13 Dec 2012 : Column WA247

13 Dec 2012 : Column WA247

Written Answers

Thursday 13 December 2012

Armed Forces: Future Commitments

Question

Asked by Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Foreign Secretary on 21 March 2011 (Official Report, col. 799), what progress they have made to fulfil the undertaking that they would "enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action".[HL3859]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: This Government have stated clearly that they will observe the existing convention that before UK troops are committed to conflict, the House of Commons should have the opportunity to debate and vote on the matter. There are a number of important questions of detail that need to be addressed in the options for the formalisation of this convention. These are under consideration.

Bank of England

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the decision to transfer the excess cash held in the Bank of England's quantitative easing facility was an act of monetary or fiscal policy; and whether it was discussed with, and agreed to by, the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee.[HL3847]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's announcement, that excess cash from the Asset Purchase Facility (APF) will be transferred to the Exchequer, will align the cash management arrangements for the facility with normal government practice and will bring it in line with the practices of the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan.

As the Chancellor's letter to the Governor of the Bank of England of 9 November 2012 notes, transferring the net income from the APF to the Exchequer will allow the Government to manage their cash more efficiently.

The minutes of the MPC's meeting in November 2012 note that “the committee had been briefed on the Government's intention to normalise the cash management arrangements for the APF” and that “the committee was confident that the new cash management arrangements would in no way affect its ability to set the appropriate stance of monetary policy in order to meet the 2% inflation target”.

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Banking: LIBOR and EURIBOR

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which institutions benefited, and by what amounts, from early stage discounts under the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) executive settlement procedures as a result of the FSA investigation into misconduct of rate-setting for the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR).[HL3838]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 28 June 2012, Barclays plc was fined £58.5 million by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for misconduct in relation to the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR).

The fine was reduced by 30% from £80 million, as Barclays qualified for a discount under the FSA’s executive settlement procedures.

The FSA continues to investigate a number of institutions in regard to allegations of misconduct in relation to LIBOR and EURIBOR. To date, the Barclays case is the only one to have been concluded.

Disclosure and Barring Service

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will levy a charge for users of the updating mechanism to the new Disclosure and Barring Service introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012; and whether they will consider making the updating service free to use for volunteers.[HL4010]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government are committed to reducing barriers to employment and to volunteering. The disclosure and barring service (DBS) update service will help to achieve this aim by reducing the need for multiple or repeat applications by an individual.

Applicants may subscribe voluntarily to the update service for a small annual fee. An announcement will be made shortly on whether the service will be free for volunteers.

Health: In-vitro Diagnostic Tests

Questions

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to regulate the use of in-house pathology tests in the National Health Service.[HL3841]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to regulate the use of in vitro diagnostics outside a hospital setting.[HL3845]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are no plans to regulate in vitro diagnostics or pathology tests beyond the restrictions provided in directive 98/79/EC on in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs). This directive places requirements on the standards that need to be met by IVDs before they are placed on the European Union market. It includes an exemption from the provisions of the legislation for IVDs manufactured and used in-house by health institutions.

There are no specific additional requirements placed on all IVDs used outside a hospital setting, although IVDs intended for self-testing must fulfil certain additional requirements of the directive. In addition, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has recently produced fact sheets aimed at the public to provide guidance and advice on the use of self-test IVDs. These can be found at: www.mhra.gov.uk/Safety information/Generalsafetyinformationandadvice/Adviceandinformationforconsumers/Buyingmedical devices/Selftestkits/index.htm.

Directive 98/79/EC is currently the subject of a revision by the European Commission. Revised provisions were published in September 2012, for agreement through the ordinary legislative procedure. This process is not yet completed. The revised legislation maintains an exemption for health institutions manufacturing and using IVDs in-house; but includes additional requirements for those health institutions to meet certain standards and an exclusion from the exemption for the highest risk devices. It will also place additional requirements that will need to be met by IVDs intended for self-testing above and beyond those in the current directive. The Government are content to impose such additional requirements, while continuing the current exemption for products contained in the current directive.

