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Written Answers

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

Written Answers

Thursday 18 December 2008

Airports: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had in (a) the past year, and (b) the past month with BAA on their measures to ensure airport perimeter security at (1) Heathrow, (2) Stansted, and (3) Gatwick. [HL296]

Aviation security is regulated under the national aviation security programme (NASP), and subject to inspections by both UK and EC transport security inspectors. Continual dialogue takes place on issues across a range of NASP measures and appropriate rectification action is taken where necessary.

Both in the past year and month, transport security inspectors have had a series of discussions at all those airports. This routine dialogue is both as a result of issues identified as well as ongoing efforts to enhance further airport security. It is not appropriate for obvious reasons to discuss the details.

Alcohol: Misuse

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they have had from Diageo plc to their consultation paper Safe, Sensible, Social—Consultation on further action on promoting responsible drinking and combating alcohol misuse; and what further action they will take. [HL372]

Diageo plc gave a detailed response to the Government’s recent public consultation on alcohol and a copy of their response has been placed in the Library.

A report on the consultation, summarising responses to the consultation, was published on 3 December and will be used by Ministers to support decision-making on future policy, legislation and service provision intended to reduce alcohol harm.

The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health jointly announced on 3 December that the Government intend to introduce legislation to create and enforce a mandatory code of practice for alcohol retailing. More than 90 per cent of respondents to our consultation supported a mandatory code. An independent review, carried out by KPMG, on behalf of the Home Office, found that many retailers were not abiding by voluntary standards for the responsible selling and marketing of alcohol.

On 5 November, I announced a new Alcohol Improvement Programme providing tools and support for National Health Service primary care trusts in reducing alcohol harms.

Further announcements on issues in the consultation such as the inclusion of health and unit information in advertising and the outcome of future monitoring of the voluntary agreement on alcohol labelling will be made in due course.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider cancelling one of the two planned aircraft carriers to ease defence budget pressures. [HL309]

We remain fully committed to the carrier project and the contract which we signed in July 2008 for manufacture of the two ships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the two-year delay in delivering aircraft carriers will allow for the recruitment and training of full crews for both vessels. [HL320]

A one to two-year delay to the Future Carrier programme will be integrated into the plans that have been established to allow for the recruitment and training of a full ship's company for both vessels, but is unlikely to have a material impact.

Banking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements exist for the monitoring of ICICI Bank and the Bank of Nigeria to ensure those banks have sufficient resources (whether through collecting taxes from other firms, borrowing, prefunding or a combination) to pay all claims made upon them in the event of default or collapse. [HL220]

Banking: Bank of Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on the economy of Northern Ireland if the Government of the Republic of Ireland do not honour their guarantee of deposits for the Bank of Ireland. [HL261]

Business Support

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in respect of the estimated cost of the Business Payment Support Service which was announced in the Pre-Budget Report, (a) when the service will be available; (b) for how long it will be available; (c) whether interest will be charged on tax payments which are spread; (d) what is the estimated amount of tax payments which will be deferred in each of the years 2008–09 to 2010–11; and (e) what estimates have been made of the amount of tax receipts deferred under the service which will not be recoverable. [HL170]

The Business Payment Support Service started offering help to businesses from the afternoon of 24 November 2008. It is a demand-led service offered to viable businesses in temporary financial difficulties as a result of the current economic conditions. The amount of tax payments spread through this service and the length of time it will be needed will depend on the needs of business. HM Revenue and Customs will not charge additional late payment surcharges on tax payments which are spread, although interest will continue to be payable on those taxes where it applies.

