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Lord Bassam of Brighton: Over the past 10 years, the commercial approach to pricing taken by train operators has helped to generate the 40 per cent increase in passenger volumes which has given Britain the fastest-growing railway in Europe. Commercial pricing means charging higher fares at peak times when trains are full, but lower fares in the off-peak to
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Where operators have a degree of market powerfor example, commuter transport into London and other big citiesthe Department for Transport places a limit on fares increases. As a result, these regulated fares are currently on average 2 per cent less in real terms than they were in 1996.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 14 March (WA 138) on the Great North Eastern franchise, how they will ensure that the current level of on-board service offered by the Great North Eastern Railway is maintained in any of the bids considered, bearing in mind that the market will not have an opportunity to determine the level of on-board service. [HL2826]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The bidders for the InterCity East Coast franchise are given extensive material relating to the operation of the current franchise during the bidding process including details of the current on-board service.
Bidders are encouraged to consult with stakeholders during the preparation of their bid. Stakeholders are provided with the contact details of the bidding parties through the stakeholder briefing document that is published on the DfT website.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Any extension of the moderation of competition arrangements will be considered by the Office of Rail Regulation as part of the new track access agreement which is currently being negotiated between West Coast Trains Limited and Network Rail Infrastructure Limited.
|Year||Domestic Regional Rate Poundage (pence) *||Non-Domestic Regional Rate Poundage (pence)|
|* net of Domestic Rate and Grant (DRAG)|
|** Non-domestic revaluation (5th reval)|
The regional rate is an unhypothecated tax and is not allocated to specific areas of expenditure, but instead contributes to the overall resources available to the Secretary of State to allocate to regional public services in Northern Ireland.
What is their response to the recommendations of the United Nations high-level report on Sudan that (a) the General Assembly of the United Nations should request the compilation of a list of foreign companies that have an adverse impact on human rights in Darfur; and (b) United Nations institutions and offices should abstain from entering into business transactions with any identified companies. [HL2869]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The report of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Mission to Sudan, issued on 12 March, confirms concerns we already have about the grave human rights situation in Darfur. We are working with partners at the HRC to pass a resolution in support of the report.
We are working at the UN Security Council to impose further measures on those responsible for violating UN Security Council Resolution 1591, including targeted sanctions against individuals. There must be no impunity for human rights abuses.
What representations they have made to the Governments of China and Russia about their decision to dismiss the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council into human rights violations in Darfur as having no validity as the report's authors were denied visas to visit the region. [HL2870]
My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, and the UK Permanent Representative to the HRC, called on the Council to take effective action on Darfur and not become mired in procedural debates. We do not accept the argument that the mission report lacks validity because the mission failed to go to Sudan. The Government of Sudan reneged on their commitment to co-operate with the mission and refused to grant visas to all members of the mission, so, rightly, none of the members went. The report is based on the assessments of UN humanitarian agencies, the African Union in Addis Ababa and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in eastern Chad. All of these organisations, which have large numbers of staff operating in Darfur and Eastern Chad, continue to report an appalling human rights and humanitarian situation there. We are lobbying partners, including China and Russia, to ensure that the report's recommendations are taken forward.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have not considered taking steps to encourage disinvestment from Sudan by British companies. We are concerned that sanctions should not impact on those in Sudan who have no responsibility for violence in Darfur or on the comprehensive peace agreement, thus damaging the south. While we are considering further, targeted sanctions, it remains true that they are more effective if implemented by the international community. None the less, if such support were not forthcoming, we have not excluded the possibility of taking further measures with our EU partners.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Latest estimates show that in 2004-05, 79 per cent of eligible working families with children, and 93 per cent of eligible working single parents, took up tax credits. Take-up rates for tax credits among working families with children, broken down by country and Government Office region, are shown in table 9 of the HMRC publication Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit Take-up Rates 2004-05, available on the HMRC website at: http://hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/takeup-rates2004-05.pdf
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government have no current plans to exempt sport's national governing bodies from corporation tax. The Government fully recognise the important role of national governing bodies in helping achieve their objectives, particularly in encouraging grassroots and schools sporting activity. The Government, too, have demonstrated their practical commitment to sport at all levels through a variety of funding mechanisms.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 20 March (WA 189) about medical examination for vehicle licences, which particular certificates will be subject to the standard rate of VAT. [HL2946]
Lord Davies of Oldham: All reports and medical examinations that are undertaken by a health professional for the purposes of a person obtaining or maintaining a licence to drive a vehicle, fly an aircraft or crew a ship will be liable to VAT at the standard rate from 1 May.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Employers are already granted tax relief against their business tax bill for volunteering by their employees in charities and educational establishments, many of which have
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Whether the Environment Agency rejected the pro bono services of a pollution consultant and United States bankruptcy trustee to consider the technical details of the dumping of unauthorised toxic wastes into the quarries at Brofiscin and Maendy between 1965 and 1972 and the relevant United States Bankruptcy Court filings made by the Environment Agency; and, if so, what were their reasons for rejecting the services. [HL2769]
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: I am advised by the Environment Agency that it had discussions, between January and August 2006, with an individual who offered it useful information as a potential witness to the historical events which took place at Brofiscin, and their relevance to recent bankruptcy proceedings in the USA.
Whether the Welsh Office was aware by 1988 that the discharge at Brofiscin quarry contained carcinogens and was hazardous to users of the groundwater; and, if so, what measures were taken to protect humans, farm livestock, wildlife, vegetation and the soil close to the quarry and along water courses that carried the discharge. [HL2770]
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Welsh Office commissioned a survey of contaminated land in Wales which was undertaken by Liverpool University. It produced a report in August 1988, which included information about the Brofiscin site. The report suggested that the disposal of such wastes on permeable limestone could present a hazard to users of local groundwaters, although it did not identify any specific hazards. Previous investigations had also concluded that there were no proven or immediate risks to human health. There was some evidence of pollutants affecting grazing livestock, and measures had been taken to prevent or discourage the grazing of animals in areas polluted by surface water runoff. No groundwater supplies in the immediate vicinity of the site were or are currently used for human consumption.
In 1988, land not due for redevelopment had historically been dealt with via the statutory nuisance powers of local authorities. However, new legislation, implemented in Wales in 2001, has provided an improved system for the identification and remediation of land where contamination is causing unacceptable risks to human health or the wider environment. This aims to ensure that land is returned to a condition suitable for its current use.
Bearing in mind that the company Monsanto has admitted to a daily discharge of 3.74 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the sewers from their Newport factory and into the River Severn, what measures have been taken to assess the health of humans, animals and plants on the land and in the water which may have been contaminated by the discharge. [HL2771]
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Monsanto discontinued PCB manufacture at its Newport site in the 1970s. Detailed discharge records are no longer available. The current owner of the site is Solutia UK Ltd.
A Pollution Prevention Control Permit was issued to Solutia by the Environment Agency in 2004. It required the company to undertake an environmental risk assessment of polychlorobiphenyl (PCBs) releases into the Severn estuary arising as a result of historic contamination that occurred during Monsanto's ownership.
This assessment was completed and submitted to the agency in 2005. The Food Standards Agency reviewed the assessment and concluded that the operation was unlikely to have any unacceptable effects on the human food chain.
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