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Written Answers

Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

Written Answers

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Aerospace: Research and Development

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the value of the grants for research and development they provided to the United Kingdom aerospace industry in each of the financial years 1997–98 to 2007–08. [HL1069]

The value of aerospace grants for research and development (R&D) to the UK civil aerospace industry in each of the financial years 1997-98 to 2007-08 is as follows:

Year

Research Grants Commitments

1997-98

£20.0 million

1998-99

£20.0 million

1999-00

£20.0 million

2000-01

£20.0 million

2001-02

£20.0 million

2002-03

£20.0 million

2003-04

£20.0 million

2004-05

£56.8 million

2005-06

£79.1 million

2006-07

£16.2 million

2007-08

£84.7 million

These figures do not include the value of contracted research work, for example within the defence programme, which is not funded through grants.

Aviation: Aircraft

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total value of financial assistance, grants and launch aid they provided for the development of the Airbus A380. [HL1070]

The Government provided £530 million in a repayable launch investment for the Airbus A380 for the design and development of the wings by Airbus UK. No other financial assistance was provided for the development of the programme.

Banking: Iceland

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the terms of the original proposed agreement between the United Kingdom and Iceland for the reimbursement of Icesave losses. [HL1083]

To ask Her Majesty's Government with which proposals in the agreement for reimbursement of Icesave losses approved by the parliament of Iceland in August 2009 they disagree. [HL1084]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the annual cost to Iceland of the original proposed agreement between the United Kingdom and Iceland for the reimbursement of Icesave losses; in what currency that amount is calculated; what interest rate is applied; and over what duration the amount is spread. [HL1085]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the cost to Iceland of the agreement as approved by the parliament of Iceland for the reimbursement of Icesave losses; in what currency that amount is calculated; what interest rate is applied; and over what duration the amount is spread. [HL1086]

The EC Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive (94/19/EC) sets the minimum terms on which depositors are protected throughout the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA). All EEA member states are required to ensure that the deposit guarantee scheme directive is adequately implemented in their territories.

Under the directive, depositors at branches in a host state are covered by the guarantee scheme of the home state. Depositors with the UK branch of Landsbanki were therefore eligible for compensation (for deposits up to €20,887) from Iceland's Depositor and Investors' Guarantee Fund (DIGF).

On 8 October 2008, the FSA announced that the UK branch of Landsbanki was in default for the purposes of the FSCS. To maintain financial stability and protect retail depositors, the UK Government committed that all Icesave retail depositors with the UK branch of Landsbanki would receive their money in full. In total, around £4.5 billion has been paid. This includes £2.35 billion compensation that the UK Government paid out to depositors on behalf of the DIGF.

On 5 June 2009, the UK Government reached agreement with the Icelandic authorities on a process to ensure the UK is refunded for the compensation that had been provided on behalf of the DIGF. This will be achieved by recognising the assistance provided by the UK Government as a £2.35 billion loan from HM Treasury to the DIGF.

The loan agreement was made with the DIGF, and the original terms included an interest rate of 5.55 per cent payable over 15 years. The loan agreement provided for an initial seven-year period during which interest will be capitalised and the DIGF will have no principal repayment obligations other than to pass on to the FSCS all recoveries made by the DIGF in the winding up of Landsbanki. After the expiration of the seven-year period, interest and principal amounts are payable quarterly over a period of eight years during which period the loan will be guaranteed by Iceland.

Under Icelandic law, the Icelandic Parliament is required to authorise the guarantee. A Bill was passed in August to this effect but with a number of conditions introduced by the Icelandic Parliament.

Following further negotiations, the loan agreement was amended to take account of these conditions. The amendments include a cap on repayments from years eight to 15 of the loan period to 4 per cent of Iceland's GDP growth relative to 2008, an extension of the maturity from 2024 to 2030; and confirmation that the guarantee will continue until the loan has been repaid in full.

