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18 Nov 2010 : Column WA219



18 Nov 2010 : Column WA219

Written Answers

Thursday 18 November 2010

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): An additional two GR4 aircraft were deployed on Operation Herrick following a request by the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, General David Petraeus, for an increase in air support to provide greater protection to ground forces. The aircraft joined the eight RAF Tornado GR4s already provided to support the multinational pool and have boosted flying hours by 25 per cent, or an extra 130 flying hours per month.

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

Lord Astor of Hever: I am withholding the information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

Lord Astor of Hever: For the number of aircraft in service I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 9 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 47). No Harriers are currently deployed in Afghanistan; for information on readiness for deployment I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 4 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 427).

Asked by Lord Moonie

Lord Astor of Hever: The acquisition cost of the Sentinel airborne stand-off radar system was approximately £1.1 billion. The estimated annual logistic support costs that can directly be attributed to Sentinel while deployed on operations are £38.5 million and £33 million when based in the United Kingdom. In addition, there are other support costs for all RAF aircraft which are not specifically attributable to the Sentinel.

The Sentinel system has a support contract with Raytheon Systems Limited until September 2016. The contract includes a number of conditions that allow for early termination. Any costs associated with the implementation of these conditions as a result of the strategic defence and security review will be negotiated with the contractor at the time of termination.

Asked by Lord Moonie

Lord Astor of Hever: The Sentinel airborne stand-off radar system plays an important role in supporting our operations in Afghanistan. It is too early to say whether, when that system is eventually retired from service, any parts may be utilised in other defence systems.

Armed Forces: Seriously Injured Personnel

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Severe physical injuries are defined in the internationally accepted definition of major trauma as those with an injury severity score (ISS) greater than 15.

The following table presents the number and percentages of injured UK service personnel assessed with an ISS score greater than 15 resulting from service in Afghanistan or Iraq between 1 January 2003 and 14 October 2010. Personnel killed in action (KIA), where death occurred instantly or in a matter of minutes after injury before medical assistance was possible, are excluded from the numbers presented.



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Table 1: Afghanistan and Iraq UK Service1 injured including deaths with an ISS greater than 15, 1 January 2003 to 14 October 2010, numbers and percentages
Year
OperationCategoryAll20032004200520062007200820092010

Afghanistan

% Survival

80%

-

-

49%

83%

91%

85%

80%

Survived (n)

269

0

0

0

18

34

29

100

88

Died excluding KIA (n)

68

0

0

0

19

7

3

17

22

Iraq

% Survival

54%

25%

43%

80%

65%

56%

50%

0%

-

Survived (n)

64

3

9

8

15

27

2

0

0

Died excluding KIA (n)

55

9

12

2

8

21

2

1

0

Since 2003 there are 23 UK survivors with an ISS of greater than 60 which is defined as an unsalvageable casualty.

Information on severe physical injuries sustained during the first Gulf War is not held in the required format and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence is currently running a full, open competition, chaired by the First Civil Service Commissioner, from which we expect to identify the successor to General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue as Chief of Defence Materiel. The role is graded as a Permanent Secretary-level appointment and the salary for the successful individual will therefore fall within the relevant pay range of £139,740 to £273,250.

Arms Export Controls

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): All EU member states are under an obligation to include transparency measures in their arms export control frameworks, to publish a national report on arms export controls, and to contribute to an annual EU report on arms export controls.

The UK works with other member states through the EU Council working group on conventional arms exports to ensure best common practice on arms export controls across the EU, and share best UK practice.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have no current plans to ask the Government of Bangladesh specifically whether they will allow foreign experts on the law of war crimes to attend the forthcoming trials as observers or as counsel of the defendants. However, we continue to call on the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that their war crimes trials are dealt with according to international standards. Such standards could include attendance by foreign experts.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have noted the comment made by the deputy governor of the Bank of England.

Deposits play an important role in contributing to the funding of the UK banking sector. Banks' plans for funding themselves over the medium term, as the exceptional support extended during the crisis is

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withdrawn, will include assumptions of their ability to attract deposits. It is the responsibility of each individual institution to make prudent plans for its future business strategy that take account of the ending of exceptional support, including managing risks associated with specific funding sources.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Sassoon: In February 2009, as a condition of accessing the asset protection scheme, Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) agreed to lending commitments with the Government for a two-year period starting from March 2009. The Government continue to analyse information provided by LBG and RBS to ensure that all aspects of the commitments are met.

