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To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their response to the public consultation on the European Union Sustainable Use of Pesticide Directive; and when they will bring forward their proposals to implement that directive.[HL4973]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): It is my intention to publish the response to the consultation on the sustainable use of pesticides directive (2009/128/EC) before the end of this year. There will be a further consultation in the summer of 2011 on the draft legislation that is required to implement the directive by the end of 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the arrival desks at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, and (c) Stansted, are fitted with electronic terminals for the checking of travel documents; and what would be the cost of installing such terminals at those desks where they are not fitted.[HL4829]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of passengers in the past six months embarking from (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, and (c) Stansted, have had travel documents checked by an immigration officer.[HL4832]
Baroness Neville-Jones: The UK Border Agency's officers carry out targeted embarkation checks on an intelligence-led basis, scrutinising travel documents to identify immigration offenders, people smuggling cash or fleeing justice, and those who may be of interest for terrorism purposes. The agency does not record the number of such checks carried out.
Through the e-Borders system, we currently check electronically in excess of 55 per cent of all arrivals into and departures from the UK, supporting the agency's ability to conduct effective embarkation checks and enabling the law enforcement agencies to mount an appropriate response, including manual intervention where necessary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 November (WA 47-8) on armed forces medals, what was the basis for the "five-year rule"; when the rule was adopted; and what exceptions have been made to this rule since it became Government policy.[HL4484]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is long-standing policy that awards will not be approved for events or service that took place more than five years before initial consideration, or in connection with events that took place in the distant past. The rule is understood to have been laid down in the time of King George VI. It is based on the considered view that those closest to the activities in question are those best able to judge the appropriateness or otherwise of honours and decorations.
In 2005, the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (the HD committee) decided to make an exception to the five-year rule to allow the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal to be accepted, but not worn.
Exceptions were also made for the Russian 40th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War Medal, received by veterans of the Second World War Arctic convoys, and the General Service Medal granted to veterans who served in the Suez Canal zone between 1951 and 1954.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for the next two Preparatory Committee meetings in preparation for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012; and what resources they have allocated to the Government's work on the Arms Trade Treaty between now and the 2012 conference.[HL4753]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Achieving a robust and effective arms trade treaty remains a priority for the British Government and we will continue to play an active and constructive role in the UN process.
The UK uses the technical expertise of a cross-Whitehall team working on the arms trade treaty, with representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence, Department for
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The UK will continue to use the FCO's extensive overseas network to engage with key supportive and sceptical states, and we will continue to engage with UK defence industry and non-governmental organisations to help refine the UK's negotiating position ahead of the preparatory committee meetings at the UN. The FCO has also provided strategic programme funds for arms trade treaty-related projects this financial year. We are still awaiting the resource allocations that will allow us to make decisions on future programme spend on the arms trade treaty.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Budget announced that the Government will explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty. Major changes will be subject to consultation.
Lord Sassoon: The June Budget announced that the Government will explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty, which could encourage fuller planes. Major changes will be subject to consultation.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England will assess the economic impact of its secured commercial paper facility by considering a number of factors, including the amount of such paper issued to private investors. Although the Bank believes that this programme will encourage the flow of credit to a broader range of companies than the other corporate asset purchase facility schemes, it is likely to play only a small part in tackling broader financing issues for smaller companies, which the Government are taking forward.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given Lloyds Banking Group plc any commitments which would preclude the independent commission on banking proposing, and Her Majesty's Government accepting, recommendations that might include further mandatory asset disposal by Lloyds Banking Group or the unwinding in whole or part of the combination of Lloyds TSB and HBOS. [HL4765]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Independent Commission on Banking has been asked to look at the structure of banking in the UK and consider how to promote financial stability and competition in the industry. The commission has been set up to enable an open debate on these issues and to give all interested parties an opportunity to make their case. The commission is due to deliver its report to the Government by the end of September 2011.
The Government have not provided Lloyds Banking Group or any other party with any commitments that would serve to limit either the scope of the Commission's investigations or the Government's decision as to the appropriate course of action thereafter.
Lord Sassoon: The bank levy is a charge based on the total chargeable equity and liabilities as reported in the relevant balance sheets of affected banks, banking and building society groups at the end of a chargeable period. Deposits are either excluded or subject to half the full rate, except for those from other financial institutions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November, whether it is now too late for a consultation to be conducted on Sir David Walker's recommendations on bank compensation before decisions are made by banks in respect of financial year 2010.[HL4675]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Further to my previous Answer, the Financial Services Authority is consulting on implementation of the capital requirements directive 3 disclosure
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 18 November (WA224), what proportion of the bonus entitlement of the Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group is linked to expanding the Group's small and medium-sized enterprise lending portfolio; whether this is gross or net lending; and over what period this will be measured.[HL4798]
Lord Sassoon: As was announced by Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), an element of Mr Horta-Osório's annual bonus will be assessed on the performance of LBG in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. The implementation of remuneration arrangements at LBG is a matter for the board of LBG.
