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What was the total cost to departments incurred in answering individual Questions for Written Answer from the Lord Lester of Herne Hill on government compliance with recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman; and what would have been the cost of providing an answer based on information obtained centrally.[HL7658]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Cabinet Office does not hold the information requested in respect of the cost to departments of answering individual Questions for Written Answer from the noble Lord on government compliance with recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The only information held centrally by the Cabinet Office related to its own cases and information contained in reports of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, which was not necessarily the complete picture.
Further to the Written Statement by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 2 February (WS 26) and the Written Answer by the Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 9 October (WA 96), what are the reasons for the continuing delay in publishing their consultation paper on the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on prisoners' voting rights.[HL7601]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I refer the noble Lord to my previous Answer of 9 October (WA 96), which stated that a specific date has not been set and that careful consideration has to be given to the consultation paper's contents before publication. That position has not changed.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Options in the recently published Department for Transport (DfT) north-west regional planning assessment include lengthening trains to accommodate passenger growth. DfT is also working with Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive on their integrated transport strategy, which includes public transport enhancements, and may include rail proposals.
Whether they have received a business case or other communications concerning a proposed event in 2007 from Rally Ireland; and, if so, how much of the activity is proposed for Northern Ireland.[HL7678]
Lord Rooker: A business case for the proposed 2007 Rally Ireland event has yet to be received. However, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has held initial discussions with Rally Ireland on the way forward for its 2007 event. Rally Ireland is a crucial event to demonstrate to a multinational worldwide audience the tremendous benefits of visiting Northern Ireland.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Treasury does not recognise the £45 billion figure quoted. The cost of motoring in real terms is now cheaper than it was in 1997. For example, fuel duty is now 16 per cent lower in real terms than it was in 2000.
The Government are committed to addressing decades of under-investment in the UK's transport infrastructure through modernisation programmes such as upgrading the UK's road network with£17.5 billion of investment. The Government have delivered 37 new motorways and major roads since 2001, with another 18 to be completed by 2008. In addition, the Government are committed to ensuring that motoring taxes support both the Government's objective to modernise the UK's roads and also protect the environment by reducing polluting emissions.
Following the recent announcement that the Hindhead bypass and tunnel will now cost£371 million compared with £107 million in 2001, whether they are taking any action to improve the accuracy of their cost estimating of trunk road schemes.[HL7680]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Highways Agency has already taken steps to improve estimating by moving, in 2003, to full outturn estimates which include allowances for inflation and optimism bias in the tendency to underestimate project cost, duration and VAT. It has further actions in hand to develop its approach to cost estimating and project management. The Secretary of State for Transport has asked the Nichols Group to review the Highways Agency's approach and to make recommendations, including on how the agency should best assess, monitor and report on risks to its cost estimates.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The effectiveness of a school is judged by Ofsted on a common grading scale. Grade 1 is outstanding, grade 2 good, grade 3 satisfactory and grade 4 inadequate. Grade 4 inadequate is divided into two categories; schools requiring special measures and schools requiring significant improvement. In both categories a school would be judged not to be providing an acceptable standard of education. Placing a school in one or other category requires further consideration of whether the capacity for improvement is demonstrated by the school. If it is, a school may be judged to require significant improvement and if not the school may be placed in special measures.
Ofsted's most recent published information sets out the total number of schools in each category as of 31 August. Based on those figures we estimate that there are approximately 272,000 pupils attending inadequate primary and secondary schools in England, as set out in the table below.
|Data as of 31 August 2006||Pupils attending schools in special measures (numbers of schools)||Pupils attending schools in other Ofsted categories of concern (numbers of schools)|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): As part of the national curriculum in geography, all pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 must learn about ways of identifying differences in development between countries, the factors that influence development and the impact differences in development have on quality of life. They must study countries in different states of economic development and how and why each country may be judged to be more or less developed.
Citizenship is part of the national curriculum for all pupils aged between 11 and 16 and provides many opportunities for schools to teach about international development. Pupils are taught about the political, social, economic and environmental implications of the world as a global community and the opportunities for groups and individuals to bring about social change both nationally and internationally.
Lord Rooker: On 19 September 2006, the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) published Development Proposal No. 178 for the closure of Groomsport Primary School with effect from 31 August 2007 or as soon as possible thereafter. The publication of the development proposal initiates a two-month statutory consultation period during which representations in support of or against the proposal can be made to the Department of Education. The two-month consultation period ends on 20 November 2006. Following the consultation period, the Minister with responsibility for education will make a decision on the development proposal in light of all the information provided.
Prior to the publication of the development proposal, the SEELB carried out its statutory requirement to consult the school's board of governors, parents and teachers as well as consulting all schools likely to be affected by the proposal. In addition, the commissioners appointed by the Department of Education to carry out the SEELB's functions met a delegation from Groomsport Primary School to hear directly their views and concerns on the proposed school closure.
To what level the exemptions from inheritance tax for gifts in consideration of marriage would have to be raised in order to match in real terms the values of the original exemptions introduced in March 1974.[HL7795]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: An exemption for gifts in consideration of marriage (and now civil partnerships) dates from the introduction of the capital transfer tax regime, and is set at £1,000, £2,500 or £5,000 depending on the relationship between the parties involved. The retail prices index increased by 670 per cent between March 1974 and September 2006.
Lord Davies of Oldham: For roads, the cost of road damage by overloaded heavy goods vehicle is not calculated separately from the cost of the overall road maintenance. Funds for road maintenance in England are related to the actual road condition and this will be a reflection of the deterioration caused by all vehicles.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 9 October (WA 123), whether the appointment of the director of marketing and communications at Waterways Ireland in April 2002 involved a promotion; and, if so, whether this is permissible under the enabling legislation.[HL7687]
Lord Rooker: The appointment in question represented a promotion for the person involved. However, this matter is subject to ongoing legal action and it would not be appropriate for me to add anything further to my Answer of 9 October (WA 123).
PLA develops local byelaws (subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State) requiring the carriage of transponder technology (automatic identification systemAIS) on passenger vessels and other large commercial vessels in central London and the upper reaches of the Thames.
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