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Written Answers

Volume 711: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

Written Answers

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many officials have been involved in the preparation of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill; and what was the cost of preparing the Bill up to the date of its First Reading in the House of Lords. [HL3895]

The preparation of the Bill has been led by a joint DCSF-DIUS Bill team comprising six members of staff. The total expenditure incurred by the Bill team during 2008-09 was £162, 897, and the Bill team has a budget for the current financial year of £214,026. The Bill team has worked closely with officials and lawyers from across the two departments, other government departments and the devolved Administrations both in preparing the Bill and during its passage through Parliament. No figures are available on the total number of officials involved or the total costs associated with the Bill, and this information could not be obtained except at disproportionate cost.

Ascension Island

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current situation regarding commercial flights to and from Ascension Island; what recent discussions they have had with the government of the United States of America on commercial flights; and whether they plan to increase commercial flights through the island. [HL3806]

In 2003, the Governments of the UK and US entered into a bilateral agreement (the Wideawake agreement) that allows up to four movements (take off or landing) to be made by civil aircraft not engaged in scheduled international air services at the US Wideawake airfield on Ascension Island in any one week. Each movement must be approved by the administrator on Ascension Island.

The Governments of the UK and the US renewed this agreement for a further five years in September 2008. There are no current plans to increase commercial flights through Ascension Island. We may need to revisit this agreement with the US should the Government decide in favour of building an airport on St Helena.

Association of Chief Police Officers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 7 May (WA 130), given that the Association of Chief Police Officers receives funds from the Government and each police authority, to whom it is accountable; and whether the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to it. [HL3716]

In addition to an annual grant in aid payment, the Home Office makes regular payments to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to fund a number of specific projects or initiatives and these grants are prescribed for the purposes specified and the use is closely monitored.

As an independent organisation of chief officers from the police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, ACPO is accountable to its members. Chief officers are in turn accountable to police authorities and the public. As it is a private company, the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to ACPO, since Schedule 1 to the Act does not include a definition which covers ACPO.

Banking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what payments have been made from (a) HM Treasury and its agencies, and (b) HM Revenue and Customs, to (1) Deutsche Bank, (2) Citigroup, (3) Credit Suisse, (4) Goldman Sachs, and (5) Morgan Stanley in 2008–09; and what those payments relate to. [HL3416]

The Treasury made the following payments in 2008-09:

Organisation

£’000

Purpose

Deutsche Bank

41

Staff secondment

Citigroup

1,922

Financial stability related

Credit Suisse

5,502

Financial stability related

Morgan Stanley

1,501

Financial stability related

The figures are provisional as they form part of the Treasury's resource account, which is subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The majority of the sums listed relate to advice given to the Treasury on financial stability measures. Under a number of agreements with financial institutions, certain fees are recoverable and the sums listed do not therefore represent a net cost to the Treasury. HM Revenue and Customs has a contract with Citibank for the provision of banking services. A single payment was made in 2008-09 in relation to development work for the start of the service.

Banking: Bank of Scotland (Ireland)

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed the information provided by Ted Cunningham at his recent trial and which concerns Phil Flynn, the former chairman of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland); if so what action they will take; and whether the information has been drawn to the attention of the Financial Services Authority. [HL3543]

The noble Lord’s questions have been passed to the FSA and chief constable.

As a matter of policy, the Treasury does not comment on matters of regulation relating to individual institutions.

Banking: Lloyds TSB and HBOS

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether discussions took place between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Myners, Baroness Vadera, their offices or their officials, and Sir Victor Blank relating to the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB; and, if so, when the first contacts between each of the Ministers concerned or their officials and Sir Victor took place. [HL3843]

Government Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Banking: UK Financial Investments Ltd

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make publicly available the budget and funding plan recommendations presented to HM Treasury by the board of United Kingdom Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI) in February and any response from HM Treasury to UKFI. [HL3786]

As the framework document between UK Financial Investments (UKFI) and the Treasury sets out, UKFI’s annual report and audited accounts will be laid before Parliament. UKFI’s business plan will also be provided to the Treasury Select Committee once agreed.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what up-front payments were made to United Kingdom Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI); and what forecast has been made of the periodical management fee to be paid to UKFI. [HL3787]

In its first five months of operation, UKFI's costs were £1.2 million. Going forward, the management fee will depend on agreement of the business plan but is expected to be single figure millions annually.

