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Stagecoach South West Trains Limited has to deliver a specified level of train services under terms set out in its franchise agreement. Every four weeks, Department for Transport officials review train operator performance against the obligations contained in the franchise including cancellations, delays and the level of capacity provided. The most recent assessment covered the period 17 October to 13 November 2010.

Railways: Ticketing

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Queue times are monitored by Stagecoach South Western Trains Ltd (SSWT). The most recent summary information on this was received by the Department for Transport on 10 December 2010 and covered Railway Period 11-08 (17 October 2010 - 13 November 2010) and is set out in the table below:

Number of monitoring sessions undertakenNumber of sessions not meeting the standards
PeriodStationPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-Peak

11-08

Basingstoke

4

4

1

0

11-08

Guildford

4

1

0

0

11-08

Winchester

10

5

5

0

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Ireland will contribute €17.5 billion towards the financial assistance package, which will be used to support its banking sector, including immediate bank recapitalisation.

The arrangements required of the Irish Government fall broadly within three areas: the banking system, fiscal adjustment and growth-enhancing reforms. The specific policies that the Irish Government have undertaken to implement are outlined in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which is available on its website, and available at the following link: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr10366.pdf.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Sassoon: The UK's bilateral loan to Ireland will not be conditional on the Irish Government raising their corporate tax rate.

The Government believe national tax rates are matters for national Governments to decide.

Roads: Construction

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: In January 2010, the Department for Transport issued "in draft" scheme appraisal guidance requiring scheme promoters to report how benefits from travel time changes break down into time bands, one of which is zero to two minutes per trip. The guidance is available at:

http://www.dit.gov.uk/webtag/documents/expert/pdf/unit3.5.3d.pdf.

Appraisal results are published by scheme promoters when appropriate. For example, the Highways Agency publishes appraisal information on its website:

http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/29639.aspx

The Department for Transport's Business Plan for 2011-2015 states it will reform the way transport projects are assessed, and funding prioritisation decisions are made, so that the benefits of low-carbon proposals are fully recognised. This includes reviewing and revising its guidance on appraising transport projects, as well as its processes for assessing schemes and supporting ministerial decisions. We aim to announce the scope and timetable of this review shortly.



21 Dec 2010 : Column WA311

Savings

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): National Savings & Investments is operating within and to its publicly agreed targets.

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The information requested is shown in the table below:

Trinity HouseNorthern Lighthouse BoardCommissioners of Irish Lights

Cost of flights included tax

Yes

Yes

Yes

Flight cost

£6,565

£462

€2,545

Taxes and charges

£1,469

£1,470

€980

Total

£8,034

£1,932

€3,525

St Helena

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) provides funding for the HealthLink 3 project to the St Helena Government upon receipt of their audited and certified expenditure statements.

A competitive bidding process was held in 2008 to ensure best value for money for the implementation of HealthLink 3. The contract was awarded to the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO).



21 Dec 2010 : Column WA312

St Helena: Airport

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently considering options to conclude a contract for the St Helena airport that will deliver best value for money for the UK taxpayer. Subsequent timetables will be available in due course.

Taxation: Havens

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Individuals' liability to UK tax is based on their residence and domicile status, which is determined by the relevant facts of their circumstances, as outlined in legislation and common law. All individuals, including UK citizens, are free to choose where they live and work, and their tax status will derive from that choice.

Interest Rates

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The responsibility for decisions on bank rate lies with the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England. The MPC's independence is critical for maintaining credibility in the UK's monetary policy framework. The interest rates offered on savings accounts are a commercial decision for providers and, as such, vary.

The Consumer Financial Education Body publishes impartial comparative tables of savings accounts and the interest rates offered as part of its Moneymadeclear initiative. These tables can be found at http://www. moneymadeclear.org.uk/ or by calling the Moneymade clear helpline on 0300 500 5000.



21 Dec 2010 : Column WA313

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We do not intervene in other countries' judicial proceedings so would not demand the release of suspects. The 2010 EU Progress Report, published on November 9, highlighted the high proportion of prisoners in pre-trial detention as an area of continuing concern. We understand that the 2005 amendments to Article 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedures, reducing the maximum period of time suspects can be held in pre-trial detention, will come into effect on 31 December 2010. Our embassy in Ankara is monitoring the case closely and we expect the highest international standards to be observed when the trial resumes.

UN: Women's Agency

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

Baroness Verma: The UK Government strongly support the establishment of the new United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women. This represents an important opportunity to raise the profile of gender in the UN system, close gaps in delivery at country level and make a real difference to the lives of poor people in developing countries.

The Department for International Development is reviewing funding to all multilateral agencies as part of the ongoing multilateral aid review. A decision on funding for UN Women will be made when the review concludes early next year.

Universities: Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick



21 Dec 2010 : Column WA314

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I will write to the noble Lord and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Visas

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The number of visas issued to intra-company transferees in 2009 with a validity of 12 months or less was 5,054. Details of the salaries and job descriptions of these applicants is not held centrally and the information requested could only be produced by checking individual records at disproportionate cost.

Intra-company transferees account for a significant proportion of tier 2 numbers and there are concerns that they have been used by some companies to fill jobs that could be done by resident workers. Our new salary threshold of £40,000 for any transfers of longer than 12 months will ensure that those coming are the senior managers and key specialists that the route was intended for.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Neville-Jones: For the period April 2009 to March 2010, 128 individuals, identified on our systems as students, were arrested during enforcement visits for working in breach of their conditions of leave, of which 88 have subsequently been removed and two have been prosecuted. The figures provided are sourced from management information tools; they are not quality assured under National Statistics protocols and are subject to change.

Where a foreign student is found to be working full-time in breach of his or her conditions of leave to enter or remain, there are a range of sanctions that the UK Border Agency can use including prosecution, curtailment of leave, refusal of future applications for leave and removal. Employers who fail to check that employees have the right to work in the UK can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker encountered.

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Employers who knowingly employ an illegal worker may be liable to an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment.

The UK Border Agency does not keep central records of the number of individuals whose leave was curtailed or application refused for working in breach

21 Dec 2010 : Column WA316

of their conditions, or of fines issued to employers for employing students in breach of their conditions. This information could only be obtained by the detailed examination of individual case records at disproportionate cost.


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