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13 Feb 2012 : Column WA121



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Monday 13 February 2012

Autumn Statement: Publication Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government did not publish an Autumn Statement document in 2010.

Aviation: Passenger Duty

Questions

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government set out their policy on tax bandings in their response to the consultation on reform of air passenger duty on 6 December 2011. Tables confirming the rates that will apply from 1 April 2012 were published alongside the Autumn Statement.

The Government do not hold information on air passenger duty revenues by destination.

The Government provide development assistance to the Caribbean region through the Department for International Development's (DfID) operational plan

13 Feb 2012 : Column WA122

2011-15. Through the plan, DfID expects to create 10,000 new jobs, 50 per cent of these for women, and enable 228,000 people in coastal communities, including small farmers, to cope better with the effects of climate change and natural disasters.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The risk weights for banks are determined by international standards agreed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. These standards are incorporated in European Union legislation. The Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority keep all international standards under review within the global framework.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme provides protection for up to £85,000 per depositor, per authorised institution.

Coverage provided is subject to the EU deposit guarantee scheme directive. A recast of the directive is currently being negotiated.

Once the final directive is agreed, the Financial Services Authority will review the level and scope of deposit coverage provided and prepare any changes that may be needed to ensure that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is compliant.

Asked by Lord Myners



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA123

Lord Sassoon: The UK public authorities play a leading role in examining these types of questions in relevant European and international fora. This dialogue is important to ensure that there is a robust evidence base for action.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority's (FSA) investigation into the failure of the Royal Bank of Scotland was not a public inquiry. It was initiated by the FSA and carried out by its board.

In such cases, arrangements for informing the subject of intended criticism and considering their representations are for the body carrying out the investigation to determine. In doing so, the body must take into account the principles of procedural fairness and relevant case law. This will generally involve informing the subject of the report of the criticisms to be made and having regard to their representations.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: Stephen Hester's employment contract is between him and the Royal Bank of Scotland as his employer. Therefore, neither Her Majesty's Government nor UK Financial Investments (UKFI) is a signatory of the contract.

Stephen Hester's appointment as a director was subject to shareholder approval at the annual general meeting and was supported by UKFI.

Black History Month

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is aware of a number of initiatives being organised by national and regional museums to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Black History Month in October. These include a programme of shows and tours to bring to life the lives of black inventors and scientists at the Science Museum; "Black Mariners Discovery Day" at the National Maritime Museum;

13 Feb 2012 : Column WA124

and exhibitions about black soldiers who fought for Britain during the First and Second World Wars at the Imperial War Museum.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Questions

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Secretary of State met Commissioner Dalli on 14 March 2011 to discuss bovine TB generally and in particular the development and use of a cattle vaccine and a test to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals. The Minister of State met Commissioner Dalli on 6 February 2012, when they spoke about cattle vaccination; this time to support the Commission's draft proposals for a new EU animal health law, which would allow the Commission, with the support of member states, to lift the ban on cattle vaccination when the evidence and appropriate certifications are in place. We continue to lobby hard for a change to EU legislation, but realistically this is still several years away and we cannot be confident other member states will agree to it.

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Two badger control pilots will be carried out from early autumn this year to test our assumptions about the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting. The evaluation of controlled shooting will be overseen by an independent panel of experts, who are expected to report to Ministers before the end of the year. Ministers will then take a decision on whether the granting of culling licences should be authorised in other areas besides the pilot areas, and whether the badger control policy should continue to include controlled shooting as a culling method. We aim to make this decision by January 2013.

Exports and Imports: Netherlands

Question

Asked by Lord Temple-Morris

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Figures published by the Office for National Statistics in the Pink Book 2011 show that UK imports from the Netherlands totalled £30,347 million in 2010, and UK exports to the Netherlands totalled £31,319 million in 2010.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics in the Business Monitor MA4-Foreign Direct Investment Involving UK Companies 2010 show that the value of FDI in the UK from the Netherlands was an estimated £114,702 million at the end of 2010, and the value of investment in the Netherlands by UK companies was an estimated £147,445 million at the end of 2010.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics in the Foreign-ownership of Businesses in the UK show that the estimated employment in the UK in March 2010 in Netherlands-owned enterprises was at least 195,000, based on the country of ultimate ownership.

