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Written Answers

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

Written Answers

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Agriculture: GM Potatoes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the issue of licensing the commercial growing of genetically modified potatoes will be submitted to the European Commission for decision; and, if so, whether the Government have considered the application of the principle of subsidiarity to this case. [HL4890]

The European Union (EU) has agreed that licensing decisions on the commercial use of genetically modified organisms, including GM potatoes, should be taken collectively at EU level, and in respect of the EU territory as a whole. The Government support this approach, which is consistent with establishing a single EU market.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether genetically modified potatoes have been grown in the European Union on a limited experimental scale; and, if so, who authorised such activity. [HL4891]

Genetically modified potatoes have been grown in limited research trials in various European Union countries, including the UK. In accordance with EU legislation, decisions on such trials are taken by the relevant authority in the country where the research is proposed to take place.

Arms Trade: Burma

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether supply by India to Burma of the Advanced Light Helicopter, containing many components made in Europe, would breach the current European Union arms embargo on Burma; and what representations they have received on this matter from British and European non-governmental organisations. [HL4892]

We have received the report released by European non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International and Saferworld, on 16 July, suggesting that exports of Advanced Light Helicopters from India to Burma may be planned. We welcome the subsequent statement by the Indian authorities denying that this is the case. We have, none the less, raised our concerns with our partners in Brussels and will be discussing the matter with them. If we found that European components were to be used in goods being exported to an embargoed country, we and EU partners would make representations to the exporting country.

Aviation: Air Quality

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration the Civil Aviation Authority has given to advising pilots to submit an aviation safety review to their airline and a mandatory occurrence report to the authority in the event that cabin air becomes contaminated. [HL4953]

Any cabin air contamination that might threaten the safety of the aircraft must be reported under the existing mandatory reporting requirements, and relevant guidance is included in all air operators’ operations manuals. In consequence the CAA does not consider that further advice to air operators or pilots is required.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions the Civil Aviation Authority has had with its counterparts in other countries, including the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to ensure that similar advice is given when smoke or fumes are detected in cabin air. [HL4954]

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not discussed the alignment of advice on this issue with other safety regulators. But the CAA and other safety regulators such as the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority determine appropriate actions with regard to available safety information, including recommendations from air accident investigators.

Aircraft manufacturers are required, during type certification, to provide emergency drills for abnormal situations, including smoke, fumes and air contamination. The CAA ensures that these procedures are correctly reflected in air operators’ written procedures and training.

Aviation: Carbon Emissions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How their aviation policy complements their stated aims of safeguarding the environment and reducing carbon emissions. [HL4964]

The Future of Air Transport White Paper and The Future of Air Transport Progress Report set out a sustainable strategy for aviation in the UK. They recognised the costs and benefits of air travel in economic, environmental and social terms.

The documents included a number of measures to address the environmental impact of aviation. In relation to carbon emissions, these included research and development by aerospace manufacturers to reduce the climate change impacts of future fleets and adoption by airports, airlines and air traffic controllers of working practices that minimise the impact of their activities on climate change.

The Government have made clear that they expect aviation over time to meet its external climate change costs. This is consistent with the Stern review of the economics of climate change and the Eddington transport study. With reference to this, we are arguing for aviation’s inclusions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and propose to consult on an emissions cost assessment which will assess the extent to which aviation meets its climate change costs.

Aviation: Policy Review

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will undertake a review of aviation policy. [HL4963]

It is not the Government’s intention at present to undertake a review of aviation policy. The Future of Air Transport White Paper, published in 2003, set out a long-term strategy for the sustainable development of air travel to 2030. This strategy was reaffirmed in The Future of Air Transport White Paper Progress Report, published in December 2006. The Government intend to report on progress again in three to five years’ time.

Benefits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to ensure that no European Union citizen seeking work and accommodation in the United Kingdom becomes destitute. [HL4637]

To be entitled to income-related benefits, including income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, state pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, a claimant must be habitually resident, and have a right to reside, in the Common Travel Area. The Common Travel Area includes the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and the Republic of Ireland.

Workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) other than nationals of the 10 accession countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) have immediate access to income-related benefits. This is because they have a right to reside under EC law and are treated as habitually resident.

