3 Dec 2013 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan any actions to improve confidence in the financial regulators' approved persons regime.[HL3489]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill, now before this House, includes measures to reform the approved persons regime and other measures to enhance personal accountability of senior bank staff in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, including:

• replacing the approved persons regime as it applies to senior bank staff with a new senior managers’ regime;• mandatory “statements of responsibility” for bank senior managers to ensure that all key responsibilities in banks are properly assigned;• “reversing the burden of proof” to ensure senior managers can be held to account if the bank breaches regulatory requirements in their area of responsibility;• conditional and time-limited approvals for bank senior managers;• a new criminal offence covering reckless misconduct by the senior management of a bank; and• giving the regulators the power to make rules covering the conduct of bank senior managers and other bank employees whether or not they have been subject to prior regulatory approval.

Banks: Co-operative Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the Financial Services Authority (FSA) first approved Paul Flowers to be a member of the Board of the Co-operative Bank; when he became an approved person to become Chairman; on how many occasions he was interviewed by the FSA, and by whom; and whether they will place any relevant papers in the Library of the House.[HL3488]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): This is a matter for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as successor body to the FSA in operating the Approved Persons Regime. The FCA will reply to the Noble Lord directly by letter, a copy of which will be laid in the libraries of both Houses.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA30

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Verma on 21 May (WA 44–5) and 4 November (WA 5–6), whether they have discussed with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the appropriateness of the linear trend model used in its conclusion in its Fifth Assessment Report that “globally averaged combined land and ocean temperature data as calculated by a linear trend show a warming of 0.85 (0.65–1.06) degrees Celsius over the period 1880–2012”; and, if not, whether they intend to do so.[HL3689]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The UK Government has not had any discussions with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the appropriateness of the linear trend model used in its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to estimate global temperature rise over the period 1880-2012.

However, in its formal review of the Second Order Draft of the Working Group I contribution to the AR5, Chapter 2, the Government asked whether a non-linear trend fit might be more appropriate than a linear trend fit for calculating temperature trends. The draft text was subsequently extended to explain why a linear trend fit was used1.

The Government does not intend to do raise the issue further with the IPCC.

1 WORKING GROUP I CONTRIBUTION TO THE IPCC FIFTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR5), CLIMATE CHANGE 2013: THE PHYSICAL SCIENCE BASIS. Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface - Final Draft Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment.

http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5_WGI-12Doc2b_FinalDraft_Chapter02.pdf

Crime: Hate Crime

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 19 November (WA 185–6), what were the figures respectively for attacks on and damage to religious premises and other hate crimes.[HL3541]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings Database holds information on defendants proceeded against, found guilty and sentenced for criminal offences in England and Wales. This database holds information on offences provided by the statutes under which proceedings are brought, but not all the specific circumstances of each case.

Whilst there are a number of ‘hate crime’ offences defined by statute, for example racially or religiously aggravated offences and offences intended or likely to

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA31

stir up racial or religious hatred, none of these offences specifically refer to attacks on, or damage to, religious premises.

Other than where specified in a statute, centrally held information does not identify the location at which an alleged offence occurred. This detailed information may be held by the courts on individual case files which could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.

Data

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that data belonging to United Kingdom citizens are retained within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and not disclosed to third parties outside the United Kingdom. [HL3603]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The UK Government is committed to ensuring that its citizens’ personal data is properly protected.

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) covers the processing of personal data, which includes the disclosure of personal data, outside the European Economic Area (EEA), belonging to UK citizens.

Organisations wishing to process personal data in the UK must comply with the DPA’s eight data protection principles. The eighth principle confers that personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the EEA unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.

The Information Commissioner has a variety of enforcement powers to ensure that organisations meet their obligations under the DPA, including criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region is implemented in a manner that ensures that the views of the population are taken into account. [HL3483]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK is currently considering how best to support the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF), DFID is engaging with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Oversight Mechanism for the PSCF to ensure those that represent Local populations, such as civil society organisations, are consulted during implementation. This will include ensuring that there are ongoing opportunities for these organisations to provide feedback from the Congolese people affected.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA32

Dunfermline Building Society

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 25 February (WA 208), what is the current outstanding amount of HM Treasury's claim in the Dunfermline Building Society (DBS) administration; what was the difference in the amount proposed by Mr Ian Burns, the independent valuer, after he was asked by HM Treasury and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to reconsider his determination on what would have been recovered had DBS gone into insolvency without the exercise of stabilisation powers; and what is the current FSCS contribution cap.[HL3535]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): HM Treasury’s statutory debt in the resolution of Dunfermline Building Society as at 31 March 2013 was £779,488,000. A further update will be published in HM Treasury’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/2014 next summer.