UK imports from Netherlands (2010)

£30.3 billion

6% of all UK imports

UK exports to Netherlands (2010)

£31.3 billion

7% of all UK exports

UK FDI in Netherlands (end-2010)

£147.4 billion

14% of UK FDI abroad

Netherlands FDI in UK (end-2010)

£114.7 billion

16% of FDI in the UK

Employment in UK in Netherlands-owned enterprises (ultimate ownership) (March 2010)*

194,515

1% of all UK employment

Finance: Volcker Rule

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote to the chairman of the Federal Reserve on the issue of

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the Volcker Rule on 23 January 2012. A copy of the letter has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK frequently raises with the Israeli authorities our concerns on the impact of restrictions on Gaza, urging Israel to comply with her international obligations. The UK continues to lobby Israel to ease such restrictions, including on exports, construction material imports and movement of people to improve the lives of the Gazan people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) most recently raised issues relating to Gaza during the visit to the UK by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on 18 January 2012.

We have not raised the specific issue of access restrictions to farmland. We are considering with our European Union partners what further action can be taken.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK frequently raises with the Israeli authorities our concerns on the impact of restrictions on Gaza, urging Israel to comply with her international obligations. The UK continues to lobby Israel to ease such restrictions, including on exports, construction material imports and movement of people to improve the lives of the Gazan people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) most recently raised issues relating to Gaza during the visit to the UK by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on 18 January 2012.

We have not raised the specific issue of cash crops grown by Gazan farmers. We are considering with our European Union partners what further action can be taken.



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Government Departments: Overseas Exhibitions

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): UK Trade and Investment keeps its attendance at international exhibitions under regular review. As planned UKTI DSO deployed a small team to support the Bahrain Air Show but did not procure a chalet on this occasion as, with a limited industrial presence, the expense could not be justified.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our officials in Israel regularly raise concerns with the Israeli authorities that Israeli citizens (including settlers) and Palestinians are treated differently by the Israeli judicial system. We call on all authorities and other groups in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to do all they can to prevent loss of innocent life, to bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice and to reduce current tensions.

We are aware of the tragic and unnecessary death of Mr Yousef Ikhlayl, a young man aged 17, on 28 January 2011, which is a clear demonstration of the terrible impact of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) said in his statement of 17 December 2011 on settler violence: "The package of measures announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to settler violence is a welcome step forward. We look forward to seeing the results of these measures, and to seeing those behind the violence punished under law".

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK strongly supports the appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations for goodwill gestures by Israel towards the Palestinians.

We have welcomed the efforts of King Abdullah of Jordan and Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, to bring the parties together under the framework of the quartet statement of 23 September 2011. We call on both sides to seize this opportunity and show the political leadership and courage needed to make progress towards a negotiated two-state solution.

In our regular contact with key international partners, including quartet members (the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia), as well as directly with the parties, we continue to push the need for both the Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from unhelpful actions, to build confidence through continued engagement in the Amman talks and to consider how best to implement any measures agreed.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Continued systematic settlement construction by Israel in disputed territory in the Occupied Palestinian Territory makes it ever harder to achieve the common goal of international efforts: a contiguous state of Palestine side-by-side with a secure Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. We regularly raise the issue of settlement expansion with the Israeli authorities, as well as discuss its impact with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

We remain committed to continuing to assist the Palestinians to tackle poverty, build institutions and develop their economy. We recently re-affirmed UK support for the Palestinian people, including the Department for International Development's financial assistance, at top level during the visit by Palestinian President Abbas to the UK on 16 and 17 January 2012.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: It is a well established UK view that house demolitions and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes are deeply unhelpful

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when the focus should be on confidence-building steps with the aim of giving momentum to negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians towards a two-state solution.

The UK continues to lobby Israel regularly on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building, along with our European Union partners. We view any attempts to change the facts on the ground as a provocation likely to raise tensions and cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as well as being harmful to the peace process and in contravention of international law.

Justice and Security

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government received responses from 90 individuals, organisations or groups to the public consultation on the Justice and Security Green Paper. The Government intend to publish these responses in the coming weeks and are in the process of seeking the authors' permission to do so. To date we have received permission from 44 respondents and we are aware that a further 17 responses have already been independently published. I have placed a list of those respondents in the Library.

Marine Environment: Conservation Zones

Questions

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Marine conservation zones will be designated under Part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 so do not require approval from the European Commission.