Workers from the accession countries who are registered under the Home Office worker registration scheme have a right to reside and are entitled to in-work benefits such as housing benefit and council tax benefit. If they are in part-time work, working 15 hours or less a week, they can also qualify for income-based jobseeker's allowance. If they lose their job they lose their worker status, but will be able to remain in the UK to look for work. However, they will not have access to the benefit system. After 12 months of uninterrupted registered work they can have access to the full range of benefits.

Local authorities have a duty to support certain categories of people who are subject to immigration control, have no recourse to public funds and who are assessed as having a need for care and attention that is over and above a simple lack of accommodation and subsistence.

Buses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in light of the experience of the operation of the present concessionary bus fares scheme for pensioners and the planned extension of the scheme in April 2008, they have any plans to review the arrangements for the distribution of funds among local authorities. [HL4980]

The funding for the existing statutory concession—free off-peak local bus travel for older and disabled people within their local authority area—is provided through the formula grant system.

The extra funding will be distributed either via the formula grant system or by specific grant (via a formula). A decision on the funding route will be made in due course.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently published its consultation on the formula grant, which includes different options for distributing the extra funding via the formula grant system if that route is chosen.

Crime: Extradition

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 3 July (WA 169) that “it is Government policy to neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request has been or is in the process of being made” is compatible with the statements made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs concerning the extradition from Russia of Mr Andrei Lugovoy in connection with the murder of Mr Alexander Litvinenko. [HL4920]

On 22 May, Sir Ken Macdonald QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, made the following statement: “I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrey Lugovoy with the murder of Mr Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning. I have further concluded that a prosecution of this case would clearly be in the public interest. In those circumstances, I have instructed Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers to take immediate steps to seek the early extradition of Andrey Lugovoy from Russia to the United Kingdom, so that he may be charged with murder—and be brought swiftly before a court in London to be prosecuted for this extraordinarily grave crime”.

On 10 July, the CPS issued the following press release: “The CPS has received the formal response from the Russian authorities to its request that Andrey Lugovoy be extradited for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said: ‘The Russian response has now been conveyed to us and the Russian authorities have declined to extradite Andrey Lugovoy. They have said that they are prepared to put Mr Lugovoy on trial in Russia if the evidence is forwarded to them. The allegation against Mr Lugovoy is that he murdered a British citizen by deliberate poisoning and that he committed this extraordinarily grave crime here in our capital city. The appropriate venue for his trial is therefore London’”.

Given the exceptionally serious nature of Mr Litvinenko’s murder, it was right that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary should give a full account to Parliament of what action the Government have taken and are taking. The substance of this account was in part drawn from the public statements issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In this context, I refer the noble Lord to the Statement of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in another place on 16 July (Official Report, Commons, cols. 21-22).

Cyprus: UK Policy

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 11 July (WA 221), how they define their policy of “non-recognition” towards the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; and what assessment they have made of the impact of that policy on the human rights of Turkish Cypriots since November 1983. [HL4908]

The UK recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sole state foreseen in the 1960 constitution. The “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC), established by a “unilateral declaration of independence” in 1983, is not recognised by the UK (or by any other state apart from Turkey). Following the “unilateral declaration of independence” the then Foreign Secretary (the right honourable and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon) made the following statement in another place: “Her Majesty’s Government deplore this action by the Turkish Cypriot community, which amounts to a declaration of secession. We have issued a statement which makes it clear that this is incompatible with the 1960 treaties. Our position has always been that we recognise only one Republic of Cyprus. That remains the position today”. The UK policy on recognition of the TRNC has remained unaltered since 1983.

The Government continue to support the EU initiatives aimed at ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots described in the reply that my noble friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman, gave to the noble Lord on 13 June (Official Report, WA 255-56). In particular, the Government support efforts to bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to Europe through, for example, financial aid and trade liberalisation.

The continued division of Cyprus has an impact on the ability of Cypriots from both communities to enjoy the full range of freedoms and rights. The recent United Nations report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus (available at: www.ohchr.orb/english/countries/cy) highlights a number of ongoing concerns. However, as that report concludes, the situation of human rights in Cyprus would be greatly improved by the achievement of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem. It is on this that the UK will continue to focus its efforts.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 11 July (WA 221), whether their policy towards the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus provides for a possible route towards self-determination; and whether there has been any relevant precedent set in the Balkans. [HL4909]

The Government would support any solution to the Cyprus problem that is endorsed by the United Nations and supported by a majority of Cypriots from each community. Both communities have subscribed to the goal of a bizonal, bicommunal federation based on political equality.

