Prepared: 17:08 on 20th August 2012

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House of Lords

Summer Recess 2012

Written Answers and Statements

Africa: Franco-British Co-operation 

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in fulfilling the commitment to "pursue close co-operation on the ground in Africa" made at the Saint-Malo Franco-British summit in 1998.[HL1855]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Since the Saint-Malo Franco-British summit, the Government have continued to develop their relationship with France on Africa. This includes regular dialogue with our French counterparts in London and Paris and at posts in the region. Also, Ministers have undertaken a number of joint visits to Africa including Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, the Great Lakes, Niger, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Africa was discussed at several meetings that the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), held with President Hollande last month. In their meeting on 10 July they both agreed to increase efforts in the Sahel, following already greater co-operation in the region since the beginning of the crisis in Mali in late March.

Since 1998 the Government have also co-operated with France on a number of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military operations and civilian missions in Africa including in the DRC, Guinea Bissau, Chad/Central African Republic, and covering Somalia. The UK is also playing a supporting role in the planning and development of a French-led CSDP mission to Niger, which we hope to see deployed within the coming weeks.

The Government enjoy close co-operation with France in Africa and continue to value this relationship in light of our shared interests in the region.

Burma 

Questions

Asked by Baroness Cox  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Burma about ending conflict in Kachin State, and ensuring humanitarian access to internally displaced people.[HL2036]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 15 July, our ambassador met senior figures in the Burmese Government, including the Vice-President, to raise the importance of bringing the conflict in Kachin State to an end. The meetings were organised as part of a visit by UK experts focusing on intercommunal trust building and peace processes.

We continue to press regularly for unrestricted humanitarian access to internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Burma, particularly in Kachin State and Rakhine (Arakan) State.

Asked by Baroness Cox  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Burma about protecting the human rights of the Rohingya community in Arakan State.[HL2037]

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK continues to be active in raising the issues affecting the Rohingya community in Rakhine (Arakan) State and has repeatedly called on all parties to end the violence in western Burma and on the Burmese authorities to allow unhindered humanitarian access to the area, to resolve the issue of nationality and to protect the human rights of all the people of Burma, notably the Rohingya.

Our ambassador to Burma raised these points directly with the Burmese Vice-President during a meeting with him on 14 July. On 17 July we raised the Rohingya issue with our EU partners in Brussels. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) also raised the issues affecting the Rohingya with the Bangladeshi Prime Minster during their meeting on 28 July. We continue raise the Rohingya with international partners and in international organisations such as the United Nations.

Asked by Lord Ahmed  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with the Government of Burma regarding the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim community.[HL2065]

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK continues to be active in raising the issues affecting the Rohingya community and has repeatedly called on all parties to end the violence in western Burma and on the Burmese authorities to allow unhindered humanitarian access to the area, to resolve the issue of nationality and to protect the human rights of all the people of Burma, notably the Rohingya.

Our ambassador to Burma raised these points directly with the Burmese Vice-President during a meeting with him on 14 July. On 17 July we raised the Rohingya issue with our EU partners in Brussels. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) also raised the issues affecting the Rohingya with the Bangladeshi Prime Minster during their meeting on 28 July. We continue raise the Rohingya with international partners and in international organisations such as the United Nations.

Asked by Lord Ahmed  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will raise the issue of torture, abuse of human rights and burning of Rohingya children at the next United Nations Security Council.[HL2066]

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are deeply concerned about reports of human rights abuses being committed in Rakhine (Arakan) State.

We remain in regular contact with non-governmental organisations on the ground in Rakhine (Arakan) State. Tensions between different communities remain and this presents risks to local volunteers. This is not only hampering the provision of humanitarian assistance but is also making verification of reports of human right abuses problematic.

We continue to raise the situation in Burma, including the ongoing ethnic conflict in Rakhine (Arakan) State, in all relevant parts of the United Nations. At the UK’s request, the United Nations (UN) Security Council has had three separate briefings in the last eight months from the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Burma, Mr Vijay Nambiar. The most recent briefing on 20 June, where the intercommunal violence in Rakhine (Arakan) State and the continued discrimination against the Rohingya people was discussed, followed a visit to Burma by Nambiar on 11 to 14 June.

The UK strongly supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution on Burma in March, which called on the Government of Burma to recognise the rights of members of the Rohingya to nationality and for the Government to protect all of their human rights. During the Human Rights Council’s July session, the UK issued a statement that expressed our alarm at the outbreaks of violence in Rakhine State and the continued discrimination of the Rohingya community.

