Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Question

Asked by Lord Butler of Brockwell

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Parliamentary Estates Directorate (PED) has been in discussions with Transport for London (TfL) regarding this matter and a site for a docking station on Abingdon Green has been agreed. This land is owned by the House of Commons and I understand that the House of Commons has agreed in principle to grant a lease although the full details and responsibilities have not yet been agreed. Detailed designs now need to be developed so that planning permission can be sought, and PED will continue to work with TfL on the next steps.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Whitty



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA108

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government are investing nearly £4.5 billion in new affordable housing to help deliver up to 150,000 new affordable homes between 2011-12 and 2014-15 in England.

The New Homes Bonus is designed to incentivise all increases in housing supply, including new homes, conversions and empty properties brought back into use. It is for local authorities and their communities to decide the type of homes they want and the shape of future development.

For all developments, the New Homes Bonus is based on the council tax from net increase in effective housing stock with a further enhancement of £350 for affordable homes and will be paid for the following six years.

Rents in the private sector are set by individual landlords in accordance with local market conditions. This Government have sought to ensure that rents are not artificially inflated by centrally imposed regulatory burdens; and to provide support through the housing benefit system for those unable to afford market rents without assistance. In the longer term, the recent Budget contained measures directed at increasing investment in the sector which, by increasing supply, will exert a downward pressure on private sector rents.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Baroness Hanham: Guideline rent increases for England since 2001 are shown in the table below:

Financial YearGuideline Rent Increase

2001-02

4.50%

2002-03

5.43%

2003-04

5.01%

2004-05

6.11%

2005-06

5.74%

2006-07

9.95%

2007-08

7.22%

2008-09

6.03%

2009-10

3.10%

2010-11

3.10%

2011-12

6.80%

Guideline rents and guideline rent increases reflect notional figures used in the calculation of housing revenue account subsidy and are not the same as actual increases charged by local authorities to tenants.

The inflation-linked formula for annual rent increases was inherited from the previous government. It includes a recommended limit on individual rent increases of no more than RPI+0.5% + £2 in any year.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA109

Baroness Hanham: Official statistics on gross additional affordable housing supply published by DCLG show that there were 1,990 affordable homes delivered in Tower Hamlets in 2009-10 of which 1,260 were for social rent, 70 for intermediate rent and 660 for low cost home ownership (all figures rounded to nearest 10). New affordable housing can be delivered through new build and acquisitions, although the majority of the additional supply in 2009-10 in Tower Hamlets was through new build.

Data on total affordable supply in each local authority area for 2010-11 are not yet available and will be published by DCLG in the autumn.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): This information is not available.

The department does collect information on non-dependant deductions applied to awards of housing benefit, but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures would incur disproportionate cost.

From February 2007, DWP has been collecting more detailed HB/CTB data electronically from local authorities. Over time this will improve the accuracy, timeliness and level of detail available in the published statistics, as the information supplied is quality assured.

Housing benefit caseload and average weekly amounts are available at local authority area level and these are published on the department's website at http://www.dwp. gov.uk/asd/hbctb.asp.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The Discretionary Housing Payments funding for London authorities for 2011-12 is provided in the table below.

The Discretionary Housing Payments funding for 2012-13 and 2013-14 is not yet available as the distributions to individual authorities are yet to take place.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA110

Discretionary Housing Payment funding for London authorities 2011-12
AuthorityDiscretionary Housing Payment-Government contribution (£)

