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Written Answers

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Afghanistan: Badakhshan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Department for International Development intends to deploy a development adviser to the multi-donor mission in Badakhshan, Afghanistan; and [HL993]

Whether they intend to deploy any personnel to the multi-donor mission in Badakhshan, Afghanistan; and [HL994]

What other countries will be contributing to the multi-donor mission in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. [HL995]

DfID does not intend to deploy a development adviser, or any other personnel, to Badakhshan province. DfID, the NATO ISAF mission, and the Badakhshan PRT are not aware of plans to establish a multi-donor mission to the province. Germany and Denmark are the main contributors to the Badakhshan PRT, with Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic and the US.

Afghanistan: Detainees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When updates to Joint Warfare Publication 1–10 were completed; what changes were made; and how these changes will affect operational practice towards detainees in Afghanistan. [HL819]

The Joint Warfare Publication 1-10 was replaced by the Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10 in May 2006 Prisoners of War, Internees and Detainees. Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10 has been separated into three sections—Prisoners of War, Internees and Detainees—reflecting the requirement for differing approaches to the range of categorisation of those captured, interned or detained by UK Armed Forces deployed on operations abroad.

This publication recognises the change from the post-Cold War environment to the UK's more expeditionary approach and peace enforcement operations. It provides clarification on current detention procedures giving guidance on, among other things, the standards of treatment and facilities for prisoners of war, internees and detainees, and the training of UK Armed Forces on the handling of detained personnel.

Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10 remains in line with domestic UK law, international law and the laws of armed conflict, as does our operational practice towards detainees in Afghanistan which reflects Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10.

Afghanistan: Helmand Province

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the different categories of attack directed against United Kingdom military forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. [HL820]

UK military forces deployed in Helmand province in Afghanistan typically face conventional threats such as small arms fire, indirect fire and rocket propelled grenades. They also face more asymmetric attacks such as suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices. In addition, we cannot rule out the threat of surface-to-air missiles. These forms of attack may be used in unison.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they have taken to address any rise in the use of (a) improvised explosive devices, and (b) suicide bombings against United Kingdom forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. [HL821]

UK Armed Forces use a combination of equipment, procedures and intelligence to mitigate against the risk posed by improvised explosive devices and suicide bombings. Full details cannot be provided owing to operational security but I can outline the approach.

UK forces deployed on operations are equipped with suitable equipment—including personal protection and armoured vehicles—for the job in hand. All personnel deploy with enhanced combat body armour as standard, and enhanced, fit-for-purpose body armour is available for higher risk tasks such as top cover sentry duty on vehicles. In addition, the Defence Secretary announced enhancements to the armoured fleet including 100 additional VECTOR patrol vehicles, which afford greater protected mobility. (Official Report, cols. 74-77, 24 July). Electronic countermeasures on vehicles are constantly being developed to counter the threats identified and we constantly engage with industry to identify better capability.

Our forces undertake comprehensive pre-deployment training on tactics, techniques and procedures to counter the threats they may face. We constantly seek to improve these measures as the threat evolves. Crucial to the methods we employ is intelligence on the emerging threats and we work closely with coalition partners to share such intelligence and identify methods best suited to counter the likely threat.

While we do our utmost to mitigate the risk our forces face, we cannot eliminate the threat posed by suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many United Kingdom military personnel deployed to Afghanistan are serving directly with the United Kingdom-led provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province; and what proportion of these military personnel are providing force protection to the PRT. [HL905]

The UK assumed command of the Helmand provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in May 2006. Since then the UK has had approximately 100 troops deployed with the PRT, the majority of whom provide force protection. Since September, 28 Regiment Royal Engineers has also been deployed to Afghanistan. It was deployed to increase the UK military's capacity for reconstruction and development in Helmand.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What working arrangements there are between the United Kingdom-led provincial reconstruction team in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province and (a) the national Government of Afghanistan; (b) the provincial government of Helmand province; and (c) non-governmental organisations in Helmand province. [HL906]

Although the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) are responsible for long-term development and co-ordinate funding for individual projects, the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah does not engage directly with them, but through the provincial government of Helmand province. Consultation between the PRT and the GoA's provincial representatives ensures that quick impact projects address local priorities. This is achieved by working with the provincial development council, which is chaired by the provincial governor and has local representatives from all the key government ministries.

Working arrangements with non-government organisations (NGOs) vary, depending upon the NGOs involved. Liaison is conducted between NGOs and representatives of the PRT, including those responsible for project implementation, such as 28 Engineer Regiment.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the United Kingdom-led provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province adheres to the PRT terms of reference promulgated by the PRT Executive Steering Committee in February 2005. [HL935]

The UK-led Helmand PRT works within all the established frameworks agreed by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community, including those set by the PRT Executive Steering Group. As stipulated by ISAF, military and civilian advisers are working with the provincial authorities, local leaders and NGOs to facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment, support Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics strategy and enable reconstruction.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the development budget for the United Kingdom-led provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. [HL936]

The UK-led PRT in Helmand has a budget of £6.5 million in 2006-07 for stabilisation and quick impact projects. DfID contributed £4 million of this. DfID has also committed £20 million for development in Helmand this year. This money is earmarked for Helmand, but is channelled mostly through the Government of Afghanistan's national priority programmes, and is managed by DfID's office in Kabul. We expect to maintain similar levels of funding for next year.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What working arrangements are in place between United Kingdom military forces deployed to the Helmand province in Afghanistan and the reconstruction efforts being led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development in that province. [HL990]

The primary role of the UK task force in Helmand is to provide an enabling security environment in which the authority of the Afghan Government can be extended, and security sector reform, development and reconstruction work undertaken. Work on the ground is closely co-ordinated by the provincial reconstruction team (PRT). The PRT comprises staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the UK task force, who work together closely to ensure delivery of HMG's objectives in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: National Army

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What procedures are in place to minimise the risk of the Afghan National Army engaging in action outside the United Kingdom's operational boundaries or rules of engagement while with embedded trainers. [HL816]

Elements of the Afghan National Army (ANA) can be deployed throughout Afghanistan. 3 Brigade of 205 Corps is based in Helmand and supported by a UK forces mentoring team as part of the ISAF Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) concept.