As part of the wider marine protected area network, Defra submitted its first five offshore marine sites to the European Commission as candidate special area of conservation (cSAC) in August 2008, and submitted a further 15 marine sites in August 2010. Further sites were sent to the Commission in 2011, including the offshore site the Dogger Bank and two inshore marine candidate SAC extensions (Lune Deep and Prawle Point to Start Point). These are now offered protection under the European Commission habitats directive.



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA130

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: No decisions have been made about the location of marine conservation zones (MCZs), or what activities may be restricted within the sites designated. Any restrictions to activities within an MCZ will vary from site to site, depending on factors such as the feature(s) being protected, the type and quantity of activity being managed, and the conservation objectives for the site. Decisions on the most appropriate management measures will be made by the relevant public authority on a case by case basis. Any fisheries management measures required between 6nm-12nm which affect the historic fishing rights of other EU member states or outside 12nm will need to be agreed through the Common Fisheries Policy processes.

Stakeholders will be consulted by public authorities through the normal processes for putting in place management activities and we will continue to work with stakeholders throughout the process.

NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No. Subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, clinical commissioning groups will have the freedom to secure their commissioning support from wherever they want, subject as public bodies, to their undertaking of the necessary procurement processes.

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are currently 50 primary care trust (PCT) clusters across the National Health Service in England. The local NHS determined the appropriate cluster geographies to ensure they could

13 Feb 2012 : Column WA131

maintain management capacity and performance during the transition. These geographies were signed off by the department.

The Government are not aware of any need to further cluster PCTs together.

Nigeria

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Government assesses that Boko Haram represents a threat primarily in Northern and Central regions of Nigeria, this is reflected in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Travel Advice (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-1iving-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria). We do not normally comment on whether an organisation is, or is not, under consideration for proscription-or on discussions with other Governments on such issues.

Passports

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Figures for the number of interviews conducted and for the number of passports rejected as a direct result of confirmation of identity interviews are given below. In addition to the instances of confirmed fraud that this figure represents, applications have also been withdrawn when customers are advised that an identity interview is required.

InterviewsApplications rejectedApplications Withdrawn

2010

302,825

5

1,633

2011

192,179

0

446 (to June)

The number of interviews by office is contained within accompanying table.