We do not consider that any relevant precedent has been set in the Balkans.

Drivers: Age Limits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the power to impose a maximum age for the holding of motor vehicle driving licences resides with member states or with the European Union. [HL5057]

There is no current upper age limit for holding a driving licence in GB. However, it is recognised that age can affect health in ways that impact on safe driving. A public consultation to be issued in the autumn will seek views on when and how drivers' health should be checked to ensure that they remain fit to drive.

European legislation empowers member states to apply national rules on the period of validity for a driving licence.

Driving

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the consultation timetable for the “modern template” for learning to drive, announced in the Department for Transport's second three-year review of progress towards the 2010 road casualty reduction targets; and [HL4944]

Whether any research has been commissioned by the Department for Transport together with the Driving Standards Agency to inform any policy proposals for young and novice drivers; and [HL4945]

What conclusions and recommendations have been reached following research commissioned by the Department for Transport together with the Driving Standards Agency; and [HL4946]

What further research commissioned by the Department for Transport together with the Driving Standards Agency will be published; and when that publication is likely to occur; and [HL4947]

Whether any evaluation has been made of the benefits and costs of further restrictions placed on young and novice drivers in terms of hours of driving or numbers of passengers carried; and, if so, what are the conclusions of that evaluation. [HL4948]

The Driving Standards Agency has been consulting stakeholders for some time to help to inform the consultation paper that the Department for Transport expects to be able to publish in the autumn. The timetable for responses will be the normal 12 weeks. The timetable thereafter will depend upon the decisions arising from the consultation.

The Department for Transport and the Driving Standards Agency have a strategic programme of policy-focused research to explore a range of issues which affect young and novice drivers. All research on young and novice drivers commissioned by DfT is documented in the Road User Safety Research Compendium on an annual basis (available from 1997). See www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrc/compendiumofroadsafetyresear4723. Key documents relating to young and novice drivers commissioned and published since 2000 are listed below.

Pre-driver Education: Survey of Pre-driver Education Provision

2007

DfT

Pre-driver Education: A Critical Review of the Literature on Attitude Change and Development, Good Practice in Pre-driver Education and Programme Effectiveness

2007

DfT

Trends in fatal car occupants accidents

2007

DfT

The Good, the Bad and the Talented - Young drivers' perspectives on good driving and learning to drive

2007

DfT

Intervention Modalities to Address Relevant Psychosocial Predictors of Driving Behaviour among Adolescents

2007

DfT

Novice driver safety and the British practical driving test

2006

TRL

The differential effects of formal and informal driver training

2004

DfT

Research into unlicensed driving - final report

2003

DfT

The development of hazard perception testing

2002

TRL

Monitoring and evaluation of safety measures for new drivers

2002

TRL

In-depth accident causation study of young drivers

2002

TRL

Trial of learner driver logbook

2001

DfT

Novice driver accidents and the driving test

2001

TRL

Graduated driver licensing—a review of some current systems and their evaluations

2001

TRL

Practice and instruction when learning to drive

2000

DfT

Road Safety Research Series No. 2: Novice Drivers' Safety

2000

DfT

Reports are publicly available from the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/, and from the TRL website at www.trl.co.uk/store/report_list.asp?pid=310.The findings from this research are being used to develop a new framework of competencies for safe driving which will be the foundation for subsequent work (and research) on driver education, training, testing, and lifelong learning.

Ongoing research includes two projects on novice and learner drivers which are due to report later this summer—the Cohort II study of learner and novice drivers and research on pre-driver and learner perspectives on driving and learning. Projects on the development of Pass Plus, improving and assessing attitudes to driving and the use of the driver record are due to be completed within the next six to 12 months and are expected to be published.

The consultation exercise on learning to drive will provide the opportunity for further debate on whether restrictions would have the intended effect and could be enforced. There has been no systematic cost-benefit analysis of the impact of potential restrictions on young and novice drivers. However, all available research and evidence will inform the debate and future options for reform.

EU: Transfers of Competence

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Following the European Council in June, what, if any, competence is to be transferred under the proposed treaty from the member states to the European Union. [HL4674]

The Government expect the proposed reform treaty to contain seven new areas of EU policy activity. These are:

European research area (removal of barriers to free flow of research);

space policy (measures to promote joint initiatives and research and development);

sport (incentive measures to promote sport);

administrative co-operation (capacity-building measures);

membership of structured co-operation in defence (procedural issues relating to its establishment);

travel and residence documents; and

common safety concerns in health.