Any decision to deploy 3 Bde 205 Corps ANA elsewhere in Afghanistan is a decision for the Afghan chain of command. In circumstances where ANA troops are deployed to other provinces, the UK OLMT will endeavour to continue to support the ANA but the decision on the deployment of the OLMT will be made by Commander UK Task Force on a case-by-case basis depending on the risk.

ANA personnel who are mentored by UK Armed Forces follow UK rules of engagement which are in line with ISAF rules of engagement.

Afghanistan: Opium

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What alternative crops they have recommended to opium farmers seeking new livelihoods in Afghanistan; what numbers of beneficiaries are involved and in which provinces; and with what success. [HL667]

For farmers in Afghanistan a livelihood is normally composed of a combination of activities. These may include agriculture (crops, livestock); employment (migrant labour); remittances (from family members working away from home); or welfare (for vulnerable groups not able to work). The way in which an Afghan earns a living may also change throughout the year. DfID's Livelihoods Programme, worth nearly £150 million from 2006 to 2009, recognises this and is a balance of shorter and longer-term initiatives, designed to address immediate needs as well as promoting longer-term rural economic development and sustainable alternatives to opium.

DfID has established a £3 million Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF) in Afghanistan for applied research into natural resource-based livelihoods. The programme is looking at improved forage and milk production and the introduction of legumes and vegetable crops, saffron and the medicinal properties of mint as viable alternatives to poppy production. Mint and saffron are showing early signs of success. The export feasibility of grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggplants is also being examined. This includes not only crops but livestock, natural products, and post-harvest processing and rural services. DfID is working with RALF to improve dissemination of the results of the pilots.

The majority of DfID's funding for livelihoods is channelled through three national priority programmes which address the multiple constraints that prevent farmers moving away from poppy cultivation. This includes access to credit, markets, productive infrastructure and land.

The table below shows the total size of the Government's national priority programmes and highlights their successes. The column on the far right identifies DfID's contribution to these programmes.

Programme Name & Budget

Beneficiaries

Provinces

Successes

DfID Contribution

National Solidarity Programme (NSP) $392 million

15,103 communities

All 34 Provinces

14,000 Community Development Councils established. £91 million spent on areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power, public buildings, transport and water supply.

£17 million over three years

National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) $193.3 million

375,000 households across Afghanistan

All 34 Provinces

Over 8,000 km roads built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes.

£18 million in 2005-06

Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility (MISFA) $84.09 million

234,000 households, shopkeepers, tailors, and farmers among others. 75 per cent of MISFA beneficiaries are women.

20 Provinces 1

£83 million worth of small loans distributed.

£20 million over three years

1 Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Faryab, Ghazni, Heart, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunarha, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Parwan, Samangan, Saripul, Takhar, Wardak.

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of Afghanistan regarding their national priority programme for reconstruction. [HL992]

The Department for International Development (DfID) puts around 70 per cent of its budget for Afghanistan through the national budget and national priority programmes. This helps the Afghan Government lead the reconstruction effort, co-ordinate development assistance and to be accountable to the Afghan people.

DfID is a major contributor to three national priority programmes of the Government of Afghanistan. These are the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP), and the Micro-finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). In total DfID has committed £55 million to these programmes through the investment window of the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund. In addition DfID is contributing £30 million over three years to the reconstruction of Helmand province, through the expansion of Afghan national programmes in the province.

DfID has a significant interest in the management and implementation of these national programmes. Formal representations are made through the ARTF management board. In addition there is regular dialogue with the line ministry responsible and the national co-ordinators for each programme on issues such as funding, progress, expansion and impact and financial management.

Armed Forces: Allowances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which additional allowances are payable to British troops deployed on active service in Afghanistan. [HL1018]

Military personnel deployed to Afghanistan are eligible for the operational allowance and separation allowances. The operational allowance, announced by the Secretary of State for Defence on 10 October, is paid to all personnel who have deployed to or are still serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Balkans. It is to recognise the significantly increased and enduring nature of the danger in these operational locations. It is a tax-free lump sum payment worth around £2,240 for a six-month deployment and is paid at the end of a service person's qualifying tour as a one-off payment via salary once they return to their permanent unit.

Personnel are also entitled to separation allowances, either longer separated allowance (LSA—Royal Navy/Royal Marines and Royal Air Force) or longer separated service allowance (LSSA—Army only).

LSA is a daily payment for each day a service person is separated from their home base and family, for more than 10 days. It is paid at one of 14 rates that range from £6.02 to £25.42 per day. The rate payable depends upon the accumulated separated service of the service person; the more separated service that has been undertaken, the higher the rate of allowance paid. LSA is taxable and paid on a monthly basis via the service person’s salary.

LSSA is paid to eligible Army personnel on the same criteria as LSA. This allowance has three rates that are identical to levels 1 to 3 of LSA and range from £6.02 to £12.82 per day. Once again, the rate payable depends upon the accumulated separated service of the service person, and the more separated service that has been undertaken, the higher the rate of allowance. LSSA is taxable and paid on a monthly basis via the service person's salary. On 1 April 2007, Army personnel will cease their eligibility for LSSA and instead become eligible for LSA, with its 14 rates.

Depending on the nature of their duties, some personnel deployed to Afghanistan might also be eligible for unpleasant work allowance. This is paid at one of three rates ranging from £2.25 to £16.34 per day. This allowance is paid to compensate those personnel who must undertake particularly unpleasant duties, possibly in arduous conditions. It is taxable and paid on a monthly basis via the service person's salary.

In addition, while serving on operations in Afghanistan, all personnel are exempt from the payment of charges for food or accommodation occupied in the operational theatre.

