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Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Around 11 million people in receipt of State Pension received the annual Christmas bonus of £10 in 2010-11.

The majority of Christmas bonus payments are made with a qualifying benefit and, as such, it is not possible to disaggregate the administration cost. However, these costs are minimal as the significant majority of payments are automated. (Source: DWP Benefit Expenditure Business Information Data)

Police: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): £10 million represents an estimated maximum policing cost that may be necessary to deal with the Dale Farm evictions. It is a matter for Essex Police, with its police authority, to plan for the resource requirements of policing operations.

The Home Office has agreed to support Essex Police in the policing operation linked to the evictions, offering funding that is limited to a maximum of £4.65 million. This amount is final and will not be reconsidered.

Presumed Deaths

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice does not hold centrally information on the number of applications for Benjamin orders and the number of these that were granted. While such applications and orders will be logged on to the administrative computer systems used in the Chancery Division of the High Court, they cannot be distinguished from other types of applications and orders made. As such, the information requested can be obtained only through the manual inspection of individual case files, held by the courts, at disproportionate cost.

Prisons: Population

Question

Asked by Lord Fellowes

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The average number of prisoners held in overcrowded accommodation during 2010-11 was 20,211 (23.8 per cent of population).

Within this total the average number of prisoners doubling up in cells designed for one occupant was 19,268 (22.7 per cent of the total prison population) and there were on average 829 prisoners held three to a cell in cells designed for two (1.0 per cent of population). (Overcrowding in other units of accommodation, such as dormitories, will also contribute to the total).

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA136

Public Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord De Mauley: The project was structured as a package, to build, finance and maintain the trains over, potentially, a 30-year contract period. Accordingly, the capability of bidding consortia to finance a deal was analysed as part of the evaluation process. The credit rating of bidding consortia was not a determining factor in the award of the contract.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord De Mauley: Consultants and lawyers are required to declare any conflicts of interest as part of the selection process and throughout the life of the contract.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord De Mauley: The Department for Transport currently has a core team of nine officials directly employed on rolling stock procurement. The table below sets out the number of employees with (a) engineering, (b) finance, (c) legal, and (d) operational qualifications working on rolling stock procurement.

EngineeringFinanceLegalOperations

2

3

2

1

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord De Mauley: The letting of the Thameslink rolling stock contract was in accordance with the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006. It is in the public interest that the decisions taken by the Secretary of

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA137

State for Transport are taken in a fully informed legal context. Communications between the Secretary of State and his legal advisers are subject to the legal advice privilege.

Railways: European Train Management System

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: The Cambrian Coast was identified as an early deployment site for ERTMS by the Strategic Rail Authority in 2003, after consultation with the rail industry and key stakeholders. Consequently the Rail Regulator, in his Access Charges Review 2003: Final Conclusions, allowed for Network Rail to be funded to commence development during Control Period 3 (2004-05 to 2008-09).

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: The Department for Transport does not hold this information. Network Rail is funded to deliver, operate and maintain the Cambrian ERTMS deployment. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which is responsible for the economic regulation of the national rail network, will consider the costs of the Cambrian deployment as part of its regular reviews.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: This is an operational matter for Network Rail as it is responsible for monitoring infrastructure performance. Network Rail can be contacted as follows: David Higgins, Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: This is an operational matter for Network Rail as it is responsible for monitoring performance and punctuality. Network Rail can be contacted as follows: David Higgins, Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA138

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: A separate cost-benefit analysis has not been undertaken for the Cambrian line as this is a pilot for the planned national ERTMS implementation plan for which there is a positive business case recognised by its inclusion in the industry's investment plans for Control Period 4 (2009-14). The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is responsible for the economic regulation of the national rail network and will consider the Cambrian deployment as part of its regular reviews.

Railways: Thameslink

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord De Mauley: The outcome of the assessment was that the Department for Transport is satisfied that the risks associated with the train design submitted can be managed and mitigated by the preferred bidder.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord De Mauley: We would expect Network Rail and the Department for Transport to incur significant cancellation costs, but these have not been quantified. Cancelling the Thameslink programme would delay or defer the additional capacity that Thameslink will provide for London commuters and prevent the cascade of around 400 rail vehicles that will be released for redeployment elsewhere and which are urgently needed to address overcrowding.