Crime: Drink Driving

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they made of the effects of lowering the drink-drive limit when they published their consultation paper Combating Drink Driving: Next Steps in 1998. [HL344]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assess the number of drivers with blood alcohol content of between 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres; and when any results will be published. [HL345]

The consultation paper, Combating Drink Driving: Next Steps, published in 1998, includes at Annex 2 an estimate of the effect on road casualties of amending the legal limit, including an explanation of the assumptions and exceptions it made. I explained in the House on 11 December (Official Report, col. 483) why we consider that additional information is required to make an appropriate assessment. Our consultation document, Road Safety Compliance Consultation, published on 20 November, summarises at paragraph 3.60 the various measures we are taking to gather additional evidence. It says that our intention is to review the new evidence in the course of finalising our road safety strategy beyond 2010.

The main elements of new work we have in hand are:

analysis of data from new digital screening equipment, including new information on the involvement in accidents of drivers below the present limit;

a drink-drive prevalence survey; and

other quantitative and qualitative research to paint a clearer picture of those who do drink and drive, and the circumstances in which they do so.

The consultation document also invites those consulted to contribute additional evidence they have, or which they think should be considered.

Crime: Fuel Laundering

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many convictions there have been in County Armagh which are related to fuel smuggling since 1 January. [HL258]

Since 1 January there have been six convictions for the offence of being knowingly concerned in the evasion of duty for the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down. This figure relates to both smuggling and laundering of fuel.

Criminal investigation and prosecution for smuggling and laundering of fuel form only one part of HMRC's approach to tackling oils fraud in Northern Ireland, together with the investigation/prosecution of wider oils excise offences, combined with a strong regulatory control system and civil penalties regime.

Crime: Property

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much property and other assets have been taken as proceeds from crime since 1 January. [HL259]

The information available is as follows. A total of £135.7 million of criminal proceeds were recovered in 2007-08. An additional £33.2 million was recovered in the period April-June 2008.

Development Aid

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that development aid is conflict-sensitive, as advocated by the charity SafeWorld, and that it promotes sustainable security in the recipient area. [HL409]

In its policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict (2007) the Department for International Development (DfID) states its commitment to ensuring that all our development work is conflict-sensitive. For some time now, we have used Strategic Conflict Assessments and other analytical tools to improve our understanding of the interaction between our activities and the potential for violent conflict. Evidence shows this approach reduces the potential harm of development assistance and makes the most of potential benefits.

But we recognise the need to do more. DfID is currently piloting internal conflict audits which examine the conflict sensitivity of existing development programmes. We are also strengthening staff skills and capacities for working in conflict, and developing a series of guidance papers on Effective Working in Situations of Conflict and Fragility. We have recently funded a consortium of NGOs to lead a £2.1 million project to develop best practice on conflict sensitivity.

DfID promotes sustainable security through direct programming and by integrating security issues into poverty reduction programmes. Conflict sensitivity is incorporated into all of our security and justice work—and increasingly so into our development assistance in countries affected by conflict.

The policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict is available on the DfID website at www.dfid.gov.uk/Pubs/files/preventing-conflict.pdf.

Disabled People: UN Convention

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answers by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 9 July (Official Report, House of Lords, cols. 747–50), when they now expect to ratify the United Nations Convention on Disability Rights. [HL384]

The Government's intention is to achieve ratification at the earliest practicable opportunity. We have made considerable progress since the then Minister for Disabled People's Parliamentary Written Statement of 6 May (Hansard ref col. 29WS) which identified the issues under consideration. I am pleased to say that no reservations or declarations will be required in respect of aspects of mental health legislation; choice of place of residence; and cultural services. The Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Department for Children Schools and Families are finalising the terms of their reservations and/or declarations in respect of service in the Armed Forces, immigration and citizenship and the provision of special education. My department is considering whether there is a need for a reservation in respect of Article 12 (legal capacity) and the review of arrangements for benefit appointees. Given the steps that remain, our ambition is to ratify this convention in the spring of 2009. The time from signature to ratification of similar conventions by the UK varies considerably, and is on average four years, but we plan to ratify this convention in two years.

Energy: Street Lighting

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 11 December (WA 9–10), whether they recommend that local authorities follow the same policies in respect of their street lighting, or whether they intend to issue guidance to local authorities in this matter. [HL383]

The provision of street lighting on local roads is a matter for individual local authorities.

