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Baroness Verma: The UK Government will provide the African Union (AU) with approximately £1.3 million of direct support during 2010-11. Existing UK support is helping to improve the AU's ability to reduce conflict while enhancing the effectiveness of the AU's commission.
The Secretary of State for International Development has commissioned a bilateral aid review to ensure that UK bilateral aid is targeted to where it is needed most and will make the most significant impact. The review will consider which countries and regional organisations should receive British aid, how much they should receive and which should stop receiving British aid. The review will be aligned with the spending review and conclude by early 2011. The nature of the UK's support to the AU over the next three years will be agreed as part of this process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will strengthen the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in respect of normal owl behaviour patterns and the provision of a suitable environment for owls.[HL3126]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): It is already an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to fail to provide for the welfare needs of any animal under the control of man or to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. We have no plans to introduce any further requirements relating specifically to owls.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Animal Health, the agency responsible for the registration of birds kept in captivity, does not keep records as to the purpose of the initial registration. I am therefore unable to estimate how many birds are in captivity for rehabilitation purposes.
When a bird is registered as a "wild disabled bird", a questionnaire is sent to ensure that the bird is checked by a veterinary practitioner. It also ensures that birds suitable for rehabilitation are not habituated to human contact and thus rendered unsuitable for return to the wild.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Baroness Wilcox on 14 October (Official Report, col. 671), how many apprenticeships they forecast will be created in the public sector in each of the next three years.[HL3055]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We have not set sectoral targets for apprenticeships, nor do we forecast the number of apprenticeships to be created in any particular sector. It is a demand-led programme.
Public sector employers have shown increasing commitment to apprenticeships and we would encourage that to continue, both for new staff where those opportunities are available, and for existing staff.
The coalition Government are committed to driving up the skills levels of the workforce and to increasing apprenticeship opportunities for employers and employees in all sectors. This applies equally to the public and private sectors. We recently built on our commitment by announcing that we will be increasing adult apprenticeship funding by up to £250 million a year by the end of the spending review period, so that the programmes will continue to grow. By 2014-15 we will have in place sufficient funding for 75,000 more adult apprenticeship places a year than were provided under the previous Government.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As an assessment phase for the in-service support of the A400M aircraft is currently under way, I am withholding this information as releasing it may prejudice the outcome of ongoing discussions on this matter.
Lord Astor of Hever: The A400M design and production phase contract, let by the European armaments agency OCCAR on behalf of the six partner nations with Airbus Military in 2003, contains the following orders for A400M aircraft:
Lord Astor of Hever: An assessment phase to consider options for the in-service support of the A400M military transport aircraft is currently under way. Until this analysis is complete neither the full details nor the precise cost of supporting the aircraft will be known.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The strategic defence and security review assessed that over the next five years the overriding priority is operations in Afghanistan. Retaining Tornado over Harrier allows a fast jet contribution to be sustained there while also supporting concurrent operations. This would not have been possible with Harrier.
After 2015 Harriers-whether they were operating from HMS "Illustrious", or at the end of the decade from HMS "Queen Elizabeth" or HMS "Prince of Wales"-would provide only a very limited coercive capability. We judge it unlikely that this would be sufficiently useful in the latter half of the decade to be a cost-effective use of resources as we reduce the variety of aircraft types and hence costs. Furthermore, we neither have over-flight restrictions where our forces are likely to operate nor foresee any in the next 10 years. Therefore, we assume we will need current strike capability around 2020. However, this will be reviewed as part of the next strategic defence and security review in 2015.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): A key priority in the Strategic Defence and Security Review was to reinforce the UK's pre-eminent defence and security relationship with the United States. We have closely engaged with the US throughout the review and they have responded positively to the outcome, appreciating particularly our commitment to retain the full spectrum of military capabilities. As a result of the review we will seek to strengthen joint efforts in key priority areas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Spending Review 2010, they will bring forward the proposed closures of (a) the Bergen-Hohne Garrison, and (b) other military bases in Germany. [HL2928]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As the Prime Minister announced in the other place on 19 October (Official Report, Commons, col. 797W), as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Government have decided to accelerate the rebasing of 20,000 military personnel in Germany with a view to returning half of those personnel to the UK by 2015 and the remainder by 2020. More detailed work will now be undertaken to identify how this policy ambition will be achieved. It is too early, therefore, to say what the impact will be on specific garrisons or bases.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to ensure that the change in policy on returning failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe does
28 Oct 2010 : Column WA309
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The decision to resume enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe reflects the improved situation on the ground in Zimbabwe since the formation of the Inclusive Government in 2009 and the fact that the courts have found that not all Zimbabweans are in need of international protection. It will end the anomaly of failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe being treated differently from those of all other countries.