As there has already been significant expenditure on the Thameslink programme of £1.5 billion to date, with a further £0.7 billion committed, largely on the infrastructure works, any delay would adversely impact on the value for money of this expenditure by adding significant prolongation costs and delaying the realisation of the benefits.

Asked by Lord Chidgey



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA139

Lord De Mauley: The consequences of abandoning the current procurement process would be significant. The Department for Transport could not simply stop the current procurement and immediately start a new one but would need to demonstrate that the current procurement is inappropriate then formulate a revised scope for any future procurement.

Based on experience to date, thereafter a procurement exercise for a train project of this complexity, involving an innovative design with requirements for maintenance, finance and depots would take between two and three years to conclude.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord De Mauley: The whole life and whole industry cost assessment of the Thameslink bids was based over a 30-year period. The factors that were included in the calculations were:

train leasing costs;

depot leasing costs;

train maintenance costs;

train energy consumption;

VTISM (this is the Vehicle Track Interaction Strategic Model, which calculates the links between inputs, such as track and vehicle characteristics, and outputs, such as rail-life, wheel-life and maintenance regimes);

performance (the assessment of the likely delays caused by each unit type, based upon the bidders train reliability calculations); and

risk adjustments (to the extent that the bidder has indicated, in commercial propositions or its response to the Thameslink rolling stock project agreements, any changes to the levels of liability, performance regime or allocation of risks.

The evaluation criteria and evaluation process are contained in the Thameslink rolling stock project invitation to tender dated 27 November 2008, a copy of which is available on the Department for Transport website at www.dit.gov.uk/pqr/rail/pi/thameslinkrollingstock.

Railways: Train Design

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: Agility Trains (the Hitachi consortium for IEP) propose to assemble the IEP train in a new factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, creating

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA140

600 permanent jobs. Only the first few prototype vehicles will be fully assembled in Japan, with the remainder built in the UK. As is consistent with the global nature of the rolling stock supply chain, Agility expect to procure a significant proportion of components for the trains from the UK, Europe and internationally.

Retail: Mary Portas Review

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No consultation document has been issued as part of the high streets review led by Mary Portas. However, as part of the evidence-gathering exercise members of the public were invited to submit their views either through the BIS or Mary Portas websites on what the Government, local authorities, businesses and the third sector could do to create diverse and sustainable high streets. The deadline for contributions was 31 August and over 2,100 responses were uploaded on to the Mary Portas and BIS websites along with a number of submissions received by mail. In addition, the review incorporates an extensive and ongoing programme of stakeholder engagement, including high-street visits, meetings with key stakeholders, workshops and a meeting with MPs. Mary Portas' review is expected to be published later in the year.

Roads: Advertising Hoardings

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Private advertising hoardings can be displayed on static vehicles on land adjacent to a motorway, provided that it is done with the prior permission of the landowner and with express consent from the relevant local planning authority. Local planning authorities have a range of enforcement powers under which they can require the removal of such advertising on either amenity or public safety grounds.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA141

Schools: Religion

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Ofsted school inspections are primarily concerned with outcomes for pupils. There is therefore no specific requirement on Ofsted to report on the extent to which schools comply with their responsibilities to provide a daily act of collective worship, and no plans to commission Ofsted to report specifically on this matter. As part of school inspections, Ofsted is required to report on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. Where a school's non-compliance with a statutory duty is considered to be having a negative impact on pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, inspectors will reflect this in their assessment of the school.

Schools: Transport

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord De Mauley: We welcome Dorset's innovative approach to procuring bus services, which we understand has both saved money and served as a launch pad for new commercial services. Officials from the Department for Transport will be working with local transport professionals to ensure that such best practice can, where appropriate, be replicated across the country.

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): An updated version of the table given in the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, to the noble Lord of 20 May 2008 (WA 186) is given below:



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA143



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA144

Single/basic, non-aged personal allowance for a man with no childrenTaxable income above which the highest rate is chargedHighest rate of income tax chargedFinancial year average Retail Price IndexSingle/basic, non-aged personal allowance for a man with no children at 2010-11 pricesTaxable income above which the highest rate is charged at 2010-11 prices