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13 Feb 2012 : Column WA133

Financial year 2010-11April 2011-Dec 2011
OfficeTotalOfficeTotal

Aberdeen

1,889

Aberdeen

41

Aberystwyth

576

Aberystwyth

1,237

Armagh

1,040

Armagh

41

Belfast

3,778

Belfast

3,089

Berwick on Tweed

2

Berwick on Tweed

Closed

Birmingham

20,652

Birmingham

14,654

Blackburn

6,849

Blackburn

4,586

Bournemouth

2,622

Bournemouth

403

Brighton

3,398

Brighton

571

Bristol

4,947

Bristol

5,309

Bury St Edmunds

30

Bury St Edmunds

Closed

Carlisle

1,326

Carlisle

385

Chelmsford

9,419

Chelmsford

7,283

Cheltenham

2,598

Cheltenham

470

Coleraine

1,226

Coleraine

405

Crawley

5,649

Crawley

4,407

Derby

6,865

Derby

5,551

Dundee

2,044

Dundee

1,184

Edinburgh

4,300

Edinburgh

3,571

Exeter

2,758

Exeter

298

Glasgow

9,960

Glasgow

7,731

Inverness

853

Inverness

697

Ipswich

2,630

Ipswich

685

Kendal

1,249

Kendal

339

Kings Lynn

1,023

Kings Lynn

254

Kingston upon Hull

3,150

Kingston upon Hull

790

Leeds

11,212

Leeds

8,689

Leicester

5,799

Leicester

4,981

Lincoln

2,774

Lincoln

619

Liverpool

9,346

Liverpool

6,607

London

59,519

London

39,224

Luton

11,248

Luton

6,972

Maidstone

7100

Maidstone

4,637

Manchester

14,419

Manchester

10,107

Middlesbrough

3,702

Middlesbrough

835

Newcastle

7,092

Newcastle

Closed

Newport

5,947

Newport

4,730

Newport IOW

496

Newport IOW

219

Northampton

3,926

Northampton

549

Norwich

2868

Norwich

1,252

Oban

11

Oban

Closed

Oxford

3,088

Oxford

822

Peterborough

4,137

Peterborough

4,306

Plymouth

1,970

Plymouth

2,545

Portsmouth

4,775

Portsmouth

4,752

Reading

11,740

Reading

7,263

Ripon

571

Ripon

130

Scarborough

9

Scarborough

Closed

Selkirk

344

Selkirk

46

Sheffield

7,424

Sheffield

5,906

Shrewsbury

1,914

Shrewsbury

408

Sleaford

4

Sleaford

Closed

South Molton

16

South Molton

Closed

St Austell

1,512

St Austell

149

Stoke on Trent

3,743

Stoke on Trent

809

Swansea

3,586

Swansea

818

Swindon

2,098

Swindon

517

Warwick

3,124

Warwick

1,022

Wick

145

Wick

49

Wrexham

2,817

Wrexham

1,632

Yeovil

1,664

Yeovil

749

York

1,852

York

387

Durham

6,467

Totals

302,825

Totals

192,179

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Lord Henley: The locations of personal passport interview centres are available from the Direct Gov website, accessible via the following link: www.direct. gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Passports/Applicationinformation/DG_174153.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The BBC's pension scheme liability is included in the net public service pension liability reported in the Whole of Government Accounts. The BBC's pension liability was £1,647 million as at 31 March 2010.

The new public sector pension arrangements do not apply to the BBC's scheme, as the BBC's pension

13 Feb 2012 : Column WA134

scheme is administered by the BBC pension scheme trustees, who manage the BBC's pension scheme arrangements.

Prisons: Suicides

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Every death in prison is a tragedy and affects families, staff and other prisoners deeply. Ministers and the Ministry of Justice including the National Offender Management Service are committed to learning from such events to reduce the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody.

The number of self-inflicted deaths involving 18 to 20 year-olds in the past 10 years is shown in the following table. These form part of the Ministry of Justice annual published statistics. Figures for 2011 are not yet available.

NOMS records numbers of self-harm incidents in prison custody but does not hold information on attempted suicides as it is very difficult to understand the motivation behind each incident and not all self harm is undertaken with suicidal intent.

Since 2009, the Ministry of Justice has published a wide range of "Safety in Custody" statistics. These include annual figures for deaths in custody, recorded assault and self-harm and can be accessed via the following link: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/statistics-and-data/prisons-and-probation/safety-in-custody.htm.

Apparent Self-Inflicted: Male And Female Young Adults
2001200220032004200520062007200820092010 *

All Age Bands

73

95

95

96

78

67

92

61

61

58 (p)

18-20

10

12

12

6

10

2

6

5

5

4

The Ministry of Justice issued a news release on 1 January 2012 reporting the number of apparent self-inflicted deaths that had occurred during the previous 12 months. It reported that a total of 57 deaths had occurred in the previous year including seven deaths of 18-20 year-olds. This figure is subject to confirmation and will be published in the official statistics in July.

Prisons: Young Offenders

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): All young offenders serving sentences of DYOI are held in appropriately designated YOI accommodation within the prison estate. The majority of this accommodation is in dedicated YOIs, although some establishments in the estate have a dual designation (designated both as a prison and a YOI) and hold both adult prisoners and young offenders.

The information requested is included in the following table:



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DateTotal 18-20 Year-OldsProportion held in dedicated YOIProportion held in dual-designated HMP and YOI

June 2008

8,709

63%

37%

June 2009

8,706

66%

34%

June 2010

8,526

62%

38%

June 2011

7,885

60%

40%

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.

Royal Family: Official Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): HRH the Duke of York announced in July last year that he was relinquishing his role as UK Special Representative

13 Feb 2012 : Column WA136

for Trade and Investment; however he has honoured a number of pre-existing diary commitments over recent months. A list of official overseas visits since July 2011 funded by, and undertaken in agreement with and in support, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO's) and/or UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI's) objectives, is at Annex A. This list does not include official military visits undertaken in HRH the Duke of York's capacity as a senior member of the Royal Family.

FCO and/or UKTI pay certain expenses, including accommodation and in-country travel costs (but excluding all air travel) for official overseas visits undertaken by HRH the Duke of York. FCO and/or UKTI also pay associated expenses for his supporting staff. These visits are undertaken in agreement with FCO and/or UKTI and in support of HMG objectives.