The Highways Agency policies are designed for their network. Local authorities' highways networks will be more varied and each authority will have to take account of their own circumstances. Guidance on the reduction of obtrusive light is published by the Institution of Lighting Engineers on their website www.ile.org.uk .

EU: Taxation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 18 November (WA 181) stating that “the Government believe that taxation is a matter for [European Union] member states to determine at a national level”, how that statement relates to value added tax. [HL215]

The earlier Question to which the noble Lord refers related to the financing of the European Community (EC) Budget and, specifically, whether there would be a shift from financing via national contributions, as now, to a system whereby proceeds from a direct ELI tax went directly to the Community.

In that context, while a notional level of national value added tax (VAT) receipts is one element in determining member states' contributions to the EC Budget, how such contributions are actually financed is entirely a matter for member states to decide. There are no national tax revenues hypothecated to finance the EC Budget: all VAT receipts accrue to the Exchequer.

As far as the structure and rates of specific taxes are concerned, these are generally a matter for member states. In relation to VAT, rules on some aspects of tax structure and minimum rates of taxation have been agreed by the Council of Ministers by unanimity with a view to ensuring the smooth functioning of the single market, in line with the provisions of Article 93 of the treaty establishing the European Community.

The most significant obligations taken on by the UK in relation to VAT occurred in 1973, in the UK's accession to the then European Economic Community, and as part of the 1993 package of measures relating to the completion of the internal market.

Changes to EC VAT agreements are subject to the unanimous agreement of all member states. The Government have always made clear that the UK will not agree to any proposals that would harm our social objectives or undermine the fairness of the UK VAT system.

Fire and Rescue Service: Firebuy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the gateway review on Firebuy's integrated clothing project. [HL114]

Housing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 19 November (WA 202), and in light of the availability of social housing to rent, why they continue to sell social housing units at a discount. [HL420]

Apart from the social benefits noted in my Answer to the noble Lord's earlier Question on this subject, in Official Report, for 1 October 2007, col. WA 162, sales of social housing generate capital receipts which are available for reinvestment in social housing.

Housing: Disability

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to increase the level of funding available to local authorities for carrying out adaptations to homes inhabited by people with disabilities. [HL115]

The Government regard the disabled facilities grant programme as an important means to help disabled and older people continue to live as independently as possible by having their homes adapted. That is why we have more than doubled the government funds available for the programme from £57 million in 1997 to £146 million in 2008 with an increase of £10 million in each of the subsequent years making the budget £166 million by 2010. This represents a significant increase in the funding for this important programme.

On 10 December 2008 we announced the local authority allocations for the disabled facilities grant programme in England for 2009-10, an increase of 7 per cent on the amount for 2008-09.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 27 October regarding local housing allowances and disabled people needing 24-hour care, what representations they have received from the Snowdon Award Scheme; and what response they will send. [HL217]

I have recently received a letter from the chief executive of the Snowdon Award Scheme, the contents of which is being considered. I will send a substantive reply in due course and copy it to my noble friend.

Housing: Domestic Violence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many beds have been available for victims of domestic violence and their dependants in refuges in each year since 2000. [HL422]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many beds have been available for victims of domestic violence under 18 in each year since 2000. [HL423]

We do not hold this information centrally. Decisions on the provision of refuge spaces are a local matter. It is the responsibility of the individual local authority to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available information. We would expect refuge places to be available to all ages.

My department provides a homelessness prevention grant (approximately £200 2008-11) to local authorities and the voluntary and community sector to encourage activity to prevent homelessness. The Supporting People programme provides a significant proportion of revenue funding for housing-related support for victims of domestic violence, often delivered in refuges. In 2006-07 spend was £61.6 million, compared to £59.3 million in 2005-06.