1975-76

675

20,000

98%

35.91

4,257

126,135

1976-77

735

20,000

98%

41.40

4,021

109,408

1977-78

945

21,000

98%

47.19

4,535

100,784

1978-79

965

24,000

98%

51.11

4,276

106,347

1979-80

1165

25,000

75%

59.19

4,458

95,656

1980-81

1375

27,750

75%

68.85

4,523

91,281

1981-82

1375

27,750

75%

76.77

4,056

81,864

1982-83

1565

31,500

75%

82.20

4,312

86,788

1983-84

1785

36,000

75%

86.03

4,699

94,770

1984-85

2005

38,100

60%

90.37

5,025

95,482

1985-86

2205

40,200

60%

95.71

5,218

95,124

1986-87

2335

41,200

60%

98.78

5,354

94,460

1987-88

2425

41,200

60%

102.72

5,347

90,837

1988-89

2605

19,300

40%

108.88

5,419

40,145

1989-90

2785

20,700

40%

117.38

5,373

39,939

1990-91

3005

20,700

40%

128.74

5,286

36,415

1991-92

3295

23,700

40%

134.85

5,534

39,803

1992-93

3445

23,700

40%

139.11

5,609

38,584

1993-94

3445

23,700

40%

141.48

5,515

37,938

1994-95

3445

23,700

40%

145.35

5,368

36,928

1995-96

3525

24,300

40%

150.08

5,319

36,669

1996-97

3765

25,500

40%

153.73

5,547

37,567

1997-98

4045

26,100

40%

158.81

5,768

37,221

1998-99

4195

27,100

40%

163.76

5,802

37,478

1999-2000

4335

28,000

40%

166.35

5,902

38,120

2000-01

4385

28,400

40%

171.33

5,796

37,541

2001-02

4535

29,400

40%

173.88

5,907

38,293

2002-03

4615

29,900

40%

177.52

5,888

38,146

2003-04

4615

30,500

40%

182.48

5,728

37,853

2004-05

4745

31,400

40%

188.15

5,712

37,796

2005-06

4895

32,400

40%

193.11

5,741

37,998

2006-07

5035

33,300

40%

200.32

5,692

37,648

2007-08

5225

34,600

40%

208.58

5,673

37,569

2008-09

6035

34,800

40%

214.78

6,364

36,696

2009-10

6475

37,400

40%

215.80

6,795

39,250

2010-11

6475

150,000

50%

226.48

6,475

150,000

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Selkirk of Douglas

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The estimated proportions of the total population in each country with an income tax liability are shown in the table.

YearEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland

2006-07

52%

50%

53%

45%

2007-08

53%

51%

54%

46%

2008-09

51%

48%

52%

44%

2009-10

49%

46%

50%

42%

2010-11

49%

47%

50%

42%

2011-12

48%

46%

49%

41%

These figures are based on estimates for the number of taxpayers in 2006-07, 2007-08 and projections for later years prepared by HM Revenue and Customs from the Survey of Personal Incomes. The figures also draw on population estimates from mid-2006 to mid-2010 and projections for later years, prepared by the Office for National Statistics.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Government have recently consulted on a proposal to extend the maximum permitted loading length of semi-trailers from the existing limit of 13.6 metres to a maximum of 15.65 metres. This would permit a loading length for articulated vehicles equal to that already permitted for rigid truck/drawbar trailer combination vehicles.

The Government have no plans to extend the maximum allowed overall length of heavy goods vehicles beyond the limit of 18.75 metres already permitted for rigid truck/drawbar trailer combination vehicles. The Government have made it clear that megatrucks (i.e. those typically 25.25 metres long or greater) will not be allowed on the UK's roads for the foreseeable future.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA145

Transport: MoT Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We expect to be in a position to clarify the scope and timing of the review in the autumn. There will be an opportunity for anyone with an interest to contribute to the debate.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), also met local politicians and members of the Advisory Council and Consultative Forum, many of who are business men and women. He had specific meetings with Mr Kelly Sullivan, Developer; Mr Courtney Missick, Farmer; and Messrs Giora Israel and John Young of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Universal Credit

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The paragraph in The Law of Social Security concerns deductions from benefit at source. The relevant section on page 334 reads as follows, with the pertinent sentence highlighted:

"The underlying policy is to help claimants who have shown themselves, perhaps only temporarily, incapable of budgeting for their own needs. The number of cases involved is considerable. In 1999 there were 606,000 deductions for social fund repayments and 131,000 for overpayment recoveries in a typical week. In all some 29 per cent of income support recipients have deductions from benefit made at source. While a prudent use of these powers can prevent a crisis of eviction or fuel disconnection which might

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA146

otherwise arise, this type of intervention in a claimant's financial affairs arguably undermines individual responsibility and self-reliance. In addition, the SSAC has drawn attention to the dangers of the proliferation of such deductions, which 'is likely to lead to a large number of items competing for a finite amount or the possibility that creditors' bills are met at the expense of food and other essential items of day to day living'".

