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30 Apr 2012 : Column WA395



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA395

Written Answers

Monday 30 April 2012

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

Baroness Northover: The Kandahar-Helmand power project to enhance the electrical power output of the Kajaki dam is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), one of our partners in the UK-led Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team. By the end of 2014, the project aims to deliver reliable and sustainable electricity to around 2 million people in Kandahar and Helmand, and to support the continued development of the regional South-East Power System (SEPS) power grid. It is anticipated that the refurbishment will increase power production in the region by around 18 megawatts.

Air Ambulance Service

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The ongoing e-petition in respect of air ambulance services is calling for the abolition of VAT on fuel rather than duty.

I also refer the noble Baroness to the Written Answer given on 15 March 2012 by my honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Official Report, col. 359) and to my Answer given on 16 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 202).

Air Quality

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Defra provides information to the public on current and forecast air quality on the internet at uk-air.defra.gov.uk at all times. This service provides advice on levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ozone. In addition, a freephone service is available. The high levels of pollution in March 2012 reflected levels of particulates, whereas the episode in April 2011 reflected high ozone levels.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: As set out in my response of 23 April (WA 290) to the noble Lord, in July 2011 the Commission confirmed that the UK Government had provided all the necessary information on actions being taken to reduce the risk of exceedances of the daily limit value for particulate matter (PM10) as set out in the Commission decision of 11 March 2011.

Defra consulted on its air quality plan for PM10 in Greater London in 2009 and again in October 2011 on an update to this.

Airports: Heathrow

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The border force will not compromise border security but always aims to keep disruption to a minimum by using our staff flexibly to meet demand. Carrying out full checks can mean occasional queues while we ensure that only people entitled to enter the UK can do so.

Aviation: Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published their response to the air passenger duty (APD) consultation on

30 Apr 2012 : Column WA397

6 December 2011. This is available at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/condoc_responses_ air_passenger_duty.pdf.

Budget 2012 set out APD rates for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

The Government are committed to rebalancing the UK economy across the regions and will continue to work with stakeholders to examine the role of the tax system in support of these objectives. The Department for Transport is due to consult on its aviation strategy later this summer and this will include consideration of regional connectivity and regional airports policy.

Bank of England

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Bill, if enacted, will provide the Bank of England with new responsibilities and powers in a number of areas.

A Financial Policy Committee will be created within the Bank as a new macroprudential authority, with powers to address systemic risks in the financial system.

The Bank of England will also take responsibility for regulating recognised clearing houses and approved operators of settlement systems. The Prudential Regulation Authority will be established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of England, responsible for prudential regulation of deposit-takers, insurers and certain investment firms.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The current Governor's term expires on 30 June 2013. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been clear that there will be a proper process for appointing his successor but that this will not commence until the autumn.

Belarus

Question

Asked by Lord Patten



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK will continue to argue for further targeted European Union (EU) sanctions if the Belarusian Government do not release and rehabilitate all political prisoners. Two further political prisoners, including Andrei Sannikov, were released in April but not rehabilitated. We are keeping the situation under regular review to determine when further action might be required.

EU sanctions include an asset freeze and travel ban on entities and persons who are responsible for serious violations of human rights or the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in Belarus. They also target persons and entities benefiting from or supporting the regime. These measures have been applied to several members of the Government, as well as the president of Belarus.

Communities: Integration

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Ministers and officials held informal discussions with a very wide range of partners over the year leading up to the publication of our policy approach, Creating the Conditions for Integration, including with all the organisations mentioned.

This document sets out our views on what is important to promote integrated communities but does not represent the end of the process. We will continue to discuss our approach with partners and challenge them to take action in response to the issues raised in the document. For this reason we have no plans to publish summaries of discussions to date.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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Baroness Hanham: The Government are tackling the specific issues associated with racial discrimination through their single equality strategy, social mobility strategy and integration policies. It is not our current intention to have a separate strategy for race equality.

An Inter-Ministerial Group on Equalities was set up to drive work across Government to support the Equality Strategy. The Government will report progress on the Equality Strategy shortly.

The Government have two key mechanisms to measure the success of the social mobility strategy. The independent Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission will report annually to Parliament on progress on both social mobility and child poverty. We have also placed leading indicators of success in improving social mobility for each life stage in departmental Business Plans. These ensure the public have the information necessary to hold the Government and other institutions to account.

Specific projects in our policy approach to integration, Creating the Conditions for Integration, will be monitored and evaluated against their objectives. Integration is predominately a local issue which requires a local response, and therefore further evaluation is a matter for local areas.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Baroness Hanham: Integration is a local issue, and local communities and public and private services are usually best placed to take action. We are committed to rebalancing activity from centrally led to locally led action.

Action is most effective when it is led locally, but where there is a clear case for the Government to act we will do so. For example, through our work to review barriers to black and minority ethnic access to finance; through the DCLG-led Ministerial Working Group on Gypsies and Travellers, which published a progress report on 4 April 2012; and through projects such as our work with Youth United to encourage volunteer-led youth groups for young people.

Cyclists: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Enforcement of speed limits relates to the criminal law and is primarily a matter for the police. The Department for Transport has not issued guidance on enforcement to local authorities.



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We are currently reviewing our guidance on setting local speed limits and are liaising with the police and local authorities as part of this review.

Elections

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The returning officer for the election is responsible for administering the nomination process for candidates, and guidance issued by the Electoral Commission for the elections scheduled for May 2012 states that a candidate's nomination papers should not be submitted by fax or other electronic means.

Employment: Sickness Absence

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The honourable Member is aware that we are working to develop the government response, with input from a number of government departments and the devolved Administrations. These are complex issues and we need to take time to consider the recommendations fully; the response will be published later this year.