The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Contribution to Costs of Special Resolution Regime) Regulations 2010, provide the mechanism under which the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) may be asked to contribute to the costs of resolving a financial institution resolved under Part 1 of the Banking Act 2009. The amount of any FSCS contribution is capped at the net cost to the FSCS of compensating depositors if the institution had gone into insolvency without stabilisation powers being exercised.

The Regulations provide for an independent valuer to be appointed to determine the amount that the (FSCS) would have recovered under the counterfactual insolvency scenario. This determination is then used as the basis to calculate the cap on any FSCS contribution. Under the Regulations it is open to FSCS or HM Treasury to challenge the valuer’s determination, and if they remain dissatisfied to refer it to the Upper Tribunal.

In the case of the resolution of Dunfermline Building Society the independent valuer, Mr Ian Burns of Smith and Williamson, produced his report on 31 July 2012. The assessment is available on the FSCS website under the following link.

http://www.fscs.org.uk/uploaded_files/final_ report.pdf

Both the FSCS and HM Treasury subsequently requested that Mr Burns reconsider his determination. Mr Burns issued his reconsidered determination on 30 April 2013. Following consideration of the arguments put forward by FSCS and HM Treasury Mr Burns decided his assessments and resulting estimates were robust, and did not require amendment. Consequently he was not minded to amend his determination. Mr Burns reconsidered determination is available on the FSCS website under the following link.

http://www.fscs.org.uk/uploaded_files/final_ report_300413_-_redacted.pdf

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA33

Both FSCS and HM Treasury accepted Mr Burns reconsidered determination and decided not refer it to the Upper Tribunal. HM Treasury is now working with FSCS to complete the further calculations necessary to determine the final cap on FSCS contributions.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 12 November (WA 114), how they define “fertilisation” in the context of in vitro fertilisation; whether any part of that process typically involves cell fusion techniques that do not occur naturally in order to permit the direct introduction into a cell of heritable genetic material from a source other than a male gamete; and to what extent those techniques might include reproductive cloning.[HL3500]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): There is no definition of “fertilisation” under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended (1990 Act), and it is intended that this term should be given its ordinary meaning. It is clear that the Act draws a distinction under section 1 between embryos created by fertilisation and those created by “any other process”.

The prohibitions in connection with embryos under section 3 of the 1990 Act extend to all live human embryos created outside the human body. Section 3ZA provides that only an embryo which has been created by the fertilisation of permitted egg by a permitted sperm, which has not been otherwise altered, may be placed in a woman. As the noble Lord is aware, this prohibits embryos created by cell nuclear replacement from being placed in a woman.

Energy: Nuclear Power Stations

Questions

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of radiation on the United Kingdom in the worst-case scenario that might arise from the demolition and clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear plant.[HL3580]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The UK Government has not made any specific assessment of the potential impact of radiation on the UK arising from the demolition and clean-up operation at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Public Health England (PHE) scientists have been collaborating on international accident assessment studies undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) to assess the impacts of the original accident.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA34

More than two years have passed since the events at Fukushima and Government has been absolutely clear that Government, industry and the nuclear regulator must continue to learn all possible lessons from those events.

Dr Mike Weightman’s 2011 report on the implications of the events in Japan and the lessons to be learned for the UK nuclear industry confirmed that the UK's current safety regime is working and reassured us that nuclear can be part of the future energy mix in the future as it is today.

As part of an ongoing programme of improvements we will continue to work with our international partners to push forward work on enhancing nuclear safety standards.

In October 2012 Dr Weightman published his one year on report “Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami: Implementing the Lessons for the UK's Nuclear Industry” setting out progress on the work we have done or intend to do in implementing Dr Weightman’s recommendations.

PHE and MOD (Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been consulted in relation to this response.

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the President of the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s recent suggestion in an interview with the Guardian that Britain’s nuclear managers “should be prepared for the worst” in considering the possible consequences of a nuclear disaster in order to avoid repeating Japan’s experience. [HL3581]

Baroness Verma: The article on Japan’s nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima was right to recognise the need for the UK to learn from such a disaster.

In its 2011 Weightman Report, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) identified key lessons to take from this devastating incident. They include: the need for a systematic approach to identifying events that could lead to accidents; robust measures to prevent those events progressing this far; and effective periodic review of safety analyses, to make sure they continue to meet high and continuously evolving regulatory standards.