LBG and RBS report on a monthly basis to the Government on performance against their lending commitments. As reported in the March 2010 Budget, LBG and RBS exceeded their mortgage lending targets in the first year of the lending commitments.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As announced in the June Budget, the Government are working with international partners to explore the costs and benefits of a financial activities tax. The October European Council noted that the different options regarding the taxation of the financial sector should be examined. The European Commission also published a communication in October on the taxation of the financial sector and is also examining the potential for financial activities taxes.

Asked by Lord Myners



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Lord Sassoon: The Government regularly take into account a wide range of factors in their assessment of the economy. The Bank of England's financial stability reports (FSRs) continue to monitor the whole range of risks to the UK's financial system. The Government have announced the interim financial policy committee at the Bank of England will be created this autumn. It will be responsible for producing FSRs in the future.

Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's policy is that the banks in which the Government are a shareholder, including Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), should follow the disclosure requirements for companies listed on the Stock Exchange, including the UK corporate governance code and directors' remuneration report regulations.

However, LBG announced on 3 November that part of the bonus for their new chief executive, António Horta-Osório, will be linked to expanding LBG's SME lending portfolio.

Banking: Levy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The bank levy has been designed to target short-term, and therefore riskier, funding, which contributed to serious liquidity problems that played a key role in the financial crisis. The levy does not fall on insured customer deposits and only applies at half-rate to uninsured customer deposits (except for those from financial institutions) and longer-maturity funding (i.e. over one year remaining to maturity).

The burden of the levy will therefore fall proportionately more on banks that rely on short-term wholesale funding relative to those predominantly funded by retail deposits and long-term funds.



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Belize

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): While the futures of a number of UK Army bases around the world were clarified within the strategic defence and security review, the future of the British Army training support unit (BATSUB) was not specifically mentioned. We can confirm that the Ministry of Defence intends to retain BATSUB within Price barracks and that BATSUB will continue to support training in Belize. Like much of the remainder of the Army, however, BATSUB will be subject to a number of changes over the next few years. This will be done in full consultation with the Belizean authorities.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government believe that work is the best route out of poverty and that we need to do more to make work pay. The announcement of a universal credit is the first step in making sure that work pays and that we better target financial support towards those most in need.

Universal credit will improve incentives to work (especially for low earners) by a combination of earnings disregards and a single withdrawal rate to reduce the credit when earnings exceed the disregard. This will make the benefits of work clearer and simpler: encouraging people to move into work and see the financial benefits of increasing the number of hours they work.

A person receiving universal credit who is able to work will be required under the conditionality regime to seek work until their earnings or hours of work have reached a given threshold. Initially, we intend to set a threshold which broadly equates to that which applies under the current benefit system. Once universal credit is established, however, we will be able to vary that threshold such that some people are required to work longer hours, or earn more, than under current arrangements, reflecting a greater degree of individualisation that is possible under universal credit.

Chagos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In February 2008, the US informed us that, contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, there had in fact been two cases in January and September 2002 in which flights carrying a detainee had landed and refuelled on the island. It is regrettable that the new information on the two renditions only came to light in February 2008. The United States Government confirmed that, with the exception of two cases related to Diego Garcia in 2002, there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the United Kingdom, our overseas territories, or the Crown Dependencies, with a detainee on board since 11 September 2001.

The right honourable David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary, made a Statement to Parliament on 21 February 2008 and a further Written Statement on 3 July 2008 following the receipt of renewed assurances from the US in June.

Common Fisheries Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Council Regulation 1224/2009 establishes a new control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy (CFP). The regulation was the subject of extensive discussion before its adoption, and by strengthening the controls in the previous system it is designed to provide a sound and effective control framework for the foreseeable future.

The Government are also seeking improvements to the way European fisheries are managed under a reformed CFP.

Dunfermline Building Society

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): All three six-monthly reports continue to be available for download from the KPMG website.

The first six-monthly report is available at: http://www.kpmg.co.uk/pubs/

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DBS_lst_progress_report2OO9.pdf. The second six-monthly report is available at: http://rd.kpmg.co.uk/docs/DBS_2nd_progress_report_21_April.pdf. The third six-monthly report is available at: http://rd.kpmg.co.uk/docs/Dunfermline_doc.pdf.