Charity Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what procedures the Charity Commission has in place to take action, in the interests of ensuring effective governance, where the minutes of a meeting of a charity's trustees record a resolution which did not exist and which was subsequently acted upon in relation to the election of trustees. [HL3649]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the commission to reply.

Letter from Andrew Hind, dated May 2009.

As the chief executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Question on the action the Charity Commission might take where the minutes of a meeting of charity trustees record a resolution which did not exist and which was subsequently acted upon in relation to the election of trustees.

Charity trustees should ensure that minutes of trustee meetings are accurate records of the business carried out and decisions made. We produce guidance for charity trustees on this subject. Our publication CC48 Charities and Meetings is available on our website, www.charitycommission.gov.uk and provides best practice advice for charity trustees.

Charity trustees are usually elected in accordance with the provisions of their charity's governing document. If these are followed then there is unlikely to be a problem with the appointment and we will not be involved. However, if there is evidence to suggest that an appointment of trustees is invalid then the solution would depend on the circumstances of the particular case. For instance, if appropriate, the commission could use its powers to appoint the trustees to overcome any deficiency in their appointment.

Any suggestion that maladministration had taken place in the appointment of trustees would be given serious attention by the commission. Our response would depend on the facts of the case as supported by the evidence. In my response to a previous question, I outlined our risk and proportionality framework, which is published on our website (above) and has been placed in the Library of the House. We would use this framework to assess the most appropriate and proportionate course of action to take.

I hope this is helpful.

Civil Service: Redundancy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Patel of Bradford on 31 March (WA 21), what would be the cost of calculating the amount payable in the event of redundancy to a civil servant earning £25,000 per annum who is aged 50 with 15 years service. [HL3680]

The Employers’ Pensions Guide, issued by Cabinet Office to employers participating in the Civil Service pension arrangements, gives employers guidance on the costs of redundancies. The Employers’ Guide is available on the Civil Service website www.civilservice.gov.uk/pensions and a current copy has been placed in the Library.

Climate Change: DfID

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department for International Development paid to commission the concept paper An Institutional Architecture for Climate Change from the Center on International Co-operation. [HL3681]

The concept note, draft and final papers for the concept paper An Institutional Architecture for Climate Change together cost a total of £39,112.50.

Colombia

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which projects they are funding in Colombia relating to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law; who are the recipients of funding for such projects; how much they receive; and what are the purposes of the projects. [HL3783]

As the Foreign Secretary's Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) of 30 March makes clear, we have made tackling impunity a new priority for our work in Colombia. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has allocated £250,000 in 2009-10 for this work. Projects are still under development.

We will work alongside the United Nations (UN) Office of Drugs and Crime and Colombian NGOs to take forward this work, which will aim to develop the skills of those involved in the Colombian criminal justice sector including lawyers, prosecutors, judges and civil society in investigation and trial skills. For example, we have recently supported a UN project to improve criminal prosecution of sexual crimes committed against women and girls, and in 2009-10 are supporting a project to reduce conflict-related impunity through policy recommendations for the criminal justice system.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they ensure that aid to the government of Colombia promotes international human rights norms. [HL3784]

The UK Government are funding a broad range of projects to strengthen human rights in Colombia, promoting civil society and supporting human rights defenders. All our assistance is scrupulously monitored to meet the highest standards of probity and effectiveness, and has human rights norms and principles at its core.

Projects already approved for 2009-10 and beyond total almost £1 million, and a further £170,000 is to be allocated for human rights projects in areas such as freedom of speech, democracy and tackling discrimination. For example, we are supporting a project on promoting civil society and human rights defenders (with Oxfam) and a project on improving integration of human rights and democracy issues in the media (with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Journalism School of the Javeriana University and NGO partners).

