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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 4 November (WA 438), what are the annual net and gross payments made to other European Economic Area countries under the European health insurance scheme; whether the United Kingdom pays other countries for United Kingdom nationals using their primary medical care services; how much this is estimated to be annually; and whether they intend to negotiate changes to existing European Union rules so that the United Kingdom's inability to charge for use of primary medical care services by European Economic Area nationals can be taken into account.[HL3769]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The estimated value for European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and other actual cost claims against the United Kingdom by member states for 2009-10 is £123 million; the corresponding total for UK claims against member states is £38 million.
However, due to the nature of the claims system between member states, it is not possible to disaggregate claims totals by treatment type although it would be reasonable to assume a significant portion of that figure will be for primary care services.
The European Union Regulations allow the UK to make claims for primary care and the department has recently introduced the facility for accident and emergency services to report EHIC data, which will allow the UK to make claims for primary care provided in that setting. The department is also exploring ways in which to introduce this to general practitioner services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current unit of funding to support 16-19-year-old students in further education colleges; and what will it be for each of the years of Spending Review 2010.[HL3845]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The base rate of funding for Further Education (FE) colleges for 2010-11 is £2,920, as announced in the YPLA 16-19 Statement of Priorities and Investment Strategy in January. This does not include the funding colleges receive to reflect the different types of students they recruit or the different kind of learning programmes they deliver. That differs from college to college and is therefore not part of the base rate unit of funding.
We are currently working through the specifics of the 16-19 settlement for 2011-12 and are aiming to announce details before Christmas. However, this will not include funding rates for schools and colleges as these will need to be finalised as part of the allocations
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing, has established a new cross-government working group on homelessness bringing together Ministers from eight government departments to address complex causes of homelessness and rough sleeping.
The Minister for Housing announced that over the course of the Spending Review over £400 million of homelessness grant will be made available to local authorities and the Voluntary and Community Sector to support the most vulnerable and tackle homelessness.
Government also announced that an additional £130 million would be made available, via the Department for Work and Pensions, to local authorities to administer Discretionary Housing Payments to provide extra support for households where needed in light of the Housing Benefit reforms. We have provided a further £10 million in this financial year to London local authorities to help support those families most at risk of homelessness.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness across the country. Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing, has established a new cross-government working group on homelessness bringing together Ministers from eight government departments to address complex causes of homelessness and rough sleeping.
The Minister for Housing also announced that over the course of the Spending Review over £400 million of homelessness grant will be made available to local authorities and the Voluntary and Community Sector to support the most vulnerable and tackle homelessness.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): All local housing authorities in England are required to take their homelessness strategy into account in the exercise of their functions, by virtue of Section 1(5) of the Homelessness Act 2002.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 2 November (WA 387), what infrastructure projects valued at more than £250,000 have been provided in each of the four major growth areas of the South East; and how many potential dwellings associated with these projects have been planned, delivered or are due for delivery since 2005.[HL3708]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In the three growth areas of Ashford, Milton Keynes South-Midlands and London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough, the growth fund (2003-04 to 2007-08) has supported the delivery of close to 254 projects with a value greater than £250,000. Between 2008-09 and 2010-11 the growth fund was un-ring-fenced, and a detailed breakdown of projects is not currently available. The joint CLG/DfT community infrastructure fund (CIF) has supported the delivery of 54 transport schemes with a value greater than £250,000 over the period 2005-06 to 2010-11.
In the Thames Gateway area 70 infrastructure projects have been supported with a value greater than £250,000, with total funding of circa £294 million. This investment will enable the delivery of around 5,900 houses directly and 69,500 indirectly, in the period up to 2026.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of repossessions likely to occur over each of the next five years as a result of the reduction of support for mortgage payments introduced on 1 October.[HL4099]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The standard interest rate used to calculate support for mortgage interest was fixed at 6.08 per cent by the last administration. That rate was too generous and resulted in the vast majority of people getting more than their eligible mortgage interest liability, which was unfair to taxpayers.
The plans of the previous Government would have meant that the standard interest rate would have reverted to the formula of Bank of England Base rate plus 1.58 per cent from January 2011, which at present would produce a rate of 2.08 per cent.