Alternatively, hard copies of all three reports can be requested from KPMG. Requests should be directed to:

Dunfermline Building Society (in building society special administration)

C/O KPMG LLP

191 West George Street

Glasgow

G2 2LJ.

Economy: Growth

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is responsible for producing independent economic and fiscal forecasts. Other independent forecasters agree with the OBR's assessment in their June Budget forecast that the Government's fiscal consolidation is consistent with continued economic growth over the short and medium term.

The Chancellor has asked the OBR to publish a new forecast on 29 November.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Sassoon: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is responsible for producing independent economic and fiscal forecasts. The Chancellor has asked the OBR to publish a new forecast on 29 November. This forecast will incorporate the OBR's assessment of the effect of the global economic recovery on economic growth in the United Kingdom.

Economy: Quantitative Easing

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government do not have any current plans to commission an independent report on quantitative easing. The UK's monetary policy framework, under which the Monetary Policy Committee has operational responsibility, is accountable and transparent, including

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to Parliament through Treasury Select Committee hearings on the Bank of England's inflation reports. Information and data on quantitative easing are available on the Bank of England website for independent analysis. Organisations such as the International Monetary Fund have welcomed,

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As explained before [HL2411], the framework for the asset purchase facility requires the Chancellor to authorise the overall limit on asset purchases.

As the HM Treasury departmental minute on 24 March 2010 made clear, the maximum amount of private sector asset purchases that may be made under this facility remains at £50 billion, in line with the then Chancellor's letter of 29 January 2009.

In his letter of 3 March 2009 to the Governor, the then Chancellor stated that,

"to the extent that the committee chooses to purchase private sector assets, the choice of assets should be delegated to the Bank executive. In making that judgement, the Bank executive should be guided by an assessment of which transactions would be most likely to restore the flow of finance to corporate borrowers, as well as contributing to the committee's wider monetary policy objectives".

Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): No such estimate has been made. The spending review sets out the Government's approach to supporting economic growth through decisions on public spending allocations, including by prioritising capital spending on economic infrastructure which will underpin long-term private sector growth.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The letter signed by 13 European Union (EU) Heads of State or Government on 29 October makes clear that they will not accept any increase in the 2011 EU budget beyond 2.91 per cent. The letter is not legally binding; its force is practical.

At Budget ECOFIN and the Conciliation Committee on 11 and 15 November, all member states were clear that there could be no increase beyond this. The European Parliament said it was prepared in principle to accept this figure, while also demanding text on an increased role for the European Parliament in discussions of the next financial framework and the EU's own resources, as well as a provision for flexibility to increase spending in the EU budget in future years.

The Government were not prepared to accept these conditions for agreement to the 2011 budget. A number of member states expressed similar concerns. The European Parliament was not prepared to agree the 2011 budget in these circumstances, and ended negotiations.

The Government strongly believe that there was prospect for agreement on the 2011 budget at these meetings. Both the Council and the European Parliament said they could have accepted a budget increase of 2.91 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010 levels. The Government will continue to engage constructively in further negotiations aimed at securing agreement on the 2011 EU budget.

Fishing: Salmon Farming

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I am not aware of any specific representations. In addition, the vast majority of the farming of salmon in the UK takes place in Scotland. As responsibility for aquaculture is a devolved matter, I am not in a position to comment on issues relating to fish farms in Scotland.

There is no farming of adult (post-smolt) salmon in England and Wales. There is a small number of sites in England that rear smolts for on-growing in Scottish farms, but these are in secure recirculation units or secure tank systems. Operators of fish farms in England and Wales are required to ensure that screens are in place to prevent the entrainment of migratory salmonids into fish farms and the egress of farmed fish from the farms.

The Environment Agency regularly inspects fish farm sites, and escapee numbers are assessed in routine juvenile salmonid monitoring programmes. In addition, the Environment Agency regulates effluent discharges to ensure that environmental quality standards are met in any receiving water.



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Fishing: Stock

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): For the first time this year the European Union's scientific advisers, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, provided advice on achieving maximum sustainable yield for EU fish stocks by 2015, in line with the World Summit on Sustainable Development objective.