Barking

140,486

Barnet

367,785

Bexley

83,039

Brent

539,188

Bromley

122,441

Camden

330,258

City of London

3,427

Croydon

269,981

Ealing

382,232

Enfield

275,082

Greenwich

345,536

Hackney

292,211

Hammersmith and Fulham

219,084

Haringey

366,870

Harrow

150,295

Havering

87,807

Hillingdon

170,664

Hounslow

141,822

Islington

162,478

Kensington and Chelsea

463,789

Kingston upon Thames

85,704

Lambeth

239,142

Lewisham

253,914

Merton

136,336

Newham

266,262

Redbridge

180,476

Richmond upon Thames

137,113

Southwark

166,711

Sutton

89,521

Tower Hamlets

218,048

Waltham Forest

166,601

Wandsworth

222,607

Westminster

1,104,144

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): It is estimated that 970 housing benefit claimants in Tower Hamlets will experience a loss as a result of the caps applied to local housing allowance and the removal of the five bedroom rate. Most existing claimants are expected to remain entitled to housing benefit as they become affected by the local housing allowance changes.

However, in cases where the housing benefit award does not currently cover the full rent due to income or other deductions, some customers may lose their whole award.

We are unable to estimate how many people will flow off housing benefit as a result of the caps, partly because the caps are a part of a package of reforms, but also because this will depend on the precise earnings of housing benefit claimants at the time of transition.

Customers who were receiving housing benefit according to local housing allowance rules before 1 April 2011 will receive up to nine months transitional protection from the date their claim is reviewed by the local authority, allowing them more time to adjust to the reduction in entitlement.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA111

Further details of the impact of local housing allowance reforms are presented in the document Impacts of Housing Benefit proposals: Changes to the Local Housing Allowance to be introduced in 2011-12. A copy has been placed in the Library and it can be found on the department's website at www.dwp.gov.ukldocs/impacts-of-hb-proposals.pdf.

Notes:

1. The estimates are based on the Single Housing Benefit Extract (DWP administrative data) from March 2010.

2. The Local Housing Allowance caps and the removal of the five-bedroom rate were assessed jointly.

International Aid and Development

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Baroness Verma: As the Prime Minister made clear at the G8 conference in Deauville, the coalition Government are determined not to balance the books on the backs of the world's poorest people. The coalition agreement set out our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on overseas aid from 2013. We are fully committed to enshrining this commitment into law. UK Government spend on overseas aid to 2014-15 has been set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The Department for International Development has recently conducted a comprehensive review of both its bilateral and multilateral aid programmes. The results of both reviews were published in March 2011. The reviews ensure that the aid budget will remain focused on delivering tangible and measurable results for the world's poorest people over the next four years.

Internet: Broadband

Questions

Asked by Lord Whitty

Baroness Rawlings: The Government's ambition is for nine out of 10 homes and businesses in every county in the UK to have access to superfast broadband by 2015, with the rest of the population having access to at least a 2Mbps connection. The precise mix of technologies will be determined by a combination of market-led deployments and local circumstances, but we expect fixed, wireless and satellite broadband services all to play a role.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA112

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Rawlings: The Government's vision is that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. The criteria for making that judgment will be published in the form of a scorecard which we intend to publish in the summer and to update annually. The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport holds regular meetings with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) officials and is satisfied that their programme of work, as set out in the Broadband Delivery Programme Delivery Model published on 17 May 2011, can deliver the Government's vision.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Rawlings: Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is assessing current broadband provision at community level across the UK in its work to deliver the coalition Government's objective to facilitate universal broadband access of at least 2Mbps and achieve the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.

BDUK's estimate of the number of premises in each London Borough with an estimated connection speed of less than 2 Mbps is given in the table



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA113

BoroughTotal number of premisesNumber of premises with an estimated connection speed of Less than 2Mbit/s