To ask Her Majesty's Government for what purpose grants are made by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to the World Bank; how much was paid in 2009-10; and how much is planned to be paid in 2010-11.[HL4913]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC makes capital grants to the World Bank for low carbon development, climate change adaptation and forestry projects through the Climate Investment Funds, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. DECC paid £100 million in 2009-10 and plans to pay £250 million in 2010-11.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 370), whether they would consider changing the Barnett Formula, to one based on need, in 2015, when the Scotland Bill comes into operation. [HL4861]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As set out in the White Paper Strengthening Scotland's Future (Cm 7973), the Government recognises some of the concerns expressed about the current system of devolution funding, but at this time the priority is to reduce the deficit and any changes must await the stabilisation of the public finances.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We will make public the total cost of sending the UK delegation to the 16th conference of the parties in Cancun once the conference has finished and final figures are available.
As was announced to Parliament during the passage of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010, the US agreed to remove all stockpiles from UK territory by 2013. Since then the UK was able to announce to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Cluster Munitions Convention in November 2010 that, in fact, the US has now withdrawn all stockpiles from UK territory ahead of schedule.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the acquittal in Peterborough Crown Court on 17 November of Mr Manuel Lorenco-de-Jesus, what advice they have given to the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the appropriateness of prosecuting minor offences, such as failure to produce valid driving documents, where the time the accused
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The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Prosecution decisions are taken by the CPS independently of government, in accordance with the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 and the Code for Crown Prosecutors. On 26 May 2010, Mr Manuel Laurenco De Jesus was charged with an offence of possession of a false identity document, namely a driving licence, with the intention of using it for establishing registrable facts about himself, contrary to section 25(1)(a) of the Identity Cards Act 2006. On 26 August 2010 the Crown added a second count to the indictment, alleging simple possession of the document without a reasonable excuse, contrary to section 25(5)(a) of the same Act. This second count was the sole matter upon which the jury were invited to consider a verdict. The jury found that Mr De Jesus had a reasonable excuse for possessing the false driving licence and acquitted him. Mr De Jesus had previously entered the United Kingdom illegally and the allegation was not considered to be minor. Significant sentences of imprisonment are ordinarily imposed by the court upon conviction for such matters.
In addition to being remanded in custody by the court, Mr De Jesus had been held in immigration detention from the point of arrest, pending investigation into his identity. In the circumstances no advice to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was considered necessary or appropriate.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Serious violence is a key priority for this Government. In 2010-11 we have provided £4 million to local partnerships in 52 participating Community Safety Partnerships and the British Transport Police to assist in their work to tackle serious violence committed by young people and against young people.
In addition, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have asked Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was murdered two years ago, to examine schemes working in local communities to stop young people from carrying and using weapons. Ms Kinsella's report will be published in the coming months.
The Home Office Community Fund programme is providing 143 small local community based organisations with small grants up to £10,000 per annum until March 2011 to deliver projects aimed at preventing young people from engaging in gun, gang and knife crime and to steer those already involved towards more positive initiatives and activities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in criminal prosecutions they will allow the Crown Prosecution Service to be subject to civil actions for damages if (a) their conduct resulted in a preventable miscarriage of justice, or (b) the Crown Prosecution Service failed to follow their code of conduct for Crown Prosecutors.[HL4859]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Government currently have no plans to change the law to alter the liability of the Crown Prosecution Service in the exercise of its powers. In general, public bodies are not liable in damages for errors in the use of their powers, although it is open to claimants to seek to take proceedings against public bodies on a number of grounds such as misfeasance in public office, breach of statutory duty or other breach of tort law. Claimants may also challenge the lawfulness of the actions of a public body by way of proceedings for judicial review.
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: Sufficiency of evidence is part of the Full Code Test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code). It has been present in the Code since it was first published in 1986. The Code is published on the Crown Prosecution Service website at http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/code20l0english.pdf.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government will publish a new National Cyber Crime Strategy in early 2011, drawing on expertise across government, which will set the direction for tackling cyber crime in the UK. In the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), we announced specific proposals, including the creation of a single point of contact where the public and businesses can report cyber crime.
We also announced a new programme of skill development to ensure that those involved in combating cyber crime have the knowledge to identify, understand and tackle the threat. The Government continue to support Getsafeonline.org, a public-private sector initiative that raises awareness of online fraud and cyber crime prevention issues amongst the general public.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they agree with the United Nations Secretary-General's Report on Cyprus Talks which states that, "If substantive agreement across all chapters cannot be concluded ahead of the election cycle, the talks may go into abeyance and there is a serious risk that the negotiations could founder fatally." [HL4721]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government are committed to supporting the UN's efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. We want to see a settlement agreed and peacefully implemented by Cypriots for Cypriots to deliver a stable, prosperous and united Cyprus, operating as a valued partner within the EU.
