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15 July 2008 : Column WA131



15 July 2008 : Column WA131

Written Answers

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Airports: Heathrow

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As explained in the Government's consultation document Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport last November, our primary focus has been on demonstrating the scope for further development within the environmental conditions laid down in 2003. We have also looked at how road traffic conditions would be expected to change over time and we report our provisional assessment of that in the consultation document (paragraphs 3.59 to 3.63 and 3.159 to 3.182). There is further detail in the supporting technical report on surface access available on the Department for Transport's website (http://www.dft. gov.uk/consultations/closed/heathrowconsultation/technicalreports/).

Aviation: Emissions

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have a range of measures in place to raise public awareness of the environmental impacts of individuals' actions, both generally and specifically in relation to aviation. This includes the Act on C02 campaign and carbon calculator, which allows passengers to calculate their flight emissions; the inclusion of aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, which will feed through to the price consumers pay; support for high-quality consumer carbon offsetting; fiscal measures, such as air passenger duty, that give signals to consumers about the environmental impacts of their actions; and ensuring that appropriate references to aviation's environmental impact are included in all relevant government publications.

Banking: Iceland

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: Overseas firms operate in the UK through a mixture of branches and subsidiaries. With regard to subsidiaries, a UK-incorporated subsidiary of an Icelandic bank is a British bank and is authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) like other British banks. All subsidiaries are required to comply with FSA rules on capital, liquidity, complaints and the FSCS. All UK-incorporated subsidiaries of Icelandic banks regulated by the Financial Services Authority continue to meet threshold conditions.

With regards to branches, firms from an EEA state are permitted to passport a branch into the UK under EU legislation and are authorised by their home state regulator. The FSA is responsible for the supervision of conduct of business, financial crime and liquidity in respect of these EEA firms' UK branch business. The home state regulator is the prudential supervisor. However all EEA banks are required to meet the capital requirements implemented in their member states under the Banking Consolidation Directive and the Capital Adequacy Directive. And the FSA has a regular dialogue with overseas regulators and firms where the firms passport into the UK, to share information about the firms and specifically their UK operations.

With regard to the Icelandic Deposit Guarantees and Investor-Compensation Scheme, the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme maintains contact with schemes in other member states. There are currently two major Icelandic players in the UK: Landsbanki provides its Icesave product through a UK branch while Kaupthing's Edge product is provided through a UK-incorporated subsidiary. As Kaupthing Edge's deposits are collected through a UK-incorporated subsidiary, they are covered exclusively by the UK's FSCS in the same way as savers with other British banks.

As Icesave is provided through a UK branch, its home state compensation scheme will apply. Where there is a gap between the coverage of the home state scheme and the UK maximum, where an EEA firm opts to contribute to the FSCS the deposit will be protected up to the UK maximum. This is the case with Icesave: it has “topped up” into the FSCS; the first €20,887 (around £16,700) of savers' money falls within the scope of the Icelandic deposit guarantee scheme while the remaining amount of the claim up to £35,000 is covered by the FSCS. Therefore, savers with up to £35,000 in an Icesave account would be protected against any losses in a similar way as if their savings were in a British bank.

Bonuses: DoH

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The numbers of departmental staff who have been paid bonuses in each of the past five years, and the value of these bonuses, are provided in the following table:



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YearNumberAmount (£)

2007-08

618

1,947,319

2006-07

420

1,400,049

2005-06

581

1,252,141

2004-05

679

1,064,463

2003-04

Not available

Not available

The department changed payroll provider contracts in 2003-04 and the cost of retrieving bonus information for 2003-04 would be disproportionate.

The department has two sets of arrangements under which bonuses can be awarded. For senior civil servants (SCSs), pay arrangements are common across all government departments. The department's senior pay strategy, which conforms to these common arrangements, explains that bonuses may be awarded for delivery of personal objectives or other short-term personal contributions to wider organisational objectives. Individuals are required to agree their priorities with their manager at the beginning of the performance year. Line managers then make recommendations for performance bonuses which are considered by the department's pay committees at the end of the performance year. The pay committees, which meet annually, make the final decision on whether a bonus should be awarded, relative to the performance of others.

