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Written Answers

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

Written Answers

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 7 December 2005 (WA 100) and 27 October (WA 265), what are the reasons for the delay until next year in publishing the evaluation of anti-social behaviour orders. [HL154]

The qualitative aspect of the study highlighted a wide range of views on a number of issues, but there were few common themes underlying the findings. We are therefore conducting further analysis of the data. We aim to explore further the perceived effectiveness of ASBOs from the perspective of practitioners, perpetrators and communities affected by anti-social behaviour, and factors that contribute to the effectiveness of ASBOs. We also aim to draw out good-practice lessons from the findings. Publication is now planned for the new year.

Aviation: Climate Change

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they reconcile their encouragement of airport expansion in the Future of Air Transport White Paper of December 2003 with the finding of the Stern report that there is a need to reduce air travel. [HL116]

The Stern report did not find that there is a need to reduce air travel—it very clearly set out that, rather than sectoral targets, flexibility in abatement across targets, time periods and countries is essential to ensure that costs are kept down to a manageable 1 per cent of 2050 GDP.

The Department for Transport expects to publish a progress report on the air transport White Paper (ATWP) by the end of 2006. The report will set out progress so far and take account of developments since publication, including the Stern report.

Buses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of contestability in the local bus market. [HL176]

A study of competition in the UK passenger transport industry was carried out by the TAS Consultancy on behalf of the Commission for Integrated Transport in 2004. This drew on work for the Department for Transport. The department continues to keep the bus market under review.

Census: Ulster-Scots

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the forthcoming test census in England organised by the Office for National Statistics, why the question about ethnic groups did not include Ulster-Scots; and why it included Northern Irish. [HL211]

The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Lord Laird dated 28 November 2006.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking why the question about ethnic groups in the 2007 census test in England does not include Ulster-Scots; and why it included Northern Irish. I am replying in her absence. [HL211]

The question asking for national identity in England includes a category for “Northern Irish” to reflect user requirements identified through extensive consultation. The question also includes categories for “English”, “Welsh”, “Scottish” and “Irish”. A similar demand for the recognition of “Ulster-Scots” as an identity/ethnicity category in England did not emerge from the consultation and consequently the 2007 test question in England does not include a specific category, though people who wish to identify themselves in this way can do so through the write-in response option.

The prime purposes of the 2007 census test is to assess the effect on response of posting out census forms and including a question on income, and to assess the feasibility of the major innovations in the proposed 2011 census design. The topics and questions for the test were selected on the basis of widespread consultation since the 2001 census involving local authorities, central government departments and other users of census data across the UK, but are not necessarily those that will be included in the census in 2011. The programme of consultation and testing is continuing and in particular a further consultation exercise on the ethnicity, identity, language and religion questions will be launched shortly.

It is important to note that space constraints on the census questionnaire will limit the number of response categories that can be used for each question.

It will not be possible to confirm what questions are to be included in the 2011 census until the consultation and testing programme is complete and formal approval is given by Parliament in 2010.

A White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for the 2011 census in England and Wales is scheduled to be published in autumn 2008.

Chad: External Attacks

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What international action is being taken to protect the people and Government of Chad from externally organised attacks; and whether they have made an assessment of the risk to the Central African Republic from such externally organised attacks. [HL240]

An assessment team from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is currently visiting Chad and the Central African Republic to examine the humanitarian situation and to consider the options for UN deployment in Chad and the Central African Republic. We are pressing for the UN to report back quickly with its findings.

We are aware that the Central African Republic, like Chad, is vulnerable to externally organised attacks. With our international partners, we continue to monitor the security situation in the Central African Republic and the impact of regional conflicts on the country.

Corruption: Overseas Looting of Public Assets

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the extent to which the corrupt looting of public assets in developing countries has been and is being facilitated by United Kingdom citizens and United Kingdom companies. [HL60]

There is no reliable estimate of the extent of corrupt misappropriation or looting of public assets in developing countries or of the facilitation of this by United Kingdom nationals or companies.

The Government take very seriously the issue of the corrupt misappropriation of public assets in developing countries and foreign bribery by UK companies and nationals. The Government will fund a new international corruption group to strengthen the UK's capacity to investigate and hence detect, deter and prosecute corruption occurring between developed and developing countries.

The Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit within the City of London Police will increase the capacity to investigate, and to bring to successful prosecution, cases of foreign bribery by UK businesses and nationals operating in developing countries. The Proceeds of Crime Team within the Metropolitan Police will increase the capacity to investigate and recover the proceeds of money-laundering by politically exposed persons, through the UK's financial system. Assets will be recovered and returned to their country of origin. The repatriation of stolen assets will provide these countries with additional resources for poverty reduction.

The UK also works internationally to provide assistance, under the mutual legal assistance scheme, in situations where individuals or Governments in developing countries want to bring a prosecution against one of their own nationals residing in the UK.

The Government are also working through the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to improve international co-operation on asset repatriation. UNCAC allows the freezing of assets to take place at an earlier stage. We plan to play a constructive role at the first conference of parties to UNCAC in Jordan in December.

Courts: Enforcement Officers Guidance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What response the Department for Constitutional Affairs is making to the representations from the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust for an internal review of the decision of HM Courts Service to refuse to release a copy of the enforcement officers guidance; and what actions are now being considered. [HL28]

In accordance with our responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act, my department is conducting an internal review of the decision that the guidance, or part of it, should be withheld. Once the review, which can take up to six weeks, has been completed, the outcome will be communicated to the applicant.

Crime: Rape

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why, and on what advice, the Attorney-General sought in 2001 on appeal to increase the sentence originally imposed on Warren Blackwell in 1999. [HL1]

The relevant case file was destroyed in August 2003 in accordance with routine records management practice. The decision to refer was in fact taken before March 2001 by the then Solicitor-General. From the judgment of the Court of Appeal, it is clear that his reason for referring was a belief that, on the facts alleged and found by the jury, the sentence imposed was unduly lenient—a proposition with which the Court of Appeal agreed.

The position on unduly lenient sentence referrals generally is that the law officers’ consideration of cases is predicated on the basis that the conviction is safe. Law officers take into account the facts and circumstances of the case as it was put in the Crown Court and receive advice on sentence from lawyers involved in the prosecution. Advice on sentence is also received from experienced specialist barristers not previously involved in the case, as well as from lawyers in our own department. A case may not be referred to the Court of Appeal unless a law officer is satisfied that the sentence imposed was unduly lenient—that is to say that it fell outside the scope of what a judge could reasonably have passed in the case.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Crown Prosecution Service intends to review the arrangements for the handling of disclosure issues in rape cases following the reports into Warren Blackwell and Leslie Warren by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. [HL2]

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is carefully considering the implications of these two cases. It is accepted that certain decisions made by Crown prosecutors were incorrect. Guidance for CPS staff will be issued.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will review the rules that allow accusers in rape trials to prevent evidence relevant under disclosure rules from being drawn to the attention of lawyers for the defence. [HL3]

There are no rules in legislation or guidance to be followed by prosecutors that allow complainants to prevent material satisfying the tests for disclosure in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 from being brought to the attention of the defence, unless the material is sensitive in nature, in that its disclosure would create a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest. In such cases, the material would have to be put before a judge, to determine whether it was necessary to disclose the material to the accused, in order for the accused to have a fair trial.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the relevant background documentation disclosing the multiple identities and history of false accusations made by the accused in the Warren Blackwell case were made available to (a) the defence at the time of the original trial and conviction in October 1999; and (b) the Attorney-General at the time of his request on appeal for an increase in sentence in 2001. [HL4]

At the time of the original trial, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was aware of only one alias. This related to the previous convictions that the reviewing Crown prosecutor decided incorrectly were not relevant for the purposes of disclosure.

Since then, it has been discovered that the complainant has used several identities and made a number of false allegations. The CPS was not aware of this at the time of the trial or the request on appeal for an increase in sentence and, therefore, the information could not have been disclosed. None of this information was known to the Attorney-General's Office at the time of the decision to seek a review of the sentence.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, prior to the appeal hearing at which the Attorney-General sought to increase the prison sentence for rape imposed on Warren Blackwell, he had been made aware of (a) the eight different identities of the accuser over 17 years; (b) the accuser’s conviction for robbery in 1986; (c) the accuser’s conviction for theft in 1989; (d) the accuser's false accusations of sexual assault by her father in 1989; (e) the accuser's false accusations of rape against a boy in 1983; (f) the accuser's false accusations of violent sexual assault in a police station in 1988; (g) the accuser's false accusations of violent assault from behind with a knife in March 2000; and (h) the accuser's false accusations of violent sexual assault from behind with a knife in July 2000. [HL5]

