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To ask Her Majesty's Government why the system of (a) bonus payments, and (b) incentive plan benefits was included in the package of financial assistance to the (1) chief executive officer, (2) chairman, (3) directors, (4) senior executives, (5) senior managers, and (6) traders, of Lloyds, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Northern Rock banking groups; whether they will place copies of the agreements in the Library of the House; and which provisions of those contracts, if any, facilitate tax avoidance. [HL6001]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In return for taxpayer support provided by the recapitalisation scheme and the asset protection scheme, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) agreed specified commitments on pay restraint.
The previous Government placed copies of the legal agreements signed with RBS and LBG in the Libraries of both Houses, with redactions only in so far as they were necessary to protect commercial interests. The Government are not aware of any provisions in these agreements that facilitate tax avoidance.
UK Financial Investments (UKFI) manages the Government's investments in financial institutions on an arm's-length and commercial basis. As sole shareholder in Northern Rock plc, UKFI's approval will be required for remuneration packages and any incentivisation arrangements for directors and senior management.
The Government have clearly demonstrated their commitment to tackling tax avoidance. They have secured the adoption of the code of practice on taxation by the top 15 banks. The Government also announced on 6 December a package of measures to close down tax avoidance schemes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government announced in the spending review that the Green Investment Bank would be funded during the spending review period with £1 billion of departmental budgets as well as significant proceeds from asset sales. Retail deposits are not likely to be an initial source of funding for the Bank. We are, however,
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the green investment bank will be free to issue bonds and debt instruments and raise commercial loans; and, if so, whether they will be guaranteed by the Government.[HL6470]
Baroness Wilcox: We are currently carefully considering the need, options and issues which would arise from a green investment bank (GIB) that borrows. Our analysis includes the need for a government guarantee and is being done in the context of work on the GIB's structure and products. We will be making a detailed announcement in May.
Baroness Wilcox: As set out in the departmental business plan, the green investment bank will be operational by September 2012. We expect it to start making investments during 2012, but this is subject to the availability of funding and state aid approval. The products which might be offered by the bank are currently being analysed and market-tested.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they approved the proposed cuts in the funding of the BBC World Service; and what is their assessment of the impact of those cuts on global audience reach and editorial capability.[HL6281]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The budget for the BBC World Service for the period 2011-12 to 2013-14 was agreed as part of the 2010 spending review. In the current financial climate, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary believes that a 16 per cent cut to the BBC World Service budget is reasonable. It maintains the same proportion of money coming from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) since 2008.
Under the broadcasting agreement between the FCO and the BBC World Service, the Foreign Secretary has to give his written authority for the closure of any language services. He approved the five language service closures after taking extensive advice from the BBC World Service as to where these closures could be made with least damage to the overall services and audience share.
The BBC World Service has announced that the complete package of changes will result in an audience loss of 30 million. Of these, 3.5 million will be lost from the five language service closures approved by the Foreign Secretary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to reduce the number of regulations which affect business competitiveness; and what progress they have made in publishing the details and numbers of regulations repealed by each department since May 2010.[HL6435]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Since May 2010 Her Majesty's Government have launched a number of reviews including a review of employment law, a review of regulation affecting farmers and food processors and Lord Hodgson's Civil Society Red Tape Task Force. All departments are also conducting reviews scrutinising the overall stock of regulation as part of the "one-in, one-out" policy, alongside legacy measures inherited from the previous Administration. These have yet to conclude and so to date no significant regulations have been revoked.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many businesses in each of the last five years have entered a formal insolvency procedure after having been granted a Time to Pay agreement under the Business Payment Support Scheme.[HL6383]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many arrangements under the Business Payment Support Scheme are (a) repeat deferrals (cases in which a company asks for an agreement and, once they have repaid the amount, subsequently ask for another agreement), and (b) renegotiated deferrals (cases in which a company is granted an agreement but cannot repay the amount owed in the originally intended time period, so is granted a deadline extension); and how much tax that amounts to. [HL6385]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Business Payment Support Scheme (BPSS) began in November 2008. The information requested regarding the number of businesses in each of the past five years which have entered a formal insolvency procedure after having been granted a time to pay agreement under the BPSS is not available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
The amount still outstanding for payment comprises two elements: amounts still due for payment in the future in accordance with agreed payment schedules (around £320 million) and amounts which have not been paid as initially agreed (around £650 million).