The total cost to UKTI for these visits will be available on the UKTI website following the publication of UKTI's audited accounts for the year ending March 2012. The cost for the FCO visit is expected to be available when the Duke of York publishes his annual review in the summer.

Air travel to and from countries and in-country is paid for by the Royal Travel Office. Further information can be obtained from the Grant-in-Aid for Royal Travel by Air and Rail annual report that forms part of the Royal Public Finances annual report. Details can be found on the British monarchy website: http://www.royal. gov.uk/TheRoyalHousehold/Royalfinances/Annual FinancialReports/Annualfinancialreport.aspx.



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA137



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA138

Annex A
DateCountry visitedFunded by *Role

18-23 September 2011

Saudi Arabia

UKTI

To demonstrate the UK's commitment to the trade relationship with Saudi Arabia; progressing our relationship with key contacts in the Saudi Arabian Government and heads of industry. Emphasis was placed on the UK as a key commercial partner, specifically for high value opportunities.

26 September - 2 October 2011

Singapore

UKTI

To undertake high level bilateral meetings with Singapore Ministers to promote UK/Singaporean bilateral relationship and raise issues of interest.

23-28 October 2011

South China

UKTI

To forge new and cement existing relationships with key Chinese leaders and business people, following up on leads generated during his visit in 2010 as well as supporting existing bilateral trade and investment initiatives.

30 October - 1 November 2011

Malaysia

UKTI

To support UK companies and institutions operating in the country, including promotion of the Olympics. During the visit HRH called upon the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, the Prime Minister and the Sultan of Johor. He also opened Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) and visited Shell's Floating Production System for the Gumusut Kakap field and attended a Dinner with British and Malaysian companies.

20-23 November 2011

Qatar

UKTI

The Duke of York was invited by the Emir to attend the opening of Shell's $20 billion Pearl GTL plant. DECC Minister Charles Hendry also attended. This event and their wider programmes reinforced key UK trade, investment and energy messages to the top decision makers here. Both the Duke and the Minister carried out wider programmes around the opening. HRH focused on taking forward our trade and investment objectives in meetings with the Emir, Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim (HbJ), Deputy Prime Minister Al Attiyah, the Business and Trade Minister, Governor of the Central Bank and top Qatari and British businessmen.

24 November 2011

United Arab Emirates

FCO

To mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the UAE and highlight the UK's strong support and recognition of this important milestone in the UAE's history. To maintain the strong bilateral relationship, reinforcing ties with Emirati Ruling families, opportunity to promote key events in UK (e.g. 2012 Olympics) and demonstrating that the relationship is unique. To strengthen commercial links and encourage growth of business between the two countries. To support our partnership on security and political issues (from energy security to co-operation in, for example, Libya).

26-28 January 2012

Switzerland

UKTI

To attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, host the UK reception, host a dinner for the Indonesian Minister of Trade and undertake a number of bilateral engagements.

Somalia

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The London conference on Somalia aims to deliver a new, action-oriented international consensus on Somalia and to make progress on several areas, including security and regional stability. We recognise Kenya's huge generosity in hosting refugees for many years, and we will continue to support these efforts. We will also continue to urge the Kenyan Government and others in the region to respect the rights of those seeking asylum and existing refugees in line with international refugee law.

Statutory Instruments

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Information on statutory instruments laid by the predecessors of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Since DECC's establishment in 2008 three statutory instruments have been reprinted due to defective drafting and four have been reprinted due to other error. The parliamentary Sessions in which they were laid and the reprinting costs, which were paid by DECC, are set out below.

Statutory instrumentReason for reprintingCost of reprinting

Parliamentary Session 2009-10

Carbon Accounting (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Other error

£409.50

Renewables Obligation(Amendment) Order 2010

Other error

£440

Parliamentary Session 2010-12

Storage of Carbon Dioxide (Inspections and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2011

Defective drafting

£316

Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

First reprint: defective drafting

£608.73

Second re-print: other error

£359.25

Offshore Chemicals (Amendment) Regulations 2011

First reprint: defective drafting

£513.17

Second re-print: other error

£359.25

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The coalition agreement sets out the Government's tax priorities, including the longer term goal to increase the personal allowance to £10,000.