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they have offered to the Government of Colombia for implementing the recommendations of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Colombia. [HL3785]

The UK Government are funding a broad range of projects to promote the implementation of United Nations (UN) human rights recommendations in Colombia, alongside international and civil society partners. A full list of on-going UK projects in Colombia can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/word/north-central-south-america/COLOMBIA_UK _PROJECT_2009_10.

Crime: DNA Database

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportions of verdicts were guilty when DNA evidence was used against someone with no previous convictions in the last year for which figures are available. [HL3875]

The data held centrally by my department on the court proceedings database for England and Wales do not contain information about the circumstances behind each case, including the use of DNA, other than the information that may be gleaned from the offence itself. As a result convictions involving the use of DNA evidence cannot be identified.

Data for Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Executive.

Data for Northern Ireland are a matter for the Northern Ireland Office.

Crime: Suspicious Activity Reports

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether individuals are entitled to know whether they are on the suspicious activity reports database of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. [HL3209]

The Data Protection Act 1998 allows for any member of the public to request access to their personal data under Section 7 of the Act and SOCA has an established process for dealing with such inquiries. However, the individual responses may be subject to statutory exemptions.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people are employed in the Serious Organised Crime Agency; and how many of them work on implementing and administering the suspicious activity reports. [HL3211]

On 30 April 2009 there were 3,989 full time equivalent staff in SOCA. There are 120 staff in the UK Financial Intelligence Unit engaged on work related to the suspicious activity reports (SARs) regime.

Cyprus

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who attended the meeting in 10 Downing Street on 20 April on Cyprus with the Prime Minister and Foreign Office Ministers; what groups or organisations those people represented; and whether the official Turkish Cypriot representative in London was invited or consulted. [HL3645]

A meeting on Cyprus took place in 10 Downing Street on 29 April 2009. My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Minister for Europe, Caroline Flint, met five Turkish Cypriots, including representatives from women's groups, London Turkish Radio, and political parties such as the Labour Party, Cumhuriyetci Turk Partisi (CTP) and Toplumcu Demokrasi Partisi (TDP). The aim was to have a round table discussion about developments in Cyprus with a small group of participants from Turkish Cypriot civil society. The official Turkish Cypriot representative in London was therefore not invited or consulted.

Deen International

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 30 March (WA 181–2), how they plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the £495,021 paid to Deen International. [HL3745]

Independent monitoring and evaluation is being conducted by the University of Islamabad, which will produce a report assessing the effectiveness of the campaign. Additional evaluation reports have been commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in Islamabad and London. The combined findings will inform the FCO on the effectiveness of the campaign and be taken into account when deciding whether to move beyond the pilot phase.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 7 May (WA 145), how much funding (a) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (b) each of its agencies, and (c) non-departmental public bodies, have given to (1) the British Muslim Forum, and (2) Deen International, in each of the past five years. [HL3692]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has provided the following funding to Deen International over the past five years:

financial years 2005 to 2007: no funding;

financial year 2007 to 2008: £61,875;

financial year 2008 to 2009: £597,562; and

financial year 2009 to 2010: no funding to date

No additional funding has been provided by agencies or non-departmental public bodies associated with the FCO. No funding has been provided to the British Muslim Forum.

Development Aid

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the criteria for out-sourcing aid and development work that would otherwise be undertaken by the Department for International Development. [HL1970]

Development projects cover a wide range of specialist skills and experience that may not be available in-house and would not be appropriate for the Department for International Development (DfID) to develop. Each project is designed and resourced to meet the specific needs of developing countries in the most effective way. Out-sourcing requires a clear business case that represents value for money for DfID and the taxpayer.

Diplomatic Recognition

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to determine whether to recognise a new or breakaway state. [HL3677]

The general criteria that we apply for recognition of an independent state remain as described in the Written Answer dated 16 November 1989 (Official Report, col. 494) by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Earnings

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the percentage changes in public and private sector average earnings including bonuses in each quarter of the past three years; and what was the annualised differential in growth or decline in average earnings including bonuses between the two sectors in those three years. [HL3862]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated May 2009.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question concerning public and private sector average earnings. (HL3862)

The table below provides information on the growth rates (three month average on the same three months a year earlier) in average earnings including bonuses in each of the two sectors for each quarter in the past three years. The third column shows the difference between the two series, calculated on the rounded data. The final column shows the annual average of this difference for the past three years.

