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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether airline passengers in an economy-class cabin who have paid a supplement for seats with extra leg room or width but who receive the same catering on the same terms as all other passengers in that cabin, and who do not enjoy the privileges of a dedicated check-in desk or access to airport lounges, are treated as economy-class passengers for the purposes of air passenger duty.[HL4468]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and other parts of La France d'Outre-Mer, whose taxes, state benefits and voting rights are identical to those in continental France, and which are legally an integral part of France, are deemed to be part of France for the purposes of United Kingdom air passenger duty. [HL4470]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The destination bands for Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and other French overseas departments are determined by the distance of their capital cities from London.
Hawaii is treated for air passenger duty (APD) purposes in the same way as the other 49 states of the United States of America. Seats with extra leg room situated in an economy-class cabin are not considered to constitute another class of travel, and therefore attract the same rate of APD as other seats in that cabin.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Appointments to the board of the Governor and the Company of the Bank of Ireland (the Bank of
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA2
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Director appointments are a matter for the board of Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), with appropriate consultation with shareholders. Bank of Scotland plc is a subsidiary of LBG.
UKFI's objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability, and to act in a way that promotes competition. As an engaged shareholder, UKFI takes a close interest in the calibre and performance of the banks' boards and management teams, as well as in their financial incentives, which need to be fully aligned with the taxpayers' interests as shareholders.
LBG was created in 2009 through the acquisition of HBOS plc in early 2009 by Lloyds TSB Group plc. Sir Winfried Bischoff joined the board and was appointed chairman on 15 September 2009. UKFI voted in favour of the resolution to appoint Sir Winfried Bischoff as chairman of LBG at the annual general meeting on 6 May.
Lord Sassoon: The acquisition of HBOS plc in early 2009 by Lloyds TSB Group plc created Lloyds Banking Group plc, of which Bank of Scotland plc is a wholly owned subsidiary. The appointment of senior staff is a matter for the company.
The Government's shareholdings in banks are managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI). UKFI is required to do this in a way that is consistent with the Treasury's aim not to be a permanent investor in UK financial institutions-the Government are clear that British banks are best owned and managed commercially.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 15 November (WA 151-2), which department or body issues the permit to allow access to the British Indian Ocean Territory.[HL4661]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Permits for access to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) may be issued by members of the BIOT administration, based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, and by BIOT immigration officers in the Territory appointed by the BIOT commissioner.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report Diagnosis: Critical Health and Human Rights in Eastern Burma, in particular the conclusion that at least 41 per cent of children under five in eastern Burma are acutely malnourished and 60 per cent of deaths of children under five are due to preventable and treatable diseases.[HL3998]
Baroness Verma: The Diagnosis Critical report highlights the serious impact of human rights abuse and the absence of health provision on the well-being of people affected by conflict in eastern Burma, particularly women and children.
The Department for International Development's (DfID's) support for healthcare in eastern Burma has expanded considerably in recent years, including our cross-border aid from organisations based in neighbouring countries. We will consider expanding this part of our programme further in future if it can be shown to deliver effective results.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 26 October (WA 250), what is defined as compulsory redundancy; and what proportion of civil servants made compulsorily redundant and provided with 12 months' salary as a compensation payment they estimate will insist on that form of redundancy if they could assent to voluntary redundancy and payment of 21 months' salary.[HL3833]
No estimate has been made of the numbers of staff who might be likely to insist on compulsory redundancy, but the underlying objective of the proposed new scheme will be to maximise the use of voluntary redundancy and minimise the use of compulsory redundancies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the differences in duties between the administrative officer and administrative assistant grades in the Civil Service; what are the minimum qualifications required for staff in each grade; whether they have considered merging the two grades; and what would be the estimated cost savings if they were merged.[HL4085]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Decisions about the duties and qualifications of administrative officer and administrative assistant grades are for departments and agencies to determine. This information is therefore not held centrally.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 23 November (WA 293), what was the cost of collecting and publishing socioeconomic data on the Senior Civil Service and new entrants thereto; what was the estimated cost of monitoring fast stream entrants from 2011; and whether the purpose of this data collection is to achieve a particular proportion of entrants from certain socioeconomic backgrounds.[HL4647]