No. None of this information would have been part of the case papers that were sent to the then Solicitor-General who made the application to increase the sentence and he would not, therefore, have been made aware of this material.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, following the successful application in March 2001 by the Attorney-General for an increase in sentence at an appeal hearing in the case of Warren Blackwell, he was made aware of (a) the accuser's false accusations of rape and sexual assault with a knife from behind in June 2001; and (b) the accuser's use of a new name; and whether the Attorney-General considered reviewing the Warren Blackwell case. [HL6]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the actions of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the Warren Blackwell case to reveal prison convictions (unrelated to the crime of rape) for robbery and theft by the accused in that case were in line with the CPS duty to ensure the disclosure of relevant material to the defence team; and what guidance is now being given to CPS staff involved in rape prosecutions; and [HL130]

What assessment the Attorney-General has made of the extent to which the guidelines on disclosure were applied in the case of the accuser and the accused during the Warren Blackwell legal proceedings and investigation for the crime of rape. [HL131]

The decisions in relation to disclosure were not in accordance with the existing guidance or, indeed, the spirit of the CPIA. The previous convictions for offences of dishonesty, and other material going to the reliability of the complainant’s evidence, should have been disclosed, although whether it was actually deployed at trial would have been a matter for the defence.

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) was in force at the time of this investigation and the subsequent proceedings. It then required the prosecution to make primary disclosure to the accused of any material that, in the prosecutor's opinion, might undermine the prosecution case. This test was subjective and based on the opinion of the individual Crown prosecutor, but it was supplemented by guidance for police officers and prosecutors. The guidance gave examples of potentially undermining material, including previous convictions or cautions of a witness, any other information that cast doubt on the reliability of a witness, or evidence of a motivation for making false allegations. The guidance stressed that previous convictions for offences of dishonesty would normally be relevant to a witness’s credibility and should therefore be disclosed.

On 8 September 1999 (Warren Blackwell was convicted on 7 October 1999, a month later), a special CPS policy circular stipulated that all previous convictions of prosecution witnesses had to be disclosed to the accused, save for those relating to minor road traffic matters, regardless of their age or whether they were spent.

Disabled People: Employment

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they have given to the report Opportunity Blocked on the employment experiences of deaf and hard of hearing people, published by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People; and what action they will be taking on its conclusion and recommendations. [HL27]

We are currently considering the findings of the report Opportunity Blocked. We are committed to supporting people with a disability or health condition, including hearing impairment, to find suitable and sustainable work. Personal and disability employment advisers in Jobcentre Plus are trained to deal with people who, because of their disability or health condition, need extra help to move into or retain employment.

Disability employment advisers can provide specialist advice and support to individuals and employers about a range of programmes designed to help them into work. These include: work preparation; WORKSTEP; New Deal for Disabled People; and access to work. The funding for access to work has been increased each year and this year is over £63 million.

We have undertaken, and are continuing to undertake, a wide range of activities to highlight the duties of employers and service providers. The Disability Discrimination Act provides significant protection for disabled people in employment. It is now unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person in relation to the recruitment, employment or retention of staff.

Energy: Electricity Generating Costs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

By how much electrical generating costs will rise through the incorporation of carbon sequestration. [HL33]

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies have not been tested in the energy sector, so generation costs are uncertain. In addition, there are several different carbon sequestration technologies, each with different characteristics and costs. Work undertaken for the Government's energy review looked at the costs of CCS compared with CCGT generation using a range of capital and operating costs and fuel price and carbon price sensitivities. A summary of this is given below.

Base case: central fuel price assumptions, no carbon price included.

CCS technology

Percentage increase in generation cost of CCS technology compared with CCGT generation

New PF plant with FGD and CCS

18 to 43%

Retrofit existing PF plant with FGD with CCS

3 to 29%

New IGCC with CCS

30 to 49%

New CCGT with CCS

39 to 75%

Note: Range of cost increases represents high and low capital and operating cost sensitivities.

EU: Accounts

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 1 November (WA 31), which indicated that they supported the European Commission's stated objective to strive for a positive statement of assurance concerning the accounts of the European Union, whether they expect that ambition to be achieved. [HL242]

The European Commission's stated objective to strive for a positive statement of assurance by 2009 will be challenging. However, we expect that action taken on the commitments to improve financial management and control made during the UK presidency in 2005, and the recent proposals announced in a Written Ministerial Statement by the Economic Secretary on 20 November 2006 (WS 18), which we have encouraged other member states to consider as well, should help to improve the level of assurance on the accounts.