Universities: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

Lord De Mauley: The tuition fees charged by Scottish universities are a matter for the Scottish Government. Eligible English students studying at Scottish universities will continue to have access to loans of up to £9,000 per year from Student Finance England to cover their tuition costs.

Under EU law, member states cannot discriminate on grounds of nationality against people from other member states in the conditions of access to vocational training, which includes higher education. Where certain residency and nationality conditions are met, EU nationals and their family members qualify for home fee status and will therefore be treated the same for tuition fees as UK nationals who also satisfy the residency conditions.

As Scottish universities do not charge Scottish students for tuition, they therefore cannot charge EU nationals from outside the UK for tuition. EU law does not, however, prevent different treatment within different parts of a member state, so Scottish universities are able to charge for tuition to students from elsewhere in the UK.

It is for the Welsh Assembly Government to decide how they wish to fund Welsh-domiciled students.

Monday 3 October 2011

Airports: Security

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA147

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Average waiting times at the ports in question, which are only available from August 2007 onwards, are set out below:



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA148

Average queue lengthAug-Dec 2007Jan-Dec 2008Jan-Dec 2009Jan-Dec 2010Jan-Aug 2011
EEANonEEAEEANonEEAEEANonEEAEEANonEEAEEANonEEA

Belfast International

00:08

00:06

00:07

00:04

00:09

00:06

00:08

00:06

00:09

00:07

Birmingham International

00:07

00:13

00:06

00:08

0005

00:08

00:07

00:12

00:07

00:12

East Midlands (1)

-

-

-

-

00:14

00:29

0013

-

00:12

-

Edinburgh

00:15

00:16

00:09

00:07

00:08

00:07

00:07

00:08

00:09

00:09

Gatwick

00:10

00:20

00:08

00:15

00:06

00:09

00:05

00:08

00:05

00:07

Glasgow

00:20

00:18

00:06

00:06

00:06

00:08

00:06

00:08

00:07

00:10

Heathrow

00:05

00:14

00:02

00:07

0002

00:00

00:04

00:12

00:05

00:18

Humberside

00:12

00:14

00:14

00:13

00:13

00:08

00:11

00:09

00:13

00:11

Luton

00:08

00:10

00:07

00:08

00:06

00:07

00:10

00:11

00:09

00:09

Newcastle (2)

00:12

00:11

-

00:09

00:21

00:10

00:25

00:11

00:23

Stansted

00:07

00:09

00:08

00:08

00:06

00:07

00:05

00:08

00:15

00:21

The UK Border Agency strives to provide a high standard of customer service at the border and is committed to expediting the entry of legitimate passengers whilst at the same time maintaining security at the border.

As part of the agenda we will publish performance against our measure which is "clearance of passengers at the border within published service standards". Our current target is to clear 95 per cent of EEA passengers within 25 minutes of joining the queue and non EEA passengers within 45 minutes. Current year to date performance sits at 97 per cent.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): All Joint Strike Fighter variants, including the F35C, have inherent air-to-air refuelling capabilities in order to both extend their range for operations and to provide contingency in the event of a runway or flight deck emergency. Work is under way to assess the most cost-effective means of delivering an embarked refuelling capability. We anticipate completing this work by March 2012 and will use its output to inform future decisions on the Carrier Strike programme.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Astor of Hever: The F35C has been designed as a carrier aircraft, with its structure optimised for catapult take-offs and arrested landings. The Joint Strike Fighter programme has conducted extensive ground and airborne structural testing to demonstrate that the aircraft's fatigue life is sufficient to allow it to operate for its intended lifespan. This testing has culminated in the successful catapult launch of an F35C at Lakehurst Air Force Base in July. The UK maintains a close oversight of this testing regime, using expertise from within Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and QinetiQ.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Astor of Hever: We have not yet placed any contracts for the provision of aircraft launch and recovery equipment for the operational Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.