Cabinet Office: Correspondence 

Question

Asked by Lord Prescott  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what correspondence took place between the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Office arising out of the letter from Lord Prescott to the Cabinet Secretary of 31 October 2011; what changes were made to the draft of the Cabinet Secretary’s response on 18 and 21 November; and whether they will place a copy of this correspondence in the Library of the House.[HL1614]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: A factual error in the Cabinet Office reply of 18 November 2011, incorrectly suggesting that departmental civil servants had been disciplined for the use of the Government Procurement Card under the previous Administration, was removed from the version of 21 November. In fact, the fraud stemmed from seven transactions on a cloned credit card. A second paragraph was also deleted from the version of 18 November in error. The Cabinet Secretary has written to the noble Lord to explain the background.

More broadly, online transparency has enabled robust public accountability and parliamentary scrutiny about departmental spending to help protect taxpayers’ money.

China 

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what inquiries and representations they have made about Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding, and Bishop Cosma Shi Enxiang of Yixian, who disappeared 15 and 11 years ago respectively, and with what result.[HL1913]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Freedom of religion, including government restrictions on religious organisations and the treatment of individuals associated with these groups, was raised with the Chinese delegation at the most recent round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2012.

We last raised the cases of Su Zhimin and Shi Enxiang at the 14th round of UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in 2006. Due to the large number of cases of concern we are not always able to regularly raise particular individual cases but we continue to look for opportunities to do so.

At previous dialogues the Chinese side responded that the judicial authorities had taken no coercive action against them and are unaware of their whereabouts. We asked for assistance in locating the bishops and raised our concerns about their health given their advanced age. We are unaware of their current whereabouts or status.

Civil Service: Redundancy 

Question

Asked by Lord Laird  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 14 June (WA 265), how many staff working for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and its agencies were made redundant, or departed early, in 2011; what were the costs under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme in (1) redundancy payments, (2) annual pension amounts payable immediately, and (3) any lump sum retiring allowances; and what was the average redundancy payment.[HL1932]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The following table shows (1) the total number of employees who left the Department for Culture, Media and Sport under voluntary exit terms, (2) the costs under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme and (3) the average redundancy payment in the 2011 calendar year:

Date of Leaving

Number of employees who left under early exit terms

Total cost under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme

Average payment

31/03/11 to 31/12/11

67

£3,252,435

£48,453.80

Payment of annual pension amounts and lump sum are made under the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme by our administrator, My Civil Service Pension. We do not hold records centrally and to obtain these would involve disproportionate cost.

The department does not hold this information. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of the Royal Parks Agency to write directly to the noble Lord with this information.

Copies of the responses will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Government Departments: Buildings 

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport intends to move its main premises from Cockspur Street; and, if so, to what location and when.[HL1963]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will move from Cockspur Street to 100 Parliament Street in March 2013.

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what future use they envisage for the premises at Cockspur Street currently occupied by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[HL1965]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will no longer have a use for the premises at Cockspur Street after its move to 100 Parliament Street in March 2013 and is looking either to assign the lease or to sub-let floors. Five of the eight floors in the building are already let.

Government Departments: Reorganisation 

Question

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend a long-term reorganisation of the current Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[HL1966]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: A long-term reorganisation is already under way. The department is currently midway through a three-year change programme to achieve 50% administrative cost reductions to meet spending review targets while building a highly motivated, diverse and talented workforce and prioritising critical deliverables, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Government Departments: Staff 

Question

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their future plans for staffing levels at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[HL1964]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has committed to a 50% reduction in its administration budget by 31 March 2015, which includes staffing costs. Subject to these reductions, we anticipate that the department will have around 340 full-time equivalent staff from April 2013.

Israel 

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent statement by the Attorney General of Israel that Israeli law applies to the whole of the Temple Mount.[HL1914]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): East Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, is occupied territory and, therefore, as the occupying power Israel must administer this territory in accordance with occupation law, specifically the 1907 Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention.

As we have long made clear, it is vital that the parties come to an agreement whereby Jerusalem can be a shared capital both of Israel and of a Palestinian state. Any agreement should protect Jerusalem’s holy sites and ensure that all people can freely access religious sites sacred to them.

National Policing Improvement Agency 

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the transitional costs of transferring the functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency to other bodies, including the Home Office and the new National Crime Agency.[HL2085]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The transitional costs of transferring the functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) to other bodies, including the Home Office and the National Crime Agency, will be met from within existing NPIA budgets.

Nigeria 

Question

Asked by Baroness Cox  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Nigeria regarding the concerns of the Christian communities in Tafawa Belewa, Bauchi State, over the absence of action to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of violence against them.[HL2035]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in northern Nigeria, which has caused suffering in both Christian and Muslim communities. The UK condemns all such instances of violence. We have raised with the Nigerian Government the importance of bringing perpetrators to justice and will continue to do so. We welcome statements made by the Nigeria Government about co-operation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the ICC’s decision to conduct a preliminary examination into Nigeria. The Government are committed to working with the Nigerian Government to tackle the threat from violent groups and to find a lasting resolution to conflict in northern Nigeria.

