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8 Feb 2001 : Column WA115

Written Answers

Thursday, 8th February 2001.

Self-assessment Tax Returns: Electronic Filing

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many self-assessment tax returns for the current year were filed electronically up to and including 31 January 2001; and how this compares with the Inland Revenue's target for electronic filing.[HL561]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Three hundred and twenty-four thousand, two hundred and ninety-six self-assessment tax returns for the current year were filed electronically up to and including 31 January. The Inland Revenue has not set a target for take-up of electronic filing services.

Written Answers: Reference to Published Documents

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton of 29 January (WA 30), whether the Answers given by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on the same date (WA 32 and 33) complied with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, in that they did not provide the factual information requested.[HL636]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My answers explained where the noble Lord could obtain the information he was seeking about European Commission grants and employment in manufacturing industry. The practice of referring to source documents which are in the public domain has been followed by successive governments for many years.

Speaker's Committee: Minister for Local Government and the Regions

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will appoint a Minister with responsibilities in relation to local government to the Speaker's Committee established under Section 2 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.[HL685]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): In accordance with Section 2(3) of the Act, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has appointed my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Hilary Armstrong) as a member of the Speaker's Committee.

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State Pension Cost Forecasts

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated aggregate annual cost in today's money of providing the basic state pension in (a) the current year; (b) 15 years from now; and (c) 35 years from now, assuming the current pension is maintained in real terms.[HL540]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Long-term estimates of expenditure on the basic state pension are published in table 15.1 of the Government Actuary's Department's quiquennial review National Insurance Fund: Long Term Financial Estimates, Cm 4406. A copy is available in the Library.

State Pension: Current Liability

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated present value of the Government's liability to pay the basic state pension to the existing working and retired population (including those receiving credits) during their lifetimes; and what discount rate is applied in these calculations.[HL541]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The precise information requested is not readily available. The latest estimates of the present value of the liability for state pensions including the basic state pension are published in the Inland Revenue Statistics 2000 in table 13.4. A copy is available in the Library. The real discount rate applied to this calculation is 3 per cent consistent with the latest quinquennial review.

Postal Services Commission: Social and Environmental Guidance

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will be laying the Government's proposed social and environmental guidance to the Postal Services Commission.[HL684]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I have today laid in the Library of each House the draft social and environmental guidance which the Secretary of State proposes to issue to the Postal Services Commission in accordance with Section 43 of the Postal Services Act 2000. A consultation on the draft guidance was carried out in accordance with Section 43(3) of the Act. The consultation closed on 31 January and six responses were received, for which the Government are grateful. They contained a number of useful suggestions which have been taken into account in refining the draft guidance.

The process of giving statutory social and environmental guidance has been developed to provide a means of ensuring that regulators take

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due account of the Government's social and environmental policies in carrying out their statutory functions. Regulators have a statutory duty to have regard to the guidance.

Northern Ireland: RUC and Prison Service Officers' Pensions

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they anticipate making arrangements for the widows of Royal Ulster Constabulary officers and Northern Ireland Prison Service officers killed by terrorists to enjoy the same rights to retain their pensions as are accorded to widows of Armed Services personnel.[HL466]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): There are no plans to introduce changes of this nature to either the RUC Pension Scheme or Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (Northern Ireland), which provides pension benefits for staff in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Northern Ireland: Illegal Arms Prosecutions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prosecutions there have been in Northern Ireland since 1995 in connection with the seizure or importation of illegal arms.[HL213]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There is no specific offence for the seizure or importation of illegal arms. There are a number of offences that relate specifically to firearms.

The manner in which information on arms finds is collated centrally precludes associating prosecutions with specific finds. As a result the information in the form requested is not readily available.

Northern Ireland: Arms Decommissioningby IRA

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which items were decommissioned by the IRA over the last five years.[HL491]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We have received no reports from any source, including the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, of the decommissioning of any items belonging to the IRA over the last five years.

Northern Ireland: Terrorist Incidents

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many terrorist incidents have taken place in Northern Ireland in the last five years.[HL492]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The attached tables show the number of terrorist incidents recorded by the Royal Ulster Constabulary over the last five years, together with the casualties as a result of paramilitary style assaults and shootings.

Security Situation Statistics Terrorist Incidents from 1995 to 2000

199519961997199819992000
Deaths9152255718
Shooting Incidents 50125225211125302
Bombing Incidents (Explosions & Defusings) 22593243100135

Note:

1. Includes all deaths due to the security situation.

2. The following types of incidents are included under shootings:

Shots fired by terrorists

Shots fired by the security forces

Paramilitary-style attacks involving shootings

Shots heard (and later confirmed)

Other violent incidents where shots are fired (e.g. armed robbery).

3. Incidents involving hoax devices, petrol bombings or incendiaries are excluded under bombing incidents.

4. 2000 Statistics are provisional and may be subject to minor change.


Casualties as a Result of Paramilitary Style Assaults

By LoyalistBy Republican
199576141
1996130172
19977878
19988955
19999044
20007454

Casualties as a Result of Paramilitary Style Shootings

By LoyalistBy Republican
19953--
1996213
19974626
19983438
19994726
20008650

Note:

1. 2000 figures are provisional and may be subject to minor adjustment.

2. Figures for shooting incidents include incidents involving casualties of paramilitary style shootings.


Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: Recommendations

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recommendations the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has made to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in accordance with Sections 69(2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.[HL507]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: To date no recommendations have been made to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission with regard to Section 69(2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. We expect to receive its recommendations within the specified timescale of two years since the commission's establishment in March 1999.


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