As part of our ongoing investigations into conversion we are working with suppliers to ensure they are fully aware and capable of meeting our schedule requirement. The nature of any penalty clauses will be dependent on the contracting arrangement we adopt.

We expect final decisions on conversion to be taken in late 2012.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA149

Armed Forces: Atomic Test Veterans

Questions

Asked by Baroness Brinton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence does not record this information.

Asked by Baroness Brinton

Lord Astor of Hever: The latest estimate of the costs incurred up to 15 April 2011 by the Ministry of Defence in defending the atomic tests veterans' litigation was £4,937,615.98.

This costs estimate included all the work required for the High Court hearing in 2009, the subsequent Court of Appeal hearing in 2010 and some preparatory work for the Supreme Court hearing of the Veterans' application for permission to appeal held on 28 July 2011.

Armed Forces: Defence Estates

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The total accrued receipts from the sale of Ministry of Defence (MoD) land and property assets in each of the last five years is shown in the following table:

Financial YearAmount in £ million

2006-07

394

2007-08

1,160

2008-09

110

2009-10

77

2010-11

50



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA150

As part of the spending review, the MoD agreed asset disposal targets with HM Treasury and net budgets were set accordingly over each of the past five years. Disposal targets included those arising from the disposal of assets owned by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation but individual projects are not directly linked to funding generated from asset sales.

The MoD benefited from those disposals which, together with other sources of income, contributed towards the overall funding allocated for defence expenditure.

The MoD keeps its estate under constant review to meet present and planned future requirements, with a view to disposing of surplus land and property assets as quickly as possible in accordance with Treasury guidelines as set out in Managing Public Money. The outcome of the department's basing review, announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox) in the other place on 18 July 2011 (Official Report, Commons, cols. 643-645) confirmed our intent to continue to drive efficiencies in the use of the defence estate.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord Astor of Hever: In order to maximise departmental return, and because appropriate skills are not held in-house, the Ministry of Defence has used a variety of consultants, as necessary, to advise on the disposal of land and property assets in the past five years, at a total cost of some £17.9 million including actual legal costs and marketing fees. This represents some 1 per cent of the department's total receipt.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord Astor of Hever: The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (the successor to Defence Estates) has entered into a number of development partnerships or joint venture arrangements for the sale and ongoing management of surplus assets over the past five years.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord Astor of Hever: The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (the successor to Defence Estates) and its predecessor organisation provided funding for the maintenance and improvement of both service family accommodation and single living accommodation in each of the past five years.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA151

Armed Forces: Drumadd Barracks

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Following a marketing campaign, expressions of interest in Drumadd Barracks were received from a number of parties in November 2010. Revised bids were sought in January 2011, as a result of which a preferred purchaser has been identified. The Ministry of Defence is now in the final stage of negotiations to complete the sale.

Aviation: Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will publish its response later this autumn.

Bank of England

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Schedule 1 Paragraph 8 of the Bank of England Act 1998 provides that the Bank may, with the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, remove a person from office as a director of the Bank in the circumstances set out in that paragraph. That is, being absent from court meetings for three months without the consent of court, becoming bankrupt or being "unable or unfit" to discharge his or her responsibilities as a member.

Additionally, Schedule 1, Paragraph 7 of the Act provides that a director shall vacate his or her office on becoming a Minister of the Crown or a person serving in a government department in employment in respect of which remuneration is payable out of money provided by Parliament.

Asked by Lord Myners



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA152

Lord Sassoon: The role of the Bank of England's interim Financial Policy Committee (FPC) is to identify and monitor systemic risks to stability of the financial system. It focuses particularly on risks to the resilience of the financial system and on unsustainable levels of financial sector leverage, credit growth and debt.

The FPC's latest assessment of risks to financial stability can be found in the Financial Stability Report, June 2011.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The decision on whether to publish the minutes of the Court of the Bank of England is a matter for the court.

Neither Ministers nor officials have expressed a view on the matter to Sir David, the governor or other officials at the Bank of England.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence. This question has been passed on to the FSA, which will reply to you directly by letter. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave him on 11 August (Official Report, col. WA 386).

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority monitor the financial system on an ongoing basis. Contingency plans are prepared and maintained for a range for possible scenarios, as part of the normal policy development process.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As part of the process of policy development and delivery, Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations, including banks, investment banks and banking trade associations.

