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Written Answers

Volume 694: debated on Thursday 26 July 2007

Written Answers

Thursday 26 July 2007

Abortion

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will resist any proposal to extend the scope of the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland. [HL5024]

We are aware of a body of opinion in Northern Ireland that considers the current law on abortion to be either unsatisfactory or unclear, but we also recognise the strength of feeling for not changing the existing legislative provision. In such circumstances, the Government believe that any change to the law should only come about at the request of a broad cross-section of the people who live there.

Agriculture: Artificial Insemination

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Scottish Ministers have been removed from the list contained in the Veterinary Surgery (Artificial Insemination) (Amendment) Order 2007 (SI 2007/1767) of persons who may approve training courses in the artificial insemination of cows. [HL4996]

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, under which this order was made, is not devolved in the case of Scotland. The Veterinary Surgery (Artificial Insemination) Order 2007 (SI 2007/1315) included a reference to the Scottish Ministers because when the order was made the Artificial Insemination of Cattle (Animal Health) (Scotland) Regulations 1985 were still in force and included a provision for the Scottish Ministers to approve training courses. These regulations were made under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 1984, which is devolved.

The Artificial Insemination of Cattle (Animal Health) (Scotland) Regulations 1985 have now been revoked and replaced by the Bovine Semen (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/330), which do not include provisions as to who may carry out the artificial insemination of cows or training. Therefore, the Veterinary Surgery (Artificial Insemination) (Amendment) Order 2007 (SI 2007/1767) amends the Veterinary Surgery (Artificial Insemination) Order 2007 (SI 2007/1315) accordingly.

Airports: Heathrow

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 19 June (WA 25) concerning the time taken for passengers to pass through security control at Heathrow airport, at what frequency and times of day when the airport is open the queue is measured. [HL5038]

Following my answer of 19 June, I understand the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) receives data on maximum recorded security times during peak hours at all terminals at Heathrow.

Alcohol

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the report in the Emergency Medical Journal of a significant rise in the number of attendances at the accident and emergency department of St Thomas's Hospital related to alcohol between March 2005 and March 2006; and whether they will commission similar research on other accident and emergency departments. [HL4978]

The St Thomas’s study, which relates to alcohol-related attendances in one hospital, highlights a local problem that clearly needs further investigation.

But studies in other parts of the country have found a different picture: a Cardiff University study of 33 accident and emergency (A&E) departments in England and Wales found that, since the introduction of the Licensing Act, the number of A&E attendances linked to violence has gone down; and a study by Liverpool John Moores University has found a similar trend.

The Home Office-led national evaluation of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on levels of crime and disorder will provide a detailed assessment of the impact of the Act on violent crime and criminal damage, and will include a one-off review of data from five specific A&E departments. Findings are planned to be published at the end of 2007.

Armed Forces: Arms and Hardware

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will draw up long-term plans to reduce United Kingdom total spending on arms and military hardware, to bring this spending closer to the levels found in the recent budgets of Italy and Germany. [HL4787]

Her Majesty’s Government make funds available for defence based on the capabilities needed by the UK’s Armed Forces now and in the future, not on comparisons with other nations.

Arms Trade: Al Yamamah

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the decision to discontinue the investigation into BAE Systems plc, in relation to the Al Yamamah defence contracts with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, involved choosing to take this course even if it would be in breach of the United Kingdom's obligations under Article 5 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. [HL4984]

The director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Government believe that the director's decision to discontinue the investigation was compatible with the OECD convention. This view is borne out by the finding of Mr Justice Collins, in refusing permission to seek judicial review of the decision, that the challenge was “bound to fail” and that “there can be no doubt that national security does trump other issues”. Further, the director's view was that the threat to national and international security from continuing the investigation was so compelling that he would have taken the same decision even if consideration of those matters had been contrary to the convention.

Army: Chaplains

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What are the current manning levels of Royal Army chaplains for (a) the regular Army, and (b) the Territorial Army; and what are the required manning levels of the Royal Army Chaplains Department for (i) the regular Army, and (ii) the Territorial Army; and [HL4906]

How many Army chaplains are currently deployed, broken down by operational theatre; and what is the ratio of Army chaplains to deployed operational forces, broken down by theatre. [HL4907]

There are 154 regular Royal Army chaplains in post, against an establishment of 161. The Territorial Army is established for 109 chaplains, of which 68 are filled.