Energy: Tariffs

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Following the recent announcement by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, all the major energy suppliers have committed to help energy consumers get the best deal, including the provision of information for those nearing the end of fixed-term deals and annual communications to all customers telling them what the best tariff is for them and how to get it.

In addition, in 2009 Ofgem introduced new rules to prevent unfair price differentials, such as those between different payment methods or groups of customers.



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Ofgem has reported on the effectiveness of these changes and also proposed further protections for consumers as part of their retail market review. We support Ofgem's actions in tackling unjustified tariff premiums to ensure consumers do not lose out. A copy of the full Ofgem Retail Market Review-Findings and Proposals is available online at: http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/Documents1/RMR_FINAL.pdf.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Verma: All figures are for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 inclusive:

MemberRemuneration £ (rounded)
Salary/FeesEmployer's National Insurance contributionsExpenses

Chair

112,000

13,000

1,000

Deputy Chair

66,000

8,000

1,000

Other Commissioners (12 individuals)

188,000

15,000

4,000

Remuneration details of each Commissioner will be shown in the EHRC's annual report and accounts for 2011-12, which will be published in due course.

EU: Financial Assistance

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

Baroness Northover: The European Union does not provide financial assistance to Israel to cover the costs of holding in custody Palestinians charged or accused of terrorism.

In July 2008, the EU and Israel signed a financing agreement to allow support for Israel under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan. Most of this funding covers the costs of the twinning and technical assistance and information exchange instruments and has been used to support technical work on equal employment opportunities and veterinary services legislation, as well as a series of expert seminars and workshops. The remainder of the funding has been used to support the Euro-Med Youth programme and the Tempus programme to modernise higher education.



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Extradition

Question

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Not all extradition requests lead to the arrest of the subject. As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, we will neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request has been made or received until such time as a person is arrested in relation to the request, so that people do not have the opportunity to escape justice by leaving the country before they are arrested.

For that reason, a breakdown of the number of arrests as well as surrenders by country is provided in the tables below.

2011
CountryArrestsSurrenders

Albania

5

4

Argentina

2

Australia

2

2

Azerbaijan

1

Canada

2

Moldova

1

Montenegro

1

Norway

1

2

Russian Federation

3

Switzerland

1

2

Turkey

6

4

Ukraine

5

United Arab Emirates

7

USA

12

8

Total

47

24

2012 (up to 24 April)
CountryArrestsSurrenders

Albania

2

3

Ghana

1

Russian Federation

2

Switzerland

1

Turkey

1

1

United Arab Emirates

1

1

USA

3

8

TOTAL

11

13

The tables provide non-EU extradition figures for 2011 and for 2012 up until 24 April. Figures from 2004 to July 2011 were published in A Review of the United Kingdom's Extradition Arrangements on 18 October 2011 and can be found on pages 464-67.

The figures relate to requests dealt with under the 2003 Extradition Act. These do not include figures for Scotland. It should also be emphasised that an arrest and/or surrender made in a particular year may relate to a request made in a previous year.



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Government: Special Advisers

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Special advisers are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), on 15 Mar 2012 (House of Commons Official Report, col. 408W).

The ultimate decision in Mr Aamer's case is one for the United States (US). We continue to engage with the US Administration at senior and ministerial level but we are unable to say at this stage when this case will be resolved. However, we remain committed to securing Mr Aamer's release and return to the UK and will continue to engage with the US until a solution is reached.

Honours and Decorations Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Craig of Radley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble and gallant Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister today.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK Border Agency's contract with Reliance Secure Task Management (Reliance) for the provision of escorting services commenced on 1 May 2011, replacing the previous service provider G4S.

The new contract with Reliance has detailed requirements upon the management of detainee welfare, and welfare requirements are more exactingly defined in the current contract when compared to the previous G4S contract. Throughout the time that a detainee is in the custody of the escort service provider they are required to monitor and record all events in respect of a detainee's welfare.

Additionally in comparison with the G4S contract, the new contract focuses on continuous improvement of detainee welfare provision during the life of the contract, including obtaining detainee's views on their conditions, welfare and services, and reporting all improvements made and proposals for future improvements on a yearly basis.

Whilst the cost of the current contract with Reliance offers better value for money than the previous G4S contract, this has been achieved through innovation rather than any reduction in the quality of service. The contract with Reliance is robustly contract managed to ensure that service standards are maintained.

Immigration: Detention Centres

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): We are considering the recommendations made in the inspection report and will respond within two months in line with the protocol agreed with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons. Overall, the report acknowledges that Harmondsworth is a reasonably safe institution with reasonable staff engagement between staff and detainees.

The UK Border Agency takes its responsibilities towards detainees' health and welfare seriously. Harmondsworth, like all immigration removal centres, provides primary healthcare services broadly equivalent to those available in the community and arranges access to secondary healthcare services as needed. All detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival for a health screening and a GP within 24 hours. Detainees can then access healthcare services on demand, subject to a triage system similar to those found in GP surgeries in the community.

As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, responsibility for healthcare commissioning in the UK Border Agency detention estate is in the process of transferring from the Agency to the Department of Health.

Infrastructure Investment

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published the National Infrastructure Plan in October 2010, outlining our vision for the future of UK economic infrastructure. This identified eleven regional examples of capital projects in the three regions of northern England. An updated National Infrastructure Plan was subsequently published alongside the Autumn Statement in November 2011. This set out a pipeline of over 500 infrastructure projects across the UK, identifying the 40 projects most critical to economic growth. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury chairs a Cabinet committee on infrastructure, to ensure their delivery.

The list of investments below is not exhaustive, given that between 60% and 70% of infrastructure is privately owned and operated.

(1) North-east England

Autumn Statement 2011 announced the following infrastructure investments:

Tyne and Wear metro upgrade in the north-east.

Further projects in that region, announced in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011, include:

East Coast Main Line improvements programme; andTees Multimodal Bio-Freight Terminal (as part of Regional Growth Fund).

