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Written Answers

Thursday 26 March 2009

Armed Forces: A400M


Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): A contract for the development and production of the A400M aircraft was signed with Airbus Military on 27 May 2003 by the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR) on behalf of participating nations (Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey and the UK).

The A400M is proving to be a challenging programme, and several delays and programme slips have been announced.

EADS/Airbus Military have recently presented a proposal for taking the A400M programme forward and announced that they wish to discuss the delivery schedule and specific performance characteristics. The implication of this proposal on the delivery of A400M is being studied by the nations and OCCAR.

Armed Forces: Aircraft


Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Following the announcement of delays by Airbus Military on the A400M programme, we are considering our options with partner nations and the company.

Asylum Seekers: Zimbabwe


Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information on the number of asylum seekers, excluding dependants, from Zimbabwe who were recognised as a refugee and granted asylum or not recognised as a refugee but granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave in the

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United Kingdom between 2005 and 2007 is published annually in table 4.1 in the annual Home Office Statistical Bulletin—Asylum Statistics United Kingdom.

Statistics for 2008 are published in the table B of the supplementary web tables published with the Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary—Fourth Quarter 2008. This table shows applications received for asylum in the UK (excluding dependants) and initial decisions broken down by country of nationality.

2007 and 2008 figures are provisional and may be subject to change.

These publications are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at

Aviation: Slot Reservations


Asked by Lord Bates

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The criteria for imposing a public service obligation (PSO) were set out in Guidance on the Protection of Regional Air Access to London, published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in December 2005. It can be found on the DfT website at

It is for regional stakeholders to apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for a PSO to be imposed. No such application has been received in relation to the Durham Tees Valley to Heathrow route.

The EU rules governing the imposition of PSOs on air routes have been refined by Regulation EC 1008/2008. The department will be revisiting the 2005 guidance in the light of this, but we do not anticipate making large-scale changes.

Climate Change


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The UK Government continue to work closely with the Czech EU presidency, which recognises the importance of tackling climate change. Its published presidency

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priorities states “the presidency will strive to prepare a path for reaching a broad international consensus on how to face climate change, which should be reached at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen”.

Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Emissions


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): At present, the Government consider technologies that aim to reduce the time that carbon dioxide emissions remain in the earth's atmosphere to be speculative and unproven. However, the Government are keeping them under review, as they might ultimately have a role to play in helping to ameliorate climate change, particularly if emissions reductions are not achieved quickly enough or climate change turns out to be worse than projected.

The Government have no present plans for funding any significant research on these technologies. However, we welcome the Royal Society's current study on geo-engineering, which will help to indicate which, if any, of these options might be viable and suitable for further research.

The Natural Environment Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council support research relevant to better understanding such geo-engineering options, their viability and potential environmental consequences. Research Councils are funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, but under the Haldane principle (the idea that decisions about what to spend research funds on should be made by researchers rather than politicians) researchers set their own detailed research priorities.

We assume that technologies that might reduce the time that carbon dioxide emissions remain in the earth's atmosphere do not include carbon capture and storage technologies, which aim to prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere from point emission sources.

Conflict Prevention and Human Security


Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels in October 2008, as an initiative of the EastWest Institute's International Task Force on Preventive Diplomacy.

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The Department for International Development's (DfID) assessment is that the network will be valuable in helping to build understanding and consensus at the national and international level on approaches to conflict prevention and early response. In its policy paper Preventing Violent Conflict (2007) DfID states its commitment to building local, national and international capacity to manage conflict. The network can contribute to this—by raising awareness of the importance of preventing violent conflict and promoting diplomatic initiatives. It will be important that the network develops strong links with the UN, EU and regional organisations to unify conflict prevention efforts.

Data Protection


Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the independent regulator of both the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR).

The Government consider that the powers and sanctions available to the ICO are an effective deterrent to non-compliance with the DPA and PECR. However, the ICO's powers are kept under constant review and the Government have proposed to enhance these powers in the Coroners and Justice Bill to provide a further deterrent to non-compliance.

The ICO currently has powers to:

prosecute a data controller who is illegally processing data without the correct notification;issue an information notice where it reasonably requires any information for the purpose of determining compliance with the DPA;issue an enforcement notice where it is satisfied that a data controller has contravened or is contravening the DPA, requiring the data controller to comply with the legislation;enter and inspect a premises with a warrant where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting contravention of the DPA, or where an offence has been committed; anduse powers to ensure organisations comply with the requirements of PECR, including an enforcement order outlined in the Enterprise Act 2002.

