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The UK has established a dedicated Arab Partnership Fund to support political and economic reform and transition in the Middle East and North Africa over the next four years. This comprises a £40 million Arab Partnership Participation Fund to support political reform managed by the FCO, and a £70 million Arab Partnership Economic Facility (APEF) managed by this department. The APEF will support job creation, economic growth and effective and accountable financial institutions. Programming of this funding is currently under way.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what types and levels of pensions and benefits and other state entitlements are payable to single or widowed old age pensioners; whether they are means-tested; and what is the minimum state-supported income such a pensioner can obtain.[HL13640]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The minimum state support would be the single person's standard minimum guarantee in pension credit of £137.35 per week for those with no other income plus, in most circumstances, £200 annual winter fuel payment.
Most pensioners, however, receive a state pension based on their national insurance record. Those with a full record of contributions or credits receive a basic state pension of £102.15 plus, in most circumstances, £200 annual winter fuel payment. They may also receive some additional state pension. Those bereaved may be able to use their late spouses' or civil partners' national insurance contributions to improve their own state pension. If necessary the state pension may be topped up by pension credit.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government do not expect local authorities to address their financial challenges simply by increasing fees and charges. We have given local authorities much greater financial autonomy and flexibility to manage their budgets and have encouraged them to share back-office services, join forces to get better value from their buying power, cutting out excessive chief executive pay and rooting out overspending and waste. I would note that in some local authorities, such as the London Borough of Islington, playgrounds levy charges for extra services, such as providing supervised care.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the publication of the report on Political Party Finance by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, whether the estimated cost of that inquiry of £445,000 represents good value for money.[HL13663]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government welcome the Committee on Standards in Public Life's thirteenth report. It is a valuable contribution to the debate. We remain committed to limiting donations and reforming party funding, and to that end we plan to continue cross-party discussions based on the principles identified by the committee and the Government's reform commitments.
Earl Attlee: The Government recognise that there is value in training cyclists to ride safely and confidently on the road. That is why we supported the development of the National Standard for Cycling and the related Bikeability training scheme. We have made a firm commitment to support Bikeability for the lifetime of the current Parliament and are providing £11 million this year to local authorities and School Games Organisers to train up to 275,000 children.
However, the Government consider that the costs of a formal testing and licensing system for cyclists would outweigh the benefits. The safety case for a
1 Dec 2011 : Column WA88
Earl Attlee: The National Cycle Network, managed by Sustrans, is a network of cycle routes across the UK. It currently runs within two miles of 75 per cent of the UK population and covers 12,600 miles of walking and cycling routes.
However, cycling is best suited to local journeys, and most cycling provision is provided by local authorities. We therefore support local authorities in England in providing local transport infrastructure through the formula grant, Integrated Transport Block settlement (from DfT) and the £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund (also from DfT).
The Government are currently providing funding to Sustrans to improve walking and cycling links to schools, and in many cases this will connect schools to the National Cycle Network. In addition, a number of local authorities have successfully bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund with schemes that will also link up to the National Cycle Network.
Earl Attlee: The Highway Code has a specific section on cycling which details the legal responsibilities for cyclists. Rule 69 states that cyclists, "Must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals" (Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Regulation 10(1) of the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2002).
The information requested regarding pedal cycle casualties killed or injured is available on the department's website at the link below: http://www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras30065.
These statistics are based on personal injury road accidents that are reported to the police. It is known that a considerable number of personal injury road accidents are unreported; in particular it is known that less serious accidents involving pedal cycles are particularly reliable to underreporting. Further information is available from: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2010/rrcgb2010-06.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 21 November (WA 184) concerning the wearing of cycle helmets, whether they consider that such helmets save lives and prevent injuries.[HL13724]
Earl Attlee: In certain circumstances (eg low-speed collisions and where no other vehicle is involved), helmets can be effective in reducing the likelihood of death or the seriousness of the injury suffered by a cyclist. However, most cyclist fatalities occur as a result of collision with a motorised vehicle, and therefore helmets cannot be seen as a panacea for reducing cyclist fatalities. We do, however, encourage cyclists-especially children-to wear helmets to protect them if they have a crash. However, we believe this should remain a matter of individual choice.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the results of the pilots undertaken in 2008-09 by Cumbria County Council, Oldham Council, Sheffield Council and Westminster City Council on the impact of removing the ring-fencing of the disabled facilities grant were taken into account in the decision in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review to remove the ring-fencing of the disabled facilities grant. [HL13633]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the removal of the ring-fencing of the disabled facilities grant in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review upon (1) the number of housing adaptions in each local authority in the United Kingdom, and (2) spending by each local authority on housing adaptions in 2010-11 compared to 2009-10.[HL13634]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Despite the need to tackle the budget deficit that we inherited from the last Administration, we are increasing spending on disabled facilities grant over the spending review period, from £169 million in 2010-11 to £180 million in 2011-12, rising to £185 million in 2014-15. This reflects the priority this Government attach to protecting the vulnerable, and the value of this scheme in helping disabled people to live as comfortably and independently as possible in their homes.