We welcome and strongly support the UN Secretary- General's report and join him in urging both leaders to work on the core issues identified by the UN Secretary-General in their meeting of 18 November. The UN Secretary-General has agreed to meet the two leaders again in Geneva on 25-26 January, and we hope they can make real progress before then.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what preparations they are making to relieve the 36-year embargo on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as promised subsequent to the 2004 Annan Plan Referendum should the United Nations Secretary-General decree that the current Cyprus Talks have failed.[HL4722]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK remains committed to supporting the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to Europe through both financial aid and trade liberalisation. Together with the European Commission we are supporting their efforts to bring their laws and policies into line with the EU. The financial aid regulation, worth €259 million, represents the EU's biggest per capita aid programme. It has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of ordinary Turkish Cypriots and will assist with the implementation of a settlement once one is agreed. We welcome the progress made so far.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what communication the Prime Minister has had with President Demetris Christophias and President Dervis Eroglu relative to the Cyprus Talks over the past two months; and whether they will acknowledge the need to maintain a balanced and objective approach to both sides.[HL4723]
Lord Howell of Guildford: On 17 November my right honourable friend the Prime Minister had a telephone conversation with President Christofias in which they discussed a wide range of issues, including the settlement process.
We support the UN in its efforts to bring together the two Cypriot communities to find a just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem that benefits all Cypriots. It is important that any solution is a Cypriot one-a solution by Cypriots for Cypriots.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the level of toxic debt held by banks in the Republic of Cyprus; whether the United Kingdom, as a Guarantor Power, has any obligations in respect of such debts; and what implications such indebtedness has for the current Cyprus talks.[HL4726]
There is no direct connection between the economic situation and the Cyprus settlement talks. The Government's policy is to support the UN's efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their estimates of the current average profit margins of defence contractors on Government orders, and on the orders the defence industry wins from other governments.[HL4438]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is committed to undertaking competitive procurement action whenever possible. Over the past five years, 60 per cent by value of new contracts and amendments were placed through competitive processes and 40 per cent non-competitively. In competitive contracts, prices are driven by market forces and profit margins vary depending on prevailing market forces and negotiation trade-offs.
UK Defence Statistics Table 1.15 provides details of contracts placed by type and can be found at the following website: http://www.dasa.mod.uk/modintranet/UKDS/UKDS2010/c1/table115.php.
In cases when competition is not possible the government profit formula rates are reviewed annually by an independent non-departmental public body, the
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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have invested £325 million in the e-Borders system to date. At this stage, detailed budgets for the next four years have not been finalised. The programme is currently examining options for contracting with new suppliers and expects to be able to finalise costs early in 2011.
Baroness Neville-Jones: On 22 July the Minister for Immigration announced that the supplier's performance to date had not been compliant with their contractual obligations and that he had taken the decision to terminate the e-Borders contract with Raytheon.
Work is ongoing to novate the contracts governing existing services away from Raytheon. This is expected to be completed by April 2011. We are engaging with alternative providers to deliver the key benefits that the contract with Raytheon was unable to deliver.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The level of excess capacity in the economy, or output gap, is typically defined as the difference between measured actual output and an estimate of potential output. Since the level of potential output is
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The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is responsible for producing independent economic forecasts. The OBR published a new economic forecast on 29 November 2010, which can be found online at: http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk. This forecast includes estimates by the OBR of the spare capacity in the economy.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Assessments of quantitative easing and developments in financial markets can be found in the Bank of England Inflation Reports and Financial Stability Reports and minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee meetings.
As a result of the action the Government have taken, market confidence in the UK has improved. This is reflected in long-term interest rates, which have fallen by around half a percentage point since the election, leading to lower debt interest payments. The International Monetary Fund, in its Article IV report on the UK published in September, stated that "the consolidation plan and implementation of early measures to tackle the deficit-one of the highest in the world in 2010-greatly reduces the risk of a costly loss of confidence in fiscal sustainability and will help rebalance the economy".