The decision does not reflect any change in our categorical opposition to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. We will continue to call, both bilaterally and with our international partners, for an end to all such abuses and the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards in Zimbabwe.
EU member states will shortly begin discussions on the EU Measures, which are due for renewal in February. The recent decision to resume the enforced return of those not in need of international protection is not of direct relevance to these discussions. There is no inconsistency in saying that a small, corrupt elite implicated in human rights abuses cannot benefit from travelling to EU countries, and in returning to their country of origin Zimbabweans who are here illegally. We return failed asylum seekers to all other countries that are under EU or UN restrictive measures or sanctions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will instruct the Remuneration Committee of each United Kingdom bank to give consideration to the benefit received by the bank from the Special Liquidity Scheme, the Deposit Guarantee Scheme and the impact of quantitative easing on the profitability of the bank; and to submit their assessment to HM Treasury and to shareholders as part of the Remuneration Report.[HL2694]
The Financial Services Authority is currently revising its remuneration code and provisions will be in place by 1 January 2011 to ensure bonuses are deferred over a number of years and are linked to the performance of the employee and their firm. In addition, significant portions of any bonus will be paid in shares or other securities.
High-earning employees and other significant risk takers in this sector will no longer receive all their bonuses in cash while leaving their shareholders, and potentially the taxpayer, exposed to the long-term risks they take.
As was the case with the previous Government, we have no plans to link this work specifically to the impact of quantitative easing on the profitability of banks or the institutions that have participated in the Special Liquidity Scheme and the Credit Guarantee Scheme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place limitations on the payment of bonuses by United Kingdom banks in continuing receipt of taxpayer support through the special liquidity scheme and the deposit guarantee scheme.[HL2634]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As part of the work being undertaken to reform the financial services sector, we are taking action to tackle unacceptable bonuses throughout the banking sector.
The Financial Services Authority is currently revising its remuneration code, and provisions will be in place by 1 January 2011 that will ensure bonuses are deferred over a number of years and are linked to the performance of the employee and their firm. In addition, significant portions of any bonus will be paid in shares or other securities.
High-earning employees and other significant risk takers in this sector will no longer receive all their bonuses in cash while leaving their shareholders, and potentially the taxpayer, exposed to the long-term risks they take.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The number of families claiming child benefit in Kent is 178,420. This is in respect of 316,045 children, and reflects the reported balance in August 2009.
The information requested can be found at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/child benefit/chb-geog-aug09.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what entrepreneurship and enterprise projects they have (a) fully, and (b) partially funded; and what plans they have to fund such projects in each of the next five years.[HL2878]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): A wide range of enterprise projects have been supported through a number of programmes run by various departments, but a comprehensive list of these is not available and could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the decision by the South-West Research Ethics Committee to approve a pilot research study into the effects of the Lightning Process on children is consistent with the ethical guidance issued by the Medical Research Council to the effect that clinical trials should only include children where the relevant knowledge cannot be obtained by research on adults, and that research involving adults cannot provide the same benefits. [HL3014]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Research ethics committees' decisions are expected to be impartial and independent of ministerial and other influences. The Government do not interfere with their deliberations, either while they are in progress or by reviewing the outcome. The practice of research ethics committees is subject to training, accreditation and other quality assurance by the arm's-length National Research Ethics Service to ensure the competence and consistency of their decision-making.