As at 20 July, there are nine Army chaplains and one RAF chaplain in Iraq, providing pastoral care to 5,500 UK military personnel. This represents a ratio of one chaplain to 550 personnel.

In Afghanistan, there are also nine Army chaplains and one RAF chaplain, ministering to 7,100 UK military personnel, representing a ratio of one chaplain to 710 personnel.

Aviation: Air Quality

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for new research into the contamination of cabin air on commercial aircraft; what is the budget for such research; and on what basis it will be commissioned; and [HL4950]

What aircraft monitoring studies are currently being undertaken on behalf of the Department for Transport; who is undertaking such studies; on what basis were they commissioned; and what are the (a) past, and (b) projected costs. [HL4951]

The Department for Transport is not currently conducting aircraft monitoring studies; it is testing equipment for a future aircraft monitoring study. The budget and the specification for that future research work will be developed once the current testing of equipment is completed. The equipment being tested includes solid phase micro-extraction devices (SPMEs), photo-ionisation detectors (PIDs) and a grab sampler being developed by BRE (former Building Research Establishment). The tests may also determine where best to place sampling equipment on aircraft.

Once we have identified effective equipment it is intended to sample around 1,000 flights using more than one sampling device; more than one laboratory to analyse the results; and an independent project manager from the academic world. Crew will be asked to record whether they detected any smells. Sampling will take place on the BAe 146, the Boeing 757 and specific aircraft where fume events have been reported in the past.

Benefits: Child Benefit

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the estimated United Kingdom revenue that could be raised in 2008-09 if a hypothecated government tax for child benefit of (a) 0.25 per cent, and (b) 0.5 per cent were to be applied to every currency transfer. [HL5106]

Buses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 25 July (WA 97), whether the environmental targets set for prospective railway franchisees amount to a minimum standard that must be achieved. [HL5191]

Bidders on the Midlands franchises were required to set out their approach to the environment, including how they would plan to measure and reduce the environmental impact of the rail activities of the franchise including carbon emissions, air quality and noise, but also taking account of the need to conserve resources and to reduce waste and water/land contamination.

The Department for Transport (DfT) contractualised initiatives that had a positive environmental impact as committed obligations. If a franchisee fails to deliver, in full, a committed obligation, that would constitute a contravention to the franchise agreement.

For future franchises the DfT is seeking to set environmental targets that would be contractualised.

Children

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the United Kingdom total government expenditure, as a percentage of gross domestic product, in 1997, 2001 and 2006, or the latest year for which there is information available on (a) child benefit; (b) children (estimated) within child tax credit and/or working families tax credit and/or family credit; (c) children (estimated) within income support expenditure for households; (d) children (estimated) within disability tax credit; and (e) other social security benefits specifically for children; and what is the total of (a) to (e) for the same years; and [HL5075]

What was the total cost in £billion and as a percentage of gross domestic product in 2006 of (a) child benefit, and (b) child tax credit; and what was the corresponding cost in 1997 of (i) child benefit, and (ii) family credit. [HL5080]

The UK child benefit expenditure, as a percentage of gross domestic product, for 1997-98, 2001-02 and 2006-07 was just under 1 per cent in each year.

Information on child tax credit expenditure in 2006-07 is published in the HMRC departmental annual accounts 2006-07, which is available on the HMRC website at:.www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-accounts2007.htm. This will also include expenditure on the disabled child element, which is not available separately.

Information on expenditure on children within working families tax credit and family credit is not available.

Information on expenditure on children within income support is not available. Income support is the only DWP-administered benefit specifically for children.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What was the total number of children in the United Kingdom estimated to be in households in poverty, according to the European Union standard of less than 60 per cent of median household income, in 1997; 2001; and 2006, or the latest year for which there is information available. [HL5077]

The available information is in the following table.

Year

Number of Children (millions)

1997-98

3.4

2001-02

3.1

2005-06

2.8

Source: Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2005/06 (Revised)

Notes

1. Figures for the United Kingdom are available from 1998-99 onwards with estimates for Northern Ireland imputed for the years 1998-99 through to 2001-02. Earlier years are for Great Britain only.