For staff below the SCS, the department operates a special bonus scheme whereby managers may award a bonus to recognise an outstanding contribution in a particularly demanding situation. This can include a temporary and substantial increase in job loading, dealing with pressures arising from temporary vacancies or job requirements, a high level of commitment and resolution to get a job done, difficulties requiring a special effort to overcome or a contribution over and above what would normally be expected for the job and of the person, or team, concerned.

British Citizenship

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Applicants for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship must provide the UK Border Agency with evidence that they have attained a relevant accredited qualification, defined as an ESOL Skills for Life qualification in speaking and listening at entry level approved by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). The UK Border Agency will only accept certificates provided by a QCA-accredited awarding body and not from individual colleges.

The QCA and the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator are responsible for accrediting qualifications. They ensure that organisations that offer and deliver qualifications have good systems in place and that they are held to account for their performance.



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Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: The English Speaking Board is one of eight awarding bodies in England for the ESOL Skills for Life qualification, which is one of the means by which applicants can satisfy the English language and knowledge of life in the UK requirements for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.

The English Speaking Board is accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). The QCA is a public body, sponsored by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Its role in accrediting awarding bodies includes ensuring that they have robust and appropriate management arrangements, and policies and procedures that will support and protect learners who take their qualifications.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: The UK Border Agency does not itself accredit agencies, courses or qualifications. In devising its policies and procedures in connection with British citizenship and indefinite leave to remain it sought and accepted advice from the former Department for Education and Skills that it should accept only ESOL Skills for Life certificates from awarding bodies accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. It continues to liaise closely with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on the provision of language training for migrants.

Burma: Prisoners

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Our embassy in Rangoon continues to inquire about the cases of Min Ko Naing and Myo Yan Naung Thein with political prisoner support networks and those non-governmental organisations concerned with prisoner welfare. We have received no recent updates on the status of Myo Yan Naung Thein, but understand that Min Ko Naing was transferred to a hospital for treatment in May. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials met a family member of Myo Yan Naing Thein on 4 July to discuss his case.

Our Ministers, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and the UN Security Council have called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. Our embassy in Rangoon regularly repeats this call in their contacts with the Burmese regime.



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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Our embassy in Rangoon continues to inquire about the cases of Min Ko Naing and Myo Yan Naung Thein with political prisoner support networks and those non-governmental organisations concerned with prisoner welfare. We have received no recent updates on the status of Myo Yan Naung Thein, but understand that Min Ko Naing was transferred to a hospital for treatment in May. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials met a family member of Myo Yan Naing Thein on 4 July to discuss his case.

Our Ministers, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and the UN Security Council have called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. Our embassy in Rangoon regularly repeats this call in its contacts with the Burmese regime.

Buses

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is for each local authority to decide the priority that it attaches to financial support for rural bus services in its area. The resources available to include revenue support grant from central government and the inclusion within area-based funding of rural bus subsidy grant which totals £57 million this financial year.

The measures in the Local Transport Bill, now before Parliament, will help enable local authorities to improve the availability and quality of bus services in rural and urban areas alike. These measures include strengthened arrangements for partnerships between local authorities and bus operators, expanding the role of community transport, extending the existing taxi-bus provisions to the private hire vehicle sector and for the first time the establishment of a statutory bus passengers' champion.

Civil Contingencies Act

Baroness Neville-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The review of the Civil Contingencies Act was announced in the Government's first national security strategy in March 2008. The provisional timetable for the review is to develop proposals for a full public consultation to begin by January 2009 with the aim of making recommendations to Ministers by the summer of 2009.



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The formal programme of work under the review did not begin until early June and it is therefore too early in the timetable for any interim findings to be drawn. These will only begin to emerge following the Cabinet Office's programme of extensive stakeholder engagement over the summer and autumn. This work will examine current arrangements and develop policy options for a public consultation in the new year.

Dartford Crossing

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under the A282 Trunk Road (DartfordThurrock Crossing Charging Scheme) Order 2002, the Secretary of State for Transport may suspend charges at any time when such suspension is considered reasonably necessary for the purpose of facilitating the movement of traffic or promoting its safety or in the interests of the safety of the public.

Charges have been suspended in the past in extreme circumstances such as a failure of the crossing electrical systems, during which charges had to be suspended for a short period. A protocol is in place to facilitate the suspension of charges in exceptional circumstances.


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