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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Earl Attlee on 24 September (WS 73-75) on aviation, when they expect to announce the names and other details of the full membership of the independent commission to be chaired by Sir Howard Davies.[HL2343]
Earl Attlee: The Government are presently working with Sir Howard Davies to finalise the membership of the Airports Commission and its full terms of reference. Details of both will be published shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government to what uses the funding capacity provided to banks through quantitative easing has been put, and in particular what proportions have been used for (1) investment in manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom, (2) investment in other sectors in the United Kingdom, (3) investment outside the United Kingdom, and (4) increasing the reserves held by the banks. [HL1881]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independent Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) policy tools, including quantitative easing (QE), are macroeconomic tools designed to affect the economy as a whole, in order to meet the 2% inflation target over the medium term.
The Bank's asset purchases during QE have largely been from non-bank private sector institutions, including insurance companies and pension funds, which can use the funds to invest in other, riskier assets like corporate bonds and equities.
As explained in the Bank of England September 2011 Quarterly Bulletin, increased demand for these assets should raise the market value of capital and reduce the cost of finance, and hence boost investment spending. The Bank estimates that QE carried out between March 2009 and January 2010 may have raised the level of real GDP by 11/2% to 2%.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have sought an explanation from the Royal Bank of Scotland Group for the prolonged delay in restoring customer services at Ulster Bank following the recent collapse of its computer systems; and, if so, what explanation was received.[HL1992]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Ministers and officials had regular contact with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to ensure that it was doing everything it could to resolve the technical difficulties as quickly as possible and that customers would be treated properly and compensated as appropriate.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Marcus Agius has remained a business ambassador since stepping down from his position as chairman of Barclays plc.
One of the criteria of the business ambassadors initiative is that business ambassadors should occupy a senior executive role. Upon ceasing to hold such a position, there will be a 12-month transition period, after which he/she will step down from membership of the group.
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: Business ambassadors are appointed by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. Only individuals who hold a senior executive (academic or business) position and who have sector specific expertise and an international profile are considered for the role.
Earl Attlee: The Government have no plans to lower the drink-drive limit in England and Wales. The power to decide the prescribed alcohol limit for Scotland is being devolved in accordance with Scottish Ministers' powers in relation to alcohol misuse.
Amendments made to the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO) in December 2011 provide additional support for biofuels made from waste, such as biodiesel made from used catering oil, which meets mandatory sustainability criteria. This recognises the potential positive contribution such fuels can make in helping us achieve emissions targets.
The Department for Transport administers the RTFO and produces statistics on the supply of biofuel and biogas in the UK by country of origin and feedstock, and reports performance. Data are available at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/biofuels/. In obligation year 2010-11, 459 million litres or 51% of biodiesel reported under the RTFO was produced from used cooking oil. On a weighted average, this represents a greenhouse gas saving of 84% when compared to fossil fuels. Verified data are not yet available for 2011-12. The latest reported data suggest 489 million litres or 89% of biodiesel reported under the RTFO was produced from used cooking oil between April 2011 and December 2011. On a weighted average, this represents a greenhouse gas saving of 83% when compared to fossil fuels.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Defra publishes an assessment on a monthly basis of prices of global and UK agricultural products and retail food price inflation in its Farming and Food Brief. The Government actively monitor retail food prices and the drivers behind changes in commodity prices.
We are active on the world stage, working with G20 partners to improve market information through the Agricultural Market Information System and working to discourage inappropriate reactions to market events, such as the use of export bans.
The August average price of hard red winter wheat was $363 per tonne, up 2.2% on July. For soft red winter wheat the average August price was $339, up 1.7% on July. Prices available to the middle of September are showing smaller increases of less than 2% for both.
The latest report released on 12 September from the US Department of Agriculture revised its US maize production figure to 272.5Mt, down from the August estimate of 273.8Mt due to a reduction in yield. Although these latest yield estimates are slightly lower compared with the August report, they have been offset by a higher carry-in stock leaving overall supplies forecast higher. As a result the estimate for US 2012-13 maize stocks is 18.62Mt, which is 2.11 Mt above the August forecast but still 11.4Mt lower than 2011-12.
In other world markets the main revisions for wheat were in Russia where production was forecast down by 4Mt to 39Mt. The EU-27 wheat crop was reduced by a relatively minor 0.5Mt but maize production estimates were reduced to 57.14Mt from 61.54Mt forecast in August due to dry conditions in central and southern EU countries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their consultation on the proposed transfer of properties from BRB (Residuary) Ltd to London
9 Oct 2012 : Column WA417
Earl Attlee: The Government will shortly be responding to the consultation on the abolition of BRB (Residuary) Ltd. The consultation proposed that property holdings such as Uckfield transferred to London and Continental Railways Ltd (LCR), a company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Transport.
It is important to remember that Network Rail is a private company. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, strategic land ownerships, such as the former Uckfield station site, will be retained under the control of the Secretary of State through LCR. The consultation did propose transferring a small number of properties to Network Rail which correct apparent anomalies arising from the division of land between Railtrack (as Network Rail then was) and the BRB at rail privatisation in 1994. Such properties include some that are within the line side fence; some bridges that span the operational railway; the operational test track at Old Dalby in Leicestershire; and several railway war memorials.
Earl Attlee: The junction between the M6 and A14 is part of the Catthorpe Interchange which links the M6, M1 and A14 routes. This is numbered M1 Junction 19. There are no plans to number the individual links within the Catthorpe Interchange.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 1 May (WA 471), whether they have yet published the follow-up letters of the Strategic Advisory Group on UK Trade and Investment's website.[HL2255]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): UK Trade and Investment is yet to publish the follow-up letters of the Strategic Advisory Group on its website. Arrangements for publication will be made shortly.
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