Gambling: Casinos

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Following decisions on the creation or siting of a regional casino, whether any additional regeneration and other investment in Blackpool will result in less investment in other parts of Lancashire or the north-west. [HL4884]

Regeneration in the north-west remains a key priority for the Government and investment in Blackpool will not result in reduced investment in other parts of Lancashire and the north-west.

Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they have given to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society's recently published survey on Employment and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A National Picture; and whether they will be making any response to its findings. [HL4899]

Housing: National Distribution Networks

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce a planning category for low-impact, low-density housing that is not connected to national distribution networks for water and electricity. [HL4929]

Planning policy statement (PPS) 3, Housing, requires local planning authorities to identify specific sites that will deliver their housing numbers. These sites should reflect clear and informed strategies for the location of housing development in both urban and rural areas. In assessing what sites are suitable for inclusion in their plans, local planning authorities need to consider the current and future level and capacity of infrastructure—including the existing and future capacity of utility operations such as water and electricity—to support the proposed distribution of development.

In addition, local planning authorities should encourage applicants to bring forward sustainable and environmentally friendly new housing development, and consider locations for housing where it can readily and viably draw its energy supply from decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable and low-carbon forms of energy supply, or where there is clear potential for this to be realised.

The draft PPS on climate change, on which we consulted earlier this year, provides more detailed guidance on how planning authorities are expected to help to secure development with much lower carbon emissions.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many planning applications for housing that is not connected to national distribution networks for water and electricity were submitted in the last two years; and how many of those applications were (a) approved without an appeal; (b) approved following an appeal; and (c) rejected. [HL4932]

The information requested is not held centrally. Communities and Local Government collects quarterly aggregate statistics on development control from all local planning authorities in England. However, we do not collect data on individual planning applications.

Housing: Unconventional Accommodation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many families in the United Kingdom live in boats, caravans, camper vans, tepees, yurts, tree houses, benders, or other forms of unconventional accommodation. [HL4931]

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

Letter from Karen Dunnel, National Statistician and Registrar General, to Baroness Miller dated 24 July 2007.

As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many families in the United Kingdom live in boats, caravans, camper vans, tepees, yurts, tree houses, benders, or other forms of unconventional accommodation.

We do not have counts for the individual groups requested as they are all collected and tabulated under the category “Caravan or other mobile or temporary structure”.

At the time of the 2001 census, the number of families in the UK that lived in “Caravan or other mobile or temporary structure” was 47,359.

Figure is at 2001 census day (29 April 2001) and a specially commissioned table C0384 has been run to create a UK figure.

Iraq: Sanctions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions have taken place with Strathclyde police about possible legal proceedings against the Weir Group for breaches of United Nations sanctions legislation in relation to Iraq. [HL4834]

Any decision to take forward a prosecution against the Weir Group is for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to make and Her Majesty’s Government have no locus to intervene.

Israel and Palestine: Rafah

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action is being taken by the international community to assist Palestinians stranded at the Rafah crossing. [HL4923]

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has raised the issue of the Rafah crossing with his Egyptian counterpart. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is assisting Palestinians stranded there. A UN assessment team (the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)) concluded that no additional immediate assistance was needed, but the UNHCR and the ICRC continue to monitor the situation. The North Sinai Governorate is working on a contingency plan in the event that the crossing remains closed and people’s coping mechanisms further erode.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they have had with the Government of Israel concerning the opening of the Rafah crossing. [HL4924]

Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv have had numerous discussions with the Israeli Government about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. We have called, and continue to call, on Israel to facilitate humanitarian assistance and economic activity. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has raised the situation at the Rafah crossing with his Egyptian counterpart.

Local Government: Unitary Councils

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they will deal with proposals for the creation of unitary councils where such proposals fail to command a broad cross-section of support from partners and stakeholders. [HL4982]

Our invitation to councils issued in October of last year makes it clear that proposals will proceed to implementation only if they are judged to meet the five criteria set out in that invitation, one of which is that proposals must be supported by a broad cross-section of partners and stakeholders.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will approve bids to create new unitary authorities on the basis that proposals meet their five criteria of affordability, a broad cross-section of support, strategic leadership, neighbourhood empowerment and value for money. [HL4991]