Health: Lightning Process

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the finding by the Advertising Standards Authority that claims about the use of the Lightning Process (LP) were misleading, whether they have issued guidance to NHS paediatricians regarding the advice they give to patients about LP.[HL3917]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has not issued guidance. We expect decisions on clinical interventions to be made by front-line clinicians. In making such decisions, clinicians will take into account evidence for the safety and clinical and cost-effectiveness of the treatment concerned.

Through National Health Service evidence and guidance issued by professional associations, clinicians have access to evidence based guidance on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

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Health: Medical Revalidation

Questions

Asked by Baroness Hollins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the findings of the equality impact assessment for the revalidation process for doctors being introduced by the General Medical Council in December.[HL4011]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Although the primary purpose of medical revalidation is to improve the quality and safety of care provided by doctors to patients, a key objective is to ensure the system is fair to all doctors.

The equality assessment completed by the department provides assurance that revalidation gives all doctors, irrespective of gender, race, age or other equality characteristics, a fair and equal chance to demonstrate their skills and to receive support in addressing any potential concerns over their performance and conduct.

Asked by Baroness Hollins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how revalidation will be applied to doctors with portfolio careers.[HL4012]

Earl Howe: Doctors whose practice covers a range of activities are revalidated in the same way as all other doctors. Revalidation is based on a continuing evaluation of a doctor's performance in the workplace, through regular annual appraisals that take into account the whole of a doctor's practice. The evidence that all doctors bring to their appraisals must cover the full range of activities performed as a doctor to ensure a comprehensive assessment can be made.

Health: Pathology

Questions

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the use of in-house pathology tests in the National Health Service.[HL3842]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government for which disease areas and health conditions in-house pathology tests have been developed in the National Health Service.[HL3843]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether errors or accidents related to the use of in-house pathology testing in the National Health Service are required to be reported to an appropriate regulatory body.[HL3844]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not formally collect any information on in-house tests utilised for specific disease areas within National Health Service pathology services. The decision to use in-house methods is a matter for local NHS determination, based on local need and the availability of suitable alternatives.

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By far the largest services in terms of volume and range of tests are clinical biochemistry and haematology which are often combined into core blood service departments and account for approximately 80% of the total pathology workload. The bulk of this work is routine high throughput testing from primary care (general practitioners) and hospital inpatient and outpatients. It is processed on commercial modular and high throughput analysers 24 hours a day. The number of in-house methods will be very small and in most labs will be zero.

There are some in-house methods in specialist areas which use technology such as tandem mass spectrometry. These technologies do not usually come with commercial kits so laboratories devise their own methods. We understand that clinical areas where these methods are used include toxicology, paediatric biochemistry, vitamin D analysis, and special endocrinology.

There are some in-house methods in microbiology and immunology, but most are commercially derived.

Legislation covering the manufacture and marketing of in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) includes an exemption for IVDs manufactured and used in-house by health institutions to comply with the requirements of the legislation. Unlike for commercial IVDs, there is no requirement for adverse incidents—where failure of an IVD leads to a risk to patients—concerning IVDs manufactured in-house by health institutions to be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. However, any adverse clinical incident resulting from an analytical or technological error whether in-house or commercial, should be notified through the incident reporting mechanisms, for example, serious untoward incidents.

Health: Patient Transfer Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what basis and according to what criteria Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd were named as the preferred bidder for the patient transport service in Greater Manchester.[HL3985]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications of the naming of Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd as the preferred bidder for the patient transport service in Greater Manchester and the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust for all other parts of the North West region for the level and quality of service (1) in Greater Manchester, and (2) in the rest of the North West Region.[HL3986]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the contract for the patient transfer service in Greater Manchester was bid for by Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd on the basis that it would be subcontracted to and operated by Ambuline Ltd; and whether consideration was given during the bidding process to the Care Quality Commission’s Inspection Report in October 2012 into Ambuline Leicestershire.[HL3989]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government in what ways the patient transfer service in Greater Manchester is interdependent with and mutually supported by Greater Manchester accident and emergency ambulance services; what changes will take place as a result of the patient transfer service being transferred to Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd; and what assessment they have made of the impact of such changes on the quality of care to patients.[HL3990]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The provision of local health services, including non-emergency patient transport services, is a matter for the National Health Service locally.