Growth in average earnings including bonuses

(Three month on a year earlier, seasonally adjusted data)

Public sector

Private sector

Difference

Annual average

2006 Q2

3.7

4.8

1.1

Q3

3.5

4.0

0.5

Q4

3.2

4.3

1.1

2007 Q1

3.1

4.6

1.5

1.0

Q2

3.1

3.6

0.5

Q3

3.0

4.4

1.4

Q4

3.3

3.3

0.2

2008 Q1

3.8

4.9

1.1

0.8

Q2

3.2

3.6

0.4

Q3

3.9

3.1

-0.8

Q4

4.0

2.8

-1.2

2009 Q1

3.6

-1.2

-4.8

-1.6

The information in the first two columns is published every month in the Integrated Labour Market First Release. Longer runs of data are available on the National Statistics website at:

www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=1944

www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/tsdtablesl.asp?vlnk=emp.

Energy: Carbon Emissions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government with reference to the review by the National Audit Office of the data collected by the Building Research Establishment and published in March 2007 by the Sustainable Development Commission, what actions they have taken to reverse the trend of carbon emissions by departments. [HL3629]

The Government have met their target to source at least 10 per cent of electricity from renewables by 31 March 2008. The 2007-08 performance data, published by the Sustainable Development Commission in December 2008, showed that 22 per cent of the Government’s electricity was derived from renewable sources.

Equal Pay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the report in the Financial Times of 5 May, whether there is a gender pay gap in Ofsted; if so, what is the percentage difference; and what are the reasons for the difference. [HL3722]

This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the noble Lord and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, to Lord Lester of Herne Hill, dated 19 May 2009.

Your recent parliamentary Question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for reply.

Your Question referred to an article from the Financial Times, which quoted figures derived from the annual Civil Service employment survey compiled by the Office for National Statistics. The figures highlighted by that article covered permanent full time senior civil servants (SCS) in post at 31 March 2008.

Ofsted is committed to equality and diversity and has a range of initiatives underway to support this part of our work. At present, Ofsted has a high percentage of women in senior posts and, notably, six of our eight most senior officials are female. A calculation of the mean salaries of the male and female senior civil servants in post at 18 May 2009, gives a 3.6 per cent difference in favour of female staff.

A copy of this reply has been sent to the right honourable Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, and will be placed in the Library of both Houses.

EU: External Tariff

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the European Union's current average external tariff.[HL3307]

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimates that the EU's simple average applied external tariff in 2007 was 5.2 per cent. On a trade weighted basis, the WTO estimates that the EU's average applied tariff was 3.0 per cent in 2006. This does not include any trade preferences given through free trade agreements and the EU's generalised system of preferences.

EU: Historical Analysis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Government's policy towards the European Union has been influenced by the analysis of the history and purpose of the European Union presented in The Great Deception, by Christopher Booker and Richard North. [HL3773]

Financial Ombudsman Service

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their relationship with the Financial Ombudsman Service. [HL3909]

Gaza

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have they had with the Government of Israel regarding the supply of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. [HL3792]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will raise the issue of the blockade of Gaza with the Israeli Foreign Minister; and whether they will request Israel to allow all necessary humanitarian supplies into Gaza. [HL3793]

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is of serious concern. The UK Government have consistently lobbied for unrestricted access for food and other humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for International Development, and officials from both the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have raised the need to reduce the constraints on goods entering Gaza with the Israeli Government.

More recently, the Foreign Secretary raised the issue of access with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, during a meeting on 6 May; with the UN Security Council in his speech on 11 May; and with Foreign Minister Lieberman on 13 May during his visit to the UK.