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 22 November (Official Report, col. 975), why HM Treasury closely monitors an international interest rate swap which is significantly influenced by quantitative easing purchases.[HL4817]
Lord Sassoon: The Government monitor a wide range of factors in their assessment of the economy. Assessments of international financial markets can be found in the Bank of England Inflation Reports and Financial Stability Reports, as well as in the minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee meetings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 22 November (Official Report, col. 975), what percentage of each ten-year maturity gilt is owned by the Asset Purchase Fund used to implement quantitative easing. [HL4818]
Lord Sassoon: The data for amounts of gilts outstanding are available from the Debt Management Office's website, while the nominal amount of gilts held by the Asset Purchase Facility can be found on the Bank of England website. These show that the Asset Purchase Facility holds £10.9 billion nominal of the £31.4 billion nominal in issue of 43/4 per cent Treasury Stock 2020, and that it holds none of the 33/4 per cent of Treasury Gilt 2020.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 1 December (WA 456-7), whether their intention is for the price of carbon reduction commitment allowances to rise over time.[HL4914]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Decisions about allowance sales and price are a matter for the Budget process. As set out in the spending review 2010 policy costings document available on the Treasury websitel, the Government have assumed allowance prices of £12 per tonne of CO2 for 2011-12 and 2012-13 emissions and £16 per tonne of CO2 for 2013-14 and 2014-15 emissions in its public finance calculations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 1 December (WA 456) that there was no change in Government guidance regarding exemptions for business in the climate change agreement (CCA) scheme, whether Department of Energy and Climate Change officials have advised port operators to encourage their tenants to get CCAs to minimise their carbon reduction commitment liabilities; and, if so, why.[HL4916]
Lord Marland: The guidance for the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency scheme is available on the websites of the Environment Agency and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The latter also contains guidance on climate change agreements (CCAs). CCAs are voluntary agreements with Government to meet an agreed energy efficiency target in return for a rebate on the climate change levy. The Government do not advise companies on whether to join a CCA or their strategy for participating in the CRC energy efficiency scheme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 1 December (WA 456), what assessment they have made of the need to reconcile their current position when climate change agreement (CCA) holders are in control of their own energy use with no landlord control; and whether they will consider telling officials to advise landlords to hold the CCA.[HL4917]
Lord Marland: The CRC energy efficiency scheme is intended as a catalyst for action, and designed to address specific barriers to implementing energy efficiency measures by participants. One of these barriers is the split of responsibilities between landlord and tenant. The CRC addresses this, by making the landlord responsible for the emissions in CRC where the landlord is responsible for the energy supply.
If tenants draw their energy direct from a licensed supplier (rather than a landlord), they are assessed for CRC energy efficiency scheme participation directly. If they are supplied with energy by their landlord they count towards the landlord's CRC energy efficiency scheme assessment. The incentives to improve energy efficiency in the CRC are targeted at those paying a licensed supplier for the energy used. This is in line with climate change agreements (CCAs), where those eligible choose to agree an energy efficiency improvement target with Government and subsequently meet that target are eligible for paying a reduced rate of climate change levy. CCAs are a voluntary scheme and Government do not advise individual companies or installations on whether to enter into a CCA, as that is a matter for each organisation to consider.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Field Allowance provides an incentive to increase the economic production of oil and gas. The Field Allowance is a maximum of £800 million per field, giving a tax benefit (undiscounted) of £160 million, accessed over a minimum of five years.
In order to qualify, the field must be more than 60 kilometres from relevant infrastructure; lie below more than 300 metres of water; and more than 75 per cent of the reserves in the field on the authorisation day must consist of gas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the wish of the Republic of Macedonia to start accession negotiations for full European Union membership in the European Union Council meeting on 16 December.[HL4686]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK fully supports the European Commission's recommendation that
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider that the fact that the Republic of Macedonia's constitutional name is identical to that of a region of Greece makes it impossible for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to commence accession negotiations for full European Union membership. [HL4687]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government does not believe that solving the name dispute should be a condition for opening EU accession negotiations. The enlargement criteria are consistent for all aspirant members of the EU, as set by the Council at Copenhagen in 1993. At the same time, the UK encourages both parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute as soon as possible, under the UN umbrella.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Greece prior to the European Union Council meeting on 16 December, in the context of an application by the Republic of Macedonia to start accession negotiations for full European Union membership, to encourage Greece not to block the application on the basis of a previous objection by Greece over the identical name of a region within Greece. [HL4688]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We regularly discuss a range of EU matters with the Greek Government, including enlargement. The UK fully supports the European Commission's recommendation that negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened with Macedonia. At the same time, the UK encourages both parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue as soon as possible, under the UN umbrella.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the European Commission has hitherto confirmed its recommendation for the Republic of Macedonia to open accession negotiations to the European Union without requiring that country to change its name. [HL4689]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The European Commission makes its recommendations to open accession negotiations on the basis of the criteria set by the Council at Copenhagen in 1993. It has recommended that Macedonia has reached a sufficient level of compliance to warrant the opening of accession negotiations. The European Commission has not required a change of name as part of the criteria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision of the European Court of Justice to overrule the decision of member states on increases of European Union employees' salaries constitutes a loss of power by member states.[HL4732]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The judgment does not constitute a loss of power by member states. It clarifies the measure of influence that member states can exercise over annual salary adjustments for European officials.
