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15 Feb 2011 : Column WS65



15 Feb 2011 : Column WS65

Written Statements

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Banking: Asset Protection Agency

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mark Hoban) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The interim report for the Asset Protection Agency (APA) has today been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report contains commentary on key developments in relation to the APA and the Asset Protection Scheme (APS) over the period from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2010.

I am pleased to note the statements in the report that the likelihood of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) being able to make a claim under the APS has receded slightly.

I have also placed into the Libraries a number of legal documents relating to the APS which RBS and HM Treasury have executed since RBS's accession to the scheme in December 2009. These reflect changes to the implied write-down trigger for long dated assets, revised arrangements for the assessment of APS performance-related remuneration for relevant RBS staff, a move from annual to quarterly fee payments and a number of operational matters.

Department for Transport: DEL

Statement

Earl Attlee: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Philip Hammond) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the Department for Transport departmental expenditure limit (DEL) for 2010-11 will be decreased by £792,000 from £12,730,039,000 to £12,729,247,000.

Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is as set out in the following table:

£'000
ChangeNew DEL
VotedNon-votedVotedNon-votedTotal

Resource

-792

0

5,941,476

445,810

6,387,286

Of which

Administration budget

0

0

263,948

2,154

266,102

Capital

0

0

6,450,423

728,127

7,178,550

Depreciation(1)

0

0

-802,365

-34,224

-836,589

Total

-792

0

11,589,534

1,139,713

12,729,247



15 Feb 2011 : Column WS66

(1) Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from the total DEL, since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

Resource Change: Programme (total decrease of £792,000)

Voted: total net decrease of £792,000

RfR1

Decrease of £792,000 by transfer to the Office of Rail Regulation, of which £550,000 is to cover the cost of releasing provisions for early departures in 2010-11 and the remainder £242,000 to meet other costs.

Changes in Accounting Policies

Prior Period Adjustments

Cost of capital charges

Costs of capital charges (CCC) have been removed from accounts, budgets and supply estimates in accordance with HM Treasury's consolidated budgeting guidance (CBG). However the department had liabilities greater than its assets so attracted a cost of capital credit. The removal of the CCC increases resources in DEL. The prior period adjustment (PPA) in respect of the previous two years is:

2008-092009-10

Cost of capital credit (£'000):

2,698,533

2,774,776

ECOFIN

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 15 February 2011. The following items are on the agenda:

Economic Governance

The council will hold a policy debate on the legislative proposals on economic governance. The Government agree that member states should have robust national fiscal frameworks. However, they will continue to work to ensure that any legislation on fiscal frameworks does not impinge upon UK fiscal sovereignty.

Savings Taxation Directive and Anti-fraud Agreements with Third Countries

Following agreement on the administrative co-operation directive at ECOFIN in December, the council will hold an orientation debate on proposals to amend the savings directive and to pursue anti-fraud and tax information exchange agreements with Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland. These are related measures which aim to improve transparency and exchange of information to combat cross-border tax evasion. The measures have been discussed on previous occasions but progress has been difficult due to political reservations by two member states. The Government support the presidency's aim

15 Feb 2011 : Column WS67

to maintain momentum on the good governance in taxation package with a view to legislative agreement in May.

Preparation of the European Council (24-25 March 2011)

Macroeconomic and Fiscal Guidance

Ministers will adopt council conclusions on macroeconomic and fiscal guidance for the EU, under the new European semester. The conclusions focus on implementing a rigorous fiscal consolidation, correcting macroeconomic imbalances, ensuring stability of the financial sector, growth and job-enhancing structural reforms, and mobilising community-level growth drivers. The Government believe the reform priorities set out in the conclusions are important and necessary steps to help promote economic growth in the EU and its member states.

Appointment of an Executive Board Member of the European Central Bank

Council will also adopt a recommendation for the European Council on the appointment of an executive board member of the European Central Bank. Two candidates have officially been put forth to replace Austria's Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell when her eight-year term on the ECB's executive board expires 31 May: Peter Praet, executive director of the National Bank of Belgium; and Elena Kohutikova, former member of the Slovak central bank's monetary policy board. The Government support strong governance for the ECB, although as a non-euro area member state the UK will not vote on this item.

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

The council will discuss the assessment of action taken by Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland and Denmark in the context of their excessive deficit procedures, on the basis of a communication from the Commission. The Government expect the Council to agree that these member states have taken effective action regarding their deficits.