My department also funds UKRefugesonline (UKROL), a UK-wide database of domestic violence services delivered in partnership by Women's Aid and Refuge which supports the national 24-hour free phone domestic violence helpline. It enables those working with victims of domestic violence to identify appropriate services and potential refuge vacancies around the country. UKROL produces the UK Gold Book, a guide to refuge and domestic abuse services, every two years.

Housing: Home Information Packs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the overall cost of home information packs to buyers and sellers in (a) the United Kingdom; and (b) Essex since their introduction. [HL342]

Housing: HomeBuy Direct

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many developers have submitted applications to the Homes and Communities Agency to provide HomeBuy Direct on properties and sites. [HL236]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many first-time buyers have purchased properties using the HomeBuy Direct scheme in each month since its inception. [HL237]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many first-time buyers have purchased properties using the HomeBuy Direct scheme in each (a) region, and (b) country, of the United Kingdom. [HL238]

Allowing for bids from different operating companies within recognised overall group structures, 133 organisations submitted bids to the Homes and Communities Agency to provide the HomeBuy Direct scheme.

The first HomeBuy Direct homes are due to be available to purchasers early in 2009.

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what efforts they and the quartet's special representative are making to ensure entry into Gaza for essential sewage pipes, as requested by the United Nations Secretary-General. [HL375]

The Government regularly express our concerns about the current border restrictions in Gaza and urge the Israeli Government to improve the access for humanitarian supplies, commercial goods and people, including material to repair the sewage system in Gaza.

We also fully support the efforts of the quartet representative, Tony Blair, to negotiate with Israel on getting vital equipment and other supplies, including sewage pipes, into Gaza to repair the sewerage system. Tony Blair continues to negotiate access for these items with the Israeli authorities and last raised the issue with Israeli Defence Minister Barak on 17 December.

Licensing: Lap Dancing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give local authorities more control in the licensing of lap dancing clubs by enabling them to be licensed as sex encounter establishments through the forthcoming Policing and Crime Reduction Bill. [HL155]

In a paper published on 2 December 2008, Fair Rules for Strong Communities, the Government announced that they would reclassify lap dancing clubs as sex establishments to allow local authorities to consider a wider range of community interests when determining whether to grant a licence.

We have announced our intention to include these measures in the forthcoming Policing and Crime Bill, which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Local Government: Future Unitary Structures

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between those responsible for preparing reports on financial cases to become unitary authorities and those bidding to undertake research on them. [HL10]

The department has commissioned a research study of unitary and pathfinder authorities following a competitive tender, which required bidders to account for any potential conflicts of interest. The department is satisfied that those commissioned to undertake the research—a consortium of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Office for Public Management, and Cardiff Business School—have effective arrangements in place to ensure that no conflicts of interest will arise.

National Clearing House Programme

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Iain Wright, on 10 November (Official Report, House of Commons, 862–65W), if the average grant for 1,531 units purchased for social rent was £41,631, why the average for six units in Croydon was £175,667 and for four units in Southwark was £125,000. [HL275]

The average grant per unit is a national figure and varies between regions and the type/size of home purchased. Average grant rates in London are considerably higher than those in other regions.

For Croydon, five of the homes were three-bedroomed properties and one was a two-bedroomed. These compare favourably to the average cost per unit of around £115,000 in Croydon for all social rented schemes so far approved this year through the Homes and Communities Agency's affordable housing programme.

In Southwark the average grant rate per unit for social rented schemes so far approved this year through the affordable housing programme is £122,000. The four homes purchased were all two-bedroomed street properties and therefore available for letting immediately.

The Homes and Communities Agency in considering bids for funding through the affordable housing programme assess them against criteria including fit with regional and local priorities, deliverability, quality and design and value for money.

We feel that refuge provision is an important issue and one we need to understand better. That is why we have commissioned research that will look at the provision of refuge places across the country. This will help establish how many bed spaces are available for those fleeing domestic abuse. It is hoped it will look at provision for different groups such as men; women; black and minority ethnic people; disabled people; lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender people and more chaotic victims such as drug users, alcohol users and those leaving the sex trade.