Non-compliance with an information notice, an enforcement notice or a Schedule 9 warrant is a criminal offence. The penalty is the statutory maximum on summary conviction and an unlimited fine on indictment.

In addition to these existing powers and sanctions, the Government have also proposed the following measures in the Coroners and Justice Bill:

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assessment notices, which can be served on public authorities, requiring an assessment of compliance with the DPA by the ICO by entering the public authority's premises without prior consent;amendments to the information notice, allowing the ICO to specify the manner and form in which requested information is to be supplied; andamendments to the Schedule 9 warrant, to require any person to provide information for determination of compliance with the DPA.

Department for International Development: DEL


Asked by Baroness Northover

Lord Tunnicliffe: The ability of the Department for International Development (DfID) to relieve poverty in developing countries depends critically on the skills of its staff. Whilst some of these skills are specific to international development, others—such as leadership, project management and people management—apply across the Civil Service. The Skills Strategy for Government, launched in 2008, recognised that departments could achieve more by working together on these common issues. This will involve building stronger professions within government, helping departments to work together to procure and commission training, and influencing universities and colleges to train the present and potential future workforce more closely in line with Government's needs. In line with every other department, DfID has therefore agreed to contribute about £3 for each member of its staff to the costs of delivering the strategy, which is managed by Government Skills (the Sector Skills Council for central government, and part of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills). As well as leading to more effective delivery of programmes such as international development, the skills strategy will drive savings for departments which significantly exceed their contributions to its funding.

Development Aid


Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Tunnicliffe: Much of the work the Department for International Development (DfID) undertakes in fragile states on addressing the millennium development

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goals—for example, improving governance and accountability, reducing inequality, or improving access to basic services for all—contributes towards conflict prevention. DfID has increased its expenditure in fragile states from 26 per cent of its overall bilateral spend in 2001 to around 40 per cent in 2007. Based on current plans this proportion is due to rise to approximately 60 per cent by 2011.

Work on early warning is not funded under a central or distinct programme. It is carried out by DfID staff spread across a number of departments and country offices and draws on a range of assessments, including those of other government departments as well as publicly available material. It is not therefore possible to give a figure for DfID expenditure in this area.

Elections: Postal Voting


Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Electoral Commission have produced updated guidance for police forces in England, Wales and in Scotland for the European and local elections taking place on 4 June 2009. The guidance is designed to alert police forces to issues that may arise in the run-up to polling day, on polling day itself and at related events, and provides an explanation of potential offences, powers of arrest, maximum penalties and time limits for prosecution, and guidance on partnership working.

The commission is also responsible for the provision of guidance to returning officers in relation to the management and conduct of elections. They continue to issue detailed written guidance and work with returning officers, electoral registration officers, political parties, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police on strategies for preventing and detecting electoral malpractice.

The commission has:

produced guidance for electoral administrators which provides specific advice on the handling of postal votes and the techniques which can be used to prevent and detect electoral malpractice at the European parliamentary elections;arranged seminars for electoral administrators, the police and political parties to discuss electoral integrity matters; andworked with political parties to produce a voluntary code of conduct for postal voting.

The Government fully support this work and would encourage local police forces and returning officers to be vigilant in monitoring any suspicious or fraudulent activity at the June elections.

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Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Lord Tunnicliffe: Access for much-needed materials will be critical for early recovery and reconstruction to take place in Gaza. Following the Secretary of State's visit to Gaza on 1 March, he met Isaac Herzog, the Israeli Minister responsible for co-ordinating aid to Gaza, and pressed for improved access and a relaxation of restrictions on the type of goods that are allowed across the border.

The Foreign Secretary has also pressed Isaac Herzog on the need for improved access, and the Prime Minister recently wrote to Prime Minister Olmert on this issue. In the last month officials from both the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have had meetings with the Israeli Government on the need for greater access.

Higher Education: Student Loans


Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): No. Government loans for tuition fees and living costs are not mandatory and eligible students may apply for tuition or maintenance loans as they wish. Student loans are affordable and designed to ensure that finance is not a barrier to higher education.

Higher Education Institutions in England charge eligible students the regulated rate of fee whether they have applied for student support or not. Eligibility to the regulated fee charge is determined by the Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments.

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