The cost for systems and registration changes to enable the monitoring of the socioeconomic background of fast stream applicants is £9,464 plus VAT. There is no estimate available for additional monitoring costs as this will be absorbed within the usual costs of running the fast stream programme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what contribution they are making to the Ice2sea project in terms of scientific advice and financial resources; and whether such contributions should be increased. [HL4383]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) hosts the co-ordinator and the programme office of the Ice2sea project. The co-ordinator retains overall responsibility for the scientific and administrative progress of the programme, negotiations with the EU, and delivery of the programme deliverables.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the European Commission proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy will affect the level of the United Kingdom's contribution to the European Union budget.[HL4407]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) could affect the United Kingdom's contribution to the European Union, but it is too early to tell what the impact of the European Commission's ideas, as articulated in the Budget review White Paper and the Commission's CAP communication, will be.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Compendium of Reoffending Statistics and Analysis (2010) published by the Ministry of Justice shows that when comparing similar offenders, offenders commencing a court order under probation supervision reoffend at a rate seven percentage points lower than offenders receiving short-term custodial sentences.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government are committed to ensuring that disabled people are
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA6
Recent changes to the Access to Work programme are designed to improve take up among under-represented groups, including people working for small employers, people with mental health conditions and people with learning difficulties. These changes included:asking larger employers to make a more substantial contribution towards aids or equipment to help their disabled workers, freeing up resources so that smaller employers pay less and any contribution by microemployers and the self-employed is waived;developing an even more personalised package of support with an individual development plan to help customers overcome their particular difficulties; more frequent reviews; and more intensive discussion about building independence and self-reliance; andextending support for job coaches, which is likely to help in particular people with learning disabilities, enabling support for longer periods and at different points as they settle into their new job.
Access to Work guidance has for many years specified that funding cannot be provided for standard equipment that an employer would need to provide for any employee. We have in the past allowed Access to Work advisers to form local judgments about what should be regarded as standard equipment, and this has led to inconsistent decisions. A revised list of equipment has therefore been included in the Access to Work guidance in order to assist advisers in making operational decisions on each case under consideration for funding and ensure consistency across the country.
The coalition agreement set out our commitment to Access to Work, including plans to reform the programme so that disabled people can apply for jobs with funding already secured for any adaptations and equipment they will need. The Minister for Disabled People will make an announcement about this shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how the universal credit and work programme will affect the number of disabled people living in poverty; and, if they have made such an assessment, what changes they estimate in the number of disabled people they expect to be living in poverty as a result of those measures. [HL4412]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The single taper and higher disregards in universal credit will encourage more disabled people, especially those with fluctuating
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We expect the work programme to deliver a personalised and individual service to all customers, including those with disabilities, and support more disabled people into work than under any previous programme. We will conduct a more detailed analysis of the impact of the work programme on disabled people as part of the evaluation of the programme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 8 November (WA 16), whether mitigating the effect of government policies on disabled people will (a) reduce the number of disabled people living in poverty, (b) prevent the number of disabled people living in poverty from increasing, or (c) mean that the number of disabled people living in poverty will increase.[HL4416]
Lord Freud: Within the Department for Work and Pensions, all Budget and spending review measures will be equality impact-assessed. This process is intended to highlight the risks and consequently to consider necessary mitigation as policies are being developed.
The Government inherited a Budget deficit that is costing the country £43 billion in interest payments alone. We have had to make some tough choices, and we have tried to make fair choices for the country, for the taxpayer, and most importantly for those who need our support the most.
We are therefore committed to engaging with disabled people to ensure that we make reforms that enable economic recovery, while ensuring that the impact on disabled people and other disadvantaged groups remains proportionate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 8 November (WA 15), how a target for reducing the number of disabled people living in poverty would enhance democratic accountability on this issue.[HL4417]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 8 November (WA 15), how performance transparency and providing information and choice will help to achieve their key objective of reducing the rate of disability poverty.[HL4481]
Lord Freud: There are no top-down targets as such. The Department for Work and Pensions has instead a structural reform plan, which was published on the department's website http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/structural-reform-plan.pdf.
Structural reform plans (SRPs) are the tools by which departments are accountable for the implementation of reforms set out in the coalition agreement. They are
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA8
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government believe that research and development on magnetic confinement fusion, which includes the ITER project, will not have progressed sufficiently in the next 25 years to enable this form of nuclear fusion to provide a practical supply of energy. Large-scale commercial power supply from this form of fusion is forecast for around mid-century.