Northern Ireland Office: Bonuses

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration was given to the current financial position before bonuses were agreed for officials in the Northern Ireland Office. [HL176]

Bonuses in the Northern Ireland office were paid within the budgets arising from successive spending review settlements.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to pay bonuses to staff in the Northern Ireland Office in the next financial year. [HL207]

Bonuses in the Northern Ireland office are paid for from the budgets arising from successive spending review settlements. As the bonus system forms an element of the pay settlement for staff, provision has been made for payment of bonuses in the next financial year.

Northern Ireland Office: Danger Money

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members of staff in the Northern Ireland Office are in receipt of danger money; how much; and why. [HL208]

Since 1992 the Northern Ireland office has paid a special allowance to all administrative staff working in Northern Ireland. The allowance was introduced in recognition of the department's work in the law and order field.

The allowance, which has not been uprated since 1994, is in two parts: Part A, an annual amount, paid monthly, of £287 and Part B, a daily attendance allowance of £1.31 paid only to individuals who attend certain designated sites. This element is subject to a maximum of £287 in any one year. A review of these allowances will commence shortly.

At present, 1,542 staff in the Northern Ireland Office are in receipt of Part A, and 270 are also in receipt of Part B.

Northern Ireland Office: Secretary of State

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many days the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has spent in Northern Ireland since his appointment; and what that figure is as a percentage of the total number of days. [HL128]

The Secretary of State has been in Northern Ireland on 147 days since his appointment on 28 June 2007, one month after the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland. The figure given is up to 16 December.

The noble Lord will be aware that the offices of the Secretary of State are in Belfast and in London; Northern Ireland Office business is conducted in both places. As a member of Cabinet my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has duties which require his attendance in London for Cabinet, Cabinet Committees, the National Economic Council as well as additional duties in Westminster.

Northern Ireland Office: Smoking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements there are for officials of the Northern Ireland Office who smoke during office hours. [HL260]

The Northern Ireland Office Smoking Policy issued in January 2005 introduced a total smoking ban throughout all Northern Ireland Office premises. A similar ban was introduced in the Northern Ireland office premises in Millbank with effect from 7 March 2005.

The policy states that there is no entitlement for staff to leave the premises to smoke except during lunchtime. Depending on circumstances it may be possible for staff to smoke other than at lunchtime. However smoking is only permitted outside the perimeters of the entrance/exit areas of the premises in an area designated by the premises officer. Staff are expected to give priority to the demands of work during normal working hours.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 11 November (WA 123) concerning expenditure by the Northern Ireland Office on taxis, by whom each journey in the ninth four weeks of financial year 2007–08 was made; when it was made; to where; at what cost; and for what purpose. [HL209]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 11 November (WA 123) concerning expenditure by the Northern Ireland Office on taxis, by whom each journey in the tenth four weeks of financial year 2007–08 was made; when it was made; to where; at what cost; and for what purpose. [HL210]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 11 November (WA 123) concerning expenditure by the Northern Ireland Office on taxis, by whom each journey in the eleventh four weeks of financial year 2007–08 was made; when it was made; to where; at what cost; and for what purpose. [HL211]

Much of the information requested constitutes personal data which if released would breach the first principle of the Data Protection Act 1998, namely the fair and lawful processing of personal data. As none of the conditions in Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act is met to authorise fair and lawful disclosure, the information requested is not available for release.