The Government do not believe that this level of influence, or the current system, is appropriate. We are pushing actively for reform and will engage fully in a review of the system for salary adjustments, starting next year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of plans by the European Commission announced by the President of the Commission to the European Parliament to bring forward European Union self-funding before the end of June 2011. [HL4734]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The European Commission has yet to issue formal proposals for the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. However, the UK Government has made it clear that it will not agree to the introduction of an EU tax directly to fund the EU budget.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they agreed to European Union legislation denominating the United Kingdom banks' and building societies' compensation scheme in euros rather than in pounds; and whether the amount of compensation in pounds will vary according to the rate of exchange between the pound and the euro.[HL4731]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): From 31 December 2010 the Financial Services Compensation Scheme deposit compensation limit will rise to the equivalent of €100,000, in line with the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive. The limit will be converted into sterling and rounded to a clear and memorable figure. At current exchange rates this means that the compensation limit would be £85,000. The Financial Services Authority will confirm the new limit on 17 December. The new limit will not vary
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Lord Heseltine chairs the Regional Growth Fund, whose members are: Sir Ian Wrigglesworth; Felicity Goodey; Tony Greenham; Richard Lambert; Jon Moulton; Caroline Plumb; Sir David Rowlands; Mark Seligman; Andrew Shilston; Lord John Shipley; and Tony Venables.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The copyright of films and other material made by Ms Nicky Woodhouse, while she was employed by the Cabinet Office, are the same as any other material produced by civil servants and as such is governed by Crown copyright.
Government departments have been asked to inform the Cabinet Office about the websites that are absolutely essential for the purpose of meeting their business goals. Departments will then be asked to close the websites that are no longer needed. The Government hope that a considerable number will be closed to make significant efficiency savings.
No targets have been set for the number of websites that are to be closed because as yet the exact number is not known and we do not know which websites are essential or which can be closed. However, it is hoped that a considerable number can be closed and significant efficiencies realised from their closure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in requiring public bodies to use one of the approved government websites, they will ensure that the material to be provided by such public bodies will not be censored.[HL4757]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Minister for the Cabinet Office asked Martha Lane Fox, in her role as Digital Champion, to review the Directgov website to ensure that the Government are making the best use of its online presence. In undertaking this review Martha Lane Fox decided that she could not review Directgov in isolation since it was necessary to look at how the Government can use the internet both to communicate and to interact better with citizens.
The review takes into account significant changes in the internet and the behaviour of users in the last few years. A number of recommendations were made about the role of Directgov and the way that the government publish on the internet. Many of these recommendations build on and accelerate the existing work to rationalise the number of websites run by Government. The intention remains to reduce the number of websites and wherever possible to place content on Directgov, Businesslink.gov.uk, or NHS Choices. Departments will determine the best website to publish their content and the nature of that content.
There are, however, advantages to be found by rationalising content on to a limited number of websites wherever possible. These include the Government's ability to ensure that all content is accessible and usable across an increasingly wide range of technologies, and assurance of meeting statutory, best practice, or industry standards on accessibility. This can also help in expressing things in plain English that citizens and businesses can understand and in improving online
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Wherever content is published, the content remains the property of the supplying organisation. Since it is their content, these changes will not lead to any censorship, nor have any impact on the independence of the supplying public body.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Minister for the Cabinet Office has invited government departments to consider which of their websites are absolutely essential to be kept open for the purpose of meeting their business goals. Websites that departments no longer need will be closed, thereby reducing the total number of websites owned and operated by Government.
As of 1 December there were over 800 central government websites, but more websites are being discovered. This makes it confusing for citizens and businesses to find the services and information they seek. The cost of managing large numbers of websites and maintaining their contracts is too high and the Government are committed to increasing efficiencies wherever possible.
However, transfer costs are a small proportion of the overall costs of keeping so many websites open, which are unacceptably high. The Minister for the Cabinet Office said in June that he wanted to see costs cut by up to 50 per cent, and transferring from multiple websites to Directgov, Businesslink.gov.uk, and NHS Choices will help to cut such costs.
Public bodies that have an agreed independent role are encouraged to mark out that role both in text and visual cues. These public bodies are responsible for their online public services and the content and accuracy of their communications and information. They will determine the best website to publish their content and the nature of that content.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Minister for the Cabinet Office announced on 24 June that he wanted to see up to 75 per cent of government websites closed. He then invited government departments to inform him of the sites that they consider are absolutely essential to be kept open for the purpose of meeting their business goals.
Departments were asked to respond by the end of December. It is therefore too early to say what their full response will be and what representations will be made. However, a number of representations have been received to date, and are being considered as part of the ongoing website review.
It is also too early to estimate the likely costs of making these changes as the full scope of the changes is not yet known. However, transfer costs are a small proportion of the overall costs of keeping these many websites open, which are unacceptably high.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the decision of the Lancashire Health Scrutiny Committee to refer to the Secretary of State the closure of the Deerplay children's ward at Burnley General Hospital and the transfer of its functions to the Royal Blackburn Hospital, (a) when a decision by the Secretary of State is expected, and (b) what steps have been taken to prevent the movement of staff and equipment to Blackburn pending the decision of the Secretary of State.[HL4670]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On 30 November 2010, the Lancashire County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred proposals for service change under the Meeting Patients' Needs programme to the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State has asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) for its initial advice. The IRP will provide initial advice to the Secretary of State for Health no later than 21 January 2011.