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Budget 2012 confirmed that Newcastle had been selected to become a 'super-connected city' and will receive funding of up to £6 million to deliver ultra-fast broadband.

(2) North-west England

Autumn Statement 2011 announced the following infrastructure investments:M56 at Manchester Airport link road to A6 south of Stockport; Crewe Green Link Southern Section-New link road to the east of Crewe opening up a key development area and acting as a bypass; Manchester Cross City Bus-Highway changes and bus enhancements to facilitate new cross Manchester city centre bus services; and Rochdale Interchange-Replacement bus station for Rochdale adjacent to the existing, allowing for the redevelopment of the town centre and complementing the arrival of Metrolink in 2014.

Priority projects in the north-west set out in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011 include:

A556 Knutsford;Manchester Metro Link Phase 3A Extensions;Heysham to M6 Link Road;Mersey Gateway Bridge;Expansion of Mersey Multimodal Gateway (as part of Regional Growth Fund);Completion of Western Gateway Enabling Scheme at Port Salford (through the Regional Growth Fund);Reinstating Todmorden Curve (through the Regional Growth Fund); andNorthern rail connectivity (Liverpool-Newcastle electrification and the Ordsall Chord).

Budget 2012 announced that:

The Government will support Network Rail to invest £130 million to improve the connectivity between Manchester and Sheffield, Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, Bolton, Preston and Blackpool.The Government will use their £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project to deliver improved mobile phone coverage. In the north-west, this includes the A57 between Liverpool and Manchester and the A591 between Keswick and Sizergh.The Government have agreed to provide funding of up to £30 million, starting in 2015-16, to unlock £1.2 billion of infrastructure investment in Greater Manchester through a new investment model called the Earn Back Model.Manchester has been selected to become a "super-connected city" and will receive £12 million to deliver ultra-fast broadband.

(3)Yorkshire and Humberside

Autumn Statement 2011 announced the following infrastructure investments:

Writing down debt on the Humber Bridge to halve the tolls for cars;

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Access York Park & Ride-Two new park and ride sites;Al8-Al80 Link (NE Lincolnshire)-Link road acting as a bypass for Immingham;A6182 White Rose Way Improvement Scheme (Doncaster)-Dualling of 1.9km of carriageway and replacement of 2 existing roundabouts with high-capacity signalised junctions;Al64 Humber Bridge to Beverley-Capacity and safety improvements at 4 roundabouts and dualling of 1.4 kilometre section of Al64;Leeds Rail Growth-Two new railway stations: Kirkstall Forge and Appley Bridge;Supertram additional vehicles (Sheffield)-Four additional tram vehicles for the Supertram network; andAccelerating M1 junction 39 to 42 scheme.

Autumn Statement 2011 also announced £1.4 billion of investment in the railways and commuter links across the UK, including electrification of the transpennine railway route from Manchester to Leeds (£290 million), which cuts across the north-east, north-west and Yorkshire and Humberside regions.

Priority projects in the Yorkshire and Humberside set out in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011 include:

Leeds Station enlargement; andImproved access to the Sheffield Gateway (as part of Regional Growth Fund).

Budget 2012 announced that:

The Government will support Network Rail to invest £130 million to improve the connectivity between Manchester and Sheffield, Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, Bolton, Preston and Blackpool; Government will use its £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project to deliver improved mobile phone coverage. In Yorkshire & Humber, this includes the A169 between Whitby and Norton; andThe Budget confirms that Leeds and Bradford have been selected to become "super-connected cities" and will receive funding of up to £14.6 million to deliver ultra-fast broadband.

A full list of major infrastructure projects is detailed in the National Infrastructure Plan, available on the Treasury's website.

In addition to announcing these infrastructure projects, the Government established the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) and Growing Places Fund (GPF).

The RGF, launched at June 2010 Budget, provides support for projects that offer significant potential for long-term economic growth and the creation of additional sustainable private sector jobs. In round 1, winners in the north-east of England, north-west of England and Yorkshire and Humberside are expected to create over 18,300 direct jobs and 13,200 indirect jobs in total. In round 2, winners across these regions are expected to create over 19,600 direct jobs, and 72,000 indirect jobs. Round 3 of the RGF (to allocate a further f1billion) is still open.



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The Growing Places Fund (GPF) provides additional funding for the infrastructure needed to unlock developments that will lead to jobs and growth. Funding has been allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in north-east England, north-west England and Yorkshire and Humberside.

The Government have also introduced twenty-four new Enterprise Zones, to be established across our LEPs. Two Enterprise Zones have been established in the north-east, four in the north-west, and four in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Furthermore, at Autumn Statement 2011, the Government announced that they would establish pilot Rural Growth Networks (RGN) to test and demonstrate the potential to use the planning regime and targeted infrastructure improvement to support sustainable economic growth. RGNs have been announced in the north-east LEP and the Cumbria LEP.

International Development

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Baroness Northover: The Government welcome engagement with all parties, including citizens, private sector and civil society, as part of the international process to agree a successor framework to the millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2015.

A number of processes are already under way. First, I encourage interested civil society organisations to engage as part of the global Civil Society Organisation network "Beyond 2015". Secondly, the United Nations is also working to engage civil society and the private sector through its Post-2015 Task Team consultation: the United Nations Development Programme plan to hold national level consultations in 50 countries to inform the formation of a post-2015 development framework starting in May. Thirdly, the European Commission will organise a public consultation on "Towards a post-2015 development framework", which is expected to be launched on the website for the Directorate General for Development Co-operation (DG DEVCO) in late May or early June.