Police: Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers 

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what have been the changes in the numbers of (1) police officers, and (2) police community support officers, in each police authority over the past three years.[HL1860]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The latest available information shows the number of police officers and police community support officers for the three years up to 31 March 2012, by police force area (full-time equivalents) in England and Wales. Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are a matter for the respective Administrations.

Number of police officers and police community support officers for the three years up to 31 March 2012, by police force area

Police force

Police Officers

Police Community Support Officers

31-Mar-10

31-Mar-11

31-Mar-12

31-Mar-10

31-Mar-11

31-Mar-12

Avon and Somerset

3,302

3,210

3,039

430

416

365

Bedfordshire

1,246

1,214

1,157

116

125

112

Cambridgeshire

1,471

1,398

1,377

209

200

193

Cheshire

2,155

2,079

2,011

237

221

218

Cleveland

1,724

1,655

1,529

193

178

167

Cumbria

1,238

1,180

1,125

111

104

102

Derbyshire

2,074

2,021

1,819

181

177

171

Devon and Cornwall

3,556

3,436

3,225

363

353

357

Dorset

1,486

1,452

1,378

164

164

153

Essex

3,606

3,577

3,408

445

404

380

Gloucestershire

1,309

1,262

1,208

148

139

132

Greater Manchester

8,148

7,791

7,498

842

837

818

Hampshire

3,748

3,658

3,434

347

344

340

Hertfordshire

2,130

2,048

1,984

262

252

257

Humberside

2,058

1,952

1,856

317

309

290

Kent

3,787

3,668

3,498

387

364

333

Lancashire

3,649

3,448

3,323

428

386

411

Leicestershire

2,317

2,211

2,142

233

232

236

Lincolnshire

1,206

1,202

1,142

149

144

152

London, City of

852

878

831

52

44

38

Merseyside

4,516

4,297

4,083

468

440

426

Metropolitan Police

33,367

32,441

32,140

4,645

4,009

2,760

Norfolk

1,662

1,598

1,547

275

264

254

Northamptonshire

1,343

1,306

1,234

164

166

161

Northumbria

4,187

4,102

3,921

438

433

424

North Yorkshire

1,486

1,458

1,402

198

182

186

Nottinghamshire

2,409

2,319

2,168

268

273

264

South Yorkshire

2,953

2,888

2,772

328

311

290

Staffordshire

2,161

2,079

1,948

237

228

209

Suffolk

1,246

1,244

1,175

173

162

164

Surrey

1,890

1,885

1,974

224

229

228

Sussex

3,213

3,102

2,959

377

351

335

Thames Valley

4,434

4,375

4,355

500

506

508

Warwickshire

973

919

844

138

136

109

West Mercia

2,391

2,251

2,191

279

273

271

West Midlands

8,626

8,149

7,826

811

758

711

West Yorkshire

5,758

5,536

5,219

763

713

728

Wiltshire

1,181

1,099

1,057

126

133

152

Dyfed-Powys

1,195

1,157

1,131

83

80

97

Gwent

1,437

1,501

1,446

143

142

191

North Wales

1,590

1,530

1,454

157

159

219

South Wales

3,148

3,100

2,907

335

304

308

Total 43 forces

143,734

139,110

134,101

16,918

15,820

14,393

1. This and other tables contain full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Because of rounding, there may be an apparent discrepancy between totals and the sums of the constituent items.

Registration of Deaths 

Questions

Asked by Lord Turnberg  

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what efforts they are making to ensure the rapid registration of deaths among the population of the United Kingdom.[HL1644]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to proposals by the Royal Statistical Society and the UK Statistics Authority that registration of the fact of death should be decoupled from the cause of death.[HL1645]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Civil registration is a devolved function in the UK, so is a matter for each of the Administrations. The General Register Office within the Identity and Passport Service oversees civil registration in England and Wales.

In England and Wales, a death is normally registered within a few days of the occurrence. When a death is the subject of an inquest, the registration takes place after the verdict has been reached and the cause of death has been established. The coroner may issue an interim certificate, which can be used for purposes such as settling the estate of the deceased. However, such a certificate would not include a cause of death (which will be determined at the inquest), and so could not be used for death registration purposes.

There is no evidence to indicate that there is a significant public health risk or that the existing registration processes cause inconvenience to the public. Accordingly, there are no plans to change the current approach, including that of separating out the processes of registration and cause of death.


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