2. Figures are calculated using 60 per cent of contemporary median household income equivalised using the OECD equivalisation scale.

3. The latest data available are for 2005-06.

Crime: Drugs

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment has been made of the quantity of illegal drugs entering the United Kingdom from Guinea-Bissau. [HL4936]

Over the past two years, there has been a reported increase in cocaine trafficking from South America to west Africa, including Guinea-Bissau. It is not possible to estimate the quantity of cocaine entering the United Kingdom which has passed through Guinea-Bissau.

Embryology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30), whether definitions in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill only apply in the context of that Bill; whether they apply to either the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 or the decision taken by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority appeals committee regarding licence R0153; from where the definitions employed in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill derive; and how definitions of relevant terms from comparable sources differ; and [HL4957]

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 11 July (WA 222-23), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is required only to consider research purposes; and whether it is able to license activities which are explicitly prohibited by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990; and [HL4958]

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30) and Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 11 July (WA 222-23), whether they will provide a fuller account of the reasoning employed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in granting licence R0153; and in what circumstances removal of all nuclear genes would not significantly alter the genetic structure of an embryo. [HL4959]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is an independent statutory body established by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The HFEA has the responsibility for licensing research projects under this Act. A licence committee of the HFEA can only grant a research licence if it is shown to be necessary or desirable for one of the research purposes in the 1990 Act as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001.

The HFEA issued a research licence to the Newcastle Fertility Centre at LIFE (RO153) following appeal. A summary of the decision-making process is available on the HFEA website at www.hfea.gov.uk. This includes how it defined genetic structure of an embryo and its reasoning for issuing a licence for this specific project.

The Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill contains definitions of various terms. As the Bill amends the 1990 Act, the definitions it contains apply to clauses within the Bill itself and, where appropriate, will apply to the amended 1990 Act. The definitions in the Bill derive from the Government’s extensive review of the law in this area, including through public consultation, and differ from other definitions principally because they have been drawn up for the purpose of the updated legislation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30), what assessment they have made of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report on government proposals for the regulation of hybrid and chimera embryos (HC 272), in particular, whether there should be a total prohibition of any form of reproductive cloning; and what assessment they have made of whether the lack of such prohibition would permit unethical experimentation. [HL4960]

The government response to the report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Government Proposals for the Regulation of Hybrid and Chimera Embryos, was published in June 2007 (CM7139). It is available in the Library.

The Government are committed to a ban on reproductive cloning and this position is maintained in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, which prohibits placing in a woman anything but permitted sperm, eggs or embryos.

EU: Cross-border Transport Charges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Article 95 of the treaty establishing the European Community contains powers to control cross-border passenger fares or freight rates. [HL5114]

Article 95 provides the legal base for harmonising measures to remove obstacles that interfere, or may interfere, with the functioning of the internal market. Measures under Article 95 must have this objective and be appropriate to it. The legal base must be assessed on the merits of each case, but on the facts available it is difficult to see how the harmonisation of cross-border passenger fares or freight rates could achieve the elimination of an obstacle to the internal market and how such a measure would be appropriate.

Fishing: Shark Fins

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many special permits have been issued since 1997 derogating from the European Union common fisheries policy regulations, including Council Regulation (EC) No. 1185/2003, which controls the removal of fins from sharks on board vessels; and whether they will cease issuing such permits. [HL4938]

Defra regularly reviews the justification before granting permits for existing fisheries and prior to issuing permits where they are sought for new fisheries. Vessels granted permits are regularly inspected at sea and on landing. Permits are issued on a quarterly basis; the table below gives the yearly totals since 2004. The licences may be withdrawn if offences against their conditions are committed. There is no evidence to indicate that we should cease issuing permits.

2004

2005

2006

2007 to date

No. of UK vessels issued with 1185/2003 shark fin special permits

13

18

14

Flooding: Dogs

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will take steps to ensure that dogs for blind people, helper dogs for disabled people and household pets are provided with emergency accommodation when people are evacuated from their homes because of flooding and other disasters. [HL5009]

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004, elaborated in statutory guidance published with the Act, places a requirement on all category 1 responders (organisations at the core of the response to most emergencies) to take account of the needs of vulnerable groups in their emergency plans. These vulnerable groups include individuals who are dependent on an animal for their safe mobility.