Government Departments: Staff Absence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the past three years; and what the targets for the department were in each case.[HL3282]

The average number of working days lost per person due to sickness absence for Defra and its agencies for each of the past three financial years for which figures are available is shown in the table below. Information on absence rates for Defra's non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Defra

8.2

7.5

6.0

Animal Health (previously SVS until 1/4/07)

9.1

Government Decontamination Service (created on 1/10/05)

4.7

Marine and Fisheries Agency

10.5

Central Science Laboratory (now FERA)

N/A

6.6

6.3

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

5.0

6.5

11.0

Pesticides Safety Directorate (now part of the HSE from 1/4/08)

9.8

8.6

7.8

Rural Payments Agency

7.8

6.9

8.6

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

9.4

9.5

9.9

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

11.0

10.9

8.2

Separate figures for core Defra, Animal Health, Government Decontamination Service and the Marine and Fisheries Agency for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are not available. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science figure for 2007-08 covers the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.

Records of rates of absence for reasons other than sickness are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defra and its agencies closely monitor sickness absence, including benchmarking sick absence rates against Cabinet Office figures for the Civil Service. Policies and good working practices are in place to reduce sick absence including conducting return-to-work interviews, occupational health professionals advising on the medical and Disability Discrimination Act aspects of cases, training on stress awareness for managers and staff, and support from staff welfare services.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Atlantic Philanthropies concerning human rights in Northern Ireland; when they took place; what was agreed; and whether any funding changed hands in either direction. [HL3577]

Discussions have taken place at ministerial and official level with Atlantic Philanthropies concerning various aspects of its work in Northern Ireland in the past. Neither Ministers nor officials have met Atlantic Philanthropies specifically to discuss human rights issues.

We are aware that a proposal has been made by Atlantic Philanthropies to contribute funding for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to carry out particular projects. No direct discussions have taken place between the Northern Ireland Office and Atlantic Philanthropies about this proposal. The proposal is currently being assessed and no funding has changed hands in relation to it.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are human rights which apply to those living in Northern Ireland and not the rest of the United Kingdom. [HL3810]

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that the Family Law Bar Association has an opportunity to respond to the report by Ernst and Young into the family advocacy market before decisions are made about proposed fee schemes for family law practitioners. [HL3847]

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has said it will share the outcome of the research by Ernst & Young on the family advocacy market with stakeholders, including the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), when it becomes available in the next few weeks. The report should not go to the fundamental structure of the final schemes, which are now being determined after the closure of the consultation “Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010” on 3 April. The FLBA has already submitted a response to that consultation. Rather the report will provide additional data for the impact assessment of the effects of the proposed scheme. The FLBA is represented on a stakeholder working group set up by the LSC which has continued discussions, since the consultation closed, on the final structure of the scheme.

Northern Cyprus

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many suspected criminals have been returned from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to the United Kingdom since 1 January 2008; and whether those have been as a result of formal requests to the TRNC authorities or of informal police or other activity, or from Turkish Cypriot good will. [HL3646]

There has been one case of which we are aware. In January 2009, the Turkish Cypriot authorities deported Gary Robb from north Cyprus and put him on a flight to the UK via Turkey. This was their independent decision, on which we are not qualified to comment. However, we applaud the determination of the Turkish Cypriots to ensure that the northern part of the island is not a haven for fugitives from justice.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has refused any formal request by the United Kingdom to co-operate in policing or other anti-criminal activity since 1974. [HL3647]

As we do not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, there is no mutual legal assistance treaty in place. Therefore, no formal request for assistance has ever been made. However, in the interests of justice, we maintain close contact with the Turkish Cypriots on organised crime issues.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have a formal relationship with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in respect of anti-criminal and anti-terrorist operations. [HL3648]

The UK does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. No formal relationship therefore exists in respect of anti-criminal and anti-terrorist operations. However, the UK maintains a constructive dialogue with Turkish Cypriots on many issues of immediate concern. We welcome their recent efforts to combat international organised crime, including the adoption of stronger anti-money laundering controls. We also welcome the recently launched bi-communal sub-committee on crime and criminal matters, which provides a mechanism for the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to exchange information on this important issue.

Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office is planning any savings in line with the £35 billion 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review target. [HL3724]

The Home Office and the police service have a target to achieve value for money improvements worth £1,694 million per annum by March 2011 compared with during 2008-09; that includes saving a cash reduction in Home Office expenditure of £150 million as the department's contribution to the Government's programme to secure £5 billion savings in public expenditure by 2010-11.

Alongside other parts of the department and government, the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism and the police service will play a full part in maximising value for money in public expenditure. Performance is reported in my department's annual report.

Prisoners: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the proportions of Catholic and Protestant prisoners in Northern Ireland; how that compares with the figures in the general population; what are the reasons for their relative numbers; and whether they have commissioned research on the matter. [HL3742]

At 18 May 2009 the breakdown of prisoners in Northern Ireland was as follows: Protestant 36.6 per cent, Roman Catholic 49.9 per cent, others 13.5 per cent.

The last recorded figures for the general population are those recorded in the NI Census of 2001: Protestant 53.1 per cent, Roman Catholic 43.8 per cent, others 3.1 per cent.

However, when making comparisons with the above figures it would be necessary to take into account differences in the age profiles and the eight-year time interval.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has a legal obligation to accept everyone who is committed to prison by the courts and as such has no influence over particular religious groups entering the prison population.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of Roman Catholic prisoners in Northern Ireland in comparison with other prisoners in certain areas of prison life. [HL3912]

The Northern Ireland Prison Service carried out a review of equality of opportunity of prisoners on the basis of religion, in relation to its Section 75 statutory duties. The resulting report The Inside View was published on 12 May 2009. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House.

Sefton Coast: Safety

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for safety along the Sefton coast in north-west England. [HL3832]

The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible, in partnership with other key departments, for driving the neighbourhood renewal agenda, improving cross-government working to secure cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhoods. Local authorities are working with the police, other partners and stakeholders to reduce crime and disorder in their areas, and the Strategic Rail Authority, for example, is also playing an important role in improving local station facilities for passengers such as better lighting and security CCTV at stations.

Southern African Development Community

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether any Southern African Development Community country will follow Zimbabwe in adopting white persons land-ownership policies; and what countries they consider may do so. [HL3585]

British missions in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries closely follow developments in their respective countries, including on land reform, through contact with relevant government ministries and representatives from the farming industry. SADC Governments, bar Zimbabwe, have expressed their commitment to land reform policies based on a “willing seller, willing buyer” approach and on fair commercial valuation of farms. We do not believe that other SADC countries will interpret their land reform policies in a similar way to Zimbabwe. The SADC Tribunal, based in Namibia, made a landmark ruling in November 2008 in favour of Zimbabwean commercial farmers in a case against the Government of Zimbabwe. This ruling declared that the land reform process in Zimbabwe was illegal and that the appellants had been subject to racial discrimination, highlighting the disparity in land reform policies between Zimbabwe and other SADC countries. The UK has always supported a fair, pro-poor and transparent land reform policy in Africa.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals aged 60 or over paid higher-rate income tax in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [HL3846]

The information requested is provided in the table below.

Year

Number of higher rate taxpayers aged 60 or over (thousands)

2006-07

525

2005-06

465

2004-05

423

2003-04

349

2002-03

328

Transport: Local Bus Service

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 20 May (WA 343), what assessment they have made of the proportion of local bus services provided under public service contracts in other European Union member states compared with those in the United Kingdom. [HL3919]

While the Government are aware that a number of European Union member states provide local bus services under public service contracts, no assessment has been made as to the proportion provided under public service contracts in other member states compared with those in the United Kingdom.

Treasury: Minutes of Meetings

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 12 May (WA 180) concerning discussions with the Government of Ireland, when the long-standing practice of not providing details on such meetings was introduced; and by whom. [HL3812]

As my Answer of 12 May made clear, it is long-standing practice that the Government do not normally publish details of the meetings of UK Ministers and officials with their counterparts in other governments as to do so might prejudice free and frank discussions. I have nothing further to add.