At its board meeting on 1 December 2010, NHS North West discussed whether the proposed changes to paediatric services should proceed. Based on advice from national and local paediatricians, the board decided changes should proceed on the grounds of clinical safety. However, the board also agreed that no irreversible changes should be made until the advice from the IRP has been considered.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government do not allocate funds for specific diagnoses. However, the health settlement in the spending review included both funding to expand access to talking therapies for treating depression and anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and develop the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, as well as an additional £10 million over the next four years to provide better support for those who have served their country in the current conflicts.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the block grants to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be adjusted if those countries do not adjust the maximum cap in university fees so that students from those countries pay the same as English students.[HL4903]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The devolved Administrations received Barnett consequentials of the changes made to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills budget in the 2010 spending review. No further adjustments will be made to the block budgets of the devolved Administrations to reflect their policy and spending allocation decisions on university fees.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will remove the requirement for the payment of VAT where universities collaborate to share common back office services in order to facilitate efficiencies that will mitigate the potential impact of the higher education public spending settlement on teaching and students.[HL4804]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government recognise that higher education institutions, such as universities, may be able to achieve cost savings if they work together. The Government are continuing to look at options for implementing the so-called VAT cost-sharing exemption. The exemption would, in certain circumstances, remove a VAT charge on shared services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 11 November (WA 126), why there are no specific rewards or sanctions in place to incentivise the UK Border Agency Border Force to meet its targets on immigration queues.[HL4907]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Our primary responsibility is securing the border. We take seriously our responsibility to facilitate the passage of legitimate passengers and trade through the border and work closely with the port and carrier industry to do so. As such we have entered into specific service level agreements across most major UK ports with port operators which include responsibilities placed upon both UKBA and port operators to manage effectively passenger and trade volumes.
The UK Border Agency and port operators are jointly committed to reduce waiting times through performance levels agreed via individual port service level agreements and we are working collaboratively with industry to ensure that our approach is more transparent. We are also exploring ways of holding each other to account for delivery against these service level agreements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, of the children who were in immigration detention in each of the months of May to October 2010 inclusive, what was the average length of detention of those children, calculating the length for each child to the end of the month or to the date of release, whichever was the earlier; and what was the longest period of detention experienced by those children.[HL4609]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Local management information indicating the length of detention for children entering immigration detention as part of a family group between 1 May 2010 and 30 October 2010 is in the attached table.
The data only relate to children detained as part of a family group. Unaccompanied children are not detained. The length of detention is calculated to the date of departure from detention, but recorded against the month in which the child entered detention. Rather than calculate the average statistic for time spent in detention, the Home Office presents the data on length of detention as ranges because this is a more informative overview and is not subject to distortions by a small number of cases with large values.
The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of children detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly and annual basis, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
The Government have made clear their commitment to end the detention of children and continue to work with their corporate partners to find an alternative that protects the welfare of children, without undermining UK immigration laws.
|2010||Number of children entering immigration detention||Number of children detained for seven days or less||Number of children detained for eight-14 days||Number of children detained for 15-28 days|
Baroness Neville-Jones: Families with children are detained only when necessary and the duration of such detention is kept to the minimum, most often just for a few days immediately prior to their planned removal from the UK.
The Government have made clear their commitment to end the detention of children and continue to work with their corporate partners to find an alternative that protects the welfare of children, without undermining UK immigration laws.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 381), on how many occasions the Governor of the Bank of England has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining why the rate of consumer price inflation is more than one percentage point higher than the Government's two per cent per annum target; and whether HM Treasury examines previous letters from the Governor to assess the veracity of the explanations given and forecasts made in those letters by the Governor.[HL4677]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As explained in a previous answer, the open letters between the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England are published on the Bank of England website as well as the HM Treasury Website. HM Treasury carefully considers all open letters.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 381-2), what has been the aggregate increase in prices since the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was given responsibility for inflation targeting; and how the increase compares with the level that would have been experienced if the MPC had achieved the Government's two per cent per annum target, month by month, throughout that period.[HL4678]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have compared the annual rate of retail price inflation in the United Kingdom with that in other G8 countries; and, if so, what assessment they have made of this comparison.[HL4766]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their latest estimates of the number of people receiving legal aid and advice in each of the categories for which the legal aid White Paper proposes to withdraw legal aid or advice.[HL4768]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): An impact assessment was published with the consultation paper Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales which provides that the proposals on the scope changes to civil and family legal aid might affect between 460,000 and 512,000 people.
The full impact assessment is available at the Ministry of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the increase in case load for (a) advice and (b) representation to be picked up by voluntary or charitable agencies in each of the categories from which it is intended to withdraw legal aid or advice; and what long-term funding, and upon what basis, will be available to such agencies to support their work in this area.[HL4769]
Lord McNally: The initial impact assessment shows the volume of cases for which legal help and legal representation would no longer be available if the legal aid proposals were to be implemented. The initial impact assessment seeks views on the implications of this. It can be found at the Ministry of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm.