The Government are committed to meeting this objective and are working with the European Commission and other member states to best implement reductions in fishing mortality in a gradual fashion, based on the best available science, in order to restore depleted fish stocks, while maintaining the viability of the EU's fishing industry.

Flooding

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Environment Agency does not routinely provide high-resolution height data because it is not needed to understand the flood maps which are available on the Environment Agency's website. The preparation of the maps incorporates the necessary analysis of topographical data.

Where the Environment Agency is asked for information, it will consider each request, checking compliance with relevant legislation and any confidentialities.

If the Environment Agency has contracted work to third parties or is collaborating in a project, it normally supplies height data as part of its contribution.

Food and Drink: Exports

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): My ministerial colleagues and I regularly meet representatives from the Food and Drink Federation and others in the

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food supply chain. We discuss a range of issues including ways to enhance the competitiveness and resilience of the sector.

Food: Pork and Bacon

Questions

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): All HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff restaurants are outsourced to third-party providers. The service providers are responsible for food procurement with no subsidy from HMRC. The suppliers to HMRC's service providers are all British Retail Consortium suppliers. Meat products are sourced from British and European suppliers to ensure cost and quality requirements are achieved.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice (which includes the National Offender Management Service) is working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consider options for introducing government buying standards (GBS) for food. This is intended to encourage the public sector to procure food in a manner that promotes sustainable development and does not discriminate against local and UK suppliers.

The department and its contractors continue to look for opportunities to enable domestic producers to compete for supply contracts while seeking to achieve value for money for the taxpayer and for those using the services provided. For example, 46 per cent of all beef products and 65 per cent of mutton and lamb products purchased by NOMS are UK-reared.

All products supplied to the MoJ must comply with all current and subsequent relevant UK and EU legislation, regulations and directives. The suppliers are required to provide products that are sourced in

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compliance with EC regulations and from assured providers under animal welfare conditions that are compatible with the UK animal welfare regulations. There are several reasons that the ministry, in particular NOMS does purchase products from overseas.

First, EU rules require suppliers to meet a specification, and so long as this is met, the authority cannot stipulate where goods are purchased as this conflicts with one of the EU's stated purposes which is to ensure the free movement of goods between member states under normal conditions of competition.

Secondly, the suppliers to NOMS Prison Service (for which there is the highest value of food spend within the ministry) source from a variety of countries to ensure consistent supply that complies with specifications, switching between these suppliers to ensure that goods are supplied in a cost-effective manner.

Thirdly the domestic market does not always produce the required volume to the specification required. Bacon in the UK is primarily chilled and supplied to supermarkets. NOMS engaged in a costing exercise to understand the cost differential between UK-sourced bacon compared to the current product purchased in the volumes required to meet our demand. NOMS determined that the additional cost to the taxpayer would be in the region of £245,000 per annum which is a 57 per cent increase in costs.

The MoJ is committed to ensuring food procured meets British standards of production or their equivalent, wherever this can be achieved without increasing overall costs. The department is working closely with the supply base further to increase the volume of home-grown food used within prisons when compliant with specifications and within budget.

MoJ does not hold information on the procurement arrangements for private prisons. A request for this information will need to be made directly with Defra to confirm where the information originated and contact made directly with the source.

FTSE-100: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the situation in Gaza with Prime Minister Netanyahu during his recent visit. He welcomed the steps Israel has taken to improve access but underlined the need for further measures to secure change on the ground, including speeding up of imports for UN-led reconstruction, particularly schools. Like Germany, the UK also wants to see steps to resume exports and rebuild the Gazan economy. We will continue to call for this, working with our EU and other partners.

Government Departments: Photographers

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: This information is not collected centrally.

Government Departments: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Our staffing and pay plans for the next four years cannot be detailed until after decisions following the spending review are concluded.

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the letter from Sir Gus O'Donnell to the honourable Member for Barnsley East (Mr Michael Dugher) dated 10 November 2010. A copy of the letter is available in the Library.



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Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Scotland Office does not employ staff directly. All its staff are on secondment from other public bodies, mainly the Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government. On occasion, the office may appoint staff from a recruitment agency to cover short-term vacancies or time-limited projects.