The Government’s non-statutory guidance for emergency planners, Evacuation and Shelter Guidance, published in 2006, also encourages emergency planners to make arrangements to care for animals within evacuation plans. These should include:

animal transport and containers;

establishing temporary shelters where animals can be looked after by vets and animal welfare charities;

systems for people to put their pets into care in unaffected households or animal shelters in unaffected areas;

systems to reunite people with their animals; and

special arrangements with animal welfare charities (if they have the capabilities), zoos and/or wildlife centres for them to securely accommodate privately owned dangerous wild animals.

Health: Chemotherapy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration has been given to the implications of allowing co-payments for treatments such as chemotherapy available on the National Health Service. [HL4865]

Allowing co-payments would risk creating a two-tier service, undermining the core principle of the National Health Service that treatment is provided free at the point of use, based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

Health: Complementary Medicine

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What strategic plans are in place with respect to the management of research into complementary medicine. [HL5012]

The department’s management of its research and development budget, and of the programmes and projects that budget supports, is undertaken in line with the policy set out in the Government’s health research strategy Best Research for Best Health. Details, including the scope of the programmes and the arrangements for making applications for support from them, are available on the National Institute for Health Research website at www.nihr.ac.uk.

The department’s investment in research into complementary and alternative medicine is managed as an integral part of these arrangements.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 7 June (WA 204), whether they will ensure that, should the independent public inquiry into contaminated blood and blood products chaired by Lord Archer of Sandwell need a Minister or senior departmental official or officials to give evidence, suitable arrangements will be made for them to do so. [HL4967]

As previously stated, officials have met with members of the inquiry team on 25 April 2007 to discuss what information the department may be able to provide to the inquiry. We have made available a recently completed document on the review of documentation relating to the safety of blood products 1970-1985 (non-A, non-B hepatitis), and the supporting references. These documents have been placed in the Library.

Lord Archer has been advised that the department will release all papers identified in the review, in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The papers will be released to Lord Archer's inquiry as quickly as possible, in monthly batches. We have released a significant number of documents to the inquiry team.

Officials continue to liaise with the secretary to the inquiry team.

Health: Junior Doctors

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure that the application forms for round 1 recruitment to medical specialty training posts are not used in round 2 following an announcement from the previous Secretary of State for Health that round 2 recruitment would be based on a revised short-listing and interview process, which will include a structured curriculum vitae. [HL4650]

The process for round 2 is being managed locally in line with the principles recommended by the review group and agreed by Ministers. These principles state that:

“The [application] form will be based on previously used application forms which have been tried and tested”.

This means that deaneries were able to use application forms from previous years. Structured curriculum-vitae-based portfolios will be used in the interviews.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they will give to an inter-deanery transfer scheme which is sufficiently flexible to allow junior doctors to move region. [HL4651]

On 18 July, the department announced to applicants a new job transfer scheme. This scheme will help doctors who have had one offer but would like to transfer to another deanery where they have been deemed appointable. Further information can be found on the Modernising Medical Careers website at www.mmc.nhs.uk

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many non-training medical jobs will be available to applicants to medical specialty training who have been unsuccessful after round 2. [HL4655]

The information requested is not collected centrally as the number of non-training medical jobs available varies from day to day.

For those appointable doctors who are not successful at the end of round 2, we have prepared an extra package of support which includes:

about 1,000 extra one-year and GP training posts;

access to career information via local deaneries;

a careers website for junior doctors; and

educational grants.

In this way, any junior doctor who has been judged to be appointable by an interview panel of senior doctors will have access to a training or educational opportunity next year.

In addition, we are currently in discussions with foundation programme directors and deans to see what options might be available for foundation programme doctors who complete the programme but are unsuccessful in securing specialty training posts.