Immigration: Appeals

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the total number of Asylum and Immigration Tribunal appeals heard between 1 August and 31 October 2006; how many were (a) appeals against a notice of intention to deport on the ground that deportation is conducive to the public good; (b) appeals involving unaccompanied minors; (c) appeals that have been designated as country guidance cases; and (d) appeals relating to asylum cases where further evidence was required at second-stage reconsideration; and how many of these cases have been heard by panels that have included a non-legal member. [HL12]

Information from the database of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) indicates that there were 26,375 oral appeal hearings in the AIT from 1 August to 31 October 2006. Of these, (a) 359 were appeals against a notice of intent to deport; (b) 214 involved unaccompanied minors; and (c) two were designated country guidance cases. The AIT does not hold specific data on the volume of asylum appeals where fresh findings of fact were required at the second-stage reconsideration. Of the 26,375 oral hearings in the period, 1,304 were heard by panels including a non-legal member.

Immigration: Fast-track Procedure

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will amend the instructions given to immigration officers so that asylum applicants whose age is disputed, or whose claim to have been tortured has not been assessed, or who are seriously ill, are not fast-tracked. [HL16]

There are no plans to amend the current operational instructions issued to Immigration Service staff regarding applicants not suitable for inclusion in the detained fast-track asylum process.

Immigration: Highly Skilled Migrants

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the appeals procedure in connection with the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (applications by young people for highly skilled migrant status); what is the expected length of time involved; and whether a person involved can remain in the United Kingdom during that period. [HL143]

Applications to enter the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) follow a two-stage process. First, applicants must apply to Work Permits (UK) for a HSMP approval letter. Once an individual has obtained a HSMP approval letter, they should make an application for entry clearance (if outside the UK) or leave to remain (if already in the UK).

There is an administrative review procedure associated with applications for a HSMP approval letter. Details of this procedure are included on the schemes and programme pages and in the HSMP1 application form and guidance notes that are available on the workingintheuk website via www.workingintheuk.gov.uk. Some 65 per cent of review requests will be considered within 30 working days. Individuals seeking a review of their approval letter decision are not automatically entitled to remain in the UK while it is being considered, unless they have continuing leave.

Refusal of leave to remain as a highly skilled migrant may attract a right of appeal, depending on whether the decision is one defined at Section 82(2) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. An appeal must be lodged with the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in accordance with time limits prescribed in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 2005. Appeals are currently listed for hearing approximately six weeks after receipt. The appellant will be entitled to remain in the UK while the appeal is pending.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many applications were received under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (applications by young people for highly skilled migrant status) in each of the last five years; and, of those, how many were successful. [HL144]

The following table provides details of the number of applications granted and the total number of applications received, by year, under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) since its inception on 28 January 2002. Figures are also split between those aged 28 years and over and those under 28. Figures for 2006 include data up to 31 October 2006. These data have not been provided under National Statistics protocols; they have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

The HSMP is a points-based programme, under which successful applicants must score a minimum number of points, awarded in specified areas. The programme is not designed to particularly attract young people, but the point-scoring system was designed to reflect that it may be more difficult for a highly skilled young graduate to score maximum points in the past-earnings category. Therefore, the criteria for the HSMP awarded additional points for those under 28 years of age.

HSMP initial and review applications granted and received by age between January 2002 and October 2006

Year

Age

Applications granted

Total applications received

2002

28 and over

1,136

2,209

Under 28

40

149

Total

1,176

2,358

2003

28 and over

3,405

4,933

Under28

285

433

Total

3,690

5,366

2004

28 and over

5,715

10,516

Under 28

1,798

3,249

Total

7,513

13,765

2005

28 and over

12,236

35,290

Under 28

5,396

13,119

Total

17,632

48,409

2006

28 and over

13,116

29,019

Under 28

6,061

13,164

Total

19,177

42,184

Grand total

49,188

112,082

Imports: Non-EU Countries

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 11 March 2004 (WA 193), for each of the financial years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, what proportion by value of goods, excluding agriculture, fishing, hunting and aquaculture produce, imported into the United Kingdom from countries that were not members of the European Union effectively bore no import or customs duties in respect of goods for which the full rate of customs duty was zero and of goods for which there was a positive rate of customs duty but preferential arrangements allowed a zero rate to be claimed. [HL151]