Northern Ireland: Former Paramilitary Weapons

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 24 November (WA 255), in whose possession are the weapons handed over by the IRA and other terrorist organisations under the decommissioning amnesty scheme in Northern Ireland; and whether such weapons have been rendered permanently unusable. [HL213]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 24 November (WA 255), in whose possession are semtex and other explosives handed over by the IRA and other terrorist organisations; and whether such material has been exploded or rendered permanently incapable of being exploded. [HL214]

Under the terms of the decommissioning scheme all arms which are decommissioned are destroyed according to the terms of the scheme. The Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997 defines destruction as making permanently inaccessible or permanently unusable. Acts of decommissioning are overseen and verified by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 5 November (WA 71), why there is a difference in procedure in answering operational questions concerning the Police Service of Northern Ireland and those concerning the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and why questions cannot be referred by Ministers for answer to the latter. [HL177]

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a non-departmental public body working independently of Government and Ministers, within the statutory framework set out in Section 69 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is therefore appropriate that questions about the operation of the commission, including its provision of advice, are asked directly of the commission, and not through Ministers.

An arrangement has been made with the Chief Constable that questions that concern police operational matters should be forwarded directly to the PSNI by the Northern Ireland Office. This reflects the Chief Constable’s operational responsibility for policing matters within a policy framework set by the Government and the policing board.

Olympic Games 2012: Transport

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government on which sections of the Olympic route network between Heathrow Airport and Stratford they expect to introduce special lanes for accredited Olympic Games vehicles; and what effect they will have on overall traffic flows. [HL343]

Parliamentary ICT

Questions

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees who is responsible for authorising the police to have access to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology service. [HL315]

In this House, PICT would discuss any such request from the police with Black Rod, who would in turn consult the appropriate authorities. For requests concerning staff of the House of Lords, PICT would consult Black Rod.

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees on what occasions in the past five years the police have been given access to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology service (or its predecessors); and in each case what was the date; who gave the authority; and what was the police force concerned. [HL316]

There have been two occasions when Parliamentary Police and Security have been asked to examine the internet records of a member of staff of the House: in November 2006 and June 2007. This was done with the approval and at the request of Blacks Rod's Office and the Head of Human Resources. No requests have been made concerning Members of the House.

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees on what occasions in the past five years a third party has been given access to the Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology service (or its predecessor body); and in each case what was the date of access; who gave the authority; and who was the person or organisation to whom access was given. [HL317]

A number of trusted third parties are given access to the ICT system as part of their maintenance and support responsibilities. They are subject to confidentiality clauses in their contracts. No third party has been given access to systems for investigatory purposes. Security specialists are asked to examine the perimeter defences of the network from time to time as part of security audits.

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members there are currently in public sector final salary pension schemes; how many there are in private sector final salary pension schemes; and how many there are in other types of scheme; and what is their assessment of the disparity in members' ultimate benefits between the types of scheme. [HL178]

The latest available information on the estimated number of active members in occupational pension schemes is set out in the table below.

Numbers of active members of occupational pension schemes, by type of scheme and sector, for the year 2007 in UK

Public sector

Defined benefit schemes (millions)

5.2

Private sector

Defined benefit schemes (millions)

2.7

Private sector

Defined contribution schemes (millions)

0.9

Source: ONS Occupational Pension Schemes Survey (OPSS)

Notes:

(4) Pension scheme membership figures were taken from the Occupational Pension Scheme Survey. Data for 2007 were published by ONS in September 2008. The coverage of the survey is the UK.

(5) Figures presented are totals for active members of defined benefit and defined contribution pension scheme membership.

(6) For the purpose of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey, hybrid schemes were treated as defined benefit schemes.

In addition in 2007-08, there were 8.9 million members of personal and stakeholder pensions.

Total number of members of personal and stakeholder pensions for the year 2007-08 in UK

Personal pensions (millions)

7.1

Stakeholder pensions (millions)

1.8

Total (millions)

8.9

Source: HMRC, 2007-08

Note that an individual may be an active member of a number of different pension schemes simultaneously.

No assessment of the disparity in members' benefits between scheme types is available. The benefits a member receives are dependent on the individual scheme design, contribution level and investment performance. In the case of defined benefit schemes, it also depends on earnings and how long members stay in the scheme. Benefits therefore vary greatly between schemes of the same type. As a result, it is not appropriate to compare the disparity of benefits between scheme types.