Barking and Dagenham

72,970

4,003

Barnet

141,638

2,382

Bexley

98,475

2,246

Brent

105,875

1,667

Bromley

139,175

4,345

Camden

90,751

422

City of London

11,241

6

City of Westminster

110,624

49

Croydon

149,335

7,820

Ealing

126,974

7,063

Enfield

123,122

2,692

Greenwich

104,621

1,866

Hackney

96,439

457

Hammersmith and Fulham

74,389

440

Haringey

92,034

866

Harrow

89,506

1,584

Havering

103,282

8,465

Hillingdon

109,049

7,665

Hounslow

97,706

2,860

Islington

89,548

368

Kensington and Chelsea

72,476

38

Kingston upon Thames

66,589

1,089

Lambeth

121,726

1,126

Lewisham

117,280

1,175

Merton

83,070

2,489

Newham

102,900

2,200

Redbridge

103,407

1,810

Richmond upon Thames

84,122

2,043

Southwark

128,316

893

Sutton

82,263

1,300

Tower Hamlets

109,593

1,460

Waltham Forest

99,940

1,288

Wandsworth

128,034

2,531

Local Authorities: Guidance

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Yes. Decentralising power and lifting the unnecessary burdens and red tape that tie the hands of local councils and local communities is a priority for the Government.

As an illustration of this cross-government agenda of decentralisation, the Department for Communities and Local Government has taken many positive steps to free local councils from unnecessary central rules, intervention and guidance, including:

the abolition of comprehensive area assessment;the abolition of regional spatial strategies through the Localism Bill;the withdrawal of guidance on annual monitoring reports and local development framework monitoring;the curtailment of best value guidance, the abolition of the two tier code and removing associated statutory duties;the revocation of planning guidance imposing Whitehall density targets and restricting the number of parking spaces for new homes;the abolition of Whitehall guidance on road closures which hindered local street parties;the abolition of the National Indicator Set and Place Surveys; the abolition of 4,700 local area agreement targets;abolition of the top-down Government Offices for the Regions; the phasing out of ring-fenced grants; andthe introduction of a general power of competence via the Localism Bill.

7 Jun 2011 : Column WA114

Further decentralising work is being undertaken-such as reducing the burden of data reporting to central government through the new Single Data List, and curtailing the 1,000 pages of planning guidance via the new, succinct National Planning Policy Framework.

Local Authorities: Statutory Duties

Question

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In March, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced our intention to make public and to review the statutory duties placed on local authorities by central government.

At no point in recent history has there been a comprehensive list of the legal duties placed on councils.

To remedy this, the Government agreed with the Local Government Association that we should compile such a list. Our aims in doing so were first, to provide clarity about what those duties are, and second, to assess which duties do not serve the public interest, and which may be creating unnecessary burdens and bureaucracy for local authorities, without improving the services provided to the public.

We published a draft list in March. It contained over 1,200 duties stemming from primary legislation for which departments across Whitehall are responsible. We invited local authorities and the general public to respond, identifying any existing duties that had not been identified and so needed to be added to the list, and asking for comments on whether any particular duties were no longer relevant.

From the outset, we have been clear this is an exercise in getting together a comprehensive list and obtaining any feedback from councils on duties that are not relevant. We said unequivocally that the Government would not remove any statutory duties that protect vital front line services.

However, since the publication of the draft list there unfortunately has been wilful misrepresentation suggesting that important duties that protect vital frontline services will be removed.

I feel it important to clarify to the House that the Government have no intention to remove statutory protection where this will have a negative impact on the services provided to the public. Such protections that will rightly remain include, for example, services for vulnerable children such as those who are looked after or with special educational needs or disabilities, allotments, and libraries. These examples should not in any way be interpreted as an exclusive list-but rather these are areas which have been falsely suggested as having been considered for removal.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA115

The invitation to respond has now closed, following the receipt of over 6,000 responses.

The next step will be for the department to analyse and review the representations. Any future work on whether to remove duties or associated guidance that only serve to create overly bureaucratic burdens on councils will be a separate process, and we will consult further where necessary. For the avoidance of doubt, the list of statutory duties is intended to be a comprehensive list of duties on local councils and so the inclusion of a particular duty is not an indication that the Government are considering that duty for removal.

Our aim is, and will continue to be, to allow for the provision of better services to the public. I hope we can build a broad consensus for decentralisation in local government by removing unnecessary Whitehall burdens, while retaining important and useful requirements, thereby allowing councils to provide better value for money and higher quality local services to their residents.

