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Carriers' Liability: Level of Penalty Code of Practice

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Filkin: The code of practice entitled Immigration and Asylum Act 1999: Level of Penalty Code of Practice was laid in draft before Parliament on 14 November 2002. It was brought into force by the Carriers' Liability (Clandestine Entrants) (Level of Penalty: Code of Practice) Order 2002, Statutory Instrument No. 2816.

Government Websites

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Government have noted the publicity surrounding this unsolicited report. We also note the report claims an average of 1,927 errors per website reviewed. The company has been using this report as a direct marketing tool to sell their website-checking software.

The National Audit Office is finalising a report of its findings from the testing of some 75 government websites against internationally recognised guidelines. I understand from its methodology and the number of websites tested that this will give us a focused understanding of the state of play of government online services.

Anthrax Immunisation: Armed Forces

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): No decisions have yet been made concerning military action against Iraq.

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Up to and including November 2002, the period for which most recent figures are available, approximately 46 per cent of personnel offered immunisation against anthrax had accepted. Thus far, immunisation against anthrax has been targeted at a small number of personnel in the most readily deployable units. Of the total strength of the Armed Forces, excluding reserves, approximately 2.5 per cent have been immunised against anthrax. No serious adverse reactions have been reported.

The United Kingdom anthrax vaccine is manufactured by the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research to UK regulatory standards. It is licensed and independent medical advice confirms that it is safe and effective. It has been used for many years by both the Armed Forces and civilian occupations such as laboratory workers and veterinarians. There is no evidence to suggest that any have suffered any long-term ill health as result.

Earlier this year we announced a decision to expand the programme so that ultimately all service personnel, including reserves, and those essential civilians who are likely to deploy on operations are routinely offered immunisation against anthrax. I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 13 June 2002, (WA47) to the noble Lord, Lord Christopher. As personnel are immunised against anthrax routinely and in advance, there should be no need to administer the anthrax vaccine alongside any other vaccines or protective measures. If service personnel due to deploy are not up to date with their immunisations, as with any medical treatment, the offer of immunisation would take full account of any other treatment or medication an individual might be receiving at the same time. Barrie

Army Training Estate: Support Services Contract

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a preferred partner has been selected to provide support services to the Army Training Estate.[HL646]

Baroness Crawley: The competition announced in May 2000 has resulted in the selection of a preferred partner, Landmarc Support Services. Detailed negotiations will now take place to secure a contract to provide support services to the Army Training Estate with effect from 1 April 2003.

This will result in the transfer of approximately 1,400 Ministry of Defence civilian personnel to the private sector. The full protection of the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) will apply. The departmental trades unions will be fully consulted in the normal way.

This contract will maintain existing command and control arrangements together with safety and public relations under MoD while introducing best commercial practice in all areas of non-core business. It will also lead to a more cost-effective professional and relevant means of service delivery.

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Generic Medicines: Maximum Price Scheme

Baroness Billingham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What their plans are for the continuation of the maximum price scheme for generic medicines.[HL609]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have decided to roll forward unchanged the maximum price scheme for generic medicines used in National Health Service primary care. This follows consultation with stakeholders that concluded on 29 November 2002.

The scheme was introduced in August 2000 as a result of price increases in the generics market that started in 1999. It was rolled forward in October 2001. The scheme has restored stability in the generics market and the NHS has saved some £330 million annually as a result. The continuation of it will ensure that this stability continues and that the expenditure savings are maintained.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: Annual Report and Accounts

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's 11th annual report and accounts will be laid before Parliament.[HL610]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's 11th annual report and accounts 2002 were laid before Parliament today.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

Tax Harmonisation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the reply by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 20 November (HL Debs, cols 373–74), whether, in view of Articles 2, 4, 43, 46, 98, and 99.1 of the treaty establishing the European Community, tax harmonisation could be proposed by the European Commission as single market legislation.[HL328]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The legal base of a measure,that is to say article or articles which provide the justification for adoption of a measure by the Council, depends on the aim and content of the measure in question. The only articles that can provide the legal base for a measure which has as its aim and content the harmonisation of tax are Articles 93, 94 and 308. All of these articles require unanimity.

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Air Travel

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the call by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, in its special report, published on 29 November entitled The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft in Flight, for a tax of between £40 and £100 on every air ticket.[HL486]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government note with interest the special report published by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. The Government have announced in this year's Pre-Budget Report that they intend to discuss with stakeholders the most effective economic instruments for ensuring that the air travel industry is encouraged to take account of, and where appropriate to reduce, its contribution to global warming, and local air and noise pollution. The Government will set out their plans in their air transport White Paper next year. Barrie

Charitable Gifts: Tax Relief

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will introduce greater tax concessions for the donors of charitable gifts, similar to those available in the United States, to encourage increased funding of universities and the arts by philanthropic means.[HL493]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The tax incentives available to donors of charitable gifts are the same for all charities, including universities, museums and galleries and theatre companies that are registered as charities. There is a range of tax reliefs both for companies and for individuals on donations through the payroll, Gift Aid, and reliefs on gifts of shares. These tax reliefs are in some ways even more generous than those available in the United States. For example, in the UK a donor could completely extinguish his or her tax liability in one year through tax relief on gifts to charity, whereas in the US there is an annual limit. The tax reliefs in the UK are, however, less well known among donors. In order to tackle this the Government work in partnership with the charitable sector, for example through their support of the Giving Campaign in its work to ensure donors are aware of the tax reliefs available to them. The Chancellor keeps all aspects of the tax system under review.

Consolidated Fund Bill and Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill: Human Rights Act Compatibility

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998 in connection with the Consolidated Fund Bill and the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.[HL648]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Consolidated Fund Bill and the provisions of the

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Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill are compatible with the convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

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