Those arrangements which have not been paid in accordance with their schedules will have undergone standard HM Revenue and Customs recovery and enforcement action and this will involve further recoveries but it is not possible to separately identify these as being related to earlier time to pay agreements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether applications for registration of town and village greens under Section 15(8) of the Commons Act 2006 must be subject to public advertisement for objections; and whether any weight can be given to objections from third parties in determining the applications.[HL6462]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): In England the procedure which a commons registration authority must follow in deciding an application for voluntary registration of land by the owner under Section 15(8) of the Commons Act 2006 differs depending on whether the application relates to one of the seven areas pioneering the implementation of Part 1 of the 2006 Act. In the pioneer areas, notice of an application must be published on the authority's website and sent to certain other persons who may have an interest in the application. Elsewhere, the authority is not required to advertise the application, but must proceed to grant it if satisfied that the application complies with the relevant regulations.
Where an application is made in the pioneer areas, the commons registration authority need give weight to objections only if it tends to show that the application is not made by the owner of the land, is not compliant with the relevant regulations, or where the necessary consent of any relevant leaseholder, or proprietor of any relevant charge over the land, has not been obtained in accordance with Section 15(9). In our view, an authority may also consider objections which relate to the applicant's description of any locality or the neighbourhood within a locality of which the inhabitants are to have the right to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes on the land.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who have been the last five holders of the offices of Crown Steward and Bailiff of (a) the Manor of Northstead,
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested is set out in the tables. The offices of the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern and the Crown Steward of the Manor of Northstead are granted alternately, thus enabling two Members or more to retire on the same day. There are no salaries or duties attached to either appointment.
|Member||Date of Appointment||Date Vacated|
|Member||Date of Appointment||Date Vacated|
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In preparing its preliminary estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the Office for National Statistics (ONS) made it very clear that the fall in GDP was driven by the extreme weather in December, and estimates that without this disruption output would have been flat in the fourth quarter.
Returning the UK to sustainable economic growth is the Government's overriding priority. Independent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility and other external bodies are for a sustained economic recovery in the UK through 2011 and beyond.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The supply of electoral registration application forms and information on registering to vote is the
9 Feb 2011 : Column WA60
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The spending review set out the Government's commitment to creating the conditions for private sector growth. The Path to Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, published on 29 November, set out progress made by the Government and planned future activity to achieve this, including:creating macroeconomic stability, so that interest rates stay low and businesses have the certainty they need to plan ahead;helping markets work more effectively, to encourage innovation and the efficient allocation of resources;ensuring that it is efficient and focused in its own activities, prioritising high-value spending and reducing tax and regulatory burdens; andensuring that everyone in the UK has access to opportunities that enable them to fulfil their potential.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider regulating retail prices for heating oil along with retail gas and electricity prices, in the light of the rise in heating oil prices in the past year.[HL6473]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government are sympathetic to the plight of many off-grid energy consumers who were hit hard by high prices and supply issues this winter.
We are keen that the reasons for this are thoroughly investigated by an independent authority. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy wrote to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in January to ask it to bring forward its competition and consumer study into off-grid energy. He also asked the OFT if the study could explore the longer-term consumer issues such as lifetime payback, consumer standards and labelling for alternative energy sources or supplies. Such a study would provide an independent assessment of the off-grid market and establish what further action may be necessary to ensure it works properly.
Lord Marland: DECC published estimates of future average annual household gas and electricity bills alongside the Annual Energy Statement (AES) in July 2010. This analysis is available online at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/markets/impacts/impacts.aspx.