The Government have set up a £100 million transition fund which is open to organisations that are most vulnerable to short term reductions in public spending. Detailed eligibility criteria are available from the Cabinet Office website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 385), why they do not publish what the HM Treasury representative said at the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee.[HL4863]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 385), why they do not publish what the HM Treasury representative was instructed to say to the Monetary Policy Committee regarding interest rates and quantitative easing.[HL4864]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many primary care trust provider arms, collectively or individually, have secured Department of Health approval to go forward to Monitor as candidates for foundation trust status; and which those are. [HL4710]
Earl Howe: To date, eight community provider organisations have achieved National Health Service trust status-a preliminary step to submitting an application to Monitor for foundation trust (FT) status. None has yet submitted an application to Monitor for FT status as the Monitor FT approval process requires them to operate as an NHS trust for a sufficient length of time, usually one year.
A second wave of 13 primary care trust (PCT) provider arms are seeking NHS Trust status (to form eight NHS trusts) as part of their aim to achieve FT status. To date, the department has not given approval for this second wave of applications to become NHS Trusts and none therefore have been submitted to Monitor.
|First Wave (established as NHS Trusts)||Second Wave (currently subject to Departmental approval to become NHS Trusts)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new NHS economic regulator that they have proposed will have the power to review any cases of transfer of primary care trust provider arms to other NHS bodies if he or she considers that such transfers were anti-competitive.[HL4712]
Earl Howe: Our proposal as set out in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS and the consultation document Regulating Healthcare Providers is that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Competition Commission will be the sole organisations with responsibility for investigating mergers in the health care sector. However, OFT will not have power to retrospectively review completed mergers including any previous transfer of primary care trust provider arms to other National Health Service bodies.
In addition, the White Paper proposes that Monitor would have concurrent powers with the OFT under the Enterprise Act 2002 to carry out market studies within the healthcare sector and to refer concerns about the healthcare market to the Competition Commission for investigation and, potentially, intervention to address restrictions on competition.
Earl Howe: Information is not available in the format requested, as one primary care trust (PCT) may transfer its services across a number of different solutions. Information will be placed in the Library shortly on the individual service lines that PCTs propose to integrate with an acute hospital trust, and the individual service lines that will be subject to market testing.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given instructions to strategic health authorities and primary care trusts on whether they should go ahead with any reorganisation of health service trusts before Parliament legislates on the basis of the proposals set out in the NHS white paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS.[HL4671]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The chief executive of the National Health Service, Sir David Nicholson, wrote to chairs and chief executives of NHS bodies on 10 September 2010, outlining the initial steps that are necessary for the NHS to prepare for the transition to the new health and social care system proposed in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. Sir David's letter made clear that many of the proposals in the White Paper would require primary legislation and are subject to the approval of Parliament, and the outcome of this process should not be pre-judged.
The department is considering the responses to the consultation on the White Paper and its accompanying consultation documents, and the proposed changes set out in those documents are not yet under way. However, given the likely timeframe for implementation, the department's view is that it is also important that the NHS continues to think through the changes, engaging
13 Dec 2010 : Column WA132
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take in response to the findings by the Royal College of Physicians that patients receive poorer care at weekends due to a shortage of consultants.[HL4892]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Secretary of State has asked Medical Education England to work with partners from the National Health Service and the medical profession to secure better patient outcomes through greater consultant involvement in direct clinical care at night and at weekends.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which ten organisations received the greatest amounts of the Department for International Development's budget allocated to non-governmental organisations in each of the past five years for which information is available; and whether any restrictions were placed on each organisation.[HL4745]
Baroness Verma: Details of the 10 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that received the largest amounts of support from the Department for International Development (DfID) over the past five years are as follows. (All figures in £000s.)
These NGOs have received this support through a variety of different DfID funding mechanisms. Details of the conditions attached to all funding to this group cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost. However, further details of all DfID projects, including those delivered by NGOs, can be found on the project database on DfID's website.
Each of DfID's funding channels for NGOs has different criteria and a specific application process. However once funding has been agreed there are a number of conditions that DfID applies to all NGOs. For example, they are required to provide quarterly financial reports, a copy of their annual audited accounts and annual reports detailing progress made against agreed objectives. Funds can only be used to support activities and objectives agreed with DfID. All NGOs are also required to produce a project evaluation and project completion reports.