Armed Forces: Joint Strike Fighter

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what respects the memorandum of understanding with the Government of the United States relating to further stages of the development and production of the Joint Strike Fighter as a Tier I partner in the project differs from similar memoranda signed by the Government of the United States with other, lower tier, participants. [HL854]

The production sustainment and follow-on development MoU (PSFD MoU) is a multilateral document setting out the through-life arrangements for the purchase, support and upgrade of the Joint Strike Fighter and is common to all participants. The UK's specific requirements are listed in the bilateral supplement which is a classified annex to the PSFD MoU.

Armed Forces: Steven Roberts Inquiry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the recommendations in the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, how many sets of enhanced combat body armour are currently held in operational reserve. [HL1012]

As a result of lessons learnt on Operation TELIC, it is now MoD policy that all personnel are issued with enhanced combat body armour prior to deploying to an operational theatre. In addition, there are approximately 2,000 sets held in operational reserve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although stock levels change according to replenishment and issues, the operational reserve generally equates to an additional 10 to15 per cent of stock above that required for personal issue.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why more than three years elapsed between the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003 and the publication of the findings of the board of inquiry. [HL1015]

The Army could not conduct a board of inquiry before the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police's investigation into the death of an Iraqi, Mr Zaher, who died in the same incident, and the possibility of a prosecution had been discounted. Following the Attorney-General's announcement on 27 April 2006 that there was insufficient evidence to institute criminal proceedings, the Army’s board of inquiry was convened on 17 May. The board of inquiry’s findings were ratified by the Army's chain of command on 26 July 2006, and published on 31 July 2006.

British Coal Compensation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many claimants registered claims in the British Coal respiratory disease litigation and British Coal white finger litigation; and, of these claimants, how many have made payments by way of success fees, administration charges or union fees to third parties, including solicitors, claims companies or trades unions. [HL1052]

There are 591,000 claims registered for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 170,000 claims registered for vibration white finger. We do not have the information regarding payments made as success fees, administration charges or union fees as the department is not party to any agreement between claimants and their representatives.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will assist miners and widows in the British Coal respiratory disease litigation and British Coal white finger litigation to seek redress against those solicitors who charged them success fees, administration charges or union fees; and, if so, whether they will instruct their claims handlers to deliver to past and present claimants advice on their rights. [HL1056]

We do not have the information regarding payments made as success fees, administration charges or union fees as the department is not party to any agreement between claimants and their representatives.

Civil Partnerships

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will reconsider the rights of long-term sibling cohabitees to be treated equally to couples who are married or in civil partnerships. [HL1003]

There were very detailed debates in Parliament during the passage of the Civil Partnership Act about the position of siblings. It was decided that that legislation was not the right vehicle to provide siblings with different legal rights from those that they already possess.

Both marriage and civil partnership are designed for people in committed and serious relationships, although there is no requirement that this relationship is or will be sexual. Siblings already have a legally recognised relationship to each other and rights to reflect that close family relationship.

Civil Service: Northern Ireland Public Appointments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding the decision of Mr Justice Girvan of 9 November, in the High Court in Belfast in the Brenda Downes's judicial review, whether they intend to appeal the decision; and, if not, whether they intend to take any action in respect of the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office following criticisms by the judge about a public appointment in Northern Ireland. [HL146]

The proceedings in this case have not yet concluded. The Government will make a decision on whether to appeal once an order has been made. Separately the Attorney-General announced on 4 December 2006 that he had asked Mr Peter Scott QC to review the issues referred to him by Mr Justice Girvan.

Corruption

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures have been introduced or are envisaged to comply with the obligations undertaken by the United Kingdom upon ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption to grant specialised authorities fighting corruption the necessary independence to be able to carry out their functions effectively and without undue influence. [HL985]

UK law became fully compliant with the United Nations Convention against Corruption when the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 (Enforcement of Overseas Forfeiture Orders) Order 2005 came into force on 31 December 2005, and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders) Order 2005 came into effect on 1 January 2006.

Courts: Charges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have evaluated the impact of imposing charges on suitors in civil courts upon the effective enjoyment of the right of access to justice; and, if so, what are the results of the evaluation. [HL1048]

During 2006 a fundamental review of the system of exemptions and remissions was undertaken by Her Majesty's Courts Service to evaluate whether the current system adequately protects access to justice. The review was overseen by a steering group of stakeholders, including representatives of the civil and family justice councils, members of the judiciary and advice sector, and chaired by myself.

A revised system of fee concessions has been developed and the proposals for a single system of fee concessions, which covers the High Court, county courts and magistrates’ courts, will be published in a forthcoming consultation paper. The proposals build on a system already in place and ensure we can be confident that the system is well targeted and affordable, while making more people aware of their entitlements.

In protecting access to justice, through the department's current system of fees concessions, in the past financial year (2005-06) the taxpayer in effect paid subsidies in 322,465 instances with a value of just over £29 million for exemptions and remissions. And that does not count the fees subsidised by the taxpayer through legal aid.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the surplus of £34 million recovered from charges levied on users of the civil courts by HM Courts Service in the year ending 31 March 2006 will be used. [HL1049]

The Treasury has agreed that the over-recovery of £34 million can be phased out over the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period. Therefore, Her Majesty's Courts Service proposes to use the increased income generated to fund: progressive reductions in the civil over-recovery; the additional cost of the proposed reforms in the remission and exemption policy; and any planned increases in resource spending on IT modernisation. Within civil proceedings, we are proposing to introduce hearing fees in the High Court and county court and other changes so that fees better match cost drivers.

We are also proposing to make the appropriate reductions to offset extra income from hearing fees and to eliminate the over-recovery. This would be targeted on issue fees and weighted towards the fees for using e-channels (County Court Bulk Centre, Money Claim OnLine and Possession Claim OnLine), reflecting the lower cost compared with paper issue and the objective of promoting their greater use as part of the Her Majesty's Courts Service's business strategy.

Courts: Magistrates'

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many magistrates’ courts have been closed or amalgamated since the beginning of 1997. [HL977]

The table below details the magistrates’ court closures and amalgamations that the department has been notified of since May 1997.

