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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The maximum allowance for members of the House for journeys by car or motorcycle was set by resolution of the House on 10 November 2004. Under that resolution, the allowance is payable at the rate which is applicable to the vehicle under subsection (2) of Section 230 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. The allowance is accordingly directly linked to a statutory scheme administered by HM Revenue and Customs and I am not, therefore, in a position to undertake a review of the current rate.
Whether they will request an early meeting of NATO member states to discuss the alleged air attacks by Turkey on 12 villages in Iraq on 1 and 2 May; how many civilians were killed and what properties were damaged; whether there is evidence of collusion between military intelligence in the United States, Turkey and Iran; whether aircraft and weapons committed to NATO were used; and how many bombs failed to explode. [HL3565]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government do not intend to request a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) meeting to discuss any of the alleged air attacks by Turkey on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) presence in Northern Iraq and has no information whether any aircraft or weapons
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The ongoing talks between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offer the best hope of progress for several years. These have been reinforced by some positive developments on the ground, including the removal of some Israeli roadblocks and improved security performance by the Palestinian Authority. However, as the quartet recognised at their 2 May meeting in London, there remains much to do. We welcome the quartet's continued support for the process.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK has supported efforts by the EU and the UN to raise the issue of damage to internationally funded infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza with the Israeli Government and, where appropriate, to seek compensation.
To our knowledge, Israel has expressed no immediate interest in joining the EU. But the EU
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Whether they will encourage the re-convening of the Taif conference, which ended the earlier civil war in Lebanon, in order to provide a good setting for preventing renewed violent conflict in that country. [HL3684]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK remains deeply concerned by the recent violence in Lebanon. We fully support the recent efforts by the Arab League to bring all sides together for talks in Doha. We believe these talks are currently the best way for parties to work towards a long-term solution for Lebanon.
Whether, in their planned public consultation on possible new exemptions within the Licensing Act 2003 for low-risk live music events, they will make clear the range of legislative powers already available to the police and local authorities, irrespective of entertainment licensing, to control noise nuisance, public safety, crime and disorder at public events. [HL3717]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government are currently considering options for possible de minimis exemptions under the Act, including certain live music events and the content of the future public consultation. We will take the noble Lord's suggestion into account in developing proposals for consultation in accordance with better regulation principles.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The DCMS has not issued guidance to local authorities which opt to use a leisure trust model for the management of local leisure facilities. However, every local authority is under a statutory duty to establish an adequate and effective system of financial management and arrangements for the management of risk. The authority's chief finance officer also has duties to report to the council on proposed decisions or actions that would be unlawful or likely to cause a loss.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government welcomed this important report, which highlighted the need for better, more strategic decision-making by local authorities on the procurement and management of leisure facilities. We want to help local authorities to revitalise their leisure facilities and to ensure that the right sports facilities are in the right places. Sport England has already developed a range of strategic planning tools to assist them. These include, among others: the active places database, which provides a comprehensive picture of sports facilities across the country; the national benchmarking service; a facilities planning model; and a sports facilities demand estimator. In addition, Sport England's facilities improvement service is working closely with local authorities to improve the quality of their sports facilities and service delivery.
Whether they will raise during the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan the matters dealt with in the Minority Rights Group International report State of the World's Minorities 2008 under the heading Pakistan in Crisis: Religious Minorities under Pressure. [HL3458]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) raised the rights of persons belonging to minority groups in Pakistan. Through the UPR, we welcomed Pakistan's recent decision to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. We also asked how Pakistan plans to ensure the full implementation of these covenants to safeguard the rights of all citizens of Pakistan including non-Muslim minorities, by repealing laws that discriminate against them. In addition, we asked Pakistan's delegation to the UN Human Rights Council what practical and legislative plans the Government of Pakistan have to safeguard religious, social and cultural rights for minorities.
Whether counterterrorist check clearance forms submitted by candidates for chaplaincy posts in the Prison Service are dealt with by named individuals who are recorded on a central computer system. [HL3536]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Chaplains submit counterterrorist check clearance forms to the Prison Service, together with supporting documentation which is used to undertake a range of checks on identity, entitlement to work, references and criminal record. A baseline verification is then forwarded with the security questionnaire to MoJ's Corporate Security Branch for processing of the counterterrorist check. Details of those involved in these processes are not currently recorded on a central computer system, though documents and access to records is strictly controlled, and MoJ is reviewing arrangements for recording user access as part of our information assurance programme.
What is the most recent guidance that has been issued to civil servants by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the drafting of Answers to Questions for Written Answer in the House of Lords. [HL3516]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Cabinet Office guidance for civil servants on drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions was published in February 2005. A copy of the guidance is in the Library of the House. It can also be found on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinet office.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/civil_service/pq_guidance.aspx.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Cabinet Office guidance for civil servants on drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions was published in February 2005. A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library and it can also be found on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/civil_service/pq_guidance.aspx.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Cabinet Office guidance for civil servants on drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions was published in February 2005. A copy of the guidance is in the Library of the House. It can also be found on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ ethics/civil_service/pq_guid ance.aspx.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government's reply to Question HL2904 was delayed due to an administrative error. I would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this delay.
Whether it is standard practice for a regulatory body to insist that a complainant undertakes not to take legal action against the organisation subject to the regulatory body's authority before it will agree to examine the complaint. [HL2936]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Practice within regulatory bodies, in relation to complaints, varies. Whether it would be appropriate for a regulator to consider a complaint about a particular matter where that matter is the subject of separate ongoing legal proceedings will depend on the circumstances of each case.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): The recruitment process is ongoing and we expect to be in a position to announce the appointment of the new head of UKTI DSO before the Summer Recess. The post was publicly advertised in accordance with the guidance set out by the Office of the Civil Service Commissioner.
Lord Jones of Birmingham: The job specification for the head of the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation, was part of a 12-page information pack for applicants, a copy of which has been placed in the House Library for reference.
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