Inertial confinement fusion, involving high-power lasers, is still at an early stage of development. The future of inertial confinement fusion is closely linked to the experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, where it is hoped NIF will supply the evidence that lasers can ignite the fusion fuel.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Since offshore licensing began in 1964, 215 seaward production licences have been issued over acreage in the west of Shetland geological basin, covering 474 blocks or part-blocks. 83 are still in force today, covering 307 blocks or part-blocks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they will hold with ENTRUST board members and executives to achieve higher funding levels and an increase in the number of projects undertaken. [HL4386]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Environmental Trust Scheme Regulatory Body Ltd (ENTRUST) is an independent regulator of the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). ENTRUST is responsible for enrolling qualifying environmental bodies and regulating spending. ENTRUST has no role in how funding is allocated or in increasing the number of projects undertaken.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 8 November (Official Report, col. 2) concerning wider benefits of European Union membership, whether they have carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the United Kingdom's membership; and, if so, whether they will publish it. [HL4153]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury has reviewed a wide range of studies by external commentators that attempt to assess the economic costs and benefits of Britain's membership of the European Union (EU). These reviews are regularly updated by the Treasury to ensure that it is providing Parliament and the public with up-to-date information.
The most recent update, along with a previous literature review from 2005, has been published on the Treasury's website (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/foi_disclosures_index.htm) following a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Neither review is a cost-benefit analysis. Rather, both reviews summarise published evidence on the economic impacts of the UK's membership of the EU, and cover for example the reported impacts on UK trade, foreign direct investment and productivity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support Article 21 of the proposal for a European Union Directive on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, regarding the removal of images of child abuse from websites hosted within member states and third countries.[HL4624]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The UK supports blocking websites containing images of child sexual abuse. We hope to see increased amounts of blocking in other EU member states. We support the objective of Article 21 which requires member states to take down websites with images of child abuse hosted on their territory and for all member states to enable the blocking of access by internal users to such pages outside the EU. As you know, negotiations on the directive continue with the European Parliament, so the final content of the legislation has still to be determined.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 8 November (Official Report, col. 1-4), what is the difference, if any, between the United Kingdom's "net payment to the European Union budget" and the "Net Expenditure Transfers to EU Institutions" quoted on page 79 of the Spending Review 2010.[HL4499]
Lord Sassoon: Table 1.6 of the Public Finances Supplementary Data to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)'s Autumn Forecast, published on 29 November and available on the OBR website, provides details of outturn figures for UK contributions to the European Union (EU) Budget in 2008-09 and 2009-10 together with the latest forecast of these figures for the period 2010-11 to 2015-16. This table also details which elements of the UK's contribution are included under the different definitions and the reasons for these definitions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reverse the decline in United Kingdom business participation in European Union Seventh Framework Research and Development projects.[HL4451]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The amount of funding UK firms have secured in the first three years of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is 42.2 per cent higher than in the four years of FP6.
The Technology Strategy Board has been given responsibility for increasing UK business participation in the FP7. It aims to increase participation through a number of routes, including: greater alignment between UK and EU programmes and building UK consortia
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA11
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the process followed by HM Treasury to inform its decision that a separate securities market regulator would not have been financially viable; what assumptions were made about revenue sources; and whether the industry participants were consulted. [HL4377]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Financial services regulators are generally financed by fees and levies paid by regulated persons and other users of their services. A separate securities market regulator would therefore also have to be financed in this way.
The consultation document A New Approach to Financial Regulation: Judgement, Focus and Stability did not seek views on the possible formation of a separate securities market regulator. However, a number of respondents expressed views on this issue. Responses have now been published on the Treasury website. Economic viability is only one of the reasons why the Government have decided not to pursue the option of a stand-alone markets regulator.
Baroness Verma: The flotilla cargo was transferred by the Israeli authorities to the UN, with the permission of the organisations who owned the cargo. As the organisation responsible for the cargo, the UN will be able to provide further information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the value in United States dollars of the reconstruction and development programme for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza for 2010 (a) as submitted to the Government of Israel, (b) as approved by the Government of Israel, and (c) for which necessarily imported materials have by now been delivered.[HL4534]
Baroness Verma: The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will be able to provide information on the value of projects submitted to Israel and the value of those approved. Reports on the amount of materials that have entered Gaza can be found on the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs website (www.mfa.gov.il).
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Lists of Ministers (paid and unpaid) and Parliamentary Private Secretaries have been placed in the Libraries of the House. I have also written to the noble Lord with copies of the lists.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the comments made by the Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson on 15 September 2010. A transcript is available on the No. 10 website at http://www. number10.gov.uk/news/press-briefings/2010/09/morning-press-briefing-from-l5-september-2010-55099.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total number of paid special advisers in each government department broken down by pay bands; and how the total cost compares with each of the past three years of the previous Administration. [HL4525]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are committed to publishing, on a quarterly basis, details of special advisers and their cost. The most recent statement was published on 28 October 2010, and provided the names of special advisers in post by department and payband, the estimated paybill, and where an individual's salary is higher than £58,200, the actual salary.