This decentralisation will give local authorities the ability to commission services innovatively, for example by linking up with other related funding streams and programmes to produce better outcomes from the available resources.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The closest data we have to monitor numbers in sixth-form education are the number of GCE A-level entries. Students can of course enter more than one A-level.
The number of entries for each GCE A-level subject group for 2009-10 and 2010-11 is provided in the table below. This information was provided in the recent publication GCE/Applied GCE A/AS and Equivalent Examination Results in England, 2010-11 (Provisional).
|GCE A-level entries in each subject group for 2009-10 (final) and 2010-11 (provisional)1|
|2010 (final)1||2011 (provisional)1|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the commitments made by Virgin Money to Her Majesty's Treasury in connection with the purchase of Northern Rock plc that there will be no more compulsory redundancies and that Newcastle will become the operational headquarters for Virgin Money are supported by sanctions for non-compliance. [HL13550]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Virgin Money has made a number of commitments in its announcement about Northern Rock plc on 17 November 2011. These are public commitments which are made in writing by Virgin Money.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the ownership structure of Virgin Money and what assurance they have sought from shareholders, in connection with the sale of Northern Rock plc, about their commitment to support the company with more capital if necessary.[HL13551]
Lord Sassoon: As part of the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) approval of the transaction, the FSA is undertaking a change in controller process which includes appropriate assessment of shareholders in the Virgin consortium, the new proposed controller of Northern Rock Plc.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what capital instrument is to be paid to Her Majesty's Treasury by Virgin Money in connection with the sale of Northern Rock plc and in what circumstances this instrument could be (a) repaid, or (b) not paid out, in full.[HL13552]
Virgin Money has indicated that it intends the notes would be exchanged, or purchased by the acquirer, upon an initial public offering or sale, without reducing the amount and quality of the firm's capital resources, which would allow HM Treasury to exit its investment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Sir Richard Branson is a director or shareholder of (1) Virgin Money, (2) the company acquiring Northern Rock plc, or (3) any of the companies or trusts owning, controlling or benefiting from any part of Virgin Money or the companies or trusts in its ownership structure; and whether Sir Richard Branson has ever applied to be an approved person by the Financial Services Authority and has (a) had that request rejected, or (b) been asked to withdraw his application.[HL13555]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the possible impact on fire risk of an increase in vulnerable adults with (1) mental health, and (2) physical, disabilities living independently in domestic settings.[HL13648]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Scotland Office occupies one building in Edinburgh and one in London. There are no plans to install photovoltaic solar systems, however the office keeps the energy efficiency of the buildings under constant review, in the light of the Green Government Commitments, and have introduced a range of energy efficiency measures consistent with value for money.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Within the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is considering a trial solar photovoltaic project, with a view to assessing if it is effective and cost-efficient. Where this is the case, we will look to roll it out as a standard feature in a number of properties across our estate.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Some solar photovoltaic (PV) schemes have already been installed on the defence estate. The Ministry of Defence will continue to exploit opportunities to install solar PV panels and other low carbon energy generation technologies where compatible with defence activities, environmental constraints and value for money in terms of cost and carbon emissions reduction.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 21 October (WA 108), what is her definition of "clear-up costs" in respect of the Dale Farm site; and whether this includes the costs of eviction and the costs of clear-up after the eviction.[HL13695]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In its offer of grant to Basildon Council, the Department for Communities and Local Government made clear that the grant was a one-off payment for costs incurred by the council in relation to the clearance of the unauthorised traveller site at Dale Farm and would be paid once the clearance had been completed given the exceptional nature of this site. It did not further define the words "clear-up costs".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the value of existing housing stock of the proposed support for new builds, particularly in areas where new building is likely to be concentrated.[HL13681]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government's recently published housing strategy is underpinned by a thorough assessment of the problems it seeks to address. This includes the failure of housing supply to keep pace with demand over the past 15 years, which contributed to volatile and rising house prices. Median house prices are now seven times median earnings, compared with three and a half times in the mid-1990s.