Throughout this process, the UK Government have sought to ensure that repayment would not damage economic recovery in Iceland. The recoveries that the DIGF will make from the Landsbanki estate, and which will be used to repay the loan, are expected to be significant. This should substantially reduce the repayments required from the DIGF and, as a result, substantially reduce the value of the state guarantee for the DIGF repayment obligations. Any outstanding principal and interest will then be repaid in the following years, subject to those payments not exceeding the economic parameters that have been determined by the Iceland Parliament. The Parliament in Iceland has endorsed the loan arrangement and agreed a state guarantee.

Census

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of respondents selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census; why Irish is the only white ethnic group specifically named on the proposed 2011 census form other than those of the home countries/British and Gypsies or Irish travellers; and whether they will change the proposed form to allow ethnic Irish respondents to inscribe “Irish” in “Any other White background” like other European Union nationals. [HL743]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Laird, dated 2010.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (a) what percentage of respondents selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census; (b) why Irish is the only white ethnic group specifically named on the proposed 2011 census form other than those of the home countries/British and Gypsies or Irish travellers; and (c) whether there will be a change to the proposed form to allow ethnic Irish respondents to inscribe “Irish” in “Any other White background” like other European Union nationals. (HL743)

(a) The percentage of all respondents who selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census in England and Wales was 1.23 per cent.

(b) Consultation on the 2011 census content identified a strong need for comparison of ethnic group statistics with the 2001 census. Consultation also showed that statistics users were happy with the ethnic populations measured in the 2001 census. The Office for National Statistics therefore recommended that the 2001 categories should all be retained in the 2011 census. A particular case had been made for the inclusion of an Irish category in the 2001 census by representatives of the Irish community in Britain, and others, and thus this response category has been retained. However, in a prioritisation exercise carried out to decide if any additional categories should be included in the 2011 census, of the several considered no other category within the “White” ethnic group except “Gypsy or Irish Traveller” scored sufficiently high enough. Where it has been possible, the existing categories have been cognitively tested to ensure that the question is still acceptable.

(c) The Census Order, which details the questions to be asked in the census, was debated in the House of Lords on 3 December, and Parliament has now approved the order. However, if for any reason, respondents prefer not to tick the “Irish” box but to write in “Irish” under “Any other ethnic White background”, they can do so.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Crawley on 16 December 2009 (WA 231), why the term “mixed British” was not considered for use in the “mixed/multiple ethnic groups” category in the ethnic group census question; and what percentage of responses to national identity or ethnic group questions where “tick one” or “choose all” options were provided in the 2007 test census were incorrect or inadequate. [HL1060]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Laird, dated January 2010.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (a) why the term “mixed British” was not considered for use in the mixed/multiple ethnic groups' category in the ethnic group census question; and (b) what percentage of responses to national identity or ethnic group questions where “tick one” or “choose all” options were provided in the 2007 test census were incorrect or inadequate. (HL1060)

(a) Research prior to the 2001 census showed that people who were not from “White” ethnic backgrounds but who were born and have been living in the UK for two or more generations want to acknowledge a British identity along with their ethnic group. Thus the “Black” and “Asian” groups incorporate “British” in their titles. However, it was not considered helpful to introduce the term “British” in the “Mixed/multiple” group as the category “Mixed British” could be interpreted as referring to a mix of White British identities, such as English/Scottish.

(b) The instruction in the 2007 test ethnic group question was to “Choose one section from A to E, then tick the box to show your ethnic group”. The percentage of responses that were incorrectly “multi-ticked” was 0.7 per cent. Following the evaluation of the 2007 test, the ethnic group instruction has been changed to “Choose one section from A to E, then tick one box to best describe your ethnic group or background”. In the national identity question where the instruction was to “Tick all boxes that apply” the percentage of those who multi-ticked was 9.9 per cent.

Both the national identity and ethnic group questions are relatively subjective and, as such, there is no measure of “incorrect” response to the 2007 test. The proportions of respondents who did not answer these questions in the 2007 test were 1.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.