The Government are developing further plans on how to engage citizens, the private sector and civil society in the process to 2015. Providing parliamentary time to debate this issue is of course a matter for the business managers in both Houses, depending on the demands and progress of other business.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA409

Iran

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK fully supports the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur for Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, in his recent report to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. My right honourable friend, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), discussed the content of Dr Shaheed's report during a meeting with him on 16 April, highlighting our continuing support for his work. We shall continue to work closely with our European partners and other members of the UN Human Rights Council to promote awareness of the human rights situation in Iran and encourage wider support for the work of Dr Shaheed. It is vital that the Iranian Government seize the opportunity to engage with him. In particular, the Iranian Government should grant him access to sites and individuals in Iran so that he can fulfil the mandate the international community have given him to assess the human rights situation there.

Kimberley Process

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Kimberley Process (KP) is an international trade regulation scheme that was set up to tackle the problem of rebel groups trading in rough diamonds to fund armed conflicts, and to prevent the violence associated with such conflicts.

Whilst we are working to strengthen the KP's role in preventing conflict, including by arguing that it should take human rights abuses more explicitly into account, we do not propose to expand the KP's mandate to cover revenue transparency and governance, because other mechanisms exist to address these issues.

However, although it is not formally part of the KP's mandate, the KP does play a helpful role in shining a light on revenue flows by providing information on diamond sales and exports. This can help Governments collect the taxes and royalties owed to them.



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The UK is a strong supporter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which helps to promote transparency and accountability around the use of natural resource wealth in developing countries, including from diamonds. This can help minimise the risk of illegal diversion of public revenue to private individuals. Our support for EITI has contributed to the reporting of over 500 billion United States dollars (USD) in government revenues in 29 countries around the world and the reporting by over 150 companies of 130 billion USD in revenues in Africa between 2003 and 2008.

Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development also provide advice and support to governments around the world on governance of the extractive sector with the aim of increasing transparency and good governance. This includes supporting work in the mining sector by the World Bank focusing on revenue transparency and International Monetary Fund work on anti-money laundering measures.

Malaysia

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Files from the colonial administration of Sarawak were released at The National Archives (TNA) on 18 April 2012 as part of the first batch of colonial administration files. The list of files from Sarawak is now publicly available on The National Archive (TNA) website (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/colonial-administration-records.htm). The range of TNA reference numbers for these files is from FCO 141/12277 to FCO 141/13099. The TNA has also published on its website a guide to the first batch of files (including Sarawak) as well as a file list for Sarawak, which can be downloaded.

There are known to be documents covering Sarawak affairs that did not originate from the Sarawak colonial administration itself. For instance, there are a number of such documents in the North Borneo file series, which has already transferred to TNA. It would be a considerable undertaking to inspect all the colonial administration files for any mention of Sarawak, since this could be carried out only through a detailed inspection of the files themselves-thus incurring disproportionate cost.

Mayors

Questions

Asked by Lord Storey



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Directly elected mayors will assume the powers vested in the Leader and Cabinet of current city councils. The Government have said that they want to transfer additional powers to cities with directly elected mayors, at their request. These include new powers and funding over transport, skills, housing, economic development and other areas which the elected mayor considers important for the future prosperity of their city. Mayors will be scrutinised by elected councillors, and will be subject to the code of conduct of the council, as well as to other statutory requirements such as the Local Government Transparency Code.

Elected mayors will have an important role to play through the police and crime panel for the area, providing support and challenge to the police and crime commissioner on such matters as the police and crime plan and the police precept.

National Heritage: Listed Buildings

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Table 6, pages 43-44 of Annex B-Tables of Impact for Individual Measures in HM Revenue and Customs consultation document "VAT: Addressing Borderline Anomalies", published at Budget 2012, sets out impacts of the VAT change to approved alterations to listed buildings, upon which comments are welcomed. The document is available online at: http://www.hmrc. gov.uk/budget20l2/vat-con-4801.pdf.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA412

Table 6-Alterations To Listed Buildings
Summary of impacts
Exchequer impact (£m)2012-132013-142014-152015-162016-17
+35+85+95+110+125

These figures are part of the VAT package on Closing Loopholes and Correcting Anomalies set out in Table 2.1 of Budget 2012 and have been certified by the Office for Budget Responsibility. More details can be found in the policy costings document published alongside Budget 2012. This element of the VAT package is shown above.

Economic impact

This measure might lead to a small increase in the price of alterations to listed buildings which would lead to a fall in demand. The overall macroeconomic impacts are expected to be negligible

Impact on individuals and households

The measure potentially affects any individual and household owners of protected buildings who will now have to bear VAT on any alteration work to their property.

There are an estimated 350,000 listed dwellings in the UK. It is estimated that around 10,000 individuals and households may be affected each year by the measure, with the additional costs from the VAT change varying according to the extent of work undertaken.

There are no identified compliance costs for individuals or households.

Equalities impacts

Potentially any owner of a protected building will be affected by this change.

Places of Worship-Listed places of worship will also be affected by the change, although our evidence suggests that places of worship form only a small minority of the total number of listed properties in the UK. These will be predominantly used by Christian denominations. In order to mitigate the impacts on these groups the DCMS is expanding the existing Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which refunds the VAT on repairs and maintenance work, so that this includes approved alterations to listed buildings.

There is no specific impact identified for any other equalities group.

Impact on business including civil society organisations

Businesses and charities that own protected buildings will be affected by this measure if they cannot reclaim the additional VAT incurred. There are an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 listed buildings owned by businesses or charities used for a residential or charitable purpose. It is estimated that around 1,000 businesses and charities may be affected each year.

All businesses that supply work in the course of approved alterations to protected buildings will be affected. This will include tradesmen specialising in listed building work.

One-off compliance costs have been considered and are expected to be negligible in total. Around 5,000 to 6,000 businesses estimated to routinely work on listed buildings are expected to incur small costs from familiarisation with the new guidance and additional bookkeeping. A further 100,000 businesses who provide construction services may incur very minimal familiarisation costs.