The Chancellor announced in the June 2010 Budget that the standard interest rate would be based on the Bank of England's published monthly average mortgage interest rate. Legislation to introduce this change came into effect from 1 October 2010 and the standard interest rate is currently 3.63 per cent.
The department conducted thorough analysis on the likely impacts of this change, and we have included as much information as possible in the equality impact assessment published on the department's website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/support-for-mortgage-interest.pdf
The department is in the process of developing a model to estimate the impact of changes to support for mortgage interest on the number of repossessions. However, any estimates will always be limited since detailed case-by-case information, such as arrears at the start of a claim, is not collected by the department. The department will consider whether the results can be used publicly once this is work is complete.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has told the department that it expects lenders to continue to exercise forbearance where it is fair to do so for the borrower, and the borrower has a chance of paying off any arrears in the future. The Council of Mortgage Lenders thinks that where arrears levels increase for some borrowers as a result of the change in the standard interest rate this does not translate into an immediate possession risk.
At the comprehensive spending review 2010, the Chancellor announced funding for a one-year extension to the temporary package of support for mortgage interest changes that had been due to expire in January 2011. This extension maintains the waiting period for new working age claimants at 13 weeks and the limit on eligible mortgage capital at £200,000, and provides additional support to homeowners facing difficulties.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department published a document on the Impacts of Housing Benefit proposals: Changes to the Local Housing Allowance to be introduced in 2011-12 on the 23 July. This gives details of the impacts at local authority level. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library. However, we are unable to provide an estimate of the number of households that may move as a consequence of the proposed reforms because it is not possible to assess behavioural effects among tenants and landlords.
We are working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government and the devolved Administrations to assist tenants through the transition. For example, we have trebled the discretionary housing payment funding to local authorities. We are working
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): On 5 October my right honourable friend, the Minister for Housing, announced his intention to replace the present system of council housing finance in England with a system of self-financing through the localism Bill. The spending review reaffirmed this commitment. Under self-financing councils will keep all the rent they raise from their tenants. The Government will publish further details of self-financing shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 2 November (WA 380), what is the size of the debt due to the United Kingdom acknowledged by the Government of Iceland, and what is HM Treasury's estimate of the interest accrued to date on this debt.[HL3815]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In a letter of intent sent to the International Monetary Fund on 7 April 2010, Iceland acknowledged its obligation to repay sums paid out by the United Kingdom, on behalf of Iceland, to compensate depositors in the UK branch of Landsbanki up to the Euro 20,887 minimum provided for under Icelandic Law and the EU Deposit Guarantee Directive (90/19/EC).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Government of Israel's suspension of strategic dialogue with the United Kingdom during the visit of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, to Israel and the Occupied Territories. [HL3900]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): During his recent visit to the region, both my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and his Israeli counterpart expressed their appreciation for the breadth and intensity of official exchanges between the two Governments and affirmed their shared commitment to an early meeting of the high-level UK-Israel strategic dialogue.
Lord Howell of Guildford: During my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary's recent visit to the region, both he and his Israeli counterpart expressed their appreciation for the breadth and intensity of official exchanges between the two Governments and affirmed their shared commitment to an early meeting of the High-Level UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue.
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made clear during his visit to the region that changes to universal jurisdiction legislation in the UK, are expected to be in place next year but we will continue to do it to our own timetable.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel to develop financial packages to help settlers in the occupied territories to start up residence in Israel proper.[HL3973]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our view is that all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal. We look to the Government of Israel to take all necessary steps to prevent settlement construction. However, we do recognise that tough compromises will need to be made by both sides. We will continue to support ongoing efforts and stand ready to assist the implementation of an agreed solution.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to monitor the situation with regard to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. We look to the Israeli Government to ensure that all cases are reviewed in court in accordance with fair procedures and that detainees' rights are upheld. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities as and when we judge it appropriate.
Since 2009 UK officials have also attended military court hearings on key cases on a regular basis. The UK works with other EU countries to ensure that EU diplomats attend key court hearings for human rights defenders.
