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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 5 November (WA 71), why there is a difference in procedure in answering operational questions concerning the Police Service of Northern Ireland and those concerning the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and why questions cannot be referred by Ministers for answer to the latter. [HL177]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a non-departmental public body working independently of Government and Ministers, within the statutory framework set out in Section 69 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is therefore appropriate that questions about the operation of the commission, including its provision of advice, are asked directly of the commission, and not through Ministers.
An arrangement has been made with the Chief Constable that questions that concern police operational matters should be forwarded directly to the PSNI by the Northern Ireland Office. This reflects the Chief Constables operational responsibility for policing matters within a policy framework set by the Government and the policing board.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on which sections of the Olympic route network between Heathrow Airport and Stratford they expect to introduce special lanes for accredited Olympic Games vehicles; and what effect they will have on overall traffic flows. [HL343]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In this House, PICT would discuss any such request from the police with Black Rod, who would in turn consult the appropriate authorities. For requests concerning staff of the House of Lords, PICT would consult Black Rod.
To ask the Chairman of Committees on what occasions in the past five years the police have been given access to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology service (or its predecessors); and in each case what was the date; who gave the authority; and what was the police force concerned. [HL316]
The Chairman of Committees: There have been two occasions when Parliamentary Police and Security have been asked to examine the internet records of a member of staff of the House: in November 2006 and June 2007. This was done with the approval and at the request of Blacks Rod's Office and the Head of Human Resources. No requests have been made concerning Members of the House.
To ask the Chairman of Committees on what occasions in the past five years a third party has been given access to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology service (or its predecessor body); and in each case what was the date of access; who gave the authority; and who was the person or organisation to whom access was given. [HL317]
The Chairman of Committees: A number of trusted third parties are given access to the ICT system as part of their maintenance and support responsibilities. They are subject to confidentiality clauses in their contracts. No third party has been given access to systems for investigatory purposes. Security specialists are asked to examine the perimeter defences of the network from time to time as part of security audits.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members there are currently in public sector final salary pension schemes; how many there are in private sector final salary pension schemes; and
18 Dec 2008 : Column WA76
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The latest available information on the estimated number of active members in occupational pension schemes is set out in the table below.
|Numbers of active members of occupational pension schemes, by type of scheme and sector, for the year 2007 in UK|
|Total number of members of personal and stakeholder pensions for the year 2007-08 in UK|
No assessment of the disparity in members' benefits between scheme types is available. The benefits a member receives are dependent on the individual scheme design, contribution level and investment performance. In the case of defined benefit schemes, it also depends on earnings and how long members stay in the scheme. Benefits therefore vary greatly between schemes of the same type. As a result, it is not appropriate to compare the disparity of benefits between scheme types.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 14 November (WA 15657), whether the time taken to process each of the seven appeals was due to the substance of the regulations not being part of the statute; and, if so, why that statute was not promulgated until this year. [HL274]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The time taken to process the seven appeals mentioned in my previous reply has been due to a number of reasons. For two of the appeals, those relating to Smalldale Head Quarry and Pole Hole Quarry, the principal reason for delay was the need for appropriate EIA regulations to be in place. For the remaining five appeals, various other reasons, such as reviews under the Habitats Regulations, were more important factors.
The requirements of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) directive were first applied to the review of mineral planning permissions by regulations that came into effect on 15 November 2000. A voluntary procedure was put into place for those applications and appeals that were not caught by the 2000 regulations. In most cases mineral operators co-operated and new conditions were determined.
However, it eventually became apparent that in a small number of cases applications were being stalled because operators would not provide mineral planning authorities with the necessary environmental information. At the end of 2004 possible solutions to this problem were explored; and at the beginning of 2006 I agreed to enact a set of regulations that would apply the requirements of the EIA directive to outstanding applications and appeals not caught by the 2000 regulations.
The proposed regulations were subjected to wide and thorough consultation and careful legal scrutiny. In the event, appropriate and workable regulations proved to be very complex to draft, and despite the best efforts of all concerned it was not possible to enact them before July 2008.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The impact assessment for the Planning Bill published in November 2007 estimated that the average annual cost of the Infrastructure Planning Commission will be about £9.3 million per annum. The salaries of the administrative staff were estimated to cost about £3.1 million per annum.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The national roads policing strategy, agreed between the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office and the Department for Transport, includes enhancing public confidence and reassurance by patrolling the roads as one of its five main focuses. Implementation of the strategy is a commitment in the National Community Safety Plan 2008-11 and Ministers regularly emphasise the importance of effective roads policing in correspondence, speeches and meetings with the police. Deployment of resources remains an operational matter for individual chief officers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 26 November (WA 333), on how many occasions the Northern Ireland Compensation Agency has been advised in the past five years by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) of claims for compensation from a prisoner or ex-prisoner in relation to injuries sustained as a result of negligence or breach of statutory duty; and how many times the agency, if it has previously paid compensation to the prisoner's victim, has taken proceedings to recover this amount from the compensation which NIPS paid to the prisoner. [HL181]
The Compensation Agency is automatically advised of any compensation claim received by the Northern Ireland Prison Service from a prisoner or ex-prisoner. Where the agency has paid compensation to the prisoners victim, the agency recovers this from the compensation that would otherwise be paid to the prisoner or ex-prisoner. Legal proceedings are not required to effect this recovery.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): I am afraid that I am unable to identify the project to which the noble Lord refers. If the noble Lord would care to write to me with further details I will provide him with a written reply.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff were in post in HM Revenue and Customs at the merger in April 2005; how many posts have been abolished and how many new staff recruited in each year since that date; and what is the difference between staff numbers now and those in April 2005. [HL180]
Lord Davies of Oldham: HM Revenue and Customs was created on 18 April 2005. The first staff-in-post figures for the merged department were produced for midnight on 30 April 2005 when the numbers were 104,696 headcount (97,046 full-time equivalent).
The number of permanent staff recruited is published in Civil Service Staffing Statistics. The figures show 6,070 in 2005-06 and 1,370 in 2006-07. Internal departmental equivalent figures show 2,115 in 2007-08 and 4,319 in 2008-09 to date.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Myners on 12 November (WA 139) and 26 November (WA 293) and by Lord Davidson of Glen Clova on 25 November (WA 282), how much public money has been made available in the past month per person on the Scottish electoral roll for rescuing the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS. [HL109]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The noble Lord's Question again seeks to compare two unrelated matters: the population of Scotland; and the support made available to two banks which operate throughout the United Kingdom and in many other countries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate has been made of the loss to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs from non-payment of income tax by United Kingdom subjects holding savings deposits in financial institutions in (a) the Isle of Man, and (b) Guernsey. [HL267]
Lord Davies of Oldham: In March 2008 HMRC released details of some analysis from 2005 that attempted to derive estimates of the direct tax gap at the start of the decadesee www.hmrc.gov.uk/research/direct-tax-gaps.pdf. This included a very broad-brush estimate of the tax gap associated with the use of offshore accounts. For conditions in 2002-03, the annual loss of tax through evasion using offshore accounts was estimated to be between £80 million and £140 million for the Isle of Man and between £60 million and £90 million for Guernsey.
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