There are no expected ongoing costs as businesses are familiar with making standard-rated supplies of repair and maintenance. Simplifying the VAT rules is expected to reduce the ongoing compliance costs for business.

Operational impact (£m) (HMRC or other)

HM Revenue and Customs is likely to benefit from lower administrative costs as a result of a reduction in levels of taxpayer query, non-compliance and litigation.

Other impacts

Small firms impact test-This change may impact affected businesses of all sizes that perform work on listed buildings. There will be an impact on small firms including tradesmen specialising in protected buildings. There is no scope for different VAT treatment for supplies of construction work by small firms.

Northern Ireland Office: Estate

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office owns one property on behalf of the Government, namely Hillsborough Castle.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA413

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office leases and controls one building, Stormont House. The department leases space at Windsor House in Belfast and Millbank in London.

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The devolution of policing and justice functions to the Northern Ireland Assembly resulted in significant changes to the Northern Ireland Office in terms of its role, size and structure. The pre-devolution estates strategy needs to be reviewed and updated to reflect these. This work has been scheduled for the current financial year.

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office is committed to rationalising the use of premises for government purposes to ensure efficient use of space and to secure savings for the taxpayer wherever possible. To this end, discussions have taken place within the Northern Ireland Office, with relevant arm's-length bodies and with HM Treasury.

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office owns one property, Hillsborough Castle. A valuation on Hillsborough Castle was carried out in December 2011 by Land and Property Services, Department of Finance and Personnel. The following valuations were advised:

Buildings:

£55,283,000

Land:

£5,800,000

Total:

£61,083,000

Asked by Lord Empey



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA414

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office is committed to rationalising the use of accommodation to ensure efficient use of space and to secure savings for the taxpayer wherever possible. This process may result in the termination of leases. There are no current plans to dispose of any properties.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The vast majority of the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and Paralympic Route Network (PRN) is the designated network of roads that will be the principal routes used by vehicles transporting the Games Family between venues and accommodation. It will ensure that the athletes, officials and the media get to the venues on time and have consistent journey times. It has been a key part of Games since Sydney in 2000.

For London 2012, the ORN is comprised of 109 miles of road in London (around 1% of the London network) and 175 miles outside London. In London, it is expected to come into operation just a couple of days before the start of the Olympic Games and to end as soon as possible after the Games.

The vast majority of the ORN and PRN roads will be open for use by general traffic at all times alongside the Games Family, although people may find that some of the traffic measures are different from those normally applied. These changes could include an embargo on non-emergency road works, traffic light re-phasing, turn bans and parking suspensions.

The only parts of the road network which will not be open to general traffic are the temporary Games lanes (although some on-road events will require road closures). Games Lanes will only be on the busiest parts of the ORN-less than a third (30 miles) of the ORN in London, and outside London on just one short stretch on the A30 Egham Bypass near the Royal Holloway accommodation for athletes competing at the Eton Dorney venue.

Where there are Games lanes these will generally be in the outside lane and will not take up the whole road width in any one direction, so that other traffic can continue to use the remaining lanes. They will be operated flexibly during the Games, and will be opened to all traffic through use of variable message signs when not required for Games Family use.

The Games Family members who can use the Games lanes and the estimated total number of people in each category are as follows:

athletes and team officials-18,000 for Olympics, 6,000 for Paralympics;

30 Apr 2012 : Column WA415

technical officials-5,000; Olympic and Paralympic family (including members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and national Olympic authorities)-6,000;media (press and broadcast)-28,000; and marketing partners (including major sponsors)-25,000.

The only other people apart from the Games Family who can use Games lanes when they are in operation are blue light responders. Government Ministers from the United Kingdom and other countries will not be allowed to use the Games lanes unless, exceptionally, they were travelling under blue lights on the advice of the security services.

The marketing partners contribute £1 billion towards the cost of the Games, directly or through the IOC. They will use the ORN as and when necessary. Because of the way they operate, only about 4,000 people will be around at any one time. They travel by coach and several elements of their programme will not require the ORN. They will also pay separately for their coaches.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA416

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Baroness Northover: Over the past 10 years, DfID's total bilateral expenditure on security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) has been £253,920,000 and £28,016,000 respectively. A breakdown of expenditure by year and sub-sector is available in the table below. The data have been compiled using expenditure reported against agreed definitions of SSR and DDR by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee.

2000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-11Total 2000-01 to 2010-11

Security Sector Reform (expenditure in £ thousands)

Legal and judicial empowerment

8387

10194

6284

7314

8569

9721

11670

18025

19147

18469

17351

135131

Security system management and reform

1369

2328

5583

8985

17173

15676

7572

14430

13050

13338

19285

118789

Total expenditure SSR

9756

12522

11867

16299

25742

25397

19242

32455

32197

31807

36636

253920

Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (expenditure in £thousands)

Post-conflict peace-building (UN)

-

2627

5689

6520

14836

Reintegration and Small Arms and Light Weapon control

1343

6377

4683

12403

Child soldiers (prevention and demobilisation)

375

261

141

777

Total expenditure DDR

4345

12327

11344

28016

Her Majesty's Government also allocate joint resources in support of conflict prevention through the tri-departmental (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DfID, and Ministry of Defence) Conflict Pool. The Conflict Pool has supported SSR and DDR activities since its establishment. Official development assistance from the Conflict Pool has been reported by sector since 2010. Data for calendar year 2010 are provided in the following table (2011 data are under preparation):



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA417

Security Sector Reform (expenditure in £thousands)

Legal and judicial empowerment

-

Security system management and reform

6,062

Total expenditure SSR

6,062

Post-conflict peacebuilding (UN)

281

Reintegration and Small Arms and Light Weapon control

-

Child soldiers (prevention and demobilisation

250

Total expenditure DDR

531

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Northover: The coalition Government are the first government to set out clear plans to invest 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA). I am pleased to say that a Bill has been drafted to give effect to the commitment included in the coalition Government's programme for government. The Bill is with business managers and, as the Prime Minister has made clear, the coalition Government will legislate when parliamentary time allows. The legislative programme for the 2010-12 parliamentary Session focused its attention on reforms that would tackle the fiscal deficit inherited by the coalition and start to put the economy back on a sustainable footing.