It would be unethical if scientists did not seek to determine the safety and efficacy of treatments and care for all intended beneficiaries, male and female, young and old. When considering whether the particular sample of people proposed as research participants is appropriate, research ethics committees have regard to the established ethical principles reflected in the medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004, international and professional codes of practice and guidelines from funding bodies such as the Medical Research Council (MRC), although the research project in question is neither a drug trial nor funded by the MRC.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been allocated in this financial year to the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence Conflict Pool; and what plans they have for the future of the Conflict Pool.[HL2707]
Baroness Verma: The Conflict Pool has been allocated £178.5 million in the current financial year for conflict prevention, stabilisation and discretionary peacekeeping out of its settlement of £229 million. The balance has been allocated to cover legally binding commitments on assessed peacekeeping.
As announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Conflict Pool will increase over the next spending review period to approximately £309 million in 2014-15, enabling the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence to use their development, diplomacy and defence capabilities in an integrated way to tackle conflict overseas. The Conflict Pool will continue to be jointly managed by the three departments. The Strategic Defence and Security Review also announced that a new Building Stability Overseas strategy, to be published in spring 2011, will provide clearer direction and a focus on results. The Conflict Pool will be a key resource for delivery of the new strategy.
Baroness Verma: The Conflict Pool will continue to be jointly managed by the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence. As announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, a new Building Stability Overseas strategy, to be published in spring 2011, will provide clearer direction and a focus on results. The Conflict Pool will be a key resource for delivery of the new strategy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 13 October (WA 71), whether HM Treasury and the Debt Management Office maintain regular dialogue with gilt edge investors and use this feedback to take advantage of strong interest in particular parts of the yield curve to reduce the economic cost of government borrowing.[HL3029]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury and the Debt Management Office (DMO) regularly consult market participants. The DMO hosts quarterly consultation meetings with the gilt-edged market makers (GEMMs) and end investors to discuss details of forthcoming gilt market operational calendars. Shortly before the start of each financial year-typically in January-the Minister responsible for debt management chairs the annual consultation meetings with the GEMMs and end investors to discuss the shape of the financing remit for the coming year. HM Treasury and the DMO also maintain regular bilateral contacts with market participants including representatives of key investor groups.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the United Nations mapping report on the Democratic Republic of Congo, they will support the establishment of a mixed chamber in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[HL2949]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The report contains a number of important recommendations. It is now for the UN, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other states involved to take these forward. We hope that the report will be used constructively, and would encourage all parties to engage positively in the process. The Government of DRC have expressed an interest in the formation of a mixed chamber, and we look forward to receiving further details of this proposal.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who were the professional advisers for the Bridge Bank that took over part of the Dunfermline Building Society in March 2009; what were their charges; what those charges consisted of; and whether they have been fully paid.[HL2715]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Under Section 80(1) of the Banking Act 2009 the Bank of England is required to report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the activities of the DBS Bridge Bank and under Section 80(4) the Chancellor of the Exchequer is required to lay this report before both Houses of Parliament. The first such report was laid in both Houses of Parliament on 21 July 2010.
As set out in the report, £3,122,000 was paid out in respect of operating costs and professional fees including: £2,325,721 to Ernst & Young for operational management and management of the sale process, £656,745 to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for legal advice, and £43,585 paid to KPMG for tax advice.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated cost of building premises in Brussels to house the President of the European Council; and what will be the amount contributed to its building by the United Kingdom.[HL2817]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Council agreed back in 2006 that, as a result of continued enlargement of EU membership and the need to provide a purpose-built site for European councils, it required additional accommodation. The President of the European Council currently has his office at the Council's Justus Lipsius building. Once the new European Council building is completed, in 2013, the President's office will be situated there. In February 2010, the costs of the new building were capped at €240 million. The UK contributes roughly 12 per cent of the EU budget.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We understand the use of official cars was connected with security arrangements for the European Council President. It is not appropriate for us to comment on those arrangements, though they should of course be carried out as economically as possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 30 June (Official Report, col. 1793), whether they have concluded their re-evaluation of the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Defence Agency. [HL2612]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Secretary of State for Defence has agreed that we will remain in the European Defence Agency for a period of two years, then we will review the status of our membership.