Further information on the evaluation of the 2007 test is available on the website http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-project/2007-test/index.html.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to encourage the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to extradite Bosco Ntaganda, for whom there is an International Criminal Court warrant outstanding. [HL973]

We, along with our European counterparts, continue to press for Bosco Ntaganda to be handed over for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The UK strongly supports the ICC and we welcome the court's investigations into events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Conflict in the region has been marked by atrocities, and those responsible for them should be held to account.

Our ambassador in Kinshasa discussed the arrest warrant with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for the DRC, Alan Doss. He received assurances that the UN mission would support the DRC Government in carrying out the warrant. He has also raised the question of Bosco's position in meetings with the Foreign Minister. He has sought reassurances that Bosco will be handed over to the ICC at the earliest possible opportunity.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the purchase by United Kingdom companies of metals derived from allegedly inhumanely mined minerals in the Congo; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the proceeds from British purchases in the Congo are not used to finance armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. [HL1011]

The UK fully supports the work of the UN Group of Experts who have led investigations into the companies and individuals benefiting from the illicit trade in natural resources. We have stayed in touch with the Group of Experts and have offered as much support to them as possible. But we take our obligations under sanctions very seriously and will not hesitate to support sanctions against any person or company against whom there is sufficient evidence, including UK-based companies or individuals.

We continue to encourage British companies trading in natural resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to do so in a way which is socially, economically and environmentally responsible, and to adhere to the voluntary guidelines set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Our strategy for DRC places a strong emphasis on greater transparency and better management of the minerals sector, including in eastern DRC. We are strong supporters of DRC efforts to fully implement the extractive industry transparency initiative. Together with the World Bank and the DRC Ministry of Mines we are currently developing a multi-year mining sector reform programme, which aims to transform the way the sector is managed and ensure that the Government extend their control over all mining activities in DRC. And our regional Trading for Peace programme is coming up with innovative mechanisms for transforming the mineral wealth in the Great Lakes region from a source of conflict to an engine for growth and stability.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what encouragement they are giving to the government of Congo to ensure that the FARDC, the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has sufficient capacity to protect civilians, especially women vulnerable to violent sexual attacks. [HL1013]

We strongly support the capacity-building efforts of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC), the EU Mission to provide advice on and assistance with security reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo (EUSEC DRC), and the security sector reform measures of other international partners. We welcome MONUC mandate 1906, which has placed civilian protection as its highest priority, and the fact that MONUC has developed a conditionality policy as a means of withdrawing support from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) units implicated in serious human rights abuses including violence against women.

We are also currently working on projects to promote better accountability and discipline among the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) security forces, which are responsible for many of the abuses the population suffers. We are providing about £80 million over five years to increase accountability of the defence, police and justice sectors through strengthened oversight mechanisms, technical assistance and training.

We remain concerned at the prevalence of violence against women and we successfully pressed for sexual and gender-based violence to be a new focus in the work of EUSEC. We continue to support and strongly lobby the DRC Government to implement their policy of zero tolerance against those responsible for sexual and gender-based violence atrocities.

We have repeatedly called for members of the armed forces guilty of human rights violations to be brought to justice. The UN Security Council, including the UK Permanent Representative, raised this issue with DRC President Kabila and DRC Prime Minister Muzito. We continue to push for legal action against five senior FARDC commanders accused of committing sexual violence, who were named by the UN Security Council during their visit.

Since April 2009 we have provided over a thousand FARDC officers with training on a huge range of subjects, including logistics, communications, and leadership, with further courses planned until spring 2010. We have also developed an administration school for the FARDC and refurbished their catering and logistics schools.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with heads of states and governments in the Great Lakes region about creating and maintaining a permanent and effectively monitored ceasefire in the Kivus and across the Great Lakes region. [HL1016]

Any permanent ceasefire in the Kivus will require close co-operation between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. We welcome the recent rapprochement between Rwanda and DRC—including the recent exchange of ambassadors—which has led to greater co-operation and stability in the region. Our ambassador in Kinshasa and High Commissioner in Kigali are in close contact with their respective host Governments and continue to engage on this issue.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they opposed the 6 per cent increase in the European Union budget for 2010 when the amended draft budget was discussed in the Council of the European Union. [HL1078]

Through tough negotiation the Government secured an EU budget for 2010 that was below the level of the Commission's proposals and almost €5 billion (4 per cent) lower than that proposed by the European Parliament, saving the UK taxpayer almost half a billion pounds. The budget included reductions in spending that represents relatively poor value for money, such as administration, and appropriate allocations for areas of better value for money such as external aid.