The table below presents a time series of these estimates (in real 2009 prices) from 2010 to 2015, which include the estimated impact of Government policies that were in place or planned to a sufficient degree of detail by the time of the AES 2010:
|Estimated average household gas and electricity bills (real 2009 prices)|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department has not provided estimates of the amount of fossil fuel generating capacity needed as back-up for wind by 2030. This would depend on a wide range of factors including demand profiles and the capacity mix.
Fossil fuel power stations are not the only way to provide back up for intermittent wind generation. There are a number of alternative solutions including responsive demand, interconnection and storage such as pumped storage, batteries and hydrogen, all of which are expected to play a role in the future energy mix.
The department has however published a number of studies on the impact of intermittent renewables on the UK electricity system. These studies, the Redpoint Analysis (2009) and UK Renewable Energy Strategy: Impact Assessment for the Centralised Electricity Sector, are available at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/energy_mix/renewable/res/res.aspx.
In this wider context, the Government are currently consulting on future electricity market reform. This consultation is available at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/emr/emr.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact the output and availability performance of onshore and offshore wind farms during November and December 2010 has had on their policy for non-carbon-producing energy generation.[HL6580]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): None. Based on data available at this point, wind output was above average in November and below average in December 2010-both within the range of DECC's expectations. Wind is a variable resource of energy, with variations in output, both up and down, experienced from month to month as well as over shorter periods. DECC's analysis of supply capacity and projections of the growth of wind energy take into account the need for, and cost of, back-up capacity. Wind energy is an important and cost-effective low carbon energy source for the UK.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Freud on 25 January (WS 35-6), to what extent European Union member states have exclusive competence for employment policies; and what steps they are taking to prevent any increases in the European social fund.[HL6328]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Employment policy is a national competence. The effect of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (EU), incorporating previous treaty terms, is such that there is a shared competence in order to achieve EU level objectives. The principle of proportionality and subsidiarity applies, that is that the EU shall take action only if the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states, and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the EU.
The EU role is to achieve a high level of employment by encouraging and facilitating co-operation between member states. The EU is also required to take the objective of high employment into account when formulating and implementing EU policies and activities.
On the size of the European Social Fund, this falls within the scope of the UK Government's continuing work overall with other EU member states to contain the cost of the EU Budget, and to deliver value for money for the UK taxpayer.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The loan to Ireland was signed on 22 December 2010 and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury placed copies of the loan agreement in the Libraries of both Houses on 10 January 2011. The loan cannot be drawn until after the approval of the third quarterly review of Ireland's Memorandum of Understanding with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. The terms of the loan cannot be amended without agreement from both parties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Henley on 7 July 2010 (WA 53) and 12 July 2010 (WA 98-9), which European Union member states did not bring in the required laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 30 June 2010 to comply with Council Directive 2007/43/EC; what progress has been made with World Trade Organisation member states to obtain a provision for animal welfare in the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary agreement; and whether they inspect chicken meat production welfare standards in Thailand.[HL6451]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): As well as the UK, Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, and Slovenia did not transpose Council Directive 2007/43/EC by 30 June 2010.
The Government view animal welfare as a matter of high priority. As well as promoting high animal welfare standards in this country, we are keen to encourage high animal welfare standards internationally, both in other European Union countries and in Third Countries. World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules do not allow members to ban imports on the grounds of the welfare standards applied in third countries. However, we are working with other countries within the OIE (Office international des Epizooties) to develop and progress internationally recognised standards for animal welfare. We do not have detailed knowledge of the meat inspection process in Thailand.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the European Commission's proposal to restrict material available to the public through freedom of information rules introduced seven years ago.[HL6578]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are committed to safeguarding the rights provided by Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents during the current revision process, while ensuring that sensitive information is adequately protected. The Government oppose any restriction to the definition of a document subject to the regulation. I intend to submit shortly to Parliament an Explanatory Memorandum setting out the Government's position in more detail.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government announced on 7 January that the Freedom of Information Act will be extended to the Financial Ombudsman Service. There are currently no plans to make the Financial Services Compensation Scheme subject to the Act. We will, however, keep the scope of the Act under review, and may consider its extension to further bodies in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they will hold with the Crown Prosecution Service about their decision on 10 December 2010 not to prosecute Mr Andy Coulson for past newspaper telephone tapping allegations.[HL6419]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): On 14 January 2011, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed that the Crown Prosecution Service will conduct a comprehensive assessment of all the material in the possession of the Metropolitan Police Service relating to unlawful interception of mobile telephones, following developments in the civil courts.