Earl Attlee: Our staffing plans for the next four years cannot be detailed until after the spending review decisions are concluded. On the basis of our current staffing levels, if no salary increases or increments of any kind were paid, our salary bill would remain at £1,023 million per annum.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Following the Spending Review settlement for the Wales Office, detailed workforce plans and pay bill allocations, on which such estimates would be based, are being developed and finalised. We are therefore currently unable to provide estimates of savings for the years in question.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Wales Office staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ending 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales. [HL2660]
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: The number of Wales Office staff who have received or are due to receive increments in pay by the year ending 5 April 2011 will be eleven (18 per cent of staff). Most are Welsh Assembly Government staff on loan to the Wales Office, and Welsh Assembly Government policy contains entitlement to annual increments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Department for Transport staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ending 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales.[HL2661]
The Department for Transport has entered into the two-year pay freeze for employees outside the Senior Civil Service in 2010-11. Consolidated base pay has been frozen in 2010-11 for the Senior Civil Service.
Consolidated pay awards were made in 2010-11 because the department had a contractual obligation to pay progression to employees below the Senior Civil Service, payments also related to employees with full-time equivalent earnings of less than £21,000.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which works of art from the Government Art Collection are currently displayed in the offices of the Secretary of State, Ministers and senior civil servants in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[HL2906]
Baroness Rawlings: The works of art from the Government Art Collection currently displayed in the Ministers' offices at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are set out in the table. Senior civil servants share hot-desking spaces with the rest of the department and do not have exclusive offices where art is displayed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In the 2011-12 academic year, full-time students with household incomes up to £50,020 can apply for a non-repayable grant to help with their living costs at university, with those on household incomes of £25,000 or less eligible for the maximum grant amount of £2,906. Further means-tested grant support is available to those with caring responsibilities. All students will be eligible for loans to cover tuition fees and help towards living costs.
Universities are required to offer a minimum bursary for low-income students, and those facing financial hardship can also apply for help from the discretionary Access to Learning Fund through their university.
Lord Browne's recent review makes recommendations on the future of student support. We are considering these recommendations carefully and will respond shortly. The Government are committed to supporting poorer students and have already announced £150 million for a new national scholarship scheme to improve access for students from families of modest means.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when (a) Ministers, and (b) officials, last met or communicated with university vice-chancellors or representatives of the higher education sector to discuss the role of higher education in international development. [HL2703]
Baroness Verma: The Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development (DfID) met with the chancellor and vice-chancellor of the Open University on 19 October to discuss higher education policy. Officials from DfID are in regular contact with representatives of the higher education sector, particularly representatives from the United Kingdom Forum for International Education and Training, to which DfID provides funding. Officials from DfID are also in regular policy dialogue with officials in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, working on higher education policy.
Baroness Verma: A joint steering committee, with representatives from both the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is in place to oversee the Development Partnerships in Higher Education Programme, funded by DfID, and the Education Partnerships in Africa Programme, funded by BIS.
The Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DeLPHE) is a seven-year programme managed through the British Council that supports some 200 partnerships between higher education institutions (HEIs) in 26 DfID priority countries.
Education Partnerships in Africa (EPA) is a four-year programme also run through the British Council that supports English higher education and further education institutions to work in partnership with counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when (a) Ministers, and (b) officials, last discussed higher education with (1) officials of the African Union, and (2) Ministers or officials of African nations in receipt of overseas development assistance; and, in each case, which departments were involved and in what context.[HL2705]
While DfID's principal focus has been access to basic education with the aim of meeting millennium development goal (MDG) 2, we recognise the importance of higher education in achieving this and other MDGs. Across Africa, officials meet regularly with representatives from respective ministries of education to discuss issues across the sector, including higher education.
For example, DfID's regional education adviser met representatives of the Association of African Universities (AAU) in September 2010 to discuss UK support to the mobilising regional capacity initiative, a three-year programme managed by the AAU supporting regional higher education networks.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The cross-party Committee on House of Lords reform is charged with bringing forward a draft Bill, to be published early next year, which will then be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government hope that this will be by a joint committee but this is a matter for both Houses to determine.
To ask the Chairman of Committees, in the light of the impending arrival of up to 50 new Peers, what additional accommodation will be made in the Chamber of the House of Lords to enable all Members to participate in the work of the House including at Question Time.[HL2893]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In light of the pressure on seating in the Chamber during Question Time, the Administration and Works Committee has looked at a range of proposals for easing the problem. While there is no practical way of providing more seating in the main body of the Chamber, the Committee did agree earlier this week to make 15 seats Below Bar available for Members. Further details are set out in a Written Statement I made on 27 October (WS 103).