The list is available in the Library of the House and can also be accessed on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/statements/wms-spads.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were employed by the Department for International Development (a) at the last general election, and (b) now; and what is the expected number in 12 months' time.[HL4660]
|Date||Home Civil Servants||Staff Appointed in Country*||Total|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in stating to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee on 22 November that the Liberal Democrats had pledged to abolish regional spatial strategies in
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA14
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The coalition Government's policy programme is shaped by pledges made in the policy papers and manifestos of both coalition parties.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Statutory lifetime tenure for social housing was introduced in 1981. Times have changed, and it is no longer right that central government should require every social tenancy to be for life, regardless of the particular local circumstances. The system must be more flexible-so that this scarce public resource can be focused on those who need it most, for as long as they need it.
We believe it is right to provide for a minimum fixed-term for local authority flexible tenancies in primary legislation and that this period should be significantly longer than the minimum six months provided by an assured shorthold tenancy in the private sector. We therefore intend to provide that the minimum fixed term will be at least two years. We do not intend to set a maximum fixed term-landlords would be free to set a fixed term of 10 years, 20 years or longer, depending on local circumstances and local policies.
Security of tenure will not be changed for people currently living in social housing. It would be unfair to remove what existing tenants have been promised and we have no intention of making people feel uncertain about their future. These new local flexibilities will only affect new tenancies.
In the spending review we announced investment of over £6.5 billion in housing. This includes over £2 billion to make existing social homes decent and almost £4.5 billion investment in new affordable housing to deliver up to 150,000 affordable homes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 22 November (WA 277) regarding Iceland's indebtedness to the
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The first part of the Question asked what sanctions are available if a new agreement cannot be reached with Iceland over the repayment of funds.
In May 2010, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority (ESA) issued a formal notice to Iceland confirming that Iceland has a legal obligation under the deposit guarantee directive to ensure payment of the minimum compensation to Icesave depositors in the UK (i.e. an obligation to repay the UK for payments it made to UK depositors on behalf of the Icelandic compensation scheme). Negotiations to agree the terms of repayment are ongoing. Failure of Iceland to comply with this notice and reach agreement with the UK is likely to result in the ESA referring the matter to the EFTA Court.
As set out in the previous Answer, the UK continues to support Iceland's bid for EU membership. Like other candidates, Iceland must meet the EU membership criteria, including meeting the Copenhagen criteria and fully implementing its EEA obligations. The June European Council conclusions make it clear that Iceland must meet these obligations by resolving the Icesave issue during the negotiations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Iraqi refugees have been resettled in the United Kingdom under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees quota in the past two years; how many of those were translators and guides working with British Armed Forces and personnel; and whether they have given special consideration to Iraqi Christians during 2010. [HL4644]
|Iraqi Individuals||Locally Engaged staff||Non Locally Engaged|
The Gateway Protection Programme has resettled a number of Christians from Iraq but cases are referred by UNHCR on the basis of resettlement need and
6 Dec 2010 : Column WA16
Note: These data are normally used for management information only and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply for National Statistics publications. These data are provisional and may be subject to change.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 18 November (WA 237), what further action they will take to prevent the continuing eviction and demolitions of Palestinian dwellings in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank.[HL4392]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The noble Lord will be aware that the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. Following on from my Written Answer of 18 November, we are further concerned at a recent increase in demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C. We will monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise the matter with the Israeli Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are responding to the Washington speech of 4 November by Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia on the Middle East peace process; and in particular whether they are discussing it with the Government of the United States at all appropriate levels. [HL4391]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our understanding is that these were personal comments in the course of a speech that Prince Turki al Faisal made at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and we will not be responding. They do not alter the Arab League's Peace Initiative, nor the UK's position. We support the current US-led process as the best chance for achieving a two-state solution.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the budgeted expenditure of the World Food Programme, UNICEF and other relevant United Nations agencies (other than the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza for the current and previous two years; and what was the United Kingdom contribution to those budgets.[HL4533]
Baroness Verma: Although the UK provides un- earmarked core funding to a range of UN agencies, the Department for International Development (DfID) does not hold information on the UN spend in specific countries or territories.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what safeguards are in place to ensure that the new guidance on police powers of stop and search do not result in ethnic profiling or unlawful direct or indirect racial discrimination.[HL4223]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given to Lord Ouseley on 12 July 2010 (Official Report, col. WA109) about the action being taken to address disproportionality in the use of stop and search powers.