A key driver for the size of the 2010 budget is the financing of the European economic recovery plan, as well as additional support for structural and cohesion funds for the new member states, many of whom have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. The overall budget increase is also partially driven by the expected acceleration in the delivery of those funds across the EU.

Government: Office Equipment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Barbara Follett, on 9 December 2009 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 390W), what was the average purchase price, excluding value added tax, of a 500 sheet ream of white A4 80 gsm photocopier paper paid by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the latest period for which figures are available. [HL994]

House of Lords: Members’ Expenses

Question

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees how many peers who attended the House of Lords between April 2008 and March 2009 claimed no expenses. [HL1153]

Between April 2008 and March 2009 there were 79 Members who attended the House but claimed no expenses. This includes Ministers, office-holders and Members who attended but died during the year. Full details of claims made in this time period are available on the Parliament website at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HoLallowances0809.pdf.

India: Religion

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of India about anti-conversion laws that affect the ability to leave Hinduism for another religion. [HL1040]

Anti-conversion laws have been introduced by some Indian states. Alongside EU partners we have raised the subject at meetings with Indian officials in the context of the EU-India human rights dialogue. We maintain a constructive dialogue with the Indian authorities about human rights and minority rights issues more generally in India.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead on 16 December 2009 (WA 246), whether their position on alleged injustices against residents at Camp Ashraf by the Iraqi authorities takes account of their representations to the Government of China in the case of Akmal Shaikh. [HL1054]

The UK opposes the death penalty and takes action in all cases to try to prevent UK nationals being executed. Akmal Shaikh was the first EU/British national to be executed in China in 50 years. Twenty-seven high level representations were made to the Chinese authorities dating back to November 2008 by my right honourable friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers. The basis for these representations mainly centred on Mr Shaikh's mental health. Mr Shaikh's mental health was a crucial aspect of evidence that the Government believed the courts should have considered before they delivered the sentence.

Camp Ashraf is part of a sovereign and democratic Iraq and the situation there is a matter for the Government of Iraq. We regularly discuss Camp Ashraf with the Iraqi Government, including with the Iraqi Prime Minister and Ministers for Human Rights, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs. We continue to underline the need for the Iraqi authorities to deal with the residents of Camp Ashraf in a way that meets international standards.

There is no link between the two issues.

Pakistan: Religion

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their intentions in relation to the promotion of religious tolerance in Pakistan this year. [HL1039]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to strongly support the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the full implementation of those norms laid out in the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The UK will continue to urge Pakistan to uphold the rights of all its citizens, including religious and other minorities. The UK will continue to work with our partners in the EU to highlight the issue of human rights with the Government of Pakistan. In 2009 the EU issued two demarches, most recently in December 2009, both of which specifically pressed the Government for immediate progress on minority rights. The Government of Pakistan announced in December 2009 a series of measures designed to improve inclusion and tolerance towards religious and other minorities, including local-level committees to resolve disputes and a national minorities day. These issues will remain a focus of our bilateral lobbying and multilateral work in 2010.

In 2010, UK-funded projects will be focusing on areas including addressing the misuse of the blasphemy laws, improving women's rights, education, governance and justice reform and urging Pakistan to ratify and effectively implement the remaining two international treaties focusing on Human Rights (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment).

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated cost of uprating the basic state pension on the basis of the higher of average earnings or retail prices index from (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012, and (d) 2015. [HL149]

Baseline projections of expenditure on pensioner benefits used for these costings assume that the basic state pension is increased by earnings from 2012. Prior to 2012, projections assume that the basic state pension is uprated by the greater of RPI or 2.5 per cent.