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The cross-party Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, is considering as part of its deliberations all issues pertinent to reform of the House of Lords including the impact of the reform on current conventions.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government regularly call on Iran to meet its international obligations to find a diplomatic resolution to the issue of Iran's illicit nuclear programme. My right honourable friend Foreign Secretary raised this when he saw Foreign Minister Mottaki in New York in the margins of the UN General Assembly in September.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Iran's continued violation of UN Security Council resolutions is a matter of international concern. The UK, with its E3+3 partners, is committed to the dual track strategy of engagement and pressure to find a diplomatic solution to the issue. The UK has been at the forefront of pushing for robust sanctions in the UN and EU.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government believe it is important that there is a fair and equitable allocation of water resources in the Levant. There are huge pressures on the waters of the River Jordan and its tributaries, which feed the Dead Sea, from both Israel and Jordan, as well as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria and Lebanon.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned by reports of weapons transfers to Hizballah. My honourable friend Alistair Burt raised the issue with Prime Minister Hariri during his visit to Lebanon earlier this year. Our Ambassadors in Beirut and Damascus regularly raise the issue of weapons transfers to Hizballah at senior level, including most recently with the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, where we underlined the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which calls for the disarmament of all armed groups.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): I have today placed in the Library of the House a table that gives the 2009-10 provisional data on central government grant received per head of population by each local authority in England.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of net expenditure in 2009-10 each local authority in England received (a) from central government, and (b) from council tax and fees and charges raised locally.[HL3011]
Baroness Hanham: I have today placed in the Library of the House a table that gives, by each local authority in England, the percentage of total service expenditure financed from (a) sales, fees and charges (b) council tax and (c) central government funding in 2009-10.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Table 9.1 of the 2010 edition of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) details identifiable spending on services for each of the regions and countries of the United Kingdom. Data relating to 2009-10 are shown in the table below:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are disappointed with the outcome of the recent votes in the European Parliament on increasing maternity pay. The Government's impact assessment suggests that providing 20 weeks of fully paid maternity leave would cost the UK approximately £2 billion per annum, while providing little benefit since 92 per cent of pregnant women in the UK
28 Oct 2010 : Column WA323
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the role of higher education in the promotion of (a) economic growth, (b) public administration, (c) science, (d) agriculture, and (e) the achievement of the millennium development goals in Africa.[HL2702]
Baroness Verma: In Africa, as in the rest of the world, basic education is a vital foundation for all further learning and this has been our priority. However, the millennium development goals cannot be reached without higher-level knowledge and skills. Higher education drives the science and innovation necessary for economic growth and provides individuals with the skills required to become professionals essential to development, such as public sector managers, business leaders, teachers, health workers and agriculturalists.
Baroness Verma: As a major provider of aid, the EU is critical to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs). We will work with others to ensure that EU institutions and EU member states continue to focus their efforts on achieving the MDGs. As part of the multilateral aid review, we are currently conducting a wide-ranging review of our support through EU institutions to improve the impact of aid and achieve greater value for money.