For the financial years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, the proportion of goods entering free circulation in the United Kingdom, excluding the categories referred to in the question, that effectively bore no import or customs duties was as follows:

2003-04 68 per cent

2004-05 64 per cent

2005-06 68 per cent

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of Israel about the estimated 280 Palestinian civilians allegedly killed by illegal military incursions in the Gaza Strip since the end of fighting in the Lebanon. [HL159]

We remain deeply concerned about casualties, civilian suffering and the Israeli Defence Force’s military actions in Gaza and have repeatedly made our concerns clear to the Government of Israel. Our ambassador in Tel Aviv last raised our concerns on 15 November. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 8 November expressing her concerns about the incident at Beit Hanoun. The text of this statement can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=Open Market/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007 029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1161595533459%20 &year=2006&month=2006-11-01&date=2006-11-08.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Palestinian Authority about the Israeli civilian allegedly killed by illegal rocket discharges from the Gaza Strip since the end of the fighting in the Lebanon. [HL160]

We remain concerned about the continuing Qassam rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli civilian targets. We have called on the Palestinian Authority to prevent all terrorist attacks, including these rocket attacks. We welcome the call by Palestinian President Abbas for rocket attacks from Gaza to stop. Our consulate-general in Jerusalem continues to make our concerns clear on this issue. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister discussed the issue of Qassam rockets with Palestinian President Abbas on 10 September.

Israel and Palestine: Peace Initiative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will offer any support to the initiative of Spain, France and Italy for peace in the Middle East announced on 18 November. [HL275]

We are keen to make progress towards a lasting and just peace in Israel and the Occupied Territories. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made advancing the Middle East peace process a UK priority and we are discussing this initiative with partners.

Israel and Palestine: Peace Talks

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What reassessment they have made of the extent to which the road map framework remains the appropriate structure for the revival of viable peace talks and other negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives. [HL156]

Both the Israeli Government and Palestinian President Abbas remain committed to the road map as the way forward. The road map sets out the steps necessary to fulfil the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, and the establishment of a just and lasting peace. It provides for a viable and secure state of Palestine and a secure state of Israel, consistent with UN Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace.

The international community will continue to work with both parties to resume viable peace negotiations. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made clear, negotiations are manifestly the best way to move this process forward, and it is the role of the international community to give negotiations the best chance of success.

Israel and Palestine: US Government Attitude

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made representations to the Government of the United States about the latest veto by the United States representative at the United Nations of the United Nations Security Council resolution concerning the avoidance of civilian casualties in Gaza following Israeli military actions. [HL158]

Lebanon: Hezbollah Arms

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they have taken to validate reports that arms for Hezbollah are being transported from Syria into Lebanon in contravention of United Nations resolutions. [HL224]

The UK continues to be concerned by reports that arms for Hezbollah are being transported from Syria to Lebanon. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.

We are working with our international partners to ensure that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is fully implemented. We are also working with our EU partners to assist the Government of Lebanon to improve security on the Lebanon/Syria border. To this end, the UK has committed £2.5 million to provide the Government of Lebanon with security sector assistance.

Schools: Sport

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What sources and methodology they have used in 2005 and 2006 to determine the number of school hours dedicated to competitive sport in the school curriculum for primary and secondary school pupils. [HL298]

The annual school sport survey of schools in school sport partnerships is the primary tool used to measure progress towards the PE and school sport PSA target. The survey collects data about pupils’ take-up of at least two hours of high-quality PE and school sport each week, as well as the amount of time pupils in each year group spend on PE within curriculum time. The survey also collects data about the number of pupils who take part in intra-school and inter-school competitive activities. Competitive games are a compulsory part of the national curriculum for PE for all pupils aged five to 14.

The school sport survey has been running since 2003-04 and copies of the results of the three surveys run to date have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The results also set out in detail the methodological approach adopted in carrying out the survey.

Shipping: Merchant Navy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What levels of support and encouragement are available to those seeking to enter a career as officers in the Merchant Navy. [HL178]

Recruitment is a matter for the shipping companies themselves. A dedicated industry body, the Merchant Navy Training Board, actively promotes officer training, and the Department for Transport gives financial assistance to training providers through the support for maritime training scheme (SMarT), for the training of officers and ratings. The support available under SMarT at present amounts to roughly 50 per cent of the cost of training provided by maritime colleges. The tonnage tax features a minimum training obligation, which requires each shipping company entering the scheme to recruit and train one officer trainee each year for every 15 officer posts in its fleet.