If the basic state pension were to be uprated by the higher of earnings or prices in 2010, the weekly value of the basic state pension to pensioners would be below the 2.5 per cent increase committed to by the Chancellor at Budget 09.

A policy of uprating the basic state pension on the basis of the higher of average earnings or the retail prices index from 2015 is equivalent to the baseline. Therefore there would be no additional cost compared to the baseline projections for part (d).

The information requested in relation to parts (a), (b) and (c) is given in the table below:

Additional basic state pension spend from uprating the basic state pension by the higher of earnings or retail prices index, £ billion 2009-10 price terms, net of income related benefits, UK and overseas.

(a) From April 2010

(b) From April 2011

(c) From April 2012

2010-11

-0.3

0.0

0.0

2011-12

-0.3

0.0

0.0

2012-13

0.0

0.3

0.3

2013-14

0.0

0.3

0.3

2014-15

0.0

0.3

0.3

2015-16

-0.1

0.3

0.3

Source: DWP calculations

Notes:

1. Estimates given are net to baseline, they do not include the gross additional basic state pension spend from implementing the 2007 Pensions Act reforms to the basic state pension from April 2010.

2. During the next Parliament, we will re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest. We will make a statement on the precise date at the beginning of the next Parliament.

3. In the financial years up to and including 2014-15 Treasury economic assumptions consistent with table B1 of the Pre-Budget Report 2009 have been used in the above modelling.

4. The costs and savings estimates provided are based on future projections of earnings and price inflation - which are inherently uncertain and subject to change particularly in light of the current economic uncertainty. This is underlined by the fact that the estimated cost of earnings uprating has changed from estimates based on Treasury economic assumptions consistent with table C1 of the Budget 2009.

5. Estimates are in 2009-10 prices, have been rounded to the nearest £100 million and include UK and overseas claimants.

Railways: Crossrail

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 15 December 2009 (WA 215), what are the estimated peak volume and peak number of lorries per day required to remove the excavated material from the central stations and shafts for the Crossrail project. [HL935]

The estimated total bulk volume of excavated material from the central stations and shafts is 3.1 million cubic metres. Detailed estimates as to the peak volume and peak number of lorries per day required to remove this material have not yet been completed by Crossrail Limited.

Railways: East Coast

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the targets for timekeeping performance for East Coast main line services for this year; and what levels of timekeeping were achieved by Great North Eastern Railways and National Express in each of the past five years. [HL1161]

Targets for timekeeping performance are an operational matter for East Coast, and I suggest that the noble Lord contacts Elaine Holt, Chair of East Coast with his question at: Elaine Holt, Chair, East Coast, 1/18 Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR.

The public performance level moving annual average achieved each year on the Intercity East Coast franchise from January 2001 to January 2010 is shown below together with the name of the train operator.

Year Ending

Public Performance Level Moving Annual Average (percentage)

Train Operator

06 Jan 2001

79.0

GNER

05 Jan 2002

70.5

GNER

04 Jan 2003

68.5

GNER

03 Jan 2004

73.6

GNER

08 Jan 2005

76.4

GNER

04 Jan 2006

81.2

GNER

06 Jan 2007

84.4

GNER

05 Jan 2008

81.9

NXEC

03 Jan 2009

85.5

NXEC

09 Jan 2010

88.9

East Coast

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what bonus agreements are in place for senior staff of East Coast; and what targets they have to achieve to receive bonuses. [HL1163]

I understand that there is no bonus scheme in place for the senior staff of East Coast in this financial year.

Railways: High Speed Lines

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their proposals for a new high speed railway line or lines between London and the West Midlands or the north of England and Scotland will be pursued by a bill or by application for development consent to the Infrastructure Planning Commission; and what are the reasons for their choice of procedure. [HL1046]

I refer the noble Lord to my Written Statement of 14 December 2009 (Official Report, cols. WS 213-4), which sets out the Government’s plans for high speed rail in the UK.