The UK Government also work with the European Commission to make sure that its MDG initiative, which has been announced by President Barroso in New York, will accelerate progress towards the MDGs. The Commission has offered up to €1 billion from the current European Development Fund for this initiative. We will work to ensure that the Commission focuses these funds on the most off-track MDGs and demonstrates a clear focus on results. In addition, together with the Commission, the UK Government will keep encouraging other member states to meet the EU aid target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The coalition Government are taking action that will result in the benefits of mentoring being more widely known and making it easier for those seeking such support to find it. This work is being taken forward in consultation with the business representative organisations, major high street lenders, mentoring providers and volunteering organisations.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) does not intend to reduce salaries or bonuses paid to staff at present over and above the two-year pay freeze relating to all civil servants earning over £21,000 as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 22 June.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 18 October (WA 120) concerning the salary and allowances paid to the Director General (Political) of the Northern Ireland Office, why they will not make the information available by means of a Written Answer.[HL2894]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The combined salary and allowances of the Director General of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) as currently configured, following the completion of devolution on 12 April 2010, and of Director Generals of the NIO as previously configured are already in the public domain. The earnings of the Director General as at 31 August 2010 were between £120,000 and £125,000 and were recently published by the Cabinet Office on its website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the Director General (Political) of the Northern Ireland Office was appointed; what qualifications were required; by whom the appointment was made; after what process; and when.[HL2897]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The post of Director General (Political) was abolished when the department was reconfigured following the completion of devolution on 12 April 2010. Appointments to the previous post of Director General (Political) were made by the Permanent Secretary to the Northern Ireland Office in line with Cabinet Office guidance.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have made it clear that we will stand by Northern Ireland on matters of national security and, in particular, the terms of the financial settlement agreed by the previous Government when policing and justice powers were devolved earlier this year. In line with this, we have made an additional £12.9 million available from the Reserve to meet exceptional security pressures, making a total of £50.3 million from the Reserve in 2010-11. It is, however, for the Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) to decide, in consultation with the chief constable, the appropriate level of funding for the Police Service of Northern Ireland for 2011-12 and beyond. In doing so I would expect the NIE to take account of the security situation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they spent (a) in cash terms, and (b) as a proportion of overseas development assistance, on the support of higher education in Africa in (1) 1979, (2) 1987, (3) 1997, (4) 2005, and (5) each year since 2005 for which figures are available.[HL2701]
Baroness Verma: Breakdowns of official development assistance (ODA) by sector and region together are not available before 2005. More information is available from the online database of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at www.oecd.org/dac/stats/qwids.
* The sub-sector "Education, Level Unspecified" includes some activities which might cover higher education, such as education policy, teacher training and research, but it is not possible to separate these out.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The following government departments meet the costs of, and provide the majority of the assistance to, the Overseas Territories: the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The UK is responsible for 14 Overseas Territories. The following figures cover staff and administration costs in support of defence, safety and security, good governance, sustainable development and the environment. Where possible, the costs have been broken down by Territory.
|Department||Cost (£ million) 2009/10|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have estimated the number of owls kept in captivity in the United Kingdom; and, if so, whether this number has increased over the last five years. [HL3122]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Owls have never been a registerable species under Section 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Therefore we have no records or estimates of how many are currently kept in captivity or were kept in captivity in the past.
Lord Henley: The agency responsible for the administration of both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and registration of birds in captivity is Animal Health. During the course of a year officials from the agency attend Hawk Board meetings and have regular exchanges of information and correspondence. I am not aware that they have received specific advice concerning keeping of hawks and owls and the trade in such birds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 18 October (WA 122) concerning overpayment of public sector pensions since 1978, how the overpayments were discovered; by whom; what action will be taken against those responsible; and when.[HL2895]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Capita, who pay pensions on behalf of the Civil Service pension scheme, became aware that they were missing Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) information or were receiving notification later than expected. It raised the issue with Cabinet Office, which then contacted HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to compare GMP details for all pension scheme members, before informing other public sector pension schemes.
The National Audit Office agrees with the HMRC and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) view (from work undertaken in 2009) that there is no single cause for the overpayments. Responsibility for the overpayments is shared between the public sector pension schemes and their scheme administrators, HMRC and DWP. All parties are working collaboratively and in partnership to put in place robust processes designed to ensure that this problem does not occur again in the future.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Management of the fund of the BT pension scheme is a matter for the trustee of the pension scheme. This is overseen by the independent Pensions Regulator.
In the unlikely event that BT is wound up due to insolvency, BT's liabilities to the pension scheme are covered by a Crown guarantee, the scope of which has just been ruled on by the High Court. The Government are taking legal advice on this judgment and will decide next steps in due course.
Earl Attlee: ECPAT's latest report raises a number of issues related to child trafficking, some of which were also raised as part of the review of the national referral mechanism (NRM). The Government will consider these issues to ensure that the best arrangements are in place to protect child-trafficking victims.
Earl Attlee: While the full impact of the Home Office spending review settlement is currently being considered across a range of spending priorities, combating trafficking is part of core policing business and the Government remain committed to tackling this terrible form of child exploitation.