As was the case with previous administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.

Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As the majority shareholder in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the largest shareholder in Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), the Government have made clear that they expect these banks to be back-markers and not market leaders on bonuses.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI) manages the Government's shareholdings in banks on an arm's-length and commercial basis. The UKFI-Treasury Investment Mandate provides that UKFI will seek to ensure compliance with specified remuneration principles as part of its active engagement with the banks. In particular, UKFI seeks to ensure that remuneration incentives are designed to promote long-term sustainable performance and to ensure that RBS and LBG are at the leading edge of implementing the updated Financial Services Authority remuneration code.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA154

Banking: Equity Underwriting

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published its market study into equity underwriting in January 2011. The OFT identified features of the market which could potentially restrict, distort or prevent competition. These features typically stemmed from the demand side of the market, information asymmetry and buyer conduct. Following the market study, the OFT decided not to refer the market to the Competition Commission. Instead, the OFT concluded that the issues identified in the market could best be tackled by companies and shareholders doing more to achieve more cost effective outcomes.

The Government are committed to improving competition in the banking sector for the benefit of consumers and businesses. The Independent Commission on Banking made recommendations on competition in its report of 12 September 2011. The Government will provide their initial response to the Commission's proposals by the end of the year.

Banking: Money Supply

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England has operational responsibility for monetary policy. The MPC's objective is to maintain price stability. Recent movements in the velocity of circulation of money are analysed in an article which appeared in the Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin 2011 Q1 under the title "Understanding the recent weakness in broad money growth". The article can be accessed via the Bank of England's website at: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/quarterlybulletin/2011.htm.

Banks: First Trust Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): First Trust Bank is a trademark of AIB Group (UK) plc. AIB Group (UK) plc board appointments are a matter for the company and must meet the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Approved Person requirements, including those of its enhanced significant influence function regime. A full list of FSA Approved Persons associated with AIB Group (UK) can be found on the FSA's register: http://www. fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Generally prisoners convicted of a criminal offence and detained in prison are not entitled to social security benefits. That means that anyone who is eligible for social security benefits and who is caught, convicted and imprisoned for any offence committed during the recent disorder that has disrupted London and other UK cities will be disqualified from receiving most social security payments. However, housing benefit and council tax benefit can continue to be paid in some circumstances if the period of absence from the home is 13 weeks or less. Furthermore, it is already a ground for eviction in existing legislation if a social tenant or a member of their family is involved in anti-social behaviour or criminal activity that affects their neighbours or local community.

The Department for Work and Pensions is looking at whether further sanctions can be imposed on the benefit entitlements of individuals who receive non custodial sentences. In addition the DWP is considering increasing the level of fines which can be deducted from benefit entitlement. The Department for Communities and Local Government is proposing to extend landlords' powers to evict social tenants for riot related offences, but this would only apply where the tenant or a member of their household has been convicted for such offences. Any changes put in place by either Department would not apply to individuals who have not been convicted of any offence.

Benefits: Disability

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA156

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): This Government are fully committed to enabling disabled people to have the same opportunities and choices as non-disabled people. Ministers and departmental officials have made it a priority to regularly meet with disabled people, their families and disabled people's organisations.

Many of the organisations that supported the march are already working closely with the Government to help shape our welfare reforms, including improvements to the work capability assessment and the introduction of personal independence payment to replace disability living allowance. We have met around 60 organisations of and for disabled people. The insight of organisations such as Scope, Mencap, Leonard Cheshire Disability, RNIB, and Mind is immensely valuable. We are also working with user-led organisations such as Radar, UKDPC and People First and value their important contribution.

The department has adopted the principles of user-centred design for universal credit and personal independence payment. This places customers at the heart of the design process to ensure their needs are reflected in the way policies are delivered. For example, in personal independence payment users are being involved in the design of operational processes; how individuals make a claim, how the claimant feeds in to the assessment process, and how a decision is communicated to the individual. This will result in administrative processes which are transparent and easy to use, and will build confidence in benefit award decisions.

We will continue to engage with disabled people and their organisations about matters that affect them.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The 1966 Exchange of Notes between the UK and US Governments concerning the availability for defence purposes of the British Indian Ocean Territory is valid for 50 years and shall continue in force for a further 20 years unless, not more than two years before the end of the initial period, either Government shall have given notice of termination to the other, in which case the agreement shall terminate two years from the date of such notice. No formal negotiations have commenced.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA157

Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Question

Asked by Baroness Cox

Lord De Mauley: Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 came into force in April 2010. There have been no reports of any convictions under this Act in 2010 (latest available information).