Our invitation document published in October of last year set out the criteria with which any proposal must conform. Only proposals that in the Secretary of State's judgment have a reasonable likelihood of meeting the outcome specified by the criteria will proceed towards implementation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In determining whether a bid for unitary status commands a broad cross-section of support from partners and stakeholders, how much weight they attach to the results of public opinion surveys commissioned by bidding authorities compared to the consultation responses the Government have received from those organisations it has identified as key partners and stakeholders, such as primary care trusts, learning and skills councils, police and voluntary sector organisations. [HL5017]

To determine whether unitary proposals meet the broad cross-section of support criterion, the judgment to be made is whether the range and depth of their supporters is sufficient. In making this judgment, regard is had to all available relevant information, including public opinion surveys and consultation responses. Factors affecting the weight given to any information include in particular the extent to which the information appears to be a reliable indication of informal opinion.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In their assessment of the responses received from the consultation on proposals to create new unitary councils, whether they are using a methodology to weight those responses; and, if so, what that methodology is. [HL5018]

The Government have regard to all of the responses to the Government's stakeholder consultation on unitary proposals. The weight we attach to particular representations depends on factors including the extent to which they address the questions posed in the consultation document and the nature of the evidence which supports them.

National Insurance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the National Insurance Fund surplus at the end of each tax year since 1997–98 for which figures are available. [HL5001]

The information requested can be found in the National Insurance Fund accounts that are published annually and are available in the Library of the House.

Railways: Franchises

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 17 July (WA 18) on railway franchises, how environmental performance is assessed so that a monetary value can be fed into the bidding process; and at what stage in the process this assessment is made. [HL5032]

A monetary value is not attributed to environmental performance as part of the assessment process. Bidders’ plans for achieving their targets for improving environmental performance are assessed for deliverability as part of the overall consideration of their bid against the requirements set out in the invitation to tender issued to all bidders.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 17 July (WA 18) on railway franchises, whether the final stage of the evaluation of bids includes a separate monetary valuation of past performance. [HL5033]

The final stage of the evaluation of bids does not include a separate monetary valuation of past performance. Bidders are required to provide relevant evidence to support the deliverability of their bid’s proposals and initiatives. Such evidence as they may provide to support their bid (including that drawn from rail franchises that they operate) is included in assessing the operational and financial deliverability of the franchise for which they are bidding.

Republika Srpska

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What view they have taken of the long-term status of the Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska. [HL4905]

The UK recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as an independent state in 1992. BiH’s constitutional arrangements and internal boundaries, which include those of the Republika Srpska, are those set out in the Dayton accords, which were concluded in Paris on 14 December 1995.

We remain firm in our support for the Dayton accords: they are the basis of the peace and stability that BiH, including the Republika Srpska, now enjoys. As we regularly make clear, both bilaterally and in multilateral fora, if the people of BiH wish to revisit their constitutional arrangements, this must be through a consensual process in accordance with constitutional procedures. We support the Peace Implementation Council in making it clear that it will not accept any changes or calls for changes in contravention of such procedures.

Roads: A12

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans the Highways Agency has to upgrade the Hatfield Peverel junction on the A12. [HL4965]

The Highways Agency consulted the public in February 2006 on plans to widen the existing A12 dual carriageway to three lanes between Junctions 20b and 21, Hatfield Peverel and Witham, and to upgrade the slip roads at the Hatfield Peverel north junction. The Highways Agency is currently reviewing this and other options.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many accidents, fatal or otherwise, have been recorded at the Hatfield Peverel junction on the A12 in each of the past 10 years. [HL5026]

The table below shows the figures, broken down by year, of the number of injury accidents recorded at the Hatfield Peverel junction on the A12 in each of the past 10 years.

There were a total of 28 accidents, none of which was fatal.

Accident

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

TOTALS

Fatal

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Serious

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

3

Slight

3

3

4

6

0

2

2

2

0

3

25

Totals

3

3

4

7

1

2

2

2

1

3

28

Roads: Maintenance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the carbon footprint of different methods of road surface repair, including methods that incorporate road preservation techniques; and what advice they have issued to local government on the basis of this assessment; and [HL4989]

What proportion of local authorities' budgets for road maintenance are recommended for allocation to road preservation. [HL5019]

Her Majesty's Government provide local authorities in England (outside London) with funding support for capital highway maintenance investment in their network, including its structures and street lighting. Revenue funding provided through the revenue support grant (RSG) may also be used for highway maintenance. Neither funding is ring-fenced. It is for each local authority to determine how its allocations are spent, in line with its priorities. Funding in London is a matter for the mayor.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What estimate they have made of the greenhouse emissions created by road repairs in England each year. [HL5021]

Her Majesty’s Government have not undertaken any specific assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions created by road repairs in England each year, or of the carbon footprint of different repair techniques, and therefore have not issued advice to local government.

