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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): There are currently 346 approved slaughterhouses operating in Great Britain. There is no separate approval of slaughterhouses carrying out animal slaughter without prior stunning. However, where bovine animals are slaughtered by a religious method the restraining pen used must be approved by the Minister as required under Schedule 12 of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (as amended). Eight restraining pens have been approved in England and Wales and are currently operational.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the European Commission and the Agriculture Council about changing the regulations in respect of animal slaughtering without stunning the animal first. [HL5580]
We were involved in discussions on the new EU Regulation (Number 1099/2009) on the protection of animals at the time of killing which was agreed on 24 September 2009 and comes into effect on 1 January 2013. This regulation permits the use of additional national rules to improve welfare protection in relation to the slaughter of animals without prior stunning. Detailed consideration of this issue will take place over the next year as we decide how to implement the new regulation. We will consult widely on our approach before final decisions are taken.
Lord Henley: The most recent data on the slaughter of animals without prior stunning was published in March 2004 by the Meat Hygiene Service in its Animal Welfare Review. The data was collected through a survey of meat plants between 1 and 7 September 2003.
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More recent data collected by the EU Dialrel project (see http://www.dialrel.eu/images/factsheet-assesment-practices.pdf) shows that, of the UK abattoirs surveyed, 100 per cent of the animals and birds slaughtered for the production of Kosher meat were slaughtered without prior stunning. For Halal meat, 25 per cent of cattle and 7 per cent of sheep were slaughtered without prior stunning. The Dialrel data also indicates that no poultry were slaughtered for Halal production without stunning.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report in the Financial Times about the declining confidence of academic economists in the accuracy of the Bank of England's inflation forecasting; and whether they plan to take any action or require the Bank of England to re-examine its methodologies.[HL5602]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have emphasised that the outlook for inflation remains highly uncertain. The OBR's November 2010 inflation forecast is broadly consistent with that of the Bank of England and with HM Treasury's latest average of independent forecasts.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Lloyds Banking Group's (LBG) Interim Results, published on 5 August 2010, provides the latest exposures to Ireland. As at 30 June 2010, LBG had £26,682 million in loans and advances to Irish customers, with impaired loans totalling £11,689 million.
|Loans and advances to customers (£m)||Impaired loans (£m)||Impaired loans as % of closing advances (%)||Impairment provisions (£m)||Impairment provisions as % of impaired loans (%)|
LBG also gave an update on its Irish portfolio on 17 December 2010, announcing that the board anticipated that, compared to 30 June 2010, approximately a further 10 per cent of the Irish portfolio will become impaired by the 2010 year end: (www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/media/pdfs/investors/2010/2010Dec17_LBG_Irish_Portfolio_Update.pdf).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 January on banking bonuses (Official Report, col. 1331), how they propose to establish the amount banks will have lent in 2011 in the absence of any settlement reached by the Government on lending targets. [HL5816]
Lord Sassoon: There are a number of data sources which provide information on how much the banks lend. This includes the Bank of England's Trends in Lending report, the inflation report and the financial stability report.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to take any action in respect of the widening in the cost of bank lending to small businesses, as reported in the Bank of England's Credit Conditions Survey for quarter four of 2010.[HL5725]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are taking action to ensure that small businesses get access to the finance they need. The Government are providing additional support for the enterprise finance guarantee over the next four years which will enable over £2 billion of lending to viable small businesses that lack collateral or a track record. The Government are also helping to increase equity finance, through initiating a £1.5 billion industry-led business growth fund and through £200 million of additional funding for the Enterprise Capital Funds programme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There is overwhelming evidence that, after prior attainment, poverty is the single most important factor in predicting a child's future life chances. In secondary education, a child eligible for free school meals is half as likely to achieve five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C, including English and mathematics, than a child from a wealthier background.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the European Commission's initiative to introduce a single European contract law on United Kingdom businesses and individuals.[HL5686]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The European Commission has not made any legislative proposal to introduce a single European contract law. Rather, on 1 July 2010, the European Commission issued a Green Paper setting out seven main possible options which it invited everyone to consider as possible ways to reduce any problems stemming from the current divergence of national contract laws. The European Commission's public consultation on this document continues until 31 January 2011.