We are also opening up discussions with the British Medical Association, the Academy of Royal Colleges and other representatives of the medical profession to discuss whether there is any risk that high academic achievers may be missed by the end of the recruitment process and if so how we can avoid that happening.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they anticipate that some National Health Service trusts may have junior doctor training posts unfilled by 1 August; and, if so, what steps they are taking to ensure that posts are filled. [HL4695]

Eighty-five per cent of junior doctor training posts will be filled by 1 August. This means that National Health Service hospitals should have the junior doctors they need in post to ensure that services run smoothly around the annual changeover of junior doctors in early August.

However, as not all training posts will be filled in August, each strategic health authority (SHA) has put a plan in place to minimise any risks. The SHAs will be managing the process and will work with trusts to ensure any potential gaps are adequately filled in August.

Where trusts face particular challenges in filling posts, they will do so through a combination of locums and accelerated recruitment under round 2 and recruiting to trust grade service posts.

The department policy to ensure that all applicants who are in substantive NHS employment will continue to have employment while they progress through the next round will also help to cover any gaps in August.

Health: Optometrists

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to redress any imbalances in payments to optometrists for eye examinations in England, compared with those made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [HL4886]

The fee for National Health Service sight tests is subject to negotiations with the relevant professional representative bodies. The fee for 2007-08 will be announced once these negotiations are concluded. The sight test fee is the same in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under devolved arrangements in Scotland, there is a differently defined eye examination for which different fee arrangements are in place and Wales has a separate eye examination for groups vulnerable to eye disease and those with acute conditions.

Health: Paediatric Palliative Care

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements they have made for the continued funding of those community paediatric palliative care teams set up with Big Lottery funding. [HL4814]

The Government have made an additional £27 million available over the three years 2006-07 to 2008-09 to support hospice and hospice at home services for children.

Future funding is largely contingent on the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review and this is an issue which needs careful consideration as the Government look at how to take forward the recommendations of the review to ensure the best outcomes for this vulnerable group of children and young people.

Health: Second-hand Smoke

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 14 May (WA 8), how many individuals in the United Kingdom are estimated each year to die prematurely or suffer serious ill health as a result of inhaling (a) smoke or fumes from bonfires, incinerators and industrial processes; (b) fumes from motor vehicles; and (c) all other airborne pollutants. [HL4901]

The department's committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP) quantification sub-group in its report The Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution on Health in the United Kingdom estimated in 19981 the number of deaths brought forward due to short-term exposure to particulate matter (PM10), ozone and sulphur dioxide as up to 24,000 per year. The estimated number of respiratory hospital admissions (additional or brought forward) due to these pollutants was similar. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Since that time, pollutant levels have reduced but this estimate does not include the impact of air pollution on life expectancy and on cardiovascular admissions. These were not quantified by COMEAP at the time of the 1998 report. Further work on this issue is likely to be considered as part of the work of the COMEAP sub-group on quantification.

COMEAP did not provide estimates broken down by pollutant source.

On 17 July 2007, the Government published their new air quality strategy which sets out a way forward for work and planning on air quality issues; sets out the air quality standards and objectives to be achieved; introduces a new policy framework for tackling fine particles; and identifies potential new national policy measures which modelling indicates could give further health benefits and move us closer towards meeting the strategy's objectives and improving air quality.

1 Based on pollution levels in 1996. Pollution levels have reduced substantially since then.

Immigration: Detention

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Mr Francis Kahiga was held in immigration detention for over nine months, despite evidence of previous torture; what the effect of detention has been on his health; and whether he is eligible for compensation. [HL4604]

Immigration: Exclusion and Deportation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether in relation to the denial of entry and the removal of persons from the United Kingdom they regard the word “excluded” as having the same meaning as the word “deported”. [HL4921]

They do not have the same meaning. “Exclusion” relates to the denial of entry to the United Kingdom. “Deportation” relates to a person's removal from the United Kingdom following the making of a deportation order against him.

Insurance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will support the extension of the Financial Services Authority's recommendation for compulsory commission disclosure by independent financial advisers to include general and business insurance distributors, including brokers; and [HL4994]

Whether they will recommend that the Financial Services Authority should require the compulsory disclosure, to the small business consumer, of any or all contingent commissions, including profit and volume-related incentives, between insurance providers and insurance distributors. [HL4995]

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for the regulation of the selling of insurance products. FSA rules already require insurance intermediaries to disclose commission if requested by a commercial client.