Taxation: Interest Rates

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): For all main taxes, for which Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) charges interest for late payment, the rate is 3 per cent. Where HMRC pays interest on overpaid tax the rate is 0.5 per cent.

For corporation tax quarterly instalment payments (QIPs), the rate for late payment is 1.5 per cent and for repayment 0.5 per cent.

HMRC interest rates are determined by formulae specified in legislation.

Thames Tideway Tunnel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Defra has not received representations from local communities regarding the length of Thames Water's public consultation on the proposed Thames Tunnel. However it has received a letter on this subject from the Mayor of London, dated, 14 December 2011, and a letter from the leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, dated 17 January 2012. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Richard Benyon MP, replied to the Mayor of London on 2 February 2012.

Thames Water is currently undertaking a phase two public consultation on the proposed Thames Tunnel which is planned to last for 14 weeks. The first phase of the consultation took place over 18 weeks.

An application for development consent by Thames Water for the project is likely to be made under the provisions of the Planning Act 2008 which requires a minimum period for consultation of 28 days but does not set a maximum period.



13 Feb 2012 : Column WA140

Ministers currently have no power to direct Thames Water regarding the length of its consultation period. However, Thames Water will need to demonstrate to the Infrastructure Planning Commission, or from April 2012 its successor the Planning Inspectorate, that it has met the requirement to consult effectively as part of its planning application.

It is for Thames Water as the promoter of the proposed Thames Tunnel project to ensure that it has effectively consulted on its proposals and taken into account received comments, whilst not adding unnecessary delay and cost to its customers.

UK Financial Investments Ltd

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's shareholdings in financial institutions are managed on an arm's-length and commercial basis by UK Financial Investments (UKFI). UKFI engages with the banks within its remit of a commercial shareholder, seeking to ensure that incentives are based on long-term, sustainable performance which rebuilds the businesses of the banks and protects value for the taxpayer as shareholder. UKFI seeks to ensure that the banks do not pay any more than is necessary to protect their commercial interests.

UK Honours

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There were two comprehensive reviews of the honours system in 2004, one carried out by the Public Administration Select Committee and the other by Sir Hayden Phillips, at that time the Permanent Secretary with responsibility for the honours system. These reviews led to wholesale reform of the honours system to make it more transparent and accountable. Among the reforms adopted at that time were clear, explicit (and published) criteria for consideration of honours nominations. All nominations are considered by independent specialist committees, also established as part of the reform process. The Government further committed to report on the honours system every three years; the most recent of these reports was published in 2011. The report includes

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details of the advice given to the honours committees and an overview of the allocation of awards during the period. Both reviews of the honours system, and the Government's response to them outlining the reforms enacted, are available on the DirectGov website.

The criteria for awards at knight and dame level state that nominees should be pre-eminent in their field, recognised by their peers and be making an impact at national level. Of the eight independent honours committees, three (Education, Health and Science and Technology) account for 34 per cent of the available awards at knight and dame level in each honours list, and by the nature of their specialist subject areas consider a large number of people with academic qualifications. Given that the title of professor is accorded to only the most senior of academics and practitioners, it is unsurprising that a significant percentage of recipients at knight and dame level hold the title professor.

The Cabinet Office always strives to encourage a greater diversity of nominations from the public and carries out outreach work to attract nominations from groups identified as under-represented in the honours system. We are satisfied that existing governance arrangements are effective and there are no plans to commission any additional review of the current system.

Waste Management: Food

Question

Asked by The Earl of Selborne



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The objective of landfill tax is to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill, which should be the option of last resort for biodegradable waste. Food waste sent to landfill is taxed at the standard rate of landfill tax of £56 a tonne.

Budget 2011 announced that the Government will legislate for an increase in the standard rate of landfill tax by £8 a tonne each year up to 2014-15. The Government also announced a floor under the standard rate of landfill tax so that the rate will not fall below £80 a tonne from 2014-15 to 2019-20.

Tax policy is a matter for the Treasury and any changes to taxes are announced at the Budget.

Waterways: Canals

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): British Waterways is responsible for about 2,390 km of navigable canals in England, all of which are open for tourism except when closed for maintenance and repairs. The Environment Agency has one canal, and that is open to tourists. There are at least 230 km of navigable canals managed by a wide range of other bodies, including local authorities, port authorities and charitable trusts. Some canals under restoration by canal trusts/societies may still be open to tourists.


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