The Government believe that a hybrid Bill is likely to be the only way to secure the full range of statutory powers and authorisations needed to implement a completely new heavy rail scheme such as HS2, which goes beyond the scope of a development consent order under the Planning Act 2008. We will set out our considerations in further detail in the response to High Speed 2's report.

Railways: National Rail

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place for the real time updating of the National Rail website to reflect weather and service conditions. [HL1165]

The National Rail Enquiry Service is managed by the Association of Train Operating Companies, on behalf of the passenger rail operators.

The National Rail website is part of this service, and measures are in place to maintain and update data currently throughout the day, to reflect emerging conditions.

My noble friend may wish to contact the association at the address below for more detailed information: the Association of Train Operating Companies, 3rd Floor, 40 Bernard Street, London, WC1 1BY.

Railways: Timetables

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the rail journey times between London and Newcastle are longer for late evening services than earlier in the day, in particular for the Durham to Newcastle stretch. [HL1162]

Network Rail undertakes much of its maintenance of the national rail network overnight and at weekends. At these times, parts of the network may be closed or only open to services travelling at reduced speeds, depending on the nature of maintenance work taking place.

If a service has to travel via a different route or at a reduced speed, this will affect the time which a train takes to complete its journey.

Detail relating to the specific services in question can be obtained from East Coast or Network Rail as follows:

Elaine Holt, Chair, East Coast, 1/18 Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR; and

Iain Coucher, Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.

Roads: Advertising Hoardings

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many road accidents are attributed each year to distractions caused by advertising beside major roads. [HL1066]

Rwanda

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what encouragement they and the Commonwealth are giving the Government of Rwanda to further political dialogue with the Rwandan Hutus living in eastern Congo. [HL1015]

We strongly support UN Security Council Resolution 1804 of 13 March 2008 which demands that all members of Rwandan armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) immediately lay down their arms and present themselves without any further delay or preconditions to Congolese authorities and MONUC for their disarmament, demobilization, repatriation to Rwanda, resettlement and reintegration into Rwandan society. Rwandans living outside the country are encouraged by the Government of Rwanda to return to participate in Rwanda's political processes. DfID has provided extensive financial support for the efforts of the Rwandan Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, which has successfully reintegrated over 6,000 former rebel militiamen, and we have provided the UN force in the DRC (MONUC) with transmitters enabling them to contact rebel units wishing to disarm and demobilise.

Shipping: Light Dues

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government, regarding the report they commissioned on behalf of the General Lighthouse Authorities from Raven Trading reviewing the impact of light dues increases, whether any assessment has been made of a potential conflict of interest involving a partner of Strategic Transport Solutions International, which was used in the production of the report, who is also a board member of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. [HL1158]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the independence of the authorship of the report they commissioned on behalf of the General Lighthouse Authorities from Raven Trading reviewing the impact of light dues increases; and, if any assessment has been made, what action will follow from their conclusion. [HL1160]

No conflict of interest exists, as no board member of the Commissioners of Irish Lights was involved in the production of either of the Raven Trading reports. There is no basis on which to question the independence of the report's authorship.

We revised the level of light dues only after taking account of industry views expressed in a full consultation on the subject matter last year.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they approved the use of Strategic Transport Solutions International as a contributor to the report they commissioned on behalf of the General Lighthouse Authorities from Raven Trading reviewing the impact of light dues increases; and whether they approved the involvement of a board member of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. [HL1159]

There was no requirement for my department to approve the use of any subcontractor for this work. No board member of the Commissioners of Irish Lights was involved in the production of either Raven Trading report.

Taxation: Kyrgystan and Tajikistan

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of double taxation treaties with (a) Kyrgystan, and (b) Tajikistan; and, if they are not in place, what steps they are taking to implement such treaties; and what is the anticipated timetable for agreement. [HL1068]

The United Kingdom and Tajikistan have agreed to continue to apply the provisions of the UK/USSR double taxation agreement until such time as a new bilateral treaty is signed between our two countries. There is no such understanding with Kyrgyzstan and hence no double taxation agreement.

The Government have no immediate plans to negotiate a new double taxation agreement with either country.