A range of different providers may provide patient transport services, for example, the local ambulance service, private or voluntary sector providers, or a combination of these organisations. It is for the NHS locally to ensure it commissions the best quality of service for the best price.

Information on the recent award of contracts for the provision of patient transport services across the north-west, including Greater Manchester, can be obtained from NHS Blackpool, as lead commissioner for ambulance services across the north-west and the body that managed the procurement process.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations will apply to the terms and conditions, including pension rights, of staff in the patient transfer service in Greater Manchester who are transferred when operation of the service is transferred to Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd; whether that transfer will be to Arriva Transport Solutions Ltd or direct to Ambuline Ltd; and whether it will include the rights of future access, post-transfer, to the NHS Pension Scheme under the provisions of the NHS Pension Scheme for England and Wales Proposed Final Agreement.[HL3987]

Earl Howe: Information on the recent award of contracts for the provision of patient transport services across the north-west, including Greater Manchester, is not held by the department. It can be obtained from National Health Service Blackpool, as lead commissioner for ambulance services across the North West and the body that managed the procurement process.

The Government are committed to reforming Her Majesty's Treasury guidance A Fair Deal for staff Pensions which provides for the pension provision for employees who are compulsorily transferred out of the public sector. The Government have agreed to maintain the overall approach to Fair Deal, but deliver it by offering access to public service pension schemes for newly transferred staff. This will ensure that transferred staff will continue to have access to good quality pensions, while helping to remove the barriers to plurality of public service provision.

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Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reported practice of some local authorities of asking tenants to remain in occupation until a bailiffs' appointment has been made before rehousing them after the County Court has granted a possession order.[HL4073]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Established legislation relating to landlords and tenants as well as statutory guidance on homelessness strikes the right balance between protecting the rights of tenants and rights of landlords. The interplay between the two allows sufficient flexibility to enable an authority to consider the facts of each case and make decisions on whether a household is homeless or threatened with homelessness. It provides space to take action that might prevent the breakdown of the tenancy.

The statutory homelessness code of guidance to which local authorities must, by law, have regard is clear on this matter. It says that housing authorities should not, in every case, insist upon a court order for possession when tenants are evicted before they can help them. It states that the Secretary of State considers that if the landlord intends to seek possession and there would be no defence to an application for a possession order then it would not be reasonable for the applicant to continue to occupy the accommodation. It is clear that no local authority should adopt a blanket policy in this respect.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effects of deportation of residents from East Jerusalem on the prospects for long-term peace in that region.[HL3970]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We view any attempts to change the facts on the ground as a serious provocation likely to raise tensions and cause suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as well as being harmful to the peace process and in contravention of international law.

NHS: Women Doctors

Question

Asked by Baroness Deech

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 6 November (Official Report, col. 883) regarding the career progression of women doctors, whether revalidation is expected to improve their career prospects. [HL3996]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Through the regular appraisals that underpin revalidation, all doctors are given a fair and equal chance to reflect on and improve their practice, to demonstrate their skills and to show that they are up-to-date and fit to practise. The revalidation model promotes consistency in the approach taken by responsible officers, appraisers and the doctors themselves, irrespective of gender or other characteristics.

Overseas Stability

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the role played by churches and faith communities in supporting resilience in conflict areas and fragile states is taken into operational consideration by the Stabilisation Unit and the Conflict Pool.[HL3955]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS), owned jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence, recognises that the Government need to look beyond their own role if they are to maximise the effectiveness of their conflict prevention work. The BSOS emphasises the importance and value of working with faith groups, which are often better at reaching and helping the most vulnerable people.