Since 12 May 2010, two members of staff have been appointed on a fixed-term basis and two have been recruited on a temporary basis, all at band D level under Ministry of Justice appointment and selection procedures. As these appointments were all made below SCS level, it is contrary to normal practice to disclose their names.

Information relevant to the organisational structure and pay scales is contained in the Scotland Office organogram, available on the Scotland Office website via the following link: http: //www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/14464.html

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): No staff have been employed on temporary or short-term contracts to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer since 12 May 2010.

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): There are no unpaid advisers to Ministers in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Government: Big Society

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that charities attract donations sufficient for the implementation of the Big Society.[HL3894]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are exploring new ways to encourage giving, with further announcements to be made in the new year.



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The debate around the big society is to encourage individuals and organisations to think about the contribution they might make now and how that might change.

Iceland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We fully support Iceland's EU application. Iceland, like other candidates, must meet the membership criteria. We are committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with Iceland. We secured language in European Council conclusions to ensure Iceland's existing obligations are addressed as part of the accession process. The Commission published its Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2010-2011 report on 9 November. This report reiterates that:

"Iceland will need to address existing obligations, such as those identified by the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority (ESA) under the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement",

as part of its accession process and that,

On 25 May the EFTA Surveillance Authority issued a letter noting Iceland's failure to comply with obligations under the EU deposit guarantee directive.

Immigration: Detainees

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 6 July 2010 my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced a package of measures to address allegations of UK complicity in the mistreatment of detainees held by other countries. These allegations, while unproven, are damaging and tarnish the reputation of the UK as a country that believes in human rights, justice, fairness and the rule of law. As a part of those measures, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister commissioned an independent inquiry into UK involvement in the improper treatment of detainees held overseas in order to establish the facts behind those allegations and draw a line under the issues of the past.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister set out the parameters of the inquiry in a letter to the inquiry chair, Sir Peter Gibson. He outlined that the focus of the inquiry should be whether, and to what extent, the UK Government and their intelligence agencies were involved in improper treatment of detainees

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held by other countries in counterterrorism operations overseas. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister asked that the inquiry focus in particular on the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001 and particularly cases involving the detention of UK nationals and residents in Guantanamo Bay. He asked that the inquiry report back to him within one year of commencement. The inquiry is intended to reach an authoritative view on the actions of the state and security services and make proper recommendations for the future.

Independent Commission on Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): All commission costs are met by reprioritisation from within existing budgets and there will be no consequent increase in public spending.

The Government are looking to ensure that banks make a full and fair contribution to reflect the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider UK economy. They announced in the June Budget the introduction of a levy on bank's balance sheets to take effect from 1 January 2011.

Inflation

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chancellor confirmed in the June Budget the Monetary Policy Committee's objective of targeting 2 per cent inflation, as measured by the 12-month increase in the consumer prices index.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As explained in the previous Answer [HL 3578], inflation statistics can be found on the Office for National Statistics website.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): According to the UN humanitarian report, to date in 2010 (9 November), 315 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem and Area C (including 17 structures demolished by their owners following demolition orders). Four hundred and two people have been displaced and about 1,296 people have been otherwise affected.

East Jerusalem is regarded as occupied territory under international law. We do not recognise Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem. House demolitions or the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem are deeply unhelpful. We view any attempts to change the facts on the ground as a serious provocation likely to raise tensions, as well as being harmful to the peace process and, of course, in contravention of international law.

Justice: Neil Forbes FRCVS

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The information requested on prosecution witnesses (expert/professional or lay) is not held on Her Majesty's Court Service central electronic data management systems across the three jurisdictions and would require a manual search of all court files to ascertain if the individual Mr Neil Forbes FRCVS had given evidence.

This question breaches one or more of the data protection principles within the Data Protection Act 1998.

Kenya

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are currently no plans to increase the number of military personnel in Kenya, except to increase the number of permanent military staff serving in the British High Commission by one in early 2011.



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Macedonia

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We fully support the European Commission's recommendation (first made in its October 2009 progress report, and repeated in its October 2010 progress report) that negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened with Macedonia. A date for the opening of negotiations will be given once the European Council is able to make a unanimous decision to endorse the Commission recommendation.

Marine Mapping

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Dorset Wildlife Trust's marine mapping programme (DORIS) is considered to be an extremely valuable baseline mapping programme, and we are advised that there should be no additional survey work required for this area.