Up until 1 April 2005 magistrates’ courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates’ courts committees who were statutorily independent. They were not required by statute to inform the department of any magistrates’ courts closures that were not subject to an appeal under Section 56(3) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 (now repealed). Since May 1997 a number of new courthouses have been built.

Magistrates’ Courts

Year

Courthouse closed

Date of closure

1997

Bromsgrove

31 May 1997

1997

Ledbury

31 May 1997

1997

Hebburn

5 June 1997

1997

South Shields (Kepple Street)

5 June 1997

1997

Chippenham (Market Place)

30 June 1997

1997

Ashton-Under-Lyne (Manchester Road)

31 August 1997

1997

Duckinsfield

31 August 1997

1997

Thorne

31 August 1997

1997

Pontardawe

9 October 1997

1997

Braintree

31 December 1997

1997

Stokeley

31 December 1997

1997

Clacton-on-Sea

31 December 1997

1997

Bargoed

31 December 1997

1997

Monmouth

31 December 1997

1997

Pontlttyn

31 December 1997

1997

Pontypool

31 December 1997

1998

Malton

6 February 1998

1998

Marlborough Street

31 March 1998

1998

Bishop's Stortford

31 March 1998

1998

Hatfield

31 March 1998

1998

Hitchin

31 March 1998

1998

Market Rasen

31 March 1998

1998

Chertsey

31 March 1998

1998

Farnham

31 March 1998

1998

Oxted

31 March 1998

1998

Lutterworth

31 July 1998

1998

Ripon

1 August 1998

1998

Barnard Castle

31 December 1998

1998

Clerkenwell

31 December 1998

1998

Sheerness

31 December 1998

1998

West Mailing

31 December 1998

1998

Lytham

31 December 1998

1998

Diss

31 December 1998

1998

Corwen

31 December 1998

1998

Felixstowe

31 December 1998

1998

Haverhill

31 December 1998

1998

Saxmundam

31 December 1998

1998

Stowmarket

31 December 1998

1998

Newmarket

31 December 1998

1998

March

31 December 1998

1998

Saffron Walden

31 December 1998

1999

Christchurch

31 March 1999

1999

Abingdon

31 March 1999

1999

Henley-on-Thames

31 March 1999

1999

Windsor

31 March 1999

1999

Morley

31 March 1999

1999

Pudsey

31 March 1999

1999

Stow-on-the-Wold

30 June 1999

2000

Ampthill

1 January 2000

2000

Biggleswade

1 January 2000

2000

Dunstable

1 January 2000

2000

Leighton Buzzard

1 January 2000

2000

Lichfield

31 March 2000

2000

Keighley

1 April 2000

2000

Keswick

30 April 2000

2000

Windermere

31 May 2000

2000

Wigton

31 May 2000

2000

Appleby

31 May 2000

2000

Gravesend

9 June 2000

2000

Wootton Bassett

2 October 2000

2000

Abergele

31 December 2000

2001

Alfreton

1 January 2001

2001

Ashbourne

1 January 2001

2001

Bakewell

1 January 2001

2001

Matlock

1 January 2001

2001

Leigh

31 March 2001

2001

Middleton

31 March 2001

2001

Leek

31 March 2001

2001

Worcester

31 March 2001

2001

Warrington Patten Hall

1 April 2001

2001

Macclesfield Park Green

1 April 2001

2001

Bideford

30 April 2001

2001

Exmouth

30 April 2001

2001

Kingsbridge

30 April 2001

2001

South Molton

30 April 2001

2001

Teignmouth

30 April 2001

2001

Tavistock

30 April 2001

2001

Axminster

4 May 2001

2001

Tiverton

4 May 2001

2001

Newquay

30 June 2001

2001

Southampton (Commercial Road)

31 August 2001

2001

Womborne

1 September 2001

2001

Gillingham

30 September 2001

2001

Bridlington

9 November 2001

2001

Brough

9 November 2001

2001

Driffield

9 November 2001

2001

Hull (Guildhall)

9 November 2001

2001

Hull (Lowgate)

9 November 2001

2001

Pocklington

9 November 2001

2001

Withensea

9 November 2001

2001

Arundel

1 December 2001

2002

Bridgenorth

31 January 2002

2002

Leominster

31 January 2002

2002

Fakenham

1 May 2002

2002

Tunbridge Wells

2 June 2002

2002

Beaconsfield

1 July 2002

2002

Buckingham

1 July 2002

2002

Evesham

30 November 2002

2003

Thame

31 January 2003

2003

Droitwitch

21 March 2003

2003

Machynlleth

21 March 2003

2003

Chester-le-Street

21 March 2003

2003

Rugeley

21 May 2003

2003

Lempeter

9 June 2003

2003

Tenby

30 June 2003

2003

Camberley

30 June 2003

2003

Trowbridge

30 September 2003

2003

Whitchurch

3 October 2003

2003

Long Sutton

31 October 2003

2003

Caistor

31 December 2003

2003

Horncastle

31 December 2003

2004

Richmond

31 March 2004

2004

Stourbridge

23 June 2004

2006

Wetherby

7 March 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether delays in bringing those charged with offences before magistrates’ courts have increased as a result of closing smaller courts; and, if so, to what extent. [HL978]

It is not possible to attribute any changes in delay specifically to the closure of smaller courts. However, the estimated average time from offence to first listing for charged indictable/triable-either-way cases in 2005 was 60 days, a 9 per cent decrease in delay from 66 days in 1997.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

By how much failure by persons charged to attend courts has increased since 1997 (a) in absolute terms, and (b) in relation to total cases heard in magistrates’ courts. [HL979]

Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) collects information on the number of magistrates’ court trials which were ineffective because the defendant was absent. This covers trials only, which may include both charged and summonsed cases. The available information is provided in the table below.