I will keep the House informed of progress.

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): DWP does not issue time limited National Insurance numbers. This is because the NlNo provides a permanent numerical link between the individual and their National Insurance Contribution record in case of any future entitlement to contributory benefits or State Pension for the individual or bereavement benefits for their partner after death.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The following piece of correspondence between the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) during April 2011 will be placed in the Library of the House:

Letter dated 15 April 2011 from the NIHRC Director to the NIO.

The noble Lord may wish to note that the Commission's Business Plan for 2011-12 and Strategic Plan for 2011-2013 referred to in this letter are due for publication in early June and a copy of each plan will then be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA116

Further correspondence between the NIO and NIHRC during April 2011 has not been released because this relates to discussions about a Commissioner's personal circumstances and staff pay that remain ongoing.

Office of the Public Guardian

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Office of the Public Guardian regularly reviews the fees charged for its services, to ensure that they are sufficient to meet the costs of its operation. The recent consultation, Office of the Public Guardian: Fees 2011/2012 (CP16/10), sought views on a number of proposed changes to the current regime to ensure fees charged are fair and equitable and continue to meet the OPG's costs going forward.

The consultation opened on 28 February 2011 and closed on 21 May 2011. The Government are currently considering the responses received and will issue a formal consultation response once this process is complete.

The consultation proposed making a number of changes to the current fee regime, including the removal or reduction of some fees and increases to some others. More fundamentally, it proposed restructuring the fees charged for the supervision of court-appointed deputies. It envisaged moving from the current tiered-fee scheme, to a new approach to charge a flat fee for the large majority of cases and introducing a basic administration fee for the lowest category of supervision. It also proposed raising the income threshold progressively over the next four years to reduce the number paying the standard fee.

The net effect of the proposed changes would range from a maximum increase in fees charged of 83 per cent to a reduction of 80 per cent in fees charged, dependent on category.

Parking

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport gives careful consideration to each request from highway authorities before issuing any special direction. It is for local authorities to determine whether the conditions

7 Jun 2011 : Column WA117

of a special direction meet their traffic management needs, propose alternative signing solutions where necessary and apply to the Department for Transport for the revocation or amendment of any special directions where this is appropriate.

Parking and Traffic Offences

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

Earl Attlee: Exemptions from parking restrictions are usually given in the relevant Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) made by the local authority using enabling powers contained in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. These powers allow local authorities wide flexibility in determining the nature of parking restrictions, and any exemption from them are matters that need to be decided and implemented at the local level.

The only exemptions normally given are for the emergency services (police, fire brigade and ambulance), statutory undertakers who cannot reasonably use other roads for a particular function and postal deliveries-but it is open to an authority to consider others.

Public Toilets

Questions

Asked by Baroness Randerson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As part of a review of certain aspects of the building regulations, the Department for Communities and Local Government is carrying out work to consider whether there is a role for government action to ensure an

7 Jun 2011 : Column WA118

increased provision of Changing Places toilets. The department is working closely with the Local Government Association, the Changing Places Consortium and a number of industry bodies, to understand what prevents voluntary provision of these facilities and how to encourage provision of these facilities by existing providers, including local authorities, particularly in buildings such as large shopping centres.

The latest figures provided by the Changing Places Consortium indicate that there are 183 Changing Places toilets in England and 12 in Wales.

In March 2008 the previous administration published guidance in Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets that sought to encourage better public access to toilets in our cities, towns, and other public places. It also highlighted the importance of Changing Places toilets for people with profound and multiple disabilities as well as providing information on the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

We believe that decentralisation is the way to ensure that public services and amenities better reflect local needs. Private sector provision in shopping and tourist areas, and approaches such as Community Toilet Schemes, where councils pay local shops and businesses a small fee to allow free public access to their toilets, can be a useful way to supplement public toilets managed by local authorities.

