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Written Answers

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

Written Answers

Thursday 26 November 2009

Armed Forces: War Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 5 November (WA 82) regarding the late Gulf War veteran, Mr Terry Walker, whose war pension was cut from 100 per cent to 40 per cent shortly before his death, what was the outcome of the contact made by the Ministry of Defence with the Office of Her Majesty's Coroner for Newcastle for assistance. [HL17]

Since the Defence Inquests Unit’s approach to HM Coroner in early November, we have received no further request for assistance. We understand that the coroner has yet to set a date for the inquest. All questions on this inquest should be directed to HM Coroner for Newcastle. As stated previously, the department will provide HM Coroner with whatever assistance it can.

Energy: Renewables

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the environmental impact of burning (a) natural gas, and (b) recovered fuel oil in plants compliant with the European Union waste incineration directive. [HL98]

In each case, compliance with the stringent emission limit values and other requirements set out in the waste incineration directive minimises the environmental impact that might otherwise arise from burning these materials.

Food: Horse Meat

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in the negotiations in the European Union on banning the export of live horses for slaughter. [HL28]

Introducing a ban on the export of horses for slaughter would be contrary to free trade rules. The Government would like to see finite journey times for all animals destined for slaughter and better enforcement of welfare in transport rules within the European Community. The Secretary of State made these points at the Agriculture Council on 7 September.

Higher Education: Radicalism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 12 November (WA 215), when they plan to finalise the list of higher education institutions receiving additional Prevent funding; and whether they will place a copy of the list in the Library of the House. [HL133]

I expect the list of universities that will be receiving additional funding to help support their Prevent work to be finalised by the end of February 2010. A list of these institutions will be published and placed in the Library of the House and on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website.

HMS “Caroline”

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 12 November (WA 216) concerning HMS “Caroline”, whether there will be no decommissioning of the ship until further notice is given. [HL137]

I hope to be in a position to announce plans for HMS “Caroline” in the spring. In the mean time, the ship will remain in commission of the Royal Navy.

National Heritage: Historic Environment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the statement of their vision and priorities for the historic environment, due to be issued by summer 2009. [HL68]

Understanding and valuing our past is a fundamental part of Government’s vision for the future. We remain committed to a vision for the historic environment that is recognised across government and by all who live and work with it. The vision statement will be published around the turn of the year.

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 28 October (WA 161–62), why the main reason for the increase in British Waterways’ pension costs in 2008–09 was the increase in the interest cost. [HL113]

There was a 17.8 per cent increase in the interest cost in 2008-09 over 2007-08. The interest cost is calculated as the start of year discount rate multiplied by the value of the liabilities at the start of the year (and with a small adjustment to allow for new benefits earned, and benefits paid out over the year).

The discount rate used to calculate the interest cost in 2008-09 was considerably higher than the discount rate used to calculate the interest cost in 2007-08 because corporate bond indices rose considerably (an effect of the current economic climate). This was reflected in the rise in the discount rate used in the accounts and directly resulted in the interest cost rising.

This is all prescribed by the international accounting standard IAS19 and a direct consequence of using corporate bond yields to value pension liabilities under the accounting standard.

Tax Allowances

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest calculation of the financial effect by income decile of making the personal allowance transferable between married couples and those in civil partnerships for each of the next five years. [HL72]

Due to the complex nature of this Question, the following estimates should be treated with caution. These estimates exclude any behavioural response to the change, which could be significant given the magnitude of the change.

Information on average gains by income decile of all UK households as a result of making personal allowances transferable between married couples and those in civil partnerships in 2009-10 are shown in the table below.

Average gain

Income decile

(£ per year)

Bottom

30

2nd

90

3rd

120

4th

140

5th

160

6th

200

7th

220

8th

240

9th

310

Top

380

These estimates have been calculated from HM Treasury’s tax and benefit static micro-simulation model using Family Resources Survey 2007-08 data uprated to 2009-10 levels of prices and earnings. The model does not take into account behavioural changes in response to changes to the tax and benefit system or economic conditions so if the model was used to produce the financial effect for five years, it would show similar results for each year.

Waste Management

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many companies have invested in plants compliant with the European Union waste incineration directive for the burning of recovered fuel oil. [HL97]

In England and Wales, six out of 126 plants regulated by the Environment Agency, or 5 per cent of waste incineration directive (WID) compliant plants, are permitted to receive recovered fuel oil (RFO) for use as a fuel. The plants using RFO are: four sewage sludge incinerators, one clinical waste incinerator and one hazardous waste incinerator. RFO is usually used as a support fuel to maintain furnace temperatures if waste burning does not remain self-sufficient. It would be very unusual for any of these plants to continue to burn RFO for prolonged periods.