Sudan: Petroleum Commission

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, as outlined in the comprehensive peace agreement, they expect a national petroleum commission for the whole of the Sudan to be established in the near future. [HL239]

The National Petroleum Commission (NPC) was established on 30 October 2005 and held its first meeting on 26 November 2005. The NPC, however, has been slow to make progress, with disagreements between the comprehensive peace agreement parties over its mandate and the establishment of its secretariat. We continue to urge both parties to resolve their differences of opinion, and raised the issue with First Vice-President Kiir during his recent visit to the UK.

Sudan: UN Peacekeeping Force

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What actions the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Sudan is taking to contain and, if possible, disarm rebel troops and marauding members of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army and generally to assist the southern Sudanese forces to keep order. [HL237]

The United Nations mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is not mandated to take direct action against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Part of its role in southern Sudan is to help to implement the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) security arrangements. These arrangements are designed to improve overall law and order and to make it difficult for armed groups such as the LRA that are not sanctioned by the CPA to operate in the south.

UNMIS has provided practical support to the peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the LRA in Juba by giving the talks’ cessation of hostilities monitoring team (CHMT) access to its helicopters to monitor the ceasefire signed by the two parties in August. In addition, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has set up the Juba initiative fund to support the talks’ secretariat and the CHMT's activities. The UK has provided £250,000 to this fund.

Sudan: UN Resolutions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they plan to enforce targeted sanctions under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1591; and whether targeting the economic assets of Khartoum, its security agencies and fraudulent charities will deter the Government of Sudan from perpetrating atrocities in Darfur.[HL102]

The UK fully implements all UN and EU sanctions in relation to Sudan. This includes the targeted measures against the four individuals designated by the Security Council in April this year under Resolution 1672 (2006). On adoption of this resolution, the Government ensured that all the relevant implementing authorities were made aware of the measures so that the necessary action to identify any assets to be frozen and to restrict travel to the UK could be enforced.

Following adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1672, we made it clear that more names would follow. We are taking this forward with our Security Council partners. We will enforce sanctions imposed against any further individuals in the same way as before.

The UK is a leading proponent of Security Council action to improve the appalling situation in Darfur. With our Security Council partners, we will continue to consider all appropriate options, including further measures, which may help to achieve this.

Taxation: Private Companies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the report published in July by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Enterprise in the United Kingdom: Impact of the United Kingdom Tax Regime for Private Companies; and, in particular, whether they have analysed its findings that awareness of tax incentives and reliefs are low and that only 25 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises are aware of government schemes permitting capital allowance relief on energy-saving technologies or contaminated land relief. [HL136]

The Government have noted PricewaterhouseCoopers’s July 2006 report and that 45 per cent of the companies surveyed were aware of the enhanced capital allowances on energy-saving technologies, the flat conversion allowance and land remediation relief. Enterprise is a critical ingredient of a flexible, modern economy. The Government are committed to ensuring a competitive and accessible tax environment to facilitate the creation and growth of new firms, promoting the exploitation of new ideas and opportunities, and enhancing competition.

The Government note that the population of businesses surveyed for the study was limited to private companies. By focusing solely on private companies, the report excluded a large population of companies and investors that may be eligible for the tax reliefs. A number of reliefs included in the survey are specifically aimed at external investors rather than businesses. In addition, a number of companies surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers also would not be eligible for the featured reliefs on grounds of company size. Therefore, the Government's assessment is that, although the report is a useful contribution to the debate on how best to support business and the importance of awareness, it would be unwise to draw specific conclusions from it.

Research has shown that government initiatives often take time to get into the decision-making processes of companies. HM Revenue and Customs uses a variety of approaches to raise awareness of tax issues, including information packs, online information, press coverage, simplified guides, media advertising and working with business support services and other external groups—for example, the “Working Together” initiative. The promotion of government initiatives is also often delivered in partnership with other government departments and external stakeholders, including business representative organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce.

UN: Banned Weapons

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the level of experience and competence of the United Nations teams responsible for investigating examples of the use of banned weapons in the Middle East by any military forces. [HL40]

We have not made any assessment of this. The UK has close contacts with UN agencies working in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, where we believe the UN has played a key role in helping to move forward the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We have no reason to doubt their competence or experience or that of other UN personnel working on the crucial security issues facing the region.