Lord Howell of Guildford: UK officials are in regular dialogue with the Government of Israel about these issues. We also raise them regularly at ministerial level. Most recently my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed these points with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman and Defence Minister Barak during his visit to the region.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that any change to the Lisbon Treaty to accommodate enhanced European Union economic governance will be ratified by Parliament only after primary legislation has been introduced and given adequate time for consideration by both Houses. [HL3772]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Under the terms of the EU Bill introduced into Parliament on 11 November, the ratification of any treaty change under the ordinary or simplified revision procedures will require an Act of Parliament. Our intention is to use the mechanisms in the EU Bill for any future treaty changes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to propose new initiatives through the European Union's membership of the quartet on the Middle East to assist the Middle East peace process.[HL3971]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We will continue to work with the EU as part of the quartet to drive forward progress on the Middle East peace process in support of US-led negotiations. We want to see negotiations proceed as soon as possible. We do not propose substantive new initiatives but believe the international community, including the quartet and the EU, have an important role to play in supporting the US and the parties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the announcement on 14 October of the closure of the Women's National Commission, what assessment they have made of the impact of this closure on the Muslim Women's Network UK. [HL3523]
Baroness Verma: An equalities impact assessment on the decision to close the Women's National Commission (WNC) and replace it with a new approach to engaging and listening to women is available on the Government Equalities Office's (GEO) website. No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the closure of the Women's National Commission on the Muslim Women's Network UK. We will be consulting on the new model in the new year.
As part of the informal consultation leading up to this, the Government Equalities Office is meeting with a number of organisations, one of which is the Muslim Women's Network. The GEO will use these informal consultations to help shape the consultation document.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision exists for the National Employment Savings Trust to provide pensions schemes for those who wish their money to be invested in an ethical manner. [HL3753]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The investment strategy for the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is the responsibility of the NEST Corporation. The NEST Corporation's primary duty is to run the scheme in the interests of scheme beneficiaries. The corporation will decide its approach to investment strategy and is responsible for determining the fund choices on offer. Fund choices are currently under consideration and the NEST Corporation anticipates making an announcement in the next few months.
In 2009, NEST's predecessor body, the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority, conducted a public consultation on how NEST should invest its members' money. Respondents to the consultation question on whether NEST should offer an ethical or socially responsible investment fund were all in favour of NEST offering such a fund, as demand for these products has grown considerably in recent years. Research suggests that over 40 per cent of defined contribution schemes currently offer an ethical fund. In 2007, a DWP survey into NEST's target group found that, of those respondents who said they would make an investment choice, 29 per cent said they would invest in an ethical fund regardless of the return and 49 per cent said they would invest ethically if the returns were equal to other investment types.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State, Simon Burns, on 18 October (HC Deb, col 574W) on the provision of NHS funding in sparsely populated rural areas, how the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation expect the extra fuel costs for doctors and nursing staff visiting patients who are separated by long distances to be met.[HL3841]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): National Health Service revenue allocations are currently made to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the basis of a national weighted capitation formula. The formula is overseen by the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA). Once allocated, it is for PCTs to use the funding to commission the services they require to meet the healthcare needs of their local populations, taking account of both local and national priorities.
PCTs pay general practitioners (GPs) working under the General Medical Services (GMS) Contract an amount based on the GP Funding Allocation formula, which includes an adjustment for rurality. It is intended to reflect the additional costs associated with the degree to which the area served is rural. The adjustment is based on a combination of the average distance of patient postcodes from the GP practice main surgery postcode, and the average population density index values for all patients on the GP practice list.