Information held centrally by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on the Court Proceedings database does not contain information about the circumstances behind each case beyond the description provided in the statute under which proceedings are brought. Information is not held on whether the victim was held in domestic servitude.

Please note that annual court proceedings data for the calendar year 2011 will be available in the spring of 2012.

Crime: Rioting

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Rawlings: The common law offence of incitement was abolished and replaced with three new offences in relation to the encouragement or assistance of crime under Sections 44 to 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007, with effect from October 2008. These offences make no distinction between online and offline activity, and could be used to prosecute encouragement by means of the internet. The sufficiency of evidence to mount a prosecution in any individual case is an operational matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Criminal Justice Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA158

Lord De Mauley: By its very nature criminal justice legislation can be complicated and often this complexity cannot be avoided. However, the Government are committed to enhancing the clarity of legislation across all fields; and to increasing their engagement with experts and with the public. To that end, we are making use of pre-legislative scrutiny; and that is why we are experimenting with plain English drafting.

Debt

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that the rest of the world's financial surplus with the United Kingdom will narrow from 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2010 to 0.4 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2016. The corporate sector is forecast to run a financial surplus, which narrows from 6.2 per cent of GDP to 1.5 per cent over this period. Over the same period, the public sector financial balance is forecast to narrow from a deficit of 11.3 per cent of GDP to 1.2 per cent.

Economy

Questions

Asked by Lord Barnett

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As the Chancellor has stated, the recovery is likely to be choppy and faces significant global headwinds. Despite this, decisive action taken by the Government at the Spending Review and June 2010 Budget will put the public finances and spending on a sustainable footing. This action will serve to support living standards over the long term. The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast that real household disposable income will grow from 2011.

Asked by Lord Barnett



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA159

Lord Sassoon: The unprecedented scale of the deficit has meant that the Government have had to make tough choices but it has always been clear that those with the broadest shoulders should carry the greatest burden. Chart A.6 in Annex A of Budget 2011 provides the Government's best estimate of the impact of tax, tax credit and benefit and public service spending changes on households. It is the combined impact of these that provides the best overall view of the impacts on households. This shows that in 2014-15, the top 20 per cent of households are estimated to make the greatest overall contribution towards reducing the deficit as a percentage of their income and benefits in kind from public services.

Economy: Quantitative Easing

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England has published assessments of the effectiveness of quantitative easing (QE) in a number of publications, including the Inflation Report of May 2010 and the Quarterly Bulletin 2011 Q1. In addition, several members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England have provided their assessments of QE in various published speeches since March 2009. The MPC has operational responsibility for monetary policy, including decisions on quantitative easing, in order to meet the inflation target in the medium term.

Energy: Fuel Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

Lord De Mauley: Support for renewable electricity currently adds around £21 to the average domestic electricity bill. The Government are determined to meet our renewable energy and climate change targets and ensure security of supply at least cost to the consumer. That is why we are introducing electricity market reform (EMR) to provide more efficient support

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA160

to low-carbon power generation and to introduce a capacity payment mechanism to ensure security of supply. The currently estimated £6 billion subsidy for renewable electricity generation will be superseded by the proposals in the EMR White Paper. Modelling for the White Paper estimated that under the feed-in tariff contract for difference package the number of households in fuel poverty could be between 175,000 to 300,000 lower in 2030 compared to what it would otherwise be without EMR.

We are committed to helping households in fuel poverty and have a number of policies which assist low income and vulnerable households heat their homes more affordably.