The UK acknowledged these safety requirements over 20 years ago and they were codified by the ONR in its site licence conditions and safety assessment principles. Companies proposing the construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK must show they will meet these requirements and address specific issues identified in the Weightman Report.

The Weightman Report also recommended that the UK's national nuclear emergency arrangements should be reviewed in light of the experience of dealing with the prolonged Japanese event.

HM Government takes nuclear emergency preparedness extremely seriously and the UK has robust plans in place to mitigate the consequences of

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA35

nuclear site emergencies. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and ONR continually assess the UK's preparedness in terms of planning for, and being able to respond to, nuclear emergencies.

Licensed nuclear site operators develop and maintain emergency plans in accordance with their site license conditions and Regulation 7 of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). Similarly, detailed “off-site” emergency plans are developed in accordance with Regulation 9 of REPPIR. These response plans are scrutinised and tested on a regular basis and are continually updated and improved.

More information on the generic design assessment process for new reactor designs, the Weightman Report and assessments of progress against the Report's recommendations can be found on the Health and Safety Executive's website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/.

Flooding

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking in response to warnings by the Environment Agency of the increased likelihood of flooding this winter because of a wet Autumn. [HL3557]

Baroness Northover (LD): The Environment Agency prepare for floods all year round, not just during the autumn and winter. Their preparedness activities are informed by their duties as a Category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act. They work closely with the emergency services and local authorities through Local Resilience Forums. This includes the preparation of risk assessments and emergency plans and undertaking of training and exercising activities.

On behalf of Government the national Flood Forecasting Centre produce a daily assessment of flood risk for the following 5 days, The Environment Agency have procedures to issue flood warnings to the public and businesses when river and coastal flooding is expected.

The Environment Agency have a risk based programme of asset inspection and maintenance to ensure flood defences are ready to work when required. Their staff are trained and on rotas in preparation to operate pumping stations, gates and barriers.

Throughout the whole of November the Environment Agency have been carrying out a nationwide flood action campaign aimed at partners, communities, businesses and the public to increase awareness of flooding and encourage action.

The campaign has included articles in the press, on social media, on television and the radio. The campaign has involved Defra, local authorities, the AA, and the CBI.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA36

Genetic Modification

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 30 October (WA 259), by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 12 November (WA 114) and by Lord Freud on 5 November (WA 32) and 18 November (WA 143), why they regard the technique described in question HL 2881 in relation to weasels as constituting genetic modification under the terms of Part III of Schedule 2 to the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000; and whether they regard similar techniques involving humans as also constituting genetic modification.[HL3499]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): As indicated by Lord Freud in his answers of 5 and 18 November (WA 32 and WA 143), the information provided in the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) (Contained Use) Regulations 2000 about genetic modification is of a general and not specific nature. Techniques involving human embryos are excluded from the scope of the regulations. There is therefore no link between the GMO Regulations and human embryos.

Health: Mental Health

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children with mental health problems requiring in-patient care are currently being treated on adult psychiatric wards.[HL3481]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): In 2011-12, there were 47 children aged under 16 admitted on an adult mental health ward and 310 adolescents aged 16-17 admitted on an adult mental health ward. The latest annual data available is for 2011-12.

The annual publication of figures for 2011-12 ‘People using NHS funded adult and elderly secondary mental health services by highest level of care, provider type, gender and age’ published data on 16 and 17 year olds and this was on people rather than bed days.

Quarterly publication of data is available but this is on under 16s on bed days.

Asked by Lord Bradley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people requiring an in-patient psychiatric bed are being treated at a hospital other than their local mental health hospital.[HL3482]

Earl Howe: The information requested is not held centrally as the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre is unable to directly identify a patient’s local hospital. However, data is available for the number of

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA37

current in-patients whose care is being delivered by a provider that is not the usual provider for their clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Number of people

Open hospital spells

22,705

Of which:

Number from ‘Other CCG'

882

Source: Mental Health Minimum Dataset Monthly Data - July 2013

Note:

The information in the table contains the number of mental health inpatients who had an open hospital spell at the end of July 2013. The Health and Social Care Information Centre have identified those people who are not in their usual local mental hospital within their CCG by assuming that where the total number of people in a hospital is less than five, this is not the usual local mental health hospital for the patient in that CCG, as the number of patients for a CCG's usual mental health hospital would be much higher.

