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Further to the statement by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 4 May (HL Deb, col. 566), what impact the lack of government funding for custody plus has had on the introduction of the National Offender Management Service offender management model.[HL7380]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government's decision to defer custody plus reflects the prioritisation of prison and probation resources towards more serious offenders. Revised arrangements for the implementation of offender management for those sentenced to custodial sentences of less than 12 months have yet to be decided.
In the light of the Information Commissioner's report What Price Privacy? about abuse of privacy through the procurement and sale of personal information, what they are doing to ensure compliance with Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 by private investigators, journalists and others.[HL7495]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Information Commissioner enforces the Data Protection Act 1998 and can bring prosecutions under Section 55 of the Act. In the year to April 2006, the commissioner's office (ICO) prosecuted 16 cases involving offences under the Data Protection Act 1998, 15 successfully, with sentences including fines ranging from £100 to £5,000 and a conditional discharge.
The ICO's What Price Privacy? report included recommendations addressed to specific bodies, such as those representing journalists and private investigators, to try and stifle the demand for illegally obtained confidential personal information. A follow-up report to What Price Privacy?, detailing the progress made by the bodies towards the recommendations in the report, is currently being produced by the ICO and will be published by the end of the year.
The Government have been concerned about the apparent increase in the trade in personal data, as highlighted in What Price Privacy?. On 24 July 2006, the Department for Constitutional Affairs published a consultation paper on Increasing penalties for deliberate and wilful misuse of personal data, which seeks views on the introduction of custodial sentences for Section 55 offences. The consultation will close on 30 October.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The Government do not collect statistics on numbers of family breakdowns. Outside divorce, relationship breakdowns are difficult to define and record. It is estimated that each year between 150,000 and 200,000 couples with children separate. This is made up of 100,000 divorces, and between 50,000 and 100,000 cohabiting relationships breaking down.
Whether they will provide a full business case for establishing regional control centres to answer emergency calls to fire brigades; and what are the costs implicit in the FiReControl project.[HL7561]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): A draft of the FiReControl full business case will be published shortly. On publication a copy will be placed in the House Library along with FRS Circular 63/2005 which sets out implementation funding for the project and details which costs will be met by central government.
Baroness Andrews: The provision of control room services has already been extensively reviewed. Since the 1980s, independent reports have consistently recommended a consolidation of control rooms. These reviews include two reports by Mott MacDonald. Its 2000 report recommended a consultation of control rooms. The 2003 report, following the September 11 attack, found that the need for resilience made a powerful case for a national network of regional controls, which was also optimum in terms of efficiency.
In December 2003, extensive consultation was held in whether to proceed with the project and the project was formally launched in March 2004. The direction of the project is reviewed as it progresses, but the Government do not consider that a further fundamental analysis of control room activities is necessary at this time.
Lord Rooker: Northern Ireland, by virtue of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, is already part of the free trade area; that is to say, an area where there are no significant barriers, tariffs or levies affecting trade between the members of the area.
Whether the Department of Health has any arrangements to enable staff of that department to raise, in confidence, concerns about matters of financial reporting, disclosure of other information or value-for-money; and, if so, whether they will give details of the arrangements.[HL7653]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Department of Health has a whistleblowing policy which was introduced in line with best practice advised by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. It enables staff to raise concerns about any malpractice or illegal act.
Help lines (or by email) operated by the Financial Services Authority can advise employees on reporting the matter to the Civil Service Commissioners if they are not satisfied with the response received from the department.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): An act of self harm which results in the death of a detainee and which involves any failure by an immigration centre contractor to follow laid-down procedures results in a financial deduction from the contractors operating fee.
We do not hold any contractor records prior to 2000; there is no record since that date of any financial deductions being applied to any contractor operating an immigration removal centre for failure to follow laid-down procedures for self harm resulting in death.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Quartet principals (EU, US, UN and Russia) last met in New York on 20 September to discuss developments in the Middle East. In the meeting, the quartet reaffirmed its commitment to the road map as the means to realise the goal of two democratic statesIsrael and Palestineliving side by side in peace and security. The quartet also agreed to meet on a regular basis in the coming period at both the principals and envoys level, including with the parties and other regional partners to monitor developments and actions taken by the parties and to discuss the way ahead. The quartet will next meet on 24 and 25 October in London.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): This product is under assessment by the European Medicines Agency and is currently not approved for marketing in the European Union. The availability of a product for marketing in the United Kingdom will be dependent on approval of a marketing authorisation.