Earl Attlee: This issue has been raised as part of the continuing national referral mechanism (NRM) review. While there are no plans to create a separate NRM system for children, the review highlighted the need to raise awareness of the NRM among front-line staff working with children and work is under way to consider the best way of achieving this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give overall responsibility for policy on safeguarding child victims of trafficking to the government department with lead responsibility for child protection. [HL2987]
Earl Attlee: The Home Office holds the lead on human trafficking (including child trafficking) and there are currently no plans to move policy responsibility for this function elsewhere within government.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The eight pirates detained by the Royal Navy in November 2008 were sentenced to, and are now serving, 20 years in Kenyan prisons for piracy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Royal Navy ships participating in counter-piracy operations are always trained and equipped with the required rules of engagement to counter any threats they may face. These have not changed since the general election, but are reviewed on a regular basis.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for the period from 2011-12 will be announced in late November or early December, as in previous years. This includes the provisional formula grant allocations for fire and rescue authorities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Department of Health will increase spending on health research in real terms. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will ensure that Medical Research Council expenditure is maintained in real terms.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Statement repeated by Lord Sassoon on 20 October (Official Report, col. 838), how much of the estimated
28 Oct 2010 : Column WA331
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The figure of £5 billion is a rounded figure. The estimate of monies lost to benefit and tax credit fraud and error is £5.2 billion. This is broken down as follows:
The latest estimates of fraud and error in the benefits system can be found at http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/fem_oct08_sep09.pdf.
The latest estimates of fraud and error in the tax credits system can be found at http://www. hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtcredits-error0809.pdf.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are a range of criminal offences that may be relevant depending on the circumstances of the case, including offences under the Gambling Act 2005 or the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. In addition, the law on bribery was recently modernised by the Bribery Act 2010. The Act, which is due to be commenced in April 2011, introduces specific offences of offering, promising or giving a financial or other advantage to a person to induce them to perform a relevant function or activity improperly; and requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a financial or other advantage in return for performing such a function or activity improperly. The law of conspiracy would be available to deal with collusion in respect of all these offences as it is an offence to conspire to commit any substantive criminal offence.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Her Majesty's Government do not make their own calculations of victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland; the designation of victims in legislation is now a devolved matter.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Commission funds an assistance programme in candidate and pre-candidate countries to support them to carry out the reforms needed to progress towards EU membership. Accession negotiations with Turkey opened in 2005 and have made steady progress. Turkey needs to fully implement the new constitutional package, which includes reforms to the judiciary and military, as well as implementing sustainable reforms in areas relating to financial services, free movement of goods and the customs union. Pre-accession assistance to Turkey is funded from the EU budget to which the UK contributes approximately 15 per cent. The UK believes Turkey's membership of the EU would strongly benefit the EU and UK, contributing to our future security, stability and prosperity.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are extremely concerned about the recent increase in violent crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Governor is considering a request to the UK Government for short-term assistance to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. We will give this careful consideration.
At the same time, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government are taking action to strengthen the penalties for gun-related crime and the illegal possession of guns. The police have also launched a high profile operation on the island of Providenciales which will last for an indefinite period.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the recent increase in lawlessness in the territory; and what plans they have to assist the Governor and local agencies in restoring order and bringing those responsible to justice.[HL2969]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Governor continues to report regularly on the recent increase in violent crime. He is considering a request to the UK Government for short-term assistance to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. We will give this careful consideration.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Environment Agency Wales has completed its investigation to identify the "Appropriate Person". It now awaits an air quality study and report relating to the site, commissioned by the local authority. After considering this report and in the absence of any voluntary agreement for remediation, the Environment Agency will make a formal determination identifying the "Appropriate Persons".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Section 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 requires birds listed on Schedule 4 to the Act to be registered and marked if kept in captivity. It is not a sales control. Following public consultation in 2006, Schedule 4 to the Act was amended with changes coming into effect on 1 October 2008. The number of bird species on this schedule was reduced from 59 to nine.
Of the original 59 bird species on Schedule 4, none was owls. Owls were not included on Schedule 4 because their conservation status was not considered at risk from unlawful taking from the wild and there would therefore be little benefit in registering owls held in captivity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated percentage of recipients of winter fuel payments (a) below, and (b) above, the age of 80 who are (1) standard rate income tax payers and (2) higher rate taxpayers.[HL2739]
|Under 80||Over 80|
|Year||Savings if winter fuel payments taxable as personal income (10/11 prices)|
1. Savings are modelled using HMRC data on the number of taxpayers by tax band for 2007-08, projected forwards using June 2010 Budget assumptions. It is assumed that all taxpayers of appropriate age get winter fuel payment.