Health: Pharmaceutical Pricing Schemes

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of reducing smaller company exemptions in the new Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme on inward investment and on emerging British biopharmaceutical companies; how that decision relates to their commitments to support the growth of smaller companies and new inward investors; and whether they have considered restoring the exemptions to their previous level. [HL3680]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme, 2014 PPRS: Heads of Agreement, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library, sets out the headline terms of the negotiated agreement reached between the Department and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The new Scheme provides stability and predictability for the United Kingdom branded medicines pricing environment both to the Government and to all companies who choose to join it, supporting the industry's global competitiveness.

The new Scheme exempts companies with sales of less than £5 million in branded medicines covered by the Scheme in the previous calendar year, from making payments to the Department. The exemption threshold forms part of the negotiated agreement with the ABPI.

The UK Life Sciences sector is one of the strongest and most productive in the world and the Strategy for UK Life Sciences sets out how Government is supporting this sector. The Government's assessment is that pricing does not materially affect investment in the UK. The global biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry remains a valued partner in the UK Government's plans for a vibrant economy and an National Health Service that is fit for the future. We value the industry’s current investment in the UK and will continue to support the sector through the Strategy.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA38

Higher Education: Student Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the estimated cash cost of income-contingent maintenance loans for full-time undergraduate students in England in each of the years 2014–15 to 2017–18.[HL3750]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): Estimates of expenditure will be available later this year; estimates for 2015-16 onwards are subject to final decisions on Spending Review allocations. Statistics from the Student Loans Company show that the cash cost of income-contingent maintenance loans in the 2012/13 academic year was £3,481m.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from foreign governments and from multinational organisations concerning human rights issues in the United Kingdom. [HL3571]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): Like all United Nations member states, the United Kingdom received recommendations from its peers during the Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record, most recently in May 2012. It also receives recommendations from expert bodies that monitor compliance with multinational human rights under the auspices of the United Nations, Council of Europe, and their independent office holders, and other international organisations. Such recommendations are publicly available on the websites of the organisations.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will list the human rights of persons residing within the jurisdiction of Her Majesty's Government. [HL3573]

Lord McNally: The United Kingdom is party to a number of international instruments and agreements concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms. The main source of directly enforceable human rights in this jurisdiction is the Human Rights Act 1998, which gives domestic effect to a number of rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention Rights are listed in Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also contains a number of rights that are directly enforceable, but only when the UK is acting within the scope of EU law. Those Charter rights that correspond to rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights are interpreted in line with the corresponding Convention right.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA39

National Insurance

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many persons in the United Kingdom started paying National Insurance contributions at fourteen years of age.[HL3708]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why National Insurance contributions paid by working people in Northern Ireland between the ages of fourteen and sixteen between 1947 and 1957 are not taken into account when calculating pension entitlements. [HL3709]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): HM Revenue and Customs are responsible for National Insurance matters. However, I am advised that the information requested on the numbers of people who started paying National Insurance contributions at fourteen years of age could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The National Insurance scheme operates on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. This means that today’s contributors are paying for today’s social security entitlements and pensions, and those paying contributions previously were paying for the pensioners of that time. Contributors do not accumulate an individual pension fund of actual monies they have paid which is personal to them. Instead, payment of contributions entitles them or, in certain circumstances, their spouses or civil partners to a range of social security benefits which are available on the basis of the rules applicable at the time of the claim.

People who have paid contributions when aged under 16 would have reached state pension age following the fundamental reforms of the National Insurance scheme in 1975. Under the reformed scheme the law provides that only qualifying years of National Insurance contributions paid or credited during the working life should be included when calculating entitlement to state pension. The working life is the year in which a person reached age 16 up to and including the year before the one in which they reached state pension age. This means that contributions paid before the year in which a person reaches age 16 do not count towards qualifying years for state pension.

Prior to 1975 a person had to have an average of 50 paid or credited contributions in every year of their working life to receive the full state pension. Under the reformed system the contribution conditions were eased so that a person reaching state pension age before 6 April 2010 was required to have qualifying year or only 90 per cent of their working life to receive a full basic state pension.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what date the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission left office after his recent resignation; until what date he was paid; and

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA40

whether he received any redundancy or severance payments, pension enhancements, pay in lieu of notice or similar monies.[HL3730]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): Professor O'Flaherty stood down from his position of Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission with effect from 1 November 2013. He was paid until 31 October and received no additional payments in respect of redundancy, pension enhancements or pay in lieu of notice.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Rogan