ACRA has been asked by the present Secretary of State for Health to look again at the impact of rurality on unavoidable differences on costs in England, as part of its future work programme. ACRA is an independent expert body that currently oversees, and advises the Secretary of State upon, the development of the PCT revenue allocation funding formula. Membership of the Committee includes individuals with relevant experience and expertise from within, and outside, the NHS. There is a balance of economists, statisticians, academics, GPs, public health professionals and NHS managers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report published by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death: An Age Old Problem which found that one in five elderly patients have to endure "clinically significant" waits for surgery.[HL3968]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has welcomed the report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death. The report highlights
22 Nov 2010 : Column WA282
Significant progress has been made to reduce operating delays. The National Hip Fracture Database, which collected data in the year to 31 March 2010, found that 80 per cent of patients with hip fractures received surgery within 48 hours of admission. To further promote quality of care, the department has introduced a best-practice tariff, which from 1 April 2010 offers financial incentives to National Health Service trusts that meet defined quality standards, including timely surgery.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 2 November (HL Deb, col. 1595) regarding whether the United States is prepared to share knowledge of their nuclear deterrent with the United Kingdom but with no-one else, when the Minister will write to Lord Morris of Aberavon as stated in his answer; and whether they will place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.[HL4083]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how much overseas aid paid (a) directly, and (b) through the European Union, reaches its intended destination; and how much is used for purposes for which it was not intended. [HL3504]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) has rigorous systems and procedures to oversee its funding and ensure that aid delivers results for its intended recipients. DfID is robust in investigating and pursuing allegations of unintended use of its bilateral programme, and co-operates closely with partner organisations, including the EU, to ensure that aid channelled through other bodies is subject to rigorous controls. Two DfID staff members are seconded to the European Commission to work with the EU on aid effectiveness and impact evaluation.
DfID is reviewing all its aid programmes to ensure that UK aid is effective, represents value for money and brings real benefit to the word's poor. This includes an assessment of contributions to the EU and UN organisations under the multilateral aid review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 28 October (WA 326), whether they will provide a breakdown by territory of the £50 million Overseas Territories Programme Costs.[HL4005]
|Overseas Territory||£ millions|
Full details of UK aid in 2009-10 were published in Statistics in International Development, which is available in the Library of the House and on the Department for International Development's website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to remove permanent protest encampments from the grass and pavements of Parliament Square; and whether they will arrange for the area to be cleared of all detritus at some point between midnight and 6 am each night.[HL4032]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have been working with the Greater London Authority, the Metropolitan Police and Westminster City Council to introduce measures in a First Session Bill so that people can exercise their right to protest while ensuring that the law is able to prevent the mess and noise associated with encampments.
The Government do not hold information on how many people spend the night on the pavements on Parliament Square. We understand from the Metropolitan Police that six individuals have permission to demonstrate on the pavements and have had conditions placed on their demonstrations which include allowing them to have up to 20 persons with them.
The Greater London Authority is responsible for management and care of Parliament Square Garden. We understand from the GLA that the fence around the grass will come down once all repairs and outstanding legal action have been completed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 28 October, whether taxpayers could be exposed to the risks of the BT Pension Scheme without having any influence over the investment policy; and whether they have investigated taking out insurance against this risk.[HL4044]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Risk to taxpayers from the BT Pension Scheme would only crystallise if, in the unlikely event of the insolvent winding up of the sponsoring employer (BT Group plc), the Crown Guarantee, given to BT pensioners by the Government at privatisation, was called on.
Private pension schemes, including the BT Pensions Scheme, must be run for the exclusive benefit of their members. Investment decisions are a matter for the trustees, under the supervision of the independent Pensions Regulator. Taxpayers are not exposed to day-to-day risks from the investment decisions of the Trustee of the BT Pension Scheme.
The scope of the BT Pensions Crown Guarantee has just been ruled on by the High Court. The Government are taking legal advice on this judgment and will decide on their next steps in due course, including the best way to manage the contingent liability.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the process for serving police officers to seek permission to have additional paid employment outside their police role; and whether police forces maintain registers of such interests.[HL4138]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Under the Police Regulations 2003 police officers must declare and obtain approval from their chief police officer for undertaking business interests. The regulations do not require forces to maintain registers of such interests.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many warnings and prosecutions South Wales Police Constabulary have issued in each division for the
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements the South Wales Police Constabulary has with county councillors concerning the timing and location of Partnership and Communities Together (PACT) meetings; and what is the average attendance of residents and police at the last three meetings. [HL4150]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Post Office already works with credit unions, and many credit union account holders can already access their accounts at Post Offices through arrangements with the Co-Operative Bank. It is estimated that in the past six months almost 80,000 credit union transactions have been carried out in post office branches.