The exercise will involve an examination of all the material considered as part of the original investigation into Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire and any material that has subsequently come to light. The
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The Metropolitan Police Service recently announced a new investigation into alleged mobile phone interception. Ms Levitt will evaluate any evidence gathered as a result of that investigation and will advise as to the progress of the investigation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that any National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on quality standards relating to care for patients with long-term conditions and cancer include the prevention of pressure sores.[HL6584]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to determine the content of its Quality Standards. It does so after a public consultation and within a remit set by the Secretary of State. Details of the process NICE used can be found on the institute's website at: www.nice.org.uk/aboutnice/qualitystandards
To ask the Chairman of Committees what is the cost of implementing the upgrade of Members of the House of Lords' computers to Windows 7; what were the forecast advantages of doing so; and what testing was done in advance of the upgrade on the requirements for any additional features of the upgraded package.[HL6295]
The capital cost of new equipment (personal computers and laptops) is forecast to be £288,000 (including VAT). Where equipment can be upgraded it will be at a forecast cost of £25,000 (including VAT). The revenue cost of rolling out the new and upgraded equipment is forecast to be approximately £80,000 (including VAT).
The new and upgraded equipment will move Members from software and hardware that is no longer supported
9 Feb 2011 : Column WA66
The Windows 7 solution was developed in January 2010. It was checked and tested during the spring and early summer. The complete package, Windows 7, Office 2007 and related software, has been deployed in the second half of 2010 to more than 3,000 devices.
To ask the Chairman of Committees how much time is being spent on problems experienced by Members of the House of Lords from the upgrade of their computers to Windows 7; what efficiencies have been gained by PICT; what difficulties are being experienced by PICT staff; and what training will be introduced to enable Members to understand the new system.[HL6296]
The Chairman of Committees: The PICT Service Desk has received a small number of calls relating to the upgrade. It is still early in the migration and as a result it is difficult to assess efficiencies experienced by PICT. These should become clearer once the migration is complete and services are decommissioned.
PICT staff have been working with Windows 7 and Office 2007 since early in 2010. The engineers, Service Desk personnel and other support staff are experienced in the use of the system. PICT's experience with other groups in Parliament is that the Windows 7 and Office 2007 solutions are more stable and have fewer problems.
PICT's approach to training has been to work directly with Members during the upgrade. This has included the option of one-to-one coaching and specifically written training material available as a booklet and online.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome Israel's recent announcement of its intention to accept proposals put forward by the UN and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon to withdraw Israel Defence Force troops from the northern part of Ghajar. Talks to finalise plans for the withdrawal are not yet complete and we
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We firmly believe that peace in the Middle East should be a comprehensive peace, and all parties should behave constructively in ways which help the prospect of peace and negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and on the Israel-Lebanon track.
We urge Hamas to accept the quartet conditions and make credible movement towards renouncing violence, recognising Israel and accepting previously signed agreements. Peace should lead to the full integration of Israel in its regional environment, along the lines set out in the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Under-Secretary of State, Alistair Burt, have both underlined the UK's support for the special tribunal for Lebanon and its aim to end impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. As the chair, and a member of the Management Committee of the Special Tribunal, the UK continues to provide active support on all financial and administrative issues, including measures to ensure the safety of tribunal staff.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff worked in the National Health Service in April 2010 (a) as managers and administrators, (b) as doctors, (c) as nurses, (d) as other staff involved in direct patient care, and (e) in any further categories for which figures are available.[HL6526]
|NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) monthly workforce statistics-April 2010, Provisional, Experimental Statistics|
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is disappointed that elections did not take place in 2010, but understands the difficulties facing President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in organising national elections while Hamas remains in control of Gaza and refuses to allow the PA to operate freely in the territory. We would like to see free and fair elections take place as soon as possible but have significant concerns that elections in Gaza at this time would be neither.