The UK Roads Board, which brings together representatives of national and local government engaged in highways maintenance, has published Well-maintained Highways, a code of practice for highways maintenance which the Department for Transport endorses. The code, which can be found at www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org, recommends that highways authorities should prepare and adopt a policy for sustainable development in highways maintenance, and that materials, products and treatments adopted for highways maintenance schemes should routinely be appraised for environmental contribution and for wider issues of sustainability.

The Highways Agency is about to commence a dialogue with the British Board of Agrément to see whether carbon footprint information might be included under the Highways Authority Product Approval Scheme (HAPAS), which is sponsored by the agency and local highway authority bodies involved in best practice for highway design and maintenance.

Rural Payments Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publication, Set-Aside Handbook and Guidance for England—2007 Update, why the RPA will apply area penalties to any farmer who has used the 2005 baseline offered under paragraph 1, but has calculated too low an area. [HL4999]

The EU regulations governing the single payment scheme require farmers to manage as set-aside sufficient land to support the number of set-aside entitlements they hold. Where they have not managed as set-aside sufficient eligible land, no payment can be made on the set-aside entitlements that have not been used. Under the terms of the EU regulations area penalties may also be applicable depending on the size of the shortfall in set-aside.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publication, Set-Aside Handbook and Guidance for England—2007 Update, how many applications the RPA has had for permission to apply fertiliser to set-aside land used as a feeding ground for over-wintering migratory geese. [HL5000]

Schools: One-to-one Support

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How one-to-one tuition for low-attaining pupils in English will be delivered under the Making Good Progress pilot schemes; and what use will be made of voluntary and community sector organisations in delivering this tuition. [HL4968]

In the Making Good Progress pilot, one-to-one tuition will be an out-of-school-hours programme of up to 10 hours of individual tuition in English and/or mathematics. Tutors will liaise with the class teacher to ensure that the tuition that they offer meets the needs of the child and is closely tied in to the work that the child is doing in class. Each pilot local authority will be responsible for overseeing the recruitment of suitable tutors, who must be qualified teachers, and for organising locations in which the tuition can take place. We know that some local authorities are liaising with community groups that have offered venues for tuition.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of organisations delivering one-to-one literacy support in primary schools; and what role these organisations will play in delivering literacy support under the personalised learning agenda. [HL4969]

Most one-to-one support is provided directly by maintained schools. It is up to individual schools to decide whether it will be most effective to work with external organisations to provide additional support.

The department’s review of early intervention schemes, What Works for Children with Literacy Difficulties: The Effectiveness of Intervention Schemes, provides schools with the information that they need to make informed decisions about which interventions will best suit the needs of their pupils. An updated and expanded edition will be published later this year.

The department is also working with the KPMG Foundation and the Institute of Education to plan the delivery of the national rollout of the Every Child a Reader programme to help children who will benefit most from intensive literacy support.

Taxation: Income Tax

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much income tax is paid on earned income from employment by people over the state retirement age at (a) the starting and basic rate of income tax; and (b) the higher rate of income tax, for the latest year for which figures are available. [HL4926]

Information on the amount of income tax liabilities on earned income from employment by taxpaying individuals over the state pension age in 2004-05 is given in the table below.

Amounts: £ millions

Starting rate taxpayers (1)

Savers rate taxpayers (2)

Basic rate taxpayers (3)

Higher rate taxpayers (4)

Total

Starting rate

18

2

121

5

146

Basic rate

0

0

1,370

282

1,650

Higher rate

0

0

706

706

(1)Taxpayers with a marginal rate at the 10 per cent starting rate from an extra £1 on earnings (2)Taxpayers with a marginal rate at the 20 per cent lower rate for savings income or the 10 per cent ordinary dividend rate from an extra £1 on earnings

(3)Taxpayers with a marginal rate at the 22 per cent basic rate from an extra £1 on earnings

(4)Taxpayers with taxable income above the higher rate threshold

Note:

State pension age is defined as females aged 60 or over and males aged 65 or over.

Tax paid on self-employment income is not included in this table.