Preparation of the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Governors (18 and 19 February)

The Council will discuss and agree terms of reference which will form the basis of the EU's contribution to the meeting of G20 Finance Ministers on 18 and 19 February. The meeting is scheduled to discuss: the global economy and framework for strong sustainable and balanced growth; reform of the international monetary system; commodities; financial regulation; follow-up of the report from the UN Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing; and development issues.

Discharge Procedure in respect of the Implementation of the 2009 EU Budget

Finance Ministers will discuss the council's recommendation to the European Parliament on the 2009 discharge procedure following the report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on implementation of the 2009 EU budget. The Government consider it unacceptable that the ECA has not been able to grant a positive statement of assurance on the EU budget as a whole for the 16th year in succession.



15 Feb 2011 : Column WS68

Budget Guidelines for 2012

Ministers will adopt conclusions on the budget guidelines for 2012. These note that rigorous fiscal consolidation efforts will continue in 2012, and it is therefore essential that the 2012 budget take into account member states' economic and budgetary constraints. They also stress the need for realistic budget estimates. The Government are determined that the efforts made to curb the EU budget's growth in 2011 must be stepped up for the 2012 budget.

Equality Act 2010

Statement

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Damian Green) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have made an authorisation under paragraph 17(4)(a) of Schedule 3 to the Equality Act 2010, to enable the UK Border Agency to give greater scrutiny or priority to particular nationalities in carrying out entry clearance, border control and removals functions.

This authorisation came into force on 10 February 2011. It replaces the Race Relations (Immigration and Asylum) Authorisation 2004, which came into force on 12 February 2004 and has been revoked.

The authorisation allows the UK Border Agency to target its resources effectively in managing UK immigration controls. In particular, it lets entry clearance and border control staff give greater scrutiny, and staff removing immigration offenders greater priority, to particular nationalities on the basis of statistical and intelligence-based evidence of the risk they pose to those controls.

The authorisation is made under the nationality exception for immigration functions contained in the Equality Act 2010. It replaces an equivalent authorisation for border control functions and removals made in 2004 under the Race Relations Act 1976, and allows a similar evidence-based approach to risk assessment and targeting to be applied overseas by entry clearance staff. The nationalities covered by the authorisation will be reviewed each quarter by the UK Border Agency and submitted for ministerial approval.

I have made an equivalent authorisation for Northern Ireland under Article 20C of the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. This authorisation came into force on 10 February 2011.

I am placing a copy of the authorisations in the Library of both Houses of Parliament.

National DNA Ethics Group

Statement

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime Prevention (James Brokenshire) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the following appointments to the ethics group which provides Ministers with independent ethical advice on the operation and practice of the National DNA Database (NDNAD):



15 Feb 2011 : Column WS69

Professor David Latchman CBE; and

Dr Nina Hallowell.

Professor Latchman and Dr Hallowell replace two members of the group who have now stepped down.

Eight current members of the ethics group have been reappointed for a further three-year term. They are:

Dr Derrick Campbell;

Mrs Wendy Coates;

Ms Madeleine Colvin;

Dr Jane Pearson;

Dr Clive Richards;

Dr Sameer Sarkar;

Ms Sarah Thewlis; and

Dr Suzy Walton.

Office of Rail Regulation: DEL

Statement

Earl Attlee: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Theresa Villiers) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the Office of Rail Regulation departmental expenditure limit (DEL) and annually managed expenditure (AME) will be increased as follows:

DEL-£792,000

AME-£243,000

The impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:



15 Feb 2011 : Column WS70

£'000
ChangeNew DEL
VotedNon-votedVotedNon-votedTotal

Resource

242

550

2

550

552

Of which

Administration budget

242

-

2

-

2

Capital

(450)

-

350

-

350

Depreciation(1)

150

-

(750)

-

(750)

Total

(58)

550

(398)

550

152

The change in the resource element of DEL arises because ORR is unable to record more income than cost from the industry. £242,000 budget cover is required so that ORR can reduce the recorded negative DEL to a token vote of £2,000.

The spring supplementary also reflects ORR's cash payment £550,000 towards releasing provisions for early departures in 10-11. ORR does not require cash to make these payments but needs to reflect the cost in non-voted DEL so that ORR does not exceed its overall DEL limit for 10-11.

ORR needs to increase its provision due to staff changes that will take place. The spring supplementary shows a further £243,000 (non-cash) being added to a provision initially created in the main estimate. These AME costs will be recovered from the rail industry.

These changes are of a technical nature to ensure that ORR keeps within its DEL and AME limits. ORR is funded by the railway industry and anticipates an underspend against its gross budget of c£2,000,000 this year.


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