Overseas Stability

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Baroness Northover: Although the Stabilisation Unit itself does not lead on operations outside the UK, the unit currently has 189 people deployed to 19 countries. The breakdown is as follows:



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA418

CountryTotal

Afghanistan (Helmand)

42

Afghanistan (Kabul)

29

Afghanistan (Kandahar)

1

Azerbaijan

1

Bahrain

1

Belgium

2

Bosnia

3

DRC, Goma

3

Ethiopia

2

Georgia

18

Iraq

6

Kenya

5

Kosovo

38

Kyrgyzstan

1

Liberia

1

Libya

3

Pakistan

4

Palestine

4

Sierra Leone

4

Somalia

10

South Sudan

11

189

The Stabilisation Unit currently has experts deployed in a variety of roles, including general managers/administrators, stabilisation advisers, transition advisers, strategic communications, rule of law, justice, security, conflict and anti-corruption, legal specialists, police trainers, witness support officers and monitors.

Typically, deployment durations range from several days to periods of over one year.

It is not possible to provide a more detailed breakdown of the type and duration of deployments as we do not hold this information in a readily accessible format.

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Baroness Northover: Iraq and Afghanistan are the only instances where the UK has been involved in provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs). The UK-led Helmand PRT has been identified as a model of how PRTs can work effectively and its joint civilian/military working was commended by the House of Commons Defence Committee in 2011. The PRT prioritises state-building, sub-national governance and social-economic development and has seen much success in these areas. For example, there are now 12 district governors in Helmand's 14 districts, up from just 5 in 2008 and the number of line ministries present in Helmand has increased significantly. PRT-supported governance projects have also seen the rejuvenation of local economic activity across Helmand.

The UK takes an integrated approach to stabilisation and socio-economic development in Helmand, ensuring that short term stabilisation activities contribute to longer term development. DfID and the tri-departmental Stabilisation Unit have published key lessons on working in conflict-affected environments, including quick impact projects: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications1/governance/building-peaceful-states-B.pdf and http://www.stabilisationunit.gov.uk/stabilisation-and-contlict-resources/stabilisation-unit-publications.html.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA419

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In line with normal government funding rules, had the Scottish Government or Northern Ireland Executive chosen not to implement the increase in employee contributions, the Treasury would have made an adjustment to that administration's block grant.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Sassoon: The differences between the public service pension scheme designs set out in the Command Paper Public Service Pensions: Good Pensions That Last (Cm 8214) and those more recently set out in heads of agreement with trades unions reflect individual negotiations with the relevant trades unions. However, those differences have been constrained to keep within the overall cost limits set out in Cm 8214. For example, compared with the Government's preferred design, a different revaluation rate has been offset by a different accrual rate so there should be no overall increase in cost to the taxpayer.

Full details of how the revaluation rates based on the consumer prices index or average weekly earnings index will apply in practice will be set out in due course in detailed proposals for the operation of the individual schemes and will be reflected in legislation.

Police: Business Interests

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The requested information is not held centrally by the Home Office.

Ports

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The following European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) awards have been made:

Liverpool Cruise Terminal received £8.6 million ERDF support (originally awarded before 2007) plus comparable support from the North-West Development Agency and other sources; the Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour (East Port) project received £4.57 million ERDF plus support from the East of England Development Agency;the Pier Head Gateway local public transport project at Liverpool (Merseyside PTA) was awarded £3.72 million in ERDF support plus domestic funding; Torridge District Council was awarded £0.54 million ERDF plus domestic funding to improve visitor attractions and provide workspace at Appledore Fish Dock; and Scrabster Harbour Development has been awarded £2.2 million ERDF plus domestic funding in support of the marine renewables industry.

Under the Trans-European Network-Transport (TEN-T) programme, the following awards have been made:

London Gateway €11.67 million (2009); Port Salford (studies) €1 million (2010); andPort of Felixstowe (rail terminal and mobile cranes) €5 million (2010).

Funding was also provided to the Portsmouth ferry and cruise terminal under the European Interreg IVa scheme.

The items listed above may not be exhaustive, as it has not been possible to undertake a fully comprehensive search within the time available and at proportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Berkeley



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA421

Earl Attlee: The Government's policy is that ports operate in a market-led sector in which investment in any of these types of asset (including ports' dedicated road and rail connections) should normally be funded on a commercial basis. However, ports can sometimes be eligible to apply for grants available to businesses in order to secure achievement of identified benefits. Such grants may be available from UK or EU sources. UK grant schemes will normally require European State Aids clearance and grants should be compatible with the terms of any such applicable clearance or exemption.

Ports: Liverpool Cruise Terminal

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

Earl Attlee: The Minister for Shipping expects to make a further announcement on this matter in the near future. The Government are currently in correspondence with the Commission in relation to state aids clearance, following an earlier complaint.

Public Records: Colonial Documents

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) informed the other place in his Written Ministerial Statement of 5 May 2011 that every part of every paper of interest from the colonial administration files collection would be transferred to The National Archives (TNA), subject to any legal exemptions. The process of transferring all of these files is already under way and will be completed by the end of 2013. Nothing will be destroyed.