The long-term pressures are such that house prices (and the value of the housing stock) look set to increase. The Government's housing strategy includes a package of measures which will help to boost supply and moderate house price rises to more sustainable levels. In the short run this will provide a much needed boost to the construction industry and help enable conditions whereby more households can meet their aspirations to buy a home.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 15 November (WA 134), whether the Ulster Scots language and culture is being treated equally in the United Kingdom.[HL13521]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: As stated previously, the Government recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in relation to Irish and Ulster-Scots.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, is the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions and has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part.[HL13737]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The table annexed provides details of primary legislation which received Royal Assent in the period in question, which is the responsibility of DWP, and which has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part. The table includes details of primary legislation which has
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Within the period of 2005-10 over 700 statutory instruments were signed by Ministers of the department. We cannot provide details of all provisions of secondary legislation which have yet to be brought into force as this would require detailed checking of each statutory instrument which would incur disproportionate cost.
|Title||Respective sections||Future commencement?|
Schedule 8 repeals relating to: Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979, Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, Criminal Justice Act 1991, Social Security Administration Act 1992, ss 2A, 2AA, 130, 132, 150 Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, ss 20, 21, 30A-30E, 40-42, 44, 47, 61, 61A, 84, 86A, 87, 89, 93, 150, 171ZP, 171A-171G, 176, Schs 3, 4, 11, 12, 13 Disability (Grants) Act 1993, Pension Schemes Act 1993, Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994, Jobseekers Act 1995, Sch 2, paras 19(5), 25, 26 Pensions Act 1995,Social Security Act 1998, ss 31, 77, Sch 7, paras 73, 103 Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, ss 61-64, Sch 8 State Pension Credit Act 2002, National Insurance Contributions Act 2002, Tax Credits Act 2002, Sch 3, paras 25, 30 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, Civil Partnership Act 2004, Sch 24, paras 14, 15
Schedule 8 repeals relating to: Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987, Child Support Act 1991, ss 32-34, 36(1), 37, 39A, 40A, 40B, 47, Schs 1, 5 Child Support Act 1995, Sch 3, para 10 Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, ss 16, 28, Sch 3, para 11(17) Employment Act 2002 Civil Partnership Act 2004, Welfare Reform Act 2007, Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007
Sections 1, 6, 19, 30-31, 33-36, 39, 42, 44-51, 53, 55-57, 59, 61, 66, 87-95, 102 - 104, 122, 124(4) - (5), 127, 129, 137, Schedule 3, Schedule 4, Schedule 8 (paras. 10-12, 15), Schedule 10 (paras. 1 3, 6-9), Schedule 11 Parts 1 and 5 and some of the repeals listed in Part 6.
Sections 2-5, 7-18, 20-29, 32, 37 38, 40-41, 43, 52, 54, 58, 60, 77, 96-98, 107, 109-112, 114-119, 121, 124(2) - (6), Schedule 5 Part 3 para. 11 are in force for regulation-making powers only but not in force for other purposes.
Sections 1-3, 14, 28-31, 36(1)(d), (5) and (6), 78, 100-107, 160-165, 167(1)-(5) and (7), 191, 196-201, 211, Schedule 2, Schedule 3, Schedule 4 paras 5-8, Schedule 13 paras 2 and 5, Schedule 16, Schedule 20, Schedule 22, Schedule 23
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, is the responsibility of the Wales Office and has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part.[HL13795]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 2 November (WA 269), what is their assessment of the discrepancy between the 174,577 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals issued with work permit variants between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2010 and the 135,740 issued with national insurance numbers; and whether those without a national insurance number have paid no income tax or national insurance contributions. [HL13728]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The difference between the two figures does not necessarily mean that a proportion of those given authorisation to work have not paid tax. The number of national insurance numbers issued to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will, because the same number is kept for life, correspond to the number of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals allocated such a number. By contrast, the figure of 174,577 includes both work authorisations and registration certificates issued to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and it is possible that any individual Bulgarian and Romanian national may have been issued more than one such document over the period in question.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 16 November (WA 165), which independent bodies the Ministry of Defence would consult on organophosphate poisoning if appropriate; and why they were not listed in the Answer.[HL13630]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As I explained in my Answer of 16 November (WA 165), the Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s understanding of the adverse health effects of exposure to organophosphate (OP) compounds is informed by the published peer-reviewed literature including reports by independent scientific advisory bodies. The short and longer-term effects of acute high-dose exposure to OP compounds are established but this is not so for low-dose exposure.