The FSA is currently conducting a review of commission disclosure in the wholesale and commercial general insurance market. This work will include both an objective market failure analysis and a corresponding cost-benefit analysis, covering both transparency to the customer and to the market. The FSA plans to report its findings in the final quarter of 2007. The FSA will consider whether regulatory intervention is the best way forward if, and only if, both the market failure and cost-benefit analyses tests are met and the insurance market has not come forward with any appropriate industry-led solutions.

The European Commission’s current business insurance sector inquiry is also looking at, among other things, the structure, function and remuneration of insurance distribution channels. The final report of the sector inquiry is expected in September 2007.

Marine Environment: Sharks

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment has been made of the success or otherwise of measures taken to protect the endangered tope and basking shark (a) in United Kingdom waters, and (b) internationally. [HL5004]

Internationally, the UK's successful proposal to include basking shark on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2002 and Appendix I & II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in 2005, are relatively recent and we have not yet made a full assessment of the success or otherwise of these actions. Nevertheless, Defra has funded two relevant studies:

an assessment of basking shark movements between 2001-04 in EU waters of the north-west Atlantic, which indicated broad distribution patterns; and

a study of the conservation status of migratory sharks, which will assist an international negotiation meeting (due to be held in December 2007 in Seychelles) to identify and elaborate further options for international co-operation on migratory sharks.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has tope listed as “vulnerable” in terms of its conservation status because there is the potential for “directed” commercial fisheries to reduce their population sizes to endangered or unsustainable levels. As a result of commercial interest in the species, Defra consulted on options to control or prevent the development of a directed fishery in English and Welsh waters. The results of this consultation are being considered with a view to Defra announcing conservation measures in the autumn of 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prosecutions have been brought and convictions secured against those charged with breaching regulations on shark fishing since 1997. [HL5005]

Since 1997, there have been no prosecutions, and therefore no convictions, for breaching the rules on shark fishing.

Mercury: Dental Fillings

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by Lord Rooker on 16 July (Official Report, cols. 1-4), how and when the proposals to reduce the mercury in dental fillings were communicated to dentists and the Dental Practitioners Association. [HL4956]

The composition of mercury amalgam in dental restorations has not changed but, as the table below indicates, the amount of mercury used in dentistry is declining as a result of improvements in the oral health of the population and the development of alternative restorative materials.

Numbers of mercury amalgam restorations in England and Wales.

2002-03

8,024,760

2003-04

7,690,215

2004-05

6,557,319

Navy: Review

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to conduct a formal review of the current size and organisation of the Royal Navy. [HL4943]

The Government have no plans to carry out such a review. However, the size and organisation of the Royal Navy, and our other Armed Forces, is kept under regular scrutiny as part of the defence planning process. This ensures that the department is investing in current priorities and using resources efficiently and effectively.

NHS: Finances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the anticipated outturn figures for 2007-08 of the National Health Service regional authorities in England and the anticipated results for each regional authority in 2006-07. [HL5055]

The quarter 1 National Health Service financial performance report 2007-08, which will include NHS forecast outturn data, will be published later this summer.

Our latest quarter 4 NHS financial performance report 2006-07 was published on 6 June 2007. Copies are available in the Library. The following table has been extracted from the report, showing NHS financial performance by strategic health authorities (SHA) economy level at quarter 4 2006-07, and final accounts 2005-06.

2005-06 Surplus/(Deficit)2006-07 Surplus/(Deficit)

SHA Economy Name

Final Accounts £ million

% Resource Limit

Provisional Outturn £ million

% Resource Limit

Improvement £ million

North East

21

0.6%

74

1.9%

53

North West

58

0.6%

190

1.8%

132

Yorkshire and The Humber

34

0.5%

131

1.8%

97

East Midlands

(13)

(0.3%)

65

1.2%

79

West Midlands

(38)

(0.5%)

62

0.8%

100

East of England

(234)

(3.6%)

(152)

(2.2%)

81

London

(174)

(1.5%)

93

0.8%

267

South East Coast

(94)

(1.8%)

(48)

(0.9%)

46

South Central

(59)

(1.3%)

40

0.8%

98

South West

(49)

(0.8%)

55

0.8%

104

Total

(547)

(0.8%)

510

0.7%

1,058

Source

2005-06 Audited summarisation schedules

2006-07 Monthly financial monitoring returns

Data rounded to the nearest million

Olympic Games 2012: Land

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in acquiring the land for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and for the long-term regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley. [HL4860]

Ownership of the Olympic Park site transferred to the London Development Agency (LDA) on 2 July, in line with the Olympic timetable. The LDA will hand the Olympic site to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) at the end of July.