Number of recorded ineffective trials where defendant absent (trial did not proceed in absence)

Total number of recorded trials

Defendant recorded absent as proportion (%) of total recorded trials

2003-04

9,200

182,300

5.0

2004-05

7,100

190,500

3.7

2005-06

4,700

184,000

2.6

This data collection only covers trials and not other hearing types where the defendant's attendance may be required. Information is therefore not available for other areas of magistrates’ business (first listings, guilty plea hearings, et cetera.)

The financial year 2003-04 is the earliest year for which data are available. Data for 1997 are not available.

Source: Cracked and Ineffective Trial Monitoring Form, HMCS

Note: Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether delays between conviction and sentencing in magistrates’ courts have increased since 1997; and, if so, by how much. [HL980]

The estimated average time from date of verdict to completion in magistrates’ courts for indictable/triable-either-way cases decreased from seven days in 1997 to six days in 2005. These figures are based on all completions in the magistrates’ courts and will include cases committed to the Crown Court, and cases dismissed or discharged as well as those where a sentence was passed in the magistrates’ court. This is because timeliness data broken down by case completion type have been available only since February 1999. Therefore estimates covering all completion types have been provided to enable valid comparisons between 1997 and 2005. Recent data suggest that sentenced cases account for around two-thirds of all completions in the magistrates’ courts.

Gambling: Casinos

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether councillors who have expressed clear views for or against the location of new casinos in their area will be regarded as having fettered their discretion over any planning applications for such casinos; and whether they will be able to take part in decisions on such applications. [HL863]

The Government endorse the guidance on the role of councillors set out in the two Local Government Association guidance notes entitled Probity in Planning: the role of councillors and officers and Positive Engagement: a guide for planning councillors.

The Government published a statement of national policy on casinos on 16 December 2004. This statement includes guidance on planning for casinos and the role of local authorities in this process.

Law Society

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of reports by the Legal Services Ombudsman, they have proposals to regulate the Law Society so as to prevent the solicitors and managers currently responsible for its operation from serving on the Solicitors Regulation Authority. [HL838]

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the regulatory arm of the Law Society and it is independent of government.

In the future, under the Legal Services Bill, the Legal Services Board (LSB) will provide strong and independent oversight of the legal profession. Approved regulators such as the Law Society will be required to separate their regulatory and representative functions. This is to ensure that consumers have confidence in the new framework. Under Clause 29 of the Bill, the board is required to set rules on the regulatory arrangements of approved regulators, including how the separation of the regulatory and representative functions should be achieved.

The detail of an approved regulator's internal governance, including who sits on the regulatory board, should be a matter for detailed rules rather than primary legislation. A “one size fits all” approach would not be appropriate, given the difference in nature of the approved regulators and the activities they regulate. The LSB will have the right to authorise and to de-authorise approved regulators like the Law Society and the Bar Council; and will have a range of other powers (for example, setting regulatory targets, censuring approved regulators, imposing financial penalties and directing the approved regulators to take specific action) where a regulator is failing.

Local Government: Lyons Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:

By what date Sir Michael Lyons' inquiry into the financing of local government is now expected to report. [HL861]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the formal terms of reference of Sir Michael Lyons' inquiry into the financing of local government have been changed or extended since it was set up; and what are the current full terms of reference. [HL862]

The terms of reference for Sir Michael Lyons’s independent inquiry established on 20 July 2004 were as follows:

“The inquiry will be led by Sir Michael Lyons and will report by the end of 2005 to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The inquiry will:

consider, in the light of the report of the Balance of Funding review, the detailed case for changes to the present system of local government funding;

make recommendations on any changes that are necessary and how to implement them; and

take evidence from stakeholders.

In particular, the inquiry will:

make recommendations on how best to reform council tax, taking into account the forthcoming revaluation of domestic property;

assess the case both for providing local authorities with increased flexibility to raise additional revenue and for making a significant shift in the current balance of funding;

conduct thorough analysis of options other than council tax for local authorities to raise supplementary revenue, including local income tax, reform of non-domestic rates and other possible local taxes and charges, as well as the possible combination of such options; and

consider the implications for the financing of possible elected regional assemblies.

The inquiry will also consider, as appropriate, any implications that its recommendations have for other parts of the United Kingdom”.

On 20 September 2005, the Government announced an extension to Sir Michael’s remit. The extended terms of reference were:

“The Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have agreed with Sir Michael Lyons that he will extend his work so that he can consider issues relating to the functions of local government and its future role, as well as, and prior to, making recommendations on local government funding. His work will inform the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

In addition to his existing remit which is focused on local government funding, Sir Michael’s inquiry will:

consider the current and emerging strategic role of local government in the context of national and local priorities for local services; and the implications of this for accountability;

review how the Government's agenda for devolution and decentralisation, together with changes in decision making and funding, could improve local services, their responsiveness to users, and efficiency;

in the light of the above, consider in particular: how improved accountability, clearer central-local relationships, or other interventions could help to manage pressures on local services; and changes to the funding system which will support improved local services;

publish a report or reports, as appropriate, in time for the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

Sir Michael will work closely with local government as well as with central government in delivering his remit”.

In the Pre-Budget Report on 6 December 2006, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that the Government have asked Sir Michael to consider further the implications of the Eddington, Leitch and Barker reviews in order to ensure a coherent approach to the role, function and funding of local government. The Lyons inquiry’s final report will be published around the time of Budget 2007.

Local Government: Unitary Authorities

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend that there will be a general upper limit to the number of proposals for unitary status and the number of pathfinders for new two-tier models respectively that they will approve following the invitation to local authorities to submit proposals, published on 26 October; and, if so, what the limits will be. [HL998]

As stated in paragraph 5.16 of the invitation to councils to make proposals for future unitary structures that was published alongside the local government White Paper, the Government think they will be unlikely to be able to implement more than eight proposals. However, the final decision on the number of proposals that will be implemented will depend crucially on the content of local authority submissions and the potential impact on public expenditure totals if these proposals were approved. This expected maximum number would not preclude the Government from deciding to implement more if they offered good value for money and were affordable.