The timetable for the transfer of colonial administration files is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Website (www.fco.gov. uk/en/publications- and-documents/colonial-administration/). The files are being released in eight batches, and the first batch of files representing around 16 percent of the total collection became publicly available at the TNA on 18 April 2012. The next batch of files will be available in July.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA422

Only 1% or less of the content of the colonial administration files is expected to be redacted using legal exemptions because of continuing sensitivity. The principal legal exemptions that will be used to withhold material under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are expected to be Section 27 (covering material which would damage the UK's external relations and interests) and Section 40 (personal data). Any redactions under FOIA must be authorised by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. Intelligence material may be retained by the FCO under Section 3(4) of the Public Records Act.

The period for which material is withheld varies according to the relevant legal exemption. When this period expires the FCO is legally obliged to re-review the material to determine whether it remains sensitive. The re-review process often results in the release of previously withheld material. Anything that remains sensitive may continue to be withheld using the process, which I have outlined above although it will continue to be subject to further re-review.

Railways: Class 92 Locomotives

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: We do not consider that the temporary transfer of one class 92 locomotive to Romania or Bulgaria for testing purposes, as proposed by DB Schenker, would trigger any type of state aid refund or constitute a disposal of a core Channel Tunnel asset under the terms of the Channel Tunnel asset agreements. DB Schenker became party to these following its acquisition of English Welsh and Scottish Railways.

Railways: Cycles

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Any decisions on such permissions, or restrictions, are an operational matter for the relevant station operator and safety duty holder.

Railway Group Standard GE/RT8047 requires mandatory reporting of certain accidents and that data are captured in the Safety Management Information System (SMIS) database, which is managed by RSSB.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA423

The reporting of personal accidents occurring at stations is required, but data specific to cycle related incidents are not. The RSSB should be contacted for further information on the type of data available.

Railways: European Train Management System

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The memorandum of understanding (signed on 16 April 2012) between the European Commission, the European Railway Agency and the European rail sector associations is intended to facilitate supplier development of the next generation of ERTMS. This will be reflected in the TSI CCS supporting specifications when available.

Under the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 a vehicle that is authorised to be placed into service in another member state need not seek an additional authorisation for use in the UK. A new vehicle that requires authorisation is expected to comply with the legal specifications in force. The new Intercity Express Programme's trains will be fitted with ERTMS.

Retail: Mary Portas Review

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The staffing resource required to support the review into the future of Britain's high streets was managed within existing departmental budgets. Any travel costs that were necessarily incurred by Mary Portas

30 Apr 2012 : Column WA424

in the course of her review were reimbursed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, consistent with departmental guidelines.

The costs associated with the production of the final report were £11,359.62, including the design, illustration and printing of copies for Parliament, press launch and key stakeholders.

Mary Portas was not paid for her work on the review and neither were any individuals or firms associated with her.

Roads: Charging

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Officials have met the European Commission to explain our proposals, and the Commission said it would raise no objection. The Government have carefully designed the lorry-charging proposals to comply with the law. Article 7.4 of Directive 1999/62 says that charges may not discriminate on the grounds of nationality. The proposed charges are the same for foreign and UK registered vehicles. Article 7b of the directive also explicitly permits compensation for domestic hauliers.

Roads: Distance Marker Posts

Question

Asked by Lord True

Earl Attlee: Marker posts are provided on UK motorways and indicate the direction of the nearest emergency roadside telephone as prescribed by the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002.

They include a unique locational reference, which enables road workers to identify sections of carriageway to assist with the management of the motorway network.

Records detailing the specific quantities and cost of all distance marker posts are not readily available, as they are provided and maintained as part of ongoing road maintenance and improvement schemes.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA425

Roads: Kilometre Measurements

Question

Asked by Lord True

Earl Attlee: This Government have no plans whatsoever to adopt the kilometre as the unit of distance on roads in the United Kingdom. To do so would require the metrication of all traffic signs indicating speed as well as distance, for which diverting funding from high priority areas is not considered justifiable, or indeed desirable.

Schools: Academies

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There are 18 academies already open in Lancashire and a further six under development. There are two academies open in Blackburn with Darwen. Departmental officials are in discussions with each of these local authorities about schools converting to academy status.

Information about schools that have applied to convert or are becoming sponsored academies is available on the Department for Education website at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies/b0069811/open-academies.

Asked by Lord Greaves

Lord Hill of Oareford: In addition to the 18 academies already open in Lancashire, three schools have been approved to convert to academies. These schools are: Albany Science College; Parklands High School; and Priory Sports and Technology College, Penwortham.

A further two schools have received ministerial approval in principle to become sponsored academies. These schools are: Burnley Springfield Community Primary School, under the sponsorship of Burnley College; and Colne Primet High School, under the sponsorship of Nelson and Colne College.

Information about schools that have applied to convert or are under development as sponsored academies is available on the Department for Education website at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/types ofschools/academies/b006981/open-academies.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA426

Schools: Building Schools for the Future

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department offered the six local authorities whose claims were decided in February 2011 a sum in recognition of their contractual liabilities, and is still in discussion with two local authorities about payment. It would be premature to provide information about the anticipated total or current actual costs of payments related to the Building Schools for the Future judicial reviews until this process has been completed.

Schools: Free Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Education Funding Agency (EFA) supports free-school trusts with the procurement and delivery of free school building works, including ensuring compliance with all relevant building regulations. Monitoring of compliance with building regulations is also a general duty that the relevant local authority would enforce.

All free schools are bound by both the statutory Independent School Standards and the Equality Act 2010. Before a free school can open, it is required to have an Ofsted pre-registration inspection; this looks at whether or not the free school is likely to meet the independent school standards once open. In looking at how the needs of pupils are going to be met, Ofsted may also ask to see the accessibility plan which all schools are required to produce under the Equality Act.

Schools: Grammar Schools

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA427

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Current legislation prohibits the introduction of a new wholly selective maintained school or academy and we have no plans to change this. To date, there are no specific proposals to expand any existing designated grammar schools onto another site. In the case of a maintained grammar, the decision would be made by the relevant local authority. In the case of an academy, the Secretary of State is the decision-maker.