Energy: Nuclear Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Jenkin of Roding

Baroness Rawlings: The UK welcomes the Action Plan as a positive step towards enhancing the international nuclear safety framework and achieving the aim of continuous improvement in nuclear safety standards. The Action Plan closely reflects the regulatory approach already being undertaken in the UK which, due to our goal setting approach, takes into account events such as those at Fukushima to ensure all proportionate steps are taken in relation to nuclear safety, security and emergency preparedness. As a result the additional impact of the delivery of the Action Plan on the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is expected to be minimal and will be managed from within ONR's existing budgets

Energy: Oil and Gas

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have welcomed the indications from President Christofias that he sees the reserves, if they are confirmed, as

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA161

being an asset to benefit all the communities of Cyprus. We hope that the process of exploration can be managed to support the efforts to achieve a lasting settlement.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government support the appeal by the Council to the European Court of Justice against the General Court's judgment of 22 March 2011 in Access Info Europe v Council. The General Court determined that the Council had infringed Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (the Regulation) by withholding the identities of member states making proposals in relation to a particular ongoing legislative procedure. In doing so the General Court rejected the argument that disclosure of this information would harm the decision making process of the European institutions and ruled that it could not therefore be withheld on the basis of the exception in Article 4(3) of the regulation.

The Government strongly support the right of access provided by the regulation. However it is also important that truly sensitive information is adequately protected. It is the Government's view that, as a general rule, the negotiating positions of member states on European legislation should be protected from disclosure while those negotiations are ongoing. Our concern is that this decision could well undermine that important principle, and could have very significant negative implications for the future use, where necessary, of Article 4(3) of the regulation.

European Court of Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord De Mauley: Bearing in mind the specificities of the legal systems of the United Kingdom, there are adequate possibilities to achieve restitution in integrum for a successful applicant to the European Court of Human Rights. While the reopening of concluded proceedings before our domestic courts is not always possible, particularly in civil proceedings given the

3 Oct 2011 : Column WA162

principle that parties should be able to rely on the outcome of those proceedings once all appeals have been exhausted, there has always in practice been available a combination of compensatory and administrative measures to ensure that individual measures may be taken to the satisfaction of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe following a judgment of the Strasbourg Court.

European Institute for Gender Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Baroness Rawlings: The European Institute for Gender Equality has been operating as an independent agency of the EU since June 2010. The UK Government have not at this time conducted an assessment of the benefits of the institution.

We hope that the institute will provide research-based evidence which will assist the European Commission to bring forward proposals that are supported by a strong evidence base.

Finance: Clearing Houses

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will establish in the Bank of England a Financial Policy Committee (FPC) to identify and monitor systemic risks to the stability of the financial system. An interim FPC is currently considering what tools the permanent FPC might need.

The draft legislation to establish the permanent FPC was published in a White Paper in June 2011 (Cm 8083). The draft legislation also includes detailed proposed changes to the regulatory regime in the Financial Services and Markets (2000) Act applying to recognised clearing houses (RCHs). RCHs that are central counterparties will also be subject to requirements in or under the proposed EU directive on over the counter derivative transactions, central counterparties and trade repositories currently under negotiation in Brussels.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA163

Finance: Equity Markets

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Regulation of equity markets is the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA have assessed that "cliff edge" volume discounts create a risk that participants will be encouraged to trade for improper purposes and, for that reason, that a fee structure that embeds a cliff edge is not compatible with the regulatory responsibilities of trading platforms supervised by the FSA.

Finance: Investors

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 3 June 2011, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) wrote to relevant investors based in the UK who had been identified by the US Securities Exchange Committee. The FSA contacted 42 people and has so far received 18 responses.

Finance: Lending

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Conwy

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are committed to increasing lending to small businesses. As part of the Merlin commitment, the banks have committed to make available £76 billion for small businesses this year, a 15 per cent increase from last year.

The Government have also announced continued support for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, which will make available over £2 billion of lending to small businesses with insufficient collateral or track record over the next four years.



3 Oct 2011 : Column WA164

Freedom of Information

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the independent regulator with responsibility for monitoring compliance of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. As an independent body, the ICO is accountable to Parliament for the exercise of its regulatory functions and the way that it spends public funds.

Requestors and public bodies can appeal FOI decisions of the ICO to the General Regulatory Tribunal and from there to the Higher Courts. If members of the public are unhappy with the way that the ICO has dealt with a particular case, or the service they have received from the ICO, they may complain to the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO).

Complaints received by the PHSO in relation to the ICO for the years 2006-2010 are detailed in the table below. The figures for 2011 will be published by the PHSO in October 2011.

Complaints ReceivedAccepted for a full statutory investigationReported onFully upheldPartly upheldNot upheld

06/07*

53

3

6

0

1

5

07/8

39

0

1

0

1

0

08/9

80

1

0

0

0

0

09/10

80

0

1

0

1

0

Gaza


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