Railways: West Coast Main Line

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Statement by Lord Davies of Oldham on 13 December (WS 191-92) on Virgin Rail Group franchises, what changes have been made to the terms of the franchise for the West Coast Mainline services from 1997 to 2012 in respect of (a) payments to or from Government, and (b) profit sharing of guarantees against losses. [HL886]

Detailed below are the payments envisaged in the original franchise agreement, the actual sums paid (including those of the substituted “letter agreement”) and the subsidies expected to be paid under the reinstated franchise agreement.

In 2002 a “letter agreement” was put in place to reflect Railtrack's failure to deliver the agreed terms of the west coast modernisation programme. The recently announced agreement puts the Virgin West Coast franchise back on a secure contractual footing and enables the department to secure additional public value by incentivising the operator to reduce costs. Bracketed figures are premia planned to be received by the department.

It is to be noted that the sums paid include actual incentive payments and receipts. The sums paid also include the impact of the ORR regulatory review of track access charges, as do those planned for the reinstated franchise agreement.

The reinstated franchise agreement, unlike the original, includes a revenue share/support arrangement in the eventuality that a target revenue is exceeded/fails to be achieved. This is in accordance with other recent franchises. The Department for Transport will receive 50 per cent of revenues achieved between 102 per cent and 106 per cent of an agreed target revenue and 80 per cent of revenues greater than 106 per cent of target revenue.

Revenue support arrangements are a mirror image of these; that is, should the franchisee fail to achieve between 98 per cent and 100 per cent of target revenues the franchisee will receive no support. Should 94 per cent to 98 per cent of target revenue not be achieved the department pays 50 per cent of that revenue not achieved; it pays 80 per cent should revenues received be less than 94 per cent.

Franchise Year

Original Franchise Agreement Plan(£m)

Actual Payments(£m)

Reinstated Franchise Agreement

1996-97

92.5

5.8

1997-98

77.8

76.6

1998-99

68.4

70.2

1999-2000

56.1

59.1

2000-01

53.7

57.7

2001-02

52.3

190.9

2002-03

(3.9)

188.8

2003-04

(52.7)

328.6

2004-05

(55.8)

113.0

2005-06

(72.0)

68.2

2006-07

(126.6)

193 (estimate)

72.9

2007-08

(151.6)

282.9

2008-09

(167.6)

312.4

2009-10

(184.5)

265.3

2010-11

(202.2)

230.1

2011-12

(220.3)

198.8

(Figures in brackets denote planned premium)

Restorative Justice

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 9 October (WA 106), whether any system is in place to monitor the welfare of, or to protect, young people who are subject to community restorative justice in Northern Ireland; and whether this puts community restorative justice schemes in the category of summary justice. [HL730]

Community-based restorative justice schemes are voluntary agencies which currently operate entirely independently of government and are therefore not subject to formal scrutiny by government. That is why a protocol for community-based restorative justice schemes has recently been the subject of a public consultation and equality impact assessment. The draft protocol requires that schemes protect the human rights of all participants and, in relation to young offenders in particular, ensure that they are supported by an appropriate individual such as a parent or guardian. It also sets out the requirements for an independent complaints mechanism and regular inspection by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland.

Roads: A27

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many accidents were recorded on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate in October and November 2006; how many injuries were incurred; and for how long sections of the A27 between Lewes and Polegate were closed. [HL1033]

The table below gives the Highways Agency's record of accidents on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate in October and November 2006 and the number of injuries that occurred.

Number of AccidentsInjuries

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Fatal

Serious

Slight

October 2006

1

0

4

1

0

5

November 2006

4

3

0

6

8

Total

12 accidents

20 injuries

Four of the 12 accidents required the road to be closed. Details of the location, date and time of the four accidents are given below.

Date

Location

Time of Incident

Road Reopened*

14-Oct

A27 Lewes Road 604 meters west of The Street

17.14

22.33

03-Nov

A27 Selmeston 923 meters west of The Street

08.35

12.47

06-Nov

A27 Lewes Road 584 meters west of The Street

10.53

15.10

29-Nov

A27 Selmeston 746 meters west of Selmeston Lane

06.55

09.16

*Source: Sussex Police

Schools: Academies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the attendance rate of pupils of compulsory school age at all academies or their predecessor schools for each year from 2001 to 2005.[HL913]

The information requested can be found in the following table. Improving pupil attendance is a key priority for all academies, and the data show that most have better overall attendance records than the schools they replaced.

Authorised and unauthorised absences from academies and predecessor schools, 2001-05

2001

2002

LA

Schoolor Academy

Opened

Authorised /Unauthorised Absence

Authorised /Unauthorised Absence

Bexley

Thamesmead Community College

 

15.0%

6.3%

 

 

Bexley

The Business Academy, Bexley

2002

 

 

-

-

Haringey

St David and St Katherine Church of England High Schools

 

5.9%

0.6%

 

 

Haringey

Grieg City Academy

2002

 

-

-

East Middlesbrough

Keldholme School

 

14.0%

1.9%

 

 

East Middlesbrough

Langbaurgh School

11.2%

0.5%

 

 

East Middlesbrough

Unity City Academy

2002

 

 

-

-

Brent

Willesden High School

 

4.9%

7.1%

9.0%

4.0%

Brent

Capital City Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Bristol

St George Community College

 

10.4%

0.3%

11.2%

0.9%

Bristol

The City Academy Bristol

2003

 

 

 

 

Ealing

Compton Sports College

 

11.6%

4.7%

10.7%

5.5%

Ealing

West London Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Manchester

Ducie High School, Moss Side

 

11.4%

3.2%

12.8%

2.4%

Manchester

Manchester Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Middlesbrough

Brackenhoe Comprehensive

 

13.4%

0.7%

12.8%

0.9%

Middlesbrough

Coulby Newham

10.8%

1.1%

9.6%

0.7%

Middlesbrough

The King's Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Nottingham

Djanogly CTC and Forest School

 

