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To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost of designing and printing the Autumn Statement 2010; how much revenue was derived from sales of copies; and how many times the document was accessed online.[HL15388]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Answer by Lord Sassoon on 23 January (Official Report, col. 796), whether they will consider nominating Hamilton, Bermuda, an associate member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as the capital in respect of all member states of CARICOM, for the purpose of calculating air passenger duty. [HL15341]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made plans to provide increased economic support to the Caribbean, in the event that the forthcoming increase in air passenger duty results in a fall in tourism and revenue to the region. [HL15342]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what revenue they received from air passenger duty in respect of passengers to the Caribbean region in each of the last five years; and what were the visitor numbers from the United Kingdom in each of those years. [HL15343]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much is paid currently, and how much will be paid from 1 April 2012, by each passenger in air passenger duty, per 1,000 miles flown, in respect of flights to (a) Bridgetown, Barbados, and (b) Honolulu, Hawaii. [HL15344]
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 provide development assistance to the Caribbean region through the Department for International Development's (DfID) operational plan
13 Feb 2012 : Column WA122
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the zero risk assumption applied to sovereign government debt under the Basle Committee rules for bank capital risk weighting, and of the impact of this on lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.[HL15300]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the current approach to risk weighting capital for banks encourages lending to (1) commercial property, and (2) small and medium-sized enterprises.[HL15301]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will examine the case for extending depositor protection to unlimited balances temporarily placed with a bank as a result of unusual events, such as a house sale or receipt of an inheritance.[HL15391]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 1 February (WA 326) regarding the hypothecation of client securities, whether, taking into account the United Kingdom's market leadership in this activity, they will consider taking action to strengthen the safeguarding of customer securities held with United Kingdom financial services firms without waiting for action by the rest of the European Union. [HL15394]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the policy of "Maxwellisation" of public inquiry reports of the sort produced by the Financial Services Authority on the Royal Bank of Scotland. [HL15141]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Stephen Hester's employment contract with the Royal Bank of Scotland was "signed by the last government", as has been suggested by the Prime Minister. [HL15235]
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.
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
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the European Union regarding the vaccination of cattle against tuberculosis; on what dates; and what response was received.[HL15462]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to produce a final report on the badger culling pilot schemes; whether, and if so when and how, interim reports will be published; and what assessments will be made of those interim reports. [HL15463]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total value of imports from and exports to the Netherlands in the last full year; what is their estimate of the value of foreign direct investment in the United Kingdom from Netherlands-domiciled
13 Feb 2012 : Column WA125
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they or the Debt Management Office have considered the potential implications of the extra-territorial reach of the United States regulation known as the Volcker Rule on liquidity in the secondary market for gilts; and whether they have made representations to the Government of the United States on this issue.[HL15234]
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
13 Feb 2012 : Column WA126
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in their discussions with the Government of Israel on access restrictions to Gazan farmland, they have raised the issue of access to farmland being prohibited by live fire from remotely controlled weapon stations containing machine guns, as detailed in the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, occupied Palestinian territories report Between the Fence and a Hard Place.[HL15397]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why UK Trade and Investment decided not to organise a joint chalet with ADS (AeroSpace Defence Security) at the Bahrain International Airshow in January 2012, as had been planned in the United Kingdom aerospace international strategy 2011.[HL15227]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel on enforcing the law against Israeli civilians who commit crimes against Palestinians; and in particular regarding the investigation into the death of Yousef Ikhlayl, who was shot while working on his farmland on 28 January 2011.[HL15399]
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".
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations on 1 February for goodwill gestures by Israel towards the Palestinians; and whether
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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the expansion of Israeli settlements, what discussions they have had in Ramallah concerning the future of Palestinians in the West Bank and the funding of the Palestinian Authority.[HL15400]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take action in support of the statement of the Deputy Special Co-ordinator of the Middle East Peace Process, Mr Maxwell Gaylard, that "the current policy and practice of demolitions (in the occupied West Bank) ... should end".[HL15401]
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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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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 16 January (WA 116-17), whether they have submitted a list of their recommended marine conservation zone sites to the European Commission for approval; and, if so, when a response is expected.[HL15357]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 16 January (WA 116-17), what restrictions they hope to be able to implement in any of the 57 marine conservation zone sites that are recommended which cross or are entirely outwith the 12 nautical mile boundary.[HL15358]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department of Health or the NHS Commissioning Board have entered into discussions with private companies which might assist clinical commissioning groups to undertake commissioning; and if so, which companies were selected, what criteria were used to select them, and at what cost.[HL15484]
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.
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
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the recent activities of Nigeria's Boko Haram militants represent a regional threat; whether they have received a request from the Government of Nigeria to place the organisation on the proscribed list of terrorists; and, if so whether they will do so.[HL15178]
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.
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.
|Interviews||Applications rejected||Applications Withdrawn|
|Financial year 2010-11||April 2011-Dec 2011|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the BBC's pension scheme liability is included within the net public service pension liability reported in the Whole of Government Accounts; and, if so, what is the size of that liability and whether the new public sector pension arrangements will apply to the BBC's scheme.[HL15297]
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
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|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many 18 to 20 year-olds were accommodated in the prison service in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and of those what proportion were not accommodated in young offender institutions in each of those years. [HL15456]
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.
|Date||Total 18-20 Year-Olds||Proportion held in dedicated YOI||Proportion held in dual-designated HMP and YOI|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what official overseas assignments the Duke of York has undertaken since stepping down as special representative for trade in 2011, and to which countries; what were the costs funded by the Government, if any; and what was his role in each trip.[HL15267]
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
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.
|Date||Country visited||Funded by *||Role|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will press for the Somalia conference to ensure that any new approach to security or displacement in the Horn of Africa agreed by the conference is in line with international Refugee Law, particularly with regard to Somalis seeking refuge and asylum in Kenya.[HL15254]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in each parliamentary Session since 2001, how many statutory instruments laid by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and its predecessor departments were reprinted due to (1) defective drafting, and (2) other error; how much each reprinting cost; and who paid for each reprinting.[HL15150]
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 instrument||Reason for reprinting||Cost of reprinting|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the rate of interest that taxpayers incur when they owe money to HM Revenue and Customs; and what
13 Feb 2012 : Column WA139
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received representations from local communities regarding the length of the consultation period, due to end on 10 February, for Thames Water's phase two consultation on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, in view of the inclusion of the Christmas break in that period.[HL15203]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have exchanged any correspondence with the Mayor of London regarding an extension to the consultation period for Thames Water's phase two consultation on the Thames Tideway Tunnel.[HL15204]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to Thames Water regarding an extension to the deadline for responses to their phase two consultation on the Thames Tideway Tunnel to allow residents of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham the same amount of time as was allowed for residents in the London Borough of Richmond during the phase one consultation.[HL15205]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 30 January (WA 298-300), whether a review has taken place of how well knighthoods and damehoods are shared among deserving people, in the light of the figures showing that of the last 10 half-year honours lists, 31.6 per cent were awarded to those holding the title of professor.[HL15408]
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
13 Feb 2012 : Column WA141
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.
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.
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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