We do not believe that the new guidance will result in ethnic profiling or unlawful direct or indirect racial discrimination. None the less, as a result of the consultation on the codes of practice, we have made a number of changes to them in the light of concerns expressed by a number of organisations to ensure that that is the case.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 388-89), what responsibility HM Treasury takes for the form or consequences of the policy known as quantitative easing.[HL4679]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As covered in a previous Answer, the framework for the asset purchase facility requires the Chancellor to authorise the overall limit on asset purchases. The Monetary Policy Committee has operational responsibility for monetary policy, which is critical for maintaining credibility in the UK's monetary policy framework
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Russia on their failure to take legal action to follow up European Court of Human Rights judgments on the alleged abuse of human rights and related matters in Chechnya; who was involved in those discussions; when they occurred; and what the outcome was.[HL4568]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government raised the impact of Russia's policies and human rights performance in the North Caucasus at senior official level at our annual bilateral human rights consultations on 14 January 2010. The UK highlighted that apparent impunity for those that breach human rights or attack human rights defenders may foster an environment in which such attacks are perpetuated. We plan to discuss this with Russia again at the next consultations in early 2011.
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary also stressed the importance of human rights, the rule of law and ending the culture of impunity when he met Foreign Minister Lavrov during his visit to Moscow on 13 October 2010. Russia is aware of our concerns, and we will continue to engage with Russia on these issues-at ministerial level, through our embassy in Moscow, and through our representation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 1 November (WA 368), for each of the years 1995-2009, how many schools in England entered pupils for (a) 10 or more, (b) 9, (c) 8, (d) 7, (e) 6, (f) 5, (g) 4, (j) 3, (i) 2, (j) 1, and (k) 0 GCSE examinations. [HL3930]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to strengthening the use of synthetic phonics in teaching children to read. The national curriculum was changed to make the teaching of phonics compulsory from the 2007-08 school year. It is however up to schools to assess their phonics teaching requirements and ensure that they have an effective phonics support programme in place.
Only maintained schools are required by law to teach the national curriculum. The review of the national curriculum will not consider whether to change this position. Academies are publicly-funded independent schools. In accordance with the Academies Act, which was passed earlier this year, academies established from September 2010 onwards will, like other independent schools, not be required to comply with any aspect of the national curriculum. This is a core freedom that is at the heart of the academies programme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government plan to streamline and refocus school inspection around the core areas of achievement; teaching; leadership and management; and behaviour and safety. There are no plans to introduce routine assessment of pupils' toilets. However, the quality of toilets will, as now, be within the scope of inspection and could be commented on by inspectors if this was considered appropriate in a particular case.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Society for General Microbiology is a learned society. It was set up as a registered charitable institution and is funded by its membership and proceeds of its publications and other promotional activities. It does not receive direct funding from the Government. The Government fund science research through the seven UK Research Councils. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funds science in the area of microbiology. Currently, BBSRC does not have any formal collaborations with the Society for General Microbiology.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 12 November (WA 148), what progress has been made in the preparation of the bid to tender for the proposed airport for St Helena.[HL4663]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently preparing revised designs for the airport, based on the use of an engineered material arresting system (EMAS), to reduce capital costs and deliver better value for money.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Verma on 22 July (WS 101), what are the reforms needed to open the economy of St Helena to inward investment and increased tourism as required in the Written Statement for the approval of the airport of St Helena. [HL4664]
Baroness Verma: The Government of St Helena are currently drafting a Memorandum of Understanding, which will set out in detail the reforms needed to open the economy to inward investment and increased tourism. Once this has been agreed with the Department for International Development (DfID), it will be made public.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the June 2010 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the 2011-12 income tax personal allowance for those aged under 65 would be increased by £1,000 in cash terms, taking it from £6,475 now to £7,475 in 2011-12.
The increase in the personal allowance will benefit 75 per cent of the UK taxpaying population, and will lift an estimated 880,000 individuals out of income tax altogether. It is worth up to £170 a year for 23 million basic rate taxpayers, in other words any individual under 65 with income less than £42,475. The Government's longer-term goal is to raise the allowance to £10,000, with real-terms steps in that direction every year.
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