7.8%

0.2%

10.3%

0.7%

Nottingham

Djanogly City Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Southwark

City of London Academy *

2003

 

 

 

 

Southwark

Warwick Park School

 

6.7%

1.1%

5.7%

2.4%

Southwark

The Academy at Peckham

2003

 

 

 

 

Walsall

TP Riley School

 

10.6%

1.4%

9.8%

1.4%

Walsall

Walsall City Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Barnet

The Edgware School

 

8.2%

2.1%

8.0%

1.4%

Barnet

The London Academy

2004

 

 

 

 

Hackney

Mossbourne Community Academy *

2004

 

 

 

 

Hillingdon

Evelyns Community School

 

17.6%

1.8%

11.6%

9.4%

Hillingdon

Stockley Academy

2004

 

 

 

 

Lambeth

Lambeth Academy *

2004

 

 

 

 

Northampton

Lings Upper School

 

14.7%

2.7%

8.8%

2.2%

Northampton

Northampton Academy

2004

 

 

 

 

Doncaster

Thorne Grammar School

 

9.9%

1.3%

9.9%

1.5%

Doncaster

Trinity Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Greenwich

St Paul's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided School

 

8.1%

1.1%

6.3%

0.5%

Greenwich

St Paul's Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Salford

Cannon Williamson Church of England School

 

18.9%

1.2%

15.4%

0.1%

Salford

Salford City Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Kent

Ramsgate School

 

10.0%

3.0%

10.4%

4.7%

Kent

Marlowe Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Hillingdon

John Penrose School

 

9.5%

2.3%

9.2%

1.5%

Hillingdon

Harefield Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Lewisham

Malory School

 

9.0%

4.0%

6.8%

4.8%

Lewisham

Haberdashers’ Aske's Knights Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Lewisham

Haberdashers' Aske's City Technology College (CTC)

 

6.4%

0.6%

6.8%

0.5%

Lewisham

Haberdashers’ Aske's Hatcham College Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Bradford

Dixons City Technology College

 

4.2%

&

4.3%

0.1%

Bradford

Dixons City Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

Liverpool

Our Lady's Catholic High School

 

8.5%

1.9%

8.5%

1.0%

Liverpool

Academy of St Francis Assisi

2005

 

 

 

 

West Middlesbrough

Macmillan City Technology College

 

6.1%

&

5.8%

&

West Middlesbrough

Macmillan Academy

2005

 

 

 

 

 

National average for secondary schools

 

8.0%

1.1%

7.6%

1.1%

Authorised and unauthorised absences from Academies and predecessor schools, 2001-05

2003

2004

2005

LA

School or Academy

Authorised /Unauthorised Absence

Authorised /Unauthorised Absence

Authorised /Unauthorised Absence

Bexley

Thamesmead Community College

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bexley

The Business Academy, Bexley

7.8%

2.0%

8.0%

1.0%

7.8%

0.7%

Haringey

St David and St Katherine Church of England High Schools

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haringey

Grieg City Academy

5.4%

5.1%

7.9%

1.9%

7.2%

1.4%

East Middlesbrough

Keldholme School

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Middlesbrough

Langbaurgh School

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Middlesbrough

Unity City Academy

8.1%

2.0%

9.5%

2.8%

9.9%

6.2%

Brent

Willesden High School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brent

Capital City Academy

-

-

5.2%

5.9%

4.4%

6.5%

Bristol

St George Community College

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bristol

The City Academy Bristol

-

-

11.2%

0.2%

8.1%

0.4%

Ealing

Compton Sports College

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ealing

West London Academy

11.6%

1.8%

9.3%

2.6%

8.1%

2.0%

Manchester

Ducie High School, Moss Side

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester

Manchester Academy

-

-

7.3%

4.2%

5.6%

2.5%

Middlesbrough

Brackenhoe Comprehensive

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middlesbrough

Coulby Newham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middlesbrough

The King's Academy

-

-

6.3%

8.2%

4.1%

7.3%

Nottingham

Djanogly CTC and Forest School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nottingham

Djanogly City Academy

9.2%

0.7%

9.0%

1.4%

8.0%

1.7%

Southwark

City of London Academy *

 

 

 

 

6.5%

1.2%

Southwark

Warwick Park School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southwark

The Academy at Peckham

-

-

5.7%

3.6%

6.7%

2.8%

Walsall

TP Riley School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walsall

Walsall City Academy

-

-

4.6%

0.3%

2.4%

0.8%

Barnet

The Edgware School

7.4%

1.1%

 

 

 

 

Barnet

The London Academy

 

 

-

-

6.6%

0.5%

Hackney

Mossbourne Community Academy *

 

 

 

 

4.0%

0.2%

Hillingdon

Evelyns Community School

8.0%

5.4%

 

 

 

 

Hillingdon

Stockley Academy

 

 

-

-

6.9%

3.9%

Lambeth

Lambeth Academy *

 

 

 

 

3.7%

2.4%

Northampton

Lings Upper School

11.0%

2.0%

 

 

 

 

Northampton

Northampton Academy

 

 

11.5%

2.4%

8.6%

3.2%

Doncaster

Thorne Grammar School

8.3%

1.7%

8.1%

1.7%

 

 

Doncaster

Trinity Academy

 

 

 

 

-

-

Greenwich

St Paul's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided School

6.8%

0.5%

7.3%

0.7%

 

 

Greenwich

St Paul's Academy

 

 

 

 

-

-

Salford

Cannon Williamson Church of England School

12.5%

0.5%

11.2%

1.9%

 

 

Salford

Salford City Academy

 

 

 

 

-

-

Kent

Ramsgate School

7.9%

6.6%

11.0%

5.8%

 

 

Kent

Marlowe Academy

 

 

 

 

-

-

Hillingdon

John Penrose School

9.4%

2.1%

9.0%

2.0%

 

 

Hillingdon

Harefield Academy

 

 

 

 

9.6%

2.1%

Lewisham

Malory School

6.4%

4.2%

5.7%

5.0%

 

