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The devolved legislatures in Scotland and Wales are funded from within the block budgets for Scotland and Wales. The devolved Administrations publish their own budgets (8) (9), which identify the costs of their legislatures.
Why, of the 11 Questions for Written Answer tabled before or during the summer recess that were still unanswered on 18 November, nine were due for answer by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; which Ministers are responsible for the policy areas concerned; and whether there has been a reduction in the number of staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 17 June. [HL6478]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Answers to a number of Written Questions tabled by noble Lords since the summer have been significantly delayed, due to an administrative error. I wrote to the noble Lords recently to apologise for the delay to these Answers, which we take very seriously. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has upgraded its central system for answering Questions, with effect from the start of the new Session, to ensure that Questions are answered in a timely manner, and management information is more readily available.
Nevertheless, we recognise that the current make-up of our legislature is not reflective of the diverse make-up of the United Kingdom as a whole, especially with regard to the number of woman MPs and black, Asian and minority ethnic MPs.
On 12 November, following a debate led by my right honourable friend the Minister for Women and Equality (Harriet Harman), the House agreed to establish a Speaker's Conference which will consider the under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons. We look forward to the findings of the conference.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): On 11 November Defra, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Environment Agency issued a joint statement about the approach being taken to address the fall in prices for some recyclable materials. This made clear that our priorities are:to further promote waste minimisation;to maintain public confidence that recycling is worthwhile to ensure continuity of collection systems for recyclables;to focus on producing high quality marketable recyclables;to ensure any storage of recyclables does not undermine the environment or public health or the recyclability of those materials;where the traditional markets for recyclables have contracted, to encourage recovery and disposal options towards the top of the waste hierarchy, i.e. landfill, as a last resort; andto avoid actions which exacerbate the situation whilst markets stabilise.
The Environment Agency, with government support, has issued guidance on the circumstances in which it will allow extra storage of recyclable materials in the short term. WRAP will continue to monitor markets and prices and make information regularly available. The Government will keep the situation under review to assess what further action may be necessary.
Whether, in the light of the current economic situation, they will offer financial incentives to companies for developing facilities for recycling and for devising alternative energy sources for small, independent applications. [HL6273]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are already incentives and support for recycling by companies through the combination of the advisory services provided especially by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP), Envirowise and Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), as well as through the landfill tax, in discouraging landfill. The Government do not believe that additional financial incentives to business are needed.
We provide capital grant and other funding for the demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of low carbon and renewable energy technologies under the Environmental Transformation Fund, which has a budget of £400 million over the 2008-11 CSR period.
26 Nov 2008 : Column WA339
In addition, through the research councils, the Energy Technologies Institute and the Technology Strategy Board, we provide support for energy research and development and for business innovation. The regional development agencies, devolved Administrations and the European Union also offer a range of support for research into new energy technologies.
|Indicative Allocations £ million||Actual Allocations £ million|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): I am withholding details of rules of engagement as their release would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our Armed Forces.
What is their assessment of the comments of the International Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the State Department about the independence of Russia's justice and legal system and influences on its prosecution service. [HL5957]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government continue to be concerned about human rights in Russia. Promoting the rule of law, including independence of the judiciary, is a key element of the UK's and EU's engagement with Russia. We welcome President Medvedev's public commitment to strengthening the rule of law in Russia.
In 2007-08 HMG provided £1.2 million for projects supporting human rights, conflict prevention and civil society in Russia, which includes work on strengthening the judiciary. Concerns in these areas were raised at the last EU/Russia Human Rights consultations, which took place on 20 October 2008. The UK will also be raising concerns over the independence of Russia's judiciary and legal system at the bilateral human rights consultation planned for January 2009, and through the annual human rights report.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Schools funding is not hypothecated so there is no separate budget for gifted and talented learners. Total average funding per pupil in 2007-08 is £4,530; in 2000-01 the equivalent was £3,121 (both figures are cash). Primary school funding for the two years 2006-08 included elements for personalised learning, including gifted and talented learners, totalling £334 million (equivalent figures for earlier years are not available). The proportion of primary school pupils identified as gifted and talented may be greater or smaller than 5 per cent; nationally, among the three-quarters of primary schools which reported in 2008, it was 8.4 per cent.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The gifted and talented indicator was collected for the first time via the schools census in January 2006 from state-funded secondary schools only. In January 2007 the scope of collection extended to also include primary schools. Information on a pupil's gifted and talented status is not collected from special schools.
|Key stage 2 pupils in maintained primary schools: number and percentage of key stage 2 pupils eligible for free school meals and of these the number and percentage identified as gifted and talented (1)|
|Position in January each year : 2007-08|
|Maintained Primary Schools (2)|
|Number of key stage 2 pupils known to be eligible for free school meals||Number of key stage 2 pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and identified as gifted and talented||Percentage of key stage 2 pupils identified as gifted and talented and known to be eligible for free school meals|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): In general, we expect host families who volunteer to provide accommodation for pupils involved in visits organised by schools to undergo enhanced CRB checks. This is in line with guidance to schools in respect of volunteers involved in activities requiring an overnight stay, as set out in paragraph 4.56 of Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education. However, if an adult who is travelling with the pupil, and who is responsible for providing care for the pupil during the school trip, stays with the pupil in the host family home overnight, in such circumstances we do not consider it necessary for the host family to undergo enhanced CRB checks. In addition, we recommend that host families are given basic awareness of child protection issues and the contact details of the designated senior person within the school with responsibility for safeguarding issues.
The new vetting and barring scheme will mean that from October 2009 those who provide care and accommodation for children under 18 for reward or in pursuance of an arrangement made by someone other than a member of the child's family will be engaged in regulated activity. This includes host family arrangements for fewer than 28 days made by schools or other organisations, including those who are providing tuition in languages or other subjects. It will be a criminal offence for a barred individual to engage in this activity and the person organising the host family placement will be required to check that the person providing the care and accommodation is registered with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority.
What Criminal Records Bureau checks are required of families in the United Kingdom offering accommodation to children from overseas before those children can obtain visas to enter the United Kingdom. [HL6372]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): One of the requirements for leave to enter as a child visitor is that suitable arrangements have been made for the child's reception and care in the UK. Charities sponsoring visit visa applications from overseas children are therefore required to provide full details of UK host families, including full details of checks carried out on the hosts. These checks must be in line with the charity's own child protection policy and any Charities Commission or devolved authority requirements, such as Criminal Record Bureau checks.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): At the department, there is a policy that smoking is not allowed anywhere within a departmental building. Smoking is not permitted in front entrances, in the area immediately adjacent to any entrance to a departmental building or near to areas where the departments logo is displayed.
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