Railways: Electrification

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The electrification work between Cardiff and Swansea is estimated to cost £62 million.

In our consideration of full electrification to Swansea, we calculate that an additional nine electric trains would be needed in place of bimodes. However, additional diesel locomotives would be required (or alternatively the retention of high speed trains), to provide South Wales services during times of disruption, such as maintenance of the Severn Tunnel, and to allow continued provision of through services between London and West Wales.

A key benefit of the bimode fleet is that during such incidents, passengers from South Wales will continue to enjoy the reduced journey times and the additional capacity that IEP (Intercity Express Programme) will deliver.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The number of internal experts employed by the Department for Transport whose primary role is franchise letting is currently approximately 23. This flexes up or down depending on the number of franchise lettings planned and being undertaken. Roles undertaken include policy formulation, specification, procurement, financial analysis, and legal and economic advice. In addition other departmental experts may be called upon to support the analysis of bidders' submissions, but this is not part of their normal day-to-day duties.

External specialists providing technical and legal advice are required to provide specific support.

The department has undergone a recent reorganisation and allocated staff to the planned franchising work load. The staff allocated to these roles have been very largely drawn from those who have undertaken previous refranchising.

Railways: Ticketing

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Ticket office queuing time and national train vouchers do not form part of the invitation to tender document for the Intercity West Coast franchise. The requirement to monitor and manage ticket office queues and to accept various forms of payment is part of the ticketing and settlement agreement, which the new franchise will be required to adopt.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA120

Rape

Questions

Asked by Lord Bach

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): There are no plans to reduce the number of specialist rape prosecutors employed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the period covered by the Comprehensive Spending Review, but the number of specialist rape prosecutors is determined by local Chief Crown Prosecutors based on local business needs. The Director of Public Prosecutions is committed to the effective prosecution of rape by specialist rape prosecutors in the CPS working in conjunction with police investigators.

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of persons convicted of rape of a female and rape of a male receiving a custodial sentence, sentence length break down and the average custodial sentence length for 2009 and 2010, can be viewed in table 1.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA121



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA122

Defendants found guilty, sentence length break down and the average custodial sentence length for offences of rape of a male and rape of a female, England and Wales 2009-10
Total Found GuiltyTotal Sentenced (3)Total Immediate custodyUp to 1 year1 year up to 2 years2 years up to 3 years3 years up to 4 years4 years up to 5 years5 years up to 6 years6 years up to 7 years7 years up to 8 years

2009

Rape of a female

932

933

885

4

6

17

37

64

102

78

63

Rape of a male

65

66

56

-

-

6

1

6

5

4

6

Total rape

997

999

941

4

6

23

38

70

107

82

69

2010

Rape of a female

967

967

917

1

4

22

53

73

81

82

48

Rape of a male

91

91

67

-

-

2

7

-

5

7

3

Total rape.

1058

1058

984

1

4

24

60

73

86

89

51

8 years up to 9 years

9 years up to 10 years

10 years up to 11 years

11 years up to 12 years

12 years up to 13 years

13 years up to 14 years

14 years up to 15 years

15 years up to life

Life

Indeterminate Public Protection Sentence

Other Sentence

2009

Rape of a female

80

45

55

25

38

17

23

62

18

151

48

Rape of a male

3

1

1

1

5

3

1

0

1

12

10

Total rape

83

46

56

26

43

20

24

0

19

163

58

2010

Rape of a female

91

52

59

18

46

20

29

61

13

164

50

Rape of a male

8

3

3

1

5

1

1

5

-

16

24

Total rape

99

55

62

19

51

21

30

66

13

180

74

(1) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

(3) The sentenced column may exceed those found guilty as it may be the case that a defendant found guilty, and committed for sentence at the Crown Court may be sentenced in the following year.

(4) Average custodial sentence excludes life and indeterminate sentences.