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many pensioners residing in Northern Ireland who started working and paying full pension contributions aged 14 only receive pensions credits for work commencing aged 16.[HL3711]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): HM Revenue and Customs are responsible for National Insurance matters. However, I am advised that the information requested on the numbers of people who started paying National Insurance contributions at fourteen years of age could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

By way of background, the National Insurance scheme operates on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. This means that today’s contributors are paying for today’s social security entitlements and pensions, and those paying contributions previously were paying for the pensioners of that time. Contributors do not accumulate an individual pension fund of actual monies they have paid, which is personal to them. Instead, payment of contributions entitles them or, in certain circumstances, their spouses or civil partners to a range of social security benefits which are available on the basis of the rules applicable at the time of the claim.

People who have paid contributions when aged 14 would have reached state pension age following the fundamental reforms of the National Insurance scheme in 1975. Under the reformed scheme the law provides that only qualifying years of National Insurance contributions paid or credited during the working life should be included when calculating entitlement to state pension. The working life is the year in which a person reached age 16 up to and including the year before the one in which they reached state pension age. This means that contributions paid before the year in which a person reaches age 16 do not count towards qualifying years for state pension.

Prior to 1975 a person had to have an average of 50 paid or credited contributions in every year of their working life to receive the full state pension. Under the reformed system the contribution conditions were eased so that a person reaching state pension age before 6 April 2010 was required to have qualifying years for only 90 per cent of their working life to receive a full basic state pension.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA41

RAF Menwith Hill

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, within the terms of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement 1951, they monitor the compliance of United States personnel at RAF Menwith Hill with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; if so, how; and what action they take in the case of any breach of that Act.[HL3614]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The requirement to monitor the compliance of US personnel at RAF Menwith Hill with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is not contained within the terms of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement of 1951.

Shipping: Health and Safety

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they proposed to the Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships that some passenger vessels should not have to carry life rafts or lifeboats and instead rely on life rings for up to 20 per cent of passengers.[HL3692]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Her Majesty’s Government requires all vessels to carry enough life rafts or lifeboats to meet the risk to those on board in an emergency.

The proposal submitted to the Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships recognised that some small vessels on restricted operations need not have as many spare life rafts as set out in European requirements, provided they have an appropriate and proportionate mix of other life saving equipment, including the additional carriage of life rings in some circumstances.

This was just one of 20 issues where Her Majesty’s Government have successfully secured agreement to relax or exempt requirements that impose a disproportionate cost on small and medium sized enterprises operating small passenger vessels in our coastal and island communities without reducing safety.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when EU Directive 2009/45/EC came into force; what action they have taken to ensure compliance with it; and which operating United Kingdom-registered vessels are still non-compliant.[HL3723]

Baroness Kramer: Directive 2009/45 consolidated previous directives (1998/18 and subsequent amendments) which were transposed into UK law in October 2000.

3 Dec 2013 : Column WA42

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has enforced these requirements and there are no non-compliant vessels registered in the United Kingdom.

Shipping: MV Scillonian III

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to introduce an exemption from safety rules and standards under paragraph 8 of the Merchant Shipping (Passenger Ships on Domestic Voyages) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2687) for the MV Scillonian III in order to maintain lifeline services to the Isles of Scilly whilst the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency find a solution to regularise the licensing of the vessel under EU Directive 2009/45/EC, following the withdrawal of the application for a vessel exemption from the agenda of the European Union COSS30 meeting on 22 November.[HL3721]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Her Majesty’s Government believes that the MV SCILLONIAN III satisfies the requirements of the UK regulations and there is therefore no need to grant an exemption.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they withdrew their request to the Committee set up under Regulation (EC) 2099/2002 (COSS30) for a national legislative measure for exemptions or equivalencies for the MV Scillonian III ship; and whether they regard the MV Scillonian III to have a safety licence compliant with EU Directive 2009/45/EC until the matter is resubmitted.[HL3722]

Baroness Kramer: Discussions with European Commission officials suggested simpler and more reliable procedures which are being explored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Her Majesty’s Government considers the MV SCILLONIAN III to be compliant with requirements at this time.

Welsh Government: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether each Welsh Office Minister will campaign for a “yes” vote in the proposed Welsh referendum on taxation. [HL3559]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): All Wales Office Ministers would encourage the National Assembly to trigger a referendum on income tax-varying powers as soon as possible after the competence to do so is devolved, since they consider that the Welsh economy would gain a much-needed competitive edge from a lower rate of income tax. All would propose to support the devolution of such powers in any such referendum.