The LDA and ODA will produce a legacy masterplan framework (LMF) which will set out the vision for the legacy of the Olympic Park and its relationship with the surrounding communities. The five host boroughs and local communities will be fully involved in the development of the LMF and its vision for the future of the area.

The first meeting of the Olympic Park Regeneration Steering Group, chaired by the Mayor of London and on which the Minister for the Olympics and the Minister for Housing sit, alongside the mayors and leaders of the host boroughs, took place on 19 July. This group provides guidance and direction to the development of the LMF.

Pensions: Retirement Abroad

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What would be the cost of abolishing the frozen pensions regulations for United Kingdom citizens who have retired to the Falkland Islands and Dependencies; and [HL4934]

Whether they will abolish the frozen pensions regulations for United Kingdom citizens who have retired to the Falkland Islands and Dependencies; and what would be (a) the economic, and (b) the political implications of abolishing the regulations. [HL4935]

We have no plans to change the arrangements to uprate state pension for recipients residing in the Falkland Islands and Dependencies. It would not be appropriate to single them out and be faced with the possibility of a legal challenge for adopting different uprating policies in countries where the pension is currently frozen.

The sample of data relating to pensioners in the Falkland Islands and Dependencies is too small to make an accurate assessment of the cost of unfreezing their entitlement. However, the current estimate is that it would cost around £440 million in 2007-08 to bring all frozen-rate pensions up to the current rate, and this would be an ongoing cost increasing year on year.

Data Source: September 2006 administrative data, 5 per cent sample.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

When they last received representations from the Government of Canada concerning the frozen pensions regulations for United Kingdom citizens who have retired to Canada; and what was the response to those representations. [HL5002]

We have had no representations from the Canadian Government about the regulations concerning frozen pensions.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What was the outcome of the three meetings held recently with Australian Ministers and officials at which the issue of not uprating the United Kingdom state pension paid to persons living in Australia was raised. [HL5003]

The outcome of the meetings was that the Government reiterated their policy on exporting and uprating the UK state pension and noted the concerns raised.

Railways: East Midland Franchise

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 18 July (WA 40), whether, while stations in the East Midlands franchise area remain without ticket vending machines, they will take action to ensure that revenue protection staff on trains adopt a conciliatory attitude to passengers travelling without tickets. [HL5054]

Revenue protection is a matter for the franchisee. The Department for Transport would expect the revenue protection staff to be fully trained in the appropriate people management competences, as well as maximising revenue collection. The national rail conditions of carriage “requirement to hold a ticket” makes it plain that before passengers travel they must have a ticket or other authority to travel which is valid for the train they intend to use.

Railways: Yeovil to Salisbury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, as part of their new investment strategy for the railways set out in the White Paper of 24 July, they intend to replace the single track line between Salisbury and Yeovil with a modern double track system throughout its length. [HL5083]

The new South Western franchise includes a commitment by South West Trains to operate hourly services from London Waterloo to Exeter subject to the necessary infrastructure being in place to allow such a service to operate. Network Rail has committed to provide this infrastructure, which requires the provision of additional loops, but not the full doubling of the route from Salisbury to Exeter.

Roads: A13 and A130

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to upgrade the intersection between the A13 and the A130 to increase the safe flow of traffic. [HL5163]

The Thames Gateway A13/A130 Sadlers Farm Junction scheme being promoted by Essex County Council was granted programme entry in July 2006 with an agreed departmental funding contribution of £63.6 million. The scheme will be to provide an underpass linking the A13 west to the A130 north, to convert the existing junction into a conventional roundabout with signalised entry and to widen other roads linking into the junction. This is expected to reduce congestion and improve safety on the strategic network.