Information drawn from court systems may be different from the information recorded on the Police National Computer

Retail: Mary Portas Review

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Mary Portas has been appointed on the basis of her experience to undertake a review into the future of the high street. The scope of the review goes beyond retailing to cover how high streets and town centres work, are used, and what makes them successful. Mary Portas is not being paid for her work on the review. She will make recommendations for government to consider by the autumn of 2011. She has declared her interests to the BIS Permanent Secretary and the information provided to her will take account of her interests.

Schools: Free Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): To date, 32 proposals for free schools have been given approval to move to business case stage and beyond, of which a number will open in September 2011. The proposers of these schools are not "sponsors" as such, but individuals and groups who are keen to set up a new school in response to local demand.

The names and locations of the 32 proposals are provided below



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA123

Name of proposed schoolLocal authority

All Saints Junior School

Reading

ARK Atwood Primary Academy

Westminster

ARK Bolingbroke Academy

Wandsworth

ARK Conway Primary Academy

Hammersmith and Fulham

Batley Grammar School

Kirklees

BBG Parents Alliance

Kirklees

Bedford and Kempston Free School

Bedford Borough

Brandon Free School

Suffolk

Bristol Free School

Bristol

Canary Wharf College

Tower Hamlets

Discovery New School

West Sussex

Eden Primary School

Haringey

Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School

Barnet

Harris Peckham Primary Free School

Southwark

King's Science Academy

Bradford

Krishna-Avanti Primary School

Leicester City

Langley Hall Primary Academy

Slough

Maharishi School

Lancashire

McAuley College Academy

Kingston upon Hull

Moorlands School

Luton

Nishkam Free School

Birmingham

Priors Free School

Warwickshire

Rainbow Primary School

Bradford

Redbridge Primary School (E-ACT)

Redbridge

Rivendale Free School

Hammersmith and Fulham

St Luke's C of E Primary School

Camden

Sandbach School

Cheshire East

Stour Valley Community School

Suffolk

Tauheedul Islam Boys' High School

Blackburn with Darwen

The Free School Norwich

Norfolk

West London Free School

Hammersmith and Fulham

Woodpecker Hall Primary Academy

Enfield

Severn Bridge: Tolls

Question

Asked by Baroness Randerson

Earl Attlee: The Welsh Assembly Government are currently carrying out a study into the economic impacts of the crossing tolls. We await the outcome of the study and will consider it when available.

Severn Crossing: Tolls

Question

Asked by Baroness Randerson



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA124

Earl Attlee: No decisions have yet been made on the future management of the crossings or any charging arrangements once ownership returns to the Government. Given the end of the concession is six years away, it is felt that it is too early to make decisions.

Sport: Motorsport

Question

Asked by Lord Rooker

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is currently considering the case for making it easier for local authorities to hold on-road motor racing events and intends to consult in due course.

Traffic Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: No decision has been taken to assign such duties to traffic commissioners. The Department for Transport is considering its response to the potential remedies recommended by the Competition Commission in its provisional report on the local bus market and will respond to the Competition Commission shortly.

Transport: Public Transport

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: We look forward to local authorities continuing to embed sustainable travel in their programmes. Authorities submitting bids to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund must demonstrate how the measures will be viable and benefits maintained beyond the period of the fund without further financial support from the Department for Transport. Further central government funding is a matter for the next spending review.

UN: Security Council

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA125

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government believe that the UN Security Council needs to be reformed to make it more representative of the modern world. However, the UN is an organisation made up of individual, sovereign member states and the UN Charter is very clear in that it allows only member states to hold seats on the Security Council. There is therefore no question of a permanent single EU seat on the Security Council.

