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Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: the Green Paper Modernising Local Government Finance last year proposed a tapered scheme of rate relief, which was targeted on small businesses with rateable values up to £6,000. It proposed that relief would be 50 per cent for properties with rateable values up to £3,000, reducing at higher rateable values to 20 per cent at £6,000 rateable value. This covers a very large number of properties. To avoid any unfairness to businesses just above the £6,000 threshold, it is proposed to provide a small amount of relief to slightly larger properties, continuing to taper from 20 per cent relief at £6,000 rateable value to 0 per cent relief at £8,000 rateable value. The £8,000 threshold is therefore the point at which businesses cease to receive any relief and above which they instead contribute to the costs of the scheme.

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The two new rate reliefs under the 2001 Act are completely different. All qualifying businesses will receive 50 per cent rate relief, up to £6,000 rateable value, with the possibility of the local authority increasing this to 100 per cent if they feel there is a need. It is therefore more generous than the one outlined in the Green Paper for all small businesses.

Farm diversification relief is specifically designed for small non-agricultural business on farms. Information obtained from the Valuation Office Agency indicates that the vast majority of small enterprises that are typically established on farms have rateable values of less than £6,000 in all parts of England. Information also suggests that most village food shops fall below this threshold.

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What additional resources will be made available to poorer local authorities to offset the additional costs of the Rating (Former Agricultural Premises and Rural Shops) Act 2001 so as to ensure that the discretionary relief can be applied equally across the country by all local authorities. [HL539]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Exchequer will meet 75 per cent of the cost of any discretionary relief granted under the provisions of the 2001 Act. This is the same as any other discretionary rate relief available to ratepayers. The requirement on local authorities to meet 25 per cent of the cost of granting discretionary relief does not appear to affect their granting if they feel there is a need to. Indeed experience with the existing village shop rate relief scheme would suggest that a substantial number of businesses receiving 50 per cent mandatory relief have had this topped up with discretionary relief by local authorities.

New Millennium Experience Company: Finances

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the costs expected to be incurred by the New Millennium Experience Company Limited for each of the months July to December analysed into:


    (a) maintenance;


    (b) dealing with legal contracts entered into during the liftetime of the project;


    (c) hand over of the site to English Partnerships;


    (d) other administrative expenditure, including appointing and liaising with a liquidator; and (e) any other expenditure not covered by the above, including one-off items; and [HL558]

    What amount of National Lottery grant allocation to the New Millennium Experience Company Limited remains unspent at 30 June; and what amount is expected to be unspent at 31 December 2001.[HL559]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I will write to the noble Baroness and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of both Houses.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish any statistical analysis of the more than 1,400 expressions of interest in appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. [HL218]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: No data (other than a mailing name and address) were collected from individuals requesting further information on appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, so no analysis of these is possible. All applicants were requested to complete an equality monitoring form as part of their application, but were under no obligation to answer any or all of the questions. An analysis of this data will be published in due course as part of the department's wider obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish any statistical analysis of the more than 500 completed application forms for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, based on information given in the application form and the equality monitoring form where this information is legally disclosable.[HL219]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: No data (other than a mailing name and address) were collected from individuals requesting further information on appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, so no analysis of these is possible. All applicants were requested to complete an equality monitoring form as part of their application, but were under no obligation to answer any or all of the questions. An analysis of this data will be published in due course as part of the department's wider obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria were used to draw up a shortlist for interview for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and how many people have been shortlisted.[HL220]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The same criteria, which were detailed in the applicants' information pack, have been used throughout the appointments process: teamwork; policy development and analytical skills; organisational skills and awareness; communication; planning and organisation of work; physical and financial resource management; and drive and motivation. Twenty-two people have been invited to attend an interview.

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was consulted, formally or informally, on the applications for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.[HL222]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has not been consulted, formally or informally, on the applications for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Irish Government were consulted, formally or informally, on the applications for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commisison.[HL237]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Irish Government were not consulted, formally or informally, on the applications for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will constitute the interviewing panel(s) on 18 to 20 July and 31 July to 3 August 2001, or at any rearranged dates, for appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.[HL238]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The panel interviewing candidates for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will be chaired by Mr Chris Maccabe (Associate Political Director, Northern Ireland Office). The other panel members will be Mrs Judith Eve (Independent Assessor; Queen's University, Belfast) and Mr John Keanie (former Chief Executive, Derry City Council).

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is intended to advertise for the position of Chief Human Rights Commissioner in the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which becomes vacant on 17 January 2002, and the positions of the eight remaining commissioners, which become vacant on 28 February 2002.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: No decision has yet been made regarding the re-appointment of either the Chief Commissioner or the other commissioners to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, whose terms of appointment all end on 28 February 2002.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will amend Section 69(11)(b) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 at an early opportunity in order to require the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to concern itself with the majority of victims whose rights have been abused by paramilitary organisations.[HL223]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Section 69(11)(b) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 makes clear that the commission is to advise on those rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government have no plans to amend this part of the legislation.

Intermediate Care Services

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have to monitor whether or not local authorities charge for services that are designated as intermediate care services, when it is the department's view that they should be free at the point of use.[HL358]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health circular Intermediate Care (HSC 2001:001/LAC (2001-01) published on 19 January 2001 makes it clear that intermediate care should be free at the point of use. This circular is statutory guidance issued under Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. We expect local authorities to comply with statutory guidance, and therefore have no special arrangements to monitor whether or not local authorities are charging for intermediate care services. A copy of the circular is available in the Library.


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