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What was the additional cost to the Exchequer of the decision of the Chancellor to stay in hotels, and other commercial premises, with his team, when on government business in other national capitals, rather than United Kingdom embassies, between 1 May 1997 and 30 April 2007. [HL4384]
What is their response to the findings of the report published by Help the Aged on 13 June, entitled Spotlight on Older People in the UK, which stated that over one-fifth of older people are now living in poverty and 11 per cent in severe poverty. [HL4322]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Government's first priority for pensioners was to tackle the number of pensioners living in poverty. We have made considerable progress; since 1997, the number of pensioners living in relative poverty has fallen by 1.1 million, from 2.9 million to 1.8 million. Now, for the first time in a period of sustained growth, once housing costs are accounted for, a pensioner is no more likely to be in poverty than anyone else in society.
Minimum income guarantee, pension credit, winter fuel payments and a 7 per cent real-terms increase in the value of the basic state pension have all contributed to improving pensioner incomes. Pension credit means that no pensioner has to get by on less than £119.05 a week, or £181.70 for couples.
But we are not complacent; we realise that there is more to do to ensure that pensioners get the money they are entitled to and to strengthen state pensions as a foundation for private saving. The Pensions Bill, which we are currently taking through Parliament, will make state pensions more universal and more generous and will enshrine our commitment to uprate the pension credit standard minimum guarantee in line with earnings growth in primary legislation. These reforms will be complemented by our proposed new system of personal accounts, which are intended to extend the benefits of low-cost savings to those without access to a good occupational pension.
How many committees, discussion groups or other forums for consideration are involved in any decision by the Olympic National Lottery Fund to release resources to the Olympic Delivery Authority; and how many individuals are involved in considering those decisions. [HL4415]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Olympic Lottery Distributor is the body responsible for distributing funds from the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund, and it has made a number of grants to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). While decisions on the release of lottery moneys are entirely a matter for the Olympic Lottery Distributors board, which comprises five members, the distributor seeks to work in co-operation with the other funders of the ODA, including the Government, the Greater London Authority and the London Development Agency. This necessarily involves a range of discussions with those bodies.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The EU is already in regular dialogue with the Government of Pakistan on a range of human rights issues, including the reform of discriminatory legislation and the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan. Together with EU partners, we consistently call for Pakistan to promote the rights of minorities and to reform discriminatory legislation such as the blasphemy laws. We will continue to monitor the progress of the draft Apostasy Bill.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government published their UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking on 23 March 2007. As the action plan states, the Government do not support the appointment of a rapporteur to advise on how their child trafficking strategy should be progressed. There already exist cross-government ministerial arrangements for monitoring progress made in tackling child trafficking, such as the inter-departmental ministerial group on human trafficking and the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Advisory Group.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 June (WA 188), whether any of the three indictable cases against former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary resulting from the work of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland over the past six years has led to a conviction. [HL4291]
Lord Rooker: The Police Ombudsman has advised that two of the three indictable cases against former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary resulting from the work of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland have led to a conviction.
What are the reasons for the revocation by the Commons Registration (General) (Amendment) (England) (Revocation) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1553) of the Commons Registration (General) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1032). [HL4347]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The revocation was necessary to maintain the existing regime for searching registers of common land. The Government originally planned to deregulate the present statutory commons search, by replacing it with a modification to the existing non-statutory local authority searches questionnaire (form CON29 part II). This followed agreement with the Law Society, the Local Government Association and others controlling the use and content of that form. These changes were due to be introduced on 1 June 2007 at the same time as other modifications required as a consequence of the introduction of home information packs (HIPs).
Following the announcement of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 22 May to defer the introduction of HIPs, the controlling parties decided to defer the introduction of the modified searches questionnaire pending further discussions, and it was therefore unacceptable to proceed with the abolition of the existing statutory search mechanism.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Secretary of State, under Part II of the Terrorism Act 2000, has the power to proscribe any organisation that he believes is concerned in terrorism. An organisation is concerned in terrorism if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for, promotes, encourages or is otherwise concerned in terrorism. The definition of promotes or encourages terrorism was extended by the Terrorism Act 2006 to include the unlawful glorification of terrorism.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 14 June (WA 276), whether the existence of the single line railway between Yeovil and Exeter is of benefit to the economy of south-western England. [HL4438]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Exeter-Yeovil line forms part of the long-distance link between the west of England and London Waterloo. Network Rail plans to upgrade the line in October 2009 to enable an hourly Exeter-London Waterloo service to operate in December 2009. This should contribute to the future economic development of south-west England.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The latest estimates of gross expenditure on research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product for the UK and for OECD countries as a whole are given in the table below:
|Source: OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators Volume 2006/2Although there is no international comparison yet available, the latest UK figure, for 2005, is 1.76 per cent.* indicates a provisional estimate|
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 14 June (WA 273) concerning the St Andrews agreement, on what date each party leader agreed to the introduction of an Irish Language Bill; and what form the agreement took. [HL4410]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 14 June (WA 274) concerning the St Andrews agreement, in what way the principle of parity of esteem was respected by the introduction of a language Bill which relates only to one side of the community.[HL4411]
Lord Rooker: The commitment regarding an Irish Language Act is one of a range of commitments in the St Andrews agreement, including those in relation to the Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture. As set out in my earlier Written Answer (WA274), the principle of parity of esteem was fully respected throughout the multi-party talks at St Andrews.
How many non-geographic telephone numbers are in use by the Home Office and its agencies; what services can be accessed by calling each of them; and what revenue has been received from them between September 2004 and September 2006. [HL3300]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Information on the number of non-geographic telephone numbers and the services that can be accessed by them is set out in the table below. Details of the amount of revenue received are not held centrally, and to obtain them would incur disproportionate costs.
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