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In addition to the agenda items, Commissioner Viviane Reding will deliver a presentation of her work.

Local Government: GLA Grant


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Barbara Follett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The general GLA grant for 2010-11 has been determined by the Secretary for State for Communities and Local Government at £48,136,000, after consultation with the Mayor of London. The grant is a block grant paid for the purposes of the Greater London Authority and its functional bodies under Section 100 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The grant for 2010-11 is based on the three-year settlement for the grant following the outcome of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights


Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The need for an additional human rights framework that reflects the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland was recognised in the Belfast agreement and given shape through the commitment to set up a Bill of Rights Forum as part of the St Andrews agreement. Flowing from these commitments, the Government launched a public consultation on the next steps towards a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland on 30 November 2009.

The Government believe that a Bill of Rights which has the support of the people of Northern Ireland could play an important role in underpinning the peace, prosperity and political progress of Northern Ireland, and we are committed to taking this work forward. The launch of the consultation marked another milestone on that path.

The Government have received a number of requests to extend the consultation deadline by organisations that are keen to participate. As we made clear in the consultation paper, we want a full debate on the issues involved, and it is important to hear the full range of

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views. With that in mind, I have decided to extend the consultation deadline by four weeks until the end of March to allow those individuals and organisations who wish to contribute to do so.

I encourage everyone in Northern Ireland to read the consultation paper carefully and to participate in the debate.

Questions for Written Answer: Correction


The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The figure relating to FCO Services given in the Answer delivered on 11 November 2009 HL5509 was incorrect.

The figure of £949,700 related to all of the expenditure on external recruitment not just that spent on advertising for the period 2008-09. The correct figure for expenditure by FCO Services on external recruitment advertising in 2008-09 was £577,176.

Railways: Eurostar


The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The independent review looking into the collapse of Eurostar services before Christmas was published on Friday 12 February. This was a thorough review of the incident and I am pleased to say that all parties have committed to working on implementing the recommendations.

The incident occurred during some of the most prolonged adverse winter weather. Nevertheless, too many passengers were left to endure appalling conditions onboard trains and at stations with inadequate information and assistance. This did not reflect the level of service passengers had experienced over the past 15 years or had come to expect from Eurostar. The company must now win back the trust of the public, by taking every step necessary to ensure that services return to their previous high levels of performance and reliability.

I have requested Eurostar and Eurotunnel to provide an update by the end of March on their progress in implementing the recommendations.

Roads: Congestion


The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Sadiq Khan) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the third tranche of performance-related payments from the urban congestion performance fund that will see the 10 largest urban areas in England receive a further £19.7 million to study and address the causes of urban congestion.

The Department for Transport has a public service agreement indicator regarding person journey time on

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main roads into urban areas. The indicator states that by 2010-11 the 10 largest urban areas in England will meet the congestion targets set in their local transport plan relating to movement on main roads into city centres. The indicator will be deemed to have been met if, on target routes in these areas, an average increase in travel of 4.4 per cent is accommodated with an average increase of 3.6 per cent in person journey time per mile.

On 4 February the department published statistics for 2008-09 for each urban area to replace the provisional estimates that were published in November 2009. These data showed that the average person journey time across all the target routes has improved by 5.5 per cent between the baseline (which uses a mix of 2004-05 and 2005-06 data) and 2008-09. At the same time the average level of travel fell by 0.8 per cent across all the target routes.

Based on this performance, the £19.7 million payment will now be shared between the participating areas as below:

Urban AreaTranche 3 payments



Greater Manchester


West Midlands


West Yorkshire


South Yorkshire


Tyne & Wear




West of England








In relation to the 2007-08 performance fund payments announced on 23 February 2009, an error was identified in the way that "statistical confidence" is determined. This meant that when London was awarded full funding under tranche 2 (£3.9 million) it should have been awarded only 90 per cent (£3.51 million). After taking into consideration the fact that the error was due to the department and not Transport for London, that London had still only marginally missed the full payment threshold and as the priority of the fund is to identify and tackle the causes of congestion, it has been decided to retain London's original performance fund allocation of £3.9 million under tranche 2. No other payments to the other urban areas were affected.

The performance fund is worth a total of £60 million over four years, and today's announcement will have seen a total of £42.6 million paid to the 10 areas. A further £15 million is available in the next financial year and will also be awarded on a performance basis.

Taxation: Corporation Taxation


The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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There is at the moment considerable uncertainty in relation to the corporation tax treatment of distributions. This uncertainty is causing significant problems to UK business and this Statement is intended to establish with certainty a result that will be consistent with established expectations of HMRC practice.

In the Finance Act 2009, the Government introduced a new distribution exemption regime. Since then most income distributions received by UK companies are exempt from corporation tax unless they are linked to tax avoidance. The rules ensure that the UK corporate tax regime remains competitive and represent a significant reduction in the compliance burden faced by UK companies.

As intended, the exemption regime excludes distributions of a capital nature, which are subject to the chargeable gains rules where other exemptions may apply. However, the introduction of the new legislation has prompted HMRC to look more closely at the issue of whether a distribution is of a capital nature.

Before 2005 it was possible to interpret the law as saying that all UK distributions were income in nature

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unless a specific rule said otherwise (for example, distributions in a winding up). In 2005 a Tax Law Rewrite (TLR) Act, in clarifying the law, made that view impossible to sustain. Despite this, prevailing practice remained unaltered and so UK distributions have generally been regarded until recently as income in nature and potentially exempt from corporation tax.

In the absence of a rule treating distributions as income, companies in receipt of capital distributions may now face an unexpected tax charge. In some cases, it has become clear that commercial transactions have been put on hold until the tax consequences become clear, with a corresponding effect on the normal business of those companies.

In order to resolve the issue, the Government will introduce legislation in the Finance Bill with a view to restoring previous expectations about the way that distributions are taxed. The changes will apply retrospectively where appropriate and will be subject to an opt out to ensure that UK retrospective application of the new legislation does not increase tax liabilities. These new rules will give UK companies the clarity they need to carry on their normal business.

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