As a continuing part of this civil society engagement, members of the tri-departmental Building Stability Overseas Board regularly discuss BSOS policy issues with faith leaders, for example, at the recent Conference on Children Affected by Armed Conflict hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.

The work of the Conflict Pool is based on substantial delegation of ownership to officials in country, who are best placed to ensure that project activity is appropriate and effective in often very complex operational contexts. We encourage their analysis fully to consider the potential role of faith based groups, including by emphasising this in the new cross-departmental joint analysis of conflict and stability tool. In some cases this leads to support to faith based groups as part of country or regional Conflict Pool strategies.

For example, the Africa Conflict Pool programme funds a project in Zimbabwe to support the engagement of church leaders in promoting a peaceful transition to democracy. In Afghanistan, the Conflict Pool works with moderate religious leaders on communication and education projects. The Middle East and North Africa Programme is funding work by the non-governmental organisation, Search for Common Ground, to bring together Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders to become part of a broad-based leaders' network to advance peace in the region.

The Stabilisation Unit is funded from the Conflict Pool, and deploys conflict expertise, including in support of Conflict Pool regional programmes. Across

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Government, the unit leads on developing post-conflict planning. Its experts consider a broad range of actors, including the role of religious leaders and faith groups when undertaking stakeholder analysis.

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 3 December (WA 109), what educational experience the Mir-Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation has to develop education awareness in Pakistan.[HL3932]

Baroness Northover: Since its inception, the Mir-Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation (MKRF) has made extensive use of the country's media as a mechanism for encouraging civil society to advocate for, and policymakers to deliver, social, political and economic development in Pakistan. This has included television and print, as well as online and mobile media. MKRF has run successful campaigns on sexual harassment in the workplace and supporting communities affected by flooding in 2010. One of the foundation's key goals is to promote reading in Pakistan.

Pitcairn Island

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made to create a marine reserve around the island of Pitcairn.[HL3938]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): I refer my noble friend to the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds) on 4 December (Official Report, col. 754W).

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current ratio in the United Kingdom of those aged 65 years and over to those 18 to 64; what their forecast of those figures was for (1) 2007, (2) 2009, and (c) 2010; and what they expect it to be in (a) 2015, and (b) 2020.[HL3957]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated December 2012.

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As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what is the current ratio in the United Kingdom of those aged 65 years and over to those 18 to 64; what the forecast of those figures was for (1) 2007, (2) 2009 and (3) 2010: and what it is expected to be in (a) 2015. and (b) 2020. (HL3957).

The most current estimate available of the ratio in the UK of those aged 65 and over to those aged 18 to 64 is for 2010, as the latest available mid-year population estimates for the UK are those for mid-2010. It is not yet possible to provide estimates that take account of the results of the 2011 census, as census estimates are not yet available for all constituent countries of the UK.

Table 1 gives the ratio of the usually resident population of the UK aged 65 and over to those aged 18 to 64 for the requested years. Figures for 2007, 2009 and 2010 are based on mid-year population estimates for those years. Figures for 2015 and 2020 are calculated from 2010-based national population projections.

Table 1: Estimated ratio of the usually resident population of the UK aged 65 and over to those aged 18 to 64, 2007, 2009 and 2010; and projected ratio for 2015 and 2020.
YearPopulation aged 65 and over (Millions)Population aged 18 to 64 (millions)Ratio

2007

9.8

38.1

0.257

2009

10.1

38.6

0.262

2010

10.3

38.8

0.265

2015

11.7

39.5

0.295

2020

12.7

40.1

0.316

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Question

Asked by Baroness Hamwee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why provisions in Part I of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 relating to the retention of DNA samples and fingerprints are unlikely to be commenced before mid-2013.[HL2740]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): I have published a Written Ministerial Statement today setting out our implementation timetable for Part 1, Chapter 1 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Railways: Contract Awards Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 29 November (WA 80), (1) how often the Contracts Awards Committee has met this year; (2) who are the members of this committee; and (3) whether it keeps minutes that are accessible to members of the public.[HL3910]

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Earl Attlee: Between 10 January and 3 October 2012 the Contract Awards Committee has met on 20 occasions.