Natural England has used the DORIS results, published last summer, to inform and develop revised boundary recommendations for the Studland to Portland possible special area of conservation (pSACs) following analysis of the results of a formal consultation on a package of eight pSACs and two possible special protection areas in English waters.

Other mapping initiatives are taking place, and Defra has set up a memorandum of understanding with a range of organisations to ensure that there is greater efficiency and improved co-ordination for seabed survey data. It allows for the exchange of existing and future data between participating organisations at no cost and has established a mechanism to ensure that participating organisations' future surveys are programmed in such a way so as to avoid duplication wherever possible.

National Probation Service

Questions

Asked by Lord Dholakia



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Internal resource allocations for the spending review 2010 period have not yet been decided, but we have already been clear that a large part of savings will be achieved through improvements in efficiency and cutting administration. We will also publish a Green Paper before the end of the year setting out plans to reform sentencing and rehabilitate offenders more effectively.

Waiting times for programmes are managed locally by each probation trust and are not collated centrally. Robust data could be produced only by checking information held on offender files or on local data systems, validating it and then collating it in a common format in order to provide a response. Offenders waiting for a place on a programme are under the supervision of their offender manager who will monitor and actively manage the risk posed during the course of the supervision period.

Official Photographer

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Copyright works produced by officers or servants of the Crown in the course of their duties qualify for Crown copyright protection in accordance with Section 163 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Therefore, any work produced by the Cabinet Office photographer in the course of his duties is owned by the Crown.



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Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Staff joining the Civil Service on or after 30 July 2007 already have a pension age of 65. The Government have not made any estimate of the savings or costs of increasing the pension age for civil servants by one year. Any decision on the future pension age will be taken following the final report by the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission.

Public Sector: Retirement

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury does not hold data centrally on the number of public sector employees expected to retire in each of the next four years. This is an issue for individual public service employers and their pension schemes.

Retirement Age

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government announced on 3 November 2010 that state pension age for men and women will be increased to 66 between April 2018 and April 2020, following equalisation of women's state pension age with men's in 2018.

Details of the change are set out in the Command Paper: A sustainable State Pension: when the State Pension age will increase to 66.1 An assessment of the impact on the labour market of increasing state pension age was published in Annex C, paragraphs 42 and 60 to 63.

The impact of the change on the labour market was considered in relation to the additional number of people in employment.2 The table below shows the estimated additional number of people working in that given year compared to the number assumed to have been working that year had state pension age not been raised to 66. The figures relate to total employment.



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18 Nov 2010 : Column WA242

Additional number of people working (thousands)

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

140

170

200

230

250

260

260

240

210

170

130

Note: Rounded to the nearest ten thousand.

Revenue and Customs: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs does not collect data centrally on the number of appointments taken up by its former officials.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) advises the Prime Minister on requests from senior civil servants at SCS payband 3 level and above (and their equivalents in the Diplomatic Service and Armed Forces) for permission to take up appointments when they leave Crown service.

When doing so it takes into account the need to avoid any suspicion that the advice and decisions of a serving officer might be influenced by the hope or expectation of future employment with a particular firm or organisation, and to avoid the risk that a particular firm might gain an improper advantage over its competitors by employing someone who, in the course of their official duties, has had access to technical or other information which those competitors might legitimately regard as their own trade secrets or to information relating to proposed developments in government policy which may affect that firm or its competitors.

HM Revenue and Customs holds data on the number of applications from senior civil servants who sought approval to take up an outside appointment for this year and the previous two years only. The numbers are as follows:

2010-11 (to date)

2

2009-10

5

2008-09

14

Of the 21 applications, three were subject to the condition that for 12 months from last day in post, they should not be personally involved in lobbying UK government Ministers or Crown servants, including special advisers, on behalf of a new employer, its clients or its investors.

Russia

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government continue to urge Russia to bring to justice those responsible for the unresolved murders of journalists, and specifically to seek out those responsible for the recent appalling attacks on Mr Oleg Kashin and Mr Anatoly Adamchuk.

We welcome President Medvedev's instruction to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office and the Interior Ministry to closely supervise the investigation into the attack on Mr Kashin.