3. The personal income tax allowances for 2010-11 are: £6,475 for those under 65; £9,490 for those aged 65-74; £9,640 for those aged 75 and over. (Projected tax allowances and thresholds are consistent with the June 2010 Budget economic assumptions and pre-announced policy changes).
Lord Freud: Information on the proportion of the expenditure on winter fuel payments by equivalised household income deciles on an after housing cost basis is set out in the table below. Estimates are derived from the Family Resources Survey and the latest year available is 2008-09. Information on projections of these estimates is not available.
|Proportion of expenditure on Winter Fuel Payment by equivalised income decile, 2008-09 (After Housing Costs)|
|Year||Bottom decile||2nd decile||3rd decile||4th decile||5th decile||6th decile||7th decile||8th decile||9th decile||Top decile|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they forecast will be the total number, and proportion of the population, of recipients of (a) winter fuel allowance, and (b) means tested cold weather payments, in (1) Kensington and Chelsea, and (2) Glasgow, over the next 20 years.[HL2766]
Lord Freud: Winter fuel payment expenditure is not forecast at sub-national level. Outturn data for 2009-10 for Kensington and Chelsea and Glasgow local authorities are shown in the table below. Outturn data for all local authorities can be found here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/la_expenditure.xls
|Winter Fuel Payment expenditure (£m, cash)||Glasgow||Kensington and Chelsea|
Winter fuel payment expenditure forecasts for Great Britain to 2015-16 are shown in the table below, and can also be found here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/alltables_budget2010.xls.
|Winter Fuel Allowance GB Expenditure £million||Nominal Terms||Real terms (2010-11 Prices)|
(b) The total number of recipients of cold weather payments over the next 20 years depends on the severity of the winters, so it cannot be forecast. In addition, cold weather payment data are not available by local authority, but only by weather station.
Lord Freud: For winter 2010-11 winter fuel payments will continue to be paid at the higher rates of £250 for households with someone aged between women's state pension age and 79 and £400 for households with someone aged 80 or over.
The Government have always made it clear that they will not publish responses to every idea posted on the Your Freedom website but have committed to give due consideration to each one. This process is on-going.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 7 October (WA 29-30), how many members of staff are engaged in considering the 15,238 ideas submitted in response to the Your Freedom initiative; and what has been the total cost of the initiative to date. [HL2727]
Baroness Verma: Staff from around 30 government departments and non-departmental public bodies have been involved in considering the ideas submitted to the Your Freedom project. In most cases this work has been carried out as part of their wider roles. Information on the numbers of staff and costs incurred by these departments is not held centrally and could be obtained at disproportionate cost.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 7 October (WA 29-30), how many responses to the Restoring Civil Liberties initiative called for (a) a ban on wheel clamping on private land, and (b) changes in the DNA retention policy.[HL2728]
Baroness Verma: Under the Restoring Civil Liberties section on the Your Freedom website, 24 of the ideas submitted called for a ban on wheel clamping and 94 ideas called for changes in the DNA retention policy.
Please note that not all of the ideas use the exact wording "ban on wheel clamping on private land" or "changes in the DNA retention policy" but they do directly address the issues you have highlighted.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) involvement in the Inclusive Government has played a significant role in the improvements in Zimbabwe since February 2009, particularly the revival of the economy and the resumption of basic services.
The UK Government have acknowledged the impressive performance of Finance Minister Tendai Biti in securing macro-economic stability and curbing inflation thus increasing the availability of goods, revenue and employment and leading the country to economic growth for the first time since 1997. MDC Ministers have also played a crucial role in reinvigorating the education and health sectors, getting schools, universities and hospitals working again, thus greatly improving the humanitarian situation.
Persistent intransigence from hardliners continues to hamper reform, particularly in the judicial and security sectors. However, in the absence of a roadmap to credible and properly monitored elections, the Inclusive Government continue to offer the only credible means of transforming Zimbabwe and delivering basic services to its people.
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