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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Department for International Development supports an integrated approach to water supply, sanitation and hygiene designed to improve health and combat poverty. The department is working with developing countries, other development agencies and financial institutions to ensure that support is provided to develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005 and to try to ensure that the millennium development goal targets to improve access to water and sanitation are achieved.
We aim to assist disaster-prone countries better to manage natural and environmental risks such as flooding through encouraging countries to include risk reduction, disaster management and mitigation in their development planning processes and supporting community initiatives to reduce their vulnerability to major risks.
Our efforts at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto will be directed towards ensuring that the international community delivers on its promises made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development by moving to an intensive period of implementation.
Baroness Amos: Government departments, including DFID, FCO and Defra, are working together with the UK Mission to the UN to ensure that consistent policies and responses on water issues are being advocated and that there is a co-ordinated response to the International Year of Freshwater.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The duties, powers and responsibilities of the commissions are set out in the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999, respectively.
Key documents which set out the broad operating framework and mechanisms for agreeing and accounting for resources include management statements, financial memoranda and corporate or business plans. Ad hoc letters and agreed papers are used to amplify the key documents.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): An anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is a civil order made by a court which currently can be applied for by a local authority or the police.
What amount would have been spent in 200102 if tax relief for private pension contributions had been restricted to the basic rate of taxation. [HL22]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Estimates of the cost of tax relief on private pension contributions are contained in table 7.9 of Inland Revenue Statistics. The latest version is on the Inland Revenue website: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/stats/pensions/p t09 1.htm
Of the estimated £6.4 billion relief on contributions by employees and the self-employed in 200102, around £3.7 billion is in respect of higher rate taxpayers, and on employer contributions of the total of £9.5 billion around £5.4 billion is in respect of higher rate employees. These amounts do not represent the yield from restricting relief to the basic rate as there could be a significant behavioural response.
The employers' component is estimated on the basis that under present arrangements, employer contributions are not taxable as a benefit in kind of the employees. The estimates assume that the proportion of total employers' contributions relating to higher rate taxpayers is the same as that observed for employee contributions.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A total of 28 accounts containing funds totalling £513,116.02 has been frozen in the UK and Crown Dependencies since the EU Common Position imposed an asset freeze on members of Mugabe's regime. We will continue to work with UK financial institutions to identify and freeze more accounts and funds belonging to the targeted individuals.
Lord Rooker: Local authorities may by resolution exclude the public from a meeting during an item of business whenever it is likely that exempt information would otherwise be disclosed to members of the public. The resolution must identify the proceedings, or the part of the proceedings to which it applies, and state the description, in terms of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, of the exempt information in question. Among the information which may be covered by a resolution is that relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (other than the authority)paragraph 7 of Part I of Schedule 12A.
Lord Rooker: The Minister for Local Government, the Regions and Fire said today in the other place: "I am announcing today a significant devolution of power to local government. This includes the steps that the Government intend to take to follow up the results of the comprehensive performance assessments (CPA) of county and unitary authorities which the Audit Commission is due to publish in December. This will mark a significant milestone in completing the proposals in the Local Government White Paper, Strong Local LeadershipQuality Public Services. I have placed copies of our proposals in the Library."
Our aim is progressive improvement in authorities' performance as measured by the CPA. Our package means that there will be greater freedom for local councils to allow them to meet the needs of their communities, support where it is needed and effective action to tackle failure. The nature of the action will vary between the different CPA categories.
Overall there will be greater devolution of power to local government from central government control. It means greater freedom for councillors and those in the front line to take decisions locally to shape and improve services and respond to local needs.
All councils will have greater control over how they spend their money, with a reduction in the level of ring-fencing in government revenue grants and an increase in the funding for capital going through the single capital pot. We will also reduce current requirements to produce separate plans by over 75 per cent.
For the best councils there will be a set of more radical changes. These will include even greater flexibility to decide how to spend money received from central government (other than money which has to be passed to schools); no requirement to produce plans for central government; and a three-year holiday from most inspection activity.
The announcement also sets out further details about how we shall work with local government on a package of support for councils, with central government matching pound for pound the additional funding agreed with the LGA for capacity building.
For the weakest authorities we are confirming the principles for tackling poor performance on which we consulted earlier in the year. The Government will engage directly with all such authorities from an early stage.
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