We are deeply concerned about attacks on journalists in Russia and the low success rate in investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists. The perception of a climate of impunity further undermines freedom of expression and human rights in Russia.

The Government will continue to raise with Russia our concerns about assaults on journalists and the constraints on freedom of expression.

Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Ministers have met and corresponded with Bromley Borough Council

18 Nov 2010 : Column WA243

about Kelsey Park Sports College becoming an academy. No discussions have been held with Kelsey Park Sports College.

Spending Review 2010

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are committed to reducing the deficit in a way that is fair and provides the appropriate support to those who need it most. The Government have no overall estimate of the impact of the spending review on the number of individuals living in poverty. However, in relation to child poverty, there is no measurable impact from all modelled spending review changes up to 2012-13.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord Sassoon: The Government are committed to reducing the deficit in a way that is fair and provides the appropriate support to those who need it most. As part of the spending review, the Government received a range of representations including those concerned with disabled people and poverty. These representations were considered as part of the decisions in the spending review.

Recognising the potential impact of the spending review on the disabled and elderly, the Government allocated an additional £2 billion per year by 2014-15 to help support social care services.

The Government remain committed to use direct payments to carers and better community-based provision to improve access to respite care, as set out in our vision for social care published on 16 November. The Government have also made available additional funding of over £400 million over the next four years to provide respite care breaks to the hundreds of thousands of carers who work over 50 hours a week.

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



18 Nov 2010 : Column WA244

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have called for an independent and credible process to examine allegations of war crimes by both sides in Sri Lanka. Both my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and I raised this with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister during his recent visit to the UK. Under international law, it is the primary responsibility of the state against whose forces allegations are made to investigate possible war crimes committed by its own forces.

We have encouraged the Sri Lanka Government to ensure that their own domestic process, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, is open and transparent and works with the UN Secretary-General's panel of three experts whose remit is to advise on accountability issues.

Syria

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend Alastair Burt spoke to Syria's ambassador to the UK on 5 November to underline our concern about reports of an attack, while in custody, on Muhannad al-Hassani, a prominent human rights defender. In a statement, my honourable friend called on the Syrian Government to meet their international responsibilities by ending their practice of arbitrary arrests and detention and to immediately release all who have been imprisoned solely for seeking to exercise their right to peaceful freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Our ambassador in Damascus regularly raises human rights cases with the Syrian Government at the highest levels.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government keep all aspects of the tax system under review, including consideration of the sustainability and revenue-raising potential of a whole range of taxes.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Turks and Caicos Islands is in band C of air passenger duty as the banding system is based on the distance between the capital cities of destination countries and London.

The June Budget stated that the Government will explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty. Major changes will be subject to consultation.

Universal Credit System

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Universal credit will simplify the benefit system by creating a single, integrated benefit explicitly focused on ensuring that work always pays.

With a simpler system, households will be more likely to claim their entitlements, and households claiming universal credit will automatically receive all the elements they are entitled to. In part because of this improved take-up, universal credit could lift as many as 350,000 children and 500,000 working-age adults out of poverty, before we consider the positive impact of more people moving into work.

We would also expect the radical restructuring of the benefits and tax credits system under universal

18 Nov 2010 : Column WA246

credit to be progressive, providing the most additional support to low-income families.

Further details are set out in the recently published welfare reform White Paper, Universal Credit: welfare that works, a copy of which is available in the House Library. Chapter 7 of the White Paper provides an assessment of the impact of universal credit, including information on the poverty and distributional impacts.

Vehicles: Electric

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

Earl Attlee: In conjunction with the private sector, the Government are pursuing a programme of research to support development of the low-carbon vehicle sector. This programme is managed under the Technology Strategy Board's (TSB's) low carbon vehicles innovation platform, which delivers matched funding to support industry-led research into a range of low-emission technologies.

Current projects specifically focused on electric vehicle research include: the development of advanced electric power trains; improvements to power electronics and motor control; and the development of prototype electric vans. These, and other projects, are delivering research findings allowing for continued development of this next generation of vehicles.

A range of academic research, including research commissioned by the Government, suggests that electric cars are a viable proposition now. From January 2011, a number of models will be coming to market that are capable of exceeding motorway speeds and have ranges of up to 100 miles. As levels of global production increase, we expect to see corresponding reductions in prices.


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