Schools: Split Sites

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): A single school can operate from more than one site, but to do so any other site must be a continuance of the original school.

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Her Majesty's Government have not made such an assessment. The requirements for the General Lighthouse Fund are reviewed annually, based on an overall assessment of likely income from light dues and planned expenditure including contingency for operations and emergencies.

Shipping: Light Dues

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA428

Earl Attlee: The Shipping Minister announced his decision to freeze light dues in 2012-13 in a Written Ministerial Statement on 12 March 2012 (Official Report, col. 8WS). Light dues levels are now 10% lower in real terms than they were two years ago.

Her Majesty's Government will consider the level of light dues for 2013-14 early next year.

South Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the incident on 21 April whereby a church in al-Jiraif in Khartoum was besieged, entered by force, had its contents looted, and the building set on fire.

These actions have been condemned officially by the Government of Sudan as well as Muslim religious leaders. The Sudanese Government have promised an open investigation into the incident by the Ministry of Religious Guidance.

Our embassy in Khartoum will continue to raise our concerns with the Government of Sudan and urge them to ensure security for all minority groups resident in Sudan.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: Under the UK's presidency of the United Nations Security Council in March this year we led regular discussions of the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. These discussions were reflected in a presidential statement on 6 March and a press statement on 27 March. Both statements raised grave concerns about incidents of cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan, including troop movements, support to proxy forces, and aerial bombardments. The cross-border violence was also discussed at the Security Council on 24 April.

The 6 March statement also outlined the Council's concerns regarding the worsening situation in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, calling for humanitarian access to the states and an immediate cessation of hostilities. We are deeply concerned by reports of indiscriminate bombings and other military tactics that target civilians. We have consistently said that all such allegations that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity should be fully and independently investigated.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA429

Syria

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

Baroness Northover: The UK is providing funding to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to meet the needs of refugees in the region, as well as to the UN Emergency Response Fund for Syria to allow the UN to address humanitarian priorities in Syria. The UK is also supporting the operations of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs' operations in the region.

In addition, the UK is providing funding to other humanitarian agencies operating in Syria and the region to deliver assistance including food rations, medical assistance, water and sanitation and other essential items. The funding is supporting humanitarian agencies with an ability to operate in Syria. Agencies have asked us not to disclose their names in order to protect the safety of their staff and their ability to operate in a difficult environment.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has taken the decision to provide an additional half a million pounds to support the Syrian opposition and civil society, as part of the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development Conflict Pool. This brings the total committed by the Government to supporting the Syrian opposition to £950,000.

We provide a wide range of support, including political support, and training and capacity building in a number of key areas, including strategic communications, strategy development and human rights. The Foreign Secretary also agreed in principle to provide a range of non-lethal, practical support to the Syrian opposition.

The government support to Syrian opposition and civil society is part of our wider strategy to secure an end to violence and political transition to a new accountable, open and inclusive Syria, founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law. A coherent and co-ordinated opposition which offers a genuine alternative to Assad rule and a dynamic, independent civil society which holds state actors to account are vital to achieving this transition.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA430

Taxation: Inheritance Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Any changes to the inheritance tax regime will have to be considered with due regard to the Government's priorities of reducing the fiscal deficit and ensuring economic recovery. In this context, the Government have decided that making changes to personal allowances should take priority over changes to the inheritance tax regime.

Tobacco

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In answer to the first part of his Question, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 26 March 2012 (Official Report, col. WA220).

Figures for the whole of the UK are not published. Based on the Business Register and Employment Survey, the Office for National Statistics estimates that, in 2010, 1,700 people were employed in the production of tobacco products in Great Britain.

Transport: GLA Transport Grant

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Transport for London's (TfL's) Spending Review settlement, agreed between the Secretary of State and the Mayor in 2010, is based on a shared commitment to the tube upgrades. It includes a £3.57 billion investment grant, over four years, to support delivery of tube upgrade projects to milestones specified in Annex B of the funding agreement letter.



30 Apr 2012 : Column WA431

These upgrades are essential for the growth of London's economy, and for the millions of people who travel on the tube every day.

The Secretary of State for Transport can review the Mayor of London's SR10 settlement at any time in response to relevant considerations, including significant deviations from the Annex B milestones. Paragraph 8 of the funding agreement letter confirms that, in any future review, the Secretary of State will take all relevant circumstances into account, including delivery of the essential upgrading listed at Annex B.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 16 March, the Turkish Ministry of Justice announced a judicial reform package designed to improve freedom of expression and to resolve outstanding European Court of Human Rights' cases in a shorter time period.

The Government welcome the announcement of the reform package. This is an opportunity to address excessive pre-trial detention of journalists, political activists and others.

Along with our European Union, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Council of Europe partners, we will continue to press for further progress on this urgent issue. The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) recently raised human rights concerns with European Affairs Minister, Egemen Bagis in a meeting in March. We hope to see real and lasting improvements made.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: We work with our European Union (EU), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Council of Europe partners to improve human rights in Turkey. We will continue to raise our concerns, seeking to manage our input in the most effective way.

We welcome the release of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener following 375 days on remand.

Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises issues relating to excessive pre-trial detention, in the context of wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts

30 Apr 2012 : Column WA432

and we work closely with other EU member states in addressing human rights issues in Turkey. We will continue to monitor these very high profile cases closely.

Uganda

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Finsbury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Ugandan anti-homosexuality Bill is a private member's Bill which has not been adopted by the Ugandan Government. We are raising our concerns about the Bill at the most senior levels. For example, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), raised this issue when he met President Museveni in March. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Department, my honourable friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Ms Featherstone) visited Uganda in April and also addressed our concerns with a number of senior government figures, including the Vice-President. We will also continue to support Ugandan civil society groups campaigning for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights.


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