The UK Government are introducing a new aid transparency guarantee, which commits the Government to making UK aid fully transparent to citizens in the UK and developing countries, increasing accessibility and feedback, and pressing international partners to follow this lead. Under this guarantee, DfID will publish full and detailed information on all funded projects and programmes on the DfID website-in a standardised, accessible format so that this information can be freely used by third parties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 23 November (WA 312) concerning divisions of the Northern Ireland Office, what is the role of the Political Liaison and Protocol Division; and how many staff it has.[HL4696]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Political Liaison and Protocol (PLP) Division provides advice and analysis to Ministers and senior officials on the political climate in Northern Ireland; co-ordinates public appointments and honours nominations; organises citizenship ceremonies in Northern Ireland; and leads on arrangements for all royal, VIP and ministerial visits to Northern Ireland. It also provides, with the Irish Government, the Joint British/Irish Secretariat.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether newspaper reports published during the weekend before the statement on 29 November by the Budget Responsibility Committee of the Office for Budget Responsibility have been subject to a leak investigation. [HL4820]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The newspaper reports published during the weekend before the statement on 29 November by the Budget Responsibility Committee of the Office for Budget Responsibility have not been subject to a leak investigation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the 30 per cent of Official Development Assistance to be spent in
13 Dec 2010 : Column WA135
Baroness Verma: Investing aid in fragile and conflict-affected states is key to tackling the toughest development challenges. No fragile country has yet achieved a single millennium development goal (MDG). Half of children who die before their fifth birthday are in fragile states. We will not meet the MDGs or the needs of the poorest unless we do more to deal with conflict and fragility directly. This means addressing the root causes of conflict and fragility; supporting an inclusive political system that builds a closer society; and strengthening government's ability to deliver security, justice and economic opportunity. This is vital to improving the lives of the poorest.
Wherever we work, the Department for International Development (DfID) rigorously follows the rules of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on what counts as overseas development assistance (ODA). The new Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which will report to Parliament, will assess how ODA is spent, where aid works and where improvements are needed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the 30 per cent of official development assistance to be spent in fragile states empowers girls, promotes equality and improves individuals' sexual and reproductive health and rights. [HL4705]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) is committed to putting girls' and women's empowerment and promoting gender equality at the very front and centre of all of our work. Leading international action to improve the lives of girls and women is one of the six pillars in DfID's business plan 2011-15.
The 30 per cent of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to fragile and conflict-affected states will be spent across the range of development activities. The primary mechanism for allocating DfID's funding will be the ongoing bilateral aid review, which has included equality impact assessments. Through the bilateral aid review, DfID country offices have been required to define clear, measurable commitments to empower women and girls and promote gender equality. Once the outcomes of the review are finalised, decisions on the allocation of resources, including for fragile states, will be made.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the 30 per cent of official development assistance to be spent in fragile states improves access to family planning, safe abortion services, skilled birth attendants and obstetric emergency care, to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.[HL4707]
Baroness Verma: The UK is reorienting its aid programme to put women right at the heart of its development efforts. The Department for International Development (DfID) has worked to improve maternal health across fragile states, including by assisting the Government of Sierra Leone to provide free health care for 230,000 mothers and 1 million children under five. But we must do more; every year more than half a million women and girls die as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, 99 per cent in developing countries.
The primary mechanism for allocating DfID's funding will be the ongoing bilateral aid review, which has included equality impact assessments. Through the bilateral aid review, DfID country offices have been required to define clear, measurable commitments to improve maternal health. Once the outcomes of the review are finalised, decisions on the allocation of resources, including for fragile states, will be made.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the 30 per cent of official development assistance to be spent in fragile states will be used to prevent conflict and not to increase the supply of arms in those countries. [HL4752]
Baroness Verma: The 30 per cent of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to fragile and conflict-affected states will be spent across the range of development activities, all of which address conflict and fragility. The Department for International Development (DfID) monitors its support to all countries very carefully, including aid to fragile states, to ensure that aid cannot be misappropriated for any purpose, especially the purchase of arms. Under the rules of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which DfID rigorously follows, ODA cannot be used to supply arms.
In addition, the Government are committed to securing a robust and effective international arms trade treaty to regulate the trade in conventional weapons and have played a proactive role in this process. Such a treaty would establish common international standards for this trade, ensuring respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and socioeconomic development.
Baroness Verma: The UK Government are committed to reducing maternal mortality in the developing world. While we do not promote abortion as a method of family planning, one of the leading causes of maternal death is unsafe abortion. The World Health Organisation estimates that nearly 70,000 women die each year following unsafe abortion. We are committed to bringing this number down, including in fragile states.
The primary mechanism for allocating the Department for International Development's (DfID's) funding will be the ongoing bilateral aid review, which has included equality impact assessments. Through the bilateral aid review, DfID country offices have been required to define clear, measurable commitments to improve maternal health. Once the outcomes of the review are finalised, decisions on the allocation of resources, including for fragile states, will be made.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 22 November (WA 283), whether they will provide a breakdown of the aggregate sum of £22.7 million for St Helena and Dependencies into specific sums and categories of expenditure.[HL4852]
Baroness Verma: A detailed breakdown of the £22.7 million allocated to St Helena and dependencies in 2009-10 is published in Annexe A4.1 of Statistics in International Development, which is available in the Library of the House and on the Department for International Development (DfID) website. The requested figures are repeated below (£ thousands). Details of individual projects are also available on the DfID website under Project Information.
|Input Sector Code||General Poverty Reduction Budget Support||Sector Poverty Reduction Budget Support||Other Financial Aid||Technical Co- operation||Bilateral Aid Delivered through a Multilateral||Bilateral Aid Delivered through an NGO||Other Bilateral Aid||Humanitarian Assistance||DfID Debt Relief||Total DfID Bilateral Programme|
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