 

Lewisham

Haberdashers’ Aske's Knights Academy

 

 

 

 

-

-

Lewisham

Haberdashers' Aske's City Technology College (CTC)

7.3%

0.3%

5.2%

0.2%

 

 

Lewisham

Haberdashers’ Aske's Hatcham College Academy

 

 

 

 

4.8%

0.2%

Bradford

Dixons City Technology College

3.4%

0.2%

3.4%

0.1%

 

 

Bradford

Dixons City Academy

 

 

 

 

3.4%

0.1%

Liverpool

Our Lady's Catholic High School

9.3%

1.1%

7.8%

2.9%

 

 

Liverpool

Academy of St Francis Assisi

 

 

 

 

-

-

West Middlesbrough

Macmillan City Technology College

5.3%

&

5.7%

0.1%

 

 

West Middlesbrough

Macmillan Academy

 

 

 

 

4.9%

&

 

National average for secondary schools

7.2%

1.1%

6.9%

1.1%

5.7%

0.8%

Italics indicate a predecessor school

* indicates a new school

& - where a figure of less than 0.05%, but greater than 0% occurs

- indicates an academy where attendance figures are not available as the school opened in the September of the year in question

Single/Double Summer Time

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there are proven statistics to show that the present use of Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time during the winter months is more beneficial for culture and tourism than the lighter afternoons and evenings that would occur with a switch to single/double summer time. [HL976]

There are potential advantages and disadvantages of a change to the summer time arrangements, which would have an impact on culture and tourism. We consider that the present situation is a satisfactory compromise between those who prefer lighter mornings and those who prefer lighter evenings and we are not convinced that a change to our wintertime and summertime arrangements would be in the best interests of the UK.

Skills Academies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many skills academies have been approved; what skills they aim to cover; and where they are located. [HL1004]

To date, three national skills academies (NSAs) have been approved. These are in the areas of manufacturing, financial services and construction. A fourth NSA in food and drink processing is at an advanced stage in developing its business plan and should be ready for approval shortly.

A further four national skills academies have been selected from a second round of expressions of interest and are currently in the business planning stage prior to approval. These are in the areas of hospitality, creative and cultural, nuclear, and chemical process engineering. National skills academies will offer sector specific skills development and relevant vocational training at a range of levels.

All academies will be expected to have a national reach but each NSA will have its own model for achieving this. The financial services NSA will develop regional centres of excellence in London, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich initially, but aims to expand this network into further regions from 2007 onwards with the support of significant employer investment. The construction NSA will establish on-site training centres supported by a fleet of regionally based mobile centres at a range of significant construction projects across all nine English regions. The manufacturing NSA will be working through the existing provider network, particularly centres of vocational excellence (CoVES), initially launching in the north-east and West Midlands, where it will have its main hub.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the age range for students at skills academies; and [HL1005]

What are the contents of the curriculum which have been established by skills academies; and [HL1006]

How many students are envisaged for each of the skills academies that have been approved. [HL1007]

National skills academies (NSA) will provide training for people of working age. However, a number plan to establish links with schools in order to facilitate pre-work vocational training and work experience in their sector.

There is no set curriculum for national skills academies. Each academy will work closely with the employers in its sector to determine the key areas for skills development. These could include craft, technical and managerial areas. Employers, working with sector skills councils (SSCs), will shape all aspects of the design of academies and delivery of the training including suitable courses, normally leading to recognised qualifications. Academies plan to offer a wide range of learning opportunities, including new entry routes to employment, apprenticeships, pre-employment training for adults aimed at broadening the recruitment pool, full-time and work-based routes to qualifications, including flexible and “bite-sized” learning, designed specifically by and for employers.

The National Skills Academy for Manufacturing aims to support the learning needs of around 40,000 learners per year by 2012. The NSA for construction expects to have facilitated 10,000 apprenticeships and trained 100,000 adults to enable them to gain national vocational qualifications at levels 2 and 3 by 2010. The financial services NSA expects to have 15,000 learners by 2008-09.

St Andrews Agreement

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the removal of any religious discrimination in the recruitment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland was a feature of the St Andrews agreement of 2006; and, if so, what was agreed. [HL57]

Government remain committed to achieving a representative police service in Northern Ireland for all community backgrounds. This commitment, and Government's aim to achieve 30 per cent Catholic composition for regular police officers by 2010-11, was part of the St Andrews discussions. The removal of the temporary police recruitment provisions are as outlined in annexe B of the St Andrews agreement of 2006. This states that the 50:50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Patten target for Catholic officers has been achieved.

Traffic Management Act 2004

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why two years have elapsed since the passing of the Traffic Management Act 2004 before consultation on orders to permit charging of utility companies who dig up roads. [HL944]

We first consulted on the operation of permit schemes in spring 2005. Issues raised from that consultation have led to substantial revisions and we are currently running a follow-up consultation.

Trees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 6 December (WA 146), whether similar penalties apply in Northern Ireland in respect of the unlawful destruction of trees; and, if the penalties are not the same, what are the differences. [HL726]

The penalties set out in the legislation governing offences for non-compliance of tree preservation orders are similar in Northern Ireland and in England and Wales except that the maximum fine on summary conviction in Northern Ireland is £30,000 rather than the current £20,000 in England and Wales.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 6 December (WA 147–48), whether conditions identical to those in England apply in Northern Ireland in respect of planning applications subsequent to, or affected by, the unlawful destruction of trees; and, if the conditions are not the same, what are the differences. [HL727]

The conditions that apply are the same except that the requirement in Article 4(2A) of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991, that planning applications shall be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise, has not yet been brought into operation.

United States: UK Relationship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they describe their relationship with the Government of the United States; and what is the basis of this description. [HL1064]

The Government describe their relationship with the Government of the United States as crucial. The United States is and will remain a close ally of the UK, and a key partner for achieving the UK's international objectives. We are bound to the United States not only by our close historical ties, but also by our shared commitment to democracy, human rights, global prosperity and international security.