In light of the calls from the United Nations Security Council for the imposition of sanctions on North Korea, what are known to be the quantities of aid, oil and other key commodities imported by North Korea over the past 12 months; and from which countries these imports originated.[HL7583]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Although exact figures are not available, we do know that China and South Korea are North Korea's first and second largest trading partners respectively, providing over half of North Korea's imports, including virtually all of its fuel and around one-sixth of its food. North Korea imports all of its oil, mostly from China. In recent years, South Korea has provided 500,000 tonnes of rice and up to 350,000 tonnes of fertiliser, but suspended its regular humanitarian assistance in response to the July missile tests.
As a further measure in response to the 9 October nuclear test, Seoul has halted food-related assistance, which so far has included a further 90,000 tonnes of rice. The only significant external providers of food assistance now are the World Food Programme and China, which has in the past provided about the same amount as South Korea, although China also supplies grains to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea on commercial terms. So far this year, Chinese food deliveries appear to be down to about 30 per cent of 2005 levels.
Whether the Financial Services Authority requires independent financial advisers to carry out research into the religious background of their clients before advising them on alternatively secured pensions; and, if so, what is the statutory basis for this requirement.[HL7610]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: As an independent regulator, the FSA is responsible for its own guidance to regulated firms. Their guidance on ASPs is available at www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Doing/small_firms/advisers/FAQ/withdrawal.shtml.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We intend to publish the UK action plan on tackling human trafficking by the end of 2006. The action plan will address the trafficking of adults and children and follows on from a public consultation on this issue conducted earlier this year.
Whether serving officials in the Crown Prosecution Service, courts administration, police forces, Prison Service and Probation Service will be allowed to apply for the post of Chief Inspector of Justice, Community Safety and Custody.[HL7382]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Yes. The appointment process for the new Chief Inspector for Justice, Community Safety and Custody will be a fair and open competition conducted within the guidelines laid down by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA).
What assessment they have made of the salaries of heads of quangos, such as the Construction Industry Training Board, the UK Film Council, the Learning and Skills Council and Partnerships for Schools. [HL7452]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Information on public bodies sponsored by central government, as at31 March each year, including the salaries of the heads of public bodies, is provided annually in the Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies. Copies of this are available in the Library for the reference of noble Lords.
The chief executive of a non-departmental public body will normally be employed by the board and his/her remuneration will be determined by the board in conjunction with the sponsoring department in the light of the nature, scope, size and profile of the body and of the skills and expertise needed for the post.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government made a manifesto commitment to look at the feasibility and affordability of a new north-south high-speed link. The Government have committed to take this forward in the development of a long-term strategy for the railways, drawing on Sir Rod Eddington's advice on the long-term impact of transport decisions on the UK's productivity, stability and growth. In so doing, the department will draw on a range of evidence and commissioned work. We welcome analysis by the Northern Way, or other organisations, on a high-speed link. It is too early to discuss the potential route or stopping patterns for such a proposition.
I understand that the regulations implementing this requirement came into force in 2005, and that the deadline by which schools in Wales will be requiredto hold the first meeting of their school council is1 November 2006. It is therefore too soon for the Welsh Assembly Government to assess their impact.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The department has not issued specific guidance on pupils covering their faces in state schools. School governing bodies are responsible for deciding whether their school should have a uniform policy, and if so, what it should consist of. The department issues general guidance to schools, reminding governing bodies of their responsibilities under health and safety, sex and race discrimination legislation, and the Human Rights Act. The guidance also states that schools should be sensitive to pupils cultural and religious needs and differences, and consult widely before introducing or changing a school uniform policy.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Davies of Oldham on 10 October (WA 141) on cruise liner crews, whether they intend to have discussions concerning the welfare of such below-decks crews; and, if so, with whom they will discuss this matter.[HL7593]
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