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Welsh Regiments

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Last year, the Army considered how best to implement the move to larger regiments and the reduction of four infantry battalions. In considering this issue the Executive Committee of the Army Board took into account advice from the colonel commandant of the Prince of Wales Division, in which the Welsh regiments sit, as a representative of the regiments concerned.

The outcome of these deliberations, announced on 16 December by the Secretary of State for Defence, is that a new large infantry regiment will be formed to represent Wales. The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales will combine to form what will be known as The Royal Welsh Regiment, as recommended by the division. They will be known respectively as 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) and 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales).

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The new regimental structure is not expected to have an adverse effect on morale. It will create greater stability for families as well as enhanced professional opportunities for soldiers. Traditional recruiting areas will be maintained and we have made clear our commitment to maintaining the identity, traditions and ethos of the individual battalions within the new regiments.
 
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Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The new titles explicitly identify the new battalions with their antecedent regiments by retaining their original titles in brackets after the new regimental title.

Serbia-Montenegro: Defence Assistance

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The United Kingdom is already undertaking a programme of defence assistance for Serbia and Montenegro whose principal aim is reform of their armed forces. It includes peacekeeping and English language training, staff course places and a project to assist resettlement in civilian life of those leaving the armed forces. There are regular contacts between officials to ensure that the programme is structured to meet Serbian and Montenegrin needs. We are also seeking to co-ordinate our assistance with that delivered by other NATO and EU countries.

Families in Temporary Accommodation

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): Local authorities receive funding for their homelessness responsibilities through formula grant which is distributed through formula spending shares (FSS). The local government finance settlement 2005–06 provides for an increase of 2.5 per cent in the environmental, protective and cultural services FSS block (which covers homelessness services). Formula grant is unhypothecated and spending priorities are a matter for individual local authorities. Authorities use their powers under Section 180 of the Housing Act 1996 to pay grants to voluntary sector agencies to help tackle homelessness from these and other resources available to them.

Since 2002–03, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has provided local authorities with extra resources to help them meet additional statutory obligations under the Homelessness Act 2002—£6.5 million in 2001-02 and £8 million per annum thereafter.
 
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The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced in our five-year plan, Homes for All published on 25 January, that we will reduce homelessness and that, by 2010, we will halve the number of households living in insecure temporary accommodation. We are providing £60 million in 2004–05, rising to £74 million in 2007–08, to help local authorities and voluntary sector agencies take action to prevent homelessness. Our strategy on homelessness builds on successes in reducing rough sleeping by two-thirds, ending the long-term use of bed and breakfast hotels as accommodation for homeless families with children, and more recent reductions in the number of new cases of homelessness. More effective prevention of homelessness will be coupled with new action and increased investment in social and other affordable housing to improve the supply of, and access to, settled homes.

Substantial funding is also available through the Supporting People programme. A total funding of over £350 million will be provided for homelessness services in 2004–05, of which £51 million will be allocated to homeless families with support needs.

Data Protection Act: EU Commission Review

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The European Commission, as part of its review of the implementation of the 1995 Data Protection Directive by each member state, has raised a number of issues with the UK. We are in discussion with the Commission about these issues. We currently have no plans to disclose the detail of those discussions, or any related correspondence, as the formal Commission investigation process is still taking place. If the Government were to disclose the information requested, it would prejudice the negotiating process between the UK and the Commission and so prejudice UK interests.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The formal European Commission investigation into the UK's implementation of the Data Protection Directive is still ongoing. UK officials are in discussion with those from the EC regarding those areas where the Commission has raised concerns. However, we believe that the UK has properly implemented the Data Protection Directive via the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant provisions of UK law.
 
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Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The European Commission has raised a number of issues with us regarding the UK's implementation of Directive 95/46/EC. We are currently in discussion with the Commission about these issues. So far as the decision of the Court of Appeal in Durant v FSA is concerned, we see no reason to conclude that it casts any doubt on the fact that the definition of "personal data" in the Data Protection Act 1998 can, and should, be applied consistently with the definition in the directive.

Truancy: Criminal Activity

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Filkin): The Department for Education and Skills does not have information on the proportion of truanting pupils who are involved in some form of criminal activity. The 2004 MORI Youth Survey for the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales found that of the young people in mainstream education who admitted committing an offence, 45 per cent of them said that they had played truant from school.

However, while there is a link between truancy and crime, not all truants are drawn into crime and there is no conclusive evidence about which comes first, truancy or offending.


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