In 2002 the report by the Department of Health's Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) reviewed the evidence on possible links between exposure to OP compounds, in doses insufficient to cause overt toxicity and adverse health effects. They concluded that the substantial body of evidence that had by then accumulated gave little support to the hypothesis. They recommended further research and a second report, reflecting contemporary evidence including the outcomes of the research programme, is awaited. If appropriate, the MoD would consult the COT on OP effects.
Earl Attlee: As the Secretary of State for Transport and her predecessor have both made clear, the Government welcome the strong cross-party consensus that exists on our plans for high speed rail. The Secretary of State intends to announce the Government's response to the recent public consultation shortly, and look forward to working constructively with HM Opposition on these matters in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have taken steps to establish whether the British company, Utimaco, the Italian company, Area, and the French company, Qosmos, have equipped the Government of Syria with the power to intercept, scan and catalogue Syria's communications data and internet activity.[HL13572]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are seeking to gather further information on recent allegations made in the media and I will write to the noble Lord in due course.
The Government look into all credible allegations of breaches of sanctions involving UK companies. However, in this case, the equipment in question is not currently prohibited by sanctions or export control legislation. But given the recent allegations of such equipment being used for internal repression or human rights abuses by repressive regimes including Syria, the UK firmly supports action being taken by the European Union to restrict the export of such goods to Syria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what effect the recently introduced European Union Regulation 1071/2009, which requires operators of vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes to obtain an international certificate of professional competence, will have on small independent road transport businesses.[HL13661]
Earl Attlee: This requirement will have no effect on any current holders of operator licences. All existing certificates of professional competence, national and international, remain valid after the 4 December.
From 4 December this year, the current examination for the national-only certificate will be abolished, from that date all examinations for new certificates of professional competence will be at the international standard.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Croatian nationals have received visas and work permits in each year since 2002, broken down by each category of entry document; which of those categories will continue to have effect after Croatia joins the European Union; and for how long. [HL13727]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The requested information is in the table below. Statistical information is not available before 2004. Work permits were replaced by the points-based system (PBS) from 2008.
|2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011 to September|
The Government have committed to applying transitional controls on labour market access as a matter of course for all new member states. Croatia's accession to the EU is not anticipated until July 2013.
Under the terms of Croatia's accession negotiations, member states are able to apply the same type and length of restrictions to Croatian workers as those that apply to Romanian and Bulgarian workers. The controls the UK will apply for Croatia have not yet been determined. They will be informed by an assessment of the UK's labour market conditions and the likely volume and impact of migration from Croatia post-accession. We will announce our decision on transitional controls closer to Croatia's date of accession.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Rawlings on 2 November (WA 274), how many charities are currently in receipt of funding from the Memorial Grant Scheme; and what is the largest grant that has been awarded. [HL13593]
Baroness Rawlings: Since the start of the scheme in 2005, the Memorial Grant Scheme has paid out grants to 85 charities. This figure includes the faith groups that have supplied a charity number in their application. The highest single grant paid out to a charity is £162,967.71 to the Armed Forces Memorial Trust (charity number 1100521). This charity has also received the highest total grant of any charity with £1,129,687.30 being paid through the scheme to date.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested on eligibility is not available. The department can only assess eligibility for those people whose circumstances are known. The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need to claim. But those people whose circumstances we are not already aware of, for instance because they
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Information on the number of households which received a winter fuel payment in winter 2010-11 (the latest winter for which information is available) is provided in the document Winter Fuel Payment Recipients (number of households) 2010-11 by Parliamentary Constituencies and Gender (All). This is available in the Commons Library and on the internet at http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?paqe=wfp.
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