Planning

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 14 November (WA 156–57), whether the time taken to process each of the seven appeals was due to the substance of the regulations not being part of the statute; and, if so, why that statute was not promulgated until this year. [HL274]

The time taken to process the seven appeals mentioned in my previous reply has been due to a number of reasons. For two of the appeals, those relating to Smalldale Head Quarry and Pole Hole Quarry, the principal reason for delay was the need for appropriate EIA regulations to be in place. For the remaining five appeals, various other reasons, such as reviews under the Habitats Regulations, were more important factors.

The requirements of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) directive were first applied to the review of mineral planning permissions by regulations that came into effect on 15 November 2000. A voluntary procedure was put into place for those applications and appeals that were not caught by the 2000 regulations. In most cases mineral operators co-operated and new conditions were determined.

However, it eventually became apparent that in a small number of cases applications were being stalled because operators would not provide mineral planning authorities with the necessary environmental information. At the end of 2004 possible solutions to this problem were explored; and at the beginning of 2006 I agreed to enact a set of regulations that would apply the requirements of the EIA directive to outstanding applications and appeals not caught by the 2000 regulations.

The proposed regulations were subjected to wide and thorough consultation and careful legal scrutiny. In the event, appropriate and workable regulations proved to be very complex to draft, and despite the best efforts of all concerned it was not possible to enact them before July 2008.

Planning Infrastructure Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the expected annual cost of the Planning Infrastructure Commission; and what is the budget for salaries of the employees of the commission. [HL328]

The impact assessment for the Planning Bill published in November 2007 estimated that the average annual cost of the Infrastructure Planning Commission will be about £9.3 million per annum. The salaries of the administrative staff were estimated to cost about £3.1 million per annum.

Police: Traffic Patrols

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to encourage the police to increase the numbers of mobile traffic patrols on main roads. [HL286]

The national roads policing strategy, agreed between the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office and the Department for Transport, includes enhancing public confidence and reassurance by patrolling the roads as one of its five main focuses. Implementation of the strategy is a commitment in the National Community Safety Plan 2008-11 and Ministers regularly emphasise the importance of effective roads policing in correspondence, speeches and meetings with the police. Deployment of resources remains an operational matter for individual chief officers.

Prisoners: Compensation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 26 November (WA 333), on how many occasions the Northern Ireland Compensation Agency has been advised in the past five years by the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) of claims for compensation from a prisoner or ex-prisoner in relation to injuries sustained as a result of negligence or breach of statutory duty; and how many times the agency, if it has previously paid compensation to the prisoner's victim, has taken proceedings to recover this amount from the compensation which NIPS paid to the prisoner. [HL181]

The agency has recovered amounts from the (NIPS) on 17 occasions in the last five years.

The Compensation Agency is automatically advised of any compensation claim received by the Northern Ireland Prison Service from a prisoner or ex-prisoner. Where the agency has paid compensation to the prisoner’s victim, the agency recovers this from the compensation that would otherwise be paid to the prisoner or ex-prisoner. Legal proceedings are not required to effect this recovery.

Prisoners: Transfers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the results of the prisoner transfers pilot project, initiated in 2007. [HL249]

I am afraid that I am unable to identify the project to which the noble Lord refers. If the noble Lord would care to write to me with further details I will provide him with a written reply.

Revenue and Customs: Staff

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff were in post in HM Revenue and Customs at the merger in April 2005; how many posts have been abolished and how many new staff recruited in each year since that date; and what is the difference between staff numbers now and those in April 2005. [HL180]

HM Revenue and Customs was created on 18 April 2005. The first staff-in-post figures for the merged department were produced for midnight on 30 April 2005 when the numbers were 104,696 headcount (97,046 full-time equivalent).

The staff-in-post figures for HMRC on 30 November/1 December 2008 were 89,682 headcount (82,062 FTE.) The difference was, therefore, 15,014 headcount (14,984 FTE) less than directly after the merger.