Roads: Maintenance

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is the extent of the current backlog of road maintenance; what are the estimated costs of removing that backlog; and what is their estimate of the time needed for removing the backlog. [HL4990]

The National Road Maintenance Condition Survey for 2005 showed that the 10-year plan interim target to halt carriageway deterioration by 2004 had been achieved. We have encouraged local authorities to produce asset management plans for local roads. As more of these become available we expect to gain a better understanding of the investment required, and the timescales that local authorities are planning, to bring local road condition up to the appropriate operational standards.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What estimate they have made of the number of lorry journeys made in relation to carrying out all road repairs in England each year. [HL5022]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to reduce the volume of landfill waste resulting from the disposal of asphalt during road repairs. [HL5044]

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.ukroadsliaisonqroup.orq, provides guidance on best practice for waste management and recycling.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which receives funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, encourages local authorities to specify recycled aggregates in their highway contracts. WRAP’s recycled roads campaign and related procurement guidance have helped to more than double, between 2005 and 2006, the number of local authorities directly specifying recycled aggregates in their highway maintenance contracts. Twenty-one per cent of local authorities now have such a policy in place.

Taxation: Capital Gains Tax

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the most recent year for which figures are available, what would be the gain to the Exchequer of reducing the generosity of capital gains tax taper relief for business assets so that the proportion of gains chargeable was 75 per cent after one year and 50 per cent after two years or more; and [HL4872]

In the most recent year for which figures are available, what would be the gain to the Exchequer of increasing the length of the capital gains tax taper for business assets from two years to 10 years, as was the case for assets disposed of during 1999–2000; and [HL4873]

In the most recent year for which figures are available, what would be the gain to the Exchequer of increasing the length of the capital gains tax taper for business assets from two years to four years, as was the case for assets disposed of during 2000-01; and [HL4874]

In the most recent year for which figures are available, what would be the gain to the Exchequer of reforming capital gains tax taper relief for business assets so that the proportion of gains chargeable was (a) 90 per cent after one year; (b) 80 per cent after two years; (c) 70 per cent after three years; (d) 60 per cent after four years; and (e) 50 per cent after five years or more. [HL4875]

The estimated yields are calculated on the same receipts basis as the estimates of cost taper relief given in Table A3.1 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 2007. They do not take into account any behavioural changes which would occur if taper rates were amended. We assume that those behavioural changes would reduce the yields outlined below.

The estimated gain to the Exchequer of reducing the capital gains tax taper relief for business assets so that the proportion of gains chargeable was 75 per cent after one year and 50 per cent after two years is as follows:

Year

Estimated Yield (£m)

2005-06

1,170

2006-07

1,490

The estimated gain to the Exchequer of increasing the length of the capital gains tax taper for business assets from two years to 10 years is as follows:

Year

Estimated Yield (£m)

2005-06

1,320

2006-07

1,400

The estimated gain to the Exchequer of increasing the length of the capital gains tax taper for business assets from two years to four years is as follows:

Year

Estimated Yield (£m)

2005-06

320

2006-07

380

The estimated gain to the Exchequer of reforming capital gains tax taper relief for business assets so that the proportion of gains chargeable was (a) 90 per cent after one year; (b) 80 per cent after two years; (c) 70 per cent after three years; (d) 60 per cent after four years; and (e) 50 per cent after five years or more, is as follows:

Year

Estimated Yield (£m)

2005-06

1,360

2006-07

1,740

Taxation: Non-domiciled Taxpayers

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the reply by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy, on 12 July (HC Deb, col. 1605), how long was the period to which she was referring when she said that non-domiciled taxpayers paid £3 billion in tax. [HL4981]

Transport: Construction and Licensing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether European Union law places any constraint upon the unilateral adoption of higher road safety, vehicle construction and use requirements or driver licensing requirements within the United Kingdom. [HL5115]

Where there are no relevant EC measures that are intended to address health and safety concerns, member states are generally free to retain their domestic requirements to address those concerns. To the extent that EU measures only prescribe minimum standards, member states are free to apply higher standards in their domestic legislation. Member states are not free to apply higher standards where there are harmonising measures at EU level unless those measures provide specific exceptions. However, in all circumstances, higher standards must be proportionate and must not be disguised restrictions on trade.