss religious freedom with the Vietnamese authorities, including through the biannual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. The most recent dialogue was held in Hanoi on 25 June 2010. The next dialogue will be held in December 2010.
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