In addition, our recent policy statement Securing the Future of the Post Office in the Digital Age (published November 9) was firmly supportive of a stronger link up between Post Office and credit unions and was clear that we are actively looking into ways the two can work more closely together. Further details can be found in this policy statement, which is available in the Libraries of the House and accessible on the BIS website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what enquiries they have made as to whether the Irish Deposit Protection Scheme is capable of meeting any amounts due to United Kingdom depositors in respect of the Post Office's banking venture with the Bank of Ireland.[HL4042]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): A UK subsidiary of the Bank of Ireland-Bank of Ireland (UK) plc-was created on November 1. This
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the circumstances in which the Post Office can terminate its joint banking venture with the Bank of Ireland; and which department holds responsibility for this venture.[HL4045]
Baroness Wilcox: The Joint Banking Venture between the Post Office and the Bank of Ireland is a commercial agreement between those two parties. As such it is not appropriate to disclose details of this arrangement. The Government's 100 per cent shareholding in Post Office Ltd is managed by the Shareholder Executive within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): As set out in the White Paper on local growth, RDA assets and liabilities will be transferred or disposed of in line with a clear set of principles which include a key aim of achieving the best possible outcome for the region consistent with achieving value for the public purse.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not maintain an annual record of the cost to the National Health Service of treating people with alcohol or tobacco-related diseases.
However, the department reviewed the cost of alcohol-related harm to the NHS in 2008. The cost of alcohol misuse to the NHS in England was estimated to be £2.7 billion per year for 2006-07 (The Cost of alcohol harm to the NHS, Department of Health, 2008, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library).
Academic research has indicated that the direct cost to the NHS of treating people with tobacco-related illnesses in England is £2.7 billion per annum (Callum C. (2008). Estimating the cost of smoking to the NHS in England and the impact of declining prevalencein
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Sassoon on 20 October (HL Deb, col 831), how HM Treasury intend to calculate the maximum sustainable tax revenues from financial services; and whether this will be limited to banking or includes insurance and asset management. [HL3301]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government are currently considering a number of options for simplifying the state pension system. In due course we will publish proposals for state pension reform. The Government recognise the contributions people have built up, and any proposals will reflect this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessments they have made on the estimated tax receipts of a top rate of income tax of 40 per cent, 45 per cent and 50 per cent for each of the next five years. [HL2773]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below shows the June 2010 Budget forecast for total income tax receipts, including receipts expected at the additional rate of tax of 50 per cent (42.5 per cent for dividend income).
The table also shows the estimated total income tax receipts where the additional rate of tax is reduced to 45 and 40 per cent (37.5 and 32.5 per cent for dividend
22 Nov 2010 : Column WA288
|Total income tax receipts1 (£ billion)|
|Additional rate of tax2||2011-12||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total amount of public funding given to trade unions from all sources in 2007-08 and 2009-10; how much was received by each union; and what was the purpose of the funding in each case.[HL3755]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much public funding they expect to be given to trade unions in 2010-11 and 2011-12; how much they expect each union to receive; and what will be the purpose of the funding in each case.[HL3756]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): On 11 November 2011, the Government published their White Paper, Universal Credit: Welfare that Works' in which we set out our plans to introduce mandatory work activity.
Mandatory work activity is designed to help customers develop the labour market discipline associated with full-time employment by requiring them to undertake a placement for up 30 hours a week for four weeks which also delivers a contribution to the local community. It will be targeted at the small number of customers who continually fail to demonstrate the focus and disciplines needed to find work.
We are also currently developing the support we will offer through the work programme and to the small number of long-term unemployed customers who may require further support as they reach the end of the work programme without moving into sustained employment. Our approach will ensure that these customers remain engaged in meaningful activity and continue to move closer to the labour market. Further announcements will be made in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Packaging Essential Requirements Regulations
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government have made no assessment of the impact government-sponsored local schemes will have on increasing the use of wetland farming techniques.
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