Figures represent what the cost to the Exchequer would be if income from employment is zero.

Estimates are from the Survey of Personal Incomes 2004-05.

Trade: Overseas Promotion

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will undertake a review of the effectiveness of each trade promotion activity in overseas posts, including the possibility of closure of trade-related offices. [HL4736]

The effectiveness of services delivered to business by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is already subject to an ongoing process of independent evaluation under its performance and impact monitoring survey, which gathers detailed feedback directly from those who use the services. This process is being continually upgraded and expanded to provide ever more robust management information, including that used to review the deployment of resources overseas. The survey results are available in full on the UKTI website: www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk.

Traffic Commissioners

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the current level of qualified support staff available to the Traffic Commissioners is sufficient for them to maintain a satisfactory service both to themselves and to reputable operators. [HL4972]

The centralisation of operator licensing in Leeds has involved a significant amount of change and several recruitment exercises to fill support staff roles. The central unit is currently running at below normal levels of qualified support staff pending completion of the recruitment process which is expected to finish in August 2007. This has affected service standards to the industry which are currently 11 per cent below target at 74 per cent. It is expected that the Central Licensing Unit will be meeting the target by the end of September 2007. Traffic Commissioners are content with the plans in place to recruit and train staff and the level of service being provided to them during this period of major change.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will review the arrangements by which the Traffic Commissioners determine whether an applicant is satisfactory before a new licence is granted. [HL4973]

Traffic Commissioners are appointed as independently responsible for licensing operators of lorries, buses and coaches and the quality and reliability of bus services. Their unique role combines both regulatory and quasi-judicial activity.

These arrangements are kept under review as part of the overall policy development process to ensure that the bus and lorry industry are properly regulated.

In addition, in May this year the European Commission published a draft regulation on the common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator. This proposes a number of changes to the existing rules on fitness to hold an operator’s licence. The Department for Transport will undertake a full public consultation exercise on the new proposals in due course.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider amending the duties and responsibilities of the Traffic Commissioners by amending the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 when drafting forthcoming legislation. [HL4975]

The proposals in the draft Local Transport Bill expand the Traffic Commissioners’ remit in the bus sector. The consultation document, published in May, explained that we are considering whether further modifications to the Traffic Commissioner system might help to ensure effective delivery of these functions. If appropriate, we will consult separately on any specific proposals.

Transport: Drivers' Hours

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 17 July (WA 20) on drivers’ hours, whether on-the-spot fines will involve the driver being required to pay the fine before the vehicle is allowed to proceed. [HL5034]

Yes, in any case where the driver is unable to provide evidence of a satisfactory address at which a summons could be served in the UK.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What contribution they are making to the European Commission secure European truck parking operational services project; and what expectations they have of establishing common and high standards for both the security of goods moved around the European Union and the well-being of hauliers and truck drivers throughout the European Union. [HL4993]

The Department for Transport and the Highways Agency are working together to develop policies that aim to improve existing and encourage new parking and resting facilities for heavy goods vehicle drivers.

Although the department is not a formal partner in the European Commission project, the department will comment on the proposed draft standards to ensure consistent and high standards of facilities for the haulage industry.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether those licensing applications which have centralised processing in Leeds at the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency are thoroughly examined. [HL4974]

Licensing applications received in the Central Licensing Unit in Leeds are subject to comprehensive examination to ensure compliance with legislation and senior Traffic Commissioner guidance. This level of examination has not altered since the move of the licensing processing to the central Leeds unit from local traffic area offices.

Voluntary Organisations: Combating Extremism

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will enable voluntary organisations to make direct applications to their £6 million fund for combating violent extremism; or whether local authorities will be required to examine all applications on their merits, disregarding any party-political consideration. [HL4962]

The £6 million preventing violent extremism pathfinder fund has been allocated to approximately 70 local authorities to work with partners, such as local Muslim community groups and the police, to tackle violent extremism in their areas. Funding has been distributed to local authorities in support of local area agreements and must be spent according to the terms and conditions of the authorities’ grant determination letter. Local authorities were required to consider proposals against the funding criteria set out in the guidance note issued in February 2007 (which is available in the House Library).

The Department for Communities and Local Government launched a £650,000 community leadership fund on 26 June 2007, to which voluntary organisations can make direct applications. This is a national grants programme aimed at building the capacity of Muslim communities to reject violent extremism. Guidance on how to apply for this funding can be found on the department’s website.