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What safeguards are in place to ensure that claimants whose only income is from contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA) do not find themselves disadvantaged compared to those on income-based ESA because they will not have entitlement to local authority concessionary schemes and the Social Fund and will need to make separate claims for help with prescription charges and legal aid. [HL1030]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Welfare Reform Act 2007 provides that people on income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) will have access to all the income-related passported benefits that those who currently qualify for income support do. Customers whose only income is contributory ESA will also be able to apply separately for passported benefits.
We are working with colleagues in the Department of Health to make access to its low-income scheme easier for those who are not eligible for automatic passporting. This includes the potential for simplifying the claim form and making the process less complex. We are also considering options for those elements of the Social Fund unavailable to customers not in receipt of qualifying benefits.
Whether they have made an assessment of the number of retired miners and widows in the British Coal litigation whose solicitors required them to pay fees to third parties, to include the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and Vendside Ltd; and, if so, whether those solicitors have been required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to indemnify their clients and to pay them compensation. [HL802]
The primary role of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in relation to the miners' health compensation scheme is to investigate possible misconduct by solicitors who have handled claims and, where appropriate, prosecute them before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The SRA does not have the power to require solicitors to indemnify clients or to pay them compensation.
If solicitors refuse to pay compensation to clients as directed by the separate Legal Complaints Service, however, the SRA would request the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to order enforcement of the compensation decision.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made a Statement in another place on the Bali action plan on 18 December 2007 (Official Report, col. 725). The Bali action plan is an historic agreement in which for the first time all the countries of the world agreed to negotiate a new climate deal after the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period ends in 2012. These negotiations will begin early next year and will be concluded in Copenhagen in 2009.
The Government's energy policy is set out in the White Paper on energy Meeting the Energy Challenge, published in May 2007. The UK has a liberalised energy market in which the private sector makes investment decisions. The Government's role is to ensure an effective energy and carbon market and that support mechanisms such as the renewables obligation incentivise low-carbon technologies. We are also supporting the construction of one of the world's first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage power plants in the UK because we recognise that fossil fuels, including coal, will continue to have an important role to play in the energy mix both here and across the world. We support innovation and the development and deployment of new technologies to reduce the carbon emissions from energy.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): Projections of UK carbon emissions to 2020 which include the period of the second phase of the European Emissions Trading Scheme were updated and published in May 2007, supporting the energy White Paper. A baseline projection provided at the time which excludes the impact of the EU ETS and the additional proposals in the energy
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Estimated UK emissions projections including the impact of the EU ETS assumed through to 2020 and the impact of the proposed energy White paper measures suggest 135.7, 132.2 and 126.5 MtC (million tonnes of carbon) for 2010, 2015 and 2020 respectively. This central projection is based on a level of carbon price assumed to be €25 per tonne of CO2 by 2020 and includes estimates of additional carbon allowances purchased through the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 20 July (WA 55), whether the sum of £50 million by way of financial correction in relation to the single farm payment scheme payments between 30 June 2006 and 30 March 2007 was a final figure; or whether there have been further penalties imposed subsequently. [HL974]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The £50 million referred to in my Written Answer on 20 July (WA55) related to late-payment penalties incurred as a result of the RPA missing the EC target of making 96.154 per cent of payments in respect of SPS 2005 by 30 June 2006. This figure has since increased to £63 million for payments made after 30 June 2006 in regard to SPS 2005. This amount was included as an accrual in Defra's 2006-07 resource accounts and has since been paid. A further £7 million was also noted in the accounts as a contingent liability in regard to potential subsequent payments.
Defra also included provisions totalling £348 million in the same accounts in respect of potential financial corrections (disallowance) imposed by the European Commission for breaches of EC regulations in making payments for SPS 2005, SPS 2006 and other precursor common agricultural policy schemes. The Commission has yet to make any proposals regarding disallowance relating to the single payment scheme. Defra continues to review its potential liabilities on an ongoing basis.
Detailed discussions will take place with the Commission over an extended period, possibly two or
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government welcome the publication of the Law Commission's consultation paper on reform of the law of bribery. We look forward to receiving the Law Commission's report and draft Bill in the autumn. We shall then consider its report and draft Bill closely and will be seeking to bring forward proposals as soon as parliamentary time allows.
The Government note the recent report by the Public Administration Select Committee,Propriety and Peerages. The Government will consider the report and its recommendations carefully and publish a response in due course.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): According to Coal Authority records, at the end of November 2007 there were seven large, two medium and nine small deep mines together with 33 surface mines producing coal or in development in the United Kingdom. A further five underground mines (one large and four small) and two surface mines were also under licence but on care and maintenance.
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