The membership of the Contract Awards Committee varies depending on the project or projects under discussion.

Minutes of the Contract Awards Committee are kept by relevant project teams. For reasons of commercial confidentiality, they are not accessible to members of the public.

Railways: Network Rail

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 26 November (WA 22), to whom members of the public should make representations if they are dissatisfied with the work of the Board of Network Rail.[HL4069]

Earl Attlee: In the first instance members of the public who are dissatisfied should contact Network Rail itself by telephoning 08457 11 41 41.

If the issue remains unresolved, members of the public can and do make representations to the independent Office of Rail Regulation over potential breaches of Network Rail's network licence. The Office of Rail Regulation regularly monitors and measures Network Rail's performance and has significant powers to ensure compliance with the company's obligations under safety legislation, competition law, and under its licence to operate the network.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 26 November (WA 22), whether Network Rail and rail operating companies are obliged to provide some shelter on all English railway stations.[HL4070]

Earl Attlee: The Government do not require Network Rail or train operators to provide shelters at stations.

Railways: Rolling Stock

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 29 November (WA 81), in the light of the delayed award of the contract to operate the West Coast Main Line, whether they will intervene to commission the refurbishment of rolling stock on that line.[HL3926]

Earl Attlee: The refurbishment of rolling stock is a matter for the rolling stock owner and the relevant train operator. The Government have no plans to intervene on this issue.

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South Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the level of transparency in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan in terms of access for, and consultations with, established civil society and women’s organisations.[HL3948]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK works closely with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and receives regular updates on the implementation of its mandate including its work with civil society organisations and women's groups. UNMISS engages with civil society and women's groups at the national level through a consultative group chaired by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General and also through the work of its civil affairs advisers at the state level.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the progress made by the Government of South Sudan in establishing a national human rights agenda, particularly with regard to that country's decision to resume execution of prisoners condemned to death, and to cases of prolonged detention without trial.[HL3949]

Baroness Warsi: We are concerned about human rights in South Sudan and condemn the executions carried out earlier this year. We continue to monitor closely reports of arbitrary arrest and detention, and the treatment of detainees in the hands of the police and security agencies.

We are encouraged by the establishment of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, which demonstrates a commitment by the Government of South Sudan to investigate alleged violations and educate citizens about their rights and responsibilities. We hope that the challenges associated with the current austerity budget do not prevent this body from undertaking their full range of activities. We also welcome South Sudan's recent vote in support of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) third committee, and urge the Government to repeat this vote at the UNGA's plenary consideration of this item, and to move rapidly to implement a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Taxation: Corporation Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that companies pay a fair share of corporation tax.[HL3822]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 3 December 2012, the Government announced a further investment of £77 million in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to expand its anti-avoidance and evasion activity, specifically focusing on offshore evasion and avoidance by wealthy individuals and by multinationals. This is expected to bring in an additional £2 billion in tax per year that would have otherwise gone unpaid.

As part of this investment, HMRC will expand its risk assessment capability across the large business sector and increase its specialist transfer pricing resources

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to speed up its work to identify and challenge multinational companies' transfer pricing arrangements.

The UK, French and German Governments have written, jointly, to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development offering voluntary contributions to support rapid progress on its work to tackle profit shifting and the erosion of the corporate tax base at the global level.

This pledge of resources follows from the Chancellor's call, together with Wolfgang Schauble, at the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers on 4 and 5 November 2012 in Mexico, for concerted international co-operation to strengthen international standards for corporate tax regimes.