The UK Government issued a public call for evidence on the Commission's Green Paper after it was published, which asked for views and evidence on the Commission's Green Paper. This exercise concluded in early December 2010 and the Government are currently considering the evidence gathered and will respond to the Commission in due course.
The Commission has not produced an impact assessment on any of the options due to the wide ranging and consultative nature of them, which at this stage lack the detail needed to make sound assessments of impacts. The Government have not produced a formal impact assessment at this stage for the same reasons. If the European Commission were at some point to produce a legislative proposal then that would need to be accompanied by a full impact assessment. The Commission has already undertaken to make sure this is done and the Government will make this requirement clear in their response.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to include the Commissioners for Irish Lights and Trinity House within the provisions of the Act. [HL5708]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government announced on 7 January that they intend to consult Trinity House Lighthouse Service regarding its possible inclusion in the Freedom of Information Act. We do not have any plans to consult the Commissioners for Irish Lights as they mainly operate in another jurisdiction.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 15 December (Official Report, col. 605-7), what mechanism they have to collate and evaluate ideas for implementing the Olympic truce at the London 2012 Olympic Games.[HL5526]
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Suggestions on how the Olympic truce could be promoted can be addressed to Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Such suggestions will be considered as they are received.
The Government believe that police forces can make savings while protecting the frontline. We do not accept that reducing costs will cause an increase in crime. What matters is how resources are used and how officers are deployed.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The use of tactics in demonstrations is an operational matter for police chief officers working within the relevant legal framework. The courts have found that the use of containment at public demonstrations is lawful if used proportionately.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government believe that police forces can make savings while protecting the frontline. We do not accept that reducing costs will lead to any reductions in police officers visible on the streets. What matters is how resources are used and how officers are deployed.
Decisions on the number of officers, police support staff and PCSOs and how they are deployed remain a matter for chief constables and police authorities to determine and from 2012 for police and crime commissioners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of why the West Midlands Police Force has decided to reduce the number of police officers allocated to the Ladywood and Perry Barr wards in Birmingham.[HL5464]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Decisions about the number of police officers and other police staff engaged by the West Midlands Police, including the numbers to be deployed to Ladywood and Perry Bar, are a matter for the chief constable and the police authority to determine as they are best placed to manage their resources.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching underlines the importance the Government attach to mathematics education and the need to increase uptake at all levels including post-16. Key to increasing the study of maths post-16 is good teaching and we will continue to support initiatives to increase the number of specialist mathematics teachers and improve the skills of existing teachers.
Our plans to reform the national curriculum and qualifications will ensure that children gain the knowledge they need in mathematics in order to develop their understanding and progress further. The inclusion of
18 Jan 2011 : Column WA23
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the 21/2 per cent increase in VAT will automatically lead to an increase in the United Kingdom's contribution to the European Union budget through own resources; and if so, by how much.[HL5690]
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking Her Majesty's Government whether they are monitoring the price of retail products to determine whether prices are being increased by more than necessary to cover the increase in VAT. (HL5721)
Price changes are measured in compiling the Consumer Prices Index and the data collected in that process will be used by the Office for National Statistics to produce an estimate of the impact of retailers and service providers passing on the VAT increase. The results of the analysis will be published on the National Statistics website.
Similar analyses of the effects of previous VAT changes have been published at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/article.asp?1D=22588(Pos=1&ColRank=l&Rank=1 and http://www.statistics.gov.uk/elmr/04_10/downloads/elmr-Apr10.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 10 January (WA 420), whether HM Treasury officials have had any meetings, conversations or correspondence with an organisation referred to by Lord James of Blackheath as Foundation X, or with its representatives or agents; and, if so, when those engagements took place; and who attended.[HL5857]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury officials have had no meetings, conversations, or correspondence, with the organisation referred to by Lord James of Blackheath as Foundation X, or its representatives or agents.
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