The number of permanent staff recruited is published in Civil Service Staffing Statistics. The figures show 6,070 in 2005-06 and 1,370 in 2006-07. Internal departmental equivalent figures show 2,115 in 2007-08 and 4,319 in 2008-09 to date.

HMRC does not keep records on the basis of posts and the number of posts abolished is therefore unavailable.

Scotland: Public Money

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Myners on 12 November (WA 139) and 26 November (WA 293) and by Lord Davidson of Glen Clova on 25 November (WA 282), how much public money has been made available in the past month per person on the Scottish electoral roll for rescuing the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS. [HL109]

The noble Lord's Question again seeks to compare two unrelated matters: the population of Scotland; and the support made available to two banks which operate throughout the United Kingdom and in many other countries.

Figures on the Scottish population are published by the Office for National Statistics.

In the past month the Treasury invested £19.97 billion in RBS on 1 December, under the Government's recapitalisation scheme. No money was invested in HBOS in the past month.

Both banks were named among the eight initial eligible institutions for the credit guarantee scheme. The allocations for individual banks under the scheme are confidential.

Taxation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate has been made of the loss to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs from non-payment of income tax by United Kingdom subjects holding savings deposits in financial institutions in (a) the Isle of Man, and (b) Guernsey. [HL267]

In March 2008 HMRC released details of some analysis from 2005 that attempted to derive estimates of the direct tax gap at the start of the decade—see www.hmrc.gov.uk/research/direct-tax-gaps.pdf. This included a very broad-brush estimate of the tax gap associated with the use of offshore accounts. For conditions in 2002-03, the annual loss of tax through evasion using offshore accounts was estimated to be between £80 million and £140 million for the Isle of Man and between £60 million and £90 million for Guernsey.

As HMRC has made clear, these figures are estimates only. They are far from certain and are based on assumptions which may be incorrect.

Taxation: Isle of Man

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the exceptions to the requirement for tax residents of the United Kingdom to pay tax on their income in the Isle of Man. [HL218]

Tax residents electing to use the remittance basis of taxation do not pay UK tax on their non-UK income unless it is remitted to the UK. Taxpayers are eligible to opt for the remittance basis if they are UK-resident but not domiciled in the UK. In certain circumstances, individuals who are resident and domiciled, but not ordinarily resident, in the UK may also use the remittance basis in respect of overseas employment income.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the tax information exchange agreement with the Isle of Man includes provisions on the withholding of basic rate tax on deposits made by United Kingdom depositors. [HL219]

The tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) recently signed between the UK and the Isle of Man does not include provisions on withholding tax. TIEAs are focused purely on exchange of information and the UK TIEA with the Isle of Man includes the OECD standard language for transparency and exchange of information on request, which allows the UK to ask the Isle of Man to provide taxpayer information in support of our compliance activities.

The UK has a savings tax agreement with the Isle of Man under the framework of the EU savings directive, which took effect in 2005. This agreement provides for the Isle of Man to apply a withholding tax on savings interest, currently at a rate of 20 per cent, rising to 35 per cent in 2011. Under this agreement the Isle of Man transfers 75 per cent of the revenue raised from the withholding tax to the UK.

Taxation: VAT

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions following the Pre-Budget Report they have had with United Kingdom businesses and their representative organisations on (a) the administrative cost of implementing the reduction in the VAT rate; and (b) the number of businesses that have passed on the cut. [HL341]

HMRC officials have had discussions with a wide range of individual businesses and representative bodies about the implementation of the temporary reduction in the standard rate of VAT. These discussions were not specific to either the issue of administrative costs or the pass-on rate.

Telecommunications: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice is routinely given to the Prime Minister regarding the trial or deployment of technologies which present a risk to the security and integrity of United Kingdom telecommunications and data communications infrastructure. [HL245]

The Prime Minister and other relevant Ministers receive advice from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and CESG, the protective security arm of GCHQ, on risks to the critical national infrastructure, including risks to telecommunications and data communications.