Earl Attlee: Section 11.4 of Operational Guidance to Local Authorities-Parking Policy and Enforcement (March 2008) advises that a local authority has a discretionary power to cancel a penalty charge notice at any point throughout the civil parking enforcement process. It can do this even when an undoubted contravention has occurred if the authority deems it to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case. Under general principles of public law, authorities have a duty to act fairly and proportionately and are encouraged to exercise their discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 24 January (WA 88), how many recipients of the state pension living abroad were found not to be alive last year after data-matching or checking life certificates; and whether incapacitated pensioners are required to present themselves to a recognised foreign authority to have their life certificate signed.[HL6275]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The numbers of people receiving state pension living abroad found not to be alive last year is contained in the table below:
|Detection method||Number of deaths 1 January 2010-December 2010|
Where a customer is either housebound or unable to present themselves to an authorised person to verify their identity, they can have a doctor sign the life certificate. The doctor must provide a letter to state why the customer is unable to present themselves to an authorised person as stated on the accompanying letter. We can then contact the doctor to complete security checks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to comments by Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, that kettling of demonstrators by police is justifiable. [HL6493]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The use of police tactics, such as containment, is an operational matter for police forces. The courts have ruled that containment is a lawful tactic when used proportionately.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has recently published revised guidance on public order policing which includes guidance on containment. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary will shortly be publishing a report on how recommendations from its 2009 Adapting to Protest Report, including those on containment, have been met.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has announced that two applications from Port of Falmouth cannot proceed in their current form.
In making this announcement, the MMO has evaluated all the available evidence and taken into account its statutory duty to manage activities by persons in its area with the objective of making a contribution to sustainable development. The evidence used by the MMO has been published and is available on the MMO website at: http://www.marinemanagement.org.uk/news /press/110127.htm.
We understand the MMO held talks with the developers and has invited them to submit new proposals that address the environmental issues raised because of the potential impacts on a site protected by European law, in this case a special area of conservation designated under Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the habitats directive).
Earl Attlee: The information requested is available for Great Britain from Table A in the following file, entitled "Reported personal injury road accidents, vehicles involved and their resulting casualties: GB 1979-2009": www.dft.gov.uk/excel/173025/221412/ 221549/227755/315281/AccVehCas19792009.xls
Our assessment is that a number of factors have contributed to the reduction in reported personal injury road accidents in Great Britain over this period. These include policy interventions related to vehicle design, engineering, enforcement and education.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will increase the period within which an application may be made for judicial review of a new traffic regulation order to the standard period of three months commencing from the date of advertisement. [HL6569]
Earl Attlee: The traffic commissioners' annual report lists cases of heavy goods vehicles operating centres that have been reviewed. Prior to 2009-10 the figures only include those that were reviewed as a result of a complaint having been made. The results are shown in the following table:
The traffic commissioners' annual report is available from the DfT website using the following link: www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/trafficcommissioners/annualreports/trafficcommissioners/pdf/trafficcommissioners0910.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Liberty Cars Ltd is part of the EVADINE (Electric Vehicle Accelerated Development in the North East) project consortium involving five companies and Newcastle University. One North East is one of the public sector funders of the EVADINE project and has provided £1.49 million in grant support for the overall project worth £10.7 million via the Technology Strategy Board.
The EVADINE project is one of eight projects across the UK that together will trial 340 ultra low carbon cars with the public. The EVADINE consortium will provide 30 of these vehicles, of which two will be delivered by Liberty.
Along with the other projects, EVADINE will research how these vehicles are used and charged, learn whether these vehicles need any adaptations to use them, and learn how quickly they can be made, and finally to gather the views of users.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 24 January (WA 93-4), whether the commission to consider the West Lothian question will examine proposals for a referendum in England to test support for an English Parliament.[HL6703]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): An English Parliament has been proposed in the past as a solution to the West Lothian question. It would be open to the commission, once established, to consider this as part of its review.
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