United States: Security

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are not aware of any general statement by President Obama that it is legitimate to invade Pakistan or any other sovereign state to capture or kill persons or groups deemed to be a threat to United States security.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

Earl Attlee: There are no plans to end the charge for using credit cards for vehicle licence purchases. Legislation is in place that allows a credit card to be used to pay vehicle excise duty and to specify the amount of the fee payable, currently £2.50.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency advises customers that if they purchase a vehicle licence using a credit card the £2.50 fee will apply. Alternative payment options are available to the public and these remain free of charge.

Vehicles: Lorries

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA126

Earl Attlee: We are committed to introducing a lorry road user charge which will make all heavy goods vehicles of 12 tonnes and over, whether UK or foreign-registered, contribute to the cost of maintaining our roads.

Our first priority is to provide a fairer deal to UK hauliers. We are therefore working to develop a simple and effective scheme based on the electronic collection of time-based charges, differentiated by weight.

We are currently finalising the details of the proposed scheme and intend to consult later in the year.

Vehicles: Number Plates

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) maintains a register of number plate suppliers as a means of regulating the supply of number plates. Enforcement action is taken against suppliers who are in breach of the law. The DVLA also supports the police in their on-road enforcement action against the use of illegal number plates.

The system for the production and control of number plates remains under review in order to try and identify improvements that might be made to strengthen the existing regime.

Vehicles: Owners

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) records the registered keeper of a vehicle, who is the person responsible for licensing the vehicle and for its use but not necessarily the legal owner.

Information about registered keepers may be disclosed where it is fair and lawful to do so. Specific regulations allow for the name of the registered keeper to be disclosed to the police, local authorities and customs officers. Data can also be disclosed to those who can show that they have a reasonable cause for requiring it. This is primarily where the vehicle has been involved in an incident where there may be liability on the part of the keeper or driver.

The DVLA has safeguards in place to ensure that data are only disclosed to legitimate organisations and are not misused by the recipient.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA127

Vehicles: Taxis

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport's most recent survey of taxi licensing authorities gives a total of 75,989 licensed taxis in England and Wales as at the end of March 2009.

At the end of December 2001 there were just over 63,000 licensed taxis in England and Wales.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport does not hold this information. Local authorities are responsible for licensing taxis in their areas and for ensuring that the vehicles they license meet the appropriate standards.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The legislation governing taxi licensing in England (outside London) and Wales allows local authorities to place a limit on taxi numbers if they are satisfied that there is no significant unmet demand for taxi services in the district. It is up to licensing authorities to decide whether they want to impose a limit. We estimate that around a quarter impose such a limit.

Published statistics from the National Travel Survey (tables NTS0303 and NTS0313) do not show a significant decline in the proportion of people regularly using taxis. These tables can be found at: http://www.dft. gov.uk/pgr/statisticsidatatablespublications/nts/.



7 Jun 2011 : Column WA128

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Information on the number of certificates of sponsorship (CoS) issued in March and April 2011 involving tier 2 intra-company transfers having a basic salary is detailed below.

MonthAge 18-20 CoS Assigned with basic salary below £10,233.60 xiAge 18 -20 CoS Used with basic salary below £10,233.60 xlAge 21 + CoS Assigned with basic salary below £12,334.40 x2Age 21+ CoS Used with basic salary below £12,334.40 x2

March

0

0

285

284

April

0

0

76

165

X1This figure is based on the current hourly rate for the minimum wage of £4.92 and assumes a 40-hour week, 52 weeks per year.

X2 This figure is based on the current hourly rate for the minimum wage of £5.93 and assumes a 40-hour week, 52 weeks of the year.

The figures provided are based on both assigned and used CoS. Assigned CoS refers to CoS which the sponsor has allocated to a migrant but which have not been used as part of an application for leave to enter or remain. Used CoS refers to CoS which the migrant has submitted with an application for leave to enter or remain.

Information on whether a CoS has been used to support an application for leave to enter or remain is not centrally recorded and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

CoS are issued by sponsors without reference to the UK Border Agency. The UK Border Agency would